SERMONS On SPECIAL Occasions and Subjects, VIZ:

  • An Answer to Pilate's Question, What is Truth?
  • Why Rulers and Judges are called Gods.
  • That Magistrates should be Exemplary in their Lives.
  • How Ministers of the Gospel are to Excel.
  • That Decay of Trade is the Product of Vice.
  • War Lawful and Necessary on just Occasions.
  • The Danger of Intestine Divisions.
  • The Use and Abuse of Apparel.
  • That there are Mysteries in Christianity, &c.

By IOHN EDWARDS, B. D. Sometime Fellow of St. Iohn's College, in Cambridge.

LONDON: Printed for Ionathan Robinson, at the Golden Lion, and Iohn Wyat, at the Rose, in St. Paul's Church-yard. 1698.

To the Right Honourable, EDWARD, Earl of ORFORD, Viscount BARFLEUR, Baron of SHINGEY, One of His MAJESTY'S most Honou­rable PRIVY-COUNCIL.


ALL true English men have their Eyes upon Your Lord­ship, as their Faithful Patriot and Protector, as a Firm Lover of their Religion and Country; and they all pay a profound Respect to that Illustrious Name, in which the Wel­fare of the Nation is so much in­volv'd. We are every one of us sensible of those large and manifest demonstrations which You have gi­ven us of Your Concern for the Pub­lick [Page] Good in the late Happy Revo­lution. Your Heroick Enterprizes, Your constant Fatigues, Difficulties and Perils undergone for the Service of Your Country, are the continual mat­ter of our Admiration. We celebrate and applaud Your never to be for­gotten Engaging the French Navy; when their Admiral felt the destru­ctive force of your Martial Thun­der, which You poured out so fast upon him, and which produced a a Glorious Victory over the Insulting but Flying Foe: the remembrance of which Great and Noble Atchieve­ment: Your Lordship bears in Your Honourable Title. Which way so ever we look, whether at Sea or Land, we find Your Lordship meriting in a most sig [...]al manner both of Church and State. And Your near relation to [...]his Grace the Duke of Bedford; whose Family hath been the Nursery of Patriots and Worthies, yea, and of Sufferers for the Publick Interest and Welfare, renders You a Person [Page] yet more Conspicuous in the world. And lastly, That High Degree of Honour which Your Prince hath ad­vanced You to, and that Eminent and Honourable Post Your Lordship is now in, make You capable of being (what is so much desired by You) Beneficial not only to the County You have a more particular Concern in, but to the whole Kingdom.

But I know Your Transcendent Modesty will scarcely suffer these things to be said, and therefore I dare add no more. The design of this present Address to Your Lord­ship, is, to express my Thankful and Dutiful Resentments of the undeser­ved Favours cast upon me by Your Lordship, and to offer my sincere Wishes and Prayers to Heaven for Your Health and Long Life, that You may live in the favour of the Most High, and be bless'd with His Divine Assistance, that Success may crown [Page] all Your Worthy Undertakings; that You may continue to be Happy in the Embraces of so Excellent and Accomplish'd a Lady as Heaven hath bless'd You with; that You may be as instrumental in Preserving the Church and State as You were in Restoring them, that You may long enjoy the Honour which Your Me­rits have advanc'd You to, and the Happiness You have of possessing His Majesty's Favour; and (in [...] word) that You may still be admired, ho­nour'd and loved by all his Subjects that are Wise and Religious.

And now, My Lord, permit me to beg an Extraordinary favour of You, but such as I know Your Ge­nerosity will not disdain to grant, viz. that I may have the honour to dedi­cate the following Papers to Your Lordship's Name: which as it will give a Glory to them, so it will re­main a Testimony (which is the thing [Page] I design) of that Entire Service and Duty which I owe, and shall ever be owing to Your Lordship. I have had Your Lordship in my eye ever since I have begun to be a Writer, but I could not prevail with my self to make my Approaches of a sudden to so Great a Personage; nor was I furnish'd with a Subject which was suitable to Your Lordship's Genius. I forbore to trouble You with Criti­cisms and Controversies, though of an important nature: but now when the Matters I treat of are agreeable to so Noble and Exalted a Mind, I take the confidence to make an Oblation of my Discourses to Your Lordship. And though You have sometimes in­timated Your averseness to see Your Name in Print, yet I presume to prefix it to these Papers, which have the Sacred Writings (for which Your Lordship hath so great an Esteem) for their ground-work. On this ac­count, I hope they will not be unac­ceptable, [Page] notwithstanding their Mean­ness and Faultiness otherwise. Fi­nally, begging Your Lordship's Par­don for this Prolix Trouble, I lay this Offering, with my self, at Your Lordship's Feet, and crave the ho­nour to be esteemed,

Your Lordship's most Humble, Entire, and Devoted Servant, JOHN EDWARDS.


SEveral Years ago I was solicited by some of my Brethren of the Clergy, and other Worthy Friends, who were pleas'd to en­tertain no ill opinion of some of my Dis­courses which were deliver'd from the Pulpit, to make them more Publick, and to expose them to the General View: but I was at that time furnish'd with such Reasons as would not permit me to give way to their importunity. But about half a Year ago, being solicited a­fresh, I began to relent, and to comply with such a Motion: For a Friend extorted these Papers from me by an Argument which I was not able to resist, he assuring me, that Print­ed Sermons, or Practical Discourses were call'd for by the generallity of Readers, and were in great Esteem with them: which I look'd upon as a Good Sign (I wish it were an Infallible one) that they were intent upon Practice. I was heartily glad to hear, that the World is in so good a temper, and there­upon I laid aside my former Resolution, (for [Page] I had prepared Discourses of another nature for the Press) and betook my self to the ac­commodating them with a Volume of Ser­mons, whilst they were in so good a Vein, and relish'd matters of a Religious and Practi­cal nature. And I did this the rather, be­cause having lately been employ'd in assert­ing some of the Chief Articles of the Christi­an Faith, and in animadverting on the Errors which are contrary to them, I was forc'd on that account to be ingaged in Cont [...]oversies and Debates: and therefore I take the first Opportunity to let the world see, that I take no pleasure in Contests, that I delight not in Insults and Philippicks, and that I prefer the Practical part of our Holy Religion to the Disputes of it.

Having thus assigned the Occasion of my publishing these following Discourses, I will in the next place give you a brief Account of them. In the first I have endeavour'd to fix the Standards of Truth, and to shew how they are to be Applied, especially how the Scriptures (which are the Chief Standard and Rule) are to be made use of in the searches and enquiries about Divine Truths. This Discourse lays the Foundation for those which follow, for even the Sacred Verities and Principles of our Religion have a ten­dency to Practise. The second is of the Di­vine [Page] Authority of Rulers and Judges; wherein I have endeavonr'd to Establish the Right and Iurisdiction of Civil Governours upon the sure basis of Reason and Scripture, and thereon have grounded our Obedience to them, which is an indispensable Law and Duty of the Christian Institution. But as we are to obey Magistrates, so they are to do Homage to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and to give proof of this Reverence and Submission by their Religious and Holy Demeanour. Wherefore in the third place I have shew'd the absolute Necessity of their be­ing Exemplary in their lives, and of their surpassing others in all Moral and Religious Actions. Next, I undertake to display th [...] Office of the Guides and Rulers of the Church, the Ministers of the Gospel, the Publick Instructors of Souls, and to shew what Excellencies and Perfections they ought to be Masters of, in order to their Edifying the Church of Christ. Then, I descend to the more Particular Cases and Conditions of per­sons, and shew how necessary Religion and Vertue are to men of Traffick and Business in the world, and that the Decay of Riches and Plenty in a Nation is to be attributed to their Vicious Practices. Afterwards, I represent to the Reader that Extravagant Pride and Vanity of Apparel which are so conspicuous in this Age, and with that Free­dom [Page] which becomes a Dispenser of the Divine Oracles, I set before the offenders the Sinful­ness and Mischief of this Excess. Again, I took occasion from the commencing of the late War to satisfie the Scrupulous about the Lawfulness, yea and Necessity in some cases of going to War. And soon after there was ground for another Discourse, viz. con­cerning the Causes of Ill Success in Martial Affairs. And because it was requisite that whilst we were engaging the Enemy abroad, there should be Peace at home, I impartially represented the Mischievous and Pernicious Consequences of Intestine Broils and Di­visions in a Kingdom, and warmly Exhorted to Vnity and Concord.

This is a brief View of Ten of the Ser­mons in this Volume: which are so mixed, that there is no Degree or Quality of persons but will find themselves concern'd in the Sub­jects here treated of. Princes and Monarchs, Inferiour Rulers and Magistrates, Ecclesia [...]ti­cal persons, and all others, whether publick or private, Civil or Military, Wealthy or In­digent, of the Manly or of the Softer Sex, have their share in these Papers. As for the two last Sermons, they had their birth from the two much prevailing Opinion of those men who deny, that there are Mysteries in the Christian Religion. I strike only at that [Page] General Doctrine, and wave all Set Reflecti­ons on Particular Persons or their Attempts. The sum of my Vndertaking here is this, I give a particular account of the word Myste­ry as it is mention'd and understood in the New Testament: more especially, I settle the true notion of that Term as it peculiarly respects the present Case, and hath reference to Christianity. I shew upon what Reasons and Grounds this doctrine of Mysteries is founded; I represent the notorious Blemishes of the Contrary Opinion; and lastly, I inter­sperse such proper Inferences as are the natu­ral result of the respective Particulars. Thus, though others have handled this Subject, I make it a Peculiar Province by the particular way of my undertaking and managing it: which, whether it be done aright, and to the satisfaction of the Learned and Pious, I leave to the Reader to judge. But this on­ly I am able to say, and that most sincerely, that I design'd what I have here written for the Vindication of the Cause of Christianity, and for the Glory and Honour of its Di­vine Author. And this is the Design of all my Writings, of what Subject soever I have already treated, or shall hereafter treat.

Some perhaps may think I pour them in too fast upon the Reader, and don't keep a due distance (such as they would have) between [Page] one book and another. I am so Vncivil a Writer, that I will scarcely give the Reader time to breath. And besides, it is a blemish to my Reputation, that I hereby give occasion to some to censure me for being too Forward a man, and one that affects to appear often in publick view: and therefore they prudently advise to observe a Moderation, and, accord­ing to the Rule of Husbandry, to lie Fallow some time. I thank these Gentlemen for the care they pretend to have of the Reader and me: but I must tell them, this good Advice of theirs belongs to those Novices, who want Materials for a Scrible, though it be but a four-penny Cut; or those poor starv'd souls that write for Bread, and clap all their Book, and sometimes more than is in it, into the Title Page. Here the Counsel would be sea­sonable, especially for the Readers Good, to be Temperate Writers. But if they will be so Civil as not to rank me in the number of those fore-mention'd persons, I think I have enough to plead in behalf of the Frequency of my Writing. I could support my self here­in by very Good and Vnexceptionable Ex­amples, half a douzen of the Best Penmen we have at this day among us, two of the Learnedest Prelates of our Church, who fail not every year to present the Learned with an Offering; and their Teeming Thoughts are still designing to oblige the world in the same [Page] manner. But waving Precedents, especially those which are too High for me, I will justi­fie my practise from the Reason and Equity of the Thing it self. I hold it proper to offer s [...]me [...] Truths to the world now, whilst I am able to defend them against the Objections which some may think fit to make against them, as I have in some part found it necessa­ry to be done already: and I know not why Truth may not be as Sharp as Error. Be­sides, some things are proper for this Peculiar Age; and if they should be deferr'd, would prove Vnseasonable. I conceive our Sceptical Times require some such sort of Writings, as I have had occasion to publish, more than any that were before, or perhaps ever will be. Again, what I do is pursuant to my Character and Function, which exact a Publick Appearance, and an Open doing of good to mankind. For a Clergyman should give an account of his Time to the World, as well as to God. Wherefore being not enga­ged at present in the Employment of the Pulpit, I think my self obliged in Consci­ence to [...]eak to the world from the Press, and to let my Pen do the Office of my Tongue. And truly, why one should be a Crime, and not the other, is unaccountable. Or rather, it is not much to be doubted, that [Page] those men whom I have to do with at pre­sent, look upon both equally Culpable. Those that blame my Intemperance in Writing, if I were in a publick Station of the Mini­stry, would find fault with my Preaching too much.

And Lastly, I desire to regulate my self and my undertakings by that Rule of the Royal Preacher, Eccles. 9. 10. What thy Hand findeth to do, do it with thy Might: The Reason of which follows, For there is no work, nor device, nor know­ledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest. This Present World is the place of Action and Duty, and these are to be performed according to the particular Capa­cities and Abilities bestow'd upon us by our Great Benefactor. The Proper Concern and Business of our Lives, which we design to discharge, we must dispatch now, and that with our might and vigour. Accordingly I have taken up a Resolution, by the Di­vine Aid, to do what Good I can with my Pen whilst I can hold it, and make use of it. And surely this will not, this cannot be offensive to any Good and Vertuous men: and to such I desire to give an account of [Page] my Actions, and not to others. Wherefore I shall not be diverted by the little Suggesti­ons and seemingly prudential exceptions of the foresaid Objections from a sedulous and continued applying my self to the fore-men­tion'd way of communicating my Thoughts to the world, which I hope will, through the Blessing of the Highest, prove some­ways serviceable towards the advancing of Truth and Piety in the minds and pra­ctices of men: though I am sufficiently ap­prehensive how Mean and Vnworthy my La­bours are, and how much inferior to those of my Reverend Brethren, and other Excellent Writers of this Age.

And, because I will be free and open with the Reader, I will give him his Bill of Fare for the time to come. I design, God willing, to entertain him next with a Large Discourse concerning the Different Dispensation of Religion, since the be­ginning of the World to the Consumma­tion of all things. It is a Work that I have been designing for the Publick a con­siderable time, but have not yet had an Op­portunity to send it abroad, by reason of some Other Treatises which were call'd for. It is a Work, if I mistake not, that is exceeding [Page] necessary for the right understanding the Books of the Holy Scripture, for apprehending the True Scope and Design of them, for the dis­covering of the Grounds and Reasons of God's Various Administrations to the World, and for the fully evincing of his Peculiar Care of his Church in all Ages. I have also ventured to make a Modest Enquiry into the Future State and Circumstances of the Church here on Earth; but I have all along built my Assertions on the Discove­ries which the Sacred Writings have fur­nish'd me with; for it is certain, that the Great and Wonderful things which are yet to come, and which are more Glorious than ever yet appear'd on the Stage, are pre­dicted in the Inspired Volume, though the Texts which speak of them have through prejudice and prepossession been unhappily misinterpreted. This and some other Trea­tises, as an Impartial Enquiry after Truth, and the Right Methods of find­ing it, &c. I intend as Preliminary to a Body of Divinity: for that is the Vn­dertaking I have been accomplishing some years, and I have made some Progress in it. I purpose that the Several Parts, of which it is composed, shall contain Particu­lar and Distinct Discourses on all the Ar­ticles [Page] of the Apostles Creed, on every one of the Ten Commandments, on the seve­ [...]eral Petitions of the Lord's Prayer, and on all the Vertues, Graces and Offices of Christianity, with all the Benefits and Pri­viledges of it. I intend a Large Supple­ment concerning the Five Points (as they are commonly call'd) controverted between the Remonstrants and Calvinists: as like­wise concerning all those Opinions and Do­ [...]rines which are debated between the Roma­nists and the Reformed Churches.

This is the Provision which I have been making, and which I hope to finish, unless it shall seem good to the All-wise Disposer, in whose hand my times are, otherwise to determine concerning it and me. However, I cannot reasonably expect the continuance of Health and the Prolong­ing of my days till I have entirely pub­lish'd what I have thus prepared. But so far as I am able, I am willing to make my own hands my Executors in part, and not to imitate those Close-fisted persons, who whilst they are living distribute nothing of what God hath given them, but thrust all their good deeds to the other side of their [Page] Graves. Or, if the Benign Deity should vouchsafe to add a greater number of days to my Life, yet we Know not what evil shall be upon the earth: for truly, when I place before me that Atheism, De­bauchery and Prophaneness, which are ob­servable in the Lives of the Worst, and the strange Indifferency and Lukewarm­ness that reign in the Best, I'm enclin'd to think, that, though there be a Period at present to the late Hostilities, yet we are in a very Dangerous condition. Which is one principal reason of my making that Haste▪ which some, I perceive, censure me for; it may be partly out of good will and pity towards me, fearing lest I should Exhaust my self, and turn Bankrupt in a short time. But I believe I have said enough to ease their fears as to that mat­ter. And as for others, whose Censure proceeds from a worser Principle, I let them know once for all that I have devo­ted the residue of my Life to the Publick Defence and Advancement of Christianity, with all its Weighty Truths and Doctrines, and all the Holy Duties and Practices that appertain to it. And I revere and adore the Divine Bounty that hath vouch­safed [Page] to entrust me with a small Stock, (such as is suitable to my poor Abili­ties) to carry on so laudable a De­sign. I intend it shall not lie dead, but be employ'd to the GLORY of the GREAT Eternal Donour.


SERM. I. An Answer to Pilate's Question, What is Truth? A Sermon Preach'd be­fore King Charles the Second, at Newmarket. JOHN XVIII. 38. Pilate saith unto him, What is Truth?’ Pag. 1.

SERM. II. Why Rulers and Iudges are called Gods. A Sermon Preach'd before the Iudges, at the Assizes held at Cambridge. [Page] PSAL. LXXXII. 6, 7. I have said, Ye are Gods: and all of you are the Children of the most High. But ye shall die like Men, and fall like one of the Princes.’ Pag. 29 [...]

SERM. III. The Reasons why Magistrates ought to be Exemplary in their Lives. A Sermon Preach'd at the Election of a Chief Magistrate, in a Corpora­tion. EXOD. XVIII. 25. And Moses chose able Men out of all Israel, and made them Heads over the People’ P. 62.

SERM. IV. How the Ministers of the Gospel are to Excel. A Sermon Preach'd be­fore the Clergy, at the Arch-dea­con of Ely's Visitation. [Page] 1 COR. XIV. 12. Forasmuch as ye are zealous of Spiritual Gifts, seek that ye may excel to the Edifying of the Church.’ P. 92.

SERM. V. That Decay of Trade and Commerce, and consequently of Wealth, is the Natural Product and Just Penalty of Vice in a Nation. A Sermon Preach'd at the Proclaiming and Opening of a Great Fair. EZEK. XXVII. 27. Thy Riches, and thy Fairs, and thy Mer­chandize, thy Mariners, and thy Pilots, thy Calkers, and the Occupiers of thy Mer­chandize, and all thy Men of War that are in thee, and in all thy Company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall in the midst of the Seas in the Day of thy Ruine’ P. 133

[Page]SERM. VI. The Lawfulness and Necessity of Go­ing to War, on Just Occasions. A Sermon occasion'd by the Proclaim­ing of the War against France. GEN. XVIII. 14. And when Abram heard that his Brother was taken Captive, be armed his trained Ser­vants, born in his own House, Three Hun­dred and Eighteen, and pursued them un­to Dan’ Pag. 160

SERM. VII. The true Causes of the Ill Success of War. A Sermon Preach'd on a Fast Day, appointed by Their Ma­jesties, for the Imploring God's Blessing on their Forces by Sea and Land. [Page] JOSH. VII. 12. Therefore the Children of Israel could not stand before their Enemies, but turned their Backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: Neither will I be with you any more, except you destroy the Accursed thing from amongst you’ Pag. 192

SERM. VIII. The Extream Danger of Intestine Divisions in a Kingdom. A Sermon Preach'd before Sir Iohn Ho [...]blon late Lord Mayor and Alderman, at Guild-hall Chappel. MARK III. 24. And if a Kingdom be divided against it self, that Kingdom cannot stand’ P. 225

[Page]SERM. IX, X. The Use and Abuse of Apparel. In Two Sermons, occasion'd by the present Excess in that kind. 1 TIM. II. 8, 9. I will that Women adorn themselves in modest Apparel, with Shamefacedness and Sobriety: Not with broidered Hair, or Gold, or Pearls, or costly Aray’ Pag. 257

SERM. XI. Christianity Mysterious. A Sermon, shewing the true Meaning and Ac­ception of the word Mystery in Scripture: and why the Christian Religion is called a Mystery; occa­sion'd by some late Socinian Wri­tings, which Explode all Christian Mysteries. [Page] 1 TIM. III. 16. And without Controversie great is the Mystery of Godliness’ Pag. 328

SERM. XII. Christianity Mysterious. A Sermon, shewing that there are Mysteries properly so called in the Christian Religion: With the true Reasons of it, and the Natural Consequences from it. Preach'd before the Uni­versity, at St. Mary's, in Cambridge, Iune 29. 1697. and since much Enlarged. 1 TIM. III. 16. And without Controversie great is the Mystery of Godliness.’ P. 365


PAg. 11. l. 14. r▪ Monstrous. p. 19. l. 27. r. of Truth. p. 92. l. ult. dele were. p▪ 142. l. 4. r. thence. p. 171. l. 20. r. one. p. 176. l. 12. after Blood inse [...]t a [...]-point. p. 178. l. 1. for on, r. to. p. 262. l. 2. r. there for their, and their for the. p. 268. l. 1. dele were. l. 17. r. [...]. p. 269. l. ult. r. Muliebri. p. 271. l. 12. r. restrained. p. 278. l. 5. r. gorgeous. p. 279. l. 2. r. exotick. p. 289. l. 18. r. supercilious. p. 304. l. 7. r. altum. p. 322. l. 8. r. Viands. p. 345. l. 22. before which insert v. 9. p. 351. l. 5. r. things as the Spirits cleansing and. p. 380. l. 10. r. give it. p. 389. l. 7. r. rarities. With other Faults in the Greek and Latin, which the Reader is desired to correct.

An Answer to Pilate's Question, What is Truth?
A Sermon Preach'd before King Charles II. at Newmarket.

JOHN XVIII. 38.‘Pilate saith unto him, What is Truth?’

ONE Signal Circumstance of our Sa­viour's Meritorious Passion, was That which we daily rehearse in the Creed, That he Suffered under Pontius Pilate. And truly from the Character which is given this Person, not only by the Evangelists but Other Writers, he appears to have been a Fit Man for that Execrable work of Condemning the Lord of Life. For who was more so than the Covetous and Greedy Pilate, who attempted to Rob the Temple, and Sacrilegiously to Rifle the Corban (as Iosephus relateth)? Who could be Fitter than He to re­ceive a Bribe from the Jews, and even against [Page 2] his Conscience to deliver up the Messias a Vi­ctim to their fury and malice? Who than He, who had inhumanly mingled the Galileans Blood with their Sacrifices, was Fitter to be employ'd when the Great Sacrifice of the World was to be offered, and when Iesus of Galilee (from whom his followers were called Galileans) was to give his Blood for the Redemption of Mankind? But though this Man was thus fitly Disposed and Prepared for his Work, yet the Bloody Sentence against our Saviour was not to be pronounced by him without the Pre­amble of a Formal Arraignment and Trial. And accordingly the Innocent Iesus was set to the Bar; and this Roman Governour took the Bench: where (as you will find by the Con­text) this Iudg was full of his Interrogatories, and propounded several, and those not In­considerable Questions. But among them all there was none certainly that was in it self more Substantial and Useful than this, What is Truth?

And it was as Pertinent as it was Weighty: for it was justly occasioned by our Lord's Plea and Protestation in Court, viz. That, notwith­standing the malicious Jews had Accused him as an Impostor, yet to This end he was born, and for [...]his cause he came into the world, that he might [...] [...]itness to the Truth, v. 37. As if our Savi­our had said, Whereas Error and Falshood have [...] a long time in the World, and the [...] have miserably perverted the Law of [Page 3] Nature, and great numbers of them have been spoiled through their Philosophy and vain De­ceit: And likewise among you Iews, the Mean­ing of God's Written Law is depraved by the Corrupt Doctrines of the Superstitious Phari­sees and Prophane Sadducees, (the former a sort of Hebrew Stoicks, the later a kind of Iewish Epicures and Atheists:) and you are divided in­to several Other Disagreeing Sects and Schools, and go on daily to corrupt and stifle the True Notions of Morality and Religion, and even utterly to take away the Key of Knowledge and Truth: Whereas things are Thus, The Great Design of my Visiting mankind is of a Contrary nature; namely, to lead them to Right Apprehensions of things, to baffle all Error and Delusion, and to direct them most effectually into the way of Truth. And every one that is of the Truth heareth my voice, v. 37. that is, Those who are Competent Judges and Sincere Lovers of Truth, will soon descry My Doctrin to be fraught with the Highest and most Important Verities; and will imbrace it as the Greatest Blessing that was ever vouch­safed to the World.

Pilate hearing our Saviour discourse of Truth, puts this Question to him in the Text. It is Luther's Conjecture that he did it out of Kind­ness to our Lord; for Pilate (saith heColloqu. Men [...]al.) being a worldly­wise man, and willing to rel [...]ase Christ▪ did as much as say to him, What? wilt [Page 4] thou dispute concerning TRUTH in these Wicked. Times of the World? TRUTH is here of no va­lue: it is generally despised and rejected. You must think of some Other way, for This will not do. Alas, What is TRUTH worth? and what are you like to get by abetting it? But I rather think that Pilate ask'd This Question in Contempt and Derision, I pray, Sir, What is the Right Definition of Truth? Do you pretend to un­derstand the Exact Notion of it? I must tell you This, Friend, Men are as much Mistaken about This as Any thing in the World; and I believe You are One of that number. You talk of Truth, but do you know What it is? And as soon as he had started this Query he went off the Bench.

By which it appears, that his Enquiry was not Serious; and that he Cared not for a Re­ply to it. Otherwise, if he had been in Good Earnest, without doubt our Saviour would not have failed to return an Answer. For he was a Person extremely Communicative, and used to satisfy all Material Questions to the Full, yea above what was demanded: As when a Lawyer ask'd him, What was the First Commandment, he told him moreover what was the Second, which was like unto it. So when it was asked him, Is it lawful to give Tribute to Cesar or no? His Answer was more than Satis­factory; for he not only acquaints them that they ought to pay Cesar his Tribute; but he adds also, that God's as well as Cesar's Dues are [Page 5] to be discharged. It is not to be doubted, that He who was so Ready at all times to Sa­tisfy Mens Demands, would have returned an Answer to This of Pilate, if this Great Man would have Stayed for it.

But though Pilate went away in Haste, I hope it will be worth our Time to Stay, and Satisfy our selves about This Question of so unspeakable Use and Value; a Question which is every ways Necessary in order to the Resol­ving of the Scruples of the Conscientious, and Silencing the Cavils of the Atheistical and Pro­phane; a Question whereon the whole Frame and Constitution of Religion depends; a Que­stion of the Greatest Importance next to That, What shall we do to be Saved? Or rather, it is of the Same rank with it; for (as the Apostle hath joyned them together) God would have all Men to be Saved, and come to the Knowledge of the Truth.

But an Other Question then will arise, How shall we come to the Knowledg of the Truth? Are we not on every side beset with Mistakes and False Notions? Was not Error very Early in the World; and doth it not bear Date from Adam? I have not Examined whether that be True which One saith,* That there is but One Speech deliver'd before the Flood by Man, wherein there is not an Erroneous Conception. But this is certain, that Mistake and Falshood [Page 6] enter'd into the World betimes; and that ever since a Night of Ignorance hath over-spread our Minds, and our Judgments are involved in a Cloud of Obscurity and Imperfection. In Cebes's Table, which represents Man's Life, Imposture gives her Cup to all that come into the World. Error and Ignorance are the Po­tion; and every one Drinks of it: but some more and some less. Hence it is that Pretences and Appearances of Reason cozen us; Im­perfect Argumentations and Superficial Dis­courses easily determine us. A Petty Induce­ment, a Weak Likelihood, a Plausible Ha­rangue, are enough to Turn the Scales with us, and Weigh heavier sometimes than a De­monstration. Hence it is that Truth is so Rare a thing in the World. We may justly complain as He of old,* It is Difficult to find out True Reason. Or, we may cry out as Hermias the Old Christian Philosopher did, Truth hath abandon'd, and taken its farewell of the World. How then shall we hope to have this Question assoil'd, and to know, What is Truth?

Nay, We are in as bad Circumstances as before, and Pilate's Demand is as far from be­ing Answer'd as it was; for as the Sceptick doubteth of all Truth, yea, indeed, denies it; so on the other hand we see, that All Parties [Page 7] of Religion in the World pretend that they are Masters and Possessors of it. Before there was No Truth, and now All is Truth. If you ask, what it Truth? you shall not want whole Herds of Men who will come and offer their Service to you, and with all Officiousness will tell you, that they are able to Resolve you in such an Easy Question as That is. Truth takes up its Residence with Vs, say the Paga [...] Wor­shipers: Our Numerous Deities and their Idols, have been vouched by Oracles and Divinati­ons, and all the ways that are requisite to make a Religion Authentick. We are the Pa­rents of Orthodox Faith, say the Iews, and all the rest of the World are Bewilder'd and Lost, being destitute of a Pillar of Light to lead them. Alas, they are inveloped in Egyptian Darkness, and must continue to be so till they take Moses for their Only Guide to bring them out of it. But then again, Neither Gentiles nor Iews are in the right, say the Followers of Mahomet, who yet was the Son of a Pagan Father and a Iewish Mother. The Alcoran is the True Charter of our Religion; and who can suspect it, since our Prophet received it from the An­gel Gabriel? We are the True Musselmen, i.e. Believers, and all Others are downright Infi­dels and Miscreants. Nay, even among Those who profess Christianity (for out of the Best and Purest Religion will arise the Worst of Corruptions and Heresies) the Parties and Di­visions, the Disputes and Claims are not a few. [Page 8] Truth is but One, and yet they All think they Monopolize it. Every Sect is Eager and Vio­lent; and some of them Confine All Religion and Salvation to their Own Way. Nay, they are for Persecuting all Parties but their Own; like the Ottoman Princes, they must Strangle all their Brethren, otherwise they think they cannot Reign safely. Ask the Different Par­ties, even from the Highest to the Lowest, from the Old Gentleman that sits in the Porphyry Chair, to the meanest Quaker or Muggletonian, and they will all tell you they are in possession of the Truth. Every Perswasion hath this of Popery in it, that the Professors of it think them­selves Infallible, and say they have an Unerring Guide; and therefore they take the Chair, and Determine Peremptorily on their Own Sides. Even whilst some cry, This is False, and others That; if you ask them singly, they all say they are in the Right; and every one confi­dently vouches that he is Proprietor of Truth. It seems by This, that Truth is Equally divi­ded among All Men; or rather indeed, that the Opinion of it is so. And hence it is pro­bable, that Scepticism and Indifferency in Reli­gion have had their Rise; for too Lavish Pre­tences to Truth have made some question whe­ther there be Any. The Divers Claims and Quarrels in Christianity have wonderfully fo­stered Atheism. For whilst it hath been ob­served that Divinity hath every where become Polemical; and that Men have thrown Bibles [Page 9] at one anothers Heads, whilst it hath been cried in their Ears that here is Truth, and there is Truth, they have grown Perplexed and Distracted, and know not how to behave themselves, and What Part to take. They hear that the Claim to Truth is Universal; but then they know This, that All the Pre­tences to it cannot be True, and How, say they, if None of them should be so? Here­upon they renounce Religion as a Faction, and in plain terms a Cheat, and consequently they Live and Act in the World as they Please. If Truth be claimed by All the Professors of Re­ligion, and those Professors Contradict one another, Where shall we find an Answer to This Interrogatory, What is Truth?

In way of Reply it is enough to say at pre­sent (for I shall answer a great part of these Cavils afterwards in the sequel of this Dis­course) 1. These Several Divisions and Par­ties evidently prove a True Religion: For it is certain, that Rational Men would not Con­tend for Nothing. Unless there were some Reality at the bottom, we cannot imagine that Persons of unprejudic'd Minds and sincere Intentions (as we must allow a great Part of them to be) would thus seriously busie them­selves, and be so mightily concern'd. 2. Some Mens fond and groundless Pretences ought not to be equalled with the Iust Claims of others. As long as the World continues in this degene­rate posture where it is, there will ever be a [Page 10] great number of men who will be pretending to Truth, even whilst they are maintaining those Doctrines which are directly opposite to it: Therefore we are not to concern our selves for these Pretenders, only so far as to slight them as Persons govern'd by Interest or Passion, or to pity them as those who are misled by Igno­rance or Prejudice. 3. As for the generality of Disputes which are at this day on foot, Religion, and particularly the Christian Reli­gion (I mean the Essentials and Vitals of it, which give it its denomination) are little, or not at all concern'd in those Quarrels, as will appear from what I shall suggest anon; and therefore I shall say no more here. But (not­withstanding what hath been objected) I will go on with my present design, which is an Inquest after Truth: and I hope the attempt will not prove vain and succesless.

That we may certainly find it out, those Two known, but too much neglected Rules or Standards are to be made use of by us, viz. Reason and Scripture. By Reason I mean the free and impartial use of our Understandings and Judgments which God hath naturally en­dued us with, and which we are obliged to improve and cultivate by the aid of our Bodily Senses, by the Testimony of others, by serious and steady Observation and well-grounded Ex­perience, for these must be assisting to Humane Reason to render it perfect and compleat. If thu [...] we would apply our selves to a serious [Page 11] search after Truth, we should soon make our selves Masters of it: For the Candle of the Lord (as Solomon very significantly calls the Reason of Man) was set up in our Breasts by God, on purpose to discover Truth to us.

But it must be acknowledged, that this Light hath been much impair'd by Man's Degeneracy, so that it can scarcely be said to Shine out; i.e. perfectly to display it self. It hath been Clouded ever since the First Apo­stacy, and obscured daily by the actual Pre­valency of Vice. An undeniable Evidence whereof were those swarms of monsterous Opinions among the Pagans, that gross Super­stition and Idolatry of the Gentile World, those prodigious Shapes and Models of Reli­gion which were invented by them. Often­times it happened, that the Creature made and framed his Creator; they shaped out Deities▪ and the way of Worshipping them according to their own Fancies and Imaginations; and a God was even what they thought good to make him. Or, suppose Natures Light did shine out to the full, yet it would not be Clear and Bright enough, to give us a Prospect of those Divine and Supernatural Truths, which are to bring us to Everlasting Happiness. For Nature and Reason cannot Dictate those things which depend wholly on God's Free Grace and Pleasure: And such are the Doctrine of a Saviour and Redeemer, the Method of [Page 12] Man's Salvation, and all the Mysteries of the Christian and Evangelical Dispensation. How was Nicodemus (a Noted Master in Israel, and no mean Possessor of Reason) baffled with the Doctrin of Regeneration? He might truly be said to go to Iesus by Night, who made his Visit only by the dusky and obscure Light of Nature. Therefore, tho' Reason, or rather the Understanding using its reason­ing Faculty, be a laudable Guide in Religion, yet it will not be a safe Conduct to Truth if it be alone. There must of necessity be ano­ther Guide besides this, to lead us to the Dis­covery of Heavenly Verities, and Propositi­ons of Faith. There must be Divine Illumi­nation to assist us, to find out Divine and Spi­ritual Truths.

The Second Standard then of Truth is, the Infallible Word of God. Divine Truths must be sought for, not from Man, but from God; not from Human Writings, but an Unerring Word; not from those who are Finite and Ignorant, but from Him who is Infinite, and knoweth all Things; not from the Sons of Men, but from Him who is the only-begotten Son of God, the Revealer of his Father's Will: For [No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Fa­ther, he hath declared him,] as the beloved Disciple beareth witness, Iohn 1. 18. None is able to discover the Divine and Supernatural Mysteries which our Religion is fraught with, [Page 13] but the Founder of them.* We could never have arrived to those Transcendent Notions, unless we had been taught them from Heaven. We were not skilled to appoint the Manner of Appeasing the incensed Majesty of Heaven, and to prescribe the Way of Worship suitable to that Oeconomy. This would have been as if it should be left to some silly Country Peasant, to assign the Way and Manner of Treating a Mighty King and Monarch; Who would not expect in such a case a strange and uncouth, a rude and ridiculous Way of Address and Courtship, and below the Great­ness and Majesty of a Prince? But it was re­quisite there should be a particular Divine Discovery, a clearer Light, a surer Guide than that of Nature: For though God at sun­dry times, and in divers manners had Reveal­ed himself to the past Generations of Men, yet to make that Revelation compleat, he spoke in the last days by his Son, and by the Testimony of the Holy Ghost in the inspired Writings of the Apostles and Evangelists. Christ therefore saith, and that Emphatically, I am the Truth, Iohn 14. 6. The Gospel was the last and most corrected Edition of the Do­ctrin of Truth; and we must never look for any other to come forth to the End of the World. This is Truth more eminently so [Page 14] called, The Truth which came by Iesus Christ, as the Blessed Evangelist speaketh. This is the Christian Truth, Our singular Glory where­by We are distinguished from all those who profess any other Religions whatsoever, whe­ther of the Unbelieving Iews, or the Idola­trous Gentiles, or the Deluded Saracens and Turks, or downright Atheists, and others of a like Perverse Perswasion. These all Err, especially the three first Ranks of Men, by not knowing or not imbracing the Scriptures; which are deservedly stiled,* The Word of Truth, and are the only supreme Rule of Faith and Doctrin. We then, who imbrace this Christian Rule, are Blessed with that Institu­tion which is Pure and Undefiled, which is grounded on undoubted Revelation, which is backed by a more sure Word of Prophecy, which hath a divine Impress stamped upon it. So that Our Religion as far surmounts all Others, as the Gold which hath passed the Re­finers Fire, and hath the Royal Stamp upon it, outbids the common Ore, and shames its Dross and meaner Alloy.

You see then which are the unalterable Standards of Truth, viz. Reason and Revela­tion, the Light of Nature and of Scripture. And I dare confidently aver, that if our En­quiries and Determinations in Religion were faithfully managed by these two, it were im­possible [Page 15] to fail of Truth. If we would but act thus as Men and Christians (and that is as we ought to do) we cannot miss of it: For it is certainly the Purchase of all those who make a right Use of their Rational Powers, and also help and direct those Powers by the Re­velation of the Sacred Spirit in the Holy Scri­ptures. By these two we may examine the Truth of the Whole Christian Religion, and we shall find that it will abide the Test. By these Standards of Truth we may examine the Doctrins of all Seducers that are abroad in the World, and we shall find them to be False and Adulterate. If we would sincerely fol­low these Rules, the great Diversity of Opi­nions and Sentiments amongst us would soon be reconciled: If we would faithfully take these Measures, i.e. always be Ruled and Condu­cted by Reason and Scripture, we should easi­ly agree upon what is to be believed and assert­ed in Religion; and all our Disputes and Con­troversies would vanish.

Now, from what hath been hitherto Dis­coursed, we may in some good measure be able not only to return an Answer to Pilates Question, What is Truth? but to ano­ther near a kin to it, viz. What is Error and Falshood? All Propositions which contradict the common Notices and first Principles in our Minds, and which affront right Reason and the plain Deductions made from it, are to be looked upon as False: And on the same [Page 16] account those Assertions which overthrow the Verdict of our Senses; and much more those that imply Contradictions in them, and con­sequently Impossibilities, cannot be True. And on These Grounds I might shew that the Divinity of some High-flown Enthusiasts, and the Doctrin of the Roman Catholicks concern­ing Transubstantiation, are justly to be im­peached of Falshood.

Again, whatsoever Assertions in any Reli­gion are repugnant to Divine Revelation, to God's Will declared by some Positive Law, to such Discoveries as are known to be imme­diately from Heaven, these must necessarily be False. And on this Ground the Religion of the Pagans, Iews, and Mahometans must be voted to be such, because they oppose an In­fallible Revelation, and That confirmed by unparallelled Miracles. And semblably in Christianity, all those Tenents of several Sects, which bid defiance to any part of the Sacred Scripture, which is left us by the Holy Ghost, as the generality of the Roman Opinions, the Doctrins of Pelagians, Socinians, Anabaptists, Antinomians, Libertines, Quakers, Hobbians, &c. are False and Erroneous.

Thus far then, by vertue of the Premises, we have advanced, that when there are se­veral Claims and Pretences to Truth, and it is enquired, What Judge shall decide the Con­troversy, the Answer must be, That Right Reason and Inspired Scripture are the only [Page 17] Judges, they being the fixed Standards and Measures of Truth.

But then here will lie the main Difficulty of all, that in the Questions and Debates of Religion, Scripture is quoted with equal Vi­gor and Confidence on all Sides; as if what the Iewish Rabbies say of Scripture, That it hath Seventy-two Faces, were the received Opi­nion of Christians. Nay, some of these seem to acknowledge, by their strange way of In­terpreting it, That it hath not only different, but contrary Aspects. When therefore there are Disputes about Scripture-Interpretation, What must we do? How can we discern what is Truth by Consulting of Scripture, when as that is Dubious and Uncertain? If contra­ry Sects and Parties quote it, and plead it, how can it be a fixed Standard of Truth? How is it an unerring Guide?

It might suffice to say in General, That it is no wonder that all Opinionists, even the Wildest of them, make use of Scripture; yea, a great Part of the Turks Alcoran is express Words of the Bible. It is no wonder, I say, since Scripture was quoted by Satan himself, who, when he Tempted our Saviour, misap­plied it to the vilest Purpose. But particu­larly, to satisfie this Great and Affrighting Difficulty, we may inform our selves that in Religion there are Five Sorts of Enquiries and Doctrines. Now, I will briefly shew how Scripture is to be made use of, and when [Page 18] it is fit to Apply it to any of these Particulars.

I. Some Points of our Religion are in them­selves Mystical and Profound; and the Sacred Writings having not Explained them, it can­not be expected that we should ever do it. Such Difficult and Sublime Doctrines as the Mystery of the Sacred Trinity (i.e. a Trinity of Divine Persons in the Unity of the God­head) the Union of the Divine and Humane Nature in One Person, the Manner of the Re­surrection, and the like, are not to be through­ly known by us as long as we sojourn on Earth.

These are like the Book in the Re­velation, Rev. 5. 3, 6. which none is able to open in Heaven or in Earth, but the Lamb. And seeing he is not pleased to Unfold them to us, we must Admire and Adore them, but not be sollicitous to Comprehend them. We are to remember this, that some Things must be believed on the mere Authority of the Speaker, and it argues Infidelity to question the Truth of them, or so much as to be Inquisitive about them. The Things are spoken by God, therefore we ought to give Credit to them: The Manner and Circumstances of them are not discovered, therefore I'm obliged not to pry into them. This was the Sense and Pra­ctice of the Primitive Christians, as we may learn from Origen, who tells us, That the be­lieving some Articles of Faith on the bare Au­thority of the Scriptures, was objected to the Christians by the Heathens: Their Complaint [Page 19] against them was, That they would neither give nor receive a Reason of their Faith, but were wont to cry out, * Examine not, but believe.

Here likewise I may rank some Insuper­able Problems concerning the Divine De­crees and Predestination, the Abstruseness of which forbids a curious and close Enquiry. But This is most true, That Modesty is the most commendable Vertue here. The [...] ­doret saith well, I think it Boldness to pro­nounce peremptorily concerning those Things of which the Sacred Scripture delivers nothing plainly. God was not pleased to deliver all things with equal Evidence; and why then should we undertake to make every Thing Plain and Demonstrable? Or, why are we Angry if others think some things are not so? Those Words which I meet with in one of St. Ierom's Epistles are Admirable, and are worth the Observation of those, especially, who are Students of Divinity. When we search (saith he) with too much Nicety and Cu­riosity into those things which God would not have us know, but hath purposely concealed from us, we catch only at Shadows, we entertain and busy our selves with Trifles, we quit the Fountain Truth, and run after the fruitless Streams of meer [Page 20] Opinion and Fancy. Let us fix this on our Minds, That there are some unsearchable My­steries, and it was designed by the All-Wise God that we should not be acquainted with them. We may say here, asNat. Qu. Se­neca concerning the Nature of Co­mets, God only, whose sole Prerogative is to have a perfect Knowledge of Truth, knows these things to be true, and the very manner of them, tho' it be hid from us. When we peremptorily say this or that concerning these obscure Mat­ters, we may Err, and we cannot tell when we do; but when we determine nothing pre­cisely (above what is determined in Scripture) we are sure we do not Err; and we are sure of this too, that we are not guilty of Distort­ing and Misinterpreting the Word of God; which is a Fault very frequent in these Cases.

To conclude this Particular, Let not weak Christians be troubled that there are several Passages in the Bible which they cannot clear­ly understand. I assure them, that they may be Ignorant of the full meaning and manner of them, and yet their Salvation is not endan­gered thereby. And as to our Deportment towards others, with respect to these Points, seeing we cannot perfectly explain them, why should we be Angry at those who embrace a different Perswasion concerning the manner of these things?

II. Many things in Religion are made dif­ficult merely by Disputes and Quarrels; and [Page 21] if the Holy Scriptures were Plainer than they are, yea never so Plain, yet Wrangling Heads would fall a Disputing, and make way for Error by that means. And here it is their way commonly to make use of one or two places of Scripture, and to oppose them a­gainst a whole heap of other Texts. The old Hereticks (those Interfectores V [...]ritatis, as Ter­tullian calls them, those Murtherers and As­sasines of Truth) frequently used this way. * A few Texts, yea sometimes a single one, shall serve to baffle a great number. It might be shewed in particular Instances, how Er­roneous Doctrines are grounded on some Mens attending to one or a very few Places of Scripture, whil [...]t in the mean time they take no notice of several and divers Texts which look another way. Nay, not only a few Texts, but those also which are very dark and obscure, difficult and knotty, are often­times weilded and managed against very plain and direct Places of Scripture. This was ob­served by that Learned Father whom I last mentioned; One Chapter (saith he) in the Bible where some Ambiguous Words are, is brought by them to Confront a numerous Company and Host of Texts. But this is an Indirect Method; [Page 22] for it is most Just and Reasonable that a few Places of Scripture should yield to many, ob­scure ones to the plainer, doubtful to the certain; that Those should be judged and decided by These, not vice versa; that so amidst this seem­ing Discord and Discrepancy, our Belief may not be shaken, and that the Truth may not be endangered, and that the Holy Spirit speak­ing in the Scriptures may not be thought to be Inconsistent with its self, as that Excellent Person* saith in another Place. It is an use­ful Rule therefore of St. Austin, To explain obscure Places of Scripture, let us use the Assi­stance of those that are plainer; and by the Cer­tainty and Clearness of some, let the Doubtful­ness of others be taken away. This may be ser­viceable to us when we read the Scriptures, and when we would be satisfied about some Controversies which arise thence. But alas, this Holy Book is Ruffled and Intangled by wilful Mistakes and Disputes, wherein it is common to Wrest the Words, and to Oppose one part of them to another, instead of Ad­justing the whole Matter by a fair Recon­cilement. [Page 23] To Instance, Nothing is Plainer in the Book of God than this, That he hath fully Decreed and Predetermined whatever shall come to pass; and Nothing is more Plain in the said Holy Volume than this, That Man is a free Agent, and is not Constrained and Compelled, but what he willeth he willeth freely. All sober Persons agree in these, and therefore this ought to be a Ground of mutual Concord and Reconciliation. But instead of this, some raise Disputes still, and whereas we are agreed that both these are True and Consistent, viz. God's Decree, and Man's Free­dom, they will ask, How this can be? And if you do not satisfy them as to this (which it is utterly Impossible perhaps to do) they will shew themselves very much displeas'd. Which argues that they are of a quarrelsom Temper, and delight in Wrangling, and make use of Scripture for that purpose in the most serious and weighty Doctrines.

III. It happens by the Luxuriancy of busy Brains, that many Enquiries in Religion are Nice and Subtle, Over-curious and Trifling; and as for these, they are below the Verdict of Holy Scripture. It began to be a matter of Wit to be a Christian (asEras [...]us. One observes) about the days of Con­stantine the Great: So soon had they learned to be Quaint in their Divinity, and that about the highest Points of it. And other subtile Heads since that time (such were most of [Page 24] the Schoolmen) have troubled the World with their Fruitless Speculations, their Fool­ish and Unlearned Questions, their Fond and Sapless Notions. And these, and others ad­ded to them, are called Truths by some Per­sons; but indeed, they are not worthy of that great Name. A Man may be Ignorant of a thousand of them, and yet not Impair his Knowledge. To make use of Holy Scripture here, is to be serious in the midst of Trifles, and (which is worse) to Prophane that Holy Book. The same Judgment may be made of many (not to say most) of the Questions pro­pounded and handled by the Roman Casuists, which are of no moment or use at all, nay they are very hurtful and pernicious, because they distract Mens Minds, instead of directing them; and yet they are very warmly contro­verted, as if they were the most serious and important Truths.

IV. There are some Propositions in our Re­ligion which are Disputable and Probable on both Sides: And in these doubtful Cases to hear Persons of different Judgments cite the same Passages of Holy Writ, should not give Of­fence to any. Because that Trumpet gives an uncertain Sound, I see no reason why the Parties should prepare themselves for Battle, and Dispute with so much Fierceness and Rage, as generally they do. I cannot sufficiently Admire and Commend the excellent Candor and Moderation of the first Pious Reformers [Page 25] of Our Church, who in such Articles as are Dubious and Disputable have not shewed themselves Stiff and Peremptory, Rigid and Magisterial, have not wound up the Strings too high, lest they should marr the Harmo­ny and Peace of the Church. But where the Arguments are deemed to be Equal on both Sides, they have allowed us an ingenuous Free­dom, and permit us to make use of our own Judgments; and yet at the same time severely and indispensably urge upon us all Articles that are of the Foundation, and which are certainly known to be True. And this brings me to the

Fifth and Last Rank of Principles in our Holy Religion; and they are Fundamental and Necessary, and of the very Essence of Christi­anity: Of which sort are the Doctrines of Man's Corruption and Degeneracy, of the Re­paration made by Christ the Redeemer, of Forgiveness and Justification by his Blood, &c. with all those substantial Articles of Faith comprised in the Creed, which goes under the Name of the Apostles. These are the Christian Verities, and these are clear and manifest in God's Word, and have plain Evidence of Scripture, and are agreed upon by all Sober and Considerate Persons who have not re­nounced the Christian Profession. Here it is that we have the greatest Use and Guidance of Scripture; and for that plain Direction which it gives us in these, we are to Prize and Value [Page 26] it as the Richest Treasure, nay; as the Only Treasure in the World: For from this Inspired Book alone we have these Heavenly and Di­vine Doctrines; they were originally in no o­ther Writings in the World but these. Where­fore let us look upon these grand Truths as the main and necessary Contents of the Bible, and as the Matters which we are indispensably concerned in. As for those Texts which are Obscure and Difficult, or which relate not to Faith or Manners, and consequently are not necessary to be known, let us not be displeased that we cannot reach the meaning of them. Let it not seem strange that Interpreters vary here, and cannot agree about the Sense of these Places. St. Ierom upon the Place saith thus, St. Augustin otherwise, and St. Chrisostom va­ries from both; and it may be a fourth differs from these; and a fifth comes and diffents from them all. This doth not offend me in the least, for where the Scripture speaks of things that are Abstruse, or speaks in an obscure and dark manner, it is not strange that we have not a clear and plain discovery of those Passages, and consequently that those Writers who have treated of them differ in their Expositions. Let not this trouble us, for it was God's Will there should be these Difficulties in Scripture, and he hath not made it necessary for us to have the certain sense and meaning of these Places. But this should satisfy us, that whatever is necessary to Salvation is plainly revealed, de­clared [Page 27] and written in the Old and New Testa­ment; and that the Knowledge of this alone is absolutely necessary.

This then is that which I say, that if Chri­stian Men would read the Bible, to learn thence these undoubted Principles▪ and their in­dispensable Duty, and not to furnish themselves with Matter of Dispute, they would be the happiest People under Heaven, and be no longer Scandalous to the greater (which is the Unbelieving) Part of the World, by their Dissentions and Disagreements. O when will that Blessed Day come when Rectified and Unbiassed Reason, and the plain Arbitrement of Scripture shall decide the Controversies in Christendom! If these were once admitted as Impartial Umpires, they would make short Work of all the Quarrels about Religion, namely, by pronouncing Many of them to be vain Janglings, and Most of them Unreason­able and Absurd; by assuring the Christian World, That if they would lay aside Preju­dice, and Interest, and Vile-Affections, nothing would appear so Clear and Evident and Un­disputable as the Fundamental Doctrines a­bove-named; and that all who name the Name of Christ are obliged to Embrace and Profess these necessary and unquestionable Maxims, and that they ought to be Wary and Modest in their Determinations concerning other Pro­positions which are uncertain; and that in Matters which are Indifferent and Circumstan­tial, [Page 28] it is Reasonable that they should either conform themselves to the Practice of the Church they live in, or mutually agree to bear with one another.

Where then is there any place left for Un­charitable Disputes, and Unchristian Animo­sities? No where certainly, but where meer Wilfulness and Perversness reign. For are not the Rules and Standards of Truth Easy and In­telligible? Have we not the Eternal Laws of Reason, the immediate Directions of Nature, and the Convictions of our own Minds; and moreover have we not the Infallible Oracles and Inspired Writings to rectify our Mistakes? Have we not Heavenly and Divine Know­ledge to Exalt our Natural Notions? Hath not the Divine Goodness blessed us with abun­dant Discoveries, both from the Law of Na­ture and the Positive Laws of Christ Jesus, but more especially from the Latter, that com­pleat Body of Divine Laws, that Authentick Volume of Religion, that Inestimable Trea­sury of true Wisdom and Knowlege? So that if we will sincerely make use of these Helps which God hath given us, we shall have no occasion to renew this Demand, What is Truth?

Now to the God of Truth, and Father of Lights; and to his Son Christ Iesus, who is the Way and the Truth; and to the Holy Spirit of Truth and Grace be ascribed everlast­ing Honour and Glory.


Why Rulers and Iudges are called Gods.
A Sermon Preach'd before the Iudges at the Assizes held at Cambridge.

PSALM LXXXII. 6, 7.‘I have said, Ye are Gods: and all of you are the Children of the most High. But ye shall die like Men, and fall like one of the Princes.’

THIS Psalm may not unfitly be stiled the Iudges or Magistrates Psalm, for of them it speaks, and for them it was Penn'd, that they might un­derstand their Duty, and not be ignorant of their Dignity; that they might know how to discharge their Office (which is briefly sum­med up in the third and fourth Verses) and that they might be assured likewise that [Page 30] Heaven it self hath vouched their Function, and authorized their Profession; that they might be Ascertained that those of their Emi­nent Rank and Quality are under the pecu­liar Influence of Providence, that they are God's Charge, and that they are themselves Gods. [I have said, Ye are Gods.]

In which Words, and the following ones which I have read to you, we may take notice of these Two General Parts, viz. a Concession, and a Correction. 1st. An honourable Con­cession of the Magistrates Eminency and high Degree, [I have said, Ye are Gods: and all of you are the Children of the most High.] 2dly. Here is adjoined a Correction, or a severe Com­mination for the Abuse of their Place and Dignity, [But ye shall die like Men, and fall like one of the Princes.] Or, if you will thus: Here is the Dignity of the Magistrates Office, [I have said, Ye are Gods:] And here is the Infirmity of their Persons, [Ye shall die like Men.] In the former of these you may observe, 1. The Migistrates eminent Quality, Ye are Gods. 2. Their Authority and Divine Insti­tution, I have said, Ye are Gods.

I begin with the First, viz. The Magi­strates Eminency; they are Gods. Rulers and Governors, Publick Ministers and Dispensers of Law and Justice among the People are de­servedly called Gods. Great and Excellent Things have the Name of God added to them in the Stile of Holy Scripture (of which there [Page 31] are abundant Instances): And here the Name of God is not only Adjoined but Attributed to these Great and Excellent Persons. Not only Kings and Supreme Rulers, but Subordinate Magistrates are Gods, for in the very front of this Psalm, wherein my Text is, it is said, That [God standeth in the Congregation of the Mighty, he Iudgeth among the Gods] i.e. the Iudges and Magistrates who sat in the Consi­story, the Iewish Sanhedrim. The Gods then here are not the Sovereign Powers; so that the Title is competible both to these and to Infe­rior Magistrates. And accordingly my Dis­course at present will have reference both to the King as Supreme, and unto Governours as unto them who are sent and appointed by Him. Some Passages will more properly be­long to Crowned Heads, but yet in a due proportion may be applied unto you, and by you who have the Honour to be the King's Immediate Vicegerents. And because you bear that High and Noble Character, let it not be thought strange if I seem sometimes to treat you in the Stile of Majesty. I shall not endeavour to gain your Attention by Flattery, but seeing the Relation you bear to the High­est Power, and the worthy Office you hold under it entitle you to the Name of Gods, I think it will be Impossible (and consequently a vain attempt) to fix a more Honourable Title upon you, and therefore I shall make it my Business to descant upon That.

[Page 32]You cannot but observe that in the Sacred Writ this Epithet is frequently fastned on Magistrates and Governors. Moses was to be to Aaron instead of a God (Exod. 4. 16.) that is, a Iudge or Prince, say the Chaldee Para­phrase, and Arabick Version: Though I rather think there is another meaning of those words, viz. That he was to be an Interpreter from God to Aaron, as he is said to be a God to Pharoah, Exod. 7. 1. and therefore I will not insist upon that Place. The 22d. of Exod. ver. 28. is clear and without Dispute, [Thou shalt not revile the Gods, nor curse the Rulers of thy People.] One is Exegetical of the other. A Ruler and a God are Synonymous Terms, and signify the same Person. In Iotham's Parable it is said, That Wine cheareth God and Man, Iudg. 9. 13. which words, though the worthy Mr. Calvin would have understood of Appeasing God by Sacrifice, wherein Wine was commonly used; and some Interpret them in another way, yet this seems to me to be the plainest and most obvious Sense of the Words, viz. That the moderate and lawful Use of Wine is serviceable to the refreshing and chearing of the Hearts of both High and Low, Kings and their Subjects, Magistrates and others that are of an Inferior Quality, briefly expressed here by God and Man. You may gather from Psalm cxxxviii. that it was no unusual thing to denote the Office of Kings and Rulers by the Title of Gods; for in ver. 1. [Page 33] the Psalmist thus speaks, [Before the Gods will I sing Praise unto Thee;] and after he had stir­ed Them up to join in the same Chorus with himself, he adds, ver. 4. [All the Kings of the Earth shall praise Thee.] The Gods and the Kings of the Earth are the same. If you pass to the New Testament you will read in 2 Thes. 2. 4. That the Man of Sin exalteth himself above all that is called God, i.e. (it is very probable) Magistrates and Civil Powers: he pretends he hath a power of disposing of Kingdoms and Empires, and of Reigning over the Kings of the Earth. And this way of Speaking is usual with Prophane Nations, as well as Iews and Christians. I could shew you, if I had lei­sure, that the Gentile World signified their Apprehensions concerning Magistrates and Ru­lers, very conformably to the Stile and Lan­guage of the Holy Scripture; they represent­ed Governors as Gods: Both their Orators and Poets mention them as Divine Persons, and a­bove the reach of Humanity. Yea, it is observa­ble that when theHor. Hieroglyph. Egyptians Pourtrayed their Gods and Kings, the Heads of both were encompassed with Wreaths of Serpents, which, according to their Hieroglyphicks, were Symbols of Divi­nity, as well as Sovereignty.

It remains now that I shew you in what Sense the Civil Powers are called Gods, and why even the Sacred Writ honours them with That Title. It is Blasphemy to assert that [Page 34] they are [...], really Gods by nature, i.e. Omnipotent and Independent Beings; for so there is no other God but One, who is there­fore called The God of Gods, to distinguish Him from All Nominal Gods, and particularly Magistrates, who are called so for these Three Reasons chiefly, viz. because, First, They are Gods by Deputation; they are God's Vice­gerents and Delegates; they are His imme­diate Ministers and Deputies; they are in the Place of the King of Kings; they Personate and Represent Him here on Earth, and there­fore may justly bear His Name. This is ac­cording to what King Iehosaphat gave in Charge to his Judges, in 2 Chron. xix. 6. [Ye judge not for Man, but for the Lord;] i.e. Ye do not so much Appear and Act in the Place of Man, as in God's Stead; you do not Perso­nate the King so much as the Great God of Heaven. Secondly, They are Gods by a kind of Participation: They Share in some sort with the Almighty. Divisum Imperium cum Iove Caesar habet: God hath devolved His Power on them, and hath made them as it were Derivative Deities, by that Impress of Authority and Greatness which he hath stampt upon them, and by appointing them His Viceroys and Vicars here on Earth. Thirdly, Magistrates are Gods by way of Analogy and Resemblance. Every Man, as he is Man, is the Image and Glory of God (if the Determination of the Great Apostle be valid) Much more is [Page 35] the Ruler the Image and Glorious Representa­tion of the Deity; and that,

First, (More Generally) because of his Su­periority and Eminence above Others. A Great King and Monarch may be said on This Account to make some Approaches to the Su­preme Being of the World. His Acting in so Large and Capacious a Sphere, is some mean Resemblance of the Divine Dominion. The vast Influence which Rulers have over the Peo­ple, and the Great Circumference they describe, may entitle them to a kind of Deity.

Secondly, More Particularly, The God of Heaven, and Those whom he hath appointed to Rule on Earth, Resemble one another in their Actions and Imployments, viz. in Ruling and Governing All for the Good of the Commu­nity, in making and appointing Laws to That End, in distributing of Punishments and Re­wards, and in executing of Justice and Judg­ment in the World. Therefore, saith* Theo­deret, Iudges are called Gods, because they imitate God as they are entrusted with the Office of Iudging. And Iustin Martyr be­fore him had Words to the same purpose. The Pagan Iove was Celebrated for his Thunder. But it is a Truth, without any Fiction, That a Magistrate is an Earthly God, as to his Se­verity [Page 36] in Punishing obstinate Offenders: And he is a God in Mercifulness and Compassion when there is occasion for it; for God himself is Love. One of the Antiochus's (Successors of Alexander the Great) had the Title of Theos given him, because of his singular Acts of Kindness to several People, especially to the Meletians, whom he relieved and rescued from the Tyranny they were under. It is God-like to shew Mercy, to help, defend, and deliver Men in their Distresses. In this there­fore Rulers are concerned to make the near­est Approach to Divinity that they can. God himself is* frequently termed a Shield, and Magistrates, in their Proportion, are to be such, and accordingly are stiled the Shields of the Earth. Thus Earthly Rulers Imitate God, and are deservedly stiled Gods, [...], because of the Eminency of their Ver­tue, as the Antient Philosopher said well. Thus Good Magistrates have the Character of Divinity upon them: They have the Signature and Mark of Heaven. They are called in my Text, The Children of the most High. This Resemblance and Likeness to their Father, gives them most deservedly That De­nomination. Now they are truly God's I­mage, and bear his Superscription. They are [Page 37] the Admirable Words of Plutarch. * ‘A Ruler (saith he) is the Image of God, who Governs all things. A Magistrate needs no Statuary to make an Image of God, for by no other Workmanship and Art than that of Vertue and Goodness he can make Him­self Such, a Piece of so much Worth and Excellency that it shall be most Acceptable to God, and Worthy of Him.’

This Doctrin Thus Illustrated may be Ap­plied both to Magistrates and People. First, To the People, who by Vertue of what hath been said, are obliged to Consider and Weigh well the Dignity of the Persons who are Set over them, and to Behave themselves Accordingly, i.e. willingly to Acknowledge their Authority and Superiority, to Respect and Reverence them, to pay them that Civil Worship which is due to them, and chearfully to Obey their Lawful Commands. Governours are Gods, therefore to Speak Evil of them is a kind of Blasphemy. They are the Images of God, and so he that Disrespects and Despises them, A­buseth God in Effigie. To do Violence to Them, is to Assault the Deity, to Combate against Heaven, and Fight against God him­self. Here then is a Solid Basis for Obedience, [Page 34] [...] [Page 35] [...] [Page 36] [...] [Page 37] [...] [Page 38] God hath Deputed Magistrates, and made them his Representatives, and Communica­ted his Authority and Power to them, and by being Good they do more signally Resem­ble Him: Whence it is Rational to Infer, That the wilful Contempt of Human Autho­rity is Affronting of God, and despising even the Majesty of Heaven. It is the Peoples Duty then to Study and Practise Obedience, and more especially to Thank God for Good Magi­strates, who are sent from Heaven, and are the peculiar Gift of God. Magistracy deserves a Double Veneration, when it is in Conjunction with Holiness.

Secondly, The Magistrate no less than the People, is concerned in This Text, and in This Discourse. He may see here at once his Eminency and his Duty, what God hath made him, and what He expects of him. Let the Masters of Heraldry range all their Titles of Honour, it is certain there cannot be a greater and more Honourable one than This of Gods. But as it carries Honour with it, so it bespeaks a Behaviour becoming That Honour. If any Magistrate should be so Vain as to Rely on the Title of God, and Vaunt of That, and yet in the mean time Neglect his Duty, he may remember that Heathen Idols are called Gods, Psal. xcvi. 5. and Satan is called the God of this World, 2 Cor. iv. 4. Rulers must Deport them­selves like Gods, else they fondly lay Claim to that Name; They must remember that the [Page 39] Name they bear puts them in mind whose De­puties they are. It is a high Compliment which Pliny passes upon Trajan in the Close of his Panegyrick, viz. That nothing Greater or Better could be wished to the Commonwealth, than that the Gods would Imitate the Emperour. It is a Truth, without any strain of Rhetorick, that no greater Felicity can be wished to King­doms and Commonwealths, than that the Gods, so stiled in my Text, would endeavour to Imitate the King of Kings. It will be a Shame and a great Solecism, if Those who are in God's Stead discover Nothing of God or Divinity in their Lives and Actions; if Those who bear the Name of God partake not of the God-like Nature, but rather of that which is Diabolick. Remember that as you are De­puted by God, so you must Resemble Him. You are the Children of the most High, you are his Off-spring more Signally; be mindful of your Heavenly Extraction, and commit nothing Unworthy of it. You that are Governours must use your Power for God; for it is reason­able that He who is the Original of your Power should also be the End of it. Think not that the Title given you here is an Idle and Empty Thing. The Gods which the Psalmist speaks of must not be like the Heathen Gods and Idols, who (as he saith) Have eyes, but see not: ears, but hear not: hands, but handle not. We have too many of such Gods as These in This Na­tion. How many Magistrates sit with their [Page 40] Arms across, and Study to do Nothing? How many Gallio's are there of this Age which Care for none of those Things which are the Proper Work of their Place? The Hebrew Netzib. word which signifies a Statue, and a Tomb, signifies also a President, a Governour. How many are there that bear this Latter Cha­cter, who are too near of Kin to the Former? Though they are appointed to be Publick Dis­pencers of Justice, yet they are not Sollicitous to Discharge that Office, but rather give the Neighbourhood to understand that they are meer Senseless Statues, and Empty Sepulchres. But certainly it is very unbecoming a Chri­stain Magistrate, to be Idle and Unactive in his Place, to be Careless and Unconcerned, and sleep away his time, as if the People of his Province were as Inconsiderable as the Frogs, over whom (as the Fable tells us) Iupiter ap­pointed a Log to be their King and Gover­nour. To be dull and heavy in an Employ­ment that calls for Activity is Inexcusable, and very Reproachful. Bibulus, who was I. Ce­sar's Fellow-Consul, but did nothing in his Office, was left out in the Roman Dates, which otherwise always made mention of both the Consuls. An Idle and Useless Magistrate ren­ders himself Ridiculous and Contemptible; he is of no Value, and therefore is reckoned as a meer Cypher in the Publick Accounts. Matters of great moment call for his Care and Inspection; how then can he be Unconcern­ed [Page 41] and Unactive? His Affairs are Great and Weighty, and he hath no leisure to Trifle, after the rate of that Loitering Emperor who spent his time in Catching and Killing of Flies. He is made for the Safety and Welfare of the People, and therefore it is not enough that he [...]its quiet, and doth no harm; but it is requi­red that he do Good. Seeing Rulers are al­lied to Divinity, they must be Vigorous and moving; they are to Live and Act as Gods, they are engaged to shew forth the God-like Vertues which are supposed to be in them. They must Resemble the Deity in Holiness and Purity; unless they would approve them­selves to be such Gods as Homer and other Poets are wont to make, that is, Drunken, Adul­terous, Contentious, and Debauched Gods: Which indeed is no more than could be expect­ed from that sort of Writers; for it is no won­der that they who advanced Men and Mortal Creatures to the Quality of Gods, thrust down these Latter to the Condition of the Worst Sort of the Former. But these Things become not those Persons who are stiled Gods in the Holy Scripture, and are to Represent the God of all Purity. They should be reminded of this, That they are to Walk worthy of a Name that is so Sacred, of a Title that is so Honour­able. And so much for the First Remark on the Words, viz. The Dignity and Eminen­cy of the Magistrates Calling, Ye are Gods.

Proceed we in the next Place to the [...] [Page 42] of this Eminency, to the Fountain of this Ho­nour and Dignity, I have said, viz. That ye are Gods. Had they been called so by Men, it might have been construed as Flattery: As we read that it was the Proud and Insolent Humour of Great Ones, not only to give this Title to themseves, but to be Ambi­tious to have it Attributed to them by O­thers, and to be told by their Parasites, as our First Parents by the Serpent, That they shall be as Gods. But here Magistrates are called Gods by God Himself. Behold then the Di­vine Institution, the Sacred Appointment of Magistracy! The Tenure they hold by is the Highest and Best, viz. in Chief, from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Earthly Governours are Invested with their Authority from the God of Heaven. I, even I have said, Ye are Gods. First, Nature saith it, whereof God is the Author: Secondly, The Sacred Writ saith as much, whereof God the Holy Ghost is the Inditer: Thirdly, The Strange Events and Oc­currences in the World, whereof God is the Cause and Procurer, say, and proclaim aloud that Magistrates and Governours are God's Ordinance.

First, Nature saith it, whereof God is the Author and Founder, Magistracy bears an An­tient Date, and had the same Horoscope with the Creation. It began Primo Adami, it com­menced on the Calends of the World. The Light of Nature, with which we were born, [Page 43] dictates Superiority and Inferiority: And it may be observed, that the Man who is Re­bellious against this Sentiment, at the same time acknowledges the Truth of it; for he Claims a Preeminence to Brutes, and a Power over them, and this Right was Founded in the Primitive Laws of his Creation. He hath likewise Power and Sovereignty over himself, and that Part of him which is Brutish, his Lower Faculties and Sensual Appetites. And this Empire is wholly Managed by the Laws of Reason and Rectified Understanding. It is confessed by all Mankind, that there is yet a farther Dominion; for they have and ac­knowledge a Power over one another, as Ma­sters over their Servants, and Fathers over their Children: For all Children, as soon as they are Born, are under a Paternal Sovereign­ty; so that to be Subject is as Natural as to be a Man. And now, since the World is en­creased, the same Law of Reason and Nature dictates Subjection and Obedience to the Civil Parent, the Father of our Country, and to all those that are Deputed by him. For the Power of a King over his People, and so of Lower Magistrates over their peculiar Charge, is every way as Rational and Accountable as the foresaid Authority of Fathers over their Children. Whilst the World was yet in its Minority, it had these Guardians and Tutors; and even to this Day, when it is above Five Thousand Years old, it stands still in need of [Page 44] them. For certainly the very Necessities of Mankind are sufficient to vouch the Constitu­tion of Magistracy. We came into the World under a State of Government, and we cannot subsist without it. Our Natural Condition and Frame require such a Dispensation as this. To this there is the United Suffrage and Con­sent of all Nations, which shews it to be a Law of Nature.

I might add that God hath Condescended to the Weakness, and Complied with the In­firmities of our Nature, in appointing such Vicegerents as are of a resembling Temper with us, Men of like Passions with our selves. The Gods are come down to us, but in the like­ness of Men. The Lustre of the Divine Ma­jesty would have dazzled and confounded our weak Sight: That Glorious Sun could have no sooner been seen, but we should have been blinded. But when we cannot bear that Sun it self, we may behold its de­rivative Beauty in God's Deputies, the Ma­gistrates. In their Purple and Bright Robes we may safely view the Reflections of the Hea­venly Majesty and Brightness: And thus by a Necessary Constitution of Heaven, fitted to our Natures, and by the Suggestions of Na­tural Instinct and Right Reason, we are brought to acknowledge the Reasonableness and Necessity of a Government in the World. Ac­cordingly we find the Beginning and Rise of it referred to This very Principle by the Great [Page 45] Masters of the Imperial Laws, in their Books of* Digests.

Nor are we to Imagine (as some have fond­ly done) That Grace banishes Nature, that Reason and the Conduct of it are not Obligato­ry under the Gospel. This is a groundless Sur­mise, because 'tis certain, that he who swerves, from the Dictates of Nature declines God's Law, this being a Divine Law; and we may rationally gather any thing to be from God, if it be Evident by and Consonant to the Light of Nature, which is the [...]andle of the Lord. In a word, Natural Reason is so far from be­ing abolished by the Laws of Iesus Christ, that it is Confirmed and Authorized by them, they being the Upshot of all Good Laws, and the Consummation of the Best Reason. Hence it appears that what is said by Right Reason is said by God, for that is the Voice of God; I have said, Ye are Gods.

Secondly, The Sacred Scripture saith it, whereof God the Holy Ghost is the Inditer. The Law strictly charges Men not to Revile the Gods, nor speak Evil of the Ruler of the People, Exod. xxii. 28. Besides, that the Judges or Rulers of the Sanedrim are call'd Gods by the Psalmist, in the Person of God, the Di­vine Approbation is farther evidenced from the first Verse of this Psalm, where we are [Page 46] told, That God standeth in the Congregation of the Gods; the Great God presides over them, and Authorizes their Office and Employment, so far as they discharge it lawfully. This Divine Authority of our Superiors is for ever Established by that Royal Patent, Prov. viii. 15, 16. By me (i.e. by the Eternal and Essen­tial Wisdom) Kings reign, and Princes decree Iustice: By me Princes rule, and Nobles, even all the Iudges of earth. This unexceptionably makes them to be the Ordinance and Institu­tion of God himself: And the New Testament abets and confirms the Old, for in Iohn x. 34. our Saviour refers to the very Words of the Psalmist, saying, Is it not written in your Law, I have said, Ye are Gods? The known Practice of Christ, and his exemplary Subjection to the Powers then in being, may be concluded to be Authentick in this case, and to prove the Divine Commission both of Superior and Sub­ordinate Magistrates. But to wave that at present, if you peruse the Epistles of those Great Apostles St. Paul and St. Peter, you will find the Regal and Magistratical Office fully Asserted, and set up to its utmost heighth. Let every soul be subject to the higher Powers, for there is no Power but of God; The Powers that be, are ordained of God, Rom. xiii. 1. Submit your selves to every Ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the King as Supreme, or unto Governours as unto those that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the [Page 47] praise of them that do well, 1 Pet. ii. 13. Thus, whether they be Dii Majorum or Minorum Gentium, the Gods of an higher or an inferior Rank, whether they be those that have the Supreme Authority, or whether they be De­puted Officers and Rulers, they are All to be Reverenced, Honoured, and Obey'd; and there is the Command of God for it.

But a severe Enquirer into these foremen­tioned Texts will arrest me, it may be, with with this Objection; The Apostles seem to Clash, and to Contradict one another; for the former asserts, That the Powers which be, are Ordained of God; but the latter tells us plain­ly, That they are the Ordinance of Man. These are two different Things, yea Repugnant, to be the Ordinance of God, and to be the Ordi­nance of Man.

I have no time now to offer to you the se­veral Glosses of the Learned on that Passage of St. Peter; nor am I at leisure to acquaint you with the sundry Criticisms upon the word [...], and to tell you how variously it is ren­dred. But adhering at present to our own Translation, I will in few words dispatch the Difficulty, and shew you that Magistracy may be the Ordinance of Men as well as of God, and these are not Repugnant to one another. It is not unfitly stiled an Humane Ordinance, 1. In respect of the Object and Matter about which it is conversant, viz. Humane Society, the Affairs of Mankind. The Higher Powers [Page 48] are set over Men, and Transact those things which are Civil and Humane. 2. In regard of the Subject in which it is seated, it may have this Denomination; These Gods are real­ly of the same Nature and Make with our selves. 3. In respect of the End, it is justly called an Humane Ordinance; for it is appoint­ed for the Good and Preservation of Mankind, for the well ordering and governing the So­cieties of Men in the World. Now, all this is consistent with what St. Paul saith, viz. That Magistracy is the Ordinance of God; for though the Particular Form and Manner of Government be not fixed by God or Nature, by a Divine or Natural Law, but by a Posi­tive One (otherwise there would be but One Lawful Form of Government) yet this is cer­tain that Government in the General is the Direct and Express Appointment of God him­self. Thus it is evident that the Powers are the Ordinance of Man, and yet it is as true that they are Ordained of God, they are Constitu­ted and Authorized by Him, and they are ra­tified by his Written and Revealed Will. Thence we are assured that Divinity is Incir­cled in the compass of a Crown, and that Ru­lers are Invested with their Authority from the Supreme Sovereign of the World. Among Pythagoras's Scholars, if their Master said it, it was enough, it was Authentick and Unque­stionable. Much more surely with the Disci­ples of Christ Iesus must that be held Indispu­table, [Page 49] which God hath said in his Holy Word, I have said, Ye are Gods. We have not only the Suffrage of Reason (of which I spoke be­fore) but the Infallible Dictates of the Hea­venly Oracles. The Reason of the Thing it self, and the Will of the Supreme Majesty of Heaven concur here: And what Proof more Convincing can be desired and expected than Divine Testimony superadded to Natural Light? But,

Thirdly, As these, so likewise the Strange Events and Occurrences in the World, where­of God is the Cause and Procurer, proclaim aloud this Truth, That Magistrates and Go­vernors are God's Ordinance. There have not been wanting Wonderful Signs to confirm this. Government and Order have had a Blessing entail'd upon them by Providence. When Magistrates have faithfully discharged their Duties, some signal and open Manife­stations of God's Favour have acquinted us that he is pleased with them. When Phineas (whom we must look upon as a Publick Mi­nister of Justice) stood up and Executed Judg­ment upon that Pair of Infamous Sinners (whose Contagion else might have spread it self through the whole Land) the Plague pre­sently ceased, and the Divine Vengeance was appeased. But when bold and hardned Sin­ners have openly affronted Magistracy, and Mutinied against their Governors, they have but ill succeeded in such Expeditions. Thus [Page 50] when those three Notorious Conspirators o­pened their Mouths against Moses and Aaron, the Earth (in a resembling sort) open'd its mouth, and swallowed them up, and all that apper­tain'd to them, Num. xvi. 30, 32. These Re­bels found their Punishment in their Sin, and their Destruction in their Disobedience. Op­posing of Government, as it is a Curse in it self, so Judicially it is followed with one from Heaven. Not only Reason and Nature de­test it, but the Divine Nemesis. It is the In­scription on the Scottish Coin (as the Emblem, I suppose of their Thistle,) Nemo me impune la­cesset; None shall provoke me, and be unpunish­ed. It may justly indeed be the Magistrates Motto, for none ever Affronted them, but re­ceived the Reward of their Folly, for the King of Kings will not suffer his Vicegerents to be exposed to Contempt and Injuries. As they are Approved of and Countenanced by him, so their Opposers shall be Baffled and Pu­nished. And thus when Nature, and Neces­sity, and the Holy Writ, and Providence all join in one Sound, it is the Voice of God.

This Doctrin thus Established, concerns both the Magistrate and the People. First the Peo [...]le, for as before they were invited to O­bedience, from the Consideration of the Dig­nity and Eminency of their Superiors, so here they are called to the same Duty by this Thought, That Magistracy is of Divine In­stitution, Rulers are Constituted by God. [Page 51] God Himself hath said of them, They are Gods. Both their Name and Office are Reverend and Honourable, and therefore you are bound to pay them your utmost Regards and Re­spects. You are lead to this Duty by the Light of Nature, as I have shew'd: And therefore he that despises Authority, at the same time acts against Reason, and abandons his Understanding. And you are conducted to it also by a Divine Warrant, as you have heard, and therefore you cannot be excused from the Performance of it.

In the next place, this Doctrin doth more nearly concern the Persons who are in Place and Dignity. They should be Instructed from what I have tender'd,

First, To acknowledge their Original and Founder, the God of Gods, the Absolute Lord and Sovereign Controller of the World. Let not their Title, though it be Great and Ho­nourable, make them forget that there is a GOD who Ruleth in the Earth, and that all Earthly Gods must do Obeisance and Homage to him. He is to be feared above all Gods, Psal. xcvi. 4. The contrary Temper and Practice have prevailed too much in the World, of which we have abundant Instances: The first Gods among the Heathens were Kings, and Princes, and Great Men. Nimrod, the first Monarch and Sovereign, was the first that was Deified among them. Idolatry commenced in Monarchy: The Greatness and Power of their [Page 52] Kings extorted Worship from their Subjects, who admired and feared them: Lordship and Dominion entailed Divinity upon them. It is well known that most of the Pagan Kings of old (to make themselves more Venerable to their Subjects) used to derive their Pedigree from some God, and at last some of them would needs be taken for Real Gods. Thus Alexander the Great, and some of the Roman [...]mperors would have Altars and Images Con­secrated to them. Iulius Cesar began it, and after him the Worst and Vilest Emperors affe­cted Divine Honour, as Nero, Caligula, Domi­tian, and others, and would publickly be stiled * Gods. The Iewish Rabble applauding King Herod, cried out, The voice of God. So Tacitus tell us of Nero, and Suetonius of Claudi [...]s, that their Voices were said to be Celestial and Divine. Iulian joined the Effigies of the Heathen Gods with his own Statues, that they might pay Reverence to the Gods and Him together. Our Lord God the Pope hath been a Compli­ment sometimes to the Bishop of Rome. And you may read in the Second Councel of Late­ran, that he is stiled another God on Earth. But this Language is unsufferable: Though the Higher Powers are Gods, yet they are to re­member that they must not Prophanely Usurp [Page 53] that Title: They are to consider that there is a God above them, a Great and Mighty God, who regardeth not persons, Deut. x. 17. He is In­dependent and Uncontrollable, and none else is: They abuse their Reason, and mistake their Office, if they imagine themselves to be Gods in that sense. It was a very Notable Saying of King Henry VIII. who, at Sir Tho­mas More's first coming to his Service at Court, gave him this Godly Lesson, First look unto God, and then after that unto me: An Advice well becoming a Prince, and which shews that he had some Sense of that Great Truth which I am now pressing, That* the Great God of Heaven is above all the Gods and Kings of the Earth: That there is a Greater King whom all Kings are under; Therefore they are to stand in Awe of him, and be affraid of Offending him, and Rebelling against him; for there are Rebellious Rulers as well as Subjects, Isai. i. 23. Thy Princes are rebellious, viz. against the King of Kings.

Secondly, They may be reminded from the Premises not only to acknowledge God's So­vereignty, but to expect his Blessing and Pro­tection. If by Devout Prayers they Address themselves to him, he will assuredly Inspire them with that Understanding and Wisdom which are proportionable to the Greatness of [Page 54] their Employment; he will vouchsafe them his Aid and Assistance; he will be their Guar­dian and Defender; and those that rudely touch them shall not do it with Impunity. Be encouraged hence against all Hardships and Oppositions, but rather let the Conside­ration of Difficulties excite and inflame you, and let your Magnanimity be as great as your Danger. If whilst you act for God and Re­ligion you suffer from the Tongues of Men, remember that it is a Princely thing to do well, and hear ill; and resolve to bear Reproach with as much Content as some Men their Praises and Applause. Moving in so great a Sphere, and with such a Lustre and Influence, it is no wonder that you raise many Envious Exhalations, which cast a Cloud upon you, and labour to Obscure your Name. David had his Shimei; Governors have their Railers and Detractors. Some observe Failings and Declensions in the Heavenly Bodies: The Fixed Stars twinkle and nod sometimes, or the Silly People think they do so, and will not be perswaded to the contrary. 1. Cor. ix 26. Necessity is laid upon me, saith St. Paul, and woe unto me if I preach not the Gospel; and yet [...]oe unto us if we do, for it is certain that some will mistake us, and cen­sure us. You may as easily and as truly ap­ply it to the Civil Magistrates discharge of their Office: That they govern well is necessary and indispensable; but whilst they do so, they [Page 55] must look for Reproaches and Affronts, they must provide to suffer, for they know not how Unkind the World may be to them, and what Outrages they will commit upon them. We read that the Roman Commonwealth prov'd Ungrateful to the Friends and Patriots of their Country, the very Restorers and Pre­servers of their Welfare, as Camillus, Publius, Cornelius, Scipio, and others. We are told how Unhandsomly the Athenian Republick dealt with Themistocles and Aristides, Pericles and Phocion, and others. Merit was a way to Ruin and Banishment; and the Ostracism let them understand that a Publick Person must not Deserve too well. But this may en­courage and animate all great Rulers and Go­vernours who discharge a good Conscience, that Heaven hath a special Regard and Eye to them, and will certainly Recompence them for the hard Usage and ill Returns they meet with.

Thirdly, Since they are Gods, and appoint­ed by the Almighty, they ought to think themselves charg'd with a great Necessity of Living and Acting well. They are set in an Eminent Place, and all Men stand gazing at them. Rulers that are Vitious, like Vzziah, carry their2 Chron. xxvi. 19. Leprosy in their Foreheads, their Crimes are exposed to every ones View, and it is a won­der if some do not Imitate them; as Men usually do the Actions, and even the Imper­fections [Page 56] of their Superiors. Their Care then must be to Cherish Vertue in themselves, and to Patronize it in others, both by their Au­thority and Example. The Interest of Reli­gion and of the Church (among other Matters, yea and above them) is their Province: Of the Church, I say, for which the World was chief­ly made, and Commonwealths first Instituted, and Civil Societies have ever since been main­tained. Be perswaded that the promoting of Religion and God's Honour is the proper Task of the Magistrate, as well as the Minister. And now especially, in a declining Age, when Re­ligion is rendred Ridiculous, and Vertue is grown Unfashionable, and a Strict and Cir­cumspect Walking is counted too Demure: Now, (I say) you are more especially oblig'd to Befriend the Cause of Religion, and to take her part when she hath so many Enemies and Opposers. This is that which will admini­ster the most Comfortable Reflections to you when you come to leave the World: For he that saith, Ye are Gods, saith likewise, That ye shall die. And this Conducts me to the Se­cond General Part of the Text, of which I will speak but a few words, and so put a Pe­riod to my Discourse.

After the Honourable Concession follows a Peremptory Correction. I have already con­sidered the Dignity and Prerogative of the Magistrates Office; I am now to Conclude with the Infirmity of their Persons, their Ob­noxiousness [Page 57] to Death and Dissolution, Ye shall die like Men, and fall like one of the Princes. It is supposed in these words that they must die as to their Place and Office; And then what Anguish and Regret must needs overwhelm their Minds, when they look back on any of those Unlawful and Unjust things which were done by them? A Magistrate that hath any Sense of the High Character he bears, knows this, That he hath an Account to make to Himself when he leaves his Place: And how Dismal and Deplorable will it be, if upon re­counting his past Carriage he be forced to say of himself as the Historian of Caligula * Tho' some things were done by me which were not unbe­coming a Man in Place, yet for the most part my Behaviour was more like that of a Monster, than of a Magistrate. With what Terrors will such a Person be filled, when he considers that he is in part Guilty of all the Debauchery and Pro­phaneness, all the Disorders and Enormities which he might and ought to have prevented, but did not? This is a thing which deserves your most serious Thoughts.

Again, this Clause may be look'd upon as a Threatning for the Abuse of their Places; They shall die, they shall not go Unpunish'd here and hereafter, if they Discharge not their Publick Trust with Sincerity and Faitfulness. [Page 58] They shall not only die as Men (as you shall hear in the next Particular) but as Offenders. Death shall transmit them to an Impartial and Severe Judgment. Magistrates and Mi­nisters of Justice, who sit on the Bench and Judge others, must appear themselves before the Last and Dreadful Tribunal, and there render an Account of their Behaviour, and Answer for all that they have done. Govern­ment and Great Offices will not Priviledge them from this. The Title of Gods will not avail them, but will rather aggravate and in­hanse their Misery; for how intolerable will it be to enter into the Portion of Evil Demons and Damned Spirits, after they have born the Name of Gods here upon Earth?

Lastly, To confine my self to the bare words of the Text, the Psalmist here humbles the Magistrate after he had Exalted him; and at the same time he teaches him how to Deport himself, whilst he is in Place and Dignity: He must then think of the Fate and Mortality which are common to him with the meanest Persons. It was rightly said by Lord Bacon. Essay 19. One of your Order, All Precepts concerning Kings and Magistrates are in effect comprehended in these two Remem­brances, Remember that you are Gods, and Re­member that you are Men: The one Bridles their Will, the other their Power. The Text pre­sents you with both these Considerations; and now I am concluding all with the latter of [Page 59] them, viz. the Memento that they are Men. Magistrates are of a different Make and Com­posure: Look on one side, and they are Gods; but look on them on the other, and they are Mortal Men. Ye shall die like Men, like Adam (so 'tis according to the Original) like the First Parent of Mankind, and as the whole Race of Adam ever since; for ye are no better than your Fathers. That of Pliny in his Pane­gyrick to Trajan, is almost the only Passage in it that is void of Flattery;* Princes (saith he) though they seem to themselves (and others too) to be Gods, yet they are as short-liv'd as o­ther Men. Here indeed we must be Plain with the Greatest Men; though they are such, yet Death will despoil them of this Character, and strip them of all the Badges and Ensigns of Authority, and will make them equal with others in the Grave.

This Part of my Text puts me in mind of two or three remarkable Passages that are up­on Antient Record; The Crier at Rome used to follow the Chariot of the Triumphant, and cry to him after this Fashion, Remember that Thou art Mortal. Be mindful of this in the midst of these Triumphal Ovations, that you must leave the World, as goodly and Glorious as your Procession is now. And Philip the Famous King of Macedon, after [Page 60] a great Victory that he had obtained over the Athenians, ordered a Youth to come to him every Morning, and to refresh his Memory after the same manner, i.e. to tell him that he was but a Man. And with Pagan let me mix Christian Story; The Grecian Emperors on the day of their Coronation, used to have se­veral Marble-Stones of divers Colours pre­sented to them, to make Choice of which sort of them they thought fit to have their Sepul­chral Monuments made of.

So here, by the Psalmist, the Magistrates Dignity and Mortality are remembred toge­ther. Here is their Solemn Inauguration, I have said, Ye are Gods; and then their Fune­rals, Ye shall die like Men. It is good to mix these together; and accordingly in the midst of your Glories and Honours I have presumed to remind you of your Leaving of them. This latter Consideration, if effectually managed, is able to Instruct you in your Whole Duty, and the best Discharge of it. For though it is the Epicure's Catch, Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we shall die, yet Solomon's Argu­ment runs quite counter to it, Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest, Eccl. ix. 10. If it becomes an Emperor to die stand­ing (as one of them said) surely it will not be Unbecoming a Christian Magistrate to do so, I m [...]an, to expire in the Faithful Performance [Page 61] of his Office, in the actual doing of his Duty. Others of a meaner Quality steal into their Coffins, and silently descend into their Graves, and are not much observed; but you will be watched when you go off the Stage, when you leave the World, and it will be asked in the Neighbourhood what you did when you were in it, and how you manag'd your Stew­ardship. Live then so, that when you come to die, you may with Pericles, a Famed Statesman of Athens, rejoice that no Citizen ever wore a Mourning Habit on your account. Live so, that when God shall remove you from your Places by Death, you may (in another Sense than our Psalmist intended) die like Men, Bravely and Honourably, that ye may fall like one of the Princes, with Credit and Renown, and that after your Departure you may live and flourish in the Memories and Hearts of all Good Men, who will never suffer your Good Actions to be Buried with you.

The Reasons why Magistrates ought to be Exemplary in their Lives.
A Sermon Preach'd at the Ele­ction of the Chief Magistrate in a Corporation.

EXOD. XVIII. 25.‘And Moses chose able Men out of all Israel, and made them Heads over the People.’

WE find that Supremacy and Go­vernment have been made matter of Chance with some People; thus one Regilianus was promoted to Kingship meerly because of his Name. The Sidonian Servants agreed a­mong themselves to make him King, who the next morning should first see the Sun. Da­rius's Horse made his Master King of Persia by his Neighing. But it is certain, that so [Page 63] Great a Concern should not depend upon meer Casualty, but ought to be determined with the most serious Deliberation imagina­ble. And so as for Subordinate Rulers and Governors, the Designation of them ought not to be Accidental and Fortuitous, but is to be managed with Consultation and Choice; for every one is not fit for such a Place, every one is not duly Capacitated and Qualified for a Publick Office and Trust. This is the first thing we take notice of here, That Moses chose Men out of all Israel to be Heads and Rulers.

And this Choice was conformable to his Fa­ther-in-Law Iethro's Advice, ver. 21. Thou shalt provide out of all the People able men, such as fear God, men of Truth, hating Covetous­ness; and place such over them to be Rulers. The first and leading Qualification of an Able Magistrate is, That he fears God. He must be one that is Eminent for Religion and Piety; which ought to be seen and observed not only in his Profession, but Practice. Next, he ought to be a Man of Truth, i.e. void of all Dissi­mulation and Hypocrisy, one that is Faithful and Upright in his Dealings, and therefore the Septuagint render it Iust or Righteous. For he is not fit to be a Ruler whose Life is stained with Acts of Injustice and Dishonesty. More­over, none should be preferred to Magistracy and Government, but such as hate Covetous­ness, such as are of a Free and Generous Spirit, [Page 64] and Detest all Base and Sordid Actions, such as Scorn to Pervert Justice by taking of Gifts and Bribes, such as have been taken notice of for their great Inclinations to Charity, for their readiness to Relieve the Distressed, and for their Condescending to the Poor and Needy, thereby shewing that they hate Pride and Haughtiness, which gives an Account of the Seventy's [...]. Ver­sion, or Gloss rather. These are the Qualifications of a Magistrate; but the First of them is the Chief, and governs the rest. He that fears God will approve himself to be a Man of Truth and Sincerity, Faithful­ness and Uprightness. Religion and Piety will make him Just and Honest towards Men: These will inspire him with Charity, Gene­rosity and Condescention, and will not suffer him to pervert Judgment and Justice. In short, the Fear of God will make him Emi­nent in his Life and Actions, singular for Ver­tue and Goodness, and cause him to do all things worthily, and as becomes a Migistrate. This is the Character which Rulers must bear, according to Iethro's Advice to Moses: And the Text acquaints us that this latter made his choice agreeably to it, for he chose able Men out of all Israel, and made them Heads over the People, and Rulers of thousands, &c. that is, he conveniently placed them in several Quarters, to decide Controversies among the People, to distribute Justice, to give every [Page 65] one their Right, to take care of the Publick Welfare, and to discharge all the Parts of a Good Magistrate.

The General Proposition then which I will entertain you with at present, is this, That a Ruler must be a Man of an exemplary Life and Conversation; he being placed above o­thers, must Excel them in the Eminency of his Deportment and Actions. This is clear from the Choice which is here made, and from the Character which is here given. There is a great deal more requir'd in a Governor, than in an Inferior Person. He may be Good in a low and mean Place, who can scarcely be reckoned so in a high one: So that it may be said of such a one, after he is advanc'd to Go­vernment, as Tacitus said of Galba, * He might have been thought by all Men to be capable of Ruling, if he had not actually been prefer'd to that Station. For this is unquestionable, That that Person may make a tolerably Good Subject or Citizen, who yet may not be fit to be a Chief Governor: The Reason is, be­cause such a one must Surpass others; where­fore what is sufficient and fitting in the for­mer, is not so in the latter. It was one of the Laws of the Twelve Tables among the Romans, That the Order of the Senators [Page 66] should be free from Vice, and be an Example to others. The same may be pronounced in General concerning the high Degree and Or­der of Magistracy; It must not be spotted with the common Defilements of the World, it ought to be a Pattern to the rest of Man­kind. It is required of Superiors and Rulers, that they be as Noted for their Moral and Di­vine Excellencies, as for their Authority and Dignity. They must strive to outshine others in Vertue and Goodness, and to be really the Best Men in the place they live in.

The Reasonableness of which will appear from the Consideration of these following Par­ticulars;

First, A Magistrate is oblig'd to be Exem­plary in his Life, because so great numbers of Men have their Eyes fixed upon him; and that, 1. To find Fault with him; 2. To Imi­tate him, and do as he doth. I begin with the first: Mens Eyes are fixed upon you that are Magistrates, to see what Faults they can find in you, to discover your Imperfections and Miscarriages. The Great Luminaries of Heaven are never Eclips'd, but we take no­tice of them; yea, some of the Lesser Lights and Petty Stars (which seem so to us because they are so high) cannot withdraw their light, cannot be over-run with Scum, but some Body will obsrve it. When there was but a Spot in I [...]piter's Belt, the Vertuoso's who were enclin'd to Astronomy, presently found [Page 67] it out: Nay, it seems they found it out be­fore there was any such thing; for aPhilos. Trans [...]ct. while after they retracted their Observation, and acknowledg'd it to be a Mistake. The Application of this is very profitable; You that are Governors, that act in a Sphere above othes, that are in comparison of the meaner People, Heavenly Bodies, Eminent Lights placed on high, you will be taken notice of when your Lives are blemish'd with Vice, and spotted with foul Misdeeds. Yea, sometimes there will be those that will pretend to espy Faults, whether there be any or no. Plutarch speaks well, The Vices of Great Men (saith he) cannot be conceal'd: Their Crimes are Perspicuous as well as Themselves. Even the least Offences of Emi­nent Persons are as it were Calumniated, and made greater than they are. And he goes on to shew that the Particular Failings of Men in Place are objected to them, as Cimox's Drink­ing, Scipio's Sleeping, Lucullus's Costly Sup­pers. The same Author hath these Excellent Words in another Treatise, Little Transgres­sions, when seen in Princes and Governors Lives, [Page 68] are accounted Great, because of that Opinion which the Vulgar have of Magistracy and Autho­rity, viz. That it is a Great thing, and ought to be exempted from all Error and Vice. So another tells us, That* all Men pry into the Faults of Princes, and acquaint themselves with their Miscarriages. It was freely spoken by Seneca to the Emperor Nero, You can be no more hid (saith he) than the Sun it self: You are sur­rounded with a redundant Blaze and Lustre, up­on which every one is continually gazing. Thus you see this is a received Notion and Truth, that all Men cast their Eyes upon Magistrates, to Criticize upon their Actions: It concerns them therefore to be very Exact and Circum­spect. I may say to them, as Mecoenas told the Emperor Augustus, You must live as if the whole World were the Theatre you acted on; and it is impossible that the least Fault you commit can be kept secret. All Men are wont most readily to busy themselves about the Actions of their Go­vernors. Seeing there is so narrow a Watch upon you, it cannot but excite you to act warily and wisely. If the Gods (for so Ma­gistrates are call'd) offend and do amiss, there [Page 69] are some will scarcely allow them the Chara­cter of Men. Which Consideration alone should cause you to walk with great Circum­spection, to make streight Paths for your Feet, and to lead very Exemplary Lives.

Again, as some Persons fix their Eyes upon you to Espy your Failings, so others do it to Imitate you. And upon this Consideration also you are engaged to be very Exact in your Lives. The Ruler's Example mightily influ­ences on the People:* That is thought suf­ficient to legitimate and justify any Action. And Tully quotes Plato for this very purpose, Such as the Great Ones are, such are those that are under them. A Good King may see him­self copied out in his Subjects, and so general­ly may an Evil one. What manner of Man the Ruler of the City is, such are all they that dwell therein, saith the wise Son of Sirach, Ecclus. x. 2. And that of Philo the Iew, gives us a brief Representation of this matter, Those that are Mean and Obscure, are very ambitious of Emulating the Eminent. All the Wise Men among the Pagans had this Apprehension, which I will shew you in some notable Pas­sages of theirs. That is an admirable one which I meet with in Pliny's Panegyrick, [Page 70] 1 The Life of a Prince, saith he, if he be Vertuous, is a perpetual curb to Vice. Men turn to this, and are directed by it, and it is not so much his Command as his Example that they are led by. Herodian, speaking of the Emperor Antoninus, tells us, That2 Subjects and Inferiors are always wont to live in a zealous Affectation of their Go­vernors Opinions and Sentiments.3The Genera­lity of Men, saith Isocrates, are wont to square their Lives and Manners according to what they behold in their Superiors. Such another saying is that of Xenophon,4As those are that Rule, such for the most part are those who are under their Rule. 5 It was long since observ'd con­cerning the Ethiopians, who are Men of a big size, that they always chose him to be their King who was the biggest Man among them. They would have a King like themselves: And so it is as usual for Subjects to make them­selves like their King: They count it honou­rable to do any thing that he doth.

Let me represent this to you in some few Particulars, The Sicilian Tyrant, Dionysius, [Page 71] being Purblind, thereupon all his Servants feign'd an Imperfection of Sight, and when they were in his Presence, stumbled as they went: Yea, the very Waiters and Attendants at his Table made as if they could not well see the Dishes and Chargers, saith* Athenaeus, that they might seem to be as Short-sighted as their Master. The Courtiers of King Ale­xander the Great counterfeited wry Necks, be­cause their Sovereign bore his Head a little sideling. Diodorus the Sicilian relates of the Ethiopians of old, that if their King was Lame, or Halted, or was disabled in any part of his Body, his Courtiers presently disabled the same Part or Member. And Strabo con­firms this in express Words. And as it is thus in respect of Bodily Infirmities and Blemishes, so it happens likewise in regard of all other things that come under Imitation. When Iulius Cesar pretended to be a Skilful Mason and Engineer, there were great numbers that were ambitious to Excel that way. Our King Edward the Third being a Valiant Prince, and delighting in Arms, we read that Mar­tial Men were very numerous, and that they endeavoured to exceed one another in War­like Enterprizes. The very Fashions or Re­creations of Great Ones have been greedily [Page 72] imbraced by the People. All the Italian La­dies affected an Amber-colour'd Hair when Poppaea's (which was of that Colour) was so admired by Nero, and extoll'd by him in Songs and Catches; then they all strove to dye their Locks of that hew. The Roman Historians acquaint us, that Augustus Cesar loved Poetry, and accordingly every one gave his mind to Versifying in his days. When Nero play'd on his Instrument up and down the great Towns, Minstrels and Fidlers were all in Fashion. When Commodus the Em­peror turn'd Fencer and Gladiator, that Ex­ercise grew to be the Mode.

But I will shew you that as to all Moral Actions chiefly, i.e. all Vices and Vertues, a Magistrates Example is of wonderful Influ­ence. These two things then I will particu­larly enlarge upon, First, That if a Ruler be Vitious and Wicked, the People will follow his Steps: And, Secondly, (on the contrary) If the Ruler be a Man of Vertue and Sin­gular Worth, they will Imitate him in that.

First, I say, if the Ruler be Vitious, the People will follow his Vices. Abimelech ha­ving Usurp'd the Iewish Government, had a Party that stuck to him, and follow'd him in all his Wild and Outragious Actions, by ver­tue of those Charming Words, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done, Iudg. ix. 48. When Ieroboam set up Golden Calves, his Subjects soon fell down and Wor­ship'd [Page 73] them; for what Religion the King was of, that they would be of too. It is Re­corded of Vriah the Priest, That he did ac­cording to all that King Ahaz commanded him, 2 Kings xvi. 16. If he disputed not the Law­fulness of any thing the King said, it is not to be questioned but that he Imitated what he did. There are such People in all Ages; they follow the Prince even in his very Vices and Impieties. This was observ'd by one that was a King himself, Prov. xxix. 12. If a Ruler hearkens to lyes, all his Servants are wicked, they will lye too; and whatever other Vices he is guilty of, they will certainly imitate him. Iustin the Historian hath these Re­markable Words, speaking of one of the Pto­lomee's, King of Egypt, * ‘He gave himself up to Riot and Luxury, and then all his Court did so too: Wherefore not only his Friends and Favourites, his Great Captains and Commanders, but all his Army addicted themselves to Idleness and Debauchery. There was an Universal Licentiousness a­mong all those that observ'd the King's Be­haviour. It was his Example that De­bauch'd them: By minding what he did, they all became Loofe and Extravagant, Wanton and Effeminate.’ And Livy ob­serves [Page 74] the very same of Antiochus King of Sy­ria, and so doth* Valerius Maximus; His whole Army, saith he, follow'd him in his Blind and Sottish way of Living. Alexander the Great's Excessive Intemperance made that Vice receiv'd in all Greece; Tippling be­came the Fashion of the Country; to be a Grecian and a Drunkard were all one. When Pope Leo liv'd, who lov'd the Stage and Actors, all Rome swarm'd with Mimicks and Players. I might mention several other In­stances to prove how prone Men are to imitate the Failings and Defects of their Superiors. Gregory Nazianzen, in the Oration which he made at the Funeral of Basil the Great, ac­quaints us that some Persons affected even the Infirmities of that Great Man, thinking that those had some worth in them, or at least that they were wholly to be excused because they were found in him. Nay, the Imitation of Superiors went further yet, for we are told that when the Emperor Otho kill'd himself, many of his Subjects dispatch'd themselves out of Compassion and Kindness to him. They would Imitate their Prince not only living but dying.

And thus you see how Reasonable it is (which is the thing I am urging) that Magi­strates and Rulers should behave themselves [Page 75] in a very exact manner. To prosecute this yet farther, I will shew you that when Ma­gistrates are Vitious and Wicked, there is, 1st. danger of a greater Contagion; 2dly. Of an heavier Punishment than ordinary.

That there is a Contagion I have proved al­ready; but it is as easy to prove that this is pro­pagated by Magistrates more than by any other sort of Men. The Sins of Private Men, and such as are in a mean and ordinary Condition, Infect those only who immediately converse with them; but when Great and Eminent Persons Sin, they must needs scatter the In­fection to a very wide Circumference, be­cause they are known to all, and their Crimes become Catholick. It was Excellently said of Tully, * Vitious Rulers deserve worse of the Commonwealth than others, because they not only themselves conceive Vices, but infuse them into the Commonalty; They are hurtful to the Publick not only because they themselves are Corrupted, but also because they Corrupt others, and do more harm by their Example, than by the Fault it self. Why? Because their Example is enough to make Error Authentick, and their single Pra­ctice is able to justifie a Crime: for meaner Persons think it cannot but be Vertuous to [Page 76] Imitate them, and they conclude that to be Good which they see them do. Plutarch said rightly,* When Wickedness is added to Power, Madness is added to the Motions of the Soul; for Wickedness receiving a quick Course from Power and Authority, drives forth the Affections into Act; Anger passes into Slaughter, Lust into A­dultery, Covetousness into Oppression. But this is not all, Authority makes others worse, as well as themselves; for the Multitude are en­courag'd in their Vitious Practices, by obser­ving the Faults of those in Place; they think they have from their Example a Patent for Vice, and a Protection for their most Noto­rious Crimes. The Actions of Governors pass for Edicts and Laws. Inferior Persons stand waiting to see what their Superiors do, and they imagine that they cannot do amiss, as long as they take them for their Pattern. Thus we see what Influence the Vitious Be­haviour of Rulers hath: Their Faults are like Diseases which seize upon some Principal part, and so endanger all the rest. Upon this ac­count they must needs do more harm than others.

In the next place this must be remembred, that the Sins of Governors are not only more [Page 77] than ordinarily Infections, but the Punish­ments and Iudgments which attend them are far heavier than those which befal Private Per­sons. God is used to proportion Punish­ment unto Sin; and look where there is an inequality of the latter, there likewise is a dif­ference as to the former. Now, among other Circumstances, Sin is made Greater in respect of the Person that commits it. The Greater he is, the more Heinous and Scandalous is his Fault. Nathan in his Impeachment of David lets him know that he had given great occasion to the Enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, 2 Sam. xii. 14. And without doubt he gave great oc­casion of Offence to others (even the Friends of God and of Religion:) not only the Amo­rites but the Israelites might be tempted to Blaspheme God's Name, and to Practise Vice with great Freedom, when they beheld the Flagitious Deeds which David was Guilty of. A Magistrate's Sin is Great, because it is a Magistrate's; that very Consideration aggra­vates it. And thence we may reasonably in­fer, that the Penalty of it shall be proportion­able. Accordingly the Sacred History informs us, that generally such a Person is doubly Pu­nish'd, namely in himself and in others. Pha­raoh was not only personally Plagued, but all his People suffer'd for his sake. David num­bred the People, and thereby derived upon himself the Wrath of God, and upon them likewise a very terrible Infliction. King He­zekiah [Page 78] brought Vengeance on himself and his Subjects, by his evil Demeanor. The Text saith expresly (2 Chron. xxxii. 25.) That He­zekiah rendred not again according to the Benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: there­fore there was Wrath upon him, and upon Iudah and Israel. These suffer'd for what he did. The Confusion of Egypt was the attendant of the foolishness (i.e. the Sinfulness) of their Princes, Isa. xix. 11. And you may hear God speak­ing thus in Zech. x. 3. Mine anger was kindled against the Shepherds, and I punish'd the Goats, i.e. God punish'd both Rulers and People, but these for the sake of them. Yea, a Nation is sometimes punish'd because of a Wicked King, even when he is dead, as appears from Ier. xv. 4. Israel was Plagued for Manasses's Sins, after he had left the World. So Pernicious and Destructive are the Miscarriages of Su­periors. The Community is endamag'd by their Disorders. Their Follies bring down Judgments on a whole Nation. All the Mem­bers suffer for what the Head doth. And this happens so from the Nature of the thing it self, as well as by the just Judgment of God. By Sardanapalus's Luxury the Assyrian Mo­narchy was removed to the Medes. By Xer­xes's Riot and Prodigality the Persian Empire was Ruin'd. And many other Instances there are of the like Nature. From whence you may gather how Reasonable it is that a Ruler should endeavour to be free from Vice, and [Page 79] to lead a very Religious and Pious Life: For if he doth otherwise, the People stand ready to follow his Steps, and so there will be an Universal Corruption, and the Judgments of God will overtake both Rulers and People.

But, Secondly, Those in High Places are en­gag'd to be Exemplary in their Lives, and to shew forth all Vertues and Graces, because when Men behold these in them, they are en­clined to Imitate them. I have shew'd be­fore that they are apt to resemble them in their Vitious Practices: Now I will briefly let you see, that if they have Examples of another Na­ture set before them, they will be enclined to follow them.

As there is no Evil so Pernicious as a Wick­ed Ruler, because (as I have shew'd under the foregoing Head) his Personal Faults soon become National, and his worst Actions are drawn into Example, so there is no Good in the World so Universally Beneficial as a God­ly Ruler, because most Men will be moved to Transcribe his Good and Vertuous Actions, and so there will be an effectual and speedy Reformation of the Publick. There are Ex­amples in Holy Scripture which might be pro­duced here: For as Ieroboam, a Bad King, corrupted the People by his Evil Life as well as Laws, and thereby made all Israel sin, so we read that David, Asa, Iosiah, Hezekiah, Good Kings, promoted God's Worship and a Holy Life by their own Practice. Plutarch in the [Page 80] Life of Alcibiades, a Person of Wealth and Quality in Athens, tells us how he refused to learn to play on the Flute, and inveigh'd a­gainst that Instrument (as it was then in use) whereupon it soon wore out of Fashion, and at last was look'd upon as a Sordid and Un­becoming sort of Diversion by the Athenian Gentlemen. Livy acquaints us that Romulus, who at first was very Extravagant and Irre­ligious, afterward grew Sober and Staid: And when he did so, all the Romans chang'd with him, and became like him. The Custom of Immoderate and Excessive Attire, Feasting and Houshold Stuff had prevail'd long at Rome, and could not be Repress'd by Laws; but as soon as Vespasian was Emperor, it went off of it self. Tacitus observes the Cause of it to be their desire of Emulating their Prince, and conforming themselves to his Example. This did more than Fear and Penalty. Hero­dian observes of Antoninus, Surnamed the Philosopher, that he was the first Emperor that signally Establish'd Wisdom and good Man­ners by his own Life and Actions; whereby it came to pass, that that Age yielded a great Company of Wife and Grave Men. You may read in a very good Author, that the Senate of Rome's Acclamation to Severus the Empe­ror was after this manner,* All Persons do all [Page 81] things well, because you Rule well. This perhaps may be said in Flattery to that Prince, but it is undoubtedly true, that if he were a Good Ruler, the generality of his Subjects would find the happy Influence of it in the Goodness of their own Lives. Never was there such a Time of Converts, as when Constantine the Great turn'd Christian; and afterwards when he was Baptiz'd,* Twelve thousand Men, besides Women and Children, received the Christian Faith that Year, and were admitted to Baptism. Ammianus observes of the Em­peror Valentinian, that he being a very Chast Prince both at Home and Abroad, and giving way to no Obscene and Lascivious Words or Actions, This was the Bridle of the Court, and it prov'd the best way to keep them in good Order. To come nearer, when King Lucius, a British King, embraced the Faith of the Gospel, and was Baptiz'd, great num­bers of his Subjects receiv'd the same Faith, and flock'd to the Baptismal Waters; and so Paganism and Idolatry decay'd daily. And afterwards, when Heathenism return'd into this Land, by the Invasion which the Saxons made, it by degrees wore off again by the powerful Example of their Kings: When King Ethelbert and King Sebert embrac'd the Christian Religion and were Baptiz'd, the Nation was in a short time Christianiz'd. [Page 82] Thus it is evident what great Obligations lie upon Rulers and Governors to be Good and Righteous; for their Examples teach Good­ness most powerfully and effectually.

There are other Considerations (besides these which I have mentioned and insisted up­on) to convince you of this Truth, That a Magistrate ought to be a Man of an Exem­plary Life, and to surpass others in all lauda­ble Endowments and Actions. I might men­tion this, that he cannot with any confidence govern others, unless he have a Government over himself, and looks narrowly into his own Life and Manners. He cannot with Bold­ness call upon others to obey those Laws which he breaks himself. One of the Antients expresses it thus;* ‘It is not for him that is falling, to set others upright; it is not for him that hath no command over himself, to command others. It must be look'd to in the first place that the Rule be streight, and lie right and orderly if you intend to bring those things to a rectitude which it is appli­ed to. So must a Prince first rightly settle his Command and Empire over himself, and direct his own Manners in order to a right governing of others.’ This latter cannot be done as it should be without the former: Though it is true it is done after some sort [Page 83] where the other is wanting. Thus Plutarch Remarks of Sylla, that he would be frequent­ly prescribing Laws to the Romans of Sobrie­ty and Chastity, whilst himself was a Stran­ger to them both, and indulg'd himself in all Intemperance and Leudness. Domitian made severe Laws against Adultery, whilst he lived in Incest with his Neece. Iustinian the Em­peror, that caused the Imperial Laws to be compiled (the Rules of the highest Justice) suffer'd all sorts of Injustice to be unpunish'd, [...]aith Evagrius; though I know others dissent from him in this. But most certainly, it is with inward shame and regret that any Ruler requires Obedience to the Laws, and yet is Lawless himself. He cannot do it with a clear and Manlike Spirit, his Con [...]cience must needs buffet him; and if there be any spark of Inge­nuity yet remaining, he cannot but labour under great Unea [...]ine [...]s and Reluctancy.

The next Consideration is this, That Ma­gistrates are to Punish others, and upon that account are obliged to be Blameless and Up­right themselves. It was said of Cato the Censor, that the Strictness of his own Life, made him a Bold, Severe and Rigid Animad­verter on others. And so every Governor may with Confidence and Authority restrain and correct Vice in others, when he permits▪ it not in himself. But how can he punish Of­fences that commits them? With what Face can he be actually Guilty of that which he [Page 84] Animadverts upon, and severely Chastises in others? For this Reason a Ruler should be exceeding wary in his Life and Manners.

Again, by his effectual Influencing on others it will come to pass, that their Actions will be interpreted his. Their Good Deeds will be reckon'd so, because they were the Effect of his Authority. And how joyful a Reflection must this needs be, that the Vertuous Acts of so many Persons are esteem'd as his own? But then on the other side, the Evil Actions and Enormities of Men shall be attributed to him, if he made them Bad by his Example. This must needs lie very heavy on his Mind, and therefore it follows hence, that those who preside over others are hugely concern'd to look to their Lives.

Moreover, this might be added in the last place, that the Devil, the Malicious Spirit of Darkness, chiefly designs and endeavours the Corrupting of Governors, and those in high Places. Fight neither against small nor great, but against the King, against Rulers and Po­tentates, is the Maxim of that Infernal Poli­tician. We read (Acts xiii. 8.) that Elymas the Sorcerer sought to turn away Sergius Paulus the Deputy (the Great Man of the Country) from the Faith. If he could pervert him, he knew he should gain others fast enough. That which was Nero's Bloody wish, That all the People of Rome had but one Neck, that he might cut it off at one blow; the same in some kind is [Page 85] Satan's constant Endeavour, viz. in the Per­son of the Head and Governor to destroy all the People, whilst by his wicked Example he Debauches all that are under him. A Magi­strate for this reason ought to be very obser­vant of his Actions, thereby to Defeat and Baffle the Designs of the Prince of Darkness. These are the Reasons of that Proposition which I founded on the Words of the Text.

Now I will offer some seasonable Inferences from what hath been said.

First, Let those in Authority check and re­prove themselves if they find that their Lives are Evil, and that (instead of being Exam­ples of Goodness and Holiness) they have taught others by their Practice to act Wicked­ly and Prophanely. When it was the Fashion heretofore to make Gods, some Great Men would needs Practise this upon themselves; and then they thought they had a Licence to do what they pleased: And too many, tho' not of Pagan Principles, are seen to Imitate them too much, whilst being of the number of those whom the Scripture calls Gods, they take Liberty to act that which is unworthy of Men: And whereas they should Punish Vice, they are themselves Examples of it. But this is a very Gross and Abominable Miscarriage, and therefore you that are Magistrates ought seriously to consider of it. You must not ima­gine that your Authority cancels your Obli­gations to Vertue, and that your Greatness [Page 86] compounds for your Wickedness. Reckon not that you have an Advantage above others to do Ill, and go unpunish'd. Think of this, that your Quality doth not Annihilate or Ex­tenuate your Faults, but hugely Aggravates and Inhanses them. There is an evil that I have seen under the Sun, saith Solomon, an error that proceedeth from the Ruler; and it is his Fault, (as he adds) that folly is set in great dignity, as you read Eccl. x. 5, 6. Thus this Great Mo­narch takes notice of and reproves the Evil Behaviour of Crown'd Heads, and of Subor­dinate Governors; and therefore you must not imagin that your Place gives you leave to do what you will. But rather perswade your selves of this, that the thing which should Exalt Palaces above Cottages, and Magistrates above the Common People, is the Transcen­dency of their Vertues.

Secondly then, As you are desirous to do any good in your Places, be careful that your Lives be Vertuous and Exemplary. The Advice of one of the Antient Moralists to a Person in Authority, shall be mine to you, * Set your selves Patterns to others in Sobrie­ty, and all other commendable Qualities, knowing that the Manners of the whole City are conformable to the Behaviour of those that [Page 87] are in Authority. Remember that your Acti­ons are all taken notice of, and therefore they ought to be such as should be Imitated. Take heed that you Soil not your Worthy Endow­ments and Good Actions with others that are Blameable; as 'tis said that Iulius Cesar stain'd his Valour and Great Learning with Prodiga­lity and Lasciviousness: His Successor Augu­stus Tainted his Liberality and Clemency with Impatience and Envy: Vespasian Clouded his Good Nature and Prowess with Avarice: And Trajan Sullied his Justice and Affability with his Cruelty to the Christians: And (to give an Instance at Home) our King Henry VII. Eclips'd his Wisdom by his Co­vetousness. Let your Vertues be entire, let there be nothing seen to Obscure them. Shine forth with a perfect Light, and remember that others shine with a Light borrow'd from you: Therefore if you substract your Rays, you leave them in Darkness. Great Men ge­nerally endure not any Rivals, they cannot brook Competitors and Equals. Let it be seen that you cannot suffer Rivals in Vertue and Goodness. Strive to surpass others in So­briety, Justice, Mercy, Piety and Religion. Endeavour to Excel your Inferiors in Sancti­ty, as well as in Authority and Dignity. Be not only above their Conditions and Stations in the World, but above the Qualities of their Minds, and the Actions of their Lives.

[Page 88] Thirdly, Not only Rulers but the whole Community are concern'd in this Text, and in the Doctrin I have treated of. We are all bound to Bless God for Good Rulers and Able Magistrates. This is a signal Favour and Blessing to a Nation. Rulers are like Heaven­ly Bodies, which cause Good or Evil Times, saith the Lord Verulam. Whether we speak of the Civil or Ecclesiastical Governors, it is most true: Whether we apply it to those that are concern'd in the Temporal or Spiritual Affairs, it holds good. Next to a Good Magistrate there is not a greater Blessing under Heaven than a Good Minister. But of the former I speak at present: There is nothing more profitable, desirable and excellent than a Worthy Gover­vernor: And on the contrary, what can be more pestilent and destructive than Bad ones? They are indeed Rulers of Sodom, according to the Sacred Stile, Isa. i. 10. and then 'tis no wonder that we read in the same place that their People are People of Gomorrah. How great reason therefore have you to thank God for Religious Governors! The Wise Man tells us, That when the Righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the Wicked beareth rule, the people mourn, Prov. xxix. 2.

Thus I have spoken to Magistrates and Peo­ple; I will now, in few Words, Address my self particularly to the Person who this Day is to be Chosen, and afterwards Inaugurated into the Office of Chief Magistrate of this [Page 89] Corporation, as a fit Person to be [...] with so high a Concern: And therefore let me remind you of your proper Duty in these present Circumstances. D [...]vid pray'd,Psal. 51. 12. That God would uphold him with his free Spirit; in which Petition he refers to the Great Place and Dignity he was advanced to, he desires such an Heroical and Princely Temper as befitted that high Station. May this Generous and Noble Spirit inspire you, and cause you to do nothing that is Vile and Mean, unworthy of your Place, and un­becoming your Station. May this powerful­ly stir you up to act vigorously for God and Religion, and prompt you to exercise Justice with due severity. It is not to be denied that England may vie with any Nation in the World for Good and Wholesom Laws, but the grand Complaint (and which is too true) is, that they are seldom executed by Inferior Magistrates. I hope, Sir, you will cause this Complaint to cease, and that you will not bear the Sword in vain, but remember to draw it, and make Offenders feel the edge of it. If, like Phineas, you stand up, and exe­cute Judgment, our Plagues will cease, God's Judgments will be averted, and his Blessings deriv'd on this Town. This Town indeed is your peculiar Province, your particular Care: the Priviledges and Immunities, the Peace and Welfare of which are most sacred­ly to be preserv'd by you. One of the Roman [Page 90] Emperors made it his Boast, that when he came first to Rule he found the City of Rome built with Brick, but he left it made of Mar­ble. Assure your self, Sir, that to leave a Town better in Manners than you found it, is a truer Monument of your Care of the Place, and will be more lasting than Marble or Brass. When you look upon your outward Habili­ments, and the Badges of your Office, remem­ber that they teach you to do something more than other Men. For, do you think that you are to differ from others in Honour, and not in those things likewise which are of an higher Nature? Why doth the Topping Mace lead the Van when you come into Publick? What serves the Venerable Scarlet or Fur for? What do your Worshipful Appellations and Titles signify? To what purpose is your Solemn E­quipage and Retinue? Are all your Ensigns of Authority, and Badges of Honour meer Pa­geantry? Do not these tell you that as you are Distinguish'd from other Persons, so you ought to Excel and Surpass them? When therefore you shall actually take upon you the Govern­ment of this Antient and Renown'd Corpo­ration, see that you first out-do your self, and then make others out-strip their former Acti­ons, that it may be said with truth, That this Place is visibly Amended and Reform'd by your being Mayor.

To shut up all, take care to discharge your Duty, and be not Affraid. Do what God, [Page 91] what your Prince, and what the Laws com­mand you, and that will be sufficient Prote­ction to you. And, bear this ever in your Mind, that it is a Vertuous and Exemplary Life, and that only, which can create you a firm Respect and Esteem. Your Place may (and that justly) cause Admiration and Re­verence, but it is Goodness alone which will purchase you True Honour, for this is the Re­compence only of Real Deserts.

How the Ministers of the Gospel are to Excel.
A Sermon Preach'd before the Clergy at the Archdeacon of Ely's Visitation.

1 COR. XIV. 12.‘Forasmuch as ye are Zealous of Spiritual Gifts, seek that ye may Excel to the Edifying of the Church.’

THE Gifts of God to the Sons of Men are of a very Remarkable Variety and Diversity: Some are of the Highest Degree and Greatest Mag­nitude; such are the Saving Vertues and Graces which adorn the Minds, and appear in the Lives of all Holy Men: The second and middle sort are those Common Graces which are freely conferr'd both on Good and Bad, for the Service and Benefit of the Church; of which [Page 93] Rank were the Gift of Tongues, of Healing, of Prophesying, and such like Miraculous Dona­tions which were necessary for the first Found­ing and Propagating of Christianity in the world. And with These may be Ranked all the goodly Indowments of Mens Souls all the fair Accomplishments of Nature, an [...] [...]he noble Acquirements which by Art an [...] [...] ­dustry they have enrich'd their Faculties with. The third and last degree of God's Gifts (which by Vulgar Minds are reckoned as the Greatest, but really are the Meanest of all) are those Good things which belong to the Body and Outward State of Man: Such are Health, Riches, and Honour, and all other things of resembling Quality. These (alas) are poor and sorry Acquisitions if compared with the more Noble Accomplishments of the Better Part of Man. And yet both These and They may be strangely abused and perverted by the Owners of them, contrary to the de­sign of the Donor, and the excellent ends for which they were bestowed. Thus (to In­stance) many make their Wealth and Great Revenues subservient only to their Rambling Lusts: and Pride and Ostentation have stain'd the Spiritual Endowments of others.

Of this latter our Apostle hath given a suf­ficient Demonstration in this Epistle. Here you may read how the Church of Corinth (a Church planted by the Ministry of St. Paul himself, and Eminent for all Spiritual Gifts) [Page 94] either not knowing, or not minding the Right Use of such an excellent Treasure (viz. that the meanest of them were intended for the Good and Benefit of the Christian Commu­nity, and that all of them were some ways useful to that End) vainly disparaged Some of them, and unwisely set the Greatest Value on Others, which really were not in themselves serviceable to the Highest and Noblest Pur­poses. Pride and Applause, Vain Glory and Affectation made them prefer Tongues before Prophesying, i.e. their own Private Credit and Reputation before the Common Good and Edification of their Brethren. This is the oc­casion of the Apostle's Admirable Discourse concerning Spiritual Gifts, which begins at the Twelfth Chapter: Where first of all he acquaints them with the wonderful Diversity and Disparity of God's Gifts; and then en­deavours to convince them that the Meanest of them are not to be disregarded, since all of them issue from one and the same Spirit, and acknowledge the same Author and Donor. And as the Original of them all is alike, so also is the Intent and Design of them, which is no other than the Common and Universal Good. From such Premises as these he In­fers, that 'tis gross Folly for any to be Proud of their Gifts, and to Insult over their Bre­thren on the account of what they have re­ceived; and that it is as unreasonable to Envy those that are Possessors of the Choicest Gifts, [Page 95] as 'tis to despise those that are Owners of the Meanest. This is the main Scope of the 12th Chapter.

And now, because Ambition, and desire of Excelling and Outstripping one another, have possessed their Minds, he perswades them in the last Verse of that Chapter to a Vertuous Zeal and Holy Emulation, [ [...]] Covet earnestly the better Gifts, and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way] a Superlative Method of Outvying others, and even of Out­doing your selves, and that is no other than Charity, that Great and Noble Grace which will render you Eminent and Useful in the World, which will set off all your other Gifts and Endowments, and direct you how to manage them for the best Advantages. This Sovereign and Superintending Grace will most successfully guide all the Inferior ones, and put them upon their proper Work and Employment, and conduct them most pro­sperously to their right End. This Grace the Apostle admirably deciphers in the Thirteenth Chapter, and in the beginning of the Four­teenth he shuts up that part of his Discourse with a Perswasive to so Incomparable a Ver­tue, [Follow after Charity,] pursue it with the greatest Eagerness and Vigour, and give not over till you have perfectly attained it. Be careful above all things to Excel in This, which makes all your other Attainments be­neficial both to your selves and others. Strive [Page 96] then to surpass one another in the Improve­ment of this Evangelical Grace; for this is an Harmless Contention, this is an Innocent and Holy Emulation, and most suitable to the Christian Spirit, and the Genius of the Gospel. Follow after Charity, and desire spiritual Gifts. Join the one and the other, and you are safe.

And then immediately our Apostle (ha­ving thus caution'd all with Charity) takes occasion again to speak of those Spiritual Gifts which he had insisted on before. There was it seems a Great Mistake about them, and therefore he thinks good to Rectify their Judg­ments thoroughly in the point; and this he doth by telling them, that though the Gift of Tongues was in great request among them, (for This Reason it is likely, because the Ap [...] ­stles were most eminently indued with That, the Holy Ghost descending on them in the shape of Cloven Tongues) yet the Gift of Pr [...] ­phe [...]ying (i.e. of Understanding and Interpret­ing God's Will) was clearly the more Va­luable and Desirable Accomplishment; and, amongst All the Spiritual Gifts conferr'd on the Christian Church, deserved to be ranked in the first place. For tho' Variety of Tongues might seem more Admirable, and make a greater Noise, and create more Wonder and Astonishment, yet certainly if they sought not rather to be Admired for their Gifts than to be Beneficial by them, they could not but give the Precedency to Prophecy, that being the more [Page 97] Useful Gift, and that which conduceth most to our greatest Concern, and our highest Inte­rest, the Edification of the Church of Christ. It is better to do Good, than to appear Great. Tongues have their Use, but in Subordina­tion to Prophecying. That is most Excel­lent which is most Advantageous and Edi­fying.

This is the Scope of the Apostle's Discourse in this Chapter, whereof my Text is a part, and indeed the Sum of the whole.* What is Vseful to many, and Profitable to the Church, that the Apostle here sets down for a Rule to go by, saith St. Chrysostom on the Place. What­soever Gifts ye seek to Excel in, do it (ye Corinthians) with this main design (which is the Worthiest and Noblest in the World) to advance the Building of the Church of Christ; forasmuch as ye are desirous of Spiritual Gifts, seeing ye are such great Zealots for Spirits; (for so it is in the Original) since your Am­bition hurries you to things of that Exalted Quality, study (I beseech you) to improve them for the real Benefit of the Christian Community, Seek that ye may excel to the edi­fying of the Church. God hath a Church to e­rect, and calls for our Service therein. Who would not bring the Best things to the Best Work? Who would not be furnish'd with [Page 98] the Greatest Skill for so Difficult an Employ­ment? They that heartily love the Church, and sincerely tender the Good of its Members, never think they can prepare themselves enough for its Service, and are ever studying to do More, making the Apostle's Words their Motto, (Who is sufficient for these things)? Here it is that they spend their best Affections; and their highest Aims and Enterprizes centre in This. They are Impatient till they can bring with them Gold and Silver and Preci­ous Stones for so Glorious and Edifice. They are ambitious to Excel, not that they may thereby derive a Glory and Applause upon themselves, but for the solid Good of their Christian Brethren. So that the Text is no other than the Dictate of Christian Charity, prescribing to us the way of Using those Gifts Well, which are so subject to be abused. Charity esteems it better to be Profitable to Mens Souls, than to purchase their Acclama­tions and Applause; it teaches us to prize the Salvation of Men more than our own Glory.

But it is high time to lead you to the Parti­cular and Distinct Consideration of the two things here mention'd, 1. The Operation or Means in order to a Noble End, Seek that ye may excel. 2. The End it self, to the edifying of the Church. I begin with the latter first, for in Practical Discourse the End doth not un­justly challenge the first Place. And indeed, true Wisdom instructs its Followers to pro­pound [Page 99] a Right End to themselves, and then to make Choice of such Means as are proper for that End. We are liable to miscarry in both of These; for sometimes we Aim right, but shoot awry, our Actions bearing no pro­portion to the Goodness of our Intentions: At other times we are in a right Course, but propound a wrong End; so that Good Per­formances are marr'd by Ill Purposes. Now, the Apostle here meets with both these De­fects, and labours their amendment, pro­pounding to us the End together with the Means; the best End, the Church of God, and the edifying thereof; the best Means, seek that ye may Excel. Every Action is design'd to some Purpose, and according to this we aim either Right or Wrong; we either deport our selves laudably, or hugely miscarry in our Lives. It will concern us therefore to fix our selves Aright at first, and to propound to our selves such an End as we may not be asham­ed to own in the whole Course of our Acti­ons. And such certainly is the Church of God, which is most deservedly the Scope of all our Enterprizes, Prayers and Wishes. This baf­fles all sneaking Designs and Projects; this bravely leads us out of our selves, and car­ries us directly to the Supreme Good, and there stints and determines all our Passions and Desires. We at once become Lovers of God and of his Church, the one absolutely In­fluencing upon the other; the Glory of the [Page 100] Almighty and the Good of Souls being so twi­sted together, that it will be found a thing wholly impossible to divide them. For the Church being that Society of Holy Men where­in God is more peculiarly acknowledged and glorified, it must needs be that whilst we tender the Welfare of that Society, we like­wise more signally advance God's Glory. Our Love, if it be true and real, will reflect from God to his Church; and through the Church it will ascend to God again.

The Edifying or Building of the Church, which is the thing here design'd, principally belongs to Christ Iesus himself. It looks like a Paradox, but is certainly true that the * Foundation and Chief Corner-stone in the Building are the Chief Architect also. On this Rock, saith he to St. Peter, I will build my Church. This Glorious Fabrick is rais'd by Christ's own hand. Yet this Work in some measure belongs to all Holy and Exemplary Christians; they are useful and necessary for the promoting of this Structure. But more especially the Guides and Rulers of the Church, the Ministers of the Gospel, the Dispensers of God's Holy Word are employ'd in this Work; they are in a peculiar manner appoint­ed, and set apart on purpose to be Artificers and Builders in the Erecting of the Christian Church; they are particularly design'd for [Page 101] the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, i.e. his Church, Eph. iv. 12.

First, Our great Care must be to lay the Foundation; and what that is our Apostle tells us, 1. Cor. iii. 11. Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Iesus Christ, i.e. the Meritorious Undertaking of the Son of God, Christ Jesus the Blessed. There is no Salvation but by a lively and effe­ctual Faith in the Blood of this Lamb of God. This is the same with the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Eph. ii. 20. which St. Paul tells the Ephesians they are built upon, viz. the Doctrin of the Redemption and Sal­vation by Christ, delivered by these Inspired Men, and which they received from Christ himself, who in the same place is called the Chief Corner-stone. This is the Great Funda­mental Point of the Christian Institution, this is the main Truth on which all Christianity is founded, and therefore we must be very Faithful in the Asserting and Vindicating of this. The whole Fabrick of our Religion sinks, and that irrecoverably, without this firm and steady Basis. And all the other Prin­ciples and Rudiments of Christianity, which are also justly stiled the Foundation, Heb. vi. 1. are our proper Concern: We are indispensa­bly obliged to instruct our Charge in all those Divine Truths of the Gospel which the Wri­tings of the Evangelists and Apostles furnish us with.

[Page 102] And having laid the Foundation with sin­gular Care and Skill (as knowing that it is this which Supports the Fabrick) we must proceed to erect our Superstructure, to build upwards as well as downwards. And ac­cordingly all the Holy Doctrines and Rules conducing to Christian Knowledge and Pra­ctice are to be produced, and made use of. We must remember the Apostle's Advice, to build upon the Foundation nothing but Gold, Silver, and precious Stones, 1 Cor. iii. 12. Such Sound and Orthodox Conclusions as are of real Worth and Value; and not Wood, Hay, and Stubble, i.e. unnecessary and useless Do­ctrins or Inferences, muchless such as apparent­ly Confront the Faith of the Gospel, and Fo­ster Lewd and Wicked Pra­ctices. Colloqu. Mensal. The Pope (as Luther expresses it) is for Building up the Church, ex Accidentibus, of Outward things of little value; but we (saith he) Build it ex Substantia, we urge those Doctrines which are Substantial, we press those Practices which are of Moment, which are Essential to Religion, and have real Worth and Excellency in them. Thus we should behave our selves, remembring that the Superstructure ought to be suitable to the Foundation; this being Solid and Substan­tial, that must be so too. Briefly, this Ex­cellent Metaphor of Edifying or Building (which our Apostle seems much to delight in, [Page 103] as we may gather from his* frequent using of it) imports no less than an Impartial deliver­ing and teaching the whole Mystery of God­liness, whether it consists in Fundamentals, or in such Important and Necessary Matters as are to be grounded on them, all that our Hearers are to know, and all that they are to do, the Whole Will of God, and the Whole Duty of Man. In a word, to enlighten Mens Minds, to reform their Lives, to convert Sin­ners from the Errors of their Ways, to con­firm and strengthen Converts in the ways of Truth and Righteousness, by any Holy Arts and Methods to further the real Good of Christ's Flock, by any good Means to promote the Churches Welfare is to Build it up. This is the Divine Architecture, this is the Art of Spiritual Building. So that if we hearken to this Proposal, we shall assuredly advance the Good of the World, and at the same time pro­mote our own Bliss and Happiness. In seek­ing the Churches Good we shall not fail of a Blessing; and that Charity which raiseth our Hearts to endeavour the Welfare of the Church Militant will at last Exalt us to the Glories and Consummation of the Church Triumphant, when they that be wise shall shine as the Bright­ness of the Firmament, and they that turn many to Righteousness, as the Stars for ever and ever.

[Page 104] I proceed now to the next thing propound­ed, viz. the Means in order to this Noble End which I have been speaking of, and that is ex­pressed in those words, Seek that ye may excel. Take care to fit your selves for this Grand Em­ployment of building up the Church, which is the House of God, 1 Tim. iii. 15. 1 Pet. iv. 17. Passionately desire and endeavour that you may be eminently and abundantly Capacitated for this mighty Work. This is the Import of the Word [...] here used, which signifies both to Excel and to Abound. Be ambitious of the Choicest Gifts, and strive to possess them in the highest degree. We of the Sa­cred Function are not to content our selves with mean and low Attainments in Religion, but to aspire to the Greatest and Noblest Im­provements, * to a great Plenty and Abun­dance of Gifts and Graces; as a Learned and Pious Father Paraphrases on this Place. We must strive to be Masters of all those Excel­lent Qualifications which tend to Edification, and to arrive to what Perfection we can in them. In short, seeing the Edifying of the Church is the proper Office of an Evangelical Minister, he must make it his great Business to pursue this effectually, and to Excel in it by such Means and Methods as these,

First, Prayer: Which seems to be here sug­gested [Page 105] in the word Seek. This Excelling and this Edifying must be sought at the Hands of God by humble and earnest Addresses. If Bezaleel and Aholiab were* fill'd with the Spi­rit of God, to excel in all manner of Cunning Workmanship, for the adorning of the Mo­saick Tabernacle, surely then it is from that Holy Spirit that the Apostles and their Succes­sors are endued with eminent Abilities for the Service of the Spiritual and Mystical Tabernacle. And if we are convinc'd of this, we cannot but see it necessary to apply our selves to this Sacred Author and Donor of all those Gifts, whereby we may be made capable of serving the Church of God. You know whose words those are, According to the Grace of God which is given to me, as a wise Master-builder I have laid the foundation. And if it be by Di­vine Grace and Bounty, then we know whose work it may properly be said to be; and therefore in the foregoing Verse he tells them they are God's Building; it is from Him that they make any progress in Christian Know­ledge and Goodness, in Faith and Holiness. To this Great Operator and Architect we are therefore to repair, and to implore his Aid and Assistance. Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. We are not able to effect any thing in this great and weighty Undertaking without his Pre­sence [Page 106] and Blessing; at least, we can do no­thing successfully without his special Concur­rence and Guidance. Wherefore, according to Iustin Martyr's Pious Advice, we must * above all things pray that the Gates of Light may be opened to us, that we may have a Spiri­tual and Divine Understanding, whereby we may be taught to teach others. Building up of others, as well as of our selves, in the most holy Faith, must be joined with Praying in the Holy Ghost, Iude ver. 20, 22, 23. We may observe that St. Paul is frequent in Prayer, that he may be assisted in his Ministerial Employment, and he is often requesting others to pray for him, that his Labours in the Gospel may prove really Advantageous and Successful. This is that which We also are concerned in, if we expect any Blessing on our Enterprizes. We must remind those who are the peculiar Charge of our Ministry to solicite Heaven in our be­half; and we must with singular Importuni­ty and Earnestness beg the Divine Aid our selves. If thus with the devout Supplications of others we join our own fervent Petitions, we shall certainly Prosper, we shall derive the Grace and Blessing of Heaven upon us in the Performances and Offices belonging to our Calling.

Secondly, To this first Method of Edifying [Page 107] and Excelling, we must add that Apostolical Direction to Timothy, and in him to all the Spiritual Instructors in the Church, Give at­tendance to Reading, 1 Tim, iv. 13. Diligently peruse the Law and the Prophets, be conver­sant in the Writings of the Sacred Volume. Though Timothy was an Inspired Person, yet he is commanded to read the Scriptures, and to give attendance to them; which is the same with that of St. Peter (where [...]. the same Greek word is used, and therefore might have been rendred as it is here) To take heed to, viz. the more sure word of Prophecy, 2 Pet. i. 19. The word denotes great Attention and Application of Mind, and obliges us to be very Careful and Diligent in consulting these Sacred Oracles. Nor are Other Books excluded here, nay, they are partly meant, as Historians, Moralists, Poets, Orators, and other Humane Authors. For it's likely the Apostle's Advice here was in con­formity to his own Practice, who reckon'd his Books and Parchments (which some think to be the same, because the Antient Books were made of Skins or Parchments, and roll'd upon a Cilinder, as our Maps are) as necessa­ry to him as his Cloak in Winter, 2 Tim. iv. 13. What these Books were I have no Catalogue to tell me, but I know of some others that he dealt in, as those three Poets, Epimenides, A­ratus and Menander, the quoting of which he thought not unworthy of an Inspir'd Apostle [Page 108] And he was not only Skill'd in the Greek Poets and other Good Greek Authors, that wrote in Prose (for if he was Curious to read the for­mer, it is not to be questioned but that he was acquainted with the latter) but he had Know­ledge in Hebrew Writers: For he sat at the Feet of Rabbi Gamaliel, who was a Famous Doctor of the Law, Nephew of the Celebra­ted Hillel, and Prince of the Sanhedrim; by whom this his Scholar was created a Member and an Elder of that Renowned Councel; as the Learned Mr. Selden affirms, who was An­tiquary sufficient to make it good. This Great Apostle tells us himself, that he was Gal. i. 14. Exceedingly zealous of the Tradi­tions of his Fathers; he had a migh­ty desire to be acquainted with the Antient Doctrines and Customs of the Hebrews, and accordingly he searched into the Talmudick Writings; and there it was that he found the express Names of two of the Egyptian Magi­cians, viz. Iannes and Iambres, and hath left them upon Record in 2 Tim. iii. 8. From these Hints we may guess what other Authors he was versed in, and how he came by his Polite Learning, and by that which was Severe, and how exactly he was fitted to be a Doctor of the Gentiles and the Iews both: Which is a­bundantly demonstrated from his Profound Epistles, which speak him a Master of Logick and Oratory, of Reason and Eloquence.

[Page 109] Nor was it thought in the succeeding Ages of the Christian Church that this sort of Ac­complishments was unworthy of the Evange­lical Ministers; nay, it was reckon'd to be of great Use and Advantage. Whence it was that Iulian the Apostate, by a Decree, for­bad Christians the Reading of Heathen Au­thors, giving this reason for it, that they by the studying of these Writers, would know how to Wound the Pagans with their own Weapons. And on other Accounts it might be shew'd, that Prophane Writers are serviceable among Christians. There is no sober Man will give heed to that strange Illu­sion of St. Ierom, who dreamt that an Angel Scourg'd him for Reading Tully's Orations, and other good Latin Authors, as if to be a Cicero­nian and a Christian were inconsistent. It is enough to say that it was a Dream, and that his composed Thoughts, when he was awake and throughly sensible, corrected such Ex­travagant Fancies, and represented to him how useful some of the Gentile Writings are, and that a Man cannot understand the Ori­ginal Texts of the Old and New Testament, without some Skill and insight into them. How requisite the Poets and Philosophers Wri­tings are to a Christian Divine, is shew'd by Cont. Faust▪ I. 13. c. 15. St. Augustin, and other Antient Fathers, who particularly repre­sent to us the Usefulness of this sort of Learning in Sacred Studies.

[Page 110] But our Chief Converse should be with the Bible: This we should constantly look into, and be always perusing. Why do you not spend all your time, in which you are not employ'd in the Service of the Church, in reading this Book especi­ally? said a very Pious* Bishop, treating of the Office of a Clergy-Man. Concerning Basil and Gregory Nazianzen we are told by Ru­finus, that for Thirteen Years together they laid aside all Books that treated of Secular Matters, and applied themselves wholly to the Reading of the Volumes of the Sacred Scrip­ture. This most truly may be said, that though we are not to neglect other Writings; yet these are indispensably Necessary, and we must lay aside all other Books rather than not find time to read These. And the Reason is plain, because no Man can pretend to Theo­logical Studies, who hath not acquainted him­self with the Sacred Text. For see how it is in Other Arts and Faculties; there are Books proper and peculiar to them, and without which there is an utter despair of attaining any Skill in them.

Thus to offer one Example only, the Civil Law is gain'd by Reading the Digests or Pan­dects (of which the Institutions are an Ab­stract) compiled out of the Immense Volumes of the Roman Lawyers, some of which were Writ before our Saviour's Time, and others [Page 111] afterwards; and they are no other than the Sayings, Responses and Decisions of the Chief of the Learned in the Law; by reading the Code, which is made up of the Rescripts, De­crees and Constitutions of the Roman Em­perors and their Wise Councel, from Adrian to Iustinian. (So that this Volume differs from the Pandects, as among us the Statute-Law or Acts of Parliament differ from the Common-Law, i. e. the Judgment of Lawyers, call'd Reports. Wherefore the Pandects must give way to the Code, this being more Valid than they, as the Commands of Princes are of greater Force than the Dictates of Lawyers): More­over by reading the Authenticks or Novels, called so because they were New Laws added to the other: Lastly, by looking into the Feuds, i.e. the Customs and Services for the Lands held by Vassals of their Lords, which last Volume of the Imperial Laws was not added till about the Year 1150. under the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. There is an utter Despair, I say, of gaining any compe­tent Knowledge in this Excellent sort of Learning, unless a Man peruses these Books, and the Commentators on them. And so in the Study of Physick, no Man can arrive to any Perfection in it, unless he be conversant with the Particular Authors, whether Antient or Modern, that are Famous in the Faculty. And the same may be said of all other Arts and Sciences.

[Page 112] But this is in a special manner true in Di­vinity, the Knowledge of which no Man can possibly reach, without a diligent and con­stant Perusal of the Books which Constitute the Holy Canon, the Writings of the Old and New Testament; for both are necessary, as we see plainly in the Quotations out of the for­mer which we meet with in the latter. There are Four and twenty Books of the one cited or referr'd to in the other, and out of* some of them there are above Forty; out of o­thers above Sixty Passages alledged and made use of. The Bible then is a Volume of abso­lute Necessity, and cannot be out of the Hands of one that is devoted to the Ministry. For this cause it was heretofore ordered, that this Sacred Book should be read at Bishops and Priests Tables even at Dinner; and still there is a perpetual Obligation on those of the Sacred Function, to give themselves daily to the Study of the Scriptures, the Divine Writings of Moses and the Prophets, and the Books of the Evan­gelists and Apostles. And there is good reason for it, because they must Build (which is the thing we are now speaking of) by a Rule; and the Scripture is that Rule. But it is im­possible we should make use of it to this Pur­pose, unless we be very well acquainted with it. We cannot Regulate our own or other Mens Actions by this Canon, we cannot Skil­fully [Page 113] apply this Rule, this Square, if we be not very conversant with it, and have a know­ledge of its Excellent Doctrines and Precepts. These are the Writings that have this Pecu­liar and Matchless Character, That they are able to make us wise unto Salvation, 2 Tim. iii. 15. for (as it follows) All Scripture (i.e. all Holy Scripture, which he had mentioned in the Verse before) is given by Inspiration of God, and is profitable for Doctrin, for Reproof, for Correction, for Instruction in Righteousness; that the Man of God (the Minister of the Go­spel) may be perfect, throughly furnish'd unto all good Works, may be enabled to perform all the Parts of his Duty, more especially those which appertain to his Sacred Calling.

Besides, on other accounts the Scriptures are to be admir'd, and to have the preference to all other Books whatsoever. The Great Admirers of Homer tell us, That they find all things in his Poems; what is Excellent in any Art or Profession is to be met with there. But upon better grounds I could make it ap­pear, that the Writings I am speaking of de­serve that Character and Testimony. There is no Man of clear Reason but is fully perswa­ded that there is more Undoubted Antiquity, more Excellent History, more profound Rea­son, more delightful Eloquence, more Choice Learning of all sorts in the Bible, than in any other Writings extant in the whole World. There need then no Elaborate Perswasives to [Page 141] read this Sacred Volume, which is the best un­der Heaven, not only in respect of Divine but Humane Literature (and that of all kinds) con­tained in it. Even as to this latter, there is none can be said to be an Accomplish'd Scholar, if he be not acquainted with this Book.

Next to the Infallible Records of both Testa­ments, the First and Antientest Fathers of the Church call for our Esteem and Enquiry. Antiquity in Monuments is Venerable; in Religion it should be much more so. Pre­scription corroborates the Civil Rights and Tenures; I see not why it should not fortify the Ecclesiastical. Luther and Calvin are Great Names, and will ever be so in the True Chri­stian Church; but yet they ought in some respects to Veil to those Greater and Earlier Lights of the Church, Ignatius, Iustin Martyr, Iren [...]us, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cy­prian, and others of the Antients, from whom we learn what Defections there were from the Truth, what were the Errors, and Here­sies, and Corrupt Practices of the First Ages of Christianity, and how the Virgin Purity and Simplicity of the Church were almost de­fac'd by them. Especially from those that were the Learn'd Apologists in those Times, and afterwards, who Asserted Christianity against the Iews on one hand, and the Pagans on the other, we may in a great measure dis­cover what is Orthodox and Authentick, and what is of a different Nature. And it is rea­sonable [Page 115] to infer hence, that the Church at this day should for the most part be Defended and Vindicated by the Writings of those who were its First Defenders, they being so Great Judges of the Primitive Doctrine and Pra­ctice.

Thirdly, To Reading I must necessarily ad­join Meditation; both which perform'd by due Turns, is properly Studying. And cer­tainly this is of singular Use: we cannot more effectually fit our selves for our Great and Im­portant Work that we are call'd to, than by serious, and sober Reflections on our Minds, by Sifting and Examining our Notions, and observing what Conformity they bear to our Unprejudiced Faculties; by being intimately acquainted with our Thoughts, and exerci­sing our selves to a familiarity with Rational and Solid Principles, and by causing them to bring their utmost Aids to Support and Main­tain the Articles of Christianity. Our Read­ing will be of little use without this; for it is by Pondering on the things that we have Read, and by Comparing them among them­selves, that we are able to digest our No­tions, and to arrive to the true Understanding of Matters propounded to us. The Royal Psalmist's Experiment concerning himself is worthy of our Observation, I have more un­derstanding, saith he, than all my Teachers; for thy Testimonies are my Meditation, Psal. cxix▪ 99. I find a mighty Increase and advance in [Page 116] Divine Knowledge, because I use my self to a serious Contemplation on those Heavenly and Sublime Truths, and thereby I am ca­pable of penetrating into the profound Na­ture of them, and to discern those wonderful things in them which are hid from others. We may take notice, that after many season­able Instructions and Precepts given by St. Paul to Timothy, his Faithful Assistant in the Work of the Gospel, he adjoins this, which is of as great use as any of the rest, Meditate up­on these things, 1 Tim. iv. 15. And so again, after several Pious Admonitions and Exhor­tations, he adds, Consider what I say, 2 Tim. ii. 7. Which Advice reaches all of Timothy's Character, and is as much as if he had said, Revolve these things often in your Minds, and let this Charge which I leave with you be continually in your Thoughts. Accustom your selves to Thinking, and know that it is the part of a Christian, as well as of a Man: but especially it is an indispensable Qualifica­tion in a Publick Instructer, in one that is to Amend and Rectifie the Sentiments of Man­kind. If therefore we are desirous to attain to any Improvement and Excellency in our Ministry, we must not herd with the Crowd, but retire from it, and hold converse with our own Minds, and thereby Teach and In­struct our selves, and so we shall be fit to do the same to others: Which is the next thing I shall treat of.

[Page 117] Fourthly, Another way whereby we are to Edify the Church, and Excel in it, is the Of­fice of Preaching, or (as the Apostle stiles it) Prophesying. He gives this the Precedence to all the other Gifts which he mentions either in this or the Twelfth Chapter of this Epistle. Covet earnestly spiritual Gifts, but rather that ye may Prophesy. This is that Endowment which, according to him, makes most for the perfect­ing of the Saints, for the Work of the Ministry, and for the Edifying of the Body of Christ. which Character shews it to be this Gift which I'm now to speak of. This is a Complicate Office, and contains many Excellent things in it; as first, the Informing of Mens Judg­ments, and setting▪ them into Right Ap­prehensions concerning things in Religion. The Leading Requisite, as I conceive, in a Preacher, is Orthodoxy. He is to be one that owns those Principles and Articles of Faith which have been always profess'd by the Universal Church. Let us not assume the Title of Protestants, and yet reject some of the Great Heads of Divinity which are ac­knowledg'd by all Sober Persons of the Re­formation. Let us not say we are of the Church of England, and yet deny some of the Chief Doctrines contain'd in her Articles. Let us not profess our selves to be Ministers of the Word, and yet renounce those Truths which are formally contain'd in it, or are according to it: For either Express words of Scripture, [Page 118] or Natural and Plain Consequences from it, are to be the Standards of that Doctrin which we deliver.

It is required of us not only to Establish Truth, but to Detect and Confute Falshood and Heresy, therein following the Example of those Great Men, Irenaeus, Epiphanius, Au­gustin, Theodoret. And truly this is become necessary in this Extravagant Age, where so many Wild Notions are entertain'd, and so many Old Errors revived. The Christian Structure cannot but be expos'd to great Ha­zards and Dangers, when its Foundations are Undermined by some, and its Superstructure hath continual Batteries made against it by others. In such Circumstances how Careful and Watchful should we be? How Vigorous­ly and Concernedly should we act? Like those Builders at the Restauration of the Iews, with a Trowel in one hand, and a Sword in the o­ther. We must be in a Defensive and Offen­sive Posture at once, securing and maintain­ing the Apostolical Faith, and grappling with the Opposers of it at the same time. But yet I must insert this Caution, That we ought carefully to avoid all Unnecessary Disputes, for nothing is more unbecoming a Preacher of the Gospel, and nothing doth more hinder the Success of his Ministry. Accordingly we may observe, That the Doctrines which mini­ster questions, are opposed to Godly edifying, [...] Tim. l. 4. We shall effect but little in our [Page 119] Employment if we indulge Controversies, and delight in Quarrels, and promote Intri­cacies and Perplexities in Religion. Our task is to avoid these with all care, and to enter­tain our Hearers with the Necessary Doctrines of Christianity, such as depend not on the fal­lible Deductions of Men, but are fixed and unmoveable, founded on the Holy Oracles, and deliver'd by Christ Jesus and his Apo­stles.

Again, a Minister and Guide of Souls is not only to rectifie Mens Judgments, and to set­tle them in the Necessary Articles of Religion, but further it is required of him, that he take care of their Lives and Manners. For though * True Notions of Religion and Godliness are to lead the way, yet to make a Man Ab­solute and Complete there must be Upright­ness of Life. Nay indeed, unless this latter be look'd after, the former will soon decay. By Unholiness and Wickedness we see often­times that Men Hazard their Principles. If the Practice be Debauch'd, if the Life be Im­pure, if the Manners be depraved, there will be a Corruption in the Judgment. There­fore, we that are Dispensers of the Word, ought to be as concern'd for Practical Reli­gion, [Page 120] as for Truth of Doctrin. We ought not only to Instruct our Hearers in Right Prin­ciples, but with all freedom to reprove their Sins and Vices, and pathetically to Exhort and Perswade them to all Vertue and Good­ness, remembring always, that a Holy and Exemplary Conversation is the True Edifying of the Church; yea, 'tis the very Top-stone of the Building. It is not meer Speculation or bare Discourse that will atchieve this great Work. This is as if a Man should undertake to Build a House by Contriving it in his Head, or by Talking of it. It is the utmost Perfe­ction of a Christian, to Live according to his Excellent Principles. And consequently it is the chief Business of a Preacher to beat down all Immorality, Wickedness and Prophaneness, and to set up and promote whatever is Ver­tuous and Laudable, and especially to advance the Evangelical Vertues and Graces, and such Duties as are more especially commanded by Christ and his Apostles in the New Testament. And this very thing shews the Excellency of our Office, when it is rightly discharg'd; for the Worthiness and Esteem of Employments are according to the Usefulness of them. Thus, to instance in other Faculties, he is the Best La [...]yer that most successfully directs Men to the Securing of their Estates and Properties; and he is the Best Physician that saves Mens Lives. So it is here, he is the Best Divine, he is the Best Preacher that reforms Me [...]s Man­ners, [Page 121] and effectually shews them how to save their Souls. The True Preaching is to answer to Prophesying in the Primitive Church, which is the thing more particularly design'd in the Text, by Excelling to Edification; and this you find was esteemed by the Apostle as the Best and most Valuable Gift, because it was most Advantageous to the Church: He that Prophe­sieth, saith he, speaks to men to Edification, and Exhortation, and Comfort, 1 Cor. xiv. 3. This is the proper Task of the Evangelical Preacher, viz. not only to Build Men up by Instruct­ing them in their Holy Faith, but by Power­ful Exhortations to the Practice of all Christian Vertues to make them Better, and to enable them to feel the Comfort and Satisfaction of a Religious Life.

In Order to this, his Instructions and Ex­hortations must be Plain and Intelligible, and easy to be comprehended. We read of some * Hereticks of old, that were wont to use a great deal of Hebrew in their Religious Wor­ship, and in their Discourses to the People, thereby to Astonish and Amaze the Vulgar. But he that would Preach so as to Edify, must not use any such Arts; he must not soar above the Capacities of those that hear him. Or, if any one will needs call this Building, it is like that of Babel, where they understood not one another. We justly Condemn the [Page 122] Papists for Praying in an unknown Tongue; but let me be so free as to say, that to Preach in a Stile which is not understood by the Peo­ple, is every whit as unlawful, and as absurd, Therefore thou, O Man of God, flee these things, and let the Great Apostle be thy Example, Who* would rather speak five words to be under­stood, and to Edify others, than utter ten thou­sand which could not have that effect upon them. The Prophet shrunk himself into the proportion of the Child he meant to revive: And so must Spiritual Instructers and Publick Exhorters to Vertue deal with those they in­tend to recover out of their Sins wherein they are dead, they must adapt themselves to their Measures, they must suit themselves to their mean Understandings, and condescend to their Weaknesses, and often Inculcate the same Divine Lessons, therein having regard to the Forgetfulness as well as the Ignorance and Shallowness of their Common Hearers.

And as for the Mode of delivering our Do­ctrines, whether by Book, or without, that is of the meanest Consideration, and no Intel­ligent Person will be very solicitous about it, so it be Grave and Proper. Certainly it is not Necessary we should commit every Sermon to our Memories: Such perpetual Conning is too like a School-Boy's Task, methinks; as if our Auditors were Pedagogues, and we stood [Page 123] in continual Fear of the Ferula, if we should not have all our Lesson by Heart. Much less is Preaching a needless Mustering up of Au­thors, an unmerciful haling of the Fathers out of their Graves to no purpose, a rude claim­ing Acquaintance with Greek and Latin Wri­ters, for the sake of a Sentence or two out of them. It is not pleasing the People with Little and Trifling things, or astonishing them with too Great and High ones. Nor is it yet any thing made up of an Affected Tone or Gesture, or any thing of that sort. But (as I represented it) it is a sober informing of Mens Judgments, and establishing them in the Grand Points of Religion; it is a plain and bold rebuking of Vice, and a warm Exhor­tation to Vertue; it is an affectionate Applica­tion of Truth to the Hearts and Lives of the Hearers. This is Preaching, and thus the Church of Christ is built up; thus this Great Pile is raised, and reaches with its utmost Top even to Heaven, where it is Triumphant.

Fifthly, In the next place I must not forget to add, that we are to mind those things also which respect the Discipline and Order, the Vnity and Peace of the Church. To this pur­pose its Solemn Censures were Instituted by Christ and his Apostles; that if there should happen any Dilapidations in the Building of the Church, it might by these be speedily Repair'd, that Persons of Unholy and Dis­order'd Lives might be debar'd Communion [Page 124] with so Holy a Society. And the Laws of Decency were prudently design'd to extirpate all Confusion and Distraction, and to render the Church and all its Services Beautiful and Venerable. The Apostle concerning his Con­verts of Colosse, professes, that he rejoiced in beholding their Order, Col. ii. 5. A Military word, and signifies the orderly disposal of Soldiers in an Army. Such should be the Re­gular Marshalling of the Church Militant. It is requisite for its Security and Welfare, that all keep their proper Ranks and Stations, and that a Decorum be every where observ'd. We find that Circumstances as well as Substantials are to be look'd after; the Apostle in the E­leventh Chapter of this Epistle controuls the Solecisms of their External Behaviour in the Service of God. He checks their Rudeness and Irreverence, and gives Rules for the out­ward Deportment and Carriage in Praying and Prophesying. It is fit that some care should be taken of Religion's Outside, that she have a comely Equipage. Decent and Fitting Circumstances are the Wall about the Spiritual Building; they are the Hedge about the Field of the Church, which contributes much to her Preservation and Welfare. It is such a Fence to her as the Bark is to the Tree, which, when it is utterly neglected, the Fruit, and sometimes the Tree it self, is endangered. Even those things which are but Accessary and Accidental to Devotion, [Page 125] are of great use; and the Devotion and Wor­ship themselves would not be long kept up without these.

But let us remember that they are but Cir­cumstances and Appendages, and that the things which we are chiefly to be concern'd for in Religion are of an higher Nature, and that the Mind is principally to be employ'd here. The main care in God's Worship must be, that it be Spiritual and Sincere, that the Heart be rightly disposed; for this is the Sacrifice which he chiefly requires and regards. All must be so done in his Service, that the Sim­plicity of Christianity be not abated, that Real and Internal Religion be not diminish'd, and that the Visible Face of it be never with­out the Vitals and Spirit of it. Let Religion outwardly appear as comely and beautiful as the Rules of Christian Edification will allow, but by no means let her exceed in Ornament and Bravery; for she will soon vanish when she grows Pompous, and runs into External Shew and Pageantry.

With Decency and Comeliness are gene­rally coupled Vnity and Concord; and these we are to be concern'd for likewise. It is the Harmony and Uniformity of the Parts of a Building that makes it both Beautiful and Use­ful. Without this it would not be a well-ordered Edifice, but a confused Heap. And 'tis certain, that by our love of Peace and U­nity, we shall successfully contribute towards [Page 126] the Building of the Church: For there is Hi­story enough to convince us, that the Antient Hereticks and Schismaticks betray'd the Faith when they destroy'd the Vnity of the Church. At the same time that they made a Breach in her Walls, they undermined her Foundati­ons. It behoves us of the Clergy, then to maintain mutual Amity and Agreement both among our selves and others. It is high time to banish all Dissention, to put a Period to all our Animosities and Vain Janglings, to doat no longer on Fruitless Disputes, but to pursue the One thing Necessary, and to imbrace our Religion with an Entire Affection, and to commend it to the World by our Practising of it.

And so I pass to the last thing which I in­tended to Name, Seek that ye may Excel in a Holy Life. St. Paul in his Visitation Sermon to the Elders of the Church of Ephesus, enjoins them to take heed to themselves, as well as to all the Flock, Acts xxviii. 28. And he commands Timothy to be an Example of the Believers, in Word, in Conversation, in Charity, in Spirit, in Faith, in Purity, 1 Tim. iv. 12. And more briefly, ver. 16. Take heed unto thy self, and to thy Doctrin, i.e. to thy Life, as well as to thy Preaching. And he charges Titus, That in all things he shew himself a Pattern of good Works, Tit. ii. 7. As there is a Special Designation to the Office of the Ministry, so there must be a Special Holiness accompanying it. There [Page 127] must be a Consecration of their Lives, as well as of their Persons. As their Function Exalts them above others in Dignity, so they should surpass them in all Laudable Actions; accord­ing to those words used by our Church in her Canons, * They must have always in mind that they ought to Excel others in Purity of Life, and should be Examples to the People to live well and Christianly. Let not that which was part of the Pharisees Character be fastned on them, They say, but do not, they Preach well, but Live not accordingly. Let not that which the Apostle saith of Seducers and False Teach­ers be applied to them, They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him. If they be Guilty of this latter, they pull all down that they have Built, they render all their In­structions, Admonitions, Reproofs and Ex­hortations ineffectual, they obstruct the Truth in or by their Vnrighteousness (for so Rom. i. 18. may be read according to the sense of the word [...];) they hinder the Force and Vertue of the Truth on themselves, and the Propagation of it to others by an Impious Life, yea, they take a course to Ruin Religion it self. Thence it was the usual Speech and Maxim of the Learned and Pious Dr. Ham­mond, The Exemplary Vertue of the Clergy must restore this Church. It is that must commend us to the Hearts and Consciences of Men, it [Page 128] is that must powerfully Influence upon them, and teach them to be Religious in good Ear­nest. A Minister cannot chuse a more effica­cious way of prevailing with others to be God, than by letting them see that he is so himself. But on the contrary, 'tis no marvel that the Sheep wander, if the Shepherd strays. Every ones Eyes are upon their Guides; all Men are looking up to these Stars, these Torches of the World: If they burn dim, it will be observ'd, and, which is worse, it will be Imitated. It is observ'd by a Traveller of good Repute, that Atheism thrives in Italy, because they see so much of the Cheats and Juggles of many of the Priests, and that In­terest is all their Religion. Wherefore let it be known by our Exemplary Lives, that we are not enclined to gratifie Atheists, and to promote Irreligion in the World: Especially, let it be seen that we act not out of Worldly Designs, that we make not the Ministry a Se­cular Calling, but that our Principles are Sin­cere, and that we do all for the Glory of our Great Master. In brief, one of our Character should, like Iohn the Baptist, be John v. 35. a Burning and a Shining Light; Burning in his own Breast with entire Flames of Goodness and Devotion, with pure Inten­tions of Honouring God, and Promoting Re­ligion; and Shining in his Life and Actions by an Uniform Practice of Piety, by an Holiness that is conspicuous and resplendent.

[Page 129] Indeed, some of us are apt to entertain this False Apprehension, That the things before-mention'd, viz. Right Opinions, Preaching of True Doctrin, Conformity to the Church's Order and Discipline are sufficient, though they be abstracted from Holiness. Thence some labour to be accounted Orthodox, and yet mind not their Lives: They teach others what they are to do, but are regardless of their own Actions. They are hot for Cere­monies, but cool and indifferent in the Pra­ctice of Religion. But nothing can be more unreasonable and absurd, for the things before-named are in order to a Holy Life. The pro­per tendency of the Articles of Faith is to O­bedience. The Exercise of Discipline, and the keeping up of Decency and Order, were originally designed to beget and nourish Reli­gion and Vertue. Let us therefore Correct our Conceptions concerning these Matters, and perswade our selves that a Vitious Life is as contrary to God and Religion as Erroneous Doctrines; that to break one of the Command­ments, is as bad or worse than to deny an Article of the Creed; that Drunkenness, Swear­ing, Uncleanness, are as black Crimes as Schism. Yea, let us be convinced, that by Prophaness and Wickedness the Comliness of our Worship is rendred Deformed, our most Decent Rites become Sordid, our White Gar­ments are Stain'd and Polluted. Let us fix upon our Minds that of the Devout Abbot of [Page 130] Claraval, What will our Canonical Ordination profit us if we live Vncanonically? To be sound in the Faith, to Preach it to others, to be Peaceable and Orderly, and to observe the Ec­clesiastical Rules and Laws are of no worth and value if our Lives be Impure and Irregular. Wherefore (to sum up all in a few words) let him that earnestly contends for the Faith, for the Order and Discipline of the Antient Chri­stians, think himself obliged also to live the Life of a Primitive Saint.

You see your Calling, Brethren; you see what is your Office, your Work, your Employ­ment; and you cannot but see that it is of Singular Weight and Consequence, and such as is not easily to be performed. The Fable goes of Amphion, that he did but play on his Lute, and the Stones presently came together of their own accord, and raised the Walls of Thebes. There is more to be done in the Building that I have been Discoursing of, in the Erecting of the Walls of the Spiritual Ie­rusalem. It is a Work of great Difficulty, and requires exceeding great Skill and Pains. It is the Office of the Person, whose Character I have been giving you, to teach and live well, to be acquainted with the True Notions of things, and to frame his Words and Practice suitably to them; to maintain the Antient Orthodox Faith, and to beTit i. 9. able by sound Do­ctrin both to exhort, and to convince the Gain-sayers; to keep the Old Heresies from [Page 131] reviving, and to stifle the Modern Follies and Fancies; dexterously to reclaim the Erring World, manfully to confront the Disorders of a degenerate Age; to confound the Atheist, and vanquish all his Absurd Reasonings against his Maker; and to Exalt the Best Religion, and cause it to Prosper and Flourish in the World; finally, to bear up the Pillars of Chri­stianity by Pure Doctrin, Strict Discipline, and Stricter Example and Conversation; and to let the People see in him, as in a Mirrour, what they are to do, and how to Order their Lives.

Who now is not ready to infer, that so Weighty a Function, requires such2 Tim ii. 15. Work­men that need not to be ashamed? Every Block will not make a Mer­cury, a Messenger of God, an Ambassador of Christ. His Character is Great and Worthy, and hath an indelible Honour annexed to it, and therefore is not to be the Portion of the Meanest and most Abject Souls, and the Un­towardest Bodies, as oftentimes it is contriv'd. It is not a Service for the Illiterate and Pr [...] ­phane, the Dunce and the Debauch'd; for these are wholly unfit for so Sacred and Excel­lent a Charge as I have describ'd. I leave with you the remarkable Words of that Pious Father, St. Chrysostom, concerning those of his Clergy, whom he found to be Vitious Livers, and accordingly deprived of the Exercise, of their Office, and the Priviledges that at­tended [Page 132] it,* They ought not, saith he, to enjoy the Honour of Priests, and at the same time not to emulate the Life of True Priests. To con­clude then, let the Greatness and Dignity of our Task be ever in our Thoughts, and let them excite us to the utmost Diligence and Care. Let our Desires, Wishes, Prayers, Endeavours, tend to the effectual Promoting of this Great Work which I have in part set before you. Especially, let us not forget the most Eminent part of our Office, which is to Instruct by a Godly Conversation, for this is a sure way to Amend the World, and to make it Better.

That Decay of Trade and Com­merce, and Consequently of Wealth, is the Natural Pro­duct and Just Penalty of Vice in a Nation.
A Sermon Preach'd at the Pro­claiming and Opening of a Great Fair.

EZEKIEL XXVII. 27.‘Thy Riches and thy Fairs and thy Merchandize, thy Mariners and thy Pilots, thy Calkers, and the Occupiers of thy Merchandize, and in all thy Men of War that are in thee, and in all thy company, which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the Seas in the day of thy ruin.’

IF some of you, upon the reading of these words, shall put the same Question to me that the Ethiopian Eunuch did to Phi­lip, Of whom speaketh the Prophet this? you [Page 134] may soon have this Demand assoiled by con­sulting the Context and Neighbouring Verses. There you will see is foretold the Ruin of Tyre, a City in Syrophoenicia, one of the three Pro­vinces of Syria. There is described the Over­throw of that Great and Famous City, so noted for Trading and Merchandizing, as be­ing indeed the Great Empory of the World. This whole Chapter, wherein my Text is, is no other than a Passionate Lamentation of the Destruction of that Place. You will find this expressed according to the usual Skill and Art of Orators, who are wont to comply with that Maxim, that Contraries being set one against another are the more advantageously display'd and illustrated. The Riches of Tyre inhanse her Ruin, and her Ruin discovers her former Riches and Greatness. Accordingly this Chapter consists of these two Principal Parts, 1st. A Description of the former Bra­very and Glory of that City, (from the be­ginning of the Chapter to the 26th ver.) 2dly. Its unavoidable Ruin and Destruction, with the sad Allarm it gives to other Nations and Neighbouring Countries (from the 26th ver. to the End of the Chapter.)

I begin with the First Division of the Chap­ter, which compriseth in it the Former Splen­dor and Grandeur of Tyre: And there these Five Topicks are remarkable.

1st. Her Fit and Convenient Situation, at once both Lovely and Vseful, ver. 3, 4. She [Page 135] was inviron'd with the Waters, and all the Compass of that Great City was but as one Main Port. Like a Promontory it stood into the Sea, and so was Commodious for Resort unto from divers Countries. But besides the Natural Commodiousness of its Situation, here is,

2dly, Described her Naval Force (in the five next Verses.) The sum of all that is said there is This, That she was famed for Excel­lent Shipping, that the Vessels she sent Abroad for Trafick were bravely Adorned, that their Tackle was Rich and Costly, their Sails be­ing not of plain Canvas, but of fine Linnen Embroider'd, as if with that Finery and Gaye­ty they would seem to Court the Winds, and make them pliable and favourable to the Passengers.

3dly. You read in the two next Verses of the Military Glory of Tyre, her Strength and Ability to grapple with a considerable Ene­my. The Strongest and Stoutest Nations came thither, and hung up their Arms as in a Garison: They were Trained and Tutored here, and were in Pay under these Noble Ty­rians. The Persians, Lydians, and Moors were all glad to be Listed and Entertained Soldiers under them. Theà Gon ed, cubiius. Gam­madims (or, according to the Vul­gar Latin, the Pygmeys) were in their Towers: The meaning of which proba­bly is this, that the Tallest of these Foreign [Page 136] Soldiers, or of the Martial Tyrians and Phoeni­cians themselves seem'd to be of a very Low Stature, when they were beheld out of those High Towers. Or, they might be called Gammadim, Elbow-Men, because they were Strong and Robust in those Joints, their Arms and other Limbs were well set.

4thly, Their Negotiation, Merchandize and Trafick with other Nations, and consequently their Wealth and Riches are most excellently deciphered from the 11th Verse even to the 25th. So large is the Description of that Ad­mirable Mart, that Catholick Fair, to which all Countries resorted, and kept up a General Trade and Commerce. As their Soldiers so their Chapmen came from far Countries. All People, whether of the Isles or the Conti­nent, flock'd hither to vend or exchange the Wares which are reckon'd up in this Chapter. We read that Hieram, a former King of this Place, and of all Phoenicia, was a Merchan­dizer by Sea, 1 Kings ix. 27, 28. So that we need not wonder at what is said here, that the Merchants were Princes. And that all that Country was Famous for this way of Trafick is attested by* Diodore of Sicily, and by Eustathius, and others.

But from the Huge Bill of Trade which you meet with here I might take occasion by the by to enter this Caution, that we are not to [Page 137] imagine that Trafick and Commerce are Un­lawful, and that Merchandizing is in it self Blameable and Vitious. No; it was appoint­ed for very Useful and indeed Necessary Pur­poses of Man's Life. If it lie under any A­buses, these ought to be corrected, and not the Thing it self to be condemned. Our Sa­viour whipp'd the Buyers and Sellers, but it was because he found them in the Temple, which was not a fit place for them, and because (as we are told by the* Learned) those that sold Doves were reckon'd by the Iews as Infamous Persons, in the same Rank with Gamesters, Panders, and Thieves. Tyre is threatned here to be Punished, not for her Merchandize and Fairs, but for her Abusing them. And so much for the Fourth Topick remarkable in the Description of the Flourishing State of Tyre.

Another Particular remains, which is the 5th and last, viz. the Renown which that Great City had gain'd among all Nations, the Ge­neral Applause which it had purchased, ver. 25. Tyrus was not only Rich and Happy at Home, but grew Famous and Eminent A­broad, and nothing now could be added to her Glory.

But Sin and Vice deform and discredit any Place, and fit it for Ruin. And so now I am to pass (but loth I am to do it) from the former [Page 138] Felicity of Tyre, to her present Misery and De­struction; (and this is enlarg'd upon from the 25th Verse to the End of the Chapter.) Her Overthrow is represented in an Excellent Me­taphor, in v. 26. [Thy Rowers have brought thee into great Waters, the East Wind hath broken thee in the midst of the Seas.] Tyre, that was so brave and stately a Ship, richly Laden and well appointed, is now miserably Cast away. Thy Rowers, that is, thy Rulers and Great Ones, have brought thee to this Conditi­on, and now leave thee to suffer Shipwrack. Both they and thou must perish, and sink into the Deep. The East Wind hath broken thee, that Wind being most Tempestuous and Dangerous in that Country: Or Nebuchad­nezzar, that Blustering Prince, is here meant, who lay East from Tyre, and came thence and destroy'd it. And this Metaphor of a Broken Ship is fitly continued in the next Verse, the Words which I have chosen to entertain you with. I might observe to you here, that this is no Unusual Similitude, and that the Poets and Orators are much in love with it. It would savour too much of School to repeat Horace hisOde 14. Verses, wherein he Ele­gantly compares Rome to a Vessel on the Main. And if you consider that these Ty­rians were Situated on the Mediterranean, and so were in the constant sight of the Sea, and daily beheld their own and others Ships riding on the Waves, you will not then deny that [Page 139] This Comparison and Allegory are most fitly here applied. And I might further Embel­lish this, by observing to you that in the Old Coin of the Tyrians there was a Ship stamped; and their common Brag was, that they were the First Inventors of Shipping, the First Au­thors of Navigation. * Prima ratem ventis credere docta Tyrus.’ So appositely and elegantly is she compared to a Ship, and her Magistrates to Pilots, and her Riches and Costly Wares to the Lading and Cargo. [Thy Riches and thy Fairs and thy Merchandize (for which thou wert so much celebrated) thy Mariners and thy Pilots (those that sat at the Helm, and were thy Governors and Rulers; or, in the most obvious Sense, thy Famous Mariners and Skilful Masters of Ships) and thy Calkers (that is, all Inferior Persons subservient to the making, building, or mending of thy Ships, the Skilful Carpen­ters and Shipwrights employ'd in the repair­ing of thy Vessels) and the Occupiers of thy Mer­chandize (i.e. all thy Chapmen, and Fellow-Traders and Merchants) and all thy Men of War that are in thee and in all thy Company (these are not Men of War in the Naval sense, but they are Soldiers and Warriors on Land) all these shall fall into the midst of the Seas in the day of thy Ruin]; i.e. they shall utterly pe­rish, and sink like a laden Vessel to the bot­tom [Page 140] of the Deep. The Babylonians shall come and Invade them, and lay them wast. And it follows in the 28th Verse, The Suburbs shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy Pilots, which most elegantly and Poetically expresseth the Horrid Noise and Outcry of the perishing Ty­rians (as indeed the Stile of the Prophet in this Chapter is not inferiour to the best of Poets.) The three insuing Verses relate the Re­sentment which other Nations that traded with them shall have of their Ruin, which is sum­med up in those few words (comprehending all that had been said in the Antithesis through­out the Chapter concerning their Preceding Glory and Present Misery) v. 32. What City is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the Sea? What City was like Tyrus once for its Riches and Commerce, for its Military Force, Fame and Renown? And what City like Tyrus now for its sudden but inevitable Calamity? She sat like a Lady, abounding in Bravery and Luxury, encircled with all manner of Earth­ly Felicity, but now she is robb'd of all her Gayety, strip'd of her Glory, and clothed with nothing but Shame. The Fairs are o­ver, the Wares are rifled and carried away, and her End is most Miserable and Deplora­ble; which you will find inlarged upon to the close of the Chapter.

It is high time now, after this Brief Des­cant on the whole Chapter, to confine my self and my Discourse to the Words which I [Page 141] first read unto you: On which we may ground these two Propositions, 1. That all Warlike Provision shall prove Successless, all Weapons Useless and Insignificant in the hands of a Sinful People. All thy Men of War shall fall into the midst of the Sea. 2. Decrease of Wealth and Riches, Decay of Trade and Merchandising, and consequently Scarcity and Penury are the Judgments which a Sin­ful Nation may expect. This Proposition is derived from the Front and the Close of the Text, Thy Riches, thy Fairs, and thy Merchan­dize shall fall into the midst of the Sea in the day of thy Ruin. Thy Domestick and Foreign Trade, thy Commerce at Home and Abroad shall Decay and Die. This is the Proposition which I intend to insist upon, as most suitable to our present purpose, and the Occasion of our Meeting here. That we may not find the Real Experiment of This Observation in the Land of our Nativity is the design of what I am to deliver to you this day. And to that end let us earnestly supplicate and implore the God of Heaven, that it may make such an Impression on our Hearts and Lives, that we may never Actually feel and suffer what I am to treat of.

This is the main thing, I say, which I ob­serve in the Text, that the Decay of Trade and Trafick, and consequently Poverty and Scarcity are one kind of Judgments which, amongst others, are inflicted on a Sinful Na­tion. [Page 142] Thus it was with Tyre, the Famous Tyre, the Make and Situation of which place seem'd to render it altogether Impregnable. It was built on a Rock, and there had its1 Name in the Hebrew; and it is likely the Prophet Zachary alludes to this in his 9th Chap.2 v. 3. Tyre was not only surrounded and guarded by the Sea, the Waves whereof stood up as in a Body to protect and defend it, but the Garisons and Redoubts which they had erect­ed within made the place almost Unconquer­able. Thus both the Natural and Artificial Structure of it concurr'd to let in Riches and Prosperity, and to keep out Want and Di­stress, and by both to make them Happy. Yet behold! when by the Abuse of their Plen­ty and Prosperity they grew Loose and Wanton, and unworthily provoked Him who was the Donour of those earthly Bles­sings, then Poverty like an Armed Man broke in upon them, and they were not able to withstand his Assaults. First, Tyre was Be­sieged by Nebuchadnezzer, and that in a short time after this Prophesy; and though it held out Thirteen Years (as3 Iosephus relates) yet at last it was taken, and laid wast: This Judg­ment, the effect of which lasted about4 Seven­ty [Page 143] Years (the time of the Iewish Captivity, and the very same time that Theirs was) made them not Better, for the Prophet Isaiah saith concerning this City,1 She shall turn to her hire, and commit fornication with all the Kingdoms of the World. Therefore most justly did God visit them a second time, viz. 2 in the days of Alexander the Great, who made way through the Sea to them, and by unspeaka­ble Labour and Toil, by a Bridge of Stones which he had amassed together in the Deep, he reached them at last, and miserably con­founded them. Thus in a sense more Literal than perhaps you imagined, all their Men of War did fall into the midst of the Sea. Some think the Destruction of Tyre by the Macedo­nians was foretold in Isaiah 23. 1. where by the Land of Chittim is meant Macedonia, others say Cilicia, whence Alexander came to them. This Great Warrior killed3 Seven or eight thou­sand in the Siege, which lasted Seven Months; and after the Siege, when the Fury of the Slaughter was over,4 Two Thousand of the Inhabitants were Hanged up and Crucified, and Thirteen thousand were made Captives and Slaves. Thus Tyre's Riches and Fairs and Merchandise fell into the midst of the Sea, were utterly consumed and destroyed, in the [Page 144] day of her Ruin; and she felt the Fatal Doom and Judgment of Babylon, Rev. xviii. 11. No man buyeth their Merchandize any more.

I will give you a Brief Account of the Pro­position in these Three Particulars; First, Sometimes in the Nature of the thing it self it so happens that Poverty and Scarcity, and Decrease of Trading are the Products of Sin. Some Vices there are which of themselves stop the Course of all Trafick, and drag Pe­nury and Want along with them, and una­voidably plunge Men into a Necessitous Con­dition. Is it not evident that Prodigality and Luxury, Revelling and Rioting, Pride and Idleness, Whoredom and Adultery by their own proper Efficacy and malign Influence blast the fairest Estates, and throw Men into the most Lamentable and Miserable Circum­stances? as I shall have occasion to shew you more largely anon. Secondly, That a Sinful and Rebellious Nation should be despoiled of its Riches and Plenty, happens not only in the nature of the thing it self, but by the Iust Iudgment of God upon Sinners. And you will confess this to be Rational, if you consi­der the Grounds why God is pleased to bless a People or Person with the Affluence of Wealth and Worldly Goods, viz. that they may use them to the setting forth of his Praise and Glory, that they may make them con­duce to the designs of Vertue and Religion, that they may by Them serve their Maker [Page 145] with a chearful and contented Spirit, that they may be encouraged to do Good and to communicate, and that they may by the en­joyment of the Good things of this World lay up for themselves a Treasure in another, even in the Mansions of Eternal Glory. To such worthy purposes as these doth the God of Heaven bestow Earthly Riches and Plenty. If then we frustrate all these noble Designs, and by the worldly Blessings conferr'd upon us dishonour our Great Benefactor, and make our Wealth and Abundance administer only to the promoting of Wickedness and Vice; if thus we pervert the Intentions of the Donor, it is but just that we should be deprived of them, and left in a Poor and Forlorn Condi­tion. Now you may expect to hear the Al­mighty say, [I will take away my Corn and my Wine, my Wooll and my Flax, Hos. ii. 9.] Mine they are, and to my Glory they ought to have been employed; but since they are not, I will strip the Possessors of them, and leave nothing but Want and Penury in their room. It is the Blessing of the Lord that maketh Rich, and if we will not study to gain that Blessing by consecrating our selves and services unto Him, it is no wonder that we lie under the Curse of Poverty and Necessity. If we will not faithfully serve God, he will not suffer us to be serviceable to our Selves. If we forget and despise Him, he will give us over to a neglect of our own Concerns and Interest. Thirdly, God [Page 146] inflicts This Judgment on a Wicked and Im­penitent Land, because it is the Basis and Groundwork of many Other Calamities. If Trafick and Commerce, if Plenty and Provi­sion fail, a whole Train of Evils will soon follow. So that this is a Curse which is big with many more, and those as Dreadful as it self: and therefore this is a most proper Pu­nishment for an Ungrateful and Disobedient People.

Having thus given you a short Account of the Remark which I made upon the words, I am to shew you now of what Great Vse it may be in our Lives and Conversations, which is the chief thing I intended.

1. This informs you what is the Great In­terest of a Nation, what is most Advantage­ous and Profitable to a People, even with re­ference to the things of This Life. Godliness is their greatest Gain, it having the Promise of This Life as well as of that to Come. The Poets feign, and fancifully tell us, that their God wooed in Gold, and descended in such a Glistering Showr. Certain it is, and out of the reach of all Fiction, that with God and Religion we shall be blessed likewise with such a Portion of Riches as shall be most service­able to our best Ends. God oftentimes showrs down Wealth with a plentiful Hand on his Friends and Favourites. You see then the true way and Method of Prospering in the World. If you fear God and keep his Com­mandments, [Page 147] you shall be recompensed with the good things of this Life. A Person or Na­tion that sincerely endeavours to purchase True Wisdom (which consists in Righteous­ness and Holiness) shall find that Prov. iii. 16. in her left hand are Riches and Honours.

2. Thank God that you have so long en­joyed the Blessings of Plenty and Trafick: Bless his Holy Name that you are not deprived of these Earthly Benefits and Favours, notwith­standing the Forfeiture you have made of them by your repeated Provocations, by your multiplied Enormities, and Rebellions against God. Yet,

3. You are invited from what hath been said to observe God's Hand lifted up against you. Though he hath not utterly Impove­rish'd this Nation, yet it can't escape your Notice that he hath brought it Low, and by many Passages and signal Acts of Providence hath designed to Humble it. Let us acknow­ledge the Tokens of his Wrath and Venge­ance, and tremble at the various Instances of his Displeasure. Look back and forget not how God hath dealt with you heretofore; he hath held the point of the Sword to your Breasts; he hath blown upon you with Infectious and Pestilential Vapours; he hath singed and scorched you by a Dreadful Fire. Especi­ally call to mind this last, and remember how the Great Metropolis of this Nation, the [Page 148] Royal Chamber, the Universal Exchange for Trafick, was by a most astonishing Confla­gration laid in Ashes in four days. I mention this the rather because I look upon it as one of the Greatest and Notablest Instances of God's consuming the Riches and Merchandize of a People in the day of their Ruin that ever hap­pen'd.

4. Be reminded by all this to hearken to the Rod, and who hath appointed it, to call your Sins to remembrance, and to amend your Lives for the future. For This, this alone will either prevent the like Judgments and Cala­mities hereafter, or it will shield you from the Evil of them. This will guard you against your Enemies Swords, this will be a Preser­vative and Antidote against the Pestilence, this will be your Skreen against the Flames: In brief, this will succeed and prosper all your Secular Enterprizes, secure and increase your Incomes, restore and establish a Free Trade and Commerce, crown you with Plenty and Abundance, and drive away Distress and Indigence from your Doors. As you are de­sirous then to avoid the Judgment which my Text tells you of, as you consult your Profit and Advantage in this World, as you are will­ing to buy and sell, and get gain, as you wish for Earthly Happiness and Success, as you de­sire to Thrive in all your Negotiations and Traficks, be careful that you addict not your selves to any known Vice, that you shun all [Page 149] the Paths of Sin and Wickedness, but especi­ally let me request you to renounce those Lusts which do more immediately and forci­bly call down this Punishment which is fore­told in the Text, and which it is likely were the Cause of the Decay of Tyre's Riches and Merchandize.

First then, Sloth and Idleness, the immedi­ate Source of all Poverty, must be banished and discarded. He that is slothful in his work, is brother to him that is a great waster, saith the Great Master of Oeconomicks and Politicks, Prov. xviii. 9. He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand, but the hand of the diligent maketh rich, saith the same Inspired Author, Prov. x. 4. Which is expressed in other words in Chap. xiii. ver. 4. The soul of the sluggard de­sireth, and hath nothing, but the soul of the dili­gent shall be made fat. The meaning is that Poverty is the Fruit of Idleness, but God will give a Blessing to Industry and Diligence, and Families and Kingdoms thrive by this means.

Secondly, the usual Companion of Idleness is Pride, and that likewise must be discounte­nanced if ever you hope to prosper in your Worldly Affairs. The Tyrians were a very Proud and Haughty People, as appears from Ezek. xxvii. 3. Thou sayst, I am of perfect beau­ty. And in the next Chapter it is recorded not only of the Prince of Tyrus, that his heart was lifted up, and he said he was a God, and sat [Page 150] in the seat of God; but of the People it is said, Their heart was lifted up because of their Riches, ver. 25. And they were not only conceit­ed of their Beauty, Preferment and Riches, but their Extravagant Vanity and Pride of Appa­rel may be guess'd from their Fantastick and Gaudy Trimming of their Ships, which this Chapter mentions. They that were so Wan­ton and Profuse in decking their Vessels, were questionless as Lavish in adorning themselves. And perhaps Tyre was more than ordinarily proud of its Purple, for which it was so fa­mous, for on this shore were gather'd those Shell-fishes the liquor whereof made that Noble Colour wherewith the Robes of Emperors and Senators were died. I have heard some say, that this sort of Pride is a Friend to Trade by the New Fashions and Modes it daily invents: but I can assure them on good Grounds that in the close it rather causes the decay of Tra­fick, and is the readiest way to introduce Mi­sery and Beggery; for Pride of Habit is the Mother of Idleness, Luxury and Wantonness, and these are usually maintain'd and upheld by Fraud, Deceit, Lying, and Theft, which are all destructive things. Do we not daily see (and may we not lament it?) that many to indulge and satisfy their Pride, neglect their Lawful and Honest Callings, and by that course ex­pose themselves and Families to Ruin and De­struction? May we not see others (and we need not go far to spy them) who are so lavish [Page 151] in their Garb and Apparel, that it is to be thought their almost starv'd Bellies cry shame of their Pride?

Thirdly, Intemperance and Excess in Eating and Drinking are Sins which in their own na­ture prove the Overthrow of the Wealthiest and most Thriving People. Before Babylon was taken by Cyrus it is observed by the Hi­storian, that* they spent whole Nights in Drinking and Debauchery. Where this Vice prevails and gets the mastery, all Serious Em­ployment is laid aside, and Gratifying the Wanton Appetite is the only Business and Dispatch. Now no other Penalty can be ima­gined to be the result of This than what the Wise Man hath awarded, Prov. xxiii. 21. The Drunkard and the Glutton shall come to Poverty. How often is the indulging of Superfluities punish'd with the Want of Necessaries? Ex­cessive Provision makes way for None at all. May it not too frequently be observ'd in Great Cities, that the Dining Room empties the Shop; the Overloaded Board impoverisheth the Counter, and the Table devours all the House?

Fourthly, The inseparable attendant of Lu­xury is Lewdness and Vncleanness; and I wish the lamentable Experience of this Age did not too notoriously verify what I am to sug­gest [Page 152] to them, That* in Lewdness is Decay and great Want; for Lawdness is the Mother of Fa­mine. Or hear what a more Authentick Writer saith, By means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of Bread. The Lowest and Vilest Condition is the just Reward of so Abominable a Sin. If you would then con­sult your Temporal Good, and advance even your Secular Welfare, you are concern'd to use all Holy Arts to guard your selves against this Vice, and the rather because it is now grown so Fashionable, and in this degene­rate Age of ours brought into Repute and Credit.

Fifthly, Perswade your selves that all In­justice and Extortion (although they may seem to be Thriving and Profitable for a time) shall at last redound to your greatest Loss and Damage even in this World. Where-ever these are practised, they will certainly end in the Ruin of the Persons, Families or Nations that are guilty of them. You read that this was part of the Complaint against Tyre, That by the multitude of her Merchandize she filled the midst of her with Violence, Ezek. xxviii. 16. As they were Great Traders, so they were Great Oppressors, and by being the former they learnt to be the latter, that is, they found they had great Opportunities of Defrauding and Exacting, and they made use of them. But [Page 153] my Text tells you what was the direful Issue of this, it ended at last in the Destruction of all Trade and Commerce, and in the Ruin of the whole Nation. Thus it was with the Israelites, when they swallowed up the Poor, and made the needy of the Land to fail; The Prophet * Amos lets them know, That the Land shall tremble for this, and every one shall mourn that dwelleth therein, and it shall rise up wholly as a Flood, and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the Flood of Egypt; alluding to the River Nile, which used to ascend with Violence, and overflow the Fields of that Country. Re­member the Aphorism of that Infallible Wri­ter whom I have so often cited, He that op­presseth the poor to increase his Riches, shall sure­ly come to want. Assure your selves that all your Revenues and Incomes which are gain'd by the Cries of Widows and Fatherless Chil­dren, will never prosper. But rather expect that for your being Hard-hearted to the Poor, and denying them what is due to their Neces­sitous Condition, you shall one day come to Poverty your selves; or if you escape, your Posterity shall bear your Punishment.

Again, as Oppression towards Man, so Im­piety towards God will bring a Curse upon your Estate. Never think to Thrive by that Trade and Trafick which Intrench upon God's Holy Day and Worship. Let me tell [Page 154] you, by Prophaning the Christian Sabbath, you set your selves back for the whole Week. It is just with God to Curse you in your▪ Six Days labours, when you will not devote your selves to him on the Seventh, which he hath Blessed and Hallowed to himself. If your rob God of his Due, he may justly permit others to purloin from you. If you be neglectful of God's House, why should you look that he will prosper you in yours? If you will not find Time for God, how can you hope to have any Suc­cessful to your selves? If your cry be like that of the prophane and wordly Israelites, Amos viii. 5. When will the New Moons and Sabbaths be over, that we may set forth Corn and Wheat, that we may buy and sell, and get gain? Never hope by that Buying and Selling to be real Gainers. In short, if you wholly slight the Things of Heaven, you must not expect to prosper in your Earthly ones.

Lastly, Covetousness and Love of the World (which yet perhaps you can hardly imagin) do oftentimes prove the Bane of Worldly In­crease and Profit. Some Avaritious Persons are like those foolish Animals which love to steal Money, only to Hide it. Their Ambition is to Hoard up great Treasures, and make their Gold and Silver as useless as they were in the Mines. He is as truly Poor, that hath Much, and Useth it not, as he that hath No­thing. His Blessing is turn'd into and absolute Curse, and the more he Possesseth the less he [Page 155] Enjoyeth. Besides, how often doth it hap­pen that the Covetous and Ravenous Desires of Worldly Men are blasted by the just Judg­ment of God? As our Saviour observes of the Sodomites, Luke xvii. 28, 29. They bought, they sold, and then it rained Fire and Brim­stone from Heaven, and destroy'd them all. They were over-eager and busie about their Earthly Affairs, they were wholly swal­lowed up of the World, and then no wonder that the Divine Vengeance baffled their De­signs and Enterprizes.

And thus you see what Sins they are which either in their own Nature, or by the just Hand of God, undermine the Temporal Wel­fare and Prosperity of a Nation. You see what Vices are likely to Impoverish and Ex­haust a People: and I doubt not but most of these were instrumental in the Destruction of Tyre. The Design of this Discourse is, that they may not be so of England. That Place and This run parallel in many things; I pray God they may not also in their Ruin. Eng­land is seated in the Waters, and imbraced in the Arms of the Sea, as Tyre was, for she was an Isle before Alexander the Great's time, who with almost incredible Labour join'd it to the Continent, that he might the more easily come at it and conquer it. Tyre was ce­lebrated for its Delightful and Happy Soil, in so much that the Inhabitants of it are said to be in Eden the Garden of God, in Paradise, as [Page 156] the LXX render it, Ezek. xxviii. 13. And this Country of ours on the same account hath been taken of old for the Fortunate Islands. It is divided from the World, as being a more Noble and Worthy Part: It seems to thrust the rest from her, as if she were a World with­in her self. That Antient flourishing City seated on the Phoenician Sea, was deservedly reckon'd the Greatest Mart and Empory of that part of the Universe: Thither were brought the Riches of all Asia, Europe and A­frica. In this also Britain resembles her, and was justly stiled by Charles the Great the Store-House and Granary of the Western World. The Great City of this our Isle may be call'd the Mart of Nations, as Tyre is, Isai. xxiii. 3. It may deserve that High Character which is given in* the same place, The Crown­ing City, whose Merchants are Princes, whose Trafickers are the Honourable of the Earth.

Thus you resemble Tyre, but O may ye never do so in her Desolation and Final Cala­mity! The Tyrians heaped up all their Vast Stock, and amassed together their Prodigious Riches and Treasures for the Babylonians. O that We may not by our Crying Sins and Pro­vocations call in as Merciless Enemies to seize on us, and devour us! Let us remember that after so many Mercies and Deliverances vouchsafed to us, our Destruction must needs be exceeding Great. Let us read and trem­ble at our Saviour's words in Matth. xi. 21, 22. [Page 157] Woe unto thee Chorazin, woe unto thee Bethsaida, for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have re­pented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Si­don at the day of Iudgment than for you. And we of this Nation are like those other People whom our Saviour mentions in that place; like Capernaum we have been exalted unto Heaven by the Enjoyment of the Gospel, and the abun­dant affluence of all other Blessings, and there­fore we may expect to be brought down to Hell for our shameful Unthankfulness and Im­penitence. Our Sins are far greater than those of Tyre and Sidon, than those of Capernaum and Bethsaida. Yea, Sodom was burnt to Ashes for the very Sins that reign amongst us, name­ly, Pride and Fulness of Bread, Idleness, and Oppression, and Uncleanness. But these are more Heinous in us, than they were in them, because our Mercies have been far Greater. What therefore remains now but that we find our Punishment to be far more Grievous and Intolerable? Though we are yet a Na­tion, yet know this that the Judgments of God will certainly visit us, unless we reform our Lives: And know withal, that they will be the Heavier the longer they are de­ferred. Nineveh was destroy'd Forty Years after its Repreive. About the same space of Time, or longer, stood Ierusalem in a flour­ishing Condition after Christ's Passion and [Page 158] Ascension. But when that time was expi­red, the City was Besieged by the Roman Armies, and utterly Sack'd and Demolish­ed.

To shut up all, with some Allusion to the Metaphor which we find in our Poetick Pro­phet here (for I shall not refuse to make use of it, seeing it is here offer'd to me by the Holy Ghost, who is pleased to use it; and I could also observe that it is usual with the Antient* Fathers to compare the Church to a Ship: Wherefore suffer me to glance at it briefly, and so to conclude.) Let us implore the Divine Goodness, to preserve in Safety this Great and Rich Vessel wherein we of this Church and Nation are Embarked, and to be our Convoy through all Dangers and Ho­stilities, to Carry us safe through all Storms and Tempests; and, when ever these rise and threaten a Shipwrack, to Instruct us how to Vnburthen our Vessel of whatever may prove Destructive and Fatal to us, and to save our selves by throwing it over Board. When we have done this, i.e. cast away our Sins, let us, like the Disciples in the Gospel, take Christ into the Ship with us: Let us believe his Word, obey his Commandments, submit to His Will, and abandon our Own. And thus [Page 159] having the Holy Iesus for our Master, Con­duct, and Pilot, we cannot fail by his Gui­dance and Merits, to arrive at the Safe Port even of Temporal Felicity and Repose here, and of Eternal and Endless Happiness here­after.

The Lawfulness and Necessity of going to War, on just Oc­casions.
A Sermon Occasion'd by the Proclaiming of the War against France.

GEN. XIV. 14.‘And when Abram heard that his Brother was taken Captive, he armed his train­ed Servants, born in his own House, three hundred and eighteen, and pursu­ed them unto Dan.’

WE read in the beginning of this Chapter, that four Assyrian Kings, or Petty Princes, ha­ving in an Hostile manner Invaded some parts of Palestine, fought with the five Kings or Governors that were parti­cularly [Page 161] concern'd in those Places, and in a pitch'd Battle defeated them, and put to flight the remaining part of the Army. In the heat of their Conquest they came to Sodom and plunder'd it, and carried away all the Goods and Provisions of that City: And more espe­cially it is recorded, that Lot, Abraham's Ne­phew, was taken Prisoner by them, and all his Goods made a Booty. The Tidings of which being brought to Abraham, he present­ly resolv'd to rescue his Nephew in a like vio­lent and hostile manner as he was taken away. For he had Trained Men of his own, such as he had Disciplined in Feats of Arms, in order to their being capable of defending themselves, and assaulting their Enemies if there should be occasion. It appears from this place that this Holy Patriarch had brought up his House­hold to handle their Arms, that if he and they should be Invaded by Sons of Violence, they might be able, and have Skill too to Se­cure themselves, and to Annoy the unjust Ag­gressors. These Trained, these Instructed Men he now actually Arms, and puts them upon Service; and he took Others to assist him in this Expedition, viz. some of the Na­tives of that Country, as may be gather'd from ver. 24. He march'd himself at the Head of these Forces, and overtook the Ene­my, and vigorously engag'd them, and over­threw them, and brought back those that were taken Captive, and among the rest his Kins­man, [Page 162] and regain'd all the Booty and Prey which had been taken from them.

And that you may know that this was a Lawful Act, and a Laudable Enterprize, you find this Renowned Warrior at his return from the Battle entertain'd by the Priest of the most High God. The Famous Melchise­dech, King of Salem, went out to meet this Conqueror, and shew'd his Approbation of what he had done by a double Testimony; First, as a King he nobly Regail'd him, he brought forth Bread and Wine, ver. 18. He generously and liberally Treated him and his Trained Soldiers after the Fatigues of War, thereby shewing how well he resented that Brave Military Action. And then secondly, as he was a Priest, he Blessed him, ver. 19. And it is observable that the Blessing hath pe­culiar respect to that Warlike Expedition, and the Success of it: Blessed be the most high God, who hath deliver'd thine Enemies into thy hand, ver. 20. Whence it is manifest that when Abraham and his Confederates return'd from the Victory over the Four Eastern Kings that had Sack'd Sodom, the Fact was approved of by God's High Priest. And moreover, the Legitimacy and Goodness of it may be con­cluded from the Behaviour of the Generous Patriarch himself, who (as it is expresly re­corded) gave Melchisedech Tithes of all, v. 20. He presented him with the Tenths of the Spoils which he took in that War; hereby [Page 163] assuring us of the Lawfulness of War on just Occasions. For it is certain he would not have offer'd to God and the High Priest the Tenths of what he had taken in the Fight and Pur­suit, if that Enterprize had not been justifia­ble (as on the other hand God's Priest would not have accepted of that Present, if it had not been so.) So then, from this Remarka­ble Example of the Holy Patriarch, the Fa­ther of the Faithful, and from the Circum­stances of it, which commend it to us, I will offer this Proposition to you, and insist upon it, That on just occasions it is Lawful, and even Necessary to go to War.

We read nothing of any Military Exploits before the Flood; Scripture is altogether silent as to that, though we cannot thence conclude there were no Wars in those days: But we are informed that afterwards there were; and the first Instance is that which I have men­tion'd, viz. of the Kings of the East Warring with the Kings or Rulers of the Five Cities in Canaan. And the first Good Man we read of that Exercised in Military Fears, and Train­ed up his Family to them was Abraham, the Friend of God. The Peaceable Abraham, who meekly yielded to his Nephew Lot, say­ing, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me, and between my Herdsmen and thy Herdsmen, Gen. xiii. 8. and accordingly let him take his Choice of what Ground he plea­sed for Pasturage: This Condescending Man, [Page 164] who was of so Excellent a Temper, and re­ceded from his Right, though he was the El­der, yet when this very same Kinsman of his was taken Prisoner, and his Goods and Sub­stance carried away by Force, he thought this was a good and sufficient occasion for taking up of Arms, and he let the World see that Peaceableness is not inconsistent with a Iust Quarrel; he Arm'd his Houshold, and with them and Auxiliaries whom he had in the Neighbourhood, he follow'd after the Inva­ders, and rescu'd Lot out of their Hands, after a Bloody Encounter. The Holy Patriarch and Father of the Faithful was a Warrior.

So Iacob, his Grandson, who was a Meek and Patient Man (of which there are several Proofs in the History of his Life) tells us him­self, That he took a portion of land out of the hand of the Ammorites with his sword and with his bow, Gen. xlviii. 22. He speaks of the Land which Abraham had purchas'd of Hamor the Father of Shechem for a Hundred Pieces of Sil­ver, designing it for a Burial Place, and ac­cordingly both he and Isaac lay buried there; but afterwards, when this Patriarch had oc­casion to remove to some part of Canaan, which was at a considerable distance from this piece of Ground, some Shechemites (of the Race of the Amorites) seiz'd on it, and detain'd it from the right Owner, viz. Iacob. But the Good Man would not suffer them quietly to possess and enjoy it; he made use of his Instruments [Page 165] of War, his Sword and his Bow, to reduce the wrongful Possessors, and he regain'd his Right by Violence; and it is probable sent some to their Graves for their unjust withholding from him this place of Sepulture This shews that Acts of Violence, and even open War it self undertaken on good grounds, are not unlaw­ful.

And this further appears from the known Examples of Moses, Iosuah, and some of the Iudges, who even by God's Appointment were Men of War, and actually engag'd in Battels. In the Book of Iob, who is thought to have liv'd about Moses's time, there is an admirable Description given of the War-Horse, and that by the Almighty himself, Chap. xxxix. ver. 19, 20, &c. which intimates, yea more than intimates the Usefulness of that Noble Creature (if there be Occasion) in Affairs of War. We know that God prescribed the Iews certain Laws concerning their Battels, Deut. xx. 10, 15. and therefore the Practice of them was not displeasing to him. Captains renowned for their Martial Exploits are taken notice of, and mention'd with Honour in the Sacred Records, as Iephthah, Gideon, Ioab, Abner, and others of King David's Worthies: Yea, Warlike Women are▪ mention'd with Praise in those Inspired Books, and in other Iewish Writings, as Deborah, Iael, Iudith. The Wars of the Israelites are call'd the Wars of the Lord, a very High and Honourable [Page 166] Title, Numb. xxi. 14. xxxi. 3. And the Ven­geance of the Lord, 1 Sam. xviii. 7. xxv. 8.

It is very observable what is said of King David, 2 Sam. 1. 18. He had them teach the Children of Iudah the use of the Bow; he order­ed his Commanders and Officers to discipline his Subjects, and instruct them in the Arts of War. I know some would have us under­stand here by the Bow King David's Lamen­tation on the Death of Saul and Ionathan, oc­casioned by the Philistin Archers: For this reason, say they, the Funeral Song it self is call'd the Bow. Or, others think it may have that Denomination with respect to the Bow of Ionathan, which turned not back from the blood of the slain, as the Elegy it self saith, ver. 22. But I do not see any Reason at all for such an interpretation: If we examine it, we shall find it to be precarious and groundless; and therefore I will adhere to the plain and obvi­ous Meaning of the Words, which is this, David hearing of Saul and Ionathan's Death, lamented them, and gave Order that the Young Men of Iudah should learn the use of the Bow, that they might be avenged on the Philistins who had slain so many of the Israelites by their Skilful and Valiant managing of that Wea­von. Wherefore the Wise Prince would have his Subjects (for now they are such) to be as expert in Archery as their Enemies; he would have them to handle their Arms with Skill and Dexterity, especially the Bow and Ar­rows, [Page 167] which were most in use at that time (as they were indeed among all other Nations of the World, and even among our Ancestors in this Country; nay, the Act for Shooting is not repealed at this day) and therefore the Bow or Shooting is put here for the Whole Mi­litary Exercise. David, like a Faithful Friend, laments and mourns for the Deceased, but, like a Prudent King (for so we must look upon him now) takes care of the Living, and provides for the Safety of the People, by bring­ing them up to Martial Exercises. Multi­tudes without Skill are useless, nay, they may do themselves harm, as the Eastern Ar­mies were sometimes destroy'd by their Num­bers. Therefore it was wisely taken care of that this Iewish People should be taught their Military Postures, that they should know the Word of Command, that they should be in­structed to handle their Weapons aright (for this is implied in the use of the Bow): And this supposes the Lawfulness of the Military Em­ployment, yea, that it is in some Cases Ne­cessary, as well as Lawful.

I might mention in the last place the Pra­ctice of the Iews after their Return from the Captivity; we read that one half of them wrought in the work (i.e. Building the Tem­ple) and the other half held the Spears, the Shields, the Bow, and the Habergeons, Neh. iv. 16. And at other times some of the same Peo­ple wrought with one of their hands in the work, [Page 168] and with the other held a weapon, ver. 17. The Sword was thought to be as useful as the Trowel; The former was necessary to defend and promote the latter. And thus it was the Sense and Perswasion of all the Holy and Wise Men that lived in the time of the Law, and before it, that it was Lawful by Military Force to resist the Enemy; and the most Re­ligious and Pious Persons practised according to this Perswasion, they used Force and Vio­lence as proper Means for their Preservation, though they had the Almighty to assist and back them, and that in an immediate manner sometimes.

Nor is it, or ought it to be otherwise un­der the Gospel; for even under this Dis­pensation the Calling, of a Soldier is not in it sel [...] sinful; otherwise this Employment and the Persons that belong to it, seeing they are so often mention'd in the New Testa­ment, would at one time or other have met with a Rebuke; but on the contrary, it is observable that there are very great and sig­nal Commendations of that particular Rank of Men. There are at least Four Centurions or Roman Captains spoken of in the Evangelical Writings, and all of them are mention'd with a particular, but just Elogy. The first was he that humbly besought our Saviour to heal his Sick Servant; and his Words and Beha­viour are such, that our Lord was fill'd with Wonder at them, and at the same time added [Page 169] this Testimonial, Verily I have not found so great Faith, no not in all Israel, Matth. viii. 10. He did not Reprove and Condemn this Mi­litary Man when he heard him say, ver. 9. I am a Man under Authority, having Soldiers un­der me: I pay Obedience to an Higher Offi­cer, and so am under Command my self; but I have likewise those that are under my Au­thority, who as soon as I give the Word of Command, fail not to Obey it without the least delay. Our Saviour did not bid him lay down his Commission, and quit a Soldier's Life as Unlawful: No, he rather allow'd of it, and approved of his Faithful Managing of it. And at the same time he plainly saw what the Noble Captain meant by thus displaying his Military Office and Authority, viz. that he thereby intended to Magnify the Supreme Au­thority which Christ had over all Persons and Things, and that therefore he was Able to Cure his Paralytick Servant, who then lay at the point of Death. This strong and firm Belief, and this open Acknowledgment of the Di­vine Power which resided in JESUS, are de­servedly Applauded by Him, and he declares he had not found such a Faith and Confession among his own People and Countrymen, as he met with in this Roman Soldier, who was a Proselyte of the Gate, a Convert from Paga­nism to the Acknowledgment of the True God, for otherwise he would not have built the Iews a Synagogue, Luke vii. 5.

[Page 170] The next Centurion is he that acted the Sherifs part at the Execution of our Blessed Saviour, concerning whom it is particularly recorded, that upon seeing the Strange and Prodigious things which happen'd at that time, he glorified God, saying certainly this was a Righteous Man, Luke 23. 47. or (as in o­ther Evangelists) truly this was the Son of God, Mat. 27. 54. So willing and ready was the Evangelist to tell posterity what were the Convictions and Acknowledgment of this military Person, with relation to our Savi­our. An other Centurion is mentioned in the 10th. Chapter of the Acts; he was an Italian Captain of the Soldiers that belonged to the Garison at Caesarea, and became a Proselyte: For which cause he is stiled a devout Man, v. 2. and he had devout Soldiers under him, v. 7. The Character of this Man of Arms is very remarkable, He was one that feared God with all his House, who gave much Alms to the People, and pray'd to God always, v. 2. Nor doth this suffice, his Character is touch'd up­on again, v. 22. where it is said, he was a just Man, and one that feared God, and was of good report among all the Nation of the Iews. And this was he that was so signally honour'd with a Vision in order to his Conversion to Christianity. But we do not find that he was warn'd in his Vision to throw up his Centurious place, to relinguish his Employ­ment of a Soldier. Nor did St. Peter af­terwards [Page 171] reprove him for being of that Or­der of Men, or advise him to quit that Post. But we are sure that he preach'd Christ to him, and that thereupon he embraced the Faith, and was admitted into the Society of the Faithful by Baptism. Some Ecclesiasti­cal Historians mention the Centurion at Christs Passion (of whom before) as a true Convert to Christianity, and I do not see a­ny reason to disbelieve it: But St. Luke, an Infallible Writer, puts it beyond all doubt that this Centurion we are now speaking of, was a Baptized Convert. This is much for the honour of Military Men, that the first Persons among the Gentiles that were brought over to the Christian Faith were of that Rank, that Soldiers were the First-fruits of the Gos­pel among those that had been Pagans.

An other Centurion to be named on the present occasion is own Iulius, a Centurion of Augustus's Band, Acts xxvii. 1. whose singu­lar Kindness towards the Apostle, who was his Prisoner in his Voyage toward Rome, is expresly recorded, viz. that when some ad­vised to kill St. Paul, left he should escape in the Shipwreck, this Centurion being willing to save him, kept them from their purpose. v. 43. Thus the sacred Writers thought fit to take notice of the Faith, the Convictions, the Pray­ers and Alms, and the extraordinary Humani­ty of those of that Profession whom I am dis­coursing of, but they never disparage or dis­approve [Page 172] of the Profession and Calling it self, but rather, whilst they so often mention the Persons with Commendation, they tacitly approve of their Employment.

If Wars were unlawful in the time of Christianity, then those Soldiers, who came to Iohn Baptist, and ask't him what they were to do, Luke iii. 14. would certainly have been advised to lay down their Arms, and leave off the Military Life, as* St. Augustin very well notes upon that passage: But that Holy Preacher and Reformer, instead of this, counselled them to do violence to no Man, or (according to the Greek more exactly) to shake or terrify no Man (for nothing more scares and strikes Terror into People than the Violence of Soldiers) to extort from no Man Mony or Goods by forcible means, thence the Title in the Pandects de Concussione: Neither to accuse any falsly, viz. in order to Plunder them and bereave them of their Goods, but to be content with their Wages, with their Pay. This implies that Soldiers behaving themselves well, should be Incourag'd and should not be defrauded of their Allowance. They can't bear the toil and fatigue of Battel without due Maintenance. They must Eat as well as Fight, yea the sameLacham. Hebrew Word signifies both. And when they have their [...] (which is a Latin word Gre­ciz'd, [Page 173] of which sort there are several besides this in the New Testament) when they are pay'd their just Debentures, they ought to be content, and not murmure and mutinie. Thus the Gospel hath legitimated the Military Em­ployment, and besides, it hath regulated it.

But some make use of those Words of Christ, Mat. xxvi. 52. Put up again thy Sword into its place, as a Prohibition against all Fighting. To which may be answer'd, that this is a singular Instance, and therefore thence cannot be infer'd or prov'd the gene­ral Duty of a Christian. Christ would not let his Disciples fight at that time: They must lay down their Weapons when he was a to lay down his Life. When there was a Necessity of his being deliver'd up to the Iews, there was no Resistance to be made. This was an extraordinary Case, and it doth not follow hence that at no time we may Fight. Again, it is implied in that forecited Text that the Apostles sometimes were Sword-men. Put up thy Sword supposes Pe­ter had a Sword, and wore it. And indeed we are told by Ioseph, the Iewish Historian, that some parts of Iudea were infested with Highway-Men and Robbers, so that it was necessary for Travellers to go Arm'd, that they might defend themselves. Or if any shall insist on that former place, we may urge an other, Luke xxii. 36. He that hath no Sword, let him sell his Garment, and buy one: [Page 174] Where our Saviour himself pronounces a Sword to be more necessary than Apparel, and that even to the Apostles. Though it is true these Words of Christ may be under­stood in an other Sense; He either upbraids them for their carnal Fear and Distrust, and so speaks Ironically, or he hath a Spiritual meaning, and bids them provide Weapons of an other sort, as Faith and Patience.

That the using of Military Force is lawful seems very clear from St. Paul's practice, Acts xxiii. 17, 23. He having notice of the Iews Confederacy against him, informed the Chief Captain of it, and accepted of the help of his Armed Soldiers, both Horse and Foot, to guard and defend him in his Journey against those that lay in wait for him, and if occasion should be, to fall upon them. This shews what the Apostle's sentiment was in the Case.

Moreover, he lets us know that this Force resides chiefly in the Magistrate, he bears not the Sword in vain, Rom. xiii. 4. Where by the Sword is meant undoubtedly the Judicial and Hostile Sword, the Power to punish Criminals, and with Arms to repulse the Enemy. In short, by the Sword is meant all Coercive Power: This the Magistrate is in­trusted with, to animadvert upon Offenders, and to resist the violence of unjust and cruel Invaders.

[Page 175] I could add that the Apostle reckons it as a remarkable act and effort of Faith that the Holy Warriors of old waxed valiant in Fight, Heb. xi. 34. thereby acquainting us that Warlike Enterprizes are not unbecoming the best Men, and that the good Success of them is even the result of an Active Faith. We read that the Christians fought in the Roman Emperours Armies; witness more especially the Thundering Legion under Antoninus. It was the judgment of an eminent and pious Writer of the Primitive Church* that a just Laudable War is more eligible than a Peace which separates us from God. And lastly, I will adjoin the Words of Our own Church, in one of her Articles, viz. that it is lawful for Christian Men, at the Command­ment of the Magistrate, to wear Weapons, and serve in the Wars.

But to the Authority of the Old and New Testament, and the Practice of the Primitive Christians, and later Times, let us add the Reasonableness and Equity of the thing it self. The Lawfulness of War appears from this, that it is necessary sometimes in order to the recovery of our Right, and in order to our Safety and Peace. It will be granted, I suppose, that Religion and Conscience al­low the use of Means that are proper to their [Page 176] End, supposing that End to be Good. And therefore seeing it is impossible in some Cases to attain to what is our Right and Due, and to secure our Safety and Repose (which are good and lawful Ends) without milita­ry Execution, and taking up of Arms, it is not to be doubted that these are such Means as Religion and Conscience will allow of. When Peace cannot be purchas'd without War, then in such a Case the best Leagues and Confederacies are made (as the Eastern Covenants of old) with Blood, Swords drawn on one side may keep those on the other in the Scabbard. Hostile actions prove often times the Parents of a lasting Tranquility. And truly sometimes it happens that this latter cannot be obtain'd without the former. At certain times the publick Maladies are of that nature that Preparations of Steel are found to be the most proper Medicines and Reme­dies. There is no possibility of curing them without these Chalybeats.

I would not be mistaken here, I am not designing a Laudatory Oration upon War: The very Name and [...] Sound of it are dreadful, much more the Thing it self. Every Battle of the Warrior is with confused noise, and Gar­ments roll'd in Blood, Isa. ix. 5. When Hosti­lities are come to the heighth, there is nothing but Disorder and Distraction, the Laws cease, and the Judge hath his Quietus given him by the Man of Arms; Widows and Orphans [Page 177] Tears are mingled with the Blood of the Slain: Cruelty, Ravage and Rapine prevail every where; Slaughter is rampant, and the Earth it self (the place of Sepulture) is buried with Dead Bodies. War and Harvest are express'd in the Sacred Idiom by the* same Term, to let us be apprehensive of the Cognation be­tween them. Men are reaped and mowed down, Swords are turn'd into Sithes and Sickles. And, in a word, it can't be denied that War is one of the most Direful and Destructive Iudgments that God is wont to inflict.

But that which I offer is this, that not with­standing War is so Dreadful and Dangerous a thing, yet there is a Lawful Use of it some­times, and on certain Reasons and Grounds it becomes Necessary, and on that considera­tion Good and Laudable. War is not to be Praised for it self, but yet it hath, according as it is managed, an appendent Convenience and Usefulness. We see that some things have a Secondary Goodness and Excellency in them, though they can't boast of an Original and Primary one, as Physick and Chirurgery, and all Harsh and Troublesom Applications which are required in some Diseases. These are ne­cessary in order to Bodily Health, or the Re­covery of it, and therefore are good and de­sirable. War is of this Nature, it is not Pri­marily Good, or to be wish'd for, but as it hath [Page 178] a Tendency on a Great Good, it is on that account desirable and eligible. And though it be difficult and hazardous, yet so are Cut­ting, Cauterizing, and Amputation, which yet we know in some Cases are indispensable. And there are other Enterprizes that are very Perillous, which Men willingly venture upon, as Navigation and Sea-Voyages, and Mer­chandizing into Foreign Countries, which are liable to as great Hardships and Dangers as War.

Besides, by God's particular Providence War is made serviceable to Good Purposes; for when by Peace and Plenty Nations are grown Wanton and Luxurious, Idle and Care­less, the Martial Trumpet and Drum rouze them, and give them a sensible apprehension of Want and Scarcity, Difficulties and Perils, and make them abandon their Sloth and Drowsiness, and betake themselves to such wise and manly Methods as may best secure their Safety. ThusPolyb. 1. 6. it was the Judgment of one of the Scipio's, that Carthage was not to be Demolish'd and Destroy'd, that thereby the Romans might be kept in Exercise and Breath.

But the main Reason of the Lawfulness of War depends on the Principle of Self-Preser­vation. The standing Law of Nature bids us guard our selves from Injuries; it allows us when we are unjustly Invaded and Assaulted, to make Resistance. It pushes us on to assert [Page 179] our Civil and Natural Rights, and to defend our Country against all Violent Aggressors. And therefore that Kingdom is happy which is furnish'd with Valiant and Brave Men, that are willing and able to appear in its De­fence, when it is Injur'd by Unjust Neigh­bours: As on the contrary, it is reckon'd a­mong the Calamities and Curses of a Nation, that God will take away from them the Man of War, and the Captain of fifty, Isai. iii. 2, 3. i.e. Persons of such Valour and Spirit as are requisite for the Security of their Country. And lastly, Sovereignty, Laws and Arms were designed for the same End, and thence it is evident that they are alike useful to Mankind. When People first United into a Body and Society, they made certain Laws and Consti­tutions; and Magistrates were appointed by them to be the Preservers of those Laws, and at the same time they Voted Arms, or Coer­cive Power to be necessary, both for Assert­ing the Governors and the Laws, and indeed the Whole Community.

From what hath been thus briefly Suggest­ed it may be Concluded, that it is Lawful, even in the Times of the Gospel, to make use of Warlike Provisions on Just and Necessary Occasions. All that we have to do is to satis­fy our selves as to the Cause we Fight for; for the War is Just when the Cause is so. There­fore Numa, that Religious King of the Old Romans, knowing that an Unjust War was [Page 180] not like to be Successful, instituted a College of Priests, on whose Arbitrement the Decision of War should depend: These Feciales, (as they were call'd) enquir'd into the Nature of the Quarrel, and after great Deliberation pro­nounced the War Just before the Romans fought. In this we are to imitate them; we ought in the first place to be satisfied concern­ing the Lawfulness of what we do, and that our Cause is Good. And we may assure our selves that it is so when the War is undertaken for the Defence of our Country, our Religion, our Lives, our Laws; for the subduing or weakning of a Powerful Enemy, who en­croaches upon others Territories, and in time may Invade ours; for the Defence and Sup­port of those Neighbouring Kindoms or States that stand in need of and implore our Aid, and would in all probability be swallow'd up by the Potent Adversary without our timely Assistance. This is a Just and Honest Cause, and this is ours at present, and consequently we may Lawfully engage in it. We have a Warrant from Nature and Reason to justify our Arms.

It cannot be denied that some of the Antient Christian Fathers seem to Condemn all going to War. Iustin Martyr in his Apology and in his Dialogue with Trypho, utters Words to this purpose. But Tertullian is more direct and positive in this Matter; he will not allow Christians either to make War, or serve in it, [Page 181] as might be proved from several express Places in his1 Writings; and in one place I remem­ber he hath this fanciful Passage,2 Our Lord (saith he) when he disarmed Peter, did the same to every Soldier. He hath taken away their Swords, and they cannot Fight. But this was a Mistake and Failing of this Good Father, when he enclined to the Vanities of Montanism: For before he was of another Opinion, as appears from what he said in his 3 Defence he made for the Christians. Some 4 other Writers of the Church seem to hold that it is not Lawful for a Christian to be a Soldier, and to bear Arms; but their favour­ing of such a Notion as this proceeded from their mistaking of that Prophesy in Isai. ii. 4. They shall beat their Swords into Plowshares, and their Spears into Pruning-hooks. Nation shall not lift up Sword against Nation, neither shall any learn War any more: And other Predicti­ons there are which speak to the same pur­pose. Whence they inferr'd, that all Warlike Preparations are inconsistent with our Savi­our's Coming into the World, and with his Evangelical Kingdom. Whereas the True Meaning of such Prophetick Passages is this, That the Principles of the Gospel, if attended [Page 182] to, inspire Men with Peace and Amity, and that Outward Wars and Hostilities shall in time actually cease; that as there was this Cessation in part at the time when our Saviou [...] came into the World, so there shall be a more Remarkable and Compleat one before the Consummation of all things, when the Church of Christ on Earth shall enjoy a profound and entire Repose.

And this I add further (which may give us a brief Account of the whole Case of taking up of Arms under the Gospel) Our Saviour without doubt intended in his Sermon on the Mount, and more especially in that part of it which is the close of the Fifth Chapter of St. Matthew, that his Followers should be more exact than the Iews, and accordingly he pro­pounds there a Higher Pitch of Religion than they were capable of. He would have Chri­stians be of such a Temper that no Swearing, no Going to Law, no Fighting should be used by them. He would have them deny them­selves, and be much Better than others, and refuse Oaths, and Suits of Law, and War, on slight Occasions, and never be engaged in any of them, but on Necessary and Unavoidable Grounds; and more especially not in the last of them, viz. War, till they have tried all Mild and Peaceable Ways, and have found them ineffectual. And perhaps this is all that some of those forementioned Writers meant and design'd [...] tho' they seem to speak other­wise, [Page 183] and thereby have given occasion to some since to interpret Scripture after that manner.

Thus Socinus, though he seems to qualify and restrain this Doctrin in his Epistle to Ar­cissevius, yet in* another place he speaks in a general way, and seems to condemn all go­ing to War. As he tells us the Magistrate hath no Authority to inflict Death on any Man, so according to this same Casuist he can­not wage War against an Enemy. And o­thers of the Racovian way, pronounce it un­lawful to undertake any War, whether De­fensive or Offensive. No Wars, saith Wol­zogen, are lawful and permitted to Christians, no not for the Defence of our Religion. Here­in (as in several other things) some Anabap­tists are the Disciples of Socinus, and vote all War to be Unchristian. And we know there is another Noted Sect of Men that inveigh against the Carnal Weapon, and pretend great Aversness to Fighting. But I hope I have sufficiently proved that there is no Ground for this Conceit, and that to defend our Rights Civil and Religious, is according to the Di­ctates of Unbiass'd Reason, and the Practice of all Sober and Wise Men, and the Allow­ance of our Blessed Saviour and his Apostles. [Page 184] All these are ample Proofs and Confirmations of this Doctrin: And therefore if we attend to these, we shall see no reason to listen to the fond Suggestions of Enthusiatick Heads: But on the contrary, we shall be convinc'd that as long as Men carry the Evil nature in them, there will be Wars in the World, and consequently it will be necessary to make Provision against them, and to secure our safety even by violent Methods, if we are compell'd to it.

That which we are next concern'd in is to understand our selves aright, and to know how to behave our selves when there is occasi­on to take the Field. When you are call'd to Fight, forget not these things,

1st. Go with great Caution and Circumspe­ction. The Errors of War are Dangerous and Desperate, and perhaps we shall not Err any more. Wherefore it is requisite to use all the prudent Methods we can, to mu­ster up our Wit and Skill, and by no means to deceive our selves.* A generous and wise Man (as One of the Antients said rightly) will not despise the strength of his very Enemy. He will apply himself to a perfect knowledg of the State and Condition of those he is to combate with, and will let nothing escape his Observation that may enlighten [Page 185] him in so weighty a Concern. We should be mindful of what a Great and Expert War­rior long since said, It is a shameful thing in Military Affairs to excuse our selves by saying we thought not.

2dly. Fight with Courage and Resolution: To which you have Incentives sufficient. If Honour be a Spur, you have that to prick you on, for it is well known without any profound skill in Heraldry that all Titles of Honour are derived from the Sword and from Martial Affairs. If the Welfare of your Coun­try, and of those that are Dearest to you in it hath any force and prevalence with it, you are not destitute of that. And if you look to an other World, you have yet greater Motives to shew your selves Valiant and Couragious. The Famous Titus, when he was haranguing his Soldiers just before they assaulted Ierusalem, told them that* the Souls of them that die in War are receiv'd up pre­sently into the Pure Aether, and thence trans­mitted to the Stars; but the Souls of those that die in Peace by Diseases and Sicknesses are detain'd in the Bowels of the Earth, and are forgotten. And Mahomet, who was al­so a Man of Arms, animated his Followers by instilling this into their Minds, that those who expire in Battle, especially against the Christians, are immediately dispach'd to Pa­radise. [Page 186] But though you justly despise such empty Deceits as these, yet by a sure Word of Prophesy you are ascertain'd of a Better and Glorious Life after this, and that if you fall in Battle, it is your Corporeal Part only that dies, but that of you which is Spiritual and Divine shall Survive, and at last shall be re­united to your Bodies, and both shall enjoy a Glorious Eternity. There are other Con­siderations might be offer'd to you, as you are Men, and as you are Christians: But I will not insist upon them, lest it be inter­preted that I question your Valour, or that I think you need Incitements to increase it, like the Blood of Mulberries spread before Ele­phants to raise their Choler, and make them Fight with greater fury.

3 dly. Look up to God, and be sensible that all your Military Provisions signify nothing without him. The most exquisite Humane Prudence and the Highest degree of Valour (which are the two things I have already mention'd) will avail little without the Divine Assistance and Heavenly Conduct. Which was the sense of the very Pagan World, for no War was undertaken by them of old till they consulted their Oracle, and made Addresses to their Numens. But this was much more the sense and hearty perswa­sion of the People of the True God. Their Ark, which was the Symbol of the Divine Presence, always accompanied the Army when [Page 187] they went out to Battle against any Nation. That Royal Warrior, who bears so great a part in the Writings of the Old Testament, most freely acknowledges that it was God that taught his hands to War, and his fingers to Fight, Psal. xviii. 34. cxliii. 1. and therefore we find him constantly imploring His aid and strength. Self-Confidence hath lost ma­ny a Battel: Presuming on their Forces, or on their Success in the beginning of the Fight hath proved fatal to Armed Men. And therefore if we are desirous to Prosper in our Warlike undertakings we cannot more effe­ctually compass it than by confiding in the Lord of Hosts, and relying with an unshak­en Faith on his Presence and Blessing.

4thly. Let our Wars be designed to Good and Laudable Ends, and especially to God's Glory. Indeed there is too just occasion given to some to preach up the Unlawfulness of War, when they behold the base and irreli­gious Designs men generally pursue in tak­ing up of Arms. Their Wars and Fightings are intended to gratify their Lusts, and avari­tious Desires, which St. Iames takes notice of Chap. iv. ver. 1, 2, 3. They Fight to satiate their greedy thirsting after Blood and Slaugh­ter, in order to the obtaining what their Am­bition and intemperate affectation of Great­ness and Dominion prompt them to. On this account War is generally a set and solemn Violation of the sixth Commandment; it is [Page 188] no other than Murdering by whole-sale; and Soldiers usually are Homicides in Pay. These Men (as it is excellently express'd, Ezek. xxxiii. 26.) stand upon their Swords, they con­ [...]ide in and brag of their Cruelty and Blood­shed, and glory in their Ability to do Mis­chief in the World. Such War is not only Inhumane, but Devilish; and as it proceed­ed from, so it tends to the Infernal Pit: And therefore it is the just Doom of those that foster this Practice to go down to Hell with their Weapons of War, Ezek. xxxii. 27. We must be careful therefore to War with Good and Lawful Intentions, with a sincere aim at the real welfare and tranquility of the Pub­lick: For (as the Great Plato long since de­termined it)* No War is to be undertaken for it self, but only for Peace sake. The Shakings of War are in order to a firm Set­tlement. This Blood-letting is for the Health of the Body Politick. Therefore this is that we must design, in conjunction always with the Advancement of Religion, without which the secular Concerns of the Publick cannot long thrive. But the ultimate End of all is the Divine Honour and Glory, which there­fore we ought to have chiefly in our thoughts. It was not unusual with the Old Gentiles to lodge their Arms in their Temples; and it hath been a Custom even in some Christian [Page 189] Countries to hang up the Armour of Great and Eminent Warriors in the Places set apart for Religion, as if they did devote them to God. We may most effectually do this by dedica­ting our Arms to God's Honour, and not to sinister and unworthy Ends. Hereby we may turn all our Warlike Expeditions into Crusades, and whenever we Fight, ingage in a Holy War. We are told that the Antient Romans in a great distress made use of the Weapons which were deposited in their Tem­ples, and fought with them, and attributed the Success to the Holiness of their Arms. But this we are sure of, that if Kindoms did hallow their Weapons by Religion and Ver­tuous Designs, they would thrive and pros­per in their martial Attempts, and meet the Foe with good Success.

5thly. It is not enough to have a Good Cause and Right Ends, unless our Lives be Good and Holy. We must always remem­ber that our Sins are our greatest Enemies, and therefore it is our Interest to vanquish these first, which must be done by putting on the Spiritual Armour. A Good Soldier must be a Religious Man. To which purpose I will offer a Criticism to you; You may observe that to prepare or make War is express'd in the Stile of Scripture by Consecrating of War, Ier. vi. 4. and again in Mic. iii. 5. Which Hebraism may remind us now of Consecrating or Sancti­fying our Wars, namely by unfeigned Holi­ness [Page 190] and Righteousness. Let us not prophane our Warlike Weapons by an Irreligious and Wicked Life. But let us remember that the Contrary will bring down a Blessing from Heaven upon us; besides, that in its own Na­ture and genuine Efficacy it will prove Ad­vantageous to us; for a Good Conscience, to­gether with a firm Trust in the Almighty, will inspire us with the greatest Courage and Resolution, and give the most undaunted Boldness and Valour to our Spirits. Or, if we meet not with Success, this Comfortable Principle within us will not suffer us to be de­jected, but will rather Chear us, as the Roman Senate did their General when he was flying Home after he was defeated by Hannibal; they met him, and heartned him, and gave him this Commendation, That he did not de­spair of the Safety of the Commonwealth after so great a Defeat.

Lastly. If you be Victorious, know how to demean your selves. Ascribe your Success to him who is the Grand Arbiter and Disposer of War, and to whom belong the Issues of it. Herein you may take that Holy and Warlike Prince for your Pattern, who not only ac­knowledges that it was the Supreme Lord of Heaven and Earth that had girded him with strength unto the Battel, but that it was he who had subdued under him those that rose up against him. It was he that gave him the necks of his Enemies, that he might destroy those that hated [Page 191] him, Psal. xviii. 39, 40. Or, let us use such humble and thankful Language as is suggest­ed to us in Psal. xliv. 3. We got not the Victory by our own Sword, neither did our own Arm save us; but Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto us. To this Almighty Sovereign and Lord of Hosts be all Glory and Honour now and unto Eternal Ages. Amen.

The True Causes of the Ill Suc­cess of War.
A Sermon Preach'd on a Fast [...] Day appointed by Their Ma­jesties for the imploring God's Blessing on their Forces by Sea and Land.

JOSHUA VII. 12.‘Therefore the Children of Israel could not stand before their Enemies, but turned their backs be­fore their Enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from amongst you.’

GOD had chosen out a People from the rest of the World, whom he in­tended to discover his Will to in a more singular Manner, and on whom he purposed to confer Mercies of an ex­traordinary nature: These he preserved in [Page 193] Egypt, conducted through the Wilderness, and brought at last into the promised Land. But behold, they were unmindful of this marvel­lous Goodness of God toward them, and took not care to observe those strict Com­mands which he had given them, particular­ly That of utterly destroying every accursed thing in the Cities which they took. They were more signally guilty of this when Iericho was taken by them, and therefore God punish'd this gross Violation of his Command, by suf­fering them to be Defeated in their next En­terprize. When they went against the Men of Ai, some of them were smitten and fell be­fore them, others not being able to endure the Shock shamefully fled away. This, with the Reason of it, is represented to us by God himself in the Text, Therefore the Children of Israel could not stand before their Enemies, but turned their backs before them, because they sin­ned about the Accursed thing. The hiding and detaining of the Golden Wedge and the Babylo­nish Garment, became their General Crime, and were the Cause of their unexpected Defeat. And withal here is added what they may ex­pect for the future, namely nothing but De­feats and Overthrows; Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the Accursed from amongst you, i.e. unless you destroy your Sins which make you Accursed, and for the future strictly keep the Command which I gave concerning the Utter Destroying of whatever [Page 194] belongs to those Cursed Nations: Unless you do this, I will never assist you to overcome your Enemies, but they shall continually van­quish you, and prevail against you.

From the whole take this Observation, that the Sins of a People are like to hinder their Success in War, and to cause them to turn their Backs, and slie before their Enemies. Besides the Instance in this Chapter there are sundry others which we meet with in other places of the sacred History. I will begin with that in Iudg. ii. 11. &c. The Children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and they forsook the Lord God of their Fathers, and follow'd other Gods, and provoked the Lord to anger: And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. These were their hein­ous Sins: Now observe the Effect of them, which follows in the next Verse, The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hand of their enemies, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. This refers unto the Time between [...]'s Death and God's raising up of the Iudges: Then it was that their Enemies pre­vailed against them in Battel, and miserably Overthrew and Destroy'd them; which is here ascribed to their Idolatry and other Cry­ing Sins, which provoked God to deliver them as a Prey to their Enemies. And even in the Days of the Iudges the same Cause had [Page 195] the same Effect, the Children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord strengthned Eglon the King of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord: And he gather'd unto him the Children of Am­mon, and Amalek and went and smote Israel, Judg. iii. 12, 13. Markit, the Sin of Israel was the Strength of Eglon; Moab and Ammon pre­vail'd against God's People because they walked not as such, because they acted Sin­fully and Wickedly. And at several other times it is particularly recorded in this Book, that when the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord, then he gave them into the Hands of their Enemies, who prevail'd over them and grie­vously oppressed them. To this refer the Psal­mist's Words, in Psal. lxxviii. 56. &c. They tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his Testimonies. They provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven Images. When God heard this he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel; he deliver'd his strength into Captivity, and his Glory into the Enemies hand: He gave his People over also unto the Sword. So God by his Prophet acquaints us that they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit: Therefore he was turned to be their Enemy, and he fought against them, Isa. lxiii. 10. I will only add that notable Instance in 2 Chron. xxiv. 23, 24. It came to pass that the Host of Syria came up against him, (viz. King Ioash) and they came to Iu­dah [Page 196] and Ierusalem, and destroy'd all the Princes of the People from among the People, and sent all the spoil of them to the King of Damascus. For the Army of the Syrians came with a small com­pany of Men, and the Lord deliver'd a very great host into their Hand. The Syrians were but few, and the Israelites were many, yet These were defeated by Them; and if you would know the Reason of it, the next Words will inform you, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their Fathers. For this it was that God forsook them, and gave them up to their Enemies, to be destroy'd by them. All this which I have produced is an undeniable proof of what I asserted, that Sin hinders Success in War, this is the cause of Armies being dis­comfited. All warlike Provisions prove Suc­cessless, all Force and Artillery become use­less, and unable to repulse the Enemy, when a Nation by their Sins fight against God.

This must needs be so if you consider ei­ther the Nature of the Thing it self, or the just Judgment of God. First, it is so in the Thing it self. Immorality and Vice do na­turally impede the Success of War, and give a check to the Military proceedings of any People. Especially there are some Vices which more visibly hinder the Thriving of Warlike Undertakings and Exploits. De­bauchery takes away the steady use of Men's Reasons, and renders them uncapable of mind­ing and attending to their Safety. The A­malekites [Page 197] after their Success at Ziklag lay spread all over the Ground, eating and drinking, 1 Sam. 30. 16. And this was it which exposed them to the Enemy, who (as we read in the next Verses) took the advantage of their Debauche­ry, and slew them all except a few, who it is likely were those that retain'd some mea­sure of Sobriety. Belshazar was set upon in the Night of his Pleasure (as it is call'd Isa. xxi. 4.) i.e. in the time of his Feasting and Re­velling, which was in the Night. Then it was that Cyrus and Darius took Babylon, viz. when the Chaldean Nobles were in the heighth of their disorder'd Mirth, Dan. v. 1, 30. which we may find confirmed by Xe­nophon in theLib. 7. Life of Cyrus. Our Chronicles tell us that the English Army, up­on occasion of King Harold's birth Day, had been Drinking and Revelling all Night be­fore they came to Fight with the Normans, which was one great Reason of their losing the Day, and being Conquered. Intemper­ance and Sottishness have been pernicious and fatal to Men of Arms: These darken and cloud their Minds so that they are not able to see into the Projects and Designs of their E­nemies, nor to apprehend what is most pro­per to be done on emergent occasions: These are the cause of their neglecting the fit Sea­sons and Opportunities of action, which be­ing lost, they are so too.

[Page 198] Again, Incontinence and Luxury, and Love of Pleasure weaken and enervate Mens Bodies, and cramp those Hands that should War, and those Fingers that should Fight. Hence it was that Xerxes's Prodigious great Army of above a Million of Men proved ineffectual to the purposes he had formed. Their Delicacy and Luxurious way of living spoilt all their military Conduct. They were more eager to Fight with their Teeth than with their Hands and Weapons: They were not so much for devouring the Enemy as their Vi­ands. They wish'd work for their Knives rather than their Swords; they thirsted after Wine more than Blood. Who could expect but that their Softness and Dalliances should unfit them for harsh Encounters? In a word, Being sunk into Sensuality they hated to ven­ture their Lives, and being fill'd with Guilt they dared not. And when we remember that in the Princes of Asia's Armies there were Troops of Women and Eunuchs, and use­less Persons, design'd only for Pleasure and Diversion, we need not wonder that they were so often Defeated, and that their vast Numbers fled away in disorder. Especi­ally it is requisite in Military Officers that they be Masters of great Continence and Moderation: For, as Tully well observes, * He that in this point is not able to govern [Page 199] himself, cannot rule an Army. Wherefore for this excellent Virtue we find some of the greatest Commanders (Agesilaus, Fabritius, Scipio the African, &c.) commended by Plu­tarch, Valerius Maximus, and others. Tho' Cesar made his Vaunt that he won Battels with Perfumed Soldiers, yet you shall rarely hear that Commanders do so. For Effemi­nacy exhausts their Spirits, dries up their Mar­row, and shrinks their Nerves. An Armed Venus among the Romans was but an Image, a Fiction; but in reality 'tis known that Lewd­ness is destructive to the Camp. In short, no Debauched or Effeminate Man can be a Good Soldier. For he can never do the things that are required of a Man of Arms, and he can never undergo the Hardships which that Life is subject to; and consequently he is wholly unfit for Warlike Service.

There are other Vices also which hinder the Prospering of Military Undertakings. [...] was a fit Epithet bestow'd on Mars by the Antient Poet, as much as if he had stiled him a Changling, a Fickle and Slippery Deity. And it seems some of his Votaries do too much imitate him, else there would not have been that Complaint of old, That* there is no Faith nor Honesty to be found in them. Deceit and Treachery have made many Armies Unsuccessful. The Faithless and Persidious, [Page 200] whilst they have seem'd to take up Arms for their Country, have really betray'd it, hold­ing secret Correspondence with the Enemy, and promoting that Cause which they pre­tend to fight against. It is not incredible that We have had some ground to complain on this account: If we had not been betray'd at Sea and at Land in some of our Engagements, 'tis probable our Fleet and our Armies would have given a better account of themselves. And

Ambition or Avarice are always the Sins that soment this Treachery: The Love of Honour, or the Desire of Gain, have prompt­ed these Armed Men to listen to the Profers of their Enemies, and falsly deliver up the whole Forces to them for their own Private Advantage. Or else they Protract and Hus­band the War (as they are pleas'd to speak) only to make themselves Rich and Wealthy. Yea, and in the heat of the Battel, or imme­diately after it, Covetousness, Rapine, and a Greedy Desire of Booty, have proved destructive to Armed Forces. When, with Achan, their Minds are intent upon Stealing and Hoarding, when the Gold, and the Silver, and the Goodly Garments are chiefly thought of, the Concern of the Battel is forgot, and even when Victory was inclining towards them, it on a sudden left them, and went to the other side.

Lastly, when we go to meet the Enemy [Page 201] with Prejudice, Grudgings, Animosites, yea downright Hatred among our selves,* we can't expect that our Military Expeditions will be Blessed with Success. When Israel was to go forth against Iabin and Sisera, it was a sad reflection to take notice that they could not agree among themselves:Judg. v. 15, 16. For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts, there were great searchings of heart, and it was from the extraordinary Hand of God that these did not prove their Overthrow at that time. Thus you see some Sins directly ob­struct the Good Success of War; as, on the contrary, some Virtues, as Temperance and Sobriety, Continence and Chastity, Truth and Faithfulness, Self-denial and Contentment, Mutual Peace and Concord do in their own nature promote it.

Secondly, It is so not only upon Human Con­sideration, but by the Iust Iudgment of God, by the Divine Conduct and Providence. Our Sins fight against Him, and he sends Wars, and Ill Success with them, to Punish us for those Sins. When the Israelites provoked God by their Idolatry and other such abominable Offences, he allarm'd them with the Noise of War and Battel: When they chose new Gods, then was War in the gates, Iudg. v. 8. Since they were for introducing Heathen Deities, it [Page 202] was [...]it that Mars should be one of them. See­ing they would have Strange Gods, they must grapple with Strange Nations, and be severe­ly treated by them. Amongst the Judgments and Curses which God denounceth against an Impenitent and Profligate People, This you will find to be one, in Deut. xxviii. 25. The Lord shall cause them to be smitten before their enemies, they shall go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them. That this was a Judgment purposely design'd against them for their Sins may be further learnt from Lev. xxvi. 23, &c where God expresly tells that People, That if they will not be reformed, but will walk contrary to him, he will bring a Sword upon them, that shall avenge the quarrel of his Covenant. The Covenant was that he would be their God, and they should be his People, i.e. that they should serve and obey him, and do whatever he commanded them: So that every Sin is a Breach of the Covenant; and where God sends the Sword, i.e. War, with the dreadful Effects of it, there he hath some quarrel of his Covenant to revenge, there some Sin or other is to be Punish'd. The Eastern People always used Blood in making a Covenant. Here you see God will send a Bloody Sword to avenge the Breach of his. War and Bloodshed shall be the Penalty of Mens dealing falsly in Religion, and prevaricating with God. This then is according to what he had Threatned against Sinners; so that if [Page 203] This did not come to pass, God could not be Faithful to his Word. Besides, he is obliged by virtue of his Pure and Holy Nature to shew his Dislike of Sin; which he can no ways better do, than by severely Animadverting upon it. On this account an Army of Pro­phane and Wicked Men, who have no Sense of Religion, but defy it, and blasphemously declame against it, cannot expect their Arms should prosper; their Guilt must needs weigh down their Swords, or rebate the Edge of them. The Divine Vengeance may justly blast all their Warlike Attempts at Land, and make their Enterprizes at Sea like those of Caligula, who made a shew of a Descent upon Britain, but took up at the Shore, and cau­fed his Army to gather Cockle-Shells, and so return'd with the Mock-spoils of the Ocean. Or, which is far worse, the Incensed Majesty of Heaven may turn their Martial Weapons and Forces against themselves.

Are these things so, then,

Ist. Let us Tremble at the Thoughts of the Condition we are in at present. A potent Enemy is lifting up his Warlike Weapons against us, and we at the same time Fight against God by our daily and repeated Sins. What can we think will be the Issue of this? If the Children of Israel turn'd their Backs before their Enemies because of the accursed Thing, how can we imagine we shall stand before ours, when we cherish such a Multitude of accursed [Page 204] Things amongst us? Was Israel defeated be­cause of one single Achan? May not we then fear that we shall be so, having so many Achans in our Camp? What Peace can we look for so long as the Whoredoms and Debaucheries, the Prophane Swearings and Cursings of this Nation are so many? So long as Pride and Luxury, Irreligion and even Atheism prevail in the midst of us? And as no Peace, so no Au­spicious War can be expected as long as these are countenanced and maintained: For these most Exorbitant and Flagitious Vices make the greatest Warriors Successless. Let us not then flatter our selves, and boast of our pre­sent Safety, and confide in our Strength and Forces, and the great Preparations we have made. Let not us of this Island brag that we, like Populous No, Nahum. 3. 8. have the Waters round about us, and that our Rampart is the Sea, and our Wall (i.e. our Defence) is from the Sea. Let us remember what it was that spoil'd King Iehoshaphat's Design at Sea, and broke all his Ships in pieces, viz. his Ioyning himself with one who did very wickedly, 2 Chron. 20. Much more then if the Generality of a Nation join together to do very wickedly, may not they expect that their Ships will be shatter'd and broken, that their Naval Force will be brought to ruin? And though through the Divine Good­ness and Forbearance they may seem to pros­per for a time, yet it will be Bitterness in the [Page 205] latter End. Although we have had Unexpe­cted Success of late, and God hath appear'd for us in an Extraordinary manner, yet let us not make us such an Image of Victory as was at Athens, without wings: Let us not fancy that it hath taken up its Seat with us, and will not fly from us. Or, let us not imagine we have Mars in Fetters, as the Lacedemoni­ans represented and pourtrayed him; that we have so chain'd up War that it is wholly at our disposal, and that it cannot hurt us. Let such vain Confidences disappear, and let us know that we are in the Hands of God, and that Peace and War, Victory and Overthrow, and all the Comfortable or Dismal issues of either are wholly from Him. Presume not of Vi­ctory because you are Strong and Valiant, be­cause the Force and the Courage of England have been tried, and are well known to the World. Let not this make you Confident that you shall prevail against your Enemies. I must tell you that if England were a thou­sand times Stronger and Valianter than it is, the Sins, the Crying Sins which are in the midst of it are able to Weaken and Dispirit it. It could never be believed that the adversa­ry and enemy should enter into the Gates of Ieru­salem, as the Prophet speaks, Lam. iv. 12. That City was of almost incredible Strength; it was so admirably Fenced and Fortified that there are in the Old Testament several e­legant Allusions to this very thing. Yet this [Page 206] place which was so Strong, and in the Opi­nion not only of themselves, but of strangers, Invincible and Impregnable, was taken, and fack'd and burnt with Fire; yea, even a se­cond time it met with the same fate.

May we learn then not to Vaunt of our Strength, but rather to be sensible of our Weakness, viz. of our Sins, which Enfeeble and Disable us. By reason of these it is that the People in the midst of us are Women, as it was said of Nineve, Nahum. iii. 13. And then will follow what is there added, The Gates of the Land shall be set wide open to our Enemies, i.e. we shall be subdued and con­quer'd by them. Our Vices will blunt all our Weapons, our Sins will discomfit our Forces on Land, and sink our Ships at Sea, We abound with those ill Practices which (as I have shew'd you) do naturally pro­duce ill Success in War, as the nourishing of Discord and Animosities, Covetousness and Ambition, Treachery and Perfidiousness, Luxury and Wantonness, Drunkenness and Sottishness, Lust and Uncleanness, and all manner of Debauchery and Prophaneness. These with the Guilt of them on Mens minds do emasculate their Spirits, and render them Cowards and Poultrons. To these may be imputed the ill Conduct of Affairs, to these Men may ascribe their Miscarriages in War: This is the true Source of those cross Events and Disappointments which they meet with. [Page 207] The Oaths, the Horrid Oaths which you frequently hear out of the Mouths of pro­phane Wretches do England more harm than so many Cannons discharged by the Enemy against us. As many Debauched and Disso­lute Livers as there are in this Nation, so many Plagues are there to the Kingdom, so many Traitours to the King, so many Enemies in the Camp, so many Fire-Ships among the Navy, so many Hindrances to the good Suc­cess of War, which otherwise we might look for. It is certainly an Unhappy War where those who are employ'd in Military Action are led by the Evil Spirit, and follow his Dictates in their Lives and Practices. Such cannot reasonably think to be Prospered by God in their Enterprizes of War. Or, if God shall be so Merciful and Indulgent as to pass by their Enormities, and to bless their Martial Endeavours, yet, if afterwards they be not exceeding Sensible of God's Extraor­dinary Goodness to them, but persist in their former evil Courses, their Success will prove a Curse instead of a Blessing: Their Lawrels will be blasted, their Victories and Triumphal Rejoycings will soon be turned into Mourn­ing and Lamentation; and those Enemies whom they at present seem to prevail against shall increase in Number and Strength, and over-run them, and destroy them with a great Destruction. You may take this for an undeniable Truth, that those who are out of [Page 208] God's way, cannot but make false Steps. You must not expect that they should Thrive any considerable time; nothing will long Prosper under their Conduct. Let this check your Fond Presumption, and teach you to stand in awe, and not to sin against God with that high hand you formerly did. Which brings me to the next Inference from the Premises;

2. Remove the Cause of all your Fears and Dangers, that is, renounce your Sins, which either in themselves or through the Judgment of God do not only procure Wars, but make them Unsuccessful and Fatal to us. That you may fight your Foes victoriously, see that you combate your Sins, that you grapple with your Vices. This is a War that is fought without Noise, a War that makes no Widows nor Orphans, a War that is always crown'd with Victory and Peace. That you may not, like the Israelites in the Text, turn your backs before your enemies, you must take care to put away the Accursed thing, the Cursed Uncleanness, the Cursed Oaths, the Cursed Intemperance and Drunkenness, the Cursed Uncharitableness, Enmity and Malice which are amongst us. These are all Execrable things, and every one of them are able to blunt our Swords, to damp our Powder, to stifle our Cannon, and to render all our Martial Pro­visions useless and ineffectual. Think you heard God speak to You as he did to Ioshua, or rather to the Whole People, O Israel, O [Page 209] England, thou canst not stand before thine ene­mies, until ye take away the Accursed thing from among you, Verse 13th of this Chapter. All Sin is Accursed; lay This aside, and then go forth against your Enemies, and Prosper. You may read in Iudges x. 16, 17. That the Chil­dren of Israel put away the strange Gods from among them, as a Necessary Introduction and Preparative for undertaking a Successful War against their Enemies, who were at that time gathered together, and encamped against them. And this was done in Obedience to that Ex­cellent Rule which was given them in Deut. xxiii. 9. When the Host goeth forth against thine enmemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing; then be sure to be watchful over your selves, that you indulge not any sort of Wickedness; for Vice at Home will spoil your Forces A­broad. Here I might pertinently remind you to remove more particularly those Sins which are wont to be the Immediate Causes and Procurers of War, those Lusts that War in your Members (Iames iv. 1.) those Insatiable De­sires and Wishes which breed in Men a strong Inclination to Quarrel with others; such are Ambition, Anger, Cruelty, Revenge, Pride, Desire of Glory,* Covetousness, Thirsting after Command and Greatness, and sometimes Luxury and Prodigality, which reduce Men [Page 210] to Streights and Wants, whereupon they are necessitated as 'twere to Fight that they may Eat, (as the* same word among the Hebrews signifies both;) in brief, a being Dissatisfied with our present State and Condition. These are the Load-stones that draw Steel to them; these are the grand Procurers of War and Fighting, of Blood and Slaughter in the World, and we are particularly concern'd to root out these Vices.

Especially I might remind you not to ad­dict your selves to the Sins of those Persons whom you Fight against. How absurd and unaccountable is it (think you) that when we have Proclaimed War against a Neighbour­ing Nation, and even whilst we are Fighting them, and hope to get the better of them, yet we are in the mean time Conquer'd by their Vices? We treat them as Loathed Ene­mies, and yet are in love with their Follies, and doat upon their Vanities and Excesses. Let me tell you, we must take another course before we can look for Success and Victory. If we would have This declare it self on our side, and even fling it self into our Arms, we must make sure of the Conquest over the Dis­orders and Vices of those we take up Arms against. Briefly, we must examin our Lives and Manners, and whatever we discern to be amiss in us must be forsaken. We must [Page 211] first vanquish all our Lusts, and then we may with some confidence engage the Adversary. We may hope for Success against our Bodily Enemies, when we have subdued our Spiri­tual ones. What you read of Ionas may be a good Emblem to us in this present Affair. He was in Rebellion against God, and was become a Great Sinner in his sight, and for his sake (as himself saith) a Great Tempest arose at Sea, and exceedingly endangered the Ship wherein he was. There was no way to allay this Tempest and save the Ship, but by taking up Ionas, and casting him forth into the Sea; then the Sea ceased from her raging. It is Sin that raises the Tempests of War among us: They are Sinners, especially such as lie fast a­sleep (as Ionas did) that endanger the Com­mon Vessel wherein we are Embark'd. We shall all sink and be cast away, unless the Troublesom Ionas be thrown over-board, unless Sin be cast out. But,

3. It is not enough to cast away your Sins, to abstain from those Vices which you former­ly committed, but you must betake your selves to the serious Practice of all Holiness. The first thing you are to do is to give your selves unto Prayer. This is a proper Duty at this time, and is commended to us by the Ex­amples of* Moses, Samuel, King Asa, Iehosa­phat [Page 212] and Hezekiah, whose Prayers on this oc­casion are recorded. Let God arise, and let his Enemies be scattered, was the usual Form of Prayer or Collect which the Israelites used in their Marches against their Enemies. And we read that there were1 Priests among them that waited on the War, Persons set apart on purpose to go forth with their Armies, and Pray with them upon any Expedition. Yea, that you may see that this is a part even of Natural Religion, the Pagans invoked their Gods in a special manner when they went forth to Battel: Thus it is particularly record­ed of Cyrus, that2 he very earnestly implored their help in his Wars. But the Greeks and Romans were the most noted for this; and therefore both3 Tertullian and4 Lactantius make mention of the special Addresses made to the Gods by those People in time of War. Scipio (that Great Thunderbolt of War) was an Example of this among the Romans, as 5 Livy testifies: He endeavoured to render the Gods favourable and propitious to him in Battel, by his importunate Supplications to them; and there are other Notable Instances not only in this Historian, but in6 Others. They generally acknowledg'd that their Help [Page 213] was in the Divine Power, and that it was ne­cessary to have the Gods on their side, if they hoped for Success in Battel. The very Pro­claiming of War among the Old Romans, was in a Religious and Devout manner: It was accompanied with a solemn invoking of their Gods, and with Ceremonies of Divine Wor­ship. The Herauld was a kind of Priest. It might be observ'd that the Prince of Poets throughout his whole Iliads, makes his Com­manders invoke Iupiter before they under­took any Warlike Enterprize; yea, there is not any single Person but craves his Aid im­mediately before he ingages his particular Ad­versary. Hereby this Antient Sage would give the World to understand that Praying and Fighting were not to be separated.

Shall the Christian World then fall short of Pagans in this Religious Practice? Shall we not with most ardent zeal beseech the Al­mighty to bless our Arms with Success? Do the Turks begin their March, and make their Onset in Battel with a loud Cry of Allah, Al­lah, Allah, i.e. they thrice repeat the Name of God: And shall not Christians devoutly Supplicate their Iehovah Sabaoth, their Lord of Hosts, their Sacred and Undivided Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost? Yes; this we find to have been the constant Course and Practice of the Servants of God in all Ages. Nobiscum was the Word used among the Chri­stians of old in their Military Clamour: When [Page 214] they were to engage the Enemy they all out of a sense of the Necessity of God's Presence with them (according to that of the Apostle, * If God be for us, who can be against us?) una­nimously cried out, God with us, and for us; for that is the meaning of Nobiscum, as you will find it Interpreted. There were solemn Prayers on the occasion of War in all the An­tient Churches of the Christians: and so it should be now. The Gates of our Temples, like those of Ianus's, must stand open in these times of War. Whilst so many among us are belching out Oaths and Curses, do you strive to call down a Blessing by your devout Petitions and Addresses at the Throne of Grace. Drown the Noise of their Prophane Swearing and Blasphemy by your Louder and Sacred Cries in the Ears of God. Let your Supplications be as prevalent and successful as those of the Christians of old, who were sti­led the Thundering Legion, who procured Re­lief to themselves, and a Defeat to their Ene­mies, by their Urgent and Incessant Cries to Heaven. See then that you be very warm in your Addresses, urge and solicite the Divine Goodness by your continued Applications. God may be pleas'd to give that to our Pray­ers which he denies to our Courage; we may prevail more by our Humble Petiti­ons [Page 215] than by our Valorous Enterprizes.

And with Prayer join all other Acts of Re­ligious Worship, devote your selves wholly to the Service of God, and never think your selves Safe whilst you abandon that. Plutarch tells us in the Life of Numa, that when Word was brought him that the Enemy was near at hand, his answer was, I fear them not: Let them come at their perill, for I am Sa­crificing unto the God's. He thought him­self Safe in that Religious Employment, and reckon'd it his best Protection against his Enemies. Shall not we, who are to offer Spi­ritual Sacrifices by Iesus Christ, esteem those as our greatest Safety and Security in time of War and Slaughter?

And let us be daily employed not only in all Holy Exercises of Devotion, but let us live in the constant Practice of those Religious Duties which respect our Selves and our Bre­thren, as well as God. We must think it to be our present Concern to live Soberly, Righteously, and Godlily. Those more e­specially that are in Authority ought at this time to discharge their Great and weighty Office with all Faithfulness. It is requisite that these Persons give some remarkable Proof of their hearty Desire and Endeavour to Amend their own Lives, and of those that are committed to their Charge. If it would please God to stir up the Hearts of the Great Ones of the Land to do some Eminent thing [Page 216] in the sight of the whole Nation for the re­forming of themselves and the rest of the Kingdom, if they would no longer Conniv [...] at the Crying Sins amongst us by letting them go Unpunish'd, but would from henceforth severely check (as they might easily do with great Success) the Prophaning of the Chri­stian and Evangelical Sabbath, the Impious Swearing and Cursing, the Wild Intemper­ance and Debauchery, the Excessive Pride and Luxury, the Impudent Lewdness and Wantonness which reign among us, if (I say) they would curb and chastise these Enormi­ties, and thereby testify their utter Abhor­rence of them, we might then entertain good hopes that God will go forth with our Armies, and remove this great Judgment of War by a happy Victory on our Side. The Lord of Lords and King of Kings inspire their Hearts with full resolutions to do these things Effe­ctually and Speedily, that the whole Nation may partake of the Blessed Fruit of it.

And this is in some sort the General Con­cern of you All: For here you may observe in the Instance which is before us, that the Peo­ple of Israel executed Judgment on Achan: They brought out this grievous Offender and his Family, and first stoned them, and then burnt them: They also brought forth the Accursed things which had been stolen and [...]id, and dealt with them as things Devoted and Cursed, i.e. they utterly destroy'd and [Page 217] consumed them with Fire, and therein ex­actly obeyed the Order and Command that God had given. When they had done this they went against the King of Ai and his People, andJos. 8. 22. smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape. Let us learn hence our indispensable Duty at this time: We must reform our selves and o­thers: The Magistrates are obliged more e­specially to punish Sin wherever they find it, and we are All of us obliged to act accord­ing to what God hath enjoyned us; and then we shall be a Victorious People. Never look to thrive and prosper in Battel till you leave off Fighting with God, till you resolve to o­bey his Commandments, and to conform your Lives to the Laws which he prescribes you. This is the very thing which was inculcated by Ioshua when he was taking his farewell of the Israelites, and going the way of all Flesh; he lets them know that if they will keep and do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, so that they turn not aside therefrom, to the right Hand or to the left, but that they cleave unto the Lord their God, then one Man of them should chase a Thousand, and the Lord their God should Fight for them, Jos. xxiii. 6, 8, 10. then they should see the happy Success of their Arms. We who own the Honourable Name of Christians have a Written Book of Laws, viz. Those which were given us by Christ Jesus our Blessed Lord. If we turn not aside from [Page 218] these, but carefully endeavour to keep and do▪ all that is contain'd in them, God will re­ward our Obedience by enabling us to chase our Enemies, though they be never so Nume­rous. If we may credit Ecclesiastical Hi­story there appeared to Constantine the Great in his Expedition against Maxentius a Cross, an Auspicious, Sign, in the Heavens with this Inscription on it, [...] In or by this overcome. The Cross without Doubt was the Emblem of Christianity, which is the Holy Institution of a Crucified Saviour. By this you shall Conquer, by conscientiously Obser­ving the Rules of this most Holy Religion, by Living and Acting according to the Prescrip­tions of the Gospel you shall vanquish your most implacable Foes.

You see then your Duty and your Interest: You must abandon your Sins and cleave un­to God with full purpose of Heart, other­wise you can never prosper. The very Hea­thens had this Notion that the only way to be Conquerors was to have the Divine Pre­sence with them: Accordingly when ever they went to War (as well as in other dan­gers and difficulties) they constantly pack'd up their Gods, and carried them with them, thinking that they were never safe without them, and especially that they could not prosper in Battel unless their Gods went with them. Upon this perswasion the Tro­jans thought themselves Secure whilst they [Page 219] had the Image of Pallas with them: And the City is said to have been destroy'd as soon as that was gone. Upon the same Ground it was the usual Custom of the Pagans to call forth the Gods of the Place before they be­sieg'd it, they perswading themselves that as long as They were there, it was in vain to assault it, for They would defend them from all Danger. Upon the like apprehension some of the Heathens used to tie up their God's, and fasten them with Chains, that they might not go away and leave them, as several Wri­ters Witness. All this shews that they were perswaded of this, that God's being with them was the Foundation of Success and Pros­perity. Let us much more, who acknow­ledge the only True God, fix this upon our Minds that his Presence is absolutely necessa­ry in order to Success and victory. There is never any Good Fighting without his Assi­stance. And 'tis as certain that we can ne­ver have This as long as we continue in our Sins. We cannot with any reason expect the Blessing of God to be with us till we amend our Lives. Indeed it is a high piece of Im­pudence and Effrontery to imagine the con­trary. A Vitious and wicked Life will cer­tainly quash and frustrate all our Warlike Enterprizes. I hope the serious Considera­tion of this will make you improve the Time of Fasting and Humiliation which is set apart Monthly by our Church to the great and [Page 220] worthy Designs of it, namely the Abhorring of your former evil Ways, and the speedy Reforming of your Lives. We are apt to trust too much to the Goodness of our Cause, in the mean time looking not to our Sins, nor taking care to Remove that which provokes God. But let us remember this, that it is not enough to have a Good Cause, unless our Lives be Good also. There is a necessity of our being Religious and Righteous in order to being blessed in the Enterprizes of War. Let every one of you then begin to amend and reform himself, and by this means you will promote a General Reformation. If one Achan brought a Curse on the whole people of Israel, then one Holy Penitent who hath been a Great Sinner, but becomes as Eminent for his Repentance, may bring a Blessing on the whole Community. Not only the Fami­ly to which such a Person belongs, not only the City or Town he lives in, but the whole Nation may fare the better for him. If but a few of you will be brought to a sight of your Sins and a reformation of your Ways, I hope even that will derive a Blessing on the whole Kingdom. Or, if you will but come to this, to be Ashamed of what is past, and heartily to Intend and Purpose to amend your Ways for the future, even this may be accepted of God, and our Forces both at Land and Sea may feel the happy Effect of it.

[Page 221] You see, my Brethren, what is the Design of This Discourse: It is no other than This, to put you into the way of being Victorious. That which I have said doth indeed more im­mediately concern Those who personally and actually engage in the Wars at this time. They must leave their Sins behind them, their Prophane and Blasphemous Swearing, their Love of Drunkenness and Uncleanness, and the rest of their Sins which they formerly in­dulged themselves in. If I had an opportu­nity of speaking in the Ears of These Men, I should be very Plain with them, and let them understand how they endanger both them­selves and us by the Cherishing those Vile and Abominable Vices. I should very warmly urge upon them their Present Duty, and most affectionately beseech them that they would not destroy both themselves and us, and the whole Nation, by continuing in the Love or Practice of those Crying Sins. Can those Forces prosper which are led forth against the Enemy with Oaths and Curses in their mouths? Will not this almost spoil the Word of Command? Can Men of Prophaneness and Debauchery successfully defend a Reformed Religion? The God of Heaven, who hath the Hearts of all Men at his disposal, and can change and turn them as he pleaseth, reform and reclaim this sort of Persons, and inable them to ingage in the Service of their King and Country, and (which is above these) of [Page 222] their Religion, with a hearty renouncing of their former evil Ways, and with a hatred of their past Miscarriages, that God may be pleas'd to cover their Heads in the Day of Bat­tel, and to make them the happy Instruments of conveying Victory and Peace, Safety and Prosperity to the Whole Kingdom.

But you that hear me this day, you that are at Home as well as they that are in the Camp, you that are on Land as well as those that are Abroad at Sea, are nearly concern'd in This Discourse. You that are not engaged in Battel, are to abandon and forsake your Sins no less than those who are actually con­cern'd in the Wars. This is evident from the forenamed place, Deut. xxiii. 9. When the Host goeth forth against thy enemy, then keep thee from every wi [...]ked thing. It is a Text that we should constantly bear in our Minds whilst the War continues. Our Host is now going forth a­gainst the Enemy; see that you observe this Injunction; dare not to act those Sins which you have heretofore been addicted to. Whilst the Host is gone to fight with the Adversary, do you grapple with your Sins, endeavour to subdue and conquer them, and bring them under. Keep your selves now, now especially from every wicked thing. Let him that Swore swear no more, let him that Cheated and Defrauded, him that Injur'd and Oppress'd his Neighbour, be no longer guilty of those Crimes. Let him that lived in Drunkenness [Page 223] or Lewdness leave off those Wicked Courses: And whatever other Sin any Person was given to, let him do so no more, but let him pra­ctise the contrary Virtues and Graces. This must be done if you hope to hear any good Tidings from our Forces and Fleets. Accord­ing as you behave your selves here, you must expect your Success will be there. There is nothing more certain than this, That the Sins and Disorders of a People at Home are often­times punish'd and reveng'd Abroad, in the Field, or on the Sea. Therefore take heed what you do; sin not wilfully against God, especially at such a Juncture as this. If you would subdue your Enemies, you must make God your Friend; and this you cannot do un­less you renounce your Lusts, and leave off the Practice of Vice. Observe it, before God would send Gideon against the Midianites (i.e. to fight them) he caused him to purge the Land of Idolatry, as you may read in Iudges vi. 25, 26. Baal's Altars were pluck'd down, and the Worship of the True God was set up. If Baal stands, Israel falls; if Idolatry be main­tain'd, the Midianites will get the better; but whilst the Israelites draw their Swords, and hew down Baal, they do but whet them, and sharpen their Edge against their Enemy. You see then how greatly you are concerned to amend your Lives, and to renounce your for­mer Sins, for those are your Idols. Unless you do this you cannot reasonably expect that [Page 224] God will will give a Blessing to our Military Undertakings, that he will stem the Raging Torrent of France, and curb the Fury of the Ottoman Forces. Moses's words are remarkable, O that they were wise, that they would consider their latter End, and thereby be stir'd up to amend their doings: How should one chase a Thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight? Deut. xxxii. 29, 30. As much as to say, a Religious and Penitent people are a Wise people, and such will prove Victorious in a most wonderful manner. That you may be the latter, be careful to be the former: That your Arms may be bless'd with Conquest, lay down your Sins, forsake every beloved Vice. To conclude all with the Psalmist's words, Through God we shall do valiantly, but then we must vanquish our Lusts: He it is that shall tread down our Enemies, but not unless we do so to our Vices, unless we heartily bewail our Sins, and the Sins of the Nation, and sincere­ly resolve from henceforth to abandon our Wicked Ways, and to reform our Lives, and to live more like Christians and Protestants than we have hitherto done.

The Extream Danger of Inte­stine Divisions in a Kingdom.
A Sermon Preach'd before the Lord Mayor and Aldermen at Guild-Hall Chapel.

MARK III. 24.‘And if a Kingdom be divided against it self, that Kingdom cannot stand.’

IF you consult the* Other Evangelists, you will find that the Malicious Cavils of the Iews against the Miraculous Cure which our Saviour had wrought upon a Dumb Man, were the occasion of These Words. For when the Pharisees saw that the Devil, who possess'd this poor Wretch, was ejected, they blasphemously cried out against our Blessed Lord, saying, He casteth out Devils by Beelze­bub [Page 226] the Prince of Devils, he holds Correspon­dence with that Arch Fiend, he is in League and Confederacy with the Chief of those A­postate Spirits, and by this means it is that he doth these great Feats. In answer to which blasphemous Cavil our Saviour lets them know how Incredible and Absurd a thing this is which they alledge.1 How can Satan (saith he) cast out Satan? Is it any ways likely that one Fiend will dispossess another? For (as he adds)2 if Satanrise up against him­self, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. It is impossible that that Hellish Em­pire should last long if he goes thus to Work. For see, as it is in Oeconomicks,3 If a House (saith he) be divided against it self, that House cannot stand: And in Politicks, If a Kingdom be divided against it self, that Kingdom cannot stand; so fares it in the present case,4 If Sa­tan be divided against himself, how shall his King­dom stand? How shall his Designs and En­deavours against Christ and his Kingdom be carried on? If he and his Agents be at Vari­ance among themselves and combate one ano­ther, the Kingdom of Darkness will soon be shatter'd and broken. Thus you see how the Words are brought in here, namely by way of Similitude and Illustration.

But I shall wave this Consideration of them [Page 227] at present, and take them in their Absolute capacity and meaning; that is, as they are an excellent Maxim or Aphorism, or a most Useful Observation in Government, and the ordering of Publick Societies and Communi­ties. Being thus consider'd they are resolv­ed into this Proposition, that there is not a more infallible Crisis of the Ruin and Downfal of a Kingdom than their Divisions and Breaches among themselves. I say, not a more infallible one, for of all the Signs and Fore-runners of a Nations Ruin, this proves the most Certain and Unquestionable, this proves the most Unerring and Fatal Omen, When you see Intestine Quarrels, Contentions and Digla­diations grow high in a Nation, and when you observe a general aversness in Men to Peace and Reconcilement, then conclude that an Universal Devastation is hastning on. It is a Memorable Parable which you meet with in the Prophecy of Ieremiah, where under the Representation of Bottles filled with Wine the Ruinous Estate of the Iews is fore­told. * I will fill all the Inhabitants of the Land, saith the Lord, with Drunkenness: And I will dash them one against another; I will not pity nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them. A Spirit of Drunkenness shall possess them, they shall experience the worst sort of Intoxication, they shall be drunk, but not with Wine (as ano­ther [Page 228] ther Prophet expresseth it) they shall Reel and Stagger, they shall be Dissettled and Divided, they shall (like the Clubs of Debauched Men) be fill'd with Noise and Clamour, they shall Quarrel and Fight with one another; there shall be no Harmony, no Concord and Agree­ment. Thus the Inhabitants of a Land are fill'd with Drunkenness: And this is always the cer­tain sign of their being dashed one against ano­ther, of their being Ruined and Destroyed. When Vnity, which is the true Sobriety of a Nation, is once lost, Destruction is the inevi­table close of it.

Give me leave to refresh your Memories with a few Instances to this purpose out of Hi­story both Sacred and Prophane, Foreign as well as Domestick. And God knoweth I have no other design in so doing but This, that We of These Nations, We of this Island especially may not be made an Instance our selves, and become the Subject of future Hi­stories. Take the Four Great Monarchies of the World, and there you will find the Truth of this exemplified and confirm'd. The Division of the First Universal Empire, by reason of the Babylonians, Assyrians and Medes mutually stri­ving among themselves, and breaking in upon one another, procured their Dissolution, and the accomplishment of that Prediction in the Pro­phetical Writings,* Babylon is fallen; which [Page 229] had reference to the Ruin of that Monarchy by the Medes and Persians, viz. when Belshazar the last King of Babylon was slain, and Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian took the Kingdom. It is true, this Monarchy lasted thrice as long as any that succeeded it, but the reason was be­cause there was not so much Division in the World at first. And if we look into the next, viz. the Medo-Persian Empire, mixt and various in its very Make, which is express'd in Daniel by* Three Ribs, we shall find that its Different and Disagreeing Temper contribu­ted to its Downfal, and that in a short time. But this is more evident and visible in the fol­lowing, that is, the Greek Monarchy, which was whole and entire all the time of Alexan­der the Great (the First Founder of it) but afterwards being divided among his Captains (who are meant by the four horns of the Ram in Daniel) they and those that succeeded them by their constant Jarrings and ambitious En­croachings upon one anothers Allotments, thereby rendred all those spacious Countreys fit for the Roman Conquest; and at last their Divisions caused the actual Translation of the Empire to the Romans. And so the Fourth and last Monarchy was set up, which soon be­gan to have the same Fate with the others, viz. when it came to be split into Two, the Eastern and the Western Empire; which Divi­sion [Page 230] is meant by the Dan. ii. 34. Feet of Iron and Clay in Nebuchadnezar's Dream, materials of a different and contrary Nature, which were not able to fasten and cement together for any considerable time. When the Empire was thus divided, it lasted not long, for that part of it which was in the West, was extinct in Augustulus; and the o­ther Moiety in the East decay'd in the Em­peror Heraclius's Reign, when the Saracens revolted from him, and flock'd to Mahomet; and it had its period in Constantine the Fifth; for as for what remains in Germany in the House of Austria at this day, it is a meer Title and a Shadow.

But I will be more Particular: The Sacred History assigns This very thing which I am now speaking of as the reason of the Confusi­on and Destruction of the Antient Egyptian Dynasty; for we read in the Burden of Egypt (Isai. xix.) i.e. the Prophetick Denuntiation against it, That the Egyptians were set against the Egyptians, and they fought every one against his Brother, and every one against his Neighbour, City against City, and Kingdom against King­dom, ver. 2. And this is further express'd in ver. 14. The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof; which points at the Cause and Source of their mutual Distractions: These proceeded from a Spirit of Perversenesses (as 'tis in the Hebrew) a Spirit of Giddiness, as the [...] Latin well explains it. Being acted by [Page 231] this, they cross'd and plagued one another; their Counsels, Designs and Undertakings were contrary. Being intoxicated with this Vertiginous Spirit they stagger'd like a drunken man, as it follows in that forementioned Verse. This weakning of one another by their mu­tual Oppositions gave occasion to Psammiticus, who was then King but of one Province, to encroach upon the rest, and to engross the whole Dominion of Egypt to himself, by help of* Foreign Force which he call'd to his As­sistance. Or, as we are more fully to under­stand the Words, their Wars and Dissentions among themselves made way for the Assyrian Invasion (of which you read in Isai. xx. 4.) which proved very Fatal and Mischievous to them.

The Sacred Records acquaint us that the unhappy Dividing of Israel into two King­doms, which before was One and Entire, so enfeebled that People that at length it ended in their Ruin. For from the Ten Tribes be­ing Separated and Rent from the other Two, proceeded all their Civil Wars and Distracti­ons at Home: And this also made way for the Conquests by the Chaldean Kings, and was at last the occasion of their Foreign Captivity. This is confess'd by their own Learned Anti­quary and Historian, who particularly Re­marks, that this Defection from Rehoboam, [Page 228] [...] [Page 229] [...] [Page 230] [...] [Page 231] [...] [Page 232] and dividing the Kingdom, were* the begin­ning and first cause of all the Evils that be [...]el them, and of their final Overthrow. Afterwards, a­mong the same People the Factions and Con­tentions of the Priests, Fighting and Scu [...]fling for the High-Priests place, brought in the Kings of Syria upon them. And long after this, what was it but the Intestine Divisions, Sects and Parties in the same Nation which occasion'd the demolishing of their City by Ti­tus Vespasian? Their own Civil Broils and Dis­cords made way for his Forces. The Tumults of the Zealots (those Iewish Banditi's) and o­ther Seditous Persons amongst them in the time of the Siege (who, as aDr. Hammond Learn­ed Writer thinks, are meant by the Locusts in the Ninth of the Revelation, in which Chapter he conceives their Outrages and Villanies are set forth) did those People more harm and mischief than all the Roman Army. This likewise is taken notice of by their Own Historian, who tells us that the Romans beheld with Joy these Domestick Broils in Ierusalem, reckoning the Dissention of their Enemies to be the most advantageous and profita­ble thing that could have happen'd, and crying out, That it was from a Divine Hand that their Enemies were turn'd against themselves. There­fore the Emperor's Son (as the same Author [Page 233] informs us) observing these deadly Feuds a­mong them, told his Soldiers, when he percei­ved them to be very eager of falling upon the Iews, That he delay'd a while to do this, that thereby their Dissentions might be increas'd and grow more raging, and by that means they might fall by their own hands, and be consumed by their implacable Quarrels among one another: Whereas, if he should break in upon them present­ly, this would be a cause of their Agreement, and move them to join together against the Common Foe. Therefore, to pacify his Soldiers, he re­minded them that God knew what was better for them than themselves did, and had so ordered the present Affair, that the Jews should be deliver­ed up to them without labour, and that Victory should be given them without undergoing any great Fatigue and Danger. Whilst their Ene­mies Perish'd by their own hands, and were Ru­ined by the greatest of Evils, viz. Their Home­bred Sedition, they should only be Spectators of their Mischiefs, but not be forced to fight with those Men who greedily sought after Death, and were grown mad with intestine Slaughter and Bloodshed. Thus Io­sephus represents Titus speaking to his Soldiers. It is true, at last (as the same Historian goes on to observe,) when it was too late, all their Discords ceas'd, all the Seditious Parties began to unite in one: When the War grew hotter, and the Romans approach'd nearer to them, then they began to bewail their former Madness, and to say to one another, we have [Page 234] hitherto shew'd our fortitude and va [...]our against our selves only: By our own groundless Quarrels we have weakn'd our selves and strengthned our Enemies: We have been all this while by our Animosities within encour­aging those that are without: To this the Roman Army may ascribe its Success. (That this or the like Language may never be hear'd in England, is the design and aim of this pre­sent Discourse.)

To pass from Iudea to Greece, it is manifest that the Inhabitants of this Country, after they had expell'd their Foreign Foes, and put Xerxes to Flight, at last overthrew them­selves by Domestick Iarrs. This is the Re­mark which Iustin the Historian makes of them,* Whilst every free City strived for the Mastery, they all lost it. For by their Quarrels among themselves, and contending which should be Uppermost they gave occasion to Philip King of Macedon to subdue them all. And afterwards, when the Grecian Empire came once to be Divided into parts, (which was signified by the Leopards various Spots, and the Four-headed Beast spoken of in Da­niel) it drew toward its Decay, and in the End dwindled into nothing. When not on­ly the Empire it self, but the Persons who [Page 235] presided over it were divided, it could not long stand. It cannot be denied that parti­cularly the Kingdom of Syria (which was part of the Greek Conquests) was lost to the Romans by their Civil Discords and Quarrels, * many Persons contending at one time for the Supreme Rule. Nothing is more evident than that the Vast Government of the Gre­cians fell by the mutual Animosities of Alex­anders Successors: They made not an end of falling out, and Fighting one another, till the Roman Empire swallow'd them all up.

To pass from Iews and Pagans even to Christians it may be observed in Ecclesiastical History that when the Primitive Christians began to be Quarrelsom and Contentious, and to Persecute one another, God sent a­mongst them the Hottest Persecution, under Dioclesian, which lasted Ten Years. When there were mutual Envyings and Revilings amongst us, saithEusebius, when the Rulers of the Church fell out with one ano­ther, when the Pastors of the Flock foster'd Strife and Contention among themselves, studying nothing but Emulation, Enmity and Hatred, then according to Ieremy, the Lord cover'd the Daughter of Sion with a cloud in his Anger. So that Good Father. And in other Places he tells us that their Un­charita. [Page 236] charitable Accusing of one another, and Dis­senting among themselves invited the Pagans to fall upon them; the Divisions of Believers were justly rewarded with Bloodshed and Slaughter from In [...]idels. And after the Ro­man Empire became Christian, one cause of its declining was the Division of it by Con­stantine the Great, viz. when he Translated the Imperial Seat into Greece, whereby in a short time the Eagles Head was divided, and its Body by degrees Impair'd and Shatter'd. Whilst the Government was One and Entire, it was Stable and Firm, but as soon as it came to be Parted, it lost its pristine Vigour, and grew Weak and Feeble. It was upon this Division of the Empire that those Nor­thern Nations the Gothes (distinguish'd into Vise Gothes and Ostro Gothes) the Hunns, Vandals, Longobards, and Others (whose ve­ry Names are as Barbarous as Themselves were) left their Cold and Barren Countries, and cross'd the Rhine and Danube to settle themselves in warmer Habitations.

But (which is yet more to our purpose) when these Barbarous Nations, like a Gene­ral Deluge, over-ran the fairest Realms of Europe, the Frayes and Dissentions of Christi­ans made way for them. That which chief­ly Encouraged and Promoted the incursion of these Barbarians was the Disagreeings and Animosities in the Church. Socrates Parti­cularly observes this, that at the same time [Page 237] that the Bishop of Rome and his Clergy persecu­ted other Dissenting Christians, the Gothes and Longobards invaded Italy. The fourth Centu­ry had abounded with Schism and Faction (as well as Heresies:) And behold, as the Effect as well as Recompence of these, the fifth Century labour'd under an other sort of Plagues, viz. the Irruption of those Savages, partly Pagans and partly Arians, who miser­ably Persecuted the Orthodox Christians in Italy, Spain, France, and other Countries. The Church might justly ascribe this to their own Home-Divisions. Those Dreadful things, it is probable, had never come to pass, if the Christians had not been Shatter'd and Distra­cted among themselves, if they had not swarm'd with Various Opinions, and fill'd eve­ry place with Disputes and Controversies; if they had not mangled and corrupted many Heads of the Christian Faith, if their Bishops had not been Haughty and Proud, and not only despised and vilified their Inferior Bre­thren, but likewise had Jarr'd with one ano­ther; in short, if both Governors and People had not been given to Tearing and Rending amongst themselves, and if a Spirit of Divi­sion had not possess'd them beyond all Exor­cism. Thus it happen'd to the Church in the fifth Century.

Again, to touch upon an other Coast of History, when in Arabia Felix and Syria, and the adjoyning Countries, several Sects and [Page 238] Parties of Christians had sprung up, as Mel­chites, Maronites, Eutychians, Nestorians, Monothelites, &c. then in that very Arabia (but no longer to be call'd the Happy) ap­peared the Grand Impostor Mahomet. He and his Successors got up, and gain'd Ground not only there but in other Places by the many Disputes and Parties which were a­mong the Christians. And whilst the Churches of Ierusalem, Antioch and Constantinople un­christianly contended about Priority, and such like Points, the Turks came and decided the Controversy. This is now known to be a Great Truth, and not to be doubted of, that the Mahometan Empire arose from the Con­tentions in the East, when the Churches were torn asunder with the Arian and Manichean Doctrines. For this Dissention bred in ma­ny Men an hatred of the Christian Religion, and of the very Name of it; and then any Opinion or Doctrine, especially if grateful to the Flesh, could not but be easily enter­tain'd and embraced. Is it not fad to con­sider that the Vilest Cheat in the World, That of Mahometism was foster'd and set for­ward by the Differences of those who were of the Christian Religion? And afterwards it was no wonder that when the Greek Church was divided within it self (into Armeni [...]ns, Georgians, Iacobites &c.) it was oppressed by the Turks and Saracens, and quite over­run by them. Their own Divisions armed [Page 239] these People against them, their Quarrels a­mong themselves put Weapons into the Hands of their Enemies, and helpt them to Vanquish them. To make this Reflection the more Authentick, I will give it you as it is represented in* one of the Homilies of our Church: Where after it was observ'd that the Dissention of the Eastern and Western Christians was very much promoted by the Quarrel about Images, the Conclusion is this ‘So that when the Saracens first, and after­wards the Turks invaded the Christians, the one part of Christendom would not help the other. By reason whereof at last the Noble Empire of Greece, and the City Imperial Constantinople was lost, and came into the Hands of the Infidels.’ And im­mediately after, ‘Thus a Sea of Mischiefs was brought in, a horrible Schism between the East and the West Church, an hatred between one Christian and another, Coun­cels against Councels, Church against Church, Christians against Christians, Princes against Princes, at last the tearing in sunder of Christendom, and the Empire in two Pieces, till the Infidels, Saracens and Turks, common Enemies to both parts, have most cruelly Vanquish'd, Destroy'd and Subdued the one part, and have won a great Piece of the other Empire, and put [Page 240] the whole in dreadful Fear and most horri­ble Danger.’

Still in pursuance of the Argument I am upon, I might remind you that the Discord of Christians was it which lost Ierusalem, af­ter it had been held by them Successively a long time, after it had cost them so much Blood in their several Expeditions and Cru­sades. The Saracens strength in the Holy Land accrued by the Misunderstandings of the Princes of Europe, when the Holy War was turn'd into Civil Dissentions.

And as Turcism arose and increased by the Dissentions of Christians, so it is easy to prove that Popery had the same Rise and Advance; for there is abundant History to make it clear that by Divisions in Doctrine and Pra­ctice in the Church in the first Ages those Corruptions first crept in. Especially by rea­so of the Dissention among Christian Empe­rours, Kings, and Princes the Papal Religion ar­rived to what it is: For whenever These fell out with one another, the Popes stood ready to make advantage of it, and they always there­by increas'd and advanc'd their own Power and Authority, and consequently the Papal Cause.

I might leave Christendom, and travel as far as China, and shew you that vast and spa­cious Kingdom, which above 4000 Years to­gether enjoy'd an uninterrupted Peace, and knew not so much as the Use of Arms to de­fend [Page 241] their Country, which no People in the World can say besides them. At last the oc­casion of putting a Period to this long Tran­quility was* the Discords of this Kingdom among themselves, the Divisions and Inflam­mations within their own Bowels, and the Civil Wars occasion'd by Usurpers of the Throne: Which were follow'd with the ir­ruption of the Scythians and Asiatick Tartars upon them, who in those unhappy Circum­stances got the better of them, and after a long and bloody War possess'd that Kingdom (the wealthiest and most populous in the whole World that we know of,) and to this Day are Masters of it. And now when we are travelling, we may visit the Famous Country of the Abyssines or Ethiopia, a large Kingdom in Africk, but lately shrunk into a lesser Compass, and almost lay'd wast by the Natives of the Place, some of them hav­ing turn'd State-Rebels, and others (set on by the Iesuites) fighting on a Religious Ac­count.

But I will not wander so far, but come home to our selves, and prosecute the Argu­ment with relation to this Land of our Nati­vity. They were the Civil Wars of the An­tient Britains which tempted Iulius Caesar to invade this Island at first. This was the Rise of the Romans coming hither, and this was [Page 242] the occasion of the Britains being conquered. It is evident from the most Credible Histori­ans, that our Ancestours, a very warlike and valiant People, were vanquished rather by the Perfidiousness of their own Androgeus, and the Quarrels of others among themselves than by the valour and force of the Invaders: For they tell us that Iulius Caesar was invited over by that Androgeus, who at that time quarrell'd with Cassibelan and other Great Men; and so Caesar fought and overcame, and made this Island tributary to Rome. Though it is true, this was not presently Effe­cted, but after several Assaults: For the Bri­tains, who were not inferior to the Roman Legions in Valour, repuls'd them at first, and Caesar fled from Britain. Of this Juncture of Affairs Tacitus speaks, acquainting us that the Britains fell into Factions and Parties, and could not agree among themselves to resist the common Danger:* So whilst they fought divided, they were joyntly defeated. And in succeeding Ages there never was any great Enemy entred this Kingdom but when there were Schisms and Distractions at home. Whether other Nations were invited over hither, or invaded us, it was always occasi­on'd by Dissention among our selves.

[Page 243] There different People successively took the Opportunity of overrunning our Coun­try when our Bickrings and Digladiations were great in our own Bowels. It was this which gave occasion to the Saxons to invade this Land, or (if you will rather) to our An­cestours to call them in; for the Picts, who were the Old Barbarous Britains, were divi­ded from the rest of the Nation, and held Confederacy with the Scots. Therefore Gildas expressly sheweth that one cause of the fatal Councel of sending for the Saxons to come and assist them, was their Disagreement and Contention among themselves: The Southern and Northern Inhabitants were at odds, which moved Vortigern the Head of the Natives at that time to send for those Saxons, who came over and miserably requited the Britains for the care they shew'd to them, and the kind Entertainment they gave them, and with many and long Battels made this Land a place of Slaughter, Ravage and Bloodshed. And afterwards, these very Saxons (who seem'd to have made amends for all their vi­olence and mischief by the ardent Zeal which they shew'd to the Christian Faith as soon as 'twas Preach'd among them, by their build­ing of Churches and Religious Houses, by their extraordinary Devotion, and by their care to propagate and spread the Christian Religion) these Noble Converts, who flou­rish'd under their Heptarchy so long a time, [Page 244] were ruined at length by their Intestine Broils and Wars, as ourCambden Brit [...]n. Learned An­tiquary observes. And if you con­sult our Chronicles you will find that nothing gave the Danes and Normans more advantage against our Predecessors than their Divisions and Quarrels among them­selves. In brief, the former State of things in this Nation, immediately fore-going the several devastations by Foreign Invasion, hath in This (as well as in some other Circum­stances) too near an Alliance and Correspon­dence with our Present Times. I pray God avert the Omen.

And let us endeavour (for now I am com­ing to turn my History into Application) let us, I say, endeavour to avert it by the most Proper Means we can use, that is, by studying Peace and Unity, and by promoting Love and Goodwill among one another. This is the Practical Inference which we are to make from the Premises. And certainly, if ever there was need of Preaching and Practising this duly, there is now more especially. We have been, and are at this Day a People di­vided against our selves, and therefore it is a wonderful Prodigy that we have not had our final Downfal before this. But now we can­not reasonably expect to stand any longer, if we continue in our Divisions, and persist in our mutual Antipathies. Let us then in this our Day know the things which belong to our [Page 245] Peace, before they be hid from our Eyes, and that for ever. Let us agree as Members of the same Community, and banish all Dissen­tions and Animosities. I know this hath been a very Common and Trite Subject: But assure your selves that at this time it is the most Proper and Suitable one that a Preacher can entertain you with: For on the speedy Practice of this depends all your Safety, all your Security, all your▪ Wellfare and Hap­piness in this World. If you neglect this, you plunge your selves into Ruin; but if you are so wise as to attend to it, you contribute to­wards the Establishment of the Nation, to­wards the lasting Prosperity of the Publick. Amphion is said (in a Poetick rant) to have built the Walls of Thebes by help of his Mu­sick: But it is no Fiction, but a solid Truth that Harmony and Concord are the best means of building up the Walls of our Ierusalem, and of incompassing it with more firm and dura­ble ones than those of Brass, which the Famed Frier (as 'tis said) vainly boast'd he would environ England with. Let us then cast away all unbecoming disgusts and grudg­ings at one another: And though we are an Island, and divided from the rest of the World, let us not be Dissevered and Divided from our selves. Let us love as Brethre [...], and acknowledge none to be our Enemies but such as we know are Implacable Enemies to our Religion, that is, those who have a [Page 246] design to Rob us of that which is dearer to us than our Lives. And to urge this Effe­ctually upon you, I will offer these following Considerations to you,

1st. Consider the Scandal of our Divisions. It is a Reproach to our Religion, as we are Christians, that we nourish so many Feuds and Disturbances among us. For the Bles­sed Author and Founder of our Religion pro­nounced the Peace-makers blessed, and made Love and Peace the honourable Badges of our Profession; and we find that all the excellent Principles of the Gospel lead to these, and that Christianity it selfe inculcates nothing more than the Practice of them. But not on­ly thus in general, as we are Christians, but in a more Especial manner as we are Prote­stants, we are under a strict Obligation of mutual Amity and Agreement. There are two things (among others) which the Church of Rome glories in, first that they perfectly agree among themselves; secondly that we (on the contrary) are divided, and break out into passionate Heats and Contests. That there is too much of Truth in this their Boasting we cannot den [...] though with re­ference to the former part it must be said (and that with equal Truth) that they have their Divisions and Parties no less than we (as I could easily prove if I were at leisure to do it:) but 'tis granted that as to the Main they are at Unity among themselves, that is, they [Page 247] perfectly agree to oppose the Protestant Cause: They consult together with one consent, and are confederate against it. This is the Great Prop and Preservative of the Church of Rome, this buoys up the whole Papal Interest, viz. their Agreement among themselves, their being all of a Piece, viz. with relation to us. And is it not a shame that we should learn of them how to behave our selves? Do not our own Rea­son, Necessity, and the Cause it self require that we maintain an entire Concord? Must we go to the Roman Catholicks to be taught our Duty in this Point? This is very Scan­dalous, and I cannot mention it without a peculiar Disdain and Regret, nor can you hear it without Blushes. If we had been as Unanimous for the Protestant Religion as they are for the Roman, we should long since have baffl'd their Cause, and defeated their De­signs against us. But alas herein we are de­fective, and with shame we may publish it to the World. Do they agree together a­gainst us, and shall not we do so against them? Can they friendly Unite to do us Mis­chief, and shall not we as amicably Agree to hinder that Mischief? Let us not suffer our selves to be outdone by them here. If they shew themselves such Fierce Disturbers of our Peace both Ecclesiastical and Civil, let us be as Forward and Zealous in promoting Peace in our Church and State, a Religious and a Politick Peace. Let us agree as Christi­ans, [Page 248] who are but a small Number in the World (a Sixth part of it, as is computed:) And let us agree as Protestants, whose Numbers are yet sewer, and therefore we are oblig'd to adhere to one another, and to maintain a firm League among our selves. In short, let us not by our Quarrels and Dissentions scan­dalize Christianity, or (more particularly) the Reformed Religion, which is the Choisest part of it.

2dly. Consider the Vnseasonableness of our Divisions. Though by the late Change of Affairs, and the Happy Revolution in this Nation God hath vouchsafed us such a Deli­verance as is next to a Miracle; such a Deli­verance as the present Age ought to stand astonish'd at, and which future Ages will scarcely believe, by reason of the strange sur­prizing and unheard of Circumstances which attended it, especially this one (which is most remarkable) that whereas such Great* Al­terations in Kingdoms and Commonwealths are generally accompanied with Bloodshed, this had nothing of that Nature, but was ef­fected wholly by gentle and free Compli­ances. Yet what great Numbers of Men a­mong us shew themselves Discontented, and therein Unthankful for that Amazing Blessing confer'd on this Nation? All the Return they make for God's singular Mercy and unparel­lel'd [Page 249] Kindness to us is Murmuring and Re­pining. They complain of their present Con­dition, and are for going back into Egypt, though (blessed be God) they are not in a Wilderness, but in a Land flowing with Milk and Honey. This is the base Iewish temper of some Persons; When God's wonderful Pro­vidence invites them to Thankfulness, and to join in one Common Affection, as they are Fellow-Christians and Fellow-Protestants, at this time especially when we are of neces­sity ingag'd against a Foreign Adversary, they (notwithstanding this) are unwilling to li­sten to this Invitation, and obstinately keep up their former Antipathies, yea add greater and fiercer ones to them. France lifts up its Bloody Weapons against us; and shall we at such a time Fight with one another? Sons of Belial are conspiring against the Life of our Prince: Our Laws, our Liberties, our Reli­gion, as well as our Country are threatn'd with an Invasion; and shall we in this jun­cture divide our selves into several Parties, and distinguish one another by Scandalous Names and Titles? Our Divisions before ar­gued gross Folly and Indiscretion: But now they can pass for nothing less then Madness and Frenzy. Wherefore in the present Cir­stances, if ever, let us think our selves con­cern'd to Unite. And since God hath hither­to kept us from being destroy'd by our Ene­mies, let us not destroy one another by our [Page 246] [...] [Page 247] [...] [Page 248] [...] [Page 249] [...] [Page 250] Inbred Oppositions. Let this rather be our Endeavour, to quash all the Attempts of our Adversaries for the future by an Entire Con­junction and Coalition among our selves.

3dly. Consider how, by the contrary Pra­ctice, you gratisy your Enemies. We may I­magine we here them say of Us as the Romans under Tiberius said of the Germans (against whose Empire and Liberty these were plot­ting) when they saw them fall out among themselves,* If we cannot, say they, get this People to love us, we wish they may cherish a perpetual hatred and division among themselves, which latter will be every ways as Successful to us as the former. The de­sign of our Enemies is to have us divided from one another; that they may all unite in our Ruin. Their business hath been to set us at odds, with a respect wholly to their own un­speakable Advantage: For 'tis certain that whilst we devour one another, we shall become a Prey to them. Any considerate Man may see that it is the studied Practice of those that are Agents for the Church of Rome to sow the Seeds of Discord in Protestant Countries, and more especially in this of ours. They have a long time made it their Work, and at this Day they pursue it with more than ordi­nary Vigour, to ruffle and embroil us, that they may thereby smooth the Way to Pope­ry, [Page 251] and extirpate that Religion which they are pleas'd to call the Northern Heresy. They carry on the same design that Iulian the Apo­state of old did, who was the Subtilest Ene­my the Christians ever had: It is particular­ly * observ'd of him that he made it his Work to impede their mutual Agreement, and he did all he could to set them at Variance. This is that which our Adversaries of Rome have labour'd to effect ever since the Reformation, and we find that they have been too Success­ful in it. Let us learn to defeat this Politick Design by being Entire and Unanimous, which they so much dread and tremble at. Let us never be so Sottish as to side with our Profess'd Enemies: But since we are con­vinc'd that it is their main Study and Em­ployment to raise Dissention among us, and then to increase it, let us be Masters of so much Christian Wisdom and Policy as whol­ly to prevent all Breaches, or else with all speed to close them up.

4thly. Consider the Extreme Danger of our Divisions. What can we expect but Confusion, and even an utter Extinction if we are thus miserably Disjoyn'd? We shall unavoidably bring down all mischiefs upon us if we take no care to cure our Convulsi­ons and Distractions within us. It hath been observ'd that England hath ever been so [Page 252] Strong and Long-lived an Animal that it could never be dispatch'd but by it self. If we do not pull down our [...]ine with our own Hands, we need not fear the Attempts of others. We can never Perish unless we are Felons of our selves. O that this Nation were so wise as to understand this! O that they were so Prudent as to consider that if e­ver the Papal Beast breaks in upon us, so as to do us any great Harm, it must be occasion'd by our own Discords and Dis­sentions! Our Divisions at home will make us feel the Mischief of Invasion from a­broad. Nay, let it be remember'd that a Kingdom divided against it self, although it be assaulted by no Foreign Foe, cannot stand, but shall be brought to Confusion. If we bite and devour one another, we shall be consumed one of another: Not unlike the Dragons Teeth Cadmus is said to have sown, which grew up into an Army combating one another. By our own unnatural Heats we not only prepare our selves to be ruin'd by Others, but we may be undone this way by our Own Hands.

Sit down then, and seriously represent to your selves the Danger you are in. Fix this on your Minds as an unquestionable Truth, that we may despair of the Safety and Welfare of this Nation so long as we are divided into Disagreeing Parties, [Page 253] so long as we love to keep up our Quar­rels. Though we may think we have shut out Popery, yet these will open the Door for it, and let it in again. This very thing was the Ground of the Learn­ed and Pious Vsher's fearful Apprehensions and prophetick Intimations concerning the return of the Roman Religion into these Kingdoms, and the miserable State they were like to fall into on that Account, as you may read in his Life. We may on the same Ground fear the same dismal E­vents at this time. If we continue our di­visions, the Great Italian Pontif will step in, and turn Moderator, and put an End to our Disputes: The Romans will come, and take away both our Place and Nation: And we shall then wish (but in vain) that we had attended to the Dictates of peaceable Men, and that we had lay'd aside all our Differences. So for Tyranny and Slavery, though we imagine that they are shut out, yet let me tell you, whilst we disagree a­mong our selves, and retain Bitterness and Rancour towards one another in our Minds, and carry on Different, yea contrary De­signs, we are making way for the Com­mon Foe to enter, who (if he gets footing here) will reduce us and our Posterity to the utmost Servitude and Bondage, and that without all hopes of Remedy.

[Page 255] These are the Considerations which I thought fit to tender to you. And now perhaps it may be expected (before I put an end to this Discourse) that I should set before you the Particular Methods of Peace in this unhappy Day of Dissention. If you would permit me to be free with you, I could, methinks, entertain good hopes of being an Vniversal Reconciler, of making Dissenting Parties un­derstand one another aright (the want of which hath been the Source of all their Controver­sies) and so of Accommodating the Diffe­rences between them, and of creating a firm Love and Respect to one another. I could, I think, suggest such Healing, such Balsa­mick Principles, as would assuredly Cure and Consolidate all our Wounds, if they be taken in hand in time, and not suffer'd to grow In­veterate. But seeing I cannot at present so Particularly and Fully pursue this great Work as I would, (and perhaps some here are not able to bear it now) the only Direction I will propound, the only Expedient I will leave with you is this, That you would not suf­fer your Differences in some lesser Matters of Re­ligion, to hinder your Vniting in the Great and Common Concern of the Nation. This one thing alone, if duly thought of and practis'd, will make our British State Impregnable, and en­able us to defy all our Enemies. Many a­mong us are to foolish as to think that they [Page 254] must not join with those that are of a diffe­rent Perswasion from themselves; because they disagree in some Points of Religion, therefore they must not unite in the Common Cause of the Nation; or, at least, they find they can't prevail with themselves to do it Unanimously and Chearfully. This very thing may prove our Ruin, and therefore I thought my self obliged to take Notice of it; and I hope I need not use many Words to convince you of the Folly and Unreasonable­ness of it. Let me be plain with you, an In­vasion will make no Difference between a Con­formist and a Dissenter; a Foreign Enemy will not distinguish between Churches and Meet­ing-Houses; Assassines and Cut-Throats will not ask whether we be of this or that Com­munion: And therefore let all of both Per­swasions jointly agree to withstand the Vio­lence and Ravage which are design'd against us all indifferently. This is the Course we must take, unless we would have the Enemies roar in our Congregations, and set up their En­signs for signs, viz. of Victory. And to this purpose let us remember that we are All of us Embark'd in the same Vessel, we Espouse the same Common Interest, we profess the same Holy Religion, and we are Candidates of the same Eternal Happiness. Wherefore let us twist all our Interests together: Let us in this Critical Season make no distinction between [Page 256] the different Denominations of Sober Prote­stants that are among us. When we are to ingage the Publick Enemy, let us make no nice Detachments, but go with All our Forces. Let us freely mingle with all that abhor the designs of Rome and France. Let there be a Free, an Universal Commerce, without any Stop, any Imbargo. In short, let us take all Persons into our Embraces that love the Re­formed Religion and their Country.

As for our Disagreement in some Religious Matters, that should not hinder us from join­ing together, for there are several Points re­lating to Religion in which we shall never all concur (and truly I am of Opinion it was not intended we should) till that Blessed Time predicted in Rev. xi. 15. be accom­plish'd. Phil. iii. 16. Nevertheless, as the Apostle speaks, whereunto we have already attain'd, let us walk by the same Rule, let us mind the same Things. I will be bold to say, if the fourteenth Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans were read over once and again with serious and hearty Pray­er, it would end all our disputes about Indifferent matters in Religion, and put a period to all our Divisions about them. Contesting Parties would thence effectu­ally learn to lay aside Censuring and Iudg­ing one another, and to sacrifice their Pri­vate Opinions and Sentiments, yea their [Page 257] greatest Heats and Passions, to the Com­mon Good and Edification. Let this be con­scientiously Practis'd by us, and then we cannot miscarry. Let us not contend with Fierceness and Eagerness for any thing but the Indispensable Concerns of Religion and a Holy Life. Lay aside your nice Cri­ticisms, stand not upon Punctilio's, be not religiously Pedantick or Morose. Away with fond Disputes which engender no­thing but Strife: And let us in good ear­nest study the plain way of Salvation by Iesus Christ; let us mind the Unquestion­able and Practical matters of Christianity, where there is sure Footing, and a firm Basis to build upon. Let us mind these in good earnest, and then our varying from some of our Brethren in lesser Concerns of Religion, in some Points of Discipline, or Circumstances of Worship, will not hinder our friendly Conjunction with them in those Publick Enterprizes which are for the Safety of us all, and for the Pre­servation of the Protestant Religion, which I hope we all (without any reserve or hesitation) center in.

This therefore is the thing which I hum­bly offer, that the Interests of all Parties may become One in this present Juncture, that all Hands may be employ'd in this Great Work, that there may be an Uni­versal [Page 258] Concurrence in the Cause which we have undertaken. And this is the Way to unite us more intimately among our selves for the future, and to lay the Foun­dation of a Profound and Lasting Peace: For when we join together against the Com­mon Adversary, surely we shall learn to be friendly among one another. The rea­son of this, I think, is as clear and cer­tain as any Demonstration, and therefore there is no need of urging it. Let us with united Hearts and Hands endeavour to stem the Fury of the Great Oppressors and Ravagers of Christendom, and not so much as think of any of our Particular Differen­ces so long as this General Concern requires our Thoughts and Assistance.

Suffer me to speak to you in a very plain and familiar way: Suppose some great City or Town were on Fire, do you ap­prehend that that would be a fit time for the Inhabitants, who are concern'd in that Calamity, to come forth and busy them­selves only in renewing their former Grud­ges, and repeating the little Contests which had heretofore been among the Neighbour­hood, whilst in the mean time they are unmindful of using the proper means for [...]opping the Raging Flames, and hindring their furious Advance towards their Dwel­lings? Just such is the Folly and Stupi­dity [Page 259] of those Persons who stand contending and wrangling with one another, and revive their former Debates at a time when there is a General Conflagration in the World, at a time when we are threatn'd by the Great Boutefeues the Tremendous Firebrands abroad at a time when there is so great a Number of Incendiaries at home, striving to put us all in­to a Combustion, at a time when our Divisions are like to prove most Successful to our Ene­mies.

Let us then all be Exhorted this Day to Christian Agreement. Let us hence­forth become perfect Vnisons, and let no Jarring be found amongst us. Let us wear off our former Roughnesses, and become Smooth, even and gentle, heartily com­plying with one another, breathing no­thing but Love and Peace, that thereby we may be a Happy and a Prosperous Nation, and that Glory may dwell in our Land. Though the Antient Britains (as Tacitus truly observ'd of them) were gi­ven to Faction and making of Parties, yet let it not be said that the same Ge­nius yet possesses this Nation. Let us shew that we have the true Spirits of English Men by being more Manly and Generous. Let us detest and avoid those ill Men who are forward rather to lay open the Ma­ladies of the Church and State than to ap­ply a Cure; who are more desirous to in­crease [Page 260] our Diseases than to make use of a Remedy: Who would continually raise Commotions and Distractions amongst us, and put us all into Flames: A most mis­chievous sort of Men, that are born to Trouble, Plague and Embarass their Coun­try; who, if you will give them Footing, (as he of old required) will shake the Earth, and move the World out of its place: A generation of Men that would involve three Kingdoms in Blood and Slaughter merely to indulge their groundless Hu­mour, and to satisfy their own Lusts and Bigotry. Let us shew our selves to be of an other Temper by endeavouring to Cor­respond with one another both in our Sentiments and Affections: And where we cannot wholly agree in the former, let us perfectly accord in the latter. And let us know this assuredly that we can rea­sonably expect nothing but Confusion till we be all touch'd with the same Magne­tism of Love and Charity, and so point the same Way, and turn to the same Coast, and till we conspire in one General and Unanimous pursuance of the same Cause. Then (and not before that time) the Ca­tholick Interest and Benefit of these King­doms will, through the Blessing of the Al­mighty, be advanced; then this Island may enjoy many Halcyon Days, and be [Page 261] Crown'd with an undisturbed Quiet and Repose.

What need I say more? Having spok­en to Wise and Understanding Persons, I think I have said enough: And therefore I have only this now in the Close to de­sire of you, that you would seriously Re­flect upon what I have offer'd to you al­ready, and that you would put it in Pra­ctice before it be too late. It is high time now to turn our Spears into Pruning­hooks, and burn the Chariots in the Fire: It is high time to do this whether we consult our Duty or our Safety. There­fore let me beseech you to betake your [...]elves to this Work: Agree in the un­questionable and general Maxims of Peace: And particularly agree to defend your Religion and your Country against the Attempts of Rome: Agree to defeat the Projects and withstand the force of the Great Apollyon abroad; Agree to ba [...]fle the Designs of all those who any ways promote or favour the Interest of that Unwearied and Merciless Disturber of the Peace of Christendom: In brief, Agree to keep those Horrid Dangers and Mischiefs at a distance from you which were so near you of late: Which you can never do unless you be at Peace among your selves.

[Page 262] I request you then by all that is Sa­cred, Religious and Venerable to compose your selves into a quiet Posture, to purge out your sower Ferments, to forget your former Animosities and Oppositions. I most Passionately beg of you that you would not repeat your former Iustings and Tiltings against one another, that you would think no more of your unkind Re­flections and Rallyings, that you would Cancel your Philippicks and Invectives, and burn all your Pasquils. Now, if ever, be prevail'd with to bestow your Pardons and Indulgences on one another; for this will be the best Iubilee for procuring our Peace. Now, if ever, forget not to pull down your Rams of Battery, to cease your Cannonading one another, to give check to your former Hostilities, and to lay a­side all your Warlike Weapons. If you must needs Strive, Strive and Contend for the Faith once deliver'd to the Saints, strive to assert and maintain the Necessary and Fundamental Articles of Christianity, which of late are so much Corrupted and Per­verted: Strive to excel and surpass one another in real Acts of Religion and Ho­liness: Strive who shall be most Exem­plary and Eminent in Virtue and Piety. In a Word, Strive to transcribe the Ex­cellent Institution of the Blessed Iesus into [Page 263] your Lives and Manners, and to be Doers of the Word (of this particularly which hath been deliver'd to you at present) and not Hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

And now that all our Animosities may be lay'd aside, our Divisions healed, and Uni­on among our selves (which I have been pressing you unto) may be promoted and effected, let us make our Addresses to the God of Peace in that excellent Form of Prayer composed by my Lords the Bishops, for one of our late Fasts.

O God the Father of our Lord Iesus Christ our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace, look down in much Pity and Compassion up­on this Church and Nation, stir up, we beseech thee, every Soul among us, to cast forth the ac­cursed thing, to root out of our Hearts all Pride, and all Wrath and Bitterness, all unjust Preju­dice and causeless Iealousie, all Hatred and Ma­lice, and desire of Revenge, and whatsoever may hinder us from discerning the things that belong unto our Peace. And by the power of thy holy Spi­rit do thou dispose all our Hearts to such meekness of Wisdom, lowliness of Mind, Patience, Gentle­ness, and long-suffering, and forbearance of one another in Love, and such Honour and Reverence of those whom thou hast set over us, as becomes the Sons of Peace, that so the God [Page 264] of Peace may be with us. Give us grace, O Lord, seriously to lay to heart the great Dangers we are in, by our unhappy Divisi­ons, and the great Obligations which lie upon us to godly Vnion and Concord: That as there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one Hope of our Calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all; so we may hence­forth be all of one Heart and of one Soul, united in one holy Bond of Truth and Peace, of Faith and Charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee, O Lord; who with thy Fa­ther and holy Spirit, livest and reignest, o [...] God, world without end. Amen.

The Use and Abuse of APPAREL.
In Two Sermons, occasi­on'd by the present Ex­cess in that kind.

1 TIM. II. 8, 9.‘I will that Women adorn themselves in modest Apparel, with Shame-faced­ness and Sobriety: Not with broi­dered Hair, or Gold, or Pearls, or costly Aray.’

IF you impartially view the general Practice of this Age, you cannot but look upon these Words as one of the most Seasonable Portions of Scripture, that can be offer'd to your Consideration. For, among the many Follies and Vices, which prevail amongst us; the indulging [Page 258] of an Extravagant Way of Attire, is not the least. Wherefore, I reckon it part of my Office and Function, to chastise this Reigning Excess; and in order to the Re­forming of it (if I may be so happy, as to Influence upon any of you, by this Dis­course) I will undertake these Three Things;

  • I. To shew the True and Proper Vse of Apparel.
  • II. To discover the Abuse of it, and to let you see how it becomes Unlawful, and Vitious, and unworthy of sober and modest Christians.
  • III. To make some Practical Deductions from these Things, and to disswade you from that Excess, which is now grown so Common, by setting before you the Evils and Mischiefs of it, which you will find to be so great and so many, that I hope you will be prevail'd with to abandon that undue Practice.

There is a fourfold Vse or Design of Ap­parel. The First, whereof is to hide, a [...]d shrowd our Nakedness: For though in t [...]e State of Innocency, when the Image of God shined bright in the Soul of Man, the very Nakedness of his Body was Beauty; nor needed he any other Covering than his Original Integrity and Righteousness; [Page 259] with God had adorn'd him; yet, when he offended against Heaven, and defaced the Image of his Maker, and became a guil­ty Creature, he was ashamed of the Naked­ness of his Body, and accordingly made himself a Garment of Fig-leaves, 3 Gen. 7. Afterwards God himself was pleas'd to in­struct him, how to make a more substantial and solid sort of Cloathing, viz. Coats of Skins, v. 21. i.e. of the Skins or Hides of Beasts. And ever afterwards, among the Civilized Nations of the World, Garments have been in use for the same End that they were at first; that is, for Modesty sake. About the Middle of the Fourteenth Cen­tury, there arose an Heretical sort of Peo­ple, call'd Adamites, who gain'd that Name, because they imitated Adam's Nakedness in Paradice; for they contended, that since the Restauration wrought by Christ, the Pristine Nakedness should be resumed; and Men and Women being now reduced to the Primitive State of Innocency, ought to go without Cloathing. But this silly Sect, who divested themselves of Sobriety and Reason, before they stript themselves of their Apparel, were justly exploded by wise and sober Men, and their Practice vo­ted to be unlawful, because the Fall hath left a great Depravity in Men; and the best of them are not perfectly healed of it: So that we now have the like Reason to be a­shamed [Page 260] of our Nakedness, that our first Pa­rents had to be of theirs, and consequent­ly we have need of a Covering, as they had.

Secondly, Garments are for Distinction sake. Different Habits are not only for the differencing of the Sexes (and therefore the Old Testament makes the promiscuous Use of Men and Womens Apparel unlawful) but for making a Discrimination between the Qualities or Ranks of Persons. According­ly in all Ages, (except the very first, when there were but few People in the World, and there was not such an occasion for dis­criminating of Persons from one another) the Qualities of Men were distinguish'd by their respective Garbs. Not only Kings and Queens were differenc'd from their Subjects by their Royal Apparel, 6 Est. 8. but there were Vestures proper and peculiar to other Or­ders and Dignities, Offices and Degrees of Men, 1 Sam. 18. 4. 1 Iob 20. 4 Lam. 5. 15 Luk. 22. 16. 19. Ioseph refus'd not to wear Pharaoh's Ring, that he put upon his Hand, nor to be aray'd in Vestures of fine Linnen, and to wear a Gold Chain about his Neck, 41 Gen. 42. Mordecai and Daniel were cloath'd with rich and stately Orna­ments, suitable to the Degree they were advanc'd to, 8 Esth. 15. 5 Dan. 29. We read of precious Cloaths, or, according to the Hebrew, Cloaths of Freedom, 27 Ezek. [Page 261] 20. i.e. such Garments as became free and ingenuous Men, such as those of the better Quality were cloath'd with. Among the old Romans, the Rank of Persons was known by their Habits: The Purple Embroi­der'd Vesture, with large Studs, like broad Nail's Heads (thence call'd Laticlavia) was used only by the Senators and Noblemen. Divers kinds of Shooes were worn at Rome, according to the different Quality of the Inhabitants: And the like Distinction of Garbs hath been among All Nations. When our Saviour tells us, That they who wear soft Rayment are in Kings Houses, 11 Mat. 8. he doth not condemn the Use of rich and goodly Attire (which are meant by Soft Ray­ment) but he intimates this Distinction, which I am now speaking of: And so it is as much as if he had said, By their Habit you may know them to be Courtiers. He allows Men to be attir'd according to their Place and Degree: Christianity doth not disrobe Men of their Distinctive Garments: For this was one Design of Apparel, viz. To discri­minate between Persons of an higher, and a lower Degree. Yea, we read, that the immediate Ministers of Religion among the Iews, were according to God's Command distinguish'd from the People, by a peculi­ar Manner of Garb: Which was imitated by others afterwards, and would, it is like­ly, have been practis'd by the Apostles; and [Page 262] first Ecclesiastical Persons in the Christian Church, if their Conspicuousness of the Cloathing would not have made them too much known to their Enemies, and so would have been unsuitable to those Times of Per­secution.

Thirdly, Garments are for Defence and Protection: Those Primitive Ones of Skins (not dress'd, but raw, it is likely) serv'd for this Purpose also; for they were so worn, that they were not only cool in Sum­mer, but warm in Winter (for it is not to be doubted, that the Year had its Vicissi­tudes then.) I say it is probable, these Skins were a Cool sort of Garment, viz. when they wore the plain and smooth side next them, and they were warm when the other side, i.e. the Wool or Hair were worn in­wards. It is certain, that one principal Use of Cloaths hath been to shelter Persons from the Injury and Inclemency of the Weather: For which Reason it becomes a great Act of Charity, to cloath the Poor and Naked; and therefore is so often men­tion'd in Scripture. And hence we read, that upon the Death of that Religious Wo­man Dorcas, her pious Female Friends dis­play'd the Ensigns of her Charity (as well as good House-wifery) viz. The Coats and Gar­ments which she made whilst she was with them, 9 Acts 29. For this, without doubt, relates to the good Works and Alms Deeds, which [Page 263] she did, v. 36. Such is generally the frail Constitution of our Bodies, that they want some Defence; and therefore Apparel is useful to this Purpose: This not only keeps out the Cold, but keeps in the Heat, the inward Warmth, and vital Heat. And e­ven in excessive hot Climates, some sort of Rayment is requisite to be a Guard from the Scorching Sun. Thus on the Account of Necessi [...]y, as well as Modesty and Di­stinction, Cloathing is serviceable to us.

Fourthly, It is for Decency and Orna­ment: Though this be not one of the chief Ends and Uses of it, yet it may be reckon'd among the rest; as it is by those who compiled our Homilies. If we consider (say* they) the End and Purpose whereunto Almighty God hath ordained his Creatures, we shall easily perceive, that he alloweth us Appa­rel, not only for Necessity's sake, but also for an honest Comeliness. It may be observ'd, that there are Extreams in this Matter of Ap­parel; some are too effeminate and delicate in their Attire, others are too neglectful and sordid. ‘Pastillos Rufillus olet, Gorgonius hircum.’ The one is too much Perfumed, the other is Rank and Fetid: These are faulty in a dif­ferent Manner, but one is as blameable as [Page 264] the other. There is a Middle Way between these two, and that is most eligible, viz. a Graceful and Comely Attire, that is neither Lavish nor Loathsome. An utter neglect of Apparel is certainly very culpable; especially to place Religion in it, and to think (as some Monks and Retired Devotionists do) it is acceptable to God to put on a coarse Habit, or to go in rags and tatters, to be patch'd and clouted, and to wear old and torn Gar­ments; nay, to be nasty and sordid, to be unclean and filthy in their Cloathing, is intolerably ridiculous. Reason and Reli­gion forbid this, and more especially Chri­stianity, which dictates Purity, not only of Soul but Body. In this double Sense, the Spouse of Christ may be said, to be arayed in fine Linnen, clean and white, 19. Rev. 8. There can be no doubt, tha [...] a Neatness or Comeliness of Attire, is allowable and com­mendable, if we consider, that there is a lawful Use of the Creatures, not only for the Supply of our Necessities, but likewise for Ornament and Decency, according to that Degree and Order wherein God hath plac'd us in the World. There are (as you may observe) several Things created that are not absolutely necessary in the Life of Man, and yet you can't deny, that they were designed for some use, God having made nothing in vain. God hath given not only Bread to strengthen Man's Heart, [Page 265] but Wine to make it glad, and Oyl to make his Face to shine, 104 Psal. 15. to add an Ornament and Lustre to his Countenance, as well as to gratifie the Sence of Smelling with its sweet Odour. And the like Boun­ty and Indulgence he hath shew'd to Man­kind, with Respect to their Rayment. He hath bestow'd several Things to administer to Beauty and Comeliness, to the Graceful­ness of their Cloathing; as Gold, Silver, Pearls, Diamonds, and other precious Stones, fine Linnen, Silk, &c.

Indeed, the World it self hath its Name among the Greeks from its Ornate and Comely Make, its beautiful and rich Dress: Where-ever we look, it is gay and trim, and shews a Bravery worthy of its Maker. The Heavens are deck'd and garnish'd with the Stars, as with so many glittering and sparkling Gems, besides that great flaming Ruby the Sun, Which out-shines them all. The Sea is embelish'd with the richest Pearls: The Earth is furnish'd and enrich'd with its precious Stones and Minerals. Who can sufficiently admire the Gaiety of its Herbs and Plants? Their very Leaves have a peculiar Trimming; they are with great Curiosity notch'd indented, engrail'd, scal­lopp'd, laced, fringed, adorn'd with most elegant Figures: But especially, the Bravery of Flowers invites and gluts our Sight: The Richness of their Native Cloathing is [Page 266] wonderful and amazing: In respect of which our Saviour tells us, That even So­lomon in all his Glory was not arayed like one of these. Among Brutes there are many that are remarkable for their Gorgeous Trappings, wherewith Nature hath set them forth, especially several of the Feather'd Animals are noted for the Variety of Co­lours, in which they are dressed.

And if God thus decketh the Irrational, and even Inanimate Creatures, surely he hath not forgot Man. No: In making him such he hath sufficiently adorn'd and beautified him; for his Soul is the bright­est Image of the Deity, and the admirable Structure of his Body hath all the Marks of Divine Art and Wisdom upon it: And must this Rich Jewel be sordidly used? May not this Choicest Creature be decently arayed? If God hath given it this Natural Decking, shall an Artificial one be unlaw­ful? If you may adorn your Houses, and deck your Chambers, and trim up your Closets, why may not you do so to your selves? For here I may say as our Saviour in another Case,* Are not ye much better than they? The Scripture Records acquaint us, that there were some innocent Orna­ments used heretofore, and that by the Re­ligious and Vertuous. It is St. Austin's [Page 267] Observation upon Abraham's presenting Re­becca with Ear-Rings (for so he under­stands the Word Nesem) and Bracelets, and her accepting of them, that it is lawful to use these and the like Ornaments; for o­therwise, the Holy Patriarch would not have sent them to her, and she being a vertuous Maid would not have receiv'd them, and worn them, as we read she did, for his sake. And from other Places of the Old Testament, we may infer, That these were the most universal and innocent Piece of Finery, and that of all Ornaments they were the most Ancient. Ioseph, who was the Beloved of his Father, was distin­guish'd from the Rest of his Brethren, by a better sort of Apparel, a Coat of many Co­lours, 37 Gen. 3. a Garment wrought or embroider'd with sundry sorts of Figures, either of Flowers or Fruit, or both, and these set out with different Colours.

Nor do the Laws of the Christian Religi­on prohibit the Use of decent Ornaments, if there be no Inordinacy in the procuring or wearing of them. I could observe to you, that our Saviour himself refused not to use the Borders and Fringes, which were at that time in Fashion among the Iews, and even among the Pharisees: He wore these at the Bottom of his Garment; as we may gather from 6 Mark 56. where we read, that they besought him in behalf of [Page 268] the Diseased, that they were brought to him, That they might touch, if it were but the Border of his Garment. And in 8 Luk. 44. we read, that a Woman came and touch'd the Border of his Garment. [...] is the Word, and it properly signifies a Fringe, as Beza Notes upon the Place; and this is the very Word that is used in 23 Mat. 5. where our Saviour blames the Pharisees, for enlarging the Borders of their Garments; but though he check'd them for their Su­perstition in so doing, yet he complied with the Garb so far, as it was harmless and lawful. The Apostle asserts, that there is a [...], a Decorum, a Comeliness to be observ'd by Christians in their Dress, 1 Cor. 11. 13. A Bishop must be [...], Ornatus, according to the vulgar Latin, 1 Tim. 3. 2. He must not be sordid and squalid; but he must do things even as to his out­ward Deportment and Habit, which be­come his Place and Function. Christianity is not altogether neglectful of the outward Mien and Attire: There is a Decency which may be lawfully observ'd in our External Cloathing; for this may be used not on­ly as a Cover for our Nakedness, and a Shelter from the Cold, and as a Badge of Distinction (as you have heard before) but likewise for Comeliness and Ornament.

[Page 269] But is not this repugnant to the Prohibi­tion of St. Paul in the Text, That Women should not adorn themselves with Gold or Pearls, or costly Aray? 1 Tim. 2. 9. And what is said to one Sex is said to another; for if the wearing of Gold or Pearls be un­lawful in Women, it is so in Men. And is not what I have said contradictory to that parallel Place of St. Peter, 1 Epist. Chap. 3. Ver. 4. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the Hair, and of wearing of Gold, or of putting on of Apparel: Which seems to disallow of; yea, wholly to condemn the wearing of all Or­namental Attire.

It is true, the Quakers have understood this and the fore-going Text, thus, and ac­cordingly have cried out against all Orna­ments of Gold and Silver, or of any other Nature: Yea, they have pretended, that by Vertue of these Texts, they are authorized to leave neither Lace nor Ribband upon their Cloaths, but to wear plain Garments, without Welt or Gard; though (to con­vince the World, that they did not believe themselves, when they made this Comment on these Texts) they have lately contra­dicted this in their Practice. This was, it seems an old Conceit, and prevail'd among the Montanists: Whence it was that* Ter­tullian [Page 270] was infected with this Enthusiastick Notion: He holds, that it is unlawful for a Christian to be adorn'd with Purple or Gold, or to wear any other Things of the like Nature. This was the Result of mis­interpreting these Places of Scripture, which (if we examine the true Meaning of them) will be found to give no Allowance to the casting off of all Ornaments: Nay, my Text plainly disallows it; for, I will, [...]aith the Apostle, that Women adorn themselves; and he tells us further how they may be adorn'd, [...], in habitu ornato, vulgar Latin an Attire, that hath some Decency and Comeliness in it, for so the Word [...] imports. Here, then they are not only forbid to be sordid in their Apparel, but here is a Licence given them to adorn themselves. The next Words therefore cannot denote the utter Unlawfulness of adorning themselves with Gold and Pearls, and the like.

But what then is the true Sense of these Words, That Women must not adorn them­selves with broided, or braided Hair (for so it should be read, and the other was the Mistake of the Printer, which ought to be corrected in our Bibles) nor with Gold or Pearls, or costly Aray? I answer, the Apostle here (as is very usual in other Places of Scripture) seems to speak in an absolute Manner, though what he saith is to be un­derstood [Page 271] (as he meant it) in a limited one. Thus it is our Saviour's Injunction, or Pro­hibition rather, When thou makest a Dinner or a Supper, call not thy Friends, nor thy Brethren, neither thy Kinsmen, nor thy rich Neighbours, 14 Luk. 12. where Christ seems to condemn all Feasts, unless those where the Poor are invited; and consequently, no man is permitted to entertain any at his Table but these: But who sees not, that the Words are not to be taken absolutely, but in a restrain and comparative Sense? Christ doth not forbid us to invite our Friends and Relatives, but he would teach us this Lesson, that we must rather do Good to the Poor and Needy, and such as can never recompence us, then shew our Kindness and Friendship to those that are Rich, and able to do us the like Office of Friendship. We may lawfully entertain our Friends and Neighbours, though they be not poor; for Christ himself was present at such a Feast; by the same Token, that when they want­ed Wine, he was pleas'd to supply them with it by a Miracle: But we are to prefer Charity toward the Poor, before our Feast­ing of our Friends. Our Entertainments, which are meerly for Friendship and Socie­ty, must give way to necessary and indi­spensable Acts of Piety and Charity. So here, in the Case before us, the Adorning of the Body with comely Apparel must [Page 272] yield to a higher and nobler Adorning, viz. That of the Soul, with Modesty and Sobrie­ty, which are here mention'd; yea, we must wholly neglect the one in comparison of the other: And so, that other Text, viz. of St. Peter is to be understood; not as if all outward Adorning were sinful, for you see, that putting on of Apparel (in that place) is mention'd no less then wearing of Gold; and consequently all Apparel should be for­bidden here, as well as wearing of Gold, if the Apostle's Words were to be under­stood absolutely.

Therefore it is evident, that we must take them in a Comparative Sense, as that Place in St. Luke, before mention'd, and as that other, in 6 Mat. 19. Lay not up for your selves Treasures upon Earth. Not that it is sinful to lay up in store against a Time of Need; not that it is unlawful to treasure up Earthly Riches; but the Meaning is, we must not look upon Riches as our best and only Treasure, and set our Hearts upon them. It is like that of the Apostle, 1 Tim. 6. 17. Charge them that are Rich in this World, that they trust not in uncertain Riches; that they rely not so upon these, as to o­mit trusting in God. You may have Wealth; that is not forbid, but you are forbid to be so Careful and Solicitous about it, as to neglect the True Riches: Nay, you are commanded in these Words, to neglect [Page 273] the former in respect of the latter. So here, you may put on Apparel, you may adorn your outward Man: but then you must be careful above all to deck your Souls. Your chief and principal Ornament must be (as it follows in that place) the hidden man of the heart, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. This must be your great and main Concern: and the other kind of Adorning must be esteemed as nothing in respect of this. This is the plain meaning of the Apostle. He doth not in a rude manner ri [...]le and rend asunder all the Or­namental Attire of that Sex, he doth not tell us that all Bodily Decking, is vitious under the Gospel, and unworthy of Chri­stian Men and Women, but he only pre­fers the Spiritual Adorning before it, and warns us to avoid all Excess in the for­mer.

But do you encourage us, you will say, to conform our selves to the vain guise of the World, and to comply with every Idle Fashion and Dress that comes up? Do you intend by this Discourse (at the entrance of which you undertook to chastise, and, if it were possible to reform the Abuse of Apparel) to justifie the Scandalous Excess, which is now generally practis'd? I an­swer, there is an Innocent, and there is al­so a Vitious Complying with the customs of the place we live in, and with the per­sons [Page 274] we converse with as to this matter, which we are now speaking of. The for­mer we may safely submit to, because what is innocent is blameless. Thus I observ'd before, that our Saviour condescended to the Garb of his Country-men. And in o­ther things he shew'd himself no Morose and Refractory person: he disdain'd not the use of the Odoriferous Oyntment, which was then much in use at all Great Enter­tainments, Mark 14. 3. Luke 7. 38. Iohn 2. 12. 3. And he would not have used that language to the Person whose Guest he was at that time, Mine head with Oyl thou didst not anoint, if he had not thought it lawful to use it, Luke 7. 46. He also con­form'd to the Iewish custom of Discumbi­ture, i.e. lying with their bodies stretch'd out upon beds at their feasts and times of solemn Eating, though it was not the An­cient and Primitive posture at meals, but arose first from Effeminacy and Luxury, but was now by a long custom grown into a laudable, at least an innocent practice, and was complied with as such by our Saviour himself, and his Apostles, and the most re­ligious People of that Country.

This teaches us what our behaviour should be in respect of Indifferent Modes of Apparel, and such are in themselves harmless; though they are not of any An­cient standing, but are lately brought up. [Page 275] Nay, though they are used by others to pride and wantonness, yet if they be in themselves innocent, and we are resolved to use them innocently, I cannot see how they become unlawful. To instance in Borrowed Hair, which is now so much in use: it is not to be doubted, that it is a very Vitious sort of Attire in too many per­sons, because they had no sufficient occasi­on to part with their own hair, and conse­quently no need of wearing another's: but vanity and pride moved them to do it, and these are the principles which make them still retain this practice. But as this sort of Covering for the head may be used, and is by some, it is innocent and useful, and the ends of wearing it are good and lawful. If our fore-fathers had known the way of making it, I question not but they would have used it. One Age invents what ano­ther knew not, as Printing, Guns, and se­veral other things: Shall therefore these be unlawful because they were not known be­fore? They used Caps one upon another heretofore: but Hair to supply the defect of hair is most proper. Every Age pro­duces new Habits, which at first seem strange and uncouth, because persons are not used to them. Some weak and scrupulous per­sons think that every New Fashion or Mode of Apparel, that was not heard of in our fore-fathers days, is unlawful: but this is [Page 276] a great mistake, and if they pursue it, they must run back to the primitive Coats of Skins, which at first were worn raw and undress'd, before the Fellmongers and Tan­ners Trades began to peep out. These were the first Apparel of our Fore-fathers, yea, and of the softer Sex.

These things I say, that we may have a right apprehension concerning this matter, and that we may not conceit that no Attire is commendable but what can plead Anti­quity: as if it were absolutely necessary that there should be now (as in former times) in every considerable family a Standing Wardrobe. And these things I say, that we may have a true and just notion concerning the Ornamental part of Cloathing; that with that wise and pious Father* we may not be too hasty in censuring and condemning of it, seeing we do not find it condemned by the Scripture, or by virtue of any Arguments that can be brought thence. But though the thing it self be lawful, and may by the conduct of Prudence be harmlesly made use of, yet it is certain, that nothing hath been and is at this day more Abused. And there­fore, that you may not mistake me, and from what I have said be incouraged to fol­low the wild practice of this Degenerate [Page 277] Age, which is scandalous for its Extrava­gancy in Attire, I will now in the next place proceed (and 'tis high time to do so, lest you should draw false Inferences from what I have said) to shew you wherein this Excess doth consist, and in what respects persons may be truly said to behave them­selves Vitiously in this matter. As I have asserted the Lawful and Innocent use of Decent and Graceful Apparel, so now I will discover the gross Abuses which gene­rally accompany the wearing of Apparel. I will distinctly mention the particular Ex­travagancies and Inordinacies, which ren­der the Habits of persons unlawful, and which were never more Visible and Con­spicuous than in these Licentious Times.

1. To be Curious and Solicitous about Apparel, and to Affect New Modes of Dressing are a very evil disposition of mind, and unbecoming the Sobriety of a Christi­an. There were a kind of Ornaments used by the Iewish Dames, which are called, Batte hanephesh, houses of the soul, Isa. 3. 20. What particular species of Finery these were, is difficult to tell, but these terms may be fitly applied to all the other kinds of female habiliments, which are mentioned in that Chapter, and so to all the other sorts of Garniture, which are in fashion at this day: they are generally houses and receptacles of the Soul, they that wear them set their hearts [Page 278] upon them, and by this means they become sinful and unlawful. This is the fault of the greatest number of the Fine people of this Age: it may be plainly discern'd, that their minds are set upon their Georgeous Attire; their great delight and pleasure is in Genteel and Fashionable Apparel. All their thoughts are to be Neat and Spruce, to be Polite and Trim: nay, they are not con­tent with ordinary Gaiety, but they must be Superfine: they strive to be Exquisite, and care for none but a Studied Dress. The Chan­ging of Fashions so frequently as is done a­mong some persons, is generally the effect of this Vanity: for they who are thus dis­posed affect Novelties, and are taken with every light and vain, every idle and fan­tastick thing, so it be new. 'Tis said of Nero and Heliogabalus, that they never wore the same Garment twice. Those whose Purses will not suffer them to arrive to this, yet are well-willers to the practice, and would be imitating it as near as they can. There are some of no extraordinary figure that think a Good Suit is antiquated before half of a Summer is expired: and there are others that reckon the Months of the Year by their Change of Rayment. Heretofore this very rank of persons were wont to leave off their Cloaths because they were worn out, but now they do it meerly because they are out of fashion.

[Page 279] Where this vain humour prevails, it causes them to look after Foreign and Exatick Modes of Finery. What was the Iews fault of old, is theirs now, they please themselves in the children of Strangers, Isa. 2. 6. They affect and ape their Manners, which hath of late been very Ominous, and had like to have prov'd destructive. They, like those whom the Prophet Zephaniah reproves, love to be cloathed with strange apparel, Ch. 1. v. 8. What is domestick pleases not; but their minds run after Outlandish and far-fetch'd Dresses. And indeed generally they are ta­ken with These most of all: and even whilst they are at War with a Country, they are in a League with their Fashions. Or if they can't be supplied fast enough from abroad, they then set their own In­ventions on work, or are very earnest with others at home to befriend them in that kind. And truly, they cannot Oblige them more than by presenting them with some New-invented Garbs, and such as were ne­ver known before. All this shews how Solicitous they are about their Attire and Aray, how mightily concern'd they are for their Tricking and Bravery. Which is a perfect contradicting and confronting our Saviour's Counsel, Take no thought what ye shall put on, Mat. 6. 25. And again, Why take ye thought for Rayment? v. 28. and further, Take no thought, saying, wherewithal [Page 280] shall we be cloathed? v. 31. As much as [...]o say, Let not your Adoring (though it be in it self decen [...] [...] lawful) be the chief thing which takes up your minds, let it not be the grand business you concern your selves in, and busie your thoughts about: for this is unworthy of a Rational Crea­ture, and much more of those that profess the Strictest Religion: it is the mark of a Beau rather than a Christian.

2. Another Instance of the Inordinacy of Apparel, is, when it is unsuitable to the Condition of the persons that wear it. Thus, though an Extravagant Finery be unlawful in both Sexes, yet it is much more so in a man. For him to be fantastick and effemi­nate in Attire is unpardonable. It is next to Sardanapalus's Spinning among women. Art thou not ashamed, when Nature hath made thee a Man, to make they self a Woman? * said the Grave Philosopher to a young Gentleman who he saw finely trick'd up, and dress'd in too gay and light an habit. And Seneca justly takes notice of this as an inexcusable folly in some of the Manly Sex, that they were of such an effeminate temper and genius, ‘That they would rather [Page 281] have the Commonwealth out of order than their Hair: they were more solici­tous about trimming and sprucing up their Heads than they were of their own Health, or of the Safety of the Publick: they were more careful to be Fine than to be Honest and Vertuous.’ This the Moralist upbraids them with as a reproach to their Masculine nature, and a very defa­cing of their Manhood. Again, Apparel becomes unlawful by being unsuitable to the Years of those who wear it: for there is a Decorum belonging to Age as well as Sex. Those Garments are unfitting for Men of years, which were not unbecoming them when they were youthful. And so how unseemly is it for Matrons not to be clad according to their Age, but to affect the florid dressings and polishings of those of green years? Of the aged women more especially the Apostle requires, that they be * in habit (for so we may render it) as be­comes holiness, Tit. 2. 3. Though Excess in Habit be very blameable in Youth, yet it is much worse in those of declining years, because it is supposed, that they should by this time be brought to a Sense of the World's Vanity, and should be apprehen­sive, that they are more nearly approaching to the Grave, and therefore should be [Page 282] dressing their Souls for eternity. Wherefore the famous Presbyter of Carthage * rebukes these persons very smartly, because the Ex­cess is more inexcusable in them than in any others.

Moreover, then the Attire may deserved­ly be condemned as Inordinate, when it is not according to the Station and Office, the Calling and Employment of the person. Thus when a Magistrate wears the Habit of a mean Citizen, or much more, if out of A­varice and baseness of Spirit he delights to appear in sordid rayment, wholly unan­swerable to the dignity of his Place, he offends in a very visible manner. And on the other hand (which is the more general and common fault) if those that are of a low degree assume the garb and habit which are proper to those that are in an Eminent Station, they act very irregularly and viti­ously. For, to use the words of the Poet, Non quicunque capit saturatas murice vestes.’ Every one (for that is the meaning of his quicunque) is not to wear Purple and Scar­let, [Page 283] to put on the Vesture and Garb of such as are in High places. And so when Ser­vants presume to be dress'd after the rate of their Masters and Mistresses, it is a very scandalous Enormity, and not to be tolera­ted in a Civil, much less in a Christian Commonwealth. For, as hath been said before, Garments are for Distinction: but this promiscuous and levelling use of them takes it away, and brings in disorder and confusion. This is, as Seneca speaks, per­versa vestis, an untoward cross Attire, such a Habit as is no ways befitting. Therefore we may entertain it as a True Proposition, that that manner of Cloathing is faulty, and justly blameable, which is unbecoming the Place or Station wherein persons are set.

And so is that, in the next place, which is not according to their Estates and Abili­ties; that Dress which exceeds the propor­tion of their Incomes. We need not doubt, that that Apparel which is too Chargeable and Costly is unlawful. Whence it was, that the fore-mention'd Moralist checks the Roman Ladies, and other Women of his time for their Prodigality of this nature; he complains how intolerably Expensive their perforated Ears were, (for as he wit­tily remonstrates against them) there were seen dangling at them whole Islands and Towns. And the Ancient Fathers of the [Page 284] Church were as smart against the Christian Women, that were guilty of this Profuse Vanity.* Their tender Necks carry whole Woods and Islands, saith Tertullian, and their wasteful Pride swells the Debt-Book. On one string of Pearl hang the Prices of Mannors and Lordships, saith St. Ierome. And this is the fault, yea (which is the Aggravation of it) the Common fault of this present Age. The Luxury of Apparel is such, that they are enclined to lay out the greatest portion of their Revenues in the supplying of this: they are prone to waste and consume their Estates in changing of Fashions; and they would (if they might be permitted) weae whole Kingdoms on their backs. And even others, who are of a mean sort, and cannot afford in any point to be Lavish, yet here shew how willing they are to be so. They will not let their Purse be their Director, but vainly aspire to the Ornaments of the Rich and Weal­thy. This is the Epidemick folly of these Times, which runs counter to all Reason, Modesty and Decorum, and is an Extrava­gance, which was never known in former Ages to have climb'd to that heighth, which it is now arrived to. Such persons must be plainly told, that their Rayment must [Page 285] not surpass their ability, that it doth not become those who can scarcely find bread for their mouths to hang Gold in their ears. This certainly is part of that costly aray which is forbid by the Apostle in the Text. To conclude this Head, every ones Attire should be according to their Condition: and this Condition (as you have heard) respects either the Sex, or the Age, or the Calling, or lastly, the Estate and Fortune of persons. Whatever Habit is disagree­able to these is not an Ornament, but a Blemish, a Deformity, a Disgrace.

3. That Habit is justly to be censured and condemned, which is a Badge of Pride. Thus in the third Chapter of Isaiah, where the Finery of the Iewish Women is disallow­ed of and threatned; it is said, The daugh­ters of Sion are haughty, their inward Pride and Elation of mind were discover'd by their outward Garb and Guise, by their de­licate Trappings and Accoutrements, by their setting themselves forth with all that Spruce Tackle and Trimming. This Vanity argues their Pride and Haughtiness on a threefold account.

First, Some use this Profuse Adorning to make a shew of their Wealth and Ability. They would have the world make an esti­mate of the greatness of their Fortunes by the bravery of their Habit. By these Gor­geous Ensigns they cail men to take notice [Page 282] [...] [Page 283] [...] [Page 284] [...] [Page 285] [...] [Page 286] of, and admire their Plentiful Revenues, and applaud them for their Prosperity. We need not be backward in asserting, that if their Appareling themselves proceeds meer­ly from this Ostentation, it is to be con­demned.

Secondly, The Pride of Apparel is disco­ver'd in its being purposely design'd to gain Respect and Honour; and that they and their Garniture may be Reverenc'd by those that see it. For this sort of Pride is quite starv'd and stifled if there be no Spectators. But then by these I mean Themselves as well as Others: and accordingly there are too many that make this division of their Time, viz. they employ the Morning in looking on Themselves, and the rest of the day in being seen of others. And thence they first become their own Admirers and Ado­rers, and then perswade themselves, that others pay the same Respect to them be­cause of their Rich Pageantry, wherewith they outshine them. For they are so foolish as to imagine, that their Splendid Dress gives a real worth and excellency to them, and that they are to be preferr'd before o­thers, because they surpass them in their Goodly Aray. It is not to be doubted that this is Pride, and one of the worst kinds of it. Can a Rational Person be proud of that which was the effect of the Primitive Apostacy? Sin brought in Shame, and [Page 287] Shame introduced Cloathing: so that to take a Pride in this is to glory in our shame. Wherefore the Advice of the Wise Iew should take place here, Boast not of thy cloathing and rayment, Eccles. 11. 4. Be­sides, the Beasts generally supply us with our Rayment; and one would think there is little reason to be proud of the Cast Suits of the very basest Creatures, as a* Worthy Person expresses it. Who can deny that Necessity and Defect have been the original of some of the most Fashionable Habits? The Roman Senate could not have voted Iulius Caesar an higher Favour, than the wearing of the Lawrel perpetually, but he promoted it himself, because being Bald he was glad of such a Covering. The Turkish Turbant commenc'd from Mahomet's Scald Head. And some tell us, that a certain Ha­bit, which was in such repute in Queen Elizabeth's day, was first brought up to hide an Excrescence which blemish'd her fair Neck. And if we should search into the rise of some of the most Modish Ha­bits among our Women at this day, perhaps we should find them to be of a more scandalous nature, and it would ap­pear, that some French Prostitutes have gi­ven birth to our most Celebrated Fashi­ons, and that our Dames are but the [Page 288] humble Imitators of the Worst of their Sex.

Or, to speak more generally, can that person be proud of Cloaths who considers what they cover? As the Philosopher of old, told the people that stood gazing on the Stately and Sumptuous Tomb of Mau­solus, All this Pompous Fabrick which you [...]ee, contains nothing in it but Dust; so it may be said of the Goodliest and Richest Vestures, They are a Covering only for Dust and Ashes, they contain in them Cor­ruptible Materials design'd for the Grave and Putrefaction. If notwithstanding this, they can value themselves for their Dress and Garb, for their precious and gaudy E­quipments, and can admire the Beauty of a Painted Sepulchre; especially if they do not only think themselves to be really bet­ter than others, because of their Handsom Trimming, but despise and scorn those that are meanly clad, this may be justly be call'd Folly as well as Pride.

It might be added in the third Place, that the Haughtiness of those who are Extrava­gant in their Garb is seen in this, that here­by they confound that Order which God hath set, they take away that Distinction of persons, and of their qualities which is ap­pointed in the world, and they are for making all alike. This Vain Inordinacy is an argument of their Lofty and Ambitious [Page 289] Spirit, it shews that they affect Grandeur, and would be as high as the Greatest; for the Levelling Equality, which they they are now for, is to make way for that. Thus their Habit is a certain indication of Pride.

And yet here I must adjoyn this (that I may not be partial in what I say) There may be Pride (as Plato told Diogenes) un­der Mean Apparel. The Cynicks generally took a pride in their cropt and circumcised Hair: and so the Stoicks shaved their heads close, and valued themselves upon it. And and at this day perhaps some may be proud of their Unborrow'd Hair, because a con­trary practise is so much in use. There may be those that refuse to comply with the Ha­bits that are in Vogue, meerly out of a Su­perstitious Singularity. And consequently, their keeping the Old Fashion may be a mark of their Pride; for this Vice acts its part in Different and seemingly Contrary Shapes.

But that which I mention'd before is its most usual guise; that is, it affects a Flaunt­ing and Gorgeous Attire, it struts in its Rich Caparisons, it makes a goodly shew in its Delicate Vestures, in its Elegant and Polished Aray. Ornaments become vitious, though not so in themselves, by being spot­ted with Pride and Vanity, and a Haugh­ty Mind. The man with a gold ring, in good­ly [Page 290] apparel, is not condemned by St. Iames, for wearing that Garb, but his being over­prized by others, as well as by himself, for his Gay Cloathing is the thing that is con­demned, Iam. 2. 2, 3. If a woman were as 'twere cloathed with the Sun, (to borrow that expression) were all shining and bright, were most richly deck'd according to her place and quality, yet if she had (with the Apocalyptick woman) the moon under her feet, if she had a mean and low opinion of this Changeable World, if she were of great Humility and Condescenti­on, and were attired with the Ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, she would be so far from incurring our censure, that she would desire the highest praises that we can heap upon her, especially in such an Age as this, when Bravery of Habit is generally the pro­duct as well as the sign of a Proud Mind. And this is it which renders it both Unbe­coming and Sinful.

There are Other Particulars behind, with the Reflections on the whole, but I have not time now to pursue them. Only let me dis­miss you with this one Request, That you would seriously recollect what hath been said, and examine, and judge of your selves by it. I have set you the Right Measures (as I conceive) which relate to Apparel and Ornaments; and I pray God direct you in your practise, that you may do nothing [Page 291] unworthy of your Profession and high Calling. The Sum of all that hath been said at present, is this, If you be Over­careful and Sollicitous about your Bodily Att [...]re and Ornaments; or if you delight in that Garb, which is disagreeable to your Condition and quality; or if you make your Dress subservient to Pride and Haughtiness, and a Contempt of others, you may cer­tainly conclude, that you are guilty of a very great and heinous Offence, which re­quires speedy Repentance and Reforma­tion.

The Use and Abuse of APPAREL.

1 TIM. II. 8, 9.‘I will that Women adorn themselves in modest Apparel, with Shame-faced­ness and Sobriety: Not with broi­dered Hair, or Gold, or Pearls, or costly Aray.’

AFTER I had in a former Dis­course on these Words shewed what is the true Use and Design of Apparel, and had establish'd the right meaning of the Apostle's Words, and had asserted the Lawfulness of a Come­ly and Decent Habit, I proceeded in the next place to lay open the Common Fault and Miscarriage of These Times, viz. that Inordinacy and Excess which render the At­tire and Garb of most persons unlawful. This I did in three Particulars; and now I will mention two more.

[Page 276] The First whereof is this, viz. That Ap­parel is Vitious, that Adorning is Sinful which administers any ways to Wantonness and Lewdness. Lust is too frequently the root of Excess in Attire. There is an Im­modest Habit, which is design'd by those that wear it to be an Invitation to Unchast practises. There was of old the Attire of an Harlot, Prov. 7. 10. We read, that Ta­mar, who prostituted her self to whore­dom, was known by this Apparel, viz. a * Veil, for there was a Harlot's Veil, as well as that used by Brides and Honest Wo­men. Among the Ancient Greeks the Pro­stitutes were distinguish'd from other wo­men by their Garments: the Law was, that they should wear Florid Vests. Whence that of Clement of Alexandria, * As a Fugitive is known by his Marks, so a Strumpet by her Flower'd Habit. Among the Romans also there was a Distinction between women of ill fame, and those that were Modest as to their Dress, particularly as to the wear­ing of their Hair and Head-Attire. The Hair, which I may call a Natural Apparel, was heretofore not only made use of to [Page 294] Pride (whence* [...] is as much as Super­bire, because they took a pride in Nourish­ing their hair, and in artificially dressing and adorning it) but it became serviceable to Wanton purposes, it was made an In­centive to Lewdness. It is probable, that the Fair Absalom let his Hair grow to a great length before he cut it, not only because of his Vow as a Nazarite(as a Learned Writer thinks) but out of Pride and Wan­tonness, to render himself the more accep­table and grateful to the Hebrew Ladies, and to win the Hearts of the vainly disposed Females. And these again were not behind hand in the same ill arts and designs, for (as we are inform'd by the Prophet Isaiah (Ch. 3. v. 24.) they were much concern'd for their Maasheh Miksheh, their Well-set Hair, set so fast and made up so firmly that it resembled some solid piece of work­manship of massie gold.

This Wanton Curiosity and Effeminacy have been the Excess of all Ages, for it may be as truly said of them as of Samson, that their Strength is in their Locks, they found these a very powerful and charming Alle­ctive: [Page 295] and the Vain Amorists were wont to extol these to the Skies, yea to place them there, whence Berenice's Hair was made an Asterism. They were wont to spend a great deal of time (as both Greek and Latin Writers relate) in beautifying and garnishing this Excrementitious Orna­ment, and they used much Art in changing its Colour. To which our Saviour perhaps alludes, Mat. 5. 36. Thou canst not make one Hair white or black. But afterwards their great care was to die their hair Red or Yellow. Tertullian tells us, that to this end the women used to colour their hair with Saffron. And, with reference to this usage, St. Ierome forbids them,* to paint their Hair red, and give it the colour of Hell fire. This was practis'd even by the Christi­an women, and that not because our Savi­our and the Virgin Mary had hair enclining to red or yellow, as I remember Nice­phorus relates, but (as we may gather from the Pious Fathers, who smartly reproved this usage) because it was the Mode of the Times, and because that Colour was then esteemed as Alluring and Tempting. The short is, neither this nor any other Artifi­cial Ornament relating to the Dress and At­tire of Persons, which any ways conduces [Page 296] to Effeminacy and Lust is to be approved of: for we are to remember, that Garments were for Modesty sake at first: and 'tis cer­tain, that they still ought to be used to that purpose, and therefore all Immodesty and Lasciviousness in Apparel are to be shunn'd, and a Wanton Garb is to be reckon'd un­lawful.

In the next and last place, so is that which is any ways prejudicial to Religion and Devotion, and the concerns of them. And first, that Habit must needs prove such which is unsuitable to the time and place of Divine Worship. It is the undue practice of this Age, that they never more exceed in their Gay Deckings than when they are to appear in God's Presence. Upon This Day especially they muster up all their Bra­very, and shew themselves in all their Change of Rayment, which they think is some part of the Observing of the Lord's day. It is true, this is a Holy Festival, and there­fore a Decent Habit becomes it: but it is contrary to the pious design of this Solem­nity, to come into God's House to shew your Finery, and to display all your Gaiety, to invite Spectators, and to distract your own and others thoughts. This is not to be allow'd of in the Congregations of the Faithful. And if St. Paul were permitted to descend from the Mansions above, and to speak to you from this place, he would [Page 297] certainly reprove you, as he did his Corin­thians, for your Indecent Behaviour and Garb in the Publick Assemblies, 1 Cor. 11. 4, &c. where he uses this Particular Argu­ment to engage the women not to appear with Uncover'd heads in the time of Di­vine Worship, viz. because of the Angels. As much as to say, Those Glorious Mes­sengers, those Ministring Spirits, which are generally present at the Solemn Meetings of the Christian Worshippers, take notice of their outward carriage and deportment, and particularly of their Garments and Dress. And do you believe this (as you needs must if you give credit to the A­postle) and yet can you with your Staring Attire outface the very Angels, yea, and the Infernal Spirits too, for some of this sort may perhaps be tempted to come hi­ther, and behold a Sight so agreeable to them.

I appeal to those of you that have not lost all sense of good and evil, whether you can think and really perswade your selves, that such an Extravagant Furniture as some of you are set up with, is fitting for this Place where you now are, and to the Sacred business you are employ'd about. Can any of you that are sober and conside­rate, serious and religious, think that this is a Garb agreeable to this occasion? Do you look like those that are offering your [Page 298] Petitions to the Almighty, and come hi­ther to attend to his Voice? Is it acceptable to look Heaven in the face with a Spotted visage? Can you perswade your selves, that this Vanity and Pride become True Wor­shippers? I know what some of your Con­sciences dictate to you upon this Appeal which I make to you. They tell you, and that plainly and loudly, that this posture which some of you are in is no ways suit­able to the present Work you come hither to be engag'd in. Your Natural Reasons inform you, that you are not fit to Pray, and to Hear the Word of God, i.e. with any fervency and devotion. Your own hearts tell some of you, that you look more like Revellers than Devotionists, that you are fitter for the Theatre than a Temple, that a Play-house becomes you far better than a Church, and that a Comedy would be a more acceptable entertainment than a Ser­mon. But I hope that some of you, who attend to what I say, will find the benefit of this latter, and will from this instant, date your serious Reflections on your for­mer miscarriages in this kind that I have been speaking of, that you will be through­ly convinced, that there is a great diffe­rence between God's House and your own, that that which may be tolerated in the lat­ter is wholly unbecoming the former, that you ought to shew that Gravity, Serious­ness [Page 299] and Composedness of Spirit here, which are not always required of you in another place. And from a sense of this, I hope you will be induced to be more Cautious in your Habit on this Solemn day than on another. Let me desire you, that you would not come hither with all your Pa­geantry, Shew not your Pride here, where you ought to be most Humble. Or, if I cannot prevail with you so far, if you must needs come with all your Towering Gal­lentry, let me perswade you to bring with you at the same time, that modest Veil or Covering, to put over some part of it, which the1 Cor. 11. 6. Apostle ad­vised his Corinthians to make use of in the time of Religious Worship in the Publick Assemblies.

And further, I would Caution you, that upon days of Fasting and Humiliation you would wholly lay aside your Gaudy Dress. It is fitting at such a time you should lour your Top-sails, and strike your Flags. I do not wish you to turn them into sackcloth and ashes: that may favour of the Old Testament Dispensation too much: but I only wish you to leave off your Superfluous Ornaments at such a season: and methinks there should be no need of urging this upon you, seeing it is absurd for Mourners to put on Gay and Gorgeous Apparel. In this time of War and Publick Disturbance these are very unfit­ting [Page 300] and unsuitable. One would think you intended to ridicule our Martial Affairs with your Mock-Head-Pieces. Some of you per­haps may entertain these things with a Smile, and when you leave this Place im­prove it into something more; but; let me tell you, you have little reason to behave your selves thus; and you must needs acknow­ledge it your selves, when you consider, that you are oblig'd to come hither (on such serious and important Occasions) to Humble your selves before God, and con­sequently to behave your selves Reverently and Modestly, and to abandon all lightness and vanity in your Attire: yea, that Garb which is lawful or tolerable at some other times is not to be allow'd of now.

Again, that Attiring and Decking must needs be prejudicial to Religion which take up too much of your Time. If you rightly understand what Christianity is, you can­not but know that you have a great deal of Business upon your hands: there is abun­dance of Work to be dispatch'd by you, and you have but a little (some of you especial­ly but a very little) time to dispatch it in: wherefore Excess and Pride of Apparel, which are always accompanied with great * loss of Time, and are known to be great wasters of your precious Hours, are an un­sufferable [Page 301] impediment to Religion. I am satisfied, that there is none here of a sober and stayed mind, but will relish what I have said, and therefore I need not enlarge on this Particular.

Moreover, there is nothing takes, the mind off from Serious Thoughts so much as the Vanity of Attire. Those that are ad­dicted to this, trouble not their heads with the Concerns of an higher nature. The Great Work of Dressing is their Main Employ­ment. To be Gay, Modish and Trim, to be Fine, Brave and Splendid, is that which engrosses all their Care and Solicitude: and thereby they are rendred unfit for the Ser­vice of God, and all Religious Exercise. They banish the thoughts of their present Duty, and of Death and Judgment to come, of another World after this. Thus you see on what accounts the Habit which persons wear may be a hindrance to Religion and Piety. And when it is so, we are sure that it becomes Sinful and Unlawful. Though it may seem to adorn the body, it is the blemish of the Soul, and the deformity of the whole man.

And now, having more generally dis­play'd the nature of that Excess, which I undertook to give you an account of, and having shew'd the Unlawfulness of it, I [Page 302] now desire you to make some Reflections upon what I have said. For it is certain, that we live in an Age that is egregiously Criminal as to this very thing. Most of the Ornamental part of men and womens Apparel is at this day unlawful, i. e. ei­ther as it proceeds from Vain Curiosity and Affectation of Novelty, or as it is a Badge of Pride and Vain-glory, or as it admini­sters to Lust and Wantonness, or as it ex­ceeds the Condition and Quality of those that wear it. As to this last especially, the Disorder among us is unsufferable, and ut­terly disagreeable to the laws of Reason, Prudence and Religion. These things I plainly and impartially set before you: and let me not be accounted your Enemy because I tell you the truth; and that with great free­dom and sincerity. And herein I follow the example of the Greatest Lights in the Christian Church. The two Chief Apostles thought it part of their Ministerial Office to rebuke their female Converts for the Im­modesty and Vanity of their Head-Attire, in my Text, and in 1 Pet. 3. 3. And we shall find that the Pious Fathers and Bi­shops of the Christian Church afterwards e­steem'd it their indispensable duty to take notice of the like disorder, and to repri­mand it with great severity. Paedagog. l. 3. cap. 2. & 11. Clement of Alexandria with much ardency inveighs a­gainst [Page 303] the Gaiety and Vain Adorning used by the women in his time. Tertullian in two of his Treatises pursues the same sub­ject, in the* former disswading the wo­men from Rich and Gorgeous Appa­rel; in the latter declaming against False Hair and Painting, and such like wanton usages, which shew (as he saith) that they were displeas'd with God's Workmanship, and endeavour'd to mend it, but it was in a very ill way, for they made use of the Arts and Inventions of the Evil Spirit. From St. Cyprian's Discourse of the Discipline and Habits of Virgins, it appears, that some of the Christian women were very immo­dest and profuse in their Attire in those days; but that Holy Bishop reprehends them with a Gravity and austerity, which became his Sacred Function.* St. Chryso­stom was a sharp Reprover of the extrava­gant Garb and antick Dresses of that Sex. And those Religious Fathers, Basil the Great, and St. Austin remonstrated against the same Excess. The like did St. Ierom, who par­ticularly animadverts on the High Top­pings of their Head-Attire. For it seems they were then guilty of the rampant folly [Page 300] [...] [Page 301] [...] [Page 302] [...] [Page 303] [...] [Page 304] of this Age: they did (as he words it) Turritum verticem struere, Build and rear up their heads in the shape of High Turrets and Pinnacles. It was the fashion to erect here a stately Pile of Ornaments: to which, that of Iuvenal refers,

Tot adhuc compagibus altem
Aedificat caput.—

for he speaks it of the Women of those days. These are call'd, Turrita capita, by Festus and Varro. This Mounting Head­gear is call'd by Lucan, Turrita corona, be­cause of its Soaring-Altitude; and the ground it is built upon is stiled by him, Turrita frons.

This is the Daring Pride which reigns a­mong our very ordinary Women at this day. All their Rigging is nothing worth without this wagging Top-Mast. They think themselves highly advanc'd by this Climbing Fore-top: and in defiance of our Saviour's words, endeavour as it were to add a cubit to their stature. With their Exalted Heads they do as 'twere attempt a Superiority over Mankind. Nay, these Ba­bel-builders seem with their Lofty Towers to threaten the Skies, and even to defie* [Page 305] Heaven itself. But we must not suffer them to go uncontroul'd, if we will imitate the Religious Writers and Preachers of the first Christian Ages (some of whom were Martyrs and Confessors) yea, if we will fol­low the example of our own Pious Refor­mers in this Nation, who with great plain­ness and freedom rebuked this Vice in their time, as theAgainst Ex­cess of Appa­rel. Ho­milies on this subject testifie, and particularly that passage in one of them, The proud and haughty Sto­machs of the daughters of England are so maintain'd with divers disguised sorts of cost­ly apparel, that there is left no difference be­tween an honest Matron and a common Strum­pet. If this was truly and honestly spoken, and commanded to be publish'd in those times, surely it may with as much truth, honesty and faithfulness be proclaim'd in ours. Nay, indeed, I do not see how a Preacher can be faithful, unless he dis­charges this part. He must openly declare his dislike of this Indecent Garb, he must give a check to this Ranting and Gaudy Attire.

And it would be well for England, if the Magistrates would give it another check, if the Civil (as well as the Spiritual) Pow­ers would shew their abhorrence of it. And herein truly they would imitate the practise of the Ancientest Law-givers and [Page 306] Wisest Governours. We are Suidas in vocabulo [...]. inform'd, that there were Officers appointed hereto­fore at Athens, to oversee the Apparel of the people, that it might be modest, grave and comely, and where they found a default to punish the offenders: and more especially, they had a sort of O­verseers who took care of the Attire of Women. There was a Sumptuary Law made by Numa Pompilius, to reform the Excess in Garments, which was among the Old Romans. And among these people af­terwards it was order'd, that all persons and their qualities should be distinguish'd by their Habits. Our Ancestors likewise did not forget to retrench the Vanity and Disorder, which they observ'd in Cloath­ing: thus in King Edward the Third's time an Act was made, to appoint every degree of persons the Vesture they should wear: and Great and Eminent persons only were: permitted to wear Gold, Silver, Silk, Furs, &c. King Edward the Fourth cor­rected the extravagancy of the people, as­signing a particular sort of Habit to every rank and order, yea, determining the very fashion of their Shooes. And as there were Laws and Statues of this nature before the Reformation, so there have been Homilies since publish'd by Royal Authority against the same Excess. And Queen Elizabeth, who [Page 307] was wont to be Gorgeous and Splendid in her Dress her self, took care in her 23d year to repress by Proclamation this growing Vanity in those of a lower de­gree.

It is high time now to undertake it a­gain, seeing it of so great a Growth. And what though herein we tread in the Steps of the present Pope? Our being Protestants will not excuse us from imitating him, yea, it rather pushes us on to do some Greater and more Eminent thing of this sort, to com­pel all persons to use a modest and decent way of Araying themselves, and more e­specially to restrain and regulate that Sum­ptuousness of Habit, which those of a lower degree (and consequently the greatest num­bers of persons) are guilty of. For, though it is true, they had notorious exorbitancies heretofore in this Nation, as to the matter of Apparel, yet they were not Vniversal, as they are now. Those of the middle and of the inferior rank are the greatest Trans­gressors at this day: for they are run even into that heighth of Bravery, which is al­lowable only in those of the highest de­gree. Heretofore it was said,Mat. 11. 8. They that wear soft Cloathing (or as it express'd inLuk. 7. 25. ano­ther Evangelist) they that are gorgeously apparell'd are in Kings houses: but now the Excess is such, that they are to [Page 308] be found almost in every house. It was said of Tyre, Ezek. Her mer­chants are Kings, but it may as truly be pronounc'd of England, that her Ordinary men and women are Kings and Queens, they appear in the Garb of such persons. Nay, the Apparel which hereto­fore was thought fit for Crown'd Heads and Princes is now despis'd by the Vulgar. This is a very deplorable consideration, and may justifie the most severe Reproof that can be given of these disorders among us. Wherefore I hope I shall not be thought to be Rigid and Censorious in what I have suggested to you. I hope you will bear with my Freedom, which is now become so Seasonable and so Necessary, when we see that the Inordinacy, which I have been discoursing of, is come to so great an heighth.

What then is your proper duty in such circumstances? How are you to behave your selves? The Answer is obvious, viz. It is your Concern to detest and avoid the Epidemick Vanity and Excess of this Age. For though there is a lawful and harmless use of Ornaments (as I have before asserted and made good) and this is freely granted to those who are capable of it, yet it is e­vident, that the use of them is generally perverted, and they are made by most per­sons serviceable (as you have heard) to Va­nity, [Page 309] Wantonness and Pride. As among the Latins, the word cultus is both worship and ornament, so in our English practice Decking is too much Prized and even Ado­red. Too many, like the Israelites, make a God an Idol of their Ear-rings; they deifie, they idolize their Finery and Gol­den Habiliments. Wherefore seeing there is this great Abuse of them, you ought to be very Cautious how you use them. One of the Worthies of the Primitive Church hath well express'd himself thus, [...]. Clem. Alex▪ Paedag. l. 3. c. 11. ‘The wearing of Gold, and the using of Soft Rayment are not wholly to be laid aside: but this we must do, we must bridle the Affections which are void of Reason, lest they carry us away to an Effeminate and Luxurious way of living.’ His meaning is, we should look to our Minds whilst we attire our Bodies: we must moderate and suppress our inward desires and inclinati­ons, whilst we cloath our outward man. And then we shall not affect curiosity and vanity in our Rayment; we shall not set our hearts on any sort of Attire, but we shall reckon it a thing wholly Indifferent. We shall learn in this matter to deny our selves, and not to make use of all our Li­berty, [Page 310] and to go to the Utmost of what we think to be lawful. Endeavour by all means to arrive to this, and to be p [...]rswa­ded, that in the case of Ap­parel Feltham's Resolves. Good is better than the Best, as One Phrases it, that a moderate kind of Aray is to be pre­ferr'd before that which is Rich and Gau­dy. Remember that you have solemnly engaged to forsake the Vanities of this wicked world; and you cannot but know that In­decent Attire, Superfluity and Excess in Habit are of that number.

Wherefore if you cannot reach the Per­fection, which Gregory Nazianzen saith his Sister Gorgonia was Mistress of, viz. * to esteem a Plain Habit, and the Neglect of Ornaments to be your Beauty, yet know, that Ornaments must always be used spa­ringly, and that sometimes (viz. when Publick Distresses and Common Calamities are our allotment) they must not be used at all. The Ladies of Carthage cut off their Hair, in a great necessity, to serve instead of Cords and such like Tackle, for Engines of War. Yea, we have Ancienter and more Authentick Examples than this in the Sacred Records. The Israelites did the like for Religion, which these women did [Page 311] for their Country; for we read, that they offer'd their Bracelets and Ear-rings and Iewels of Gold for the use of the Tabernacle, Exod. 35. 22. And at another time the women offer'd their Looking-glasses for the same service: they bestow'd their Mirrors of polish'd Brass, to make a Laver for the Temple, Exod. 38. 8. As before their Or­naments serv'd to Religion, so now their Speculums, wherein they used to behold their Finery, are made use of to the same purpose. The sum is, your Gaiety must always vail to your Devotion: you must look upon that as a mean and inconsidera­ble thing in respect of this: and you must with all care and resolution shun a Vanity which hath nothing at all to commend it, but is attended with many and great E­vils.

To this purpose, let me offer these fol­lowing particulars to your consideration.

1. This is a Childish and Foolish Vice, especially in a Man, and argues great Weak­ness and Shallowness of judgment. For it is here as it is in Heraldry, those Scutcheons and Coats of Armoury that have the most Colours are generally the less Honourable. According to the true and impartial esti­mate of things, a great Variety and Pro­fuseness of Ornaments are badges of Dis­grace and Dishonour, and they proclaim the Emptiness and Vanity of those that [Page 312] wear them and delight in them. Such per­sons for the most part (for I do not speak Universally, because here and there a Man of a Brave mind may be incident to some particular Vanity) such, I say, are most commonly men of little or no worth: here­in resembling Tulips, and some others of the finest and most beautiful Flowers, which are very useless and unprofitable Vegetables in the life of man. Wherefore, to prize our selves or others for our Outside, for our Dress is a sign of a weak and light mind: it is an argument of a vulgar and common Spirit. Thus Herod Agrippa (whom you read of Acts 12.) was call'd and e­steem'd as a God by the silly people for the brave Shining Suit which he wore, saith * Ioseph the Iew. They are the words of a Judicious Man, The Vanity of loving fine Cloaths and new Fashions, and valuing our selves by them, is (saith he) one of the most Childish pieces of folly that can be. Or, if there be any exception against this Cita­tion, as if it were taken from one who had some inclination to the other Excess (as I find he is partly charg'd) then hear what is said by another, a Noble and a Gallant Person, the Great and Learned Sir W. Ra­leigh, whose testimony is unexceptionable, because he was conversant with Courts and [Page 313] Bravery, and bore a great part of this him­self. Yet this is his brief determination in the case,* No man is esteemed for Gay Gar­ments but by Fools and Women. This may seem to be somewhat sharp and severe, but you cannot disallow it, if you remember, that it was the result of his deliberate and studied thoughts. He was sensible (and the more because of the Experiment he had made himself) that Light and Vain Apparel doth most commonly shew the Soul to be such, that much Ornament is too frequent­ly an indication that the Heart is pleas'd with Painted Vanities, that the person can entertain himself with Butter-flies, and that he can fall in love with the gaudy tinctures of a Peacock's Tail.

2. This is an Excess that is Troublesome, as well as Foolish. A Good man would find himself over-burden'd under the Pomp of Apparel: he would think himself clog­ged with the multiplicity of Attire. A mo­dest and sober woman would esteem it a very Irksom Employment, to bear about her all the Ornamental Implements of the vainer sort of that Sex. She would count it more than Atlas's work, to sustain such a Weight. This was the sense of the Sober and Wise Men of old, as we may gather from what Clement of Alexandria saith on [Page 314] this occasion,* I cannot but wonder, saith he, that they are not tired, whilst they carry such a Burden. And Tertullian hath words to the same purpose concerning the Pon­derous and Tedious Ornaments of his time, which he stiles Impediments. And it ap­pears from what Seneca saith in one of his Epistles, that this was the usual* Name they had in his days, and that very justly. Con­formably to which it was said of a Great Lady, that She labour'd under the load of her Finery. In short, it is not to be questi­on'd, that there are some Fashionable parts of Attire, which are in themselves a Tor­ment; and would be really thought to be so by them that wear them if they were compelled to it. Then we should hear them complain and cry out against their now applauded Aray, and it would fit as unea­sily on them as the Tunica molesta.

3. This Extravagance is the nurse of Idleness. For it is not a Working Habit which they wear, but calculated only for Holidays and Festivals. Besides, their per­petual [Page 315] Pranking and Decking themselves, and minding those things which appertain to it take up their Time, and they scarce have leisure for any serious business. And further, this Pride which they nourish will not suffer them to bestir themselves, and set about any laborious employment. We read therefore that Pride and abundance of Idle­ness met together in Sodom, Ezek. 16. 49. Thus their immoderate love of Delicate Cloathing is an advancer of Sloath and La­ziness.

4. It is usually attended with Luxury. Their Eating and Drinking are answerable to their Garments. The Dining-room and the Dressing-Chamber hold correspondence with one another. It is true, we may ob­serve that it is not always thus; there are some Fashion-mongers who half starve themselves to feed their Pride: they flaunt it in Cloaths, but are very poor Eaters, not that they are not willing to indulge their Palates, but only because their Incomes will not afford it. They can't purchase provision for their backs and bellies both. That they may be lavish in their Garb, it is necessary that they cut themselves short of their Food, and fare very meanly. But generally it is otherwise, the Table bears Proportion to the Attire: the Feeding is as high and sumptuous as the Cloathing. Thus Pride and Fulness of bread are com­panions, [Page 316] Ezek. 16. 49. And (as it is represented in the Parable) the being cloath'd in purple and fine linnen, and faring delici­ously every day go together, Luk. 16. 19. That Wanton Woman who wore the Richest Pearls at her ears, drank them at last.

5. This Exorbitancy in Apparel is at­tended with Immodesty and Lewdness. For as Vain Attire arises oftentimes from Wan­tonness (according to what was said before) so it begets it. The natural Bashfulness and Reservedness of the Sex are put off when this is put on. Blushing, the Loveliest co­lour in the world, disappears when these Gay Varieties shew themselves, Now they apparently endanger themselves. and hazard their chastity. Nay, they wilfully expose it, by making their Habit the fuel of Tem­ptation, and an Incentive to Lust. They generally trim themselves, that they may be more Saleable. Dinah went out to see the daughters of the land, Gen. 34. 1. that is, saithAntiqu. l. 1. c. 19. Iose­phus, upon some great Festi­val day she went to see the Finery of the women of that Country. And I may add, it is as likely that she went to shew her Own: and we read what was the dismal Event of it. She that is extravagantly Dress'd doth thereby tell Spectators what her inclinati­ons are. Her hanging out those Flags is a sign that she is ready to Surrender. Or take [Page 317] it in the plain language of our* Homily, What other thing dost thou by this means but provoke others to tempt thee, to deceive thy soul by the bait of thy Pomp and Pride? What else dost thou but set out thy Pride, and make of the indecent apparel of thy body the De­vil's Net, to catch the souls of them that be­hold thee? In brief, a Woman by the Im­moderate Delicacy and Gaudiness of her Habit shews, that she is fitted for all vile and lewd Purposes.

Nil non permittit mulier sibi, turpe pu­tat nil
Cum virides gemmas collo circum dedit, & cum
Auribus extensis magnos commisit elenchos.

6. Vanity in Apparel is the great bane of Iustice and Charity. There are many that lay others Revenues on their backs, and run into Debt to cloath themselves in a gaudy dress. These men and women wear not their Own Cloaths, as proud as they are of them: but are fine and gay at others charges, yea of poor and mean Tradesmen sometimes, which is is an intolerable piece of Injustice. It is by their Profuseness that they put themselves out of a capacity of sa­tisfying their Creditors, and doing many [Page 318] other just and honest acts which are neces­sary to be done. But their Expensive Pride is much more an hindrance to Relieving the poor: for they can't afford to be La­vish on themselves and Liberal to the ne­cessitous. And if some of them cannot or will not pay for their Bravery, how can it be expected, that those who are in Want should partake of their Alms? If they re­fuse to be Just, what hope is there that they will be Charitable? Here we might lament how the Extravagancy of some persons Fi­nery is a hindrance to their acts of Benefi­cence. What they superfluously and vainly lay out on their Attire might serve to sup­ply some necessitous people's Nakedness. How many a poor Orphan or Widow might be cloathed, how many a poor Crea­ture in the Hospitals might be reliev'd, if the superfluous bravery of some persons did not make them uncapable of doing such a generous act? In a word, how many good deeds of Charity and Hospitality (which are so acceptable to God and man, and for which some amongst you are so Eminent and Renowned) I say, how many of these noble acts are daily lost in this Great City, upon this very account, viz. because they expend that on their Vain Decking which would afford necessary Covering for the poor? But, to proceed,

[Page 319] [...] and lastly, Let me disswade you from this Vice, by the consideration of the Fatal Consequences of it. In the third Chap­ter of Isaiah, where the Superfluous At­tire of the Sex, and those Ornaments that were abused by Pride and Wantonness are particularly enumerated, there is also added the Punishment which shall be inflicted on those proud daughters of Sion; such a Pu­nishment as answers to their Sin, And it shall come to pass that instead of sweet smell, there shall be stink; and instead of a Girdle, a rent; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty, V. 24. And because this Pride of Apparel was Epide­mical, it was to be avenged by a General Plague and De [...]olation, v. 17. and after­wards, v. 25, 26. It is observable, that Ie­rusalem's approaching Misery was set forth by a Girdle hid in the ground and marred, Ier. 13. 6, 7. which fore-signified the de­cay of their Finery (for the Girdle was a Signal part of it, and therefore you find it mention'd in the fore-nam'd Chapter of Isaiah, where the whole Wardrobe of the Sex is reckon'd up:) I say it fore-signified the utter decay of their Affected and Vain Bravery, viz. by the Captivity which was drawing near. Among the Judgments de­nounc'd against Iudah, in Zeph. 1. this is one, that God will punish all such as are [Page 320] cloathed with strange apparel, v. 8. He will se­verely animadvert on those vain persons, who out of their greedy desire of new modes of Attire, seek after those that are brought: from foreign Countries. And we find it not only thus in general, but there are Par­ticular Judgments inflicted on individual persons for this Sin which I have been dis­swading you from. Immediately before the mentioning of the singular vengeance of God upon Iezebel, viz. how Iehu's horses trod her under foot, and how the dogs de­vour'd her carkase, it is taken notice of, that she painted her face, and tired her head, 2 Kings 9. 30. i.e. she was addicted to that Vain Excess which I have been repro­ving, and you hear what was the End of her, you read what was the recompence of her Pride as well as of her other notorious enormities. In the New Testament we have Herod a remarkable Example of God's Judg­ment in the like kind. He was proud of his Bright Apparel and his Gay Oration, both which caus'd him to be ador'd by the Vul­gar who saw and heard him: and for this his prophane Insolence he was struck by an Angel from heaven, and died misera­bly.

Though there are no Instances of this sort in these our days (we being under ano­ther Oeconomy of Divine Providence) yet still the Justice of God is the same; and [Page] [Page] [Page 321] though it be not visibly and presently exe­cuted on the Sons and Daughters of Pride, yet it is always due to them, and it now conveys a real Curse along with it, and shall be consummated in Eternal Venge­ance. Their Immodest Habit, with all the Vices that are retainers to it (of which I have particularly spoken) will procure them a very severe Punishment. They, like the Beasts of old crowned with Gar­lands, are gay and trim, but it is in order to their being Sacrificed. They are A­ray'd and Bedeck'd, that they may fall a Splendid Victim to the Divine Justice. I request you to ponder this in your thoughts, that you may not be convinc'd of the Truth of it by an Experiment in your selves. Whatever apprehensions you have had of this matter heretofore, I wish you may for the future conceive aright of it. And this you cannot do, unless you be really perswaded of the intrinsick Evil of the thing, and likewise of the Certainty of that Judgment which will follow it. It is a commonly receiv'd notion among the generality of persons, that the Variety of Fashions, and the Excess of Vain Apparel, which are now so usual in this Nation, contribute much toward the advantage and welfare of it: For hereby, say they, the poor are set on work, many families are maintain'd, thousands daily get their live­lihood, [Page 322] and consequently this Vanity of Attire is for the good of the Common­wealth. If this be good Arguing, then it is equally for the Publick Good to be Drunk, and to be arrant Gluttons, and to indulge all manner of Debauchery: For hereby the Wine-Merchants and Vintners, all that sell or dress the choicest Vineyards are enrich'd, and under these a great many poor and indigent Folks are maintain'd and provided for: and therefore we may conclude, that Intemperance and Sottish­ness are Publick Benefits to the World, as well as the Inordinacy of Apparel. But how can we with any Reason defend this latter, when it hath been proved (and all that have their Eyes open cannot but see it) that this Excess brings with it Idleness, Luxury, Lewdness, and is an Enemy to Justice and Charity (the two great Props of a Nation) and therefore must needs be dis­advantageous to the Commonwealth? Hence it will follow (notwithstanding these Mens false Reasonings) that this Pride of Appa­rel is the nurse of Poverty. And there are abundant Instances to prove this. Too rich and gorgeous an Habit hath brought ma­ny a one to a Mourning Dress. Their Cost­ly Aray hath reduced them to Rags, to want and penury. And let me tell you, this will be the Publick Fate, if you do not speedily prevent it. Our Expensive [Page 323] Vanity in Attire, with the Pride and Wan­tonness and other disorders, which are its constant retinue, will be our Ruine.

This may seem to be an Harsh way of treating you from the Pulpit: but I assure you, it is such as your Condition calls for, and therefore think not these Reproofs and Menaces to be unseasonable. Though I must needs say, I had not dealt thus with you, but that I saw no other person would undertake this work. Or, if any hath at­tempted it, it is evident that their Under­taking hath proved successless. Wherefore it was requisite to urge this matter afresh, and freely to set before you your Fault and your Danger, that you may seriously reform the one, and happily avoid the o­ther. This is the grand design of my pre­sent Enterprize, and I hope it will not be altogether void of success. To which end I will conclude with an Exhortatory Ad­dress to those who are most concern'd in this Discourse, because they are generally the most Criminal.

Let it be your chief study to deck your selves with those Ornaments that embelish the Soul, and adorn the Life and Conver­sation. Put ye on the Lord Iesus Christ, as the Apostle is pleas'd to express it, Rom. 13. 14. Put on bowels of mercies, kindness, hum­bleness of mind, meekness, long-susering: and above all these put on charity, which is [Page 324] the bond of perfectness, which is as it were the rich gridle that ties all your spiritual Attire together. Col. 3. 12. More especial­ly, be exhorted in the same Apostle's Words, to adorn your selves with shamefa­cedness and sobriety; and in the language of another Apostle, Let your adorning be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, 1 Pet. 3. 3, 4. Which Words (as I told you before) do not ex­clude all Ornaments of the Body. If they exceed not Christian Modesty and Gravity, and offend not against the other Rules be­fore laid down; and (in a word) if they are not unbecoming women professing godli­ness (as the Apostle speaks, 1 Tim. 2. 10.) you may lawfully use them. But then you must be sure that you do not by means of these, or in the use of them forget and neglect the Inward and Spiritual Adorning. Nay, you must be Chiefly concern'd for this latter: for this is the sole Ornament of the Spouse of Christ, who gave himself for his Church, that he might sancti [...]ie and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a Glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish, Eph. 5. 25. &c. This is the Beauty and Finery which you are to be solicitons about: and let the Care [Page 325] which others take in beautifying and gar­nishing the Bodies remind you of a much Greater Concernedness, which you ought to shew for your Immortal Spirits.

It was a Specimen of a great Devotion and Religion in that Good Father, who one time observing a Harlot, and mind­ing how curiously she had trick'd up her self, and how elaborately she had made her self fine, stept aside and retired into his own breast, and there sharply chid himself, because he had never taken half so much care in adorning his Soul, for the entertaining of the Holy Iesus, as that vile Curtezan had done in trimming of her body for the pleasing of her lewd guests. Thus we may make the Vanity and and Sinfulness of others administer to our Pious Thoughts and Reflections. Let him who beholds the utmost gallantry and splendor of the most Polished Creature, presently turn his eyes inward, and look upon his Naked Soul, and blush at his neglect of it. How nice and exact are Vain persons in accoutring and furbish­ing themselves? And that their Bodies may not be disproportionable to their Ap­parel, what cost are they at to repair and beautifie those houses of clay? What lit­tle Arts and Methods do they use to set off themselves? They are not ashamed to [Page 326] borrow the Beauty which they boast of from a Drug or a Dark Spot. Some of them are at the trouble every day of put­ting on a New Complexion.

But be not you of the number of these Gaudy Fools: let your principal design be to beautifie your Minds, in adorning of which you cannot spend too much time, or take too much pains. To this purpose, think seriously of the Excellen­cy and Worth of your Souls, remember that this is your Better Part, and therefore you ought to be solicitous above all things to have this adorn'd with Divine Vertues and Graces. And consider likewise, that these are the only True and Valuable Orna­ments, these alone deserve that Name, be­cause they have an intrinsick worth in themselves, and convey an inward and substantial Excellency to those that have them: and (which is the highest com­mendation of them) they 1 Pe [...]. 3. 4. are in the sight of God of great price, as the Apostle informs us. These Rich Jewels and Dia­monds carry a commanding Lustre and Splendor along with them, and even sparkle in the [...]yes of Heaven. These therefore must be esteem'd by you as the True Chri­stian [...], as the Genuine Bravery, which outshines, and at the same time [Page 327] darkens and sullies all the most exquisite Embelishments of Art. And therefore these are to be infinitely preferr'd in your wishes, desires and affections before them. Lastly, These will fit you for those Shi­ning Robes of Glory, those Garments of Light and Everlasting Happiness, which you shall be cloathed with in the highest Heavens.

Christianity Mysterious. A Sermon, shewing the true Meaning and Ac­ception of the Word My­stery in Scripture: And why the Christian Religion is call'd a Mystery.
Occasioned by some late Socinian Writings, which explode all Christian My­steries.

1 TIM. III. 16.‘And without controversie great is the Mystery of Godliness.’

THAT there are Fathomless Depths in the Gospel which none can ar­rive to the full knowledge of, that there Profound Abysses in the Christi­an [Page 329] Religion which utterly surpass our con­ceptions, and are above the comprehensi­on of all Humane Reason, be it never so exalted, is a Truth as bright and manifest, as perspicuous and illustrious as the Wri­tings of the New Testament can possibly make it. Here the kingdom of heaven is compared to an hidden treasure, Mat. 13. 44. Here we read of hidden wisdom, 1 Cor. 2. 7. of the wisdom of God in a Mystery, in the same Verse, of the deep things of God, v. 10. of things hard to be understood, 2 Pet. 3. 16. of things which have not enter'd into the heart of man, 1 Cor. 2. 9. Finally, if a Mystery be a Religious Secret (as will ap­pear afterwards) then there are many My­stical things in the Gospel, and Christiani­ty it self is a Mystery, and a Great one, as the Apostle here assures us.

The Reasons of which Denomination, if we particularly enquire into, I conceive this Account may be given of it. It is sti­led so upon this double ground, 1. In way of Comparison. 2. On a Positive and Ab­solute consideration. As to the former, I will prove that the Christian Religion is a Mystery, as it may be compared with, or distinguish'd from Other Mysteries, viz. Iew­ish, Pagan, Heretical, or Antichristian.

First, It is stiled a Mystery in opposition to the Iewish Rites and Observances, which it is well known were Mystical and Ob­scure. [Page 330] The Holy of Holies it self was dark, and receiv'd no Light at all into it. The Ark was viel'd from the eyes of the peo­ple. All the Mosaick Ceremonies were My­sterious in that they signified something else; they pointed at some Greater and Hidden thing. Wherefore it is no impro­bable and groundless thought that our A­postle, who in his Epistle to the Hebrews, so often compares Christianity with, and opposes it to the Iudaick Rites, hath an eye to them here, and denominates Chri­stianity from them, telling us, that it is a Mystery, not such as was under the Mosaick Pedagogy, but a Mystery of a peculiar and a higher nature.

Besides, there were Other sorts of My­steries among the Iews; thus, though the Cabala was afterwards made up into a Bo­dy, which is now the Talmudick System, yet even in St. Paul's days, and long be­fore, the Dark and Intricate Conceits, the Mysterious Criticisms about Words and Let­ters contain'd in it, and constantly trans­mitted by Tradition, were much in vogue. So the Gematrian Art, whereby they pre­tended to shew the Numbers and Years in­cluded in certain words in Scripture, was in use among the Iewish Rabbies betimes. And further, it is not to be doubted, that the Hebrew Doctors began before the A­postle's time to turn the Old Testament in­to [Page 331] Allegories, and to offer Mystical Inter­pretations of the Bible, excluding the Li­teral one, or much to the prejudice of it. To all these perhaps the Apostle might al­lude, when he pronounces Christianity to be a Mystery, such a one as consists not of Curiosities and Niceties, much less of Mis­representations of Scripture, but is in it self both Weighty and True.

Secondly, It is a Mystery in opposition to, and defiance of the Healthen Prophane S [...] ­perstitions, which likewise were Obscure, Abstruse and Intricate. The Pagans in imitation of the Iews (for they aped them in many things) built their Temples, but especially one part of them, Dark: they had Sphinxes and Puzzling Pourtraitures be­longing to them. They hid many of their Rites and Usages from the people, lest they should be prophan'd (as they thought) by being exposed. Several of the Roman Ob­servances, which related to Religion, were known to the Priests only, and were for­bid to be discover'd, unless upon some ex­traordinary occasion, to any others. The Gentile Worshippers generally delighted in Groves and Dark Recesses: and indeed some of their Superstitious, Ceremonies were so lewd and seandalous, that they on that account forbore to make them com­mon, and to bring them to the light. These [Page 332] therefore are justly call'd,* Meretricious Mysteries by one of the Fathers, and by another, the Mysteries of Daemons, and by the former of these Writers, the Dark Inventions of Daemons. Concerning the Druid's Caesar informs us, that they thought it was absolutely unlawful to commit to * writing, or any ways to divulge to the Prophane their Mysterious doctrines. Those that were initiated into the Pagan Secrets, were obliged by a solemn Oath not to dis­cover them. Therefore Herodotus profes­ses, that he was not free to tell the Egyp­tian Mysteries, relating to their Gods, which had been communicated to him by some of their Priests, on condition that he should not reveal them to the Vulgar. It is not unlikely, that our Apostle, who in so many places alludes to Heathen Cu­stoms and Usages (as the Races among the Grecian Youth, their Wrestling and Fen [...]ing, and other Olympick Exercises) hath reference here to the Celebrated Mysteries among the Pagan Nations. And it is ob­servable that some of these were wont to [Page 333] be signally stiled by them [...], Great Mysteries. The Solemnities of the Syrian Goddess are call'd [...] by * Lucian: and so other Feasts among them were eminently call'd the Great ones, and others the Lesser. Which induced a very Learned Critick to think, that here is in the Text an allusion to those Gentile Mysteries. And so it is, as if the Apostle had said, There were Solemn Rites and Observances among the Pagans, which (as some of you know) were wont to be call'd Great; but let me tell you, the My­stery of Christianity far surpasses them all, and therefore deservedly challenges that Title.

And further, the very Morality of the Pagans was wrapt up in Mysteries. The Ancient Druids and Gymnosophists used this way of Teaching. And 'tis well known, that the Egyptians delighted to express their conceptions in Hieroglyphicks. The Greeks more especially affected to muffle up their Ethicks in Fables, Allegories, and Emblems. Particularly Pythagoras and his followers were much pleas'd with Numbers and Sym­bols. And in a word, all the Ancient way of Moralizing was by Symbolical Represen­tations, [Page 334] Parables and Mysteries. But the Apostle lets us know, that these Abstruse modes of Instruction are seldom used un­der the Gospel, that Christianity is a My­stery of another kind and way.

Thirdly, This is call'd so in opposition to some of the fond Inventions of Hereticks and Seducers in the Church. Thus Simon the Sorcerer, the Ringleader of that Or­der, had his particular Mysteries, which he had the confidence to call in a Canting way,* the Mysteries of Life, and of most perfect knowledge, as Epiphanius relates. Who also tells us, That he invented New Names and Titles of things, which were dark and obscure, and yet none could be saved, unless they learn'd these new-coyn'd Mysteries. So the followers of Basilides and Carpocrates, and other Hereticks of the First Times pre­tended to a profound and abstruse sort of knowledge, and such as the Vulgar were strangers to: and they gave themselves the Title of Gnosticks, from their insight into these High and Mysterious matters. They bragg'd (as the forenam'd Author saith) that they aspired to that which wasmore [Page 335] sublime, and more worthy of being known, than what other Men aim'd at. The Ae­ones of the Valentinians, and their [...], which they express'd in strange and bar­barous appellations, were cried up as * Great and Wonderful, and Vnutterable Mysteries, and such Sublimities as are not to be perceiv'd by sight or express'd by words. The Mysteries of the Ophitae are particular­ly mention'd and related by Epiphanius. The Sabellians pretended to some Secret Doctrines which their party had receiv'd concerning the Nature and Person of Christ. Manes and his followers the Manicheans boasted of their peculiar My­steries. And it was the constant genius and humour of several others of the suc­ceeding Hereticks to amuse men with Vain and Strange Terms, to darken the notion of things, to render the doctrines of Chri­stianity obscure, to cast a Mist before mens eyes, by making use of a wild, uncouth and unintelligible Iargon. Several of them affected Mysteries in Letters, Names, and Numbers, and thereby studied to confound mens minds with Perplexed and Abstruse [Page 336] Notions. They pretended to, and boast­ed of particular Choice Secrets, which were appropriated to themselves, and hid from all others, for they were to be com­municated only to the Wise and the Coelesti­al (as they call'd them,) but those that were Animal and Carnal were not able to pene­trate into them. In contra-distinction to these, the Apostle, who foresaw these My­sterious Cheats and Impostures in the Church, and who in 1 Tim. 6. 4. and in other places of his Epistles plainly foretold them, is pleas'd to call the Christian do­ctrines a Mystery, to signifie that they are such of a singular kind and nature.

In the last place, Christianity in its Puri­ty and Simplicity is most justly stiled a Mystery, in opposition to that which is cal­led by the same Holy Pen-man, the Myste­ry of Iniquity, 2 Thess. 2. 7. Conformably to which stile we read of Mystery, Babylon the Great, Rev. 17. 5. by which question­less is meant the Church of Rome, or the Corrupt and Idolatrous part of it at least. Yea, we are inform'd, that this very word MYSTERY is found inlay'd in plain and legible Characters within the Roman Pontif's Triple Crown. Indeed the Main of the Roman Religion is Mystery and Dis­guise. They pretend one thing, and real­ly are another. They seem to have cast off Pagan Idolatry, but yet they too appa­rently [Page 337] symbolize with it in a great part of their Worship. Heretofore they paid A­doration to Venus, and now to the Virgin Mary: of old they pray'd to False Gods, and now to Saints and Angels; before they fell down to an Idol, and now to the Cross. Thus they have given the Idola­try of Old Heathen Rome a little finer Turn: otherwise it is the same that it was. They boast of their Miracles, but they are not other than2 Thess. 2. 9. Lying wonders, a sort of Religious Legerdemain or Juggling. They at some times pretend to greater Strictness, Morti­fication and Austerity than others, but none are generally more Loose and Licen­tious. Thus there is a False and Coun­terfeit Shew of things in the Papal Consti­tution, there is an horrid Mystery of Iniqui­ty, call'd, The Mystery of the Woman and of the Beast, Rev. 5. 7. In contra-distin­ction, to which the Apostle, who by a Prophetick spirit foresaw what would come to pass, gives the name of Mystery to the True Primitive Christianity, this being in­deed such, but of quite another nature than the Superstitious and Corrupt Religi­on of the Roman Church.

But I am to give a farther and more posi­tive account of this matter; wherein I will clearly and distinctly assign the true acception and meaning of the word My­stery [Page 338] in the Writings of the New Testament, which hath of late been very much mista­ken and grosly perverted, meerly to main­tain an Opinion, which some persons think serviceable to the Cause they have espou­sed. Christianity is entitul'd, a Mystery, not only Comparatively, or in a way of Opposition to other things (as I have shew'd already) but Absolutely and Positively, be­cause it is really so in it self. Take this in these two Particulars; it is call'd a My­stery by the Apostle, because, 1. It was so. 2. Because it is so now.

First, I say, it is justly stiled a Mystery in regard of what it was heretofore. The doctrine of Christianity was hid, and shut up a long time: and to this the following Texts refer, and therefore ought to be ap­plied. Christianity is said to be a Mystery which was kept secret since the world began, Rom. 16. 25. for it is evident, that by Mystery here is not only meant the Calling of the Gentiles (as some imagine) which in­deed was Mysterious, and kept secret till Christ's Coming, but the way of the Salva­tion of men, in general, by Christ Iesus, which is the grand thing contain'd in the Gospel. That this is here to be under­stood may be gather'd from the preceding words of the Apostle, my Gospel and the preaching of Iesus Christ, which are syno­nymous with the Mystery; and from the [Page 339] subsequent words, made known to all nati­ons for the obedience of faith, where the great end or design of Christianity is ex­press'd, viz. that men may be brought to yield obedience to the divine Command­ments by believing the Gospel, for in this very form of words the Apostle had be­fore in this Epistle told them what was the design of his Apostleship, and of his preaching the Gospel, it was for obedience to the faith among all nations, Rom. 1. 5. This Faith and this Preaching of it, saith he, were a Mystery heretofore; in all those past perpetual ages, [...] (which we render since the world began) men had but a very dark Notion of these things: in all those preceding Dispensations they were scarcely thought of, for though it is true, there were constantly, through all the several Models and Administrations of Religion some Intimations of this, and Tendencies, as it were towards it, yet the notices that could be gather'd thence were but mean and obscure, and they were at the best but faint glimmerings of that Glo­rious Light, which was afterwards to break forth.

Of this the Apostle speaks again, Eph. 3. 3, 4, 5. where the Gospel is call'd, the Mystery, and the Mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men. And in ver. 9. he calls it, the My­stery [Page 340] which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God. For though the word Mystery in this place also hath a more par­ticular and special respect to that fore-nam'd Secret of the Conversion of the Gentiles (as appears from the 3, 4, 5 and 6 Verses of this Chapter) yet it is not wholly restrain­ed to this, but comprehends in it the whole Gospel-Dispensation, the Doctrine of Sal­vation and Redemption by Jesus Christ, which he calls preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ, v. 8. And then immedi­ately in the next verse he calls it a Mystery, a hidden, secret, unsearchable Mystery; that is, it was so with respect to the for­mer Times, it had been hid [...] from ages (as 'tis in the Greek) and that in God, namely according to his Eternal De­cree and Purpose. But because the Apostle applies it to the wonderful Converting and Reclaiming of the Pagan world, therefore some hence conclude, that it is not meant of the doctrine of the Gospel and of Chri­stianity it self. But they are mean Arguers that talk thus, and they discover themselves to be no Genuine Sons of Reason, for eve­ry one knows that Particulars are not in­consistent with Generals, and that one ex­cludes not the others. And besides, they shew that they are not acquainted with the Comprehensive Sense of Scripture, and have not studied the Sacred Stile, which is [Page 341] of a wonderful Latitude, and at the same time contains in it both a Singular and a Common, a Special and a General, a Re­strain'd and a Larger Meaning.

There is another Text that confirms this, Col. 1. 26. where the Evangelical Dispen­sation is call'd a Mystery, which hath been hid from ages and from generations. They palpably misinterpret these words, who ap­ply them wholly to the admitting of the Gentiles into the Church, for the word my­stery refers to the dispensation of God, i. e. the Evangelical Preaching, and the fulfil­ling of his word, viz. by the Ministry of the Gospel, in the immediately foregoing verse. These, saith the Apostle, are a My­stery, because the things which are now preach'd and proposed in the Gospel were hid from those that lived in the former ages. And though it is added, that God hath made known to his Saints the riches of the glory of this mystery, yet this is spoken Comparatively, and not Absolutely, for these riches are the unsearchable riches of Christ, as we heard before, that is, they still remain in a great measure hidden and unknown to us.

Thus in these three places it is evident▪ that the Evangelical Doctrine is call'd a Mystery chiefly in respect of the Iews and Gentiles of former ages. It was conceal'd from the one under Types and Shadows [Page 342] and Mystical Rites: it was kept secret from the other by their adhering only to Natu­ral and Philosophical Principles. In short, the first knew little of it, the second knew nothing; therefore it is deservedly call'd a Mystery. And there are no other Texts but these can be produc'd where the word mystery is mention'd, with relation to what Christianity was heretofore. It is true, when our Saviour arriv'd, it was reveal'd, and in some manner laid open; but yet not so as that it ceases to be a Mystery.

Which is the next thing I propounded, viz. that Christianity is still a Mystery. In this respect, and not with reference to what it was before, it hath this denomination in these Texts of the New Testament, which I shall now produce, and briefly glance up­on. First, our Saviour himself calls the Grand Doctrines of the Gospel, the myste­ries of the kingdom of heaven, Mat. 13. 11. where not the Parables (as some fancy) in which those Evangelical Truths were couch'd, but the Truths themselves are meant: for if it were otherwise, Christ would have call'd them Parables, and not Mysteries: but we find that he calls them by this latter name, and that in plain contra­distinction to Parables, as may be observ'd not only in this v. 11. but in 10 and 13. And this is more plain from the Parallel places in Mark 4. 11. and Luk. 8. 10. [Page 343] Those therefore that confound Parables and Mysteries here have not learn'd to distin­guish of things aright, they make no dif­ference between Comparisons or Dark Re­presentations of Spiritual things, and the Things that are Compared and Represent­ed. Parables are the former, but the my­steries of the kingdom of heaven are the lat­ter. And the reason why many of the Substantial Truths of the Gospel, or the kingdom of heaven (for in the stile of the New Testament these are the same) are thus denominated, is, because of the great Ob­scurity and Difficulty which attend them.

Again, not only our Saviour but the Great Apostle uses this language, when he speaks of the Great Matters of Religion: these are said by him to be the wisdom of God in a Mystery, 1 Cor. 2. 7. not only because they were hidden from former ages, and from the Princes of this world, v. 8. (both Iewish and Pagan Rulers) but because they are in themselves Mysterious and Obscure, as the Apostle explains himself in v. 9. by applying that passage, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entred into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. It is no wonder, saith he, that they are ignorant of these Great things, viz. the Method of Redemption and Salvation by Christ's Undertaking for us, and all the Benefits and Priviledges [Page 344] that attend these (for these are the things which God hath prepared and provided in the Gospel:) it is no wonder that these are not fully known and perceived, be­cause they are Mysteries, they surpass all humane understanding, they are not to be comprehended by our weak and shal­ [...]ow intellects; though, it is true, the knowledge of these Great Articles of the Christian Faith, so far as it is conducible to Salvation is imparted to all true Belie­vers, as it follows, God hath reveal'd them unto us by his Spirit, v. 10. And these things are said in several other places of the New Testament to be revealed; which is not to be understood as if they were so reveal'd, that we can fully comprehend them, and see throughly into the nature of them, but they are so reveal'd and disco­vered, that we have some knowledge of them, and as much as is requisite (and no Wise man would desire more:) but more is unknown than is known. Hence we may understand that Paradox of the A­postle, to know the love of Christ, which pas­seth knowledge, Eph. 3. 19. The Under­takings of Christ wherein he shew'd his transcendent Love to us may be known, and yet they pass knowledge, they far exceed the utmost conceptions we can form of them.

Next I might add, that the Apostles are call'd the stewards of the mysteries of God, [Page 345] 1. Cor. 4. 1. where all Commentators of Note understand by the Mysteries of God, the Dispensation of the Word as well as of the Sacraments, and other things be­longing to the Evangelical Ministry. In­deed, the whole Administration of Chri­stianity is meant here: this is a Mystery, yea, even now it is so, for the Apostle actu­ally applies this Appellation of Stewards of the Mysteries of God to himself and the Mi­nisters of Christ. Christianity then is a My­stery: there are several things in it of that exalted and elevated nature, that humane understandings cannot possibly comprehend them: some doctrines lie under perpetual Obscurity, they will by no means undergo a scrupulous examination, they will not bear a strict and severe scrutiny manag'd by mere Reason.

Again, the Apostle makes mention of the mystery of his (i. e. Gods) will, Eph. 1. which, as the Context plainly shews, is meant of the Wise, but Mysterious Me­thod of Man's Salvation contain'd in the Gospel as it is now preach'd, for there is not any one word or syllable in the fore­going or following verses, that seems to restrain it to what it was before, viz. before Christ's Coming.

And again, in chap. 6. of this Epistle, v. 19. we read of the mystery of the Gospel, where it is simply and irrespectively spo­ken [Page 346] (that is, without any regard to former Times and Ages) of Christianity, or the Gospel it self, and the true nature of it. And that the Apostle refers not to what was past, but speaks of the Gospel as it was at that time when he preach'd it, is plain from this that he immediately adds, that for this very Mystery of the Gospel he was then an Embassador in bonds, v. 20. But it may be Objected, how could the Gospel be Mysterious and Abstruse in it self, when the Apostle in the same place would have the Ephesians pray for him, that he might make it known? The Answer is plain from what we observ'd before upon Eph. 3. 19. Though it be Mysterious and Dark, and may be said to surpass knowledge, yet it is in some degree to be known, and conse­quently may be made known, i.e. so far as the things are capable of it. The Truth and Certainty of all the doctrines of the Gospel may be discover'd, yea and demon­strated to the minds of those who are fit­ted and prepared for it: but still the Effi­cacy of sundry Evangelical Truths is kept secret from some persons for a time, and some of them are of that quality, that they will ever surmount and baffle the utmost ef­forrs of our Intellectual Powers.

In another place, Col. 2. 2. the Apostle mentions the mystery of God and of the Fa­ther [Page 347] (or rather it should be rendred, even of the Father) and of Christ, that is, the Gospel or the Christian Religion, where­in God the First Person in the Glori­ous Trinity is declar'd to be the Father of Christ, and Christ the Second Person is declared to be the Eternal Son of God, and God himself. These and the like Fundamental Principles of Christiani­ty are Dark and Mysterious; and because of these Sublime Truths Christianity it self hath the name of Mystery given to it. If there were no other place in the New Testament but this, where the word mystery is found, it could not create wonder, that the Socinians, even for the sake of this alone, contend that Christianity is not sim­ply and absolutely call'd a Mystery in Scrip­ture, for here the Godhead of Christ as well as of the Father is asserted, for the word God is attributed to both Persons (God e­ven the Father and Christ being the same with God, who is both Father and Christ) and consequently if they deny Christ to be very God, (as they do) they must deny the Father to be so too.

I proceed to another Text in the same Epistle, Col. 4. 3. whence it is manifest, that in the stile and idiom of the New Te­stament the Gospel or Christianity hath the name of a Mystery, for the Apostle expresly calls it the mystery of Christ (the same with [Page 348] the mystery of the Gospel, in the place before mention'd) and he requests the Prayers of the Colossians for him, that God would open unto him a door of utterance to speak this My­stery of Christ, i.e. freely and openly to preach the Gospel, as appears further from what follows next, for which I am in bonds, that is, a Sufferer, a Prisoner for my preach­ing the Tru [...]hs of the Gospel. So that it is impo [...]sible (whatever is suggested to the contrary) to understand the word here any otherwise than of the do [...]trine of the Go­spel, as it was then preach'd by this Apo­stle: this is Mysterious and Hidden, and in many things Inexplicable.

So again, in 1 Tim. 3. 9. by the mystery of the faith, which the Ministers and Offi­cers of the Church are exhorted to hold, i.e. to defend and maintain, must needs be meant the Evangelical Truths and Do­ctrines. The holding the mystery of the faith, is the same here with holding fast the form of sound words, 2 Tim. 1. 13. that is, the Articles of the Christian Faith, the do­ctrines of the Gospel.

And lastly, in that Text, on which I found the present Discourse, Religion is call'd, the Mystery of Godliness: for im­mediately after the Apostle had made men­tion of the Truth, which is held forth as on a Pillar in the Christian Church, he as­signs some of the greatest and fairest [Page 349] branches of it; and in order to that ac­quaints us (that we may the better know the true nature of them) that they are a Mystery, and that not with relation to the ages and generations before the Gospel, but to the present Mysteriousness of this Sa­cred Institution; for by consulting the Context you will find that the words are spoken Absolutely and Entirely, without any respect to the past times of the world under Iudaism or Gentilism. They repre­sent to us the condition of Christianity as it is at this day, and as it is in it self consi­der'd. And so this and all the other Texts that I last mention'd, are a baffle to what some late Advocates of Socinianism pretend to prove, viz. that in the New Testament the word Mystery is always used to signifie something that is intelligible and clear in it self, and in its own nature, but clouded with figurative and mystical words; but never to denote a thing that is dark and unconceivable in it self. The contrary is plain and evident from the fore-cited Texts, and every unprejudiced man that duly scans them must needs acknowledge, that Christianity is there call'd a Mystery, not in regard of what it was, but what it is.

It is true, there are some other Texts in the New Testament, where the word My­stery is mention'd, but it hath there no re­lation [Page 350] at all to the present Matter, viz. the Gospel or Christianity in it self consider'd. Thus in Rom. 11. 25. the General and Final Conversion of the Iews in the last ages of the world is call'd a Mystery. In 1 Cor. 13. 2. mysteries is a general word for all matters of knowledge that are abstruse and dark, and it refers more particularly to the knowledge of future things, for to know all mysteries seems to be explicatory of the foregoing phrase, [...] to have a gift of Prophesying, that is, foretelling and declaring things to come, as [...] is taken in the preceding chapter, v. 10. In 1 Cor. 14. 2. mysteries is a large and exten­sive term, and used by the Apostle to sig­nifie those divine doctrines which are my­sterious and difficult, but it is not particu­larly applied by him, and therefore I have not made use of it. In 1 Cor. 15. 51. it is restrain'd to a particular Truth, which was unknown to the Corinthians at that time, but St. Paul reveals it to them, behold, saith he, I shew you a mystery, viz. this, that we shall not all sleep, those that are alive at at Christ's Coming shall not die, after the manner of all other men, but we shall all be changed, they shall undergo such an al­teration, that their corruptible state shall be chang'd into that which is incorrupti­ble and immortal. The Conjugal State is said to be a mystery, [...]ph. 5. 32. because it [Page 351] shadows forth the Union of Christ and the Church: as the Sacraments were stiled My­steries by the Ancient Writers of the Church, because they were a Representati­on of so great a thing as Christ's Body. Mystery is applied in the Revelation, chap. 1. v. 20. and chap. 17. v. 7. to particular Visions and Revelations, which had a my­stical and spiritual meaning in them. In Rev. 10. 7. the mystery of God is said to be finish'd, or fulfilled, for [...] here is as much as [...], and it is meant of the Glorious and Flourishing state of the Chri­stian Church in the last times of the world, which hath been kept as a Mystery from the generality of men, but when the Seventh Angel sounds his Trumpet, then (as we are there assur'd) that Mystery shall actually be accomplish'd and fulfill'd. But none of these Texts refer to our present Matter, as any Understanding Reader may perceive; only I thought fit to produce them, that they might not be misinterpreted.

And now I have produced every indi­vidual place of Scripture, where the word Mystery occurs, and I have faithfully and impartially set them before the Considerate in their true and proper light, that they may have a view of the right and genuine meaning of them, and not misunderstand and misapply the word (as some have done) to the great prejudice of Truth; but that [Page 352] more especially they may be convinc'd of this, that Mystery, as it is applied in the Sacred Writ to the Christian Doctrines, ex­presses the Nature of them, and lets us know that Christianity hath this Title gi­ven it, because it is a Real Mystery in it self.

Wherefore (after I have thus clear'd the way) I will offer this Proposition, and make it good, that the Sublime Truths of the Chri­stian Religion still retain, and ever shall the nature of a Mystery. This in general is evi­dent from that idea and notion which we have of a Mystery (which we learn from the Original denotation of the* word, whether we borrow it from the Hebrew, or Greek) viz. that it is some Hidden Secret thing, some thing Shut up: for such are the Chief Doctrines and Truths of the Go­spel; they are in a great measure hid, and as it were lock'd up from us. Many of the Articles of our Christian Faith are co­ver'd with great Darkness: a Veil is cast over them, and we are not able to pene­trate into them. Thus Christianity is a Mystery.

But particularly and distinctly to demon­strate this, I will insist upon these two Heads, 1 Christianity is an incomprehensi­ble [Page 353] Mystery in a special manner to some. 2. In a more extensive way of speaking, it is so to all.

I begin with the first, Christianity is in a special and singular way a Mystery to some persons, and ever will be. Those whom I here mean are all such as (according to the Apostle's Emphatick stile)* lie in their wic­kedness, continue in their state of Degene­racy and Corruption, and have felt no­thing of the Divine Birth and Renovation, which are the sole gift of the Holy Spi­rit. These, as long as they remain in this wretched state, are in darkness (as the same Inspired Writer speaks) that is, they have no Effectual and Saving Knowledge of the divine Truths of the Gospel, they understand nothing of them to any pur­pose: for these cannot be thus known but by Divine Illumination, by a Supernatu­ral discovery from above, which they wil­fully debar themselves of. Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast reveal'd them unto babes, saith our Bles­sed Lord, Mat. 11. 33. Therefore to the former of these the Fundamental doctrines of the Gospel concerning the Redemption of mankind by the Blood of Iesus, and much more the doctrines of Regeneration, Faith, Self-denial, Mortification, &c. are [Page 354] no other than Mysteries, yea insignificant Iargon to them. We hear the same Infal­lible Master speaking at another time thus, It is given (it is a Particular Donation; a Special Grant) unto you (my Disciples) to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them (i.e. the whole Multitude, who are not Enlightned) it is not given, Mat. 13. 11. There are such representations of those Heavenly and Divine things made by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the Re­generate as are not to be found in others. Which is according to those other Sayings of our Saviour, The Spirit of Truth the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him (i.e. in a Saving way) but ye know him, Joh. 14. 17. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee. Joh. 17. 25. They are in the dark, and all thy Sacred Truths are Riddles to them.

And this is the Apostolical doctrine, The Natural man receives not (discerns not, entertains not) the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2. 14. The Natural or Ani­mal man here meant, saith an Ancient Fa­ther of the Church, is* he that lives ac­cording to the flesh, and hath not his mind yet enlightned by the Spirit. But he adds this to the Character, That [Page 355] * he is one that hath only that inbred and hu­mane knowledge, which the Creator furnishes all mens minds with. And so other An­cient Writers interpret the words, as we shall hear afterwards. According to the Learned Grotius, [...] is not the same with [...], not one that is govern'd by the affections of his fleshly part, but he that is lead only by the light of Humane Reason, he that hath no other light but that of Nature. This Interpretation of this Learned Writer is the more considerable, because the per­sons I'm concern'd with at present have so great an esteem and veneration (and that not unjustly) for him, and boast that he is theirs. It appears they are mistaken, for now he is ours, whilst he directly and ex­presly avows the Apostle's Natural or Ani­mal Man to be one that is wholly con­ducted by the light of Natural Reason and Humane Wisdom. Such a one, having no Supernatural guidance and direction, can­not (as long as he is such) attain to a Right Knowledge of the things of God, because they are foolishness unto him, as the Apostle here subjoyns. Nay, he adds fur­ther, he cannot know them, there is no Pos­sibility of the thing. That the Natural [Page 356] man should rightly perceive the things of the Spirit of God, implies as evident a Con­tradiction as to say, a Blind man should be able to see things visible. So a* Judicious Divine of our Church expresses himself concerning this matter. The ground of the Apostle's Assertion follows, which is very remarkable: These things (saith he) of the Spirit of God can't be known by a Natural man, because they are Spiritually discerned. Spiritual things are discover'd and known in a peculiar way, and such as is proper to Good and Holy men only. These persons have an inward sense and conviction of the Reality of the things, and they know the true Value and Worth of them. They know them so as to make them their own proper Concern, they know them so as to feel an influence from them on their hearts, affections and lives. Thus a Religious per­son knows and discovers these things in an other manner than Natural and Vnregene­rate men do.

It is true, the knowledge of both these is alike as to some sort of discoveries rela­ting to Holy things. Thus not only the Grammatical, Critical, Rhetorical, Histo­rical, and Philosophical part of the Bible may be understood by the one as well as the other (for the Worst men may have as [Page 357] great an insight into these as the Best) but even the Theological part of this Inspired Book, so far as is meant by it the meer Spe­culative and Notional discovery of Di­vine Truths, may be equally known by both. But to know the Truths contain'd in this Sacred Volume so as to be better'd by them, is from Supernatural Light alone: and this is it which distinguishes the Spiri­tual from the Natural man. This latter falls short of the other in this, that he hath not attain'd to that Spiritual discerning of Evangelical truths which the Apostle speaks of, and without which it is utterly impos­sible to have such a knowledge of them as will be effectual to Salvation and Happi­ness. I will add only one Text more, 2 Cor. 4. 3. If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost in whom the God of this world (i.e. Satan) hath blinded the minds of them who believe not, lest the light of the glo­rious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. Here it is im­plied, that the Gospel is hid from some persons, yea, and we are told from whom, viz. such as (according to the foregoing stile of the Apostle) are Natural men, those that live in their sins, and suffer their minds to be blinded and perverted, to be corrupted and debauch'd by the Diabolick Spirit, the Prince and Ruler of this lower world. To such the Gospel and the Truths of it [Page 358] are meer Darkness. Thus it abundantly appears from the Sacred Writ (whence we are to fetch our discoveries concerning these things) that the Proposition which I laid down is an impregnable and unshaken Truth, viz. that Christianity retains still the nature of a Mystery, and that more especial­ly as so some persons.

The Reason is plain, because Natural Strength is not sufficient of it self to disco­ver these Divine Truths. Unless the Soul be illuminated by the Holy Spirit, these remain unintelligible, and wholly inef­fectual and useless as to any Saving vertue and efficacy. This I take to be the mean­ing of our Saviour's words, Iohn 3. 3. Ex­cept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Unless (as the Apostle speaks) he be renewed in the spirit of his mind, and that by the power of the Holy Ghost, he cannot understand aright the Truths of the Gospel, which is call'd fre­quently the kingdom of God, and of heaven: he cannot see, he cannot enter into (as 'tis express'd in v. 5.) those divine things. This is that which our Saviour avers, Mat. 11. 27. Neither knoweth any man the Father but the Son, and he to whosoever the Son will re­veal him, viz. by an Inward and Effectual Discovery, for they had the Outward Re­velation then. When the Apostle St. Peter acknowledged Christ to be the Son of the li­ving [Page 359] God, our Saviour told him, that flesh and blood had not reveal'd this to him, but his Father who is in heaven, Mat. 16. 17. It was not the work of Nature, but of the Spirit of God the Father that had effectu­ally wrought this Knowledge in him. This sort of Light is peculiarly from the Father of lights: this Singular Wisdom is from a­bove: and accordingly (as some interpret that place, Iohn 3. 13.) the knowledge of these Heavenly and Spiritual things is call'd ascending up to heaven. From thence is de­riv'd that Insight into the things of God, which no Natural man hath attain'd to. For in this Degenerate State of mankind the Great Points of our Religion are under a Seal, and lock'd up from us, and are never to be disclosed till a Divine Light opens our eyes. We must of necessity remain Blind till that Eye-Salve, Rev. 3. 18. be effectually applied. And it can be applied only by the Holy Spirit, whose proper work it is to dispel that spiritual dark­ness, whereby the mind is indisposed to understand and discern divine matters a­right.

This is variously express'd in the Holy Writings, viz. by such terms as these, shi­ning in our hearts, to give the light of know­ledge, 2 Cor. 4. 6. giving us an understand­ing to know, 1 John 5. 20. enlightning the eyes of our understanding, Eph. 1. 18. an [Page 360] Vnction from the Holy One, 1 John. 2. 20. Which cannot be better paraphras'd and explain'd than in the words of an Eminent Prelate of our Church,* ‘The same Spirit which revealeth the Object of Faith ge­nerally to the Universal Church, doth also illuminate the understanding of such as believe, that they may receive the Truth: For Faith is the gift of God, not only in the Object, but also in the Act. And afterwards in the Close he hath these words, We affirm not only the Revelation of the Will of God, but also the Illumination of the Soul of Man to be part of the office of the Holy Spi­rit of God, against the Old and New Palagians. So that Judicious Writer. It is this Holy Instructor that disposes the mind to receive the light of Divine Truth by curing it of its Natural Darkness and Ignorance, and by preparing the heart to receive its Rays. There is required a Spe­cial Grace of the Holy Ghost to enlighten the Soul, and to make due impressions up­on it. The [...]aculty of the Understanding must be puri [...]ied, and so made fit to appre­hend Spiritual objects. This is part of the Renewed Nature and Regenerate Princi­ple; and consequently where this is not, the Great Doctrines of Christianity are [Page 361] Hidden Secrets and Unknown Myste­ries.

From what hath been said, I will only draw these Two Corollaries.

1. It is no wonder that the Followers of Socinus will not acknowledge Christianity to be a Mystery, for they hold* there is no necessity of [...] Supernatural Light, no need of Illumination from the Spirit, in order to the due apprehending and understand­ing of the Divine Truths of the Gospel. There is, they say, in all men that natural ability, whereby they are capable of dis­cerning all Spiritual and Heavenly matters in a spiritual way. They are enabled by virtue of an Inbred Power in their minds (abstract from what is Supernatural) to per­ceive and believe, as they ought, all the Evangelical doctrines propounded to them. Wolzogen ridicules the Internal and Su­pernatural Illumination I have been speak­ing of. Velthusius, an Author that is much applauded by some of Socinus's fol­lwers, tells us plainly, That the knowledge of a regenerate and unregenerate man, con­cerning the things and mysteries of faith, dif­fers not from the light of Reason. I appeal to the Intelligent, whether this be not an [Page 362] approach to an Heresie long since condem­ned in the Christian Church. It is well known, that it was the Pelagian Error to assert, that men can attain to a perfect knowledge of their duty and an ability to perform it by meer Natural Reason, by the bare help of that light which Nature gives them. And in this (as well as some other Points) the Socinians symbolize with those Ancient Hereticks. They cry up Reason as the Only thing in Religion: this with them, like the Archaeus among the Chymists, doth all feats, produces all ope­rations. Though these men* seem to be great Abhorrers of those who talk of the Light within them, yet it is evident, that they allow of the very same Principle and Practise: they equal the Light of Reason to the Holy Scripture, and say it will serve instead of this, and that it is as good as Scripture, because all men may be Saved by it. Therefore this they urge as the One thing Necessary in Religion, and assure their Proselytes, that this alone is sufficient to conduct them to Eternal Happiness. Which is not unlike the Attempt of those late Iesuites, who would teach the people of China and Siam the way to Heaven by the Mathematicks. These men whom I am speaking of pretend to effect every thing in [Page 363] Christianity, and to climb Heaven it self by meer Natural Strength and Humane Ac­complishments: as appears from the ex­press words of the* Racovian Catechism, That there is no need of the inward gift of the Holy Spirit, that we may believe the Go­spel: no, not at all. They have another way of Believing, viz. by a strength of their own, by the natural conduct and im­provement of their Faculties. And if True Faith, then such a Knowledge as accompa­nies Salvation is to be acquir'd after the same manner, and no other; for a man need not be beholding to the Holy Spirit for it. It is no wonder, that those who talk thus find no Mysteries in Christianity.

2. This gives an account of that Scarci­ty of true Divine Knowledge and Religi­on, which is observable in the world. There are Secrets in the Christian Faith which are known but by a few, and therefore True Christians must needs be Rare. There is indeed an Equivocal sort of Christians in the world, who boldly assume the Name, but are strangers to the Thing it self: they boast of that Honourable Title, but are re­gardless of the True Import of it, and (to use the Apostle's words) though they think they know something, they know nothing as they ought to know, 1 Cor. 8. 2. These are [Page 364] very Numerous, and every place swarms with them; but the number of those who have a Practical Knowledge and Sense of Gospel-Truths is very mean and low. The Multitude of those who derive their deno­mination from Christ have not attain'd to this Accomplishment; and the reason is, because it is by their own default hidden from them, they are unwilling to receive the Divine Supernatural Light into their minds. Let us implore the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the Great and Heavenly Mystagogue, the Effectual Interpreter of Di­vine Secrets, and who alone can discover them to us, that he would vouchsafe to enlighten and irradiate our souls in such a manner as shall be really beneficial to us. Let us beg the aid of the Spirit of Truth, to lead us into the Advantageous Knowledge of all Evangelical Truths, and to enable us to feel them as well as know them. Thus much of the First Branch of the Proposition founded on the words.

Christianity Mysterious. A Sermon, shewing that there are Mysteries pro­perly so call'd in the Christian Religion: With the True Reasons of it, and the Natural Consequences from it.
Preached before the Vniversity, at St. Mary's in Cambridge, Iune 29. 1697. And since much Enlarged.

1 TIM. III. 16.‘And without controversie great is the Mystery of Godliness.’

HAving in a former Discourse shew'd, that Christianity is a My­stery to some more especially, now I will pass to the Second thing I under­took, [Page 366] viz. to prove that it is such, even in a general way, unto every one. There are several Great Truths in the Gospel which the Spiritual Man can no more arrive to a full knowledge of than the Natural man can. With relation and respect even to All persons whomsoever the sublime Truths of the Christian Religion still re­tain, and ever shall the nature of a Myste­ry. And I choose the rather to treat on this Subject, because I verily believe it is of that nature and influence, that if it were duly entertain'd, it would be serviceable to put an end to all the Disputes and Cavils against the Doctrine of the Trinity, and o­ther Important Points that relate to it. There would be no farther Contest about these if the abovesaid Proposition did but take place in mens minds. This must needs be so, at least in the nature of the thing it self, because when it shall appear, that there are Fathomless Secrets in Christianity, and that they were design'd to be so, yea, and to be so to all as well as to some, this can­not but supersede all Controversies about [...]. This with ingenuous and rational Spirits solves all Difficulties, this with reli­gious and pious minds answers all Doubts, and fully satisfies all Scruples. This there­ [...]ore is the thing which I will evince, that [...]here are such Secrets as these in our Reli­ [...]on, that there are many things in this [Page 367] Holy Institution which we have but a Dark and Imperfect notice of, and it is impos­sible for us to attain to any other: and these are properly stiled Mysteries.

That one Text alone, 1 Cor. 13. 9, 12. is sufficient to prove this, We know in part, saith the Apostle, which refers to the know­ledge mention'd in the foregoing verse, by which (as it is agreed by all) is to be un­derstood the knowledge of Divine and E­vangelical matters: and then it follows by way of natural consequence, We prophesie in part, for our instructing of others must be answerable to our own knowledge, which is but in part. He superadds, Now we see through a glass, that is, either as men look­ing through a Perspective on an Object a great way off, and therefore made Obscure by its great Distance from the eye; or, as persons beholding themselves in a Glass or Mirror, which manner of expression St. Iames uses to signifie a Slight View, 1 Iam. 23. (and so [...] may be the same with [...].) But this Apostle thinks not this sufficient to set forth the Meanness and Deficiency of our Knowledge of Sacred matters, but he adds another Emphatick expression, [...] in a riddle, i.e. in a very Obscure, dark and intricate man­ner, and therefore our Translators render it [darkly.] The sum of what the Apostle saith, is this, that we have but a Partial [Page 368] discovery of some Divine Truths, our Sight of them is very Imperfect: there are certain Points of Christianity which are not within the sphere of our Capacities, but are in themselves Aenigmatical and Ab­struse.

And these passages are the more conside­rable, if we call to mind the peculiar qua­lity of the Person, who writes thus: It was that Apostle who was famous for his Knowledge, he, who among all the Apo­stles was the only man that was brought up a Scholar, for we read that he was educa­ted in the School of Gamaliel, a Celebrated Hebrew Doctor and Professor, and thence was stock'd with all the Iewish Literature. And he that was well skill'd in the Heathen Poets (as his Quotations in the New Testa­ment let us know) was questionless not de­fective in other parts of Humane Learning, which he had the advantage of furnishing himself within his own Native City, that of Tarsus, which was at that time a famous Vniversity. And these Excellencies joyn'd with his own Natural Parts and Endow­ments, which, (as we may gather from his Acute Reasonings and Arguings on all oc­casions) were of the highest pitch, could not but render him a very Accomplish'd Person, such as was able to discern and judge of things in the best manner, and to know and comprehend whatever was to be [Page 369] known and comprehended of them. But we are to remember this further, that his knowledge in Divine and Sacred things was as eminent, for even as to these he had those Helps which other Christians had not, yea, which the rest of the Apostles were not honoured with, for he tells, Gal. 1. 11, 12. That the Gospel which was preached of him was not after man, for he neither recei­ved it of man, neither was he taught it but by the revelation of Iesus Christ. He was in an Extraordinary and unparalell'd manner call'd to the Office by Christ himself then in heaven: he had Immed [...]ate declarations of God's will by Visions and Revelations, 2 Cor. 12. 1. yea, by abundance of Revela­tions, v. 7. for he had the matchless digni­ty and priviledge to be caught up to the third heaven, into paradice (as he other­wise expresses it) the Seat of the Divine Majesty, and the place of the Blessed; and there he heard those unspeakable words (those Doctrines and Truths) which it is not pos­sible for a man to utter, i. e. fully, v. 4. Then were display'd before him those My­steries and Profound Doctrines which his Writings every where abound with; seve­ral of which are not so much as mention'd in the Writings of the other Apostles▪ which plainly shews, that he far excell'd them in Spiritual Knowledge, and in the [Page 370] understanding of some of the Main Heads of the Christian Religion.

And yet, behold! this Apostle who was thus bless'd with all manner of Intellectual Accomplishments, and was possessor of all the Knowledge that Nature or Art and his own happy Genius could furnish him with, and (which is unspeakably much more) all that Knowledge that God himself vouch­safed to infuse into him, and inspire him with: Behold! this very Apostle is the man who uses here this humble and mean language, We know in part, we see through a glass darkly. When he saith we, he means himself as well as other Christians; nay, it appears that he chiefly and principally intends himself, for he changes the plural into the singular, v. 12. Now I know in part, as much as to say, notwithstanding all my advantages of Knowing much more than others, I acknowledge my self to be but a Smatterer, a Novice: I own my self to have but a mean and imperfect insight into the High and Mystical Points of the Gospel: and if they were not such, I should not have so short and partial a knowledge of them. This is an unan­swerable place of Scripture, to prove that there are Mysteries in Christianity, such Divine Truths which no quickness of thoughts, no sharpness and sagacity of mind can wholly reach. And therefore [Page 371] if St. Paul be in the right, we know who have taken the wrong part. If Plato could say of the Rites of Sacrificing and Divine Worship,* It is impossible for our mortal nature to have any knowledge of these things, surely then our conceptions concerning the Sublime Points of Christianity (which is the Noblest and Highest Dispensation of Religion) must needs be weak and shallow. Divine matters are not clear and manifest of themselves to men, said one of the Greek Sages, quoted by Iustin Martyr. To the same purpose Clement of Alexandria cites, that eminent passage of Plato in his Timaeus, The only way to learn Truth is to be taught it of God himself, or of those that are from God. Those are notable words of Iambli­cus, a Platonick Philosopher,* It is not easie to know what things God is pleas'd with, unless we have convers'd with those who have heard them from God, or we have heard God himself, or we have attain'd to that know­ledge by some Divine Art. These are the apprehensions of Improved Heathens con­cerning Religious matters: and shall not [Page 372] those who have attain'd to clearer notions believe the same, with a more special relation to the doctrines of the Gospel? As these things were not at first found out by Man, so they cannot be comprehended by him. As they were not discover'd by humane skill and art, so they can never be fully known and explain'd by them. Thus they are universally a Mystery.

It is true, (and I am very forward to grant it) that the Christian Religion is stock'd even with Natural Principles, such as are in themselves manifest. Even that Mo­del of Religion, which is made up wholly of the Law of Nature, (and therefore is call'd Natural Religion) is here entirely re­ceiv'd. All Rational and Moral dictates are incorporated into this Institution. Here are Admirable Notions which carry with them an Intrinsick Evidence, as an unde­niable demonstration of their Worth and Excellency: here are Reason and Morality at their Heighth. It was excellently said of an Ancient Writer of the Church,* Far [...]e it that God should hate in us that very thing wherein he hath created us more excellent than other creatures. So we may say, Far be it that Christianity should disallow that very thing in us, which distinguishes our [Page 373] nature from that of Brutes, and gives us a Preference to them. Some of the Maho­metans have a conceit, that Idiots and Mad­men are Inspired persons, that those who have so little of Man, have the more of God. But this is an idle fancy, and un­worthy of our Humane Nature, as well as of the Supreame Being it self, who was the Author of it. The Best Brains are fit­test for Religion, and even for the Best Religion, Christianity. It is admirably shew'd by a* Worthy Person, that the Christian Religion suits even with a Philosophick Ge­nius. I question not but it may be made evident from Strict Reason that the Main System of the Christian Theology is uni­form and harmonious in it self, and con­formable to all the Divine Attributes and Perfections, that the Coming of Christ in the flesh was requisite in order to the Re­demption of lost Man, that his Underta­takings were the most Rational Expedient for the restoring of mankind, that they were the most Proper and Suitable Method to reduce lapsed creatures, and raise them up again after their fall, and that Christ's Divinity was no more impair'd by being joyned to the Humane Nature, than the Soul of Man is by its Union with the Bo­dy. These and several things of this kind [Page 374] I could make clear and evident, and there­by shew that Christianity is consonant to the most sober Reflections we can make on things, that it is agreeable to the most solid and natural Reasonings we can form. For we are not to imagine (as some Enthu­siastick Spirits do) that Divine Revelati­on contradicts the principles of Reason: this being a certain Truth, that it is im­possible to know that any Revelation, i. e. any Reveal'd doctrine is from God, un­less we be first Reasonably satisfied that it is from him. Besides, Reason is from God as well as Revelation, and therefore if we re­ceive the latter, we must on the very same ground attend to the former, because that is from God no less than this. Wherefore those who oppose one to the other make [...]od contradict himself, because he is the A [...]thor of both.

And here I cannot but take notice of the Injustice of some late Penmen, who repre­sent the Asserters of the Trinity, and of such like Points of Faith as persons that are Enemies to Reason, and such as will by no [...]ans admit of a Rational Religion. This they craftily urge and aggravate, to blacken the Cause which they have set themselves against: but there is nothing of Truth in the accusation, but (as they ma­nage it) a great deal of Falshood and Wrong. For we give unto Reason the [Page 375] things that are Reason's, we assert the use and necessity of it in Religion, yea in the Christian Religion, and we are able and ready to defend and maintain a considera­ble part of it by Rational Principles. We most freely profess with Iustin the Philo­sopher and Martyr, That* whatever was well said by any of the Philosophers, Poets and Historians is to be found in the Christian Wri­tings of the Bible. We declare, that the Christian Institution commends and en­forces all the Maxims of Morality, and the Natural Religion of mankind, and the Common Dictates of Reason. Those there­fore are very Injurious to us and to Truth itself, who labour (as we see they do) to fill Mens heads with other apprehensi­ons.

But though it be thus in the general, yet there are Particular Doubts and Difficul­ties relating to this Holy Institution: there are some certain Points which are in themselves Mysterious, Incomprehensible and Inconceivable, and will not submit to the nicer Scrutinies of Humane Reason. The [...]ery Deity it self (which is the very foundation of all Christianity) is a [...], and the greatest of all Mysteries. Whence it was the acknowledgment of [...] a [Page 376] very Wise and Good Man, God is Great, and we know him not, Job 36. 26. We can­not fully understand his Nature and Attri­butes, yea we are capable of knowing but very little of them. Which is fitly ex­press'd by that of the Apostle, He dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto, 1 Tim. 6. 16. This inaccessible Splendor admits not of a full view. The more we gaze upon this Glorious Sun, the more we are dazzled, and almost blinded. In some case* it is unsafe and perillous, saith a Pious Father, to speak what is True of God. [...]e is best known by a modest [...], [...]ith another. We know not wh [...] he is, but only what he is not, saith a Third. And it is observable, that Soci­nus himself in the first Chapter of his Prae­ [...]ctions sti [...]y cont [...]nds (though upon no solid grounds at all) that the Existence of God is not discoverable by the light of Na­ [...]ure and Reason: how then can he and his [...]ollowers imagine [...]hat the Divine Nature and Essence are to be comprehended by hu­ma [...]e thoughts? If we cannot, according to him, discover that God is, how shall we understand what he is? There are several [Page 377] unutterable Abstrusities and Difficulties in the notion of an Eternal Self-subsisting Be­ing. We cannot penetrate into the Omnis­cience and Omnipresence of God: we have not adequate conceptions of his Im­mutability, his Justice, his Faithfulness: and none of his Perfections and Excellen­cies are throughly understood by us. So that according to the way of Arguing, which some men use, viz. that Nothing must be receiv'd in Religion but what is ex­actly according to plain Reason, they may renounce the Deity it self, for in the noti­ons we have of the Nature and Attributes of God there are some things above our Reason.

The Manner how Three real Subsisten­cies are united in One Essence or Substance of the Godhead is not comprehensible, but the Holy Scripture puts it beyond all doubt that it is so. There are many Principles and Propositions in Christianity which are far above our weak capacities. There are several things in the Conduct of our Re­demption and Salvation, the exact know­ledge of which is hidden from us: at least the Modes and Circumstances belonging to them are not to be comprehended, though we are sure of the General Truth. There are sundry Difficult things occur concerning the Incarnation of the Son of God, but we have no reason to disbelieve the Doctrine [Page 378] it self.* ‘I know, saith St. Chrysostom, that the Son was begotten of the Father, but how I know not. I know he was born of a Virgin, but I can't tell the Manner of it: for we acknowledge the producti­on of Both Natures, and yet the Man­ner of both we are not able to declare.’ So as to the Vnion of the Divine and Hu­mane Natures in Christ's Person, we have not an accountable idea of it, though the thing it self is agreeable to Reason. We cannot answer all the doubts concerning Christ's Satisfaction, but upon incontesta­ble grounds we may be convinc'd of the Truth of it. The Resurrection of the same Body at the last day is an unquestionable Article of the Christian Faith: but if we be ask'd how a dead body crumbled into dust, and perhaps dissipated by the winds into several quarters, or how a body con­verted into the substance of other crea­tures, after innumerable introductions of new shapes, preserves its proper Identity [...]nd Individuation; if we be ask'd, I say, How this can be? The Answer in brief can [...] no other than this, We cannot tell. But [Page 379] it will be said, This is an unbecoming An­swer for any man that pretends to Know­ledge and Understanding in the matters of Religion. I reply, This is no ways un­becoming, but to pretend to give Reasons and Accounts, when we are not able to do it, is very unbecoming and absurd. And many other Points of Christianity are hid from our Natural Reason, and are Inscru­table Secrets. Our Religion hath many Mazes and Labyrinths in it which we can­not extricate our selves out of. The Gos­pel not only was, but is a Mystery: it is so now, and will continue so to the end of the world.

If we enquire into the Reasons of this, so far as we are able to judge, there may be this Account given of it:

1. That which Solomon suggests to us ought to have the preference to all other Reasons that can be assign'd, It is the glory of God, saith he, to conceal a thing, Prov. 25. 2. The Supreme Being is pleas'd to hide the knowledge of several things from men, because this redounds to the Honour and Glory of the Divine Majesty. Hereby the Sovereignty of the Great Disposer of all things is displayed to mankind: hereby his Transcendent Nature, which infinitely [...]urpasses that of all Created beings, is pro­claim'd to the world. This was the sense of another Wise and Holy man, who speak­ing [Page 380] of the Almighty, saith, He giveth not account of any of his matters, Job 33. 13. Though sometimes, yea, frequently he vouchsafes to render a Reason of what he saith, as well as of what he doth, yet in many cases he thinks fit to deal with us o­therwise, and not to answer, or account for all his matters, as the Original hath it. Though we demand a Reason, he is not obliged to give, because (as it is rightly suggested by the same Pious Observer) God is greater than man, v. 12. He is infinite­ly exalted above the nature of mortal men, and therefore it is unsufferable boldness to search into his Divine Secrets, and to pro­mise our selves a full comprehension of them. For these things are conceal'd from us on purpose to give us an assurance of the Infinite Nature and Wisdom of our Maker. We hence are effectually taught, that God is not like one of us, that his Es­sence and Properties are of an immense and unsearchable nature, not to be compre­hended by us. Even concerning Visible and Natural things, One of the Ancients [...]peaks thus,* ‘If any of them surpass your understanding, and you can't find [Page 381] out the reason of them, then for that very reason glorifie the Creator, because his Transcendent Wisdom shew'd in these things exceeds your apprehension.’ Much more then may we, nay ought we to pronounce the same concerning Divine and Heavenly matters: the Transcendent Nature of them discovers a Wisdom much more so. This is a convictive proof to sober and thoughtful minds, that God is Great and Wise above what humane intellects can conceive. This then is a sufficient account (if there were no other) of the Unsearch­ableness of the Divine Nature, and those things that immediately depend upon it, and flow from it.

2. It is God's pleasure to render Divine Truths more Venerable by their Obscurity. We might say, and that truly, with a Lear­ned Christian Philosopher, That the* Dark­ness of these Sacred things, and our igno­rance concerning them are useful to pre­serve and uphold the Reverence and Ma­jesty of them. If the sacred doctrines of the Gospel were to be prostituted to the capricious reasonings of vain men, if we could exactly fathom all the depths of Di­vinity, we should not have that superlative Admiration and Regard for them which they deserve: and we plainly see, that [Page 382] those who pretend to lay them open, do in reality undervalue them, and lower the Excellency of them. We have reason there­fo [...]e [...] think, that it was design'd by Hea­ven, that the Abstruseness of Divine mat­ters should inhanse our Esteem of them, and render them in our apprehension (what they are in themselves) August, Great and Venerable. And consequently, we must not reject the doctrines conveyed to us in the Holy Scripture, because they are thus Obscure, and exalted above our natural light, but we are rather to admire and reverence them because they are so, i. e. because they are of so high and transcen­dent a nature.

3. This likewise might be added, that it is the divine will and pleasure, that not only our Estimation and Reverence, but our Diligence and Sedulity should be exci­ted by this means. For though we cannot reach to a full knowledge of these Pro­found matters, and though we are forbid a bold and saucy prying into them, yet there is always something gain'd by a Hum­ble and Modest Searching into them, and by an industrious and careful Enquiry in­to the Holy Oracles, where these infallible dictates are. For as there are Plain and Obvious Truths in the Sacred Writings, so there are others that are Abstruse and Perplexed, to check our Negligence and [Page 383] Oscitancy, our carelesness end unconcern­edness, and to rouze our Industry, and encourage our pains and study: for those portions of Scripture wherein these Truths are contain'd, will abundantly employ these, and recompence our labour. Even on this account it was fitting that there should be some Mysteries in our Holy Re­ligion.

4. The Chief and Grand Reason to be assigned of this matter (and which I will more amply insist upon) is this, that the very Nature of the things themselves, which we are treating of, renders them Mysterious and Difficult. For things of an Infinite and Transcendent nature are above the reach of finite understandings. Such is God, such is the Sacred Trinity, and such are those Doctrines which I mention'd before, which immediately relate to the Godhead it self and its Attributes, or the Divine Per­sons subsisting in the Godhead, or more particularly Christ Iesus, and his Blessed Undertakings for us, which are the pro­per matter of the Gospel, the knowledge of which depends wholly on the Will of God; for no mortal man could have any notice of them, unless God himself had been pleas'd to discover them. And now when they are discover'd, they are of that high and soaring nature, that no humane creature can reach them: they are of that [Page 384] towering pitch, that they are above all finite intellect. More especially the na­ture of the Sacred Trinity is such, that it is above being described: which we are not to be dissatisfied with, for if the Holy Tri­nity were not abstruse and mysterious, it would not be what it is, and what it cannot otherwise be. Therefore he that expects this doctrine should be Clear, fan­cies an Impossibility, both as to the Trini­ty it self, and as to us. For this Infinite and Perfect Trin-Vnity is in its own nature unsearchable, and in respect of our finite and imperfect Understanding is much more so. Wherefore those Propositions which belong to this Infinite Subject must needs be dark and intricate, and cannot be other­wise. How can we imagine we should be able to grasp these things which consider'd in themselves are of so elevated a nature? It is certain we cannot with reason imagine or expect this.

And we may be convinc'd of it from this one Consideration (which I will some­what enlarge upon) viz. that many things of a meaner and lower degree, such as the Common Works of Nature, and the Phae­nomena of the Visible and Sensible World have rais'd great Disputes, and after all the exactest enquiries into them, remain still hidden and obscure: How then can we expect that Divine and Supernatural [Page 385] things should be void of all Obscurity? An Acute Naturalist speaking of things of the former sort, tells us,* ‘That he pre­tends not to Science, but contents him­self with bare guessing; for God (saith he) hath not laid open all things to hu­mane sight and perception: there is a considerable part of this great Work, which the Wise Maker of all things hath thought good to hide from our Eyes.’ Thus this Great Philosopher ingenuously owns his Ignorance, and at the same time the Wise Disposal of Heaven. That No­ted and Trite Problem of the Divisi­bility of Matter or Quality hath posed all the Learned heads in the world: and yet upon this one Property of Matter depends the whole System of Geometry, and all the Mathematick Arts and Sciences, which (above all others) boast of their Certainty and Demonstration. It is not to this very day unanimously agreed what the True Scheme of the world is, and whether the Sun or the Earth be the Center of the U­niverse. If we consider it well, it is a manifest Argument of our shallow Under­standing and Sense, that we can't tell where­abouts we are, and which part of the [Page 386] World is our Situation. It is another proof of our Ignorance, yea of the defectibility of our Senses, that we dispute whether the Earth moves or no. A great many Learned and Wise Men of late, and some profess'd Mathematicians (not the worst Judges in the case) hold it doth: and yet ten thou­sand of Considerate heads before this ne­ver thought of it. And our Senses tell us no such thing, but the contrary, viz. that the Earth stands Still, and is Immoveable. This is certain that the Sense and Feeling of all men in the world are mistaken, and a­bout their Proper Object, and that Continu­ally (which is somewhat hard to digest) or else the Earth is not moved, is not a Pla­net, hath no diurnal Revolution.

That the doctrine of the Earth is Obscure and Difficult, we have a Remarkable Proof in the late Theorists, and others that have appear'd on the stage. They have been pleas'd to thrust very Harsh and Incredible things upon us; and (to speak freely) there are some of them that are so far from ex­plaining and giving a rational account of the Ph [...]nomena of the Earth, that they have rendred this doctrine more obscure and perplexed than ever it was: besides that, they have entrench'd upon the Mosaick Verity, and have abandon'd that Account of the Creation, and particularly of the Earth, which the Inspired Writer hath de­livered. [Page 387] This is certain, that seeing they run a tilt against one another, they cannot all of them be in the right about their noti­ons of the Earth; and it is a question whether any of them have light upon the Truth, excepting what One of them hath deliver'd as matter of Fact, and built upon Clear Experiment and Observation, which we owe to his Indefatigable Industry and Great Sagacity. In brief, it must be ac­knowledg'd, that they are very Ingenious and Learned Conjectures, but some of their respective Hypothesis and Solutions are load­ed with such Difficulties (for on that ac­count it is that I mention these things) they are loaded (I say) and oppress'd with such Difficulties as are able to stifle and choak not only the restif and hide-bound Faith of a Socinian, but the ordinary be­lief and assent of a Plain Philosopher, be he never so Credulous.

Then if we come to Particulars belong­ing to this Terrestrial Globe, with what Perplexities are we beset? Are not only the Old but the New Opinions concerning them every day quarrell'd with, and their Celebrated Authors and Founders turn'd out of the Schools? And what is the Rea­son? Because of the Uncertainty, Difficul­ty and Mystery in every thing. How un­searchable are the most common and obvi­ous Operations of Nature? Who can by [Page 388] any Material Cause solve the Cohesion of parts in bodies? Who can assign the True Principle of Gravity, or the Cause of the Flowing and Ebbing of the Sea, or of the Attraction of the Load-stone, or of several other things of that nature? To instance more particularly in a Plant, tell me, if you can, the Pedegree of this poor Vegetable: blazon the Coat of its Seminal Form. Say, wherein consists the Life and Death of this sort of beings. Shew me exactly how a few Seeds buried in the Earth, and en­tomb'd with clods, have so flourishing a Resurrection. Give an account of the whole series and progress of their Motion, the gradual and successive process of Vege­tation in the root, fibres, pith, stalks, branches, blossoms, flowers, leaves, fruit, and by what Rules they direct their course so methodically. How is it that they stop at such a Stature and just Proportion? What causes the Diversity of their Shape and Fi­gure? of their Colour and Smell? what produces the excellent variety of their Qua­lities and Vertues? There is no man up­on earth (whatever pretences he may make) is able throughly to resolve him­self or others about all or any of these Queries.

If I should pass to the Mineral Regions, there aMr. Boyl, Nat. Hist. p. 13. Celebrated Vertuoso tell us, 'tis [Page 389] acknowledg'd by a Great Naturalist, That it is impossible for one man to understand throughly the nature of Antimony: and how then shall he know all the rest of the Sub­terraneous World? And then, in the Ani­mal Kingdom, there are yet more Puzzling Enquiries: the Remarkable Rarieties in the contexture of a despicable Insect are e­nough to entertain a Man's study all his days, (if he had nothing else to do) and at last he would have cause to complain that he hath found out but little. For, as a * Judicious Enquirer tells us, Never was the man yet in the world that could give an accurate account of the nature of a Flie, or a Worm in its full comprehension. It hath pass'd for current doctrine, that Insects are fre­quently begot of Putrified matter, as well as by Univocal Generation; but several late Vertuoso's of the First Rate pour in up­on us abundance of Experiments, to prove that there is not the most Minute Animal that is by Equivocal Production. Coche­nile hath been thought to belong to Plants, but an Inquisitive Author of late hath dis­carded that Vulgar Notion, and tells us, it is not a Plant, but a Living Creature, it is not a Grain, but a kind of Insect, for [Page 390] thus his Microscope hath taught him to de­termine. In many other Instances it might be proved, that most of our late Learning in Natural Philosophy hath been to shew, that what hath been formerly said, is false.

And as for Our selves (who are Perfecter Creatures) we are Walking Problems, we are Talking Wonders, we carry about with us, even in our Bodies, a Complication of Mysteries. But if we speak of the Incor­poreal part of us, then we are environ'd with much greater Darkness and Wonders. It is an undeniable demonstration of our Ignorance and Weak Conceptions, that we know so little of our Souls, the things by which we know all that we know. A mans Mind is the* Inmost thing he hath: no­thing is so Near to him, and Intimate with him; and yet the many disputes and con­tests of Learned Writers about its Nature, and Functions, and the manner and me­thod of its Operations acquaint us how obscure and uncertain mens notions are concerning it. Especially we are yet to seek how a being that is wholly Bodiless is able to lay hold on Matter, to actuate and inform it. No man can tell how the Soul causes Motion by Thought, or how by the same way it is able to put a stop to [Page 391] bodily motion. We experience this to be true, but it will puzzle us to give an ac­count of the Manner of it. It is no more to be explain'd and apprehended how the Humane Mind can think or will the Animal Spirits into Action, than that a man should by his Thoughts or Will command the Winds to blow, or the Flames to burn; for the Spirits of the body, being Material, are no more capable in themselves of being thus actuated by the Soul than the others are. And lastly, though we know we have a Soul, and are as certain of it as any thing in nature, yet it hath been long con­troverted where it is, in what part of the body it is placed. Though it be suffici­ently demonstrated, that there is such a being as the Rational Soul, and that it is really distinct from Matter, and that this latter is uncapable of Cogitation (as was never more nervously proved than of late by a Great and Eminent Person of our Church, against one that shews himself inclined to believe that Matter can Think) though, I say, it is evident, that there is such a Distinct Being as is the Sovereign Empress of all our Functions and actions, yet it is not certainly known where her Throne is. For some give her the whole body for her seat, others believe she circu­lates in the Blood, and others assign her the Heart as her particular Chair of State. [Page 392] And though, it is true, the most Piercing Philosophers of late have confined her to the Brain, yet they are not agreed in what part of it her Residence is. Many other Instances (indeed almost as many as there are Phaenom [...]na in the world) of the Un­certainty of Natural Speculations might be produced. A great part of that which passes for Knowledge is ingenious Guessing and Surmise. And yet, notwithstanding the Scruples and Difficulties which attend all these things which I have mention'd, the Things themselves are readily own'd and assented to.

So that these several Particulars, which I have named, are clear demonstrations of these two things; First, That Propositions may be True, and consequently, that we may give our Assent to them, though the mat­ter of them surpasses our Reason, yea, tho' it is not only hard but impossible to explain it, and to give an account of the Manner of it. Secondly, The foresaid Examples plainly shew, that some things even in Na­ture may be above Reason, and yet not [...]on­trary to it, for if they were the latter, no man would yield assent to them, but whol­ly reject them as inconsistent and impossible. But even the very persons with whom our business is at present, profess their ready assent to the truth and reality of all these things, though they know not how to [Page 393] explain them, and solve the right manner of them. Hence it follows, that we ought not to disbelieve a thing meerly because it surmounts our Reason, and that we are not to infer from a thing's being above Rea­son, that it is contrary to it, for after this rate we must discard all Natural Philoso­phy, and believe nothing of the most or­dinary Occurrences in Nature. And what hinders now, that we should not make the like Deductions with reference to those Higher matters, which I before mention'd? May we not on much better grounds make these two Inferences, viz. that we ought not to disbelieve those things because they exceed our Reason; and that though they do so, yet it follows not thence, that they are repugnant to Reason? Such Inferen­ces as these are very good and valid, be­cause of the difficult and recondite nature of these Spiritual and Divine matters, which far outdoeth that of Bodily and Sensible things. And we shall find that this is the way of Reasoning, which one of the Ancientest and Learnedest of the Pri­mitive Writers of the Christian Church made use of against the Hereticks and Se­ducers of his and the immediately fore­going times.* He argues from the Ob­scurity in matters of Sense to those that [Page 394] are Spiritual and of a Sublime Na­ture.

Thus then, in imitation of that Great Man, we may solidly argue, with relation to the foregoing disquisitions in Philoso­phy, If in things of an inferior nature there be such Obscurities and Difficulties (which yet are no impediments to our As­sent) how much more then in Higher things may we expect there should be Great Difficulties, and amazing Obscurities? If Natural Knowledge be so Cloudy, is there not reason to believe the Divine and Hea­venly to be much more so? If we are not able to find out the True System of the Material World, how can we apprehend the unspeakable nature of the Spiritual one? If there be Mysteries in Philosophy, surely there are Greater ones in the Gospel. If the nature of a Groveling Plant con­founds us, how shall we be able to solve all the difficult Problems in Christianity? If a man can't attain all his life time to the knowledge of a single Mineral, is it pro­bable that he can in a much less time know fully the Secrets of the Kingdom of Hea­ven? If he can't give an account of a sor­ry Insect, how shall he be able to unravel the Mysteries of our Faith? If we can't tell with all our reason and argumenta­tion how the Soul is united to, and acts upon the Body, how is i [...] possible to tell [Page 395] the manner of the Son of God's being joyn'd to the Humane nature? or how could it be expected we should give an account of the Unity of the Three Persons in the Godhead, or of other the like surprizing doctrines in our Religion? If we have so mean a discovery of what is within us, and so near to us, and is the Best part of us, yea, is Our selves, it is no wonder that we can't arrive to a full knowledge of the things that are without us, and are remote from us, and which are not of the same Limited nature with Our selves, but are Boundless and Infinite. If it was the Opi­nion of a Great Philosophick Wit, that the Material World is indefinitely extend­ed, that the Compass of the Universe is beyond all that we can imagine, that it is impossible to frame a conception of the li­mits and bounds of it, then may we not with more reason hold the Intellectual World to be a boundless Expanse, such as we cannot possibly reach to the Extremity of, an endless, unlimited, and as it were infinite System? Especially if we speak of the Divine and Supernatural things belong­ing to it, we must be forced to own this Truth, and to confess, that what we know of them is the least part of what is kept from our knowledge, and that we cannot possibly with the greatest art and wit attain to a greater insight. For if there be Apo­crypha [Page 396] in Nature (as hath been shew'd) it is not strange that there are Mysteries in Divi­nity, which it is impossible (whatever some pretend) to solve, by reason of their Pro­found and Immense nature. These will not admit of an accurate Inquisition, and therefore all our knowledge concerning them is defective, and must needs be so. We are presently beyond our depth, we are soon plung'd when we venture into this Fathomless Ocean. The Reason is, because the Mind of man can have no per­fect knowledge of what is of so Transcen­dent a nature: especially it can't attain to a compleat notion and perception of what is Infinite.

This alone were sufficient to decide the Dispute between the Anti-Trinitarians and us. If they would put the whole Con­troversie upon this issue, it would soon have a period. I wish they would well consider of it, and shew themselves (what they so vaunt themselves to be) Masters of True Reason. For then they would see how unreasonable it is, that their thoughts and expressions concerning the Infinite God should be according to the nature of Fi­nite beings. They would see how absurd it is to undertake to measure the Creator by the Creature, and to apply the Properties of Natural things to what is Supernatural, as they deal in the doctrine about the Holy [Page 397] Trinity. They would find that what is true of the former, is not necessarily so of the latter, and consequently, that they ought not to [...]rgue from the nature of a finite and created being to that of God. They would be convinced, That the Scrip­ture (to use the words of a* Man of free Thoughts, and of a very Philosophical and Rational Genius, who professes that the Scripture) declares nothing concerning the Divinity of Christ and the Holy Trinity, that is impossible, contradictious, or more unintelligible than things that men ordinarily assent to, who are free Philosophers, and ad­mit nothing upon force or superstition, but up­on Reason. They would not pretend to such a penetration of mind as to dive into the exact nature of the Deity, they would be sensible of the unmeasurable dispropor­tion between their weak capacities, and what is Infinite and Immense. In sum, they would confess, that they have not right conceptions concerning the nature of those Sublime Verities, which I have been speaking of, whilst they contend, that there is nothing Mysterious and Hidden in them: nay, they would acknowledge, that they have very wrong and perverse notions of these things, and such as are [Page 398] no ways agreeable to their nature. And now to shut up this Head of my Discourse, we are to remember, that the Truth and Reality of Things are firm and unshaken, and we can't think to dissettle them, but our business is to adjust our notions to the Things.. He that finds fault with them for their Obscurity and Difficulty cavils at the nature of the Things themselves, which is the most irrational act imaginable, for the Nature of Beings is stable and settled, and we cannot alter it, and therefore to require that it should be altered, is absurd and ridiculous.

Lastly, I argue not only from the qua­lity of the things themselves, but from the present state we are in, which is capable of no other than an Imperfect knowledge of these Divine Secrets. This Accounr of the matter is suggested to us by the Apostle, for he makes a plain distinction between knowing now in part, and seeing then (i. e. hereafter) face to face, and knowing even as we are known, 1 Cor, 13. 12. One he com­pares to the state of a Child, who is of weak understanding and capacity, and the other to that of a Man, who is of ripe judgment and apprehension. The former is our allotment in this world: Evangeli­cal and Divine Truths (for of these the Apostle speaks in that place) are known by us here only in part: and no otherwise [Page 399] shall they, or can they be known as long as we inhabit in these dark Vehicles of Earth. I speak not this to disparage the Christian Knowledge, for it must be grant­ed, that there are many Plain aud Clear Propositions, both as to the matter and manner of the things contain'd in them, which the Writings of the New Testament furnish us with: and all the Practical Truths of Christianity are easie to be known, and are represented to us by Christ and his Apostles in a very intelligible manner. And as to the knowledge of those very Doctrines, which I have been speak­ing of, all True Christians have such a measure of it, as makes them sufficiently capable of understanding their Religion, and of discharging their Duty, of know­ing so much as concerns them to know, so much as is requisite to Salvation. But that which I assert, and am proving, is this, that these last sort of Truths are mix'd in us, whilst we take up our residence on this earthly stage, with much Ignorance and Darkness. We comprehend not the full meaning of them, because this is not suit­able to our present condition, which we are now placed in. Thence it is, that there are some Secrets mention'd in the Holy Scriptures, which our understandings trem­ble at, and are afraid to approach unto. Be the mind of man never so Ambitious, and [Page 400] greedy of knowledge, it cannot grasp them, for they are too Big: it cannot reach them, they are too High: it cannot fathom them, they are too deep: it can­not discern them, they are too Remote: in a word, they surpass humane abilities at their highest pitch in this state of Mor­tality.

But it shall be otherwise afterwards, as the Apostle informs us, When that which is perfect is come (when we shall be transla­ted to Heaven, a state of Perfection) then that which is in part shall be done away, v. 10. Then we shall no longer be in the dark, then the imperfection of our understand­ing shall cease, because our natures shall be exalted. Then those Amazing Truths, which pose us now, shall be fully resol­ved, i. e. so far as is fit for us, for even in Heaven our Nature will still be but Finite, and therefore our knowledge will be so too. But by the change of our vile bo­dies for heavenly ones (though still they are the same, but otherwise qualified) which will no ways impede, but promote the operations of our Souls, and by being taken into the more Immediate Presence of the Holy Trinity, and stated in the Frui­ [...]ion of perfect Glory, we shall have our minds exalted, and our understandings widened to such a degree, that we shall exactly and fully know every thing that is [Page 401] to be known by us. Though the intrin­sick nature of the things, that we shall know, shall be the same that it is now (for there can be no alteration as to that) yet our faculties shall not be the same as to the degree of their capacity, and the manner of their perception. When this gross Veil of flesh shall be drawn aside, when the Soul is rid of this Terrestrial Clog, and is stript of these Deficient Organs, we shall have a more clear and refined apprehension of all Truths; and approaching nearer to the Great Objects themselves, we shall at­tain to a more distinct view of them, and a fuller insight into them, than now at this distance from them we are capable of. In that Separate state we shall, by reason of an intimate Communion with the Supreme Being, and a close Conjunction of the Soul with him, be able to comprehend all the Hard Points of Religion, to unravel all Difficulties, to untie all Knots, to assoil all Controversies. Then, and not before, we shall be furnish'd with this ability. Where­fore those men make not a due distinction between this life and that to come, who talk against Mysteries in our Religion: they are forgetful of the Present Scene of things, and the Dispensation they are un­der: they discourse as if they thought themselves advanced to the Coelestial Regi­ons already. But this very thing shews [Page 402] their mistake, and that they are on this side of that place, for they betray the weakness and uncertainty of their Know­ledge. These persons indiscreetly antedate the Last day, anticipate the Future World, and confront the revealed Purpose of Hea­ven; for it was not design'd by the Supreme Being, that we should here below have a full insight into those Divine Recesses: this is reserved for another State.

Thus much of the Reasons, so far as we can apprehend, why Christianity is a My­stery, that is, why some of the most weighty and momentous doctrines of it are in some part hid from all mens understand­ings.

What I have said administers to us this double Reflection, 1. From the premises we may discover the vanity and falsity of the Socinian Notion, that there are no My­steries in the Christian Religion. 2. We may gather what is our Proper Duty and Concern in the Case before us.

First, I say, this discovers and detects, and at the same baffles the false apprehen­sion of those men, who cry down all My­steries in Christianity, and tell us, that all is levell'd to the meanest capacities. Not­withstanding those Remarkable Attestati­ons to the Contrary Truth from the plain words of our Saviour and his Apostles, yet they perversly oppose and deny it, and [Page 403] magnifie Reason as the only Measure of Truth, and Rule of Faith (whatever their * late Pretences are) and nothing will serve them in Religion but Logick and down­right Demonstration. I have observ'd it in the Modern Writings of this sort of men (and of one also that is a late Friend of theirs) that they seldom or never finish a Discourse, though it be about Religi­on, without bringing in of Geometrical terms, especially Angles and Triangles. These Gentlemen under a pretext of Ma­thematicks would subvert Christianity, and demonstrate us out of the Articles of our Faith, and make a Triangle baffle the Trinity. This is the grand Source of their present Delusion, and of that disturbance which they make in the World, viz. their labouring to exclude all Mysteries from Christianity. It arises wholly from this, that they will not give credit to any thing in Religion, but what is entirely Clear and Evident, and commensurate to exact Rea­son. This is perfectly according to that Description, which one of the Fathers of the Primitive Church gives of St. Paul's [Page 404] Natural man, * He is one (saith he) that at­tributes all to the Reasonings of his Soul, and thinks not that he stands in need of help from Above; neither will be receive any thing by Faith, but counts all foolishness which cannot be made out by Demonstration. And an Anci­ent Critick defines him thus, He is one who turns all over to Humane Reason, and admits not of the operation of the Spirit, i. e. any thing that is Supernatural in Religion. This is the brief, but full Character of a Disciple of Socinus, (so far as we are con­cern'd in him upon the present occasion) but certainly it ill becomes a Christian man; for I have proved already, that such a spi­rit and genius are against the plain deter­mination of Christ and his Apostles, a­gainst the very nature of the things them­selves, and unsuitable to the present state we are in. Such a one forgets to distinguish between Philosophy and Christianity. The Professors of the former, act not amiss in squaring all their opinions and sentiments [Page 425] by Strict Reason: but the Adherers to the latter, who are eminently stiled Believers, must yield their assent to things, which they cannot by Reason comprehend. O­therwise they confound the natures of things, and take away the Distinction be­tween Reason and Faith, which is much more absurd and unaccountable than what Scenkius in his Medical Observations fancies, that it is possible for a man to receive the Visible Species through his Nostrils, or in plainer terms, that a man may See with his Nose; for here is only a substituting of one Bodily Sense for another, but in the o­ther case there is a mistaking of one Mental Operation for another, viz. Reason for Faith. This is the Absurdity of those of the Ra­covian way, and we ought carefully to a­void it. We are to believe Christianity to be a Reasonable Service (as the Apostle de­servedly stiles it:) but it may be truly said of those men, that they make Christianity more reasonable than it is: that is, they make it submit wholly to Humane and Na­tural Reason, and this is the ground of their exploding all Mysteries.

Secondly, Seeing a great part of the Chri­stian Religion is a Mystery, and design'd to be such, we are concern'd to Behave our selves accordingly, that is, never to be so bold and rash, as to demand a Positive and Punctual Account of things of this high [Page 506] and abstruse nature.* It is required in a Good Grammarian, said One who was as skilful in that Art as any man, that he be ignorant of some things. The same may be said of a Good Divine; to be ignorant of some Mysteries, and not to search too ear­nestly into them is a good qualification in one of that Profession, and indeed in all persons that study Christianity. This is a Learned kind of Ignorance, and we are not to be ashamed of it. It is not neces­sary we should have a clear understanding of Theological Secrets, because the Holy Writ is silent about them: but yet we ought to hold and believe the things them­selves, because the same Infallible Word asserts them. Those that go any further, shew indeed, that they are very Prying and Inquisitive, but let them beware of handling the Word of God deceitfully, and making Truth uphold Falshood. As that Egyptian (in Plutarch) answer'd the men, who ask'd him, What it was that he carried so close Covered? Therefore it is cover'd, said he, that you should not know what it is, and therefore your asking was in vain: So it is here, these Divine things are purposely hid from us, and wrapt up in Obscurity, that we may not with too eager a Curiosity [Page 407] search into them, and busie our heads a­bout them. Let every one of us think that spoken to us, which the Good Chri­stian said to the Philosopher, at the Coun­cil of Nice,* Ask not, How? Be not in­quisitive concerning the Manner of Sacred and Heavenly things, for this is hid from us. A Learned and Pious Writer of the Primitive Church, tells us, ‘That it is enough for us to know, that in Christ's Person, the Divine Nature was so joyn'd by an ineffable kind of Tye with the Hu­mane Nature, that the same Hypostasis contains in it two distinct Natures: but how that Union is made, it is not neces­sary to know, nor is it fit to search: only let us believe and hold what is written.’ And the same Excellent Per­son in another place (and indeed in se­veral places of his Writings) exceedingly blames the rashness and curiosity of those that prie into Divine Mysteries, and dis­pute and wrangle, and raise vain questi­ons about them, and ask why and how such things are. It was excellently said by ano­ther Brave Man, of a true primitive tem­per, * This question, How? can have no place in the things of God, whose only Will [Page 408] is sufficient, and is to be greatly admired of all. And with these Ancient Writers a­grees the Great Modern Reformer,* This word [Why] (saith he) hath misled and de­stroy'd many souls: it is too high for us to search into.

When we come to insist too busily on these demands, Why or How God saith or doth this or that? we shew that we are loth to submit our Reason to Faith, and to give assent to God's Word, though we can­not clearly conceive it. Which argues a very Unchristian temper, for the Gospel hath propounded many things to us which are Mystical, which neither our thoughts can fully apprehend, nor our words ex­press. But this should not hinder us from believing and embracing them, for though they are Mysterious, yet it is plain and manifest, that they are asserted in the Sa­cred Writings. It was prudently and Chri­stianly advised and determin'd by St. Au­gustine, in such Points as these, which I have been of speaking, and especially the Trinity (which that Pious Father particu­larly mentions) Let us, saith he, by that previous Faith, which helps the eye-sight of the [Page 409] mind, clearly imbrace what we understand, and firmly believe what we understand not. The Reason of which Advice and Resolu­tion is this, that some things that are a­bove the reach of our Understandings may be, and ought to be the matter of our Belief. Which is founded on this, that the object of Faith is of a much larger Ex­tent than that of Reason, and therefore we may give assent to some Propositions, which we cannot explain and clear up by the light of Reason.

And besides, every Thinking Man ought to revolve this in his mind, that Faith is of an higher nature than Reason, and accord­ingly was designed to bear Sway over it, and to controul it. To this purpose it is to be consider'd, that there are these Three Faculties or Operations in Men, Sense, and Reason, and Faith, and they gradually rise one higher than the other. Sense is com­mon to us with Brutes, and takes notice on­ly of Corporeal and External Objects, but Reason is proper to us as we are Men, and is bestow'd upon us to correct the mistakes of Sense; thus by Sense we can't perceive the Motion of the Sun and Stars, they so couzen our sight that we can't apprehend when they move, yea, they seem to stand immoveable: wherefore we must consult with something else than Sense, and that is Reason, which tells us, that either those [Page 410] Heavenly Bodies, or the Ground we stand upon move very swiftly: our Reason, not our Eyes, must give us an account of this. Thus it is plain, that Reason controuls Sense, and consequently is a higher and su­perior faculty. But then comes Faith, and claims a Superiority over them both; for as Reason was given by God to correct Sense, so this Function was added to give a check to Reason, as being Higher and Nobler than that. This is the Order of these O­perations in Man, and it is by Divine ap­pointment, and therefore no man of so­ber thoughts can find fault with it. If we are free to acknowledge, that Reason is a Curb to Sense (and we cannot deny it) then we should be as forward to own, that Faith is the same to Reason, and that we ought to make use of the one to check and bridle the other, when Sacred and Supernatural things are under our consideration. Here then, as is fitting, let us strenuously exert our Faith, and not judge of the Divine Being and the Truths revealed by him according to humane measures, according to what we find and perceive in one another, still remembring that they are Mysteries.

As for the Contrary Sentiment, there are these three Great things that disparage it, 1. It argues Pride and Arrogant Stiffness. 2. It is an undeniable proof of gross Prejudice and Par­tiality. 3. It unavoidably introduces Indiffe­rency [Page 411] in Religion. I will distinctly insist upon this Triple Charge, and then leave the Ju­dicious to judge of my performance.

First, It is a great argument of a Proud and Haughty Spirit. For it must needs pro­ceed from this Principle, that the men of that perswasion will by no means acknow­ledge their Short-sightedness, and the Shal­lowness of their Intellectuals. They can­not brook such Condescention as this, and therefore they scorn to own any Mysteries. If any Difficult Truths are propounded to them, they have learnt of a Great Con­queror to cut the knot, instead of untying it: they violently null the proposition, and so make it no Mystery, as we see they do in the Articles of the Trinity, and the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the like. For they pretend to manage all by meer force of Reason, and reject all propositions and doctrines which they think come not up to this heighth. They take it very ill, if you allow them not a Catholick and Unbounded Knowledge of every thing, whether finite or infinite, and of the particular Manner and minutest Cir­cumstances that appertain to them. They disdain that there should be any thing in nature which they are not able to com­prehend, they deem it an unsufferable dis­grace to their understandings, that any thing should be above the reach of them, that [Page 412] there should be any Point of Speculation so deep and abstruse, that they cannot pe­netrate to the very bottom of it: they scorn to have it said, that there are any Myste­ries and Darknesses in Religion, when their minds are so bright, and their intellects are so shining. What is this but Pride? What is this but being over-conceited of their natural Faculties, and having too great an opinion of their own Rational Capacities? what is this but an immodest and extrava­gant magnifying of these Powers? Yea, what is it but a kind of aspiring to Divi­nity, and attributing to themselves an In­finite and Immense nature, an extraordi­nary and more than humane Wisdom? Zophar gives us the true Character and Pe­digree of this sort of persons, Iob 11. 12. Vain man would be wise (this Empty Hollow Creature would fain be thought to be full of Knowledge) though he be born like a wild asses colt, though he be by nature ig­norant and rude: he hath such an opini­on and esteem of his Parts and Acquire­ments, he is of such Arrogancy and Elati­on of Mind, that he thinks it below him to acknowledge any Abstrusities in Reli­gion. He takes part with the Conceited Sect of the Stoicks, among whom it was a Maxim,* That it became not a Wise man [Page 413] to wonder at any of those things which to others seem to be Paradoxes. Nay, he is so much of this Vaunting humour, that he will not be perswaded, that there is any thing Wonderful and Amazing, even in Religion it self. St. Paul stiles Christiani­ty a Mystery, but he being intoxicated with Pride and Self-conceit directly contradicts him, and saith it is not mysterious.

But those who attend to the Apostle's Advice,Rom. 12. 3. Not to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think, but to think soberly, have other thoughts and apprehen­sions, and are most willing to acknow­ledge the shallowness of their own Judg­ments, and the depth of Divine Truth. We have Instances on Record of those Humble Souls, who, though of singular sagacity and improvements, proclaim'd the Un­searchableness of the Divine Wisdom, and the Exalted Truths that belong to it. The Ancient Inspired Arabian ex­presses it thus,Job 28. 1 [...], &c. Man know­eth not the price of it, (i. e. as I apprehend, he cannot come up fully to the Purchase, or, which is the same, the Attainment of it, for we purchase things by price) neither is it found in the land of the living: the depth saith, it is not in me; and the sea saith, it is not in me. Whence then cometh Wisdom, and where is the place of [Page 414] Vnderstanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air, i. e. those that are most quick-sighted, for Naturalists observe, that the eyes of Birds generally excel those of other Animals. But he concludes, God under­stands the ways thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof, that is, he hath reserved the perfect knowledge of these Divine and Supernatural things to Himself. This was the humble sense of another Great and Wise Man, the Royal Psalmist, concern­ing whom it is worth our observing, that after he had asserted and maintain'd the doctrine of God's Omniscience and All-see­ing Providence, he adds,* Such knowledge is too wonderful for me: it is high, I cannot attain unto it: which is as much as if he had said, though it is impossible for me to apprehend the infinite and boundless know­ledge of the Eternal God, the Sovereign Disposer of all things, though I can't tell how he sees and foresees all things whatso­ever, yet I heartily own this Universal Sight and Prescience of his, and I verily believe it to be a certain and unshaken Truth. It is Humility which furnishes a man with such perswasion and language as this, and it is this which causes him to be­lieve and assert, that there are Mysteries in [Page 415] his Holy Faith, which far transcend his thoughts and conceptions. This is that Wisdom, which according to another Di­vine and Inspired Sage,* is far off and ex­ceeding deep, and therefore (as it follows) who can find it out?

To which irrefragable Testimonies per­mit me to adjoyn that of an Apocryphal Writer (and the rather because I will take occasion thence to offer a Conjecture on that dark place) Wisdom is according to her Name, and she is not manifest unto ma­ny. What is the meaning of that, accord­ing to her Name? What Title hath Wisdom that imports any such matter, viz. that she is not manifest? Some Criticks think it re­fers to the Hebrew word for Wisdom, Choc­mah, others to the Arabick Algnalam, but what they propound seems to be very much strain'd, and doth not reach the purpose. And how can it seeing they forget that this Book was writ in Greek, and that the Title of it is [...]? We must therefore repair to the Greek for a solution, but we must first confer with the Hebrew, where we meet with the Verb Saphah or Tsaphah, which signifies to hide or cover, and thence it is probable [...] is derived: and this it is likely is the Name that is here meant, be­cause though the language in which this [Page 416] book was originally drawn up was Hebrew, (as appears from the Prologue of it) yet it was soon translated into Greek, because the Iews at that time spoke Greek general­ly, and had their Bible and Service in Greek: and accordingly this place hath re­ference to the name of Wisdom in that tongue, wherein there are many words de­riv'd from the Hebrew: and hence it is, that the denomination of Wisdom imports something hid and mysterious, and there­fore she is according to her Name. The Iewish Doctors had a sense of this, as ap­pears from their Proverbial Saying, When Elias comes, he will untie all knots, i. e. solve all Difficult and Abstruse Points; of which there are not a few in Religi­on. There are sundry things hid from our understandings here, which shall not be clear'd till the last day. Now, if the Wisest persons spoke thus concerning the things of Religion (which is the Wisdom of God) under those Dispensations of old, is there not much more reason to say the like of the Divine Wisdom under the Oe­conomy of the Gospel, when doctrines of an higher nature are published to the world, such as far surpass all humane comprehen­sion?

But there is a generation of men among us that will not stoop to this, they will not own themselves to be in a state of Weak­ness, [Page 417] Childhood, and Minority in this life, though the Great Apostle (as we have heard) expresly did, when he so far own'd the deficiency of his Understanding, as to say, he knew in part, and spake, and under­stood, and thought as a Child. And all the Great and all the Wise men in the world have been ready to say the same, yea, e­ven with reference to matters of a lower nature. The Learned in the Law confess they have their Perplexed and Knotty Cases, Statesmen their Arcana, Physicians their Opprobious Maladies, Anatomists their Unknown Ductus's, Astronomers their Ec­centrical Motions which they can't reduce into regular and exact Order, Mathemati­cians their Insoluble Problems. And, in brief, most Professions and Sciences labour under some insuperable Difficulties and In­tricacies: and this is freely acknowledg'd by the most Skilful in those Arts. But here is a sort of men that will not own any such thing in Divinity, although it be conver­sant about Objects that are infinitely High­er and Greater. Notwithstanding this, they think it is below a man of Parts to own any thing to be Inexplicable: they profess that it becomes not a man of Sense and Reason to admit of this, yea, that it is an unsufferable affront to Humane Nature to believe such a thing. They think it a sufficient ground to cashier a doctrine in [Page 418] Religion because it is attended with Obscu­rity. In short, they think it unreasonable to yield assent to a Proposition on the ac­count of its being reveal'd in Scripture, meerly because they are not able to con­ceive the Manner of it. Thus their Pride makes them Infidels, and they bid adieu to Modesty and the Faith together.

Secondly, Another Great Disparagement and Inexcusable Blemish of these mens Per­swasion is, that it argues wilful Prejudice and Partiality. I will make this evident from these two Considerations; First, Tho' they deny not that there are Mysteries in the Divine Providence, yet they altogether renounce them in the Articles before men­tion'd: Secondly, Though they grant there may and ought to be a Government and Restraint on the Imaginations, Will and Affections of men, yet at the same time they perversly disapprove of the like restraint on the Vnderstanding and Reason­ing Faculty. Both these are Instances of their egregrious Prepossession and Partia­lity.

1. They profess themselves to be satis­fied about the Divine Conduct in the Go­verning of the Vniverse, though many Dif­ficulties, and those very Great and Insupe­rable, accompany it. They acquiesce in the unerring Wisdom of the Supreme Ruler of all things, and they pretend not to [Page 419] judge of his actions, but most willingly grant them to be just and wise and good, notwithstanding they cannot give an Ac­count of them, notwithstanding they ac­knowledge them to be Unsearchable and Incomprehensible. None of them have ever ventured to question God's Wisdom, because there are some Events and Occur­rences in the world, which no man can possibly give a Reason of. We do not hear them say, that these are contrary to Reason, and that they are Contradictory, although at the same time they yield that they have no knowledge of them, they are out of their sight, and they can render no parti­cular account of them. Nor do we hear them cry out to have these Intricate Events made out by Reason, they don't peremto­rily demand to have the Causes of them laid open, or else they will throw up the doctrine of Providence: No, they very patiently and contentedly resolve all into the Infinite and Unsearchable Wisdom of the Absolute Governour of the World, and into the Ignorance and Weakness of hu­mane understandings. God hath not thought fit to reveal those Secrets, and therefore they are content to be ignorant of them: yea, they submissively admire, revere and adore that Infinite Wisdom, which they vote to be Mysterious and Unaccount­ble.

[Page 420] And why then do they not act thus with with reference to the Mysterious Articles of the Christian Faith, and the Great, but Ab­struse Verities of the Gospel? Seeing they deny not the Providence of God, because of some harsh and difficult passages in it, why should they reject those Doctrines be­cause there are some things in them hard to be understood? Seeing they quarrel not with the Divine Government, though ma­ny things in it are mysterious and dark, and far above their understandings, why do they find fault with those Points of the Christian Belief, (which were deliver'd to us by the same All-wise Governour of the world) because there are certain Mysteries in them? If the Infinite Wisdom and the Absolute Power and Sovereignty of the Supreme Being render his Actions unac­countable, why should not these make his Words, his Sayings, his Dictates about di­vine things to be of the same nature? If the methods of God's ruling the world be Inscrutable, why should we undertake to fathom the depths and secrets of those Truths which he hath declared to the world? If God* doth great things past find­ing out, why may not he be allow'd to speak such? If the Iudgments of God are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out, [Page 421] is there not cause to believe, that God's Na­ture and Essence are so too? If the Socini­ans are not concern'd to answer the Diffi­culties about the former, what is the rea­son that they startle at the latter? If they acknowledge that God acts many things which are above their understandings, why should they not own him to be what they cannot comprehend? If they can't know what he doth, why should they expect to know what he is? Are the Works of God's Providence unsearchable, and is not He himself so? Are there several things done above their apprehensions, and shall they deny the Author of them to be above them? Is God to be trusted and relied upon beyond their knowledge and understanding, and is he not barely to be believ'd, though he de­livers some things which are above their capacities? Is the doctrine of Providence, though in sundry things Unaccountable, imbrac'd and profess'd by them, and is not the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to be enter­tain'd, though it contains in it such things of which we are not able to give an ac­count? Is it an unquestionable Truth that there is a Divine Management of all mun­dane affairs, though the particular admini­strations of it are inexplicable? and is it not as reasonable to assert, that there are Three Persons in the Deity, though we cannot explain and unfold the Manner of [Page 522] it? I challenge those that make the bold­est pretences to Reason and Good Sense, to shew the Difference between these. All unprejudiced and impartial minds must grant the Case to be the same, for surely God's Essence is as infinite and incompre­hensible as his Providence, and therefore if it be a rational and sufficient Answer to all the Objections and Scruples against Pro­vidence to say, that they believe God is Wise and Good and Just, though they are not able to comprehend the secret methods of his Wisdom, Justice and Goodness, then it ought to be as good and satisfacto­ry an Answer to all Difficulties of the Tri­nity, to say they firmly assent to that do­ctrine, though they cannot understand the Manner of it.

But the persons I am speaking of will not submit to this, and therefore they de­monstrate how Partial they are, when they quarrel with the foresaid Article, and other doctrines of the Gospel, for no other rea­son but this, that they are Mysterious and Vnaccountable, they are rais'd above the reach of their understandings. I appeal now to the severest Judges of Reason, whe­ther these men can justly lay claim to any such thing whilst they thus behave them­selves, whilst they declare that even in Re­ligious and Divine Matters (for such cer­tainly is that of Providence) it is reasonable [Page 423] to believe and embrace more than we can understand and comprehend, and yet re­nounce the doctrine of the Trinity, and some other substantial Points of Christiani­ty for their being in some measure Incom­prehensible. What can this be but Per­verseness and Crosness? What is it but acting contrary to themselves? And then who will give heed to men of this cross­grain'd temper? Who will regard such vain people that are inconsistent with themselves, and clash with their own Con­cessions? They frankly subscribe to Di­vine Providence, though it hath many My­steries, Obscurities, Difficulties, Intrigues in it which no mortal man can unfold: and yet they discard some of the chief E­vangelical Truths, because they can't ex­plain them by Reason. Thus they run counter to their own Principles and Pra­ctice, and are Self-condemned persons, and proclaim to all mankind that they are cor­rupted with Prejudice and Partiality.

2. They give open and undeniable proofs of this, by granting that it is con­venient, yea, necessary to regulate and li­mit the tendencies of the Will and Affecti­ons, and yet with the same breath they pronounce it unfitting and unreasonable to use any restraint, or set any bounds, or prescribe any rules to the Intellectual facul­ty. They own it to be the indispensable [Page 424] Character of a Good and Religious Man to exercise a discipline on his Imagination and his Passions, they hold it to be a main part of Christian Philosophy to be severe and rigorous here. For some things which seem reasonable and plausible are forbid­den us by the Evangelical Laws, and many harsh and difficult things are enjoyn'd us; but we are to satisfie our selves with this, that God's Will ought to be the Standard of ours, and therefore we ought to resign our selves to the Divine Conduct. And these men allow of this as just and ration­al, and advise that our Natural desires and propensions should give way to our Saviour's Commands, he being our Great Law-giver and Master. And why then do they shew themselves Partial in denying it reasonable to submit the Intellectual part of the Mind to the doctrines and dictates of the Gospel? Is there not as much reason to take care of this Faculty, to look to the management of it, to keep it within its due bounds, as there is to deal thus with the Elective Power of the Soul? If they are content to sur­render this to the Divine Will, why are they against subjecting the other to the Di­vine Ligh [...] and Discoveries? If it be com­mend [...]ble to curb and moderate the Concu­piscible or [...]rascible part, why not also to regulate and govern the Perceptive? If the Will must be check'd, why must the [Page 425] Intellect be left uncontroulable? If they measure the Goodness of the former Power in them by the Laws and Rules of Christ, what is the reason that they measure not the Rectitude of the latter by the discove­ries of Divine Truth made by the same Author in the Writings of the New Testa­ment? Seeing they deem it proper and necessary for humane minds to vail the first to the express Injunctions of the Gos­pel, why do they not think it as requisite to submit the second to the infallible di­ctates of the Holy Spirit in Scripture? why do they not abandon their own weak sen­timents about the highest Concerns of Chri­stianity? why do they not renounce their private surmises, their shallow arguings, their sophistical ratiocinations, and give them up to be corrected by the light of Di­vine Revelation? why are they not sensi­ble of the deficiency and indigence of their Minds, of the narrowness and contracted­ness of their understandings, and why do they not at the same time adore the Divine Perfection? why do they not inure their understandings to the dictates of Inspirati­on, and believe what is Unintelligible? Particularly in the doctrine of the Trinity; why do they lean to their own understand­ings? why do they prescribe to Heaven, and set up their own weak Conceptions as the Standard of Divine Truth? In a [Page 426] word, why do they not make their meer Natural Notions and Principles truckle to Reveal'd Truth, and bring their Rea­son into subjection to the Eternal [...]?

If they come here with their old cry and cavils, that the Article of the Trinity, and some others that appertain to it are contrary to Reason, and are a perfect Con­tradiction, and are Impossibilities, (as their language is) we may for ever silence them with this, that they can't with any shew of Reason talk after this rate, because they can't pronounce that to be Contrary to Rea­son, the Nature of which they are igno­rant of: what they can't reach with their Reason, they can't say is Repugnant to it. Nor can they doom this or that to be Con­tradictory, when they know nothing of the Manner of it. And so for the Impossi­bility of a thing, it is rash folly to deter­mine it cannot be when they are unacquain­ted with the Transcendent Nature of it, when the Mode of its existence is hid from them. This I think is very plain, and it is as pertinent to the matter in hand, I having proved that the doctrine of the Trinity, and such like Articles of Chri­stianity are hidden Mysteries. Therefore let not these men think to amuse and banter us (as they would needs do) with [...]alking of Contradictions, Impossibilities, &c. [Page 427] which are Terms that are nothing to the purpose.

But this I request of them, that they would be Serious, and vouchsafe to re­flect on what I have suggested under this Head, for the Article of the Trinity would be a very clear and bright Truth to them, if they would but entertain this one thing in their thoughts, that they are oblig'd as much to keep a discipline over their Un­derstandings as over their Wills, that the Intellectual Powers, as well as the other Faculties of the mind, are to be in subjecti­on. It is mention'd as part of Man's De­pravity and alienation from his first Make, that* he seeks out many Inventions, i. e. (as the Hebrew word signifies) curious Excogi­tations, quaint Arguings, fanciful Reason­ings. These, especially in matters of Re­ligion, are greedily sought out and pursued by Vain men: but where the true force and vertue of Religion prevail, there they cast down imaginations ( [...] reason­ings) and every high thing (every proud Conceit) that exalteth it self against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought, i. e. every corrupt notion and conception which usurps upon Faith. This is the Conduct of our Minds which the Apostles teaches us; we must quit our [Page 428] false Argumentations and Debates about the the Great Mysteries of our Religion, we must not dare to be wise above what is writ­ten, above or beyond what Divine Revela­tion hath taught us, but we must resolve all our doubts and scruples by appealing to Divine Authority and the Veracity of God.

It may be the Sagacious Gentlemen we have to do with at present, will grant that some Vulgar heads (among whom perhaps they will reckon the foresaid Apostle) have favour'd the restraining and limiting of the Intellectual Powers as well as the other Fa­culties of the mind, but will this pass cur­rent (they may say) with those that are vo­ted for Men of Sense and Wit, will it be admitted by Men of Keen Apprehensions, men of Judgment and Philosophy? Yes, most surely, if they will be pleas'd to take the Learned Lord Verulam, and the Great Des Cartes into that number. The former of whom hath left these remarkable words, * ‘Gods Sovereignty reaches to the whole man, extending it self no less to his Rea­son than his Will: so that it well be­comes man to deny himself universally, and yield up all to God. Wherefore as we are bound to obey the Law of God, notwithstanding the reluctancy of our [Page 429] Will, so are we also to believe his Word, though against the reluctancy of our Rea­son. The latter expresses himself thus, (and though some may think it is spoken in Politick Compliance, yet it is more than they can prove, and it is certain, that they are in themselves words of truth and so­berness, and worthy of so Great a Man,) * ‘We must, saith he, always and chiefly remember this, that God the Author of things is Infinite, and we altogether fi­nite: so that when God reveals any thing concerning himself or other things which surpasses the natural strength of our wit, such as the Mysteries of the Incar­nation or Trinity, we are not to refuse to give our Assent to them, though we do not clearly understand them.’ And again, in the Close of this First Part of his Philo­sophical Principles he hath left us this Ex­cellent Memorandum, ‘This is to be fix'd on our memories as a Principal Rule, that whatever things are reveal'd unto us by God are to be believ'd by us as the most certain of all. And though perhaps the most clear and evident light of Reason should seem to suggest to us some o­ther thing, notwithstanding this we are to give credit to the sole Authori­ty [Page 430] of God rather than to our own judg­ment.’

Thus these Mighty Genius's of Philoso­phy give their Suffrage to our Greater A­postle, and declare to the world how ra­tional it is to keep the Reasoning as well as the Elective part in subjection. And in­deed seeing it is the same Soul that affects, wills, and understands, and these Faculties are not really different from the Soul it self, it follows, that if the Soul in one ca­pacity may be check'd and regulated, then it may be so in another: and if we are o­blig'd to chastise the extravagancy of the Will and Appetites, we may and ought to correct the disorder of the Vnderstanding. The Socinians grant the former, but deny the latter, though without any ground, for there is the same reason for the one, that there is for the other. Which shows that they despise the Parity of Reason, that they attend not to the Consequence of their Propositions, that they argue not alike in thin [...] that are alike, that they vary in Cases that are of the same nature, that they deal not fairly and ingeniously, that they contradict themselves, that they are froward and perverse, and are resolv'd to [...] and Partiality have the [...]

[Page 431] Thirdly, There is yet another Great Dis­paragement and Blemish lies upon this Sentiment, and this Behaviour; for as they are the off-spring of Pride and Insolence, of Partiality and Perverseness, so they are the nurse of Indifferency and Scepticism in Re­ligion. Whilst persons acquiesce in Divine Revelation, they are upon safe and firm ground, but when they quit this, and un­dertake to measure Christianity by the Principles of Natural and Common Rea­son, they have no sure footing, but they waver and fluctuate, they start queries a­bout all things, and utterly overthrow all Certainty in Religious and Divine matters. For when Over-curious and Wrangling heads come to argue about those High Points of Christianity, which I have be­fore mention'd, and make them the mat­ter of a Formal Dispute, and encounter them with meer dint of Reason, they soon perswade themselves that they are Victors in such an Engagement, and then they carry their Conquests further, and range and flie about, and make it their work to un­settle Religion, and bring all the Concerns of it into question. They teach men to doubt of all the Propositions which they before received, and especially to dispute about every part of Christianity. For they infuse this notion into mens heads, that they must not admit of the doctrine of the [Page 432] Trinity, and such receiv'd Articles of Faith, because they are against Reason. and Rea­son with them is their own Prejudice and Dislike, which prompt them to use a sort of Argumentations against these Truths. But they are able to use the like Reasonings against all other Articles of Christianity, and when there is occasion they will not fail to do it; for they seem to begin with those [...]ore Difficult and Abstruse Points, and to bring people off from them (because they think they can't easily maintain them) that they may make way for shaking the Plain­er ones afterwards. I must needs profess, I have more Charity than to think that this is a formed design of the generality of those that profess the Socinian way, for I believe there are some well disposed per­sons among them. But I am enclin'd to believe, that there is such a Project carried on by some ill-minded and perverse men, who take this opportunity to render Re­ligion Doubtful and Disputable, and by degrees to represent it as an Indifferent and Un [...]ertain thing. By this course, which they are at this day taking, the most Sa­cred and Venerable Truths will be slight­ed▪ nay, they are already slighted and actu­ally disregarded by this race of men, as [...] of the Artributes of God, Christ's [...], the Rising of the same bodies, the S [...]b [...]i [...]tence and Perception of Separate Souls, [Page] [Page] [Page 433] the Torments of Hell, &c. And sundry o­ther substantial Verities, as the Existence of Good and Evil Angels, the Universal Providence of God in the world, the Mi­racles of our Saviour, the Truth of the Christian Religion, and many more such doctrines are either doubted of, or denied by Deists or Atheists, and that on the Soci­nian Principles, (that is the thing obser­vable at present) I say, upon the Socinian Principles, viz. because there are some Diffi­culties that attend the notions and appre­hensions of these things, and because they are not on all accounts adjusted to the mo­del of mens ordinary Reasonings: there­fore they are unwilling to admit of them on that very account.

But for the same reason all the Main Doctrines of the Gospel will be doubted of, the weightest Articles of our Religion will be voted to be but Arbitrary Hypothe­ses, and Christianity it self will be thought to be no other; as we find in the Wri­tings both of our Foreign and Domestick Adversaries Christianity is laid in the same Scales with Iudaism and Turcism, and some parts of it (nay the Weightiest) are deter­min'd to be lighter than any in the other two. This naturally follows from their arrogantly presuming upon the Strength of their Understandings and Reasons in the [Page 434] things of God, from their peremptory re­solving to entertain nothing in Religion, but what is commensurate to Natural Prin­ciples, from their opposing and denying a Doctrine which is plainly and expresly asserted in Scripture, meerly because they cannot define the exact Manner of the thing that is asserted. This, I say, is the Conse­quence of founding all Religion upon Na­tural Reason and Argument. We must throw up a great part of that which is Reveal'd, meerly to gratifie the Deists and Racovians. Nay, this will not suffice, for it is to be suspected, that those who strike at Reveal'd Religion bear no kindness (what­ever they pretend) to the Natural. It is likely that those who bid defiance to the former will do the same in time to the lat­ter: for we can't imagine but that those bold men who disregard the Immediate Discoveries of Heaven to mankind, and represent them as altogether Incredible by intelligent and inquisitive minds, will also vilifie the more Mediate and Common Di­ctates of Nature: those that slight the Ex­traordinary Voice of God cannot be sup­posed to attend to the Ordinary one: those that refuse to hear him speaking in the Ho­ly Writ will not be obsequious to his di­ctates in their own breasts.

[Page 445] Thus you see how dangerous and perni­cious an Opinion our Adversaries maintain and promote: we see how they feed the humour of this Sceptical Age, and work upon unstable and wavering minds, and wheadle them out of their Religion by plausible insinuations and pretences of Hu­mane Reason: by this means they directly lead them to defame, libel and blaspheme Christianity and all the Mysteries of it, and they make use of their Reason to make void their Faith.

But now all this may be prevented and hindred by a humble and Christian sub­mission to the Sacred Oracles, by a free re­signing our selves to the Faith of the Gos­pel, and by giving credit to it; Articles, because they are deliver'd and attested by God himself in the Infallible Writings; which even Reason it self dictates to be the best Method we can take to establish and confirm us in our Religion, and to assure us of the Truth of all its doctrines, be they never so perplexed and mysterious.

Nor doth this introduce a Blind Credu­lity, and such an Implicit Faith as some of the Romanists defend, for when we resign up our judgments to Divine Revelati­on, we are not debarr'd from examining and searching into, and satisfying our selves about the Truth of the things we [Page 436] speak of, but only of the Mode of them. Which makes it a quite different thing from the practice of the Roman Proselytes, who are bid to swallow down whatever is di­ctated to them, and that upon the bare Au­thority and Warrant of the Church. But here is no such crude Method prescribed, we are to* search the Scriptures, whether these things be so, and we are to make use of Rea­son to shew and convince us how fitting it is, that we should believe what is reveal'd by the Spirit of God. For seeing since the Re­volt and Original Depravation of Man, we stand in need of Revelation to direct us, right Reason tells us, that it is unsafe to re­ly on the bare suggestions of our own minds in the great matters of Religion. This acquaints us, that though we are not capa­ble of answering all difficulties in those Points, yet we are oblig'd to give credit to the doctrines themselves, because they are founded on Scripture, which was divinely inspired. This Principle in us assures us, that though we can't fully explain these things by Reason, yet we have reason to believe the Holy Writ, which is the Rule and Measure of our Faith, yea, notwith­standing those Points seem to thwart the [Page 437] natural principles of Reason. Thus far we have Reason on our side.

And then for Scripture, that is wholly and entirely ours. Those Grand Articles, which our Antagonists renounce are found there. Particularly to instance in that Great and Celebrated Doctrine which I have so often mention'd, one would think it might suffice, that this is so directly, so plainly, so frequently asserted in the New Testament: where we find Three expresly named, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to whom the Divinity is ascribed, and therefore we believe these Three to be One God. But how these three distinct Hypostases are one Entire, Indivi­sible Essence, is an ineffable and incompre­hensible Mystery. Yet, though we can't conceive the Manner of this, yet the Thing it self is clearly and plainly reveal'd in Scripture, and consequently the Socinians have no cause to brag, that theirs is an* Ac­countable and Reasonable Faith, when it ab­solutely opposes and contradicts the Holy Oracles of the Bible.

This is the true state of the matter, and so it was thought to be by that Learned Wri­ter, whom I before quoted, who hath the repute, even among these men of a Person [Page 438] of Great Reason and Sense; speaking of them, he* thus expresses himself, ‘Their Opinion I look upon as fundamentally repugnant to Christianity it self, if the New Testament be the foundation of Chri­stianity, for I know nothing more ex­press than That (viz. the Trinity) in those Writings. And therefore the denying of the Trinity is the denying of the Authori­ty of the New Testament. Or, if they will pretend they can interpret things there so as to evade this doctrine, by the same reason I think they may evade any, and so still the Sacred Writ shall stand for a Cypher, and signifie nothing, which tends mainly to the enervating of our Faith.’ These are very Weighty words, and the more to be consider'd by our Adversaries, because they come from One of a Large Compass of Mind, and a great Asserter of Reason in Religion, which is a thing that these Gentlemen pretend much to. The sum of what he saith is this, that if the Scripture be true, the doctrine of the Trinity is so too: if Divine Revelation in the books of the New Testament is to be believ'd, then this also must be embraced. And on this very account it hath been embraced by all reli­gious and pious minds that have had a re­verence [Page 439] for the Holy Scriptures. As it was the Faith once delivered to the Saints, so it hath ever since been the steady belief of all the Martyrs and Confessors of Iesus, and all the True Professors of Christianity, and it hath with invincible force in all ages of the Church born down all opposition that hath been made against it. And I question not but those violent Efforts and Insults which have been, and are made against it in this present Age will prove vain and success­less. Though we have seen the rain descend, and the flouds come, and the winds blow, and beat upon it, yet it shall never fall, because it is founded upon a rock, the same Rock on which the Church of Christ is built, viz. the Confession and Testimony of the Inspired Apostles, the Truth and Authority of the Scriptures, the Veracity of God, and the Cer­tainty of Divine Revelation. And all the other Sacred Mysteries of our Religion have the very same stable foundation, and there­fore are Impregnable.

Let this then satisfie us, that these Do­ctrines are sufficiently reveal'd, though they are not fully known. I say they are suffici­ently revealed, because the Book of God as­sure us that these things are so: but they are not fully known, because we are not able to discover the Arguments on which they are founded; we discern not the foot on [Page 440] which they stand: God hath been pleas'd to hide this from us. But then this is to be said, It is not reasonable to renounce our belief of that which is plain and evident, because it is mix'd with something which is dark and intricate. It was an Excellent Caution and Rule of the Great St. Augustine, * Nunquid ideo negandum quod apertum est, quia comprehendi non potest quod occultum est? The Truth of a Doctrine may be evident and perspicuous (and that is sufficient to com­mand our Assent) tho' the Nature of it is not. The Modes and Circumstances apper­taining to Divine things are not to be ac­counted for: at least, if we cannot clear them up, we have no reason to quit the Grand Truths themselves. These are not to be abandon'd because they are not ac­cording to our ordinary level, because we are not able to render a punctual account of them, because we cannot perfectly Gauge them, and sound them to the very bottom; in a word, because they are not subject to the Tribunal of Reason. But if we have any regard to the Sacred and Infallible Volume, we cannot but enter­tain these Divine Doctrines, and firmly be­lieve them, and heartily approve of them; for when we find any thing (though 'tis [Page 441] impossible to explain and unfold it) vouch'd by Scripture, we need desire no more. Whence we may judge of Socinus aud Smalcius, the* former of whom de­clares concerning the Satisfaction of Christ, and the latter concerning the Incarnation of the Son of God, that they would not believe these doctrines, though the Scrip­ture should expresly assert them. These are strange passages in Writers that bear the Name of Christians, and seem to own the New Testament (as well as the Old) where every thing is Authentick, and worthy of all acceptation, and depends not on the arbitrement of our shallow Reasons. Here to doubt is In [...]idelity, to be scrupulous is an affront to Heaven, to dispute is an injury to the Deity.

To conclude, It appears from the whole that the Disciples of Socinus are the most foolish and sensless pretenders to Reason in the whole world, because they make it their business to argue against the God of Reason and the Spirit of Truth. But if they will call their Anti-Scriptural No­tions by the name of Reason, who can help it? Only this we are sure of (and it [Page 442] is all I will add at present) no truly Ra­tional and Sober man will be pleas'd with that Reason which rejects what God hath reveal'd, which vilifies the Discoveries that come from Heaven, which contradicts the Bible, and gives the Lye to Him who is the Original Truth, the Eternal Reason, the Source of all Understanding, and Light and Knowledge it self.


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