Geor. Stradling S. T. P. Re­verendo in Christo Patri Gil­berto Episc. Lond. a sacris Domest.

Self-contradiction censured, OR A Caveat against inconstancy, and the inconsistent contrariety of the same mens pretences, principles, opinions and practices, Dialogue-wise digested into a delibera­tive discourse between Affection and Judgement; AND Intended to serve as spiritual Physick for two great diseases of Phanatick spirits, HYPOCRITICAL DECEITFULNESS, AND ENTHUSIASTICAL DELUSION.

By Christopher Harvey Vicar of Clifton upon Dunsmore in the County of Warwick.

GAL. 11.18.

If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make my self a transgressor.

LONDON, Printed by R. Norton 1662.

To the right reverend Father in God, GILBERT Lord BISHOP of LONDON, And President of the CONVOCATION IN THE Province of Canterbury.

My Lord,

THis discourse I penned in the year 1642. under the borrowed name of Irenaeus Philalethes. Since when, some written copies of it have privately passed thorow many hands, not with­out approbation from some, both loyal Subjects of the Crown, and o­bedient sons of the Church of En­gland: [Page] unto whom, for their emi­nent worth, I have great reason to to bear much respect. That now, being altogether a stranger, I take upon me the boldness, in mine own name, and publickly, to present it with my humble service to your Lordship, is because I am confident­ly perswaded, that you are a very zealous, & will be a constant Asser­tour of that religious Loyalty, which is pleaded for in this discourse Con­cerning which, although I must con­fess, that there is no such appearance of learning, art or wit in it, as may be sufficient to render it considerable unto curious heads, yet I hope there is some such evidence of truth and sincerity, with peaceable humility & moderation, as may serve to shew it not unfit for entertainment amongst [Page] honest hearts. Howsoever I am preswaded, that there is nothing in it, which will be offensive unto any, except they be such, as think themselves wiser then the holy Scriptures can make them, or pur­pose to promote their own particu­lar and private ends, although it be to the general and publick prejudice of Christianity: Whom I never did either desire to please by complying with them, or fear to offend by dis­senting from them: but in all the long time of my almost perpetual suf­ferings, in one kind or other, have still lived in a confident and pati­ent expectation of that, which now with joy and gladness I behold, the happy Resurrection in our land of Christian Orthodox Principality and Prelacy, or Monarchy and Hie­rarchy [Page] in abstracto: which I have ever esteemed to be the most lively representations of the two witnesses, Rev. 11. and most exactly compara­ble unto them, if not rather purposely intended by them (as I have intima­ted in the 25. Section of the right Rebel) and that all their adherents were in a far more comfortable con­dition, when most abased in their own wants, then any of their ene­mies could be, when they most a­bounded with the spoils of other men. Blessed be the God of peace, that of his abundant mercy hath once again spoken peace unto his peo­ple, and restored comfort unto them and their mourners: He of his in­finite goodness give them grace, not as pretended onely, but as real Sains indeed, to continue in his [Page] goodness, and never to turn again unto any of their former follies. That your Lordship may live long on earth to enjoy the comforts, and ta last in heaven receive the reward of all that you have done, and shall do worthily, for the glory of God, and the good of his Church, is, and shall be the prayer of,

Your Lordships very humble and obsequious servant, Christopher Harvey.

The Author to the Readers.

Christians Readers,

I Mean you which make ac­count, that under God one day, your own consciences, either must be your most cordial comforters, or will be your most bitter ad­versaries, I earnestly intreat you, by all that is, or can be dear un­to you, to credit me in this, that this discourse is not offered to the view of others, with any in­tent of purpose to raise scruples in the minds of any, who exercise themselves to have alwayes a conscience void of offence to­ward God and toward men; but to put some men in minde of [Page] their own unadvised rashness, who use to take up both pre­tences, principles, opinions and practices on trust from others, and (being carried with the current of example) to follow on in the tract they see traced before them, although for ought they know, it may be but a by-way, non quà eundum, sed quà itur. Whereof God himself did long ago give warning, when he said, Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do e­vil, Exod. 2 [...].2. and Be no more children tossed to and fro, and car­ried about with every wind of do­ctrine, by the slight of men, and cun­ning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even [Page] Christ, Eph. 4.14, 15. Dayly ex­perience tells us what a strong compulsive power example hath, and he knew well enough that said Vivitur exemplo. When St. Peter at Antioch withdrew, and se­parated himself from the Gentiles, fearing them which were of the cir­cumcision, the other Jews dissem­bled with him insomuch that Barna­bas also was caried away with their dissimulation. Whereupon St Paul complained, that he compelled the Gentiles to live as did the Jews, Gal. 2.12, 13, 14 And whether the publick distractions of our times, not only in matters of Religion, and Church government, but likewise of the State and Com­monwealth, may not be justly imputed unto the weakness of [Page] those mens resolutions, who (suf­fering themselves to be carried a­way with the wind and tide of popular applause, or a prevailing faction) have sought to please o­thers, by complying with them in their opinions and practices, rather then unto any weight of argument, & strength of reason, whereby their judgements might be swaid, and drawn that way, I leave it to be resolved by them, who seriously consider what St. Pauls censure is of them that troubled the Galatians about circumcision, Gal. 6.12, 13. As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh constrain you to be cir­cumcised, onely lest they should suf­fer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves, who [Page] are circumcised keep the law, but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. As though their intent and aim were not to stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel: but having mens persons in admira­tion, because of advantage, to make a party, and maintain a side, oppressing others with an heavy load of prejudice, and bolstering up their own with a potent prop of partiality. And they prevailed so far that way, that though St. Paul withstood St. Peter to his face, and gave no place by subjection to the false brethren, no not for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel might continue with the Gala­tians, [Page] yet he was afraid of them, lest he had bestowed labour upon them in vain: and is forced to break out into that terrible A­postolical imprecation, I would they were even cut off that trouble you. Which imprecation although I dare not imitate him in, with relation to any particular persons, yet, with an indefinite generali­ty of comprehension only, I hope I may be bold to say, as he doth, He that troubleth you shall bear his judgement, whosoever he be. Such troubles St. Paul not onely met with in the Churches where he had to do, as appeareth almost in all his Epistles, but likewise hath fortold unto others, which to the end that all might be freer from the danger of, he not only gives [Page] ordinary Christians warning to beware of them, but especially layes a weighty charge upon them that are watchmen over others, upon that occasion, to take heed unto themselves, and to all the flock, over which the holy Ghost hath made them O­verseers. And to that purpose he sets divers marks upon them whom he would have to be avoi­ded: as, Acts 20. [...]9, 30. Grievous wolves, not sparing the flock, speak­ing perverse things to draw away disciples after them. Rom. 16.17, 18. which cause divisions and of­fences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned: they serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. 1 Cor. 3.4, One saith, I am [Page] of Paul, and another, I am of Apollo. 2 Cor. 10.12. Measuring them­selves by themselves, and compa­ring themselves amongst themselves. Gal. 1.7. That trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. Gal. 2.4 False brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spie out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage. Gal. 4.17. They zealously affect you, but not well: yea, they would exclude you (or us) that you might affect them. Phil. 1.15, 16. Some preach Christ of envy and strife, of contention not sincerely. Phil. 2.21. All seek their own not the things which are Je­sus Christs. 1 Tim. 1.5, 6, 7. which having swarved from the end of the Commandment, have turned a­side unto vain jangling, Desiring [Page] to be teachers of the law, understand­ing neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 1 Tim. 4.1, 2. Giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of Devils, speaking lyes in hypocrisie, having their con­sciencies seared with an hot iron. 1 Tim. 6.4, 5. Proud, knowing no­thing, but doting about questions, and strifes of words, whereof com­eth envy, strife, raylings, evil sur­misings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth; supposing that gain is godliness. 2 Tim. 3.6, 7, 8. Which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women, laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learn­ing and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Mo­ses, so do these also resist the truth: [Page] men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 2 Tim. 4.3, 4. The time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itch­ing ears: And they shall turn away their ears from hearing the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. Tit. 1.9, 10, 11. Gain-sayers, unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, who subvert whole houses teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre sake. ver. 16. They profess that they know God: but in works they deny him, being abominable and disobe­dient, and to every good work re­probate. Agreeable whereunto is that which we find foretold by St. Peter, in the second Chapter of his second Epistle, and com­plained of by St. Jude: especi­ally [Page] that which seemeth to be the most peculiar and proper sin of these times, despising dominion, and speaking evil of dignities. The truth of all which, although in the general it cannot be de­nyed, yet in the particular ap­plication thereof is bandied like a tennis ball by Christians of se­veral professions against one a­nother, none daring to let it rest on their side, lest withal they should be forced to confess a loss. Which though it may appear to be an argument of that generous disposition which the very name and title of a Christian seems to bring with it, possessing them that profess themselves such, with a general aversness to acknow­ledge any thing as justly laid unto their charge, which they [Page] suspect may barr them of that claim: yet I cannot conceive it altogether to agree with that in­genuity, or rather sincerity, by which the spirit of truth may be distinguished from the spirit of errour, whose property it is to make men willing to confess the truth, although it be against themselves, and to acknowledge with St. Paul, that they can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth, 2 Cor 13.8. For truth, as the God of truth, is but one, and can no more contradict it self, then cease to be: so that they who are once convicted of untruth, must of necessity either acknow­ledge themselves in an errour, or else be left for ever inexcusable, unless they can shew some special priviledge, by which they are [Page] exempted from the general con­dition of all mankind. In which respect, methinks, there is no equity at all in recriminations, unless the parties accused can as well acquit themselves, as charge their accusers. Which though some men may do sufficiently in some particulars, yet that any man can do in all, I cannot easily believe, until I see some limita­tion put upon that general pro­nunciate of St. James, Jam. 3.2. In many things we offend all: and that by the same authority, by which he spake it. So that lay­ing aside all partiality unto our selves, and prejudice against others, I suppose the readi­est, and indeed the onely sure and certain means, to decide all controverted points, either of [Page] opinion or practice amongst men, purposely maintained and avow­ed by them, is to examine them how they agree with that which they pretend; and that which they pretend, with that which all good Christians are agreed upon, the clear and undoubted principles of religion, so plain­ly expressed in the holy Scrip­ture, that an ordinary under­standing may easily apprehend the meaning of them. I mean not so, that every one who hears them shall be effectually wrought upon both to believe them, and obey them, or be en­lightned so, as to see evidence of truth in every conclusion, that in direct form of argument may be deduced from them: but so, that he agrees with others, in the [Page] general sence and understand­ing of them, and will acknow­ledge, that what is contrary thereunto cannot be truth. In which regard, though many men have done worthily in confirming the truth, and convincing gain­sayers, yet I conceive the most effectual means to reduce them that wander from the errour of their wayes, is to represent unto them apparent evidences of their own inconstant contradictions, and the irreconciliable inconsi­stence of their own opinions and practices. For who shall justifie him that is condemned of him­self? Or, what exception can a­ny man take to his own evidence? Out of thy own mouth will I condemn thee, saith our Saviour in the parable, Luk. 19.22. and, Thou [Page] that teachest another, teachest thou not thy self? saith St. Paul, Rom. [...].21. Such an argument ad hominem, although it be not alwayes suf­ficient to confirm what men un­dertake themselves to maintain, yet may it be very available to convince their opponents, either of errour, or enormity: which as I conceive there is no man but is subject to, so hardly can I think any man so unreasonable, but in his more retired thoughts he will acknowledge it unto himself, although peradventure, if not modesty, yet pride will make him unwilling to confess it unto others. To set such men be­fore themselves, and bring them to take notice of that which their own deceitful hearts would fain conceal from them, I have [Page] taken this pains. Wherein I shall have this advantage, that if it con­duce not any thing to the pub­lick good of others, yet I my self in private may make use of it. For first, by this I hope it will appear, that the course which I have held (whatever suc­cess it may meet with for the pre­sent) was not unadvisedly and rashly undertaken, but upon se­rious consideration; and that I could not with a good consci­ence, alter my practice, unless I had been sufficiently convinced of errour in mine opinion. And secondly it may be that which I seek to teach others, I may have occasion to learn my self, or at least many times to renew the re­membrance of it. And I shall take it thankfully from them, that [Page] will favour me so much, as to in­form of mine own contradicti­ons, if they finde me in any. Which that I may expect, with all the freedom that I can from a personal ingagement, I make bold to continue the use of the same borrowed name, under which I have formerly shadowed my self.

October 21. 1642.
Irenaeus Philalethes.

The Contents of this Discourse.

  • SECT. I. AN Introduction to the ensuing discourse p. 1
  • Sect. 2. Of the ends, which men do, or should pro­pose unto themselves in all their actions p. 5
  • Sect. 3. How to try the truth of our own preten­ded ends p. 7
  • Sect. 4. How to judge of other mens intentions, whether they be agreeable to their pretences, or no p. 11
  • Sect. 5. Some probable ocasions to suspect, al­though not necessary evidences to conclude, what other mens intentions are p. 16
  • Sect. 6. Mens actions and intertions are not al­wayes of the same kinde, either good, or bad p. 21
  • Sect. 7. Rules of direction for the better dis­covery of the truth, or falshood of the ends which men pretend p. 23
  • Sect. 8. Pretences are not alwayes to be taken upon trust from other men p. 25
  • Sect. 9. The best means to try the truth, or the falshood of other mens pretences p. 26
  • Sect. 10. The same illustrated by some exam­ples p. 31
  • Sect. 11. Other evidences for the further per­fecting of this discovery p. 39
  • Sect. 12. A real purpose of pretended ends is [Page] not enough, unless the intended ends them­selves be such as they should be p. 42
  • Sect. 13. Instances of exceptions, that may be ta­ken to the choice of such means, as may be conducible to the ends, which they are used for p. 45
  • Sect. 14. Means effectually conducible to any end must not be used, if either unlawful in them­selves, or unto those that use them. p. 52
  • Sect. 15. Amongst different opinions of what is lawful, or unlawful, necessary, or indifferent in it self, nothing is to be done against con­science p. 56
  • Sect. 16. The right information of Conscience, concerning what is unlawful, or necessary in it self, is to be sought for from the written word of God rightly understood and applyed p. 59
  • Sect. 17. Amongst divers opinions, concerning the true understanding of Scripture, their doubtful differences are to be tried by their concord and agreement with undoubted truths commonly received and agreed upon as princi­ples. p. 61
  • Sect. 18. Special immediate revelations from God, to shew what is unlawful, or necessary to our selves in particular, although useful here­tofore, are neither to be expected, nor easily to be believed now p. 68
  • Sect. 19. Some directions to try the pretended re­velations of private spirits by p. 72
  • Sect. 20. What to do in such things, as are nei­ther [Page] necessary, nor unlawful in them­selves, nor unto us in particular, but in­definitely, only unto men of such particular pla­ces and callings, estates and conditions, as for the present we are in p. 76
  • Sect. 21. Things in themselves indifferent may become either necessary, or unlawful to inferi­ours, being commanded, or forbidden them by their superiours p. 79
  • Sect. 22. Of passive obedience insuffering wrong patiently. Whether subjects to defend them­selves, and maintain their own right, may by open violence, and force of arms, resist their supreme Magistrates? p. 85
  • Sect. 23. The question stated p. 89
  • Sect. 24. Cautions, with which the affirmative is limited by them that maintain it p 92
  • Sect. 25. Exceptions to some principles, upon which they endeavour to ground their opini­ons, who maintain the affirmative p. 94.
  • Sect. 26. The question whether subjects may resist their soveraigns, belongs not peculiarly to Kings or Monarchs, alone, but is common un­to them, with all supreme Magistrates, in what form of government soever it be p. 106
  • Sect. 27 Means warranted by God, as effectually conducible to any end, must not be refused, or neglected, under any pretence to the contrary whatsoever p. 109
  • Sect. 28. Means probably destructive of the su­preme must not be used, though possibly they [Page] might be available for subordinate ends p. 114
  • Sect. 29. What means in their use are inconsi­stent with, or contrary to the advancement of the glory of God. p 119
  • Sect. 30. Whether the glory of God may be ad­vanced by the sins of men p. 121
  • Sect. 31. Some means sometimes probably condu­cible to the supreme and principal, if necessari­ly destructive of, or inconsistent with a parti­cular subordinate end, are not alwayes to be used p 123
  • Sect. 32. Men eminently vertuous, or notoriously vicious, how far to be trusted, and adhered un­to, or shunned and declined p. 126
  • Sect. 33. Partiality and prejudice two great oc­casions of confusion in the world p. 128
  • Sect. 34. What difference is to be made between the opinions and practices of men eminently vertuous, and notoriously vicious p. 133
  • Sect. 35. A multitude must not be followed to do evil, nor the doing of good abstained from, though it be to avoid the society of a multitude of evil doers otherwise p. 141
  • Sect. 36. The conclusion p. 147

Self-contradiction censured, In a Dialogue between AFFECTION & JUDGMENT.

SECT. I. An Introduction to the ensuing dis­course.


THE discourse which you fell into the other day, concerning the necessity of a right judgement, a good understanding, and a good conscience in all things, made then so deep an impression in my minde, that since it hath given me occasion to enter into a more serious consideration of mine own wayes, and to examine both mine actions and intentions more nar­rowly then heretofore. And now I [Page 2] would gladly make use of this opportu­nity, to advise with you in some parti­culars, of which, if my resolution should be only ruled by my self, peradventure I might finde cause hereafter to repent me.


I am glad that discourse wrought with you so well: for the truth is, my special aime therein was at your good, having for the love I bear you often observed your behaviour, and sometimes seen you so carried away with a vehement desire of compassing the ends you aimed at, without due con­sideration of the means, whereby you might attain unto them; sometimes so transported with a liking of the wayes which you were in, without looking to the end whereat they might arrive; some­times so applauding some mens persons, and so admiring their graces, without taking any notice at all of their infirmi­ties; sometimes so detesting some mens particular opinions and practices, that you have fallen into a general disliking of their persons, and vilifying all (though otherwise good) that they have [Page 3] had any hand at all in; that I have al­most been ready to accuse my self of a mistake, and to resolve that it was not Affection which I had set mine eyes upon, but Affectation. But if you be resolved hereafter to use more circumspection, I shall be as ready to assist you with the best advice I can, as you to desire it.


There is nothing, whereby you may oblige me more, nor can I imagine how I should testifie my thankfulness better, then by resolving for the future to follow your directions, and for the present freely to unfold my doubts un­to you.


As for your doubts, you shall do well to deal freely in discovering them: but for my directions, you had better re­serve your resolution of following them, until you see reason to induce you there­unto. For Judgement is in danger some­times to be blinded, as well as Affection is to be ensnared: and therefore it is best, that we both joyn together to assist one another in using the means, where­by we may come to be rightly informed, both what we should think, and what we [Page 4] should do, and wait for a blessing upon our endeavours, from him who giveth unto all men liberally, and upbraideth not.


That blessing I hope he will not withhold, having begun already to give it, by directing you so rightly your self to single out the main particulars, con­cerning which my purpose was to desire your advise: viz. the proposal of the ends which I ought to aim at, the choice of the means, which I should use to those ends, and that esteem I ought to have them in, whom I observe to be richly a­dorned with eminent graces, or notori­ously overtaken with false opinions, or evil practices. And as before I appre­hended a possibility, that hereafter I might be, so now by your speech I per­ceive there is some cause I should sus­pect, that I have been already mistaken in that kinde.


Nor do you need to wonder at it, and to think it strange, since it is no more then humane frailty maketh all men subject to, and that which the best sometimes have had too much experi­ence [Page 5] of: as I shall shew you by particu­lar examples, if you will propound your particular doubts concerning each of them in order.

SECT. II. Of the ends which men do, or should propose unto themselves in all their actions.


IF you be so pleased then, I will begin with that, which is the first in all mens intentions, the end which they propose unto themselves in all their acti­ons: and which for mine own part, I conceive is the principal thing to be en­quired of. This I am resolved should be the advancement of the glory of God: and that nothing should be intended at all, but that which may be, not possibly onely, but necessarily also, or probably at least subservient thereunto.


So far you are right. But I doubt all men are not of the same minde: for St. Paul in his time found it otherwise. [Page 6] Phil. 1.15, 16, 17. He saith, Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of good will. The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to adde affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the Gospel. And speaking of Timothy. Phil. 2.20, 21. He saith, I have no man like min­ded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christs. Whereby it appeares, that St. Paul not onely thought it possible that some men might, but likewise found it by experience true, that many men did propose unto themselves one end in pretence, and another in truth. Nay, that which is yet more miserable, mens own deceitful hearts many times are apt to carry them away with a false perswasion of their own ends, and make them think they seek indeed the glory of God, when in truth it is but their own repute and credit amongst men.

Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord, saith Jehu to Jehonadab, 2 Kings 10.16. Yet Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for [Page 7] he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin. vers. 31. Jehu it seems had more regard to his own roy­alty, then Gods religion, notwithstand­ing his pretended zeal for the Lord. What a fair intent of doing justice unto every man did Absalom profess, 2 Sam. 15.4. when his purpose was to steal the hearts of the men of Israel from their own King, and his own father, David? And how did he make the pretended payment of a vow, which he had vowed to the Lord, in Hebron, the colour of his escape from Jerusalem, and a cloak to cover his conspiracy? So usual a thing it is, as Solomon observes; Prov. 26.23, 25. to finde the potsheard of a wicked heart co­vered with the silver dross of burning lips, and for him that speaketh fair to have seven abominations in his heart.

SECT. III. How to try the truth of our own pre­tended ends.


THat this is too often true I dare not deny: but the difficulty is to [Page 8] discover this deceit. For counsel in the heart of man is as deep water. Prov. 20.5. and though a man of understanding may draw it out, yet every man is not alwayes fur­nished with means sufficient to that pur­pose. Therefore you shall do me a spe­cial pleasure, if you will give me some rules of direction to guide my self by in the trial both of mine own and other mens pretended ends.


For your own, as it concerns you most to be well assured of the truth of your intentions, so the means are more certain, if you will deale sincerely with your self in the use of them. The princi­pal is to beg of God, that he would dis­cover you unto your self, as David doth, Psal. 26.2. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me, try my reins and my heart: and Psal. 139.23, 24. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me. As it is he that knoweth, so it is he that declareth unto man what is his thought. Am. 4.13. And if you be not willing to have your intentions thus tried and discove­red unto you by him, but dig deep to [Page 9] hide your counsels from the Lord, you have just cause to suspect, that you heart goes about to deceive you, and that you purpose something else then you pre­tend. Subordinate unto this may be your examination and tryal of your self in two particulars.

First, if your pretended end be that which you intend indeed, you will not rest satisfied with any thing else, until you have attained it: nay rather you will be impatient of every thing (though otherwise good and convenient) that you think may intercept, or interrupt the accomplishment of what you mainly desire. Thus Abrahams servant shewed plainly, that he came not unto Labans house for entertainment, but dispatch of his business, when he said, I will not eat, till I have told mine errand. Gen. 24.23.

Secondly, if your pretended end be that which you intend indeed, you will rest satisfied with the accomplishment of that, although you fail of other things, which otherwise you might have had: nay rather you will be glad, and desire [Page 10] to be deprived of, or debarred from any thing else, (how good, or conveni­ent soever it may be) by loosing where­of the fruition of your main intended may be furthered. Thus St. Paul shews plainly, that the propagation and de­fence of the Gospel was his main design, when he saith, None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto my self, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testifie the Gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20.24. Thus Mephibo­sheth shewed plainly, that he was sincerely indeed affected unto Davids safety, when he was content to have parted, not onely with the half of his estate, but even with the whole, unto his own treacherous ser­vant Ziba, so long as he saw the King come again in peace to his own house. 2 Sam. 19.30.

SECT. IV. How to judge of other mens inten­tions, whether they be agreeable to their pretences, or no.

FOr other mens intents, though you cannot so certainly know them, as your own, nor need alwayes to en­quire after them: yet, when they are of publick and common concernment, and are urged as motives to draw you into action with them, it behoves you to take heed, that your opinions of them be not lightly undertaken, but upon good ground of reason: which must be gathe­red from that evidence you find of like­lyhood and probability (for absolute as­sured certainty there can be none) that what they pretend they purposely aim at, and intend indeed: and in the right apprehension, and application, of that evidence especially consists the exercise and use, of that sound wisdom and dis­cretion wherewith a good man guideth his affairs, as the Psamist speaks. Psal. 112. [Page 12] 5. and whereby he is taught to walk up­rightly and evenly, between that weak and simple partiality, which believeth every word, and that uncharitable pre­judice, which not onely suspecteth, but censureth also as unsound, the most seem­ingly sincere professions. To lend you some light in making this discovery, let me commend to your consideration these particulars.

First, that mens intentions are many times varied by the success of their acti­ons, and they alter their ends, as means, occasions, and opportunities, either frown upon, or favour them. And so sometimes that which was at first inten­ded as an end, comes afterward to be made use of onely as a means unto ano­ther end. Thus the end that Absalom in­tended, when he sent Joab unto David. 2 Sam. 14.32. was the regaining of his fa­thers grace and favour, but afterwards he made use of that grace & favour for ano­ther end, the promoting of his treasona­ble intent of usurping the kingdom, which it may be before he dreamed not of. And somtimes that which was at the first [Page 13] intended onely as a means unto a further end, comes afterward to be rested in as intended it self, without relation unto any other end. Thus Jeroboam and the ten tribes intended, or else pretended, as the onely end they aimed at, the mak­ing of their burthens lighter; and their revolt from Rehoboam and the house of David, seemed onely as a means to com­pass that end: but afterward they rested in that, as if they had all that they desi­red, and never regarded to return again to their obedience upon any termes. And sometimes men being crost in the ends that they before intended, and com­ing to discover the impossibility, incon­venience, or errour of them, utterly for­sake them, and set upon others. Thus when St. Paul went to the high Priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus, the end he intended was, that if he found any disciples of the Lord, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. Acts 9.1, 2. But when he re­turned to Jerusalem, the end he aimed at was the propagation of the Gospel, and the confirmation of that faith, which once he had destroyed. If therefore you [Page 14] would judge aright of other mens inten­tions, you must be careful to distinguish between their intentions that have been heretofore, and those that are now, otherwise you may be much mistaken.

Secondly consider, that the success of mens actions many times either is, or may be, much different from the ends which they intend in them. Thus Jo­sephs brethren intended nothing less then his advancement in Egypt by Pharoah, vvhen they sold him to the Ishmaelites: yet God by that means brought it to pass. And it may be the alteration of Religion to Idolatry was not intended by Jeroboam and the ten tribes, when they revolted from the tribe of Judah, and rebelled a­gainst Rehoboam, and the house of David, at least they made no shew thereof; but onely the making lighter of that yoak, which they conceived to be grievous and heavy; yet the change of the government quickly brought forth the change of the Religion too. Therefore you may be mistaken, if you think that alwayes to have been the end intended in other mens actions, which you finde to be the [Page 15] effect that followeth thereupon: or if you think, that such an effect will never follow upon such an action, because it is not the end intended in it.

Thirdly consider, that many men im­ployed, at the same time, in the same action, may notwithstanding have divers intentions, and propose unto themselves different ends. Thus St. Paul complains, Phil. 1, 15, 16, 17. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of good will. The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the Gospel. There­fore it is no good consequence to say, Such a man doth the same that other men do, therefore he aims at the same end with them.

Fourthly consider, that divers men imployed, at the same time, in different actions, may notwithstanding aim at, and propose unto themselves, one and the same end. Thus the thirty thousand that lay in ambush against Ai, and Joshua with the men of Israel, that made as though they were beaten before the men [Page 16] of Ai, and fled by the way of the wilder­ness, all intended the destruction of the City. Josh. 8. Thus Ittai, that would not be perswaded to return into Jerusalem, but passed over the brook Kidron before Da­vid, and Zadok and Abiathar, that carri­ed the ark of God again to Jerusalem, and carried there, and Husha [...] the Archite, that returned to the City, and aboda with Absolom, all intended Davids safe­ty. 2 Sam. 15. Therefore it is no good consequence to say, Because this and that mans actions are different, therefore their ends are not the same.

SECT. V. Some probable occasions to suspect, although not necessary evidences to conclude, what other mens in­intentions are.


GIve me leave, Sr. to interrupt you a little. I thought you would have given me some rules, whereby I might have known what other mens [Page 17] intentions are, and whether they pur­pose that indeed, which they pretend, or no. But for ought I perceive, these considerations which you offer me, are such, as rather tend to darken the disco­very, and make me doubt, whether all endeavours in this kind will not prove al­together vain and fruitless.


How apt you are to be mista­ken? My purpose is indeed to give you the best directions that I can, how you may judge of other mens intentions, and not be deceived therein: but first I thought it requisite to let you see, how many wayes you may be missed, and what appearances you ought not al­wayes to give heed unto, as necessary evi­dences to ground a certain resolution on: although I deny not, but that they may give just occasion many times to some suspition, or surmise, especially then when you plainly perceive them agree­able unto, or differing from that which is openly professed and pretended. As if you perceive the ends which any man doth now pretend, to be different from those which he formerly professed to [Page 18] intend, you may very reasonably suspend your resolution, that he deals sincerely now, untill you have more then his own bare word to warrant it. Thus when St. Paul was come to Heirusalem, and as­sayed to joyn himself to the disciples, they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple, but Barnabas took him and brought him to the Apo­stles, and declared unto them, how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus, in the name of Jesus; and then he was with them coming in and going out at Heirusalem. Acts 9.26, 27, 28. So if you see the suc­cess of mens actions directly contrary to the ends, which they pretended to aim at in those actions, and yet that they are well pleased with, and glad of such suc­cess, you may probably suspect, that not­withstanding their pretences, the ends which they intended before, were the same with the effects that followed after. And on the contrary, if the success of mens actions be agreeable unto the ends that they pretended, and yet they appear [Page 19] to be grieved with it, and displeased at it, you have then just cause to conceive, that either their pretences before were false, or else that their intentions are altered since. Thus David discovereth the falsehood of his feigned friends, in­deed his treacherous enemies, by their rejoycing in his adversity. Psal. 35.15. And by their magnifying of themselves against him, when his foot slipped. Psal. 38.16. But Saul pretending that he de­lighted in David, and meant his ad­vancement by the marriage of his daugh­ter, desiring no other dowry of him, but an hundred foreskins of the Phili­stines, it plainly appeared, that he meant not truly, but dissembled with David, in that he was grieved with his good suc­cess, and was the more afraid of him the more he prospered. 1 Sam. 18.12. &c. So when you see many men at the same time, ingage themselves in the same actions, you must have other reasons more then their own professions onely, to induce you to be of another opinion, or else you may very well suppose it probable, that the ends they aim at are [Page 20] the same. Thus Sampson would have the three thousand men, that came to him in the top of the rock Etam, to swear unto him, that they would not fall upon him themselves, before he would believe, that coming to binde him, as the Phili­stines did, they meant not to kill him too, Judg. 15.12, 13. And when you hear di­vers men professing to aim at the same end, and yet notwithstanding see that they engage themselves in different ac­tions, you may probably conjecture, if you should give credit to their bare pretences, that you might be deceived. Thus the disciples, till they were better instructed by our Saviour Christ, for­bad him whom they saw casting out Devils in his name, because he followed not with them. Luke 9.49. So that every appearance, though it be not a sufficient evidence of truth in that opinion which is guided by it; yet may be an occasion to sup­pose it so, till further enquiry discover what it is indeed.

SECT. VI. Mens actions and intentions are not alwayes of the same kinde, either good, or bad.


IT seems then you think, that even in the prosecution of good actions, some men may have evill intentions, and that some men who aim indeed at good ends, may take advantage of some evil Actions to attain them by.


It is true that they may, for ex­perience shews plainly that they have done so. Judas his end in saluting his Ma­ster with a kiss, was to betray him. Mat. 26.48, 49. Davids end, in the kind enter­tainment he gave unto Ʋrijah, was the cloaking of his own adultery. 2 Sam. 11. And on the contrary Hushai his counter­feit kindness, and professed fidelity to Absalom, was purposely intended to de­feat Achitophels counsel, 2 Sam. 16.26. &c. Rebecca, to get the blessing for her son [Page 22] Jacob, perswaded him to lye unto his fa­ther Isaac, Gen. 27.8, &c. Sarah, to pro­vid for the propagation of the promised seed, perswaded her husband Abraham to go in unto her hand-maid Hagar, Gen. 16.2. Therefore to argue the goodness of the end from the goodness of the acti­on, or that because the action is evil, the end is also such, is never a necessary, but may be sometimes a false illation.

SECT. VII. Rules of direction for the better dis­covery of the truth, or falshood, of the ends, which men pretend.


WHat other rules of direction will you give me then, whereby I may guide my self better, in discovering the truth, or falshood, of the ends which men pretend?


First, I would have you, as much you can, to rid your self of all partiality and prejudice, and when you [Page 23] enter upon this enquiry, to do it with all possible indifferency. A preconcei­ved opinion in the mind, like perspective made of coloured glasse, will render e­very thing as like it self as may be: and if before you enter into your enquiry, you entertain an opinion of other mens pretences, that they are either agreeable unto, or different from, the ends which they intend indeed, it will be a difficult matter to perswade you to the contrary almost by any argument.

Secondly, I would have you to take heed of trusting too much unto any one apparent evidence: for in conjectural cases, where the resolution must be swaied by the most probabilities, many circumstances must concur, as several items, to make up the total sum of that concluded argument, wherewith the mouth of contradiction may be stop­ped.

Thirdly I would not have you too apt to entertain an opinion that any mans intended ends are otherwise, then he himselfe pretendeth and professeth, without very probable inducements to [Page 24] perswade you to it. For though distrust as well as dissimulation, be many times more agreeable to humane worldly po­licy, then confidence and single hearted sincerity; which made him in the Sa­tyre say, Haud rectè facit, qui facile credit: yet the rule of religious piety, and Chri­stian charity, is rather to bear, believe, hope and endure all things, then to be easily provoked to think any evil▪ 1 Cor. 13 5, 7. And I would rather have you be mi­staken twice, in esteeming better of mens intentions and purposes, then they de­serve, then once, in judging worse of them, then you have just cause to do. For though there be a woe pronounced against them, that call evil good, as well as against them, that call good evil, Isai. 5.20. Yet of the two (so they do it not wilful­ly, or carefully) I doubt not but they finde more favour with the Lord, whose own sincerity makes them apt to be de­ceived by other mens hypocrisie, then they, whose own hypocrisie makes them over-suspitious of other mens sin­cerity.

SECT. VIII. Pretences are not alwayes to be ta­ken upon trust from other men.


WEre it not best then, for fear of offending in censuring too hardly of other mens intentions, to give credit to their own pretences, and take them upon trust, without any further inquiry concerning them?


No, for our Saviour requires in his sheep serpentine wisdom, as well as dove-like simplicity, Mat. 10.16. and St. John saith expresly, Believe not every spi­rit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God. 1 John 4.1. which certainly he would not have done, unless it were possible as well as necessary, and unless there were some means to do it by, as well as reason why it should be done. And that which I have hitherto said, tends not to discourage you altogether, from enter­ing upon such an inquiry, but onely to give you warning to be circumspect and [Page 26] wary what you do, that you may not be deceived with seeming shewes, instead of solid truths.

SECT. IX. The best means to try the truth, or falshood, of other mens pretences.


I Pray you then, if you can, at last deliver me of this doubt, how I may discern between falshood and truth, in the pretences, and professions, which other men make of their intended ends.


This it were easier to do in some particular cases, then to give any gene­ral rule, that shall hold indiffently in all. Yet as well as I can, I will indeavour to satisfie your desire therein. And to that purpose I would have you consider, that as unity and verity are alwayes insepa­parable companions, so falshood is sel­dome or never severed from such varie­ty, as makes it inconsistent with it self, which gives occasion to that common saying, Oportet mendacem esse memorem. [Page 27] Our Saviour himself speaking of the de­vil, the father of lies, saith, He was a murtherer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. John 8.44. His meaning is not, that the devil can never speak any truth at all, but that he cannot continue constant to that truth he speaks: the truth is not in him, no more then he is of the truth: and the truth that he speaks sometimes, is an evidence against him, that at other times he lies. Thus the spirit that under­took to perswade Ahab, that he might go up, and fall at Ramoth Gilead, spake truth, when he said, he would go forth, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahabs pro­phets. 1 Kings 22.22. But he quickly fell off again from that truth, when he con­tradicted Micaiah, by the mouth of Zede­kiah, and pretended himself to be the spi­rit of the Lord. They went out from us, saith St. Paul, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have con­tinued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us. 1 John 2.19. and Chap. 4.5, 6. They are of the world, therefore speak they of the [Page 28] world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us: hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of errour. By this I suppose it may appear, that the best means to try the truth of other mens pretences, is to exa­mine their own agreement with them­selves, and how they keep constant to their own professed principles: for if it appear, that indeed they contradict themselves, and that there is an incon­sistent contrariety between the ends that they pretend to aim at, and the principles upon which they ground their proceedings in action, as with relation to those ends, they must of necessity con­fess a falsehood in the one, or in the o­ther, and either renounce their own prin­ciples, and so condemn their own acti­ons, or else, if they will stick fast unto those, and justifie these, you may cer­tainly conclude, that what ever they did before, yet now they aim at other ends than they pretend. For actions are never undertaken as means, but with re­lations unto ends, and it is impossible, that any man should purposely persist in [Page 29] the use of those as means, which he knows are destructive of the ends which he intends. This I suppose is that which St. Paul aims at, when he saith, If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make my self a transgressor. Gal. 2.18. and I doubt not but it would have been as true, if he had said, If I destroy again the things which I had built. A man that is an heretick saith the same Apostle, after the first and second admonition reject: Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. Tit. 3.10, 11. And though there be no note of connexion between those two verses, and the two former, yet it may not be amiss to ob­serve, that the Apostle hath placed these words next unto those, wherein he had said, This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works: these things are good and profitable for men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions and strivings about the Law: for they are un­profitable and vain. As intimating, that the selfe condemnation of hereticks ap­pears [Page 30] in this, that the errors in opinion, and enormities in action, which they purposely maintain and practise, are contrary to, and inconsistent with the ends, which they profess to aime at, namely, the glory of God in their own and other mens eternal good, and spi­ritual profit, that they may be made heires, according to the hope of eternal life, as he speaks ver. 7. so that if you see men avow such actions, allow themselves liberty to keep such courses, and plead such prin­ciples in their defence, as are contrary to, and inconsistent with the ends which they pretend, you have reason to suspect their pretences to be false: if when that inconsistent contrariety is plainly disco­vered, and made known unto them, they renounce those principles, condemn themselves for those practises, and ap­ply themselves afterwards unto those other courses, which are undoubtedly available unto those ends, you have good cause then to conceive, that what they professed they purposely intended, and that in undertaking those actions, and urging those principles to ground them [Page 31] on, they did but humanum pati, disco­ver that common infirmity, which all mankind is subject to, errare, labi, decipi, and so deserve rather to be censured of ignorance and misunderstanding, then of hypocrisie and dissimulation. But if when the inconsistent contrariety of the means they use, and the ends they pretend to aim at, is evidently demonstrated, and laid open before them, they either wilfully shut their eyes, and will not see it, or obstinately persist in their courses notwithstanding, you may then conclude (with as much certainty as o­ther mens intentions can be known with) that those ends, which they intend in­deed, are not the same which they make shew of, and profess.

SECT. X. The same illustrated by some Ex­amples.


IN this that you have said there seems to be so much evidence of [Page 32] truth, that I do not see what can be ob­jected against it. Yet I should be better satisfied, if you would be pleased to il­lustrate it a little, with some few parti­cular examples.


For the first, that there is cause to suspect those men of falsehood in their pretences, whose courses are in­consistent with the ends which they pro­fess to aim at, you may see by St. Paul, who blamed St. Peter, and withstood him to his face, when he saw that he walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the Gospel, and said unto him, If thou being a Jew livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compel­lest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? Gal. 2.14. St. Peters behaviour in with­drawing and separating himself from the Gentiles for fear of the Jews, was in St. Pauls apprehension inconsistent with that Christian liberty, which they both professed to intend the maintenance of, against the false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out their liber­ty, which they had in Christ Jesus, that they might bring them into bondage. ver. 4. There­fore [Page 33] St. Paul saith he was to be blamed, as both dissembling himself, and gi­ving occasion unto others to dissemble with him. If you say, that the dissimu­lation there was not in the end, but in the action: I grant it true, yet withal I may adde, that the dissimulation was not of the action, but of the end. For the acti­on is alwayes more apparent then the end, and there is greater cause to suspect that which is secret, then that which is open. So that St. Paul might well ask St. Peter, why he did so, and could not be certainly assured, that he dealt sin­cerely in publickly professing the end with himself, untill he knew some other seeming reason, that misguided him to take such a contrary course of practise as he did.

For the second, St Paul shewed him­self indeed to be zealous of the Law, e­ven whilst he was a Pharisee, in that when he was converted, and came to understand, that Christ was the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that be­lieveth, Rom. 10.4. and that the Law of righteousness was not to be attained unto by [Page 34] the works of the Law but onely by faith. Rom: 9.30, 31, 32. he conferred not with flesh and blood, which would have perswa­ded him still to have continued, as he had been formerly, exceedingly zealous of the traditions of his fathers, having profited in the Jews religion above many of his equals in his own nation, Gal. 1.14, 16. But what things had formerly been gain unto him, those he counted loss for Christ, &c. Phil. 3.7. Not making void the Law through faith, but establishing the Law, Rom. 3.31. Whereas the Scribes and Pharisees, and the rest of the unbelieving Jews, re­jected or made frustrate, and of none effect, the Commandment of God, that they might keep their own traditions: as our Saviour complains, Mar. 7.6, &c. and taxeth them expresly of hypocrisie therein: which could not be ascribed to any falsehood and dissimulation in their actions (for what they practised they purposed, as well as professed) but in their ends, which they pretended to be the strict observation of the Command­ments of God, but meant those doctrines of their own, by which they taught men, [Page 35] not to obey, but to transgress the Com­mandments of God; as there he makes it evident, by their false gloss upon the first Commandment, and upon others, Mat. 5.17, &c. By vindicating of the Law from which he made it appear, that he came not to destroy, but to fulfil it. And therefore when the Jews accused St. Paul, that he taught all men every where a­gainst the people, and the Law, and the Temple, Acts 21.28. he pleads not guilty unto all: that they neither found him in the Temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, nei­ther in the Synagogues: but he openly confesseth, that after the way which they call heresie, so worshipped he the God of his fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets, and having hope towards God, which they themselves also allowed, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, &c. Acts 24.12, &c. and Acts 25.8. Nei­ther against the Law of the Jews, neither a­gainst the Temple, nor yet against Cesar have I offended any thing at all. And there­fore though Tertullus pretend, that when [Page 36] they took him they would have judged him according to their Law, & complain of great violence in the chief Captain Lysias, when he took him away out of their hands, commanding his accusers to come unto Foelix the governour to be examined, Acts 24, 6, 7, 8. Yet he charg­eth Annanias the high Priest with in­justice, that sitting to judge him after the Law, he commanded him to be smitten contrary to the Law. Acts 23.3. And though he himself appeal unto Cesar, and say, I stand at Cesars judgement seat, where I ought to be judged. And if I be an offender, or have committed any thing wor­thy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things, whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them: yet he urgeth Festus his own knowledge for it, that unto the Jews he had done no wrong, Acts 25.10, 11. The reason was, be­cause he did indeed, that which they on­ly pretended to do: as appears by the like apologie, which he makes unto the chief of the Jews at Rome, Acts 28.17, &c.

For the third, when Johanan the son [Page 37] of Kareah, and the captains of the forces, and the people that were with him, be­sought Jeremiah to pray unto the Lord for them, that he might shew them the way, wherein they might walk, and the thing that they might do, Jer. 42.2, 3. professing that they would obey the voice of the Lord their God what ever it were, ver. 5, 6. Jeremiah tells them plainly ver. 20. that they dissembled in their hearts, when they said so: and their behaviour afterward made it plainly to appear, that he was not mistaken, when they directly con­tradicted, not him alone, but themselves also, and said, As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee: But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth of our own mouth, Chap. 44.16, 17. Thus our Saviour convinceth the Jews, that what ever they pretended, yet he knew that the love of God was not in them, because he came in his fathers name, and they received him not, and yet were ready to receive another, that should come in his own name, John 5.42, 43. That for all the great confidence in Moses [Page 38] which they boasted of, yet they believed him not in deed: There is one, saith he, that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. ver. 45, 46.

By this you may perceive, how neces­sary it is, that to clear the sincerity of mens pretended ends, they should order all their actions so, and especially pro­duce such principles only to plead for them by, as that there may appear a con­stant accord and uniformity between them all; and that the apparent contra­riety, and inconsistent contradiction of mens actions practised and ends preten­ded (so long as those actions are avowed and persisted in) is the most unanswera­ble evidence that can be gathered, of falsehood and hypocrisie in that which they profess to aim at and intend.

SECT. XI. Other evidences for the further per­fecting of this discovery.


BUt may there not be some other evidences, which joyned with this may help to perfect the disco­very?


I doubt not but there may, and I will give you Instances of some. One shall be this, If you see an understanding and considerate man, that is wont to do nothing but advisedly (for there is no certain hold to be had of them that do all things as at random rashly) making shew to intend some particular end, as conducible, or agreeable unto some o­ther general end, which you are confi­dent he standeth engaged for, and really intends the accomplishment thereof, you may well be perswaded of the truth of that, as well as of this intention. But if there appear an express contrariety, or inconsistent contradiction, between the [Page 40] one end and the other, you may easily conceive, that the more particular pre­tended end (especially if it be not of so great importance to the agent, as the other more general) is not really inten­ded indeed. Thus the Philistines general intended end being the oppression of the Israelites, and weakening them so, that they might subdue them at their plea­sure, it might easily appear, that the po­licy they used, in suffering no Smith in Israel, was purposely intended, as they said, lest the Hebrews should make them swords or spears: because this particu­lar end was both agreeable, and con­duceable unto that general end. 1 Sam. 13.9, &c. Thus Hushai his faithful friend­ship unto David being generally known, and that he really intended indeed the safety of the King, it was weakly done of Absolom and the men of Israel, to be­lieve at the first, without any other evi­dence besides his own testimony, that Hushaies coming unto Absolom was pur­posely intended, as he professed, to serve in his presence, as he had done in his fa­thers, 2 Sam. 16.16, &c. because it agreed [Page 41] not with his other more general and more important end, and therefore might justly have been suspected of false­hood and dissimulation.

Another shall be this, If you see an understanding man make profession of proposing such an end unto himself, as you are sure he knows well enough it is impossible for him to obtain, you may easily believe, that he intends it not: nay hardly shall you finde, that any man re­ally intends any end, of which he hath not some probability at least to ground an hopeful expectation upon. Thus had not the Lord of purpose infatuated Ab­salom and the men of Israel, to defeat the good counsel of Achitophel, that he might bring evil upon Absolom, they might easi­ly have seen, that Hushai intended no­thing less then Davids destruction, when he propounded the drawing of that city into the river with ropes, into which he supposed David might be gotten, 2 Sam. 17.13, 14. a project, if not altogether impossible, yet so improbable, that no reasonable man could imagine he ever intended it indeed.

[Page 42]But I will add no more concerning the discovery of other mens intended ends: because as I said before, there is no such absolute certainty therein, but that do the best you can, you may per-adventure be mistaken, unless you had that extraordinary gift of discerning spi­rits, whereof St. Paul speaks▪ 1 Cor. 12.10. which is not now adayes to be ex­pected, Therefore if you will, let us proceed unto your next enquiry, about those actions, which are used as means, for the obtaining of those ends, that are pretended.

SECT. XII. A real purpose of pretended ends is not enough, unless the intended ends themselves be such as they should be.


NAy, one thing more before we proceed, I pray you give me leave to enquire further of you. Tak­ing it for granted, that the ends which [Page 43] men profess to aim at, are really indeed intended by them, yet that I suppose is not sufficient to warrant them. For though no man I presume will pretend, or can indeed intend any ends, but those which either are indeed, or else at least appear unto him to be good; yet many men I doubt are mistaken in their own ends, and propose those things unto themselves to be obtained, which they ought not to seek.


It is true as you say: and there­fore, as the end of every action, though last in execution, is first in intention, and consequently holds a principal place in the affection of the agent, so the first and chiefest care, about both your own and other mens ends, must be to be rightly informed, whether they be good indeed or no. But for subordinate ends, because in respect of those that are supreme, they are but intermediate means, we shall speak of them afterwards: and for the supreme end of all, you said well at the first, that it must be the advancement of the glory of God, & that nothing must be intended at all, but that which may [Page 44] be probably at least subservient there­unto. Therefore without any further en­quiry let us take it for granted, that they who indeed propose unto themselves the advancement of the glory of God, and they who profess and pretend to do so, are so far forth to be approved of: and they that so far neglect the glory of God, as either to propose unto themselves, or pretend unto others, that they aim at such ends, as are altogether contrary un­to, or any way inconsistent with, the advancement thereof, are so far forth blame worthy. This I suppose there is no man so impudent as to deny, and therefore I will not go about to prove it, but proceed unto your next en­quiry.

SECT. XIII. Instances of exceptions, that may be taken to the choice of such means, as may be conducible to the ends, which they are used for.


THe next thing that I desire to be informed in, is the choice of the means, which I should use, for obtaining of the ends, which I propose unto my self. These I suppose must be such, as either of necessity must, or at least in probability may be effectually conducible unto the ends I use them for.


That rule may be generally true, and for the most part: yet it is subject unto some exceptions, and must be limi­ted with divers cautions, whereof I will give you these particular instan­ces.

First, some means may be conducible unto the general supreme end of all [Page 46] things, the advancement of the glory of God, which are not properly conducible unto some one particular subordinate end, which you may aim at as subservi­ent unto the general. As for example, the advancement of the glory of God was the general supreme end that St. Paul aimed at in preaching the Gospel, in preaching the Gospel to the Corin­thians freely, and in taking wages of the Philippians, he had divers particular subordinate ends, yet both subservient unto the general, and as the partticular ends were divers, so the means he used to that purpose were different, or ra­ther contrary. That the Philippians should communicate with him, as con­cerning giving and receiving, he was well content, because he desired fruit that might abound to their account, Phil. 4.15, 17. But amongst the Corinthians he would be chargeable to no man, that he might cut off occasion from them which desired occasion, 2 Cor. 11.9, 12. and being crafty might catch them with guile, 2 Cor. 12.16. To preach the Gospel freely at Philippi, and to take wages at Co­rinth, [Page 47] though alike conducible unto the supreme and general, had yet been de­structive of the particular subordinate ends, that St. Paul did aim at and in­tend.

Secondly, some means may be pro­perly conducible unto some particular subordinate ends, that are not alwayes conducible unto, but rather sometimes destructive of the general supreme end. For instance, the advancement of the glory of God was the supreme end that St. Paul aimed at in Preaching the Gospel: the preservation of St. Pauls life and liberty was a special subordinate end subservient unto that general: which both himself was careful of, and the Churches prayed for, Acts 23.6, 17, &c. Acts 25.10, 11. Phil. 22. St. Pauls forbear­ance to go up to Jerusalem might in all probability have been a means to pre­serve his life and liberty, but had been a means withal to prevent him of that opportunity which there was to be offe­red unto him, of advancing the glory of God, in being set for the defence of the Gospel, which makes him so passionately [Page 48] put them off, who earnestly besought and would fain have perswaded him not to go up to Jerusalem. What mean you to weep and to break my heart, Acts 21.13. And himself professeth afterward, that the things which happened unto him, had fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel. Phil. 1.12.

Thirdly, some means in the eye of hu­mane sence and reason, may probably seem to be contrary unto, or inconsistent with either the general and supreme, or particular subordinate ends, which men aim at, and yet may be requisite and ne­cessary to be used, for the obtaining of those ends, being specially warranted to that purpose by Gods own direction. Thus to the end that God might advance his own honour, by delivering the Midi­anites into the hands of the Israelites, Gi­deons army of 32000. must be reduced unto bare 300. by Gods own appoint­ment, Judg. 7.

Fourthly, some means in the eye of humane sense and reason, may probably appear to be either requisite and neces­sary, or at least conducible unto the [Page 49] ends intended by them, which yet must not be used, as being either in them­selves unlawful, or by some special di­rection from God prohibited. Thus the cutting off of Sauls life had in all proba­bility been a speedy and effectual means of advancing the glory of God, in ha­stening David to the quiet possession of the kingdom of Israel, whereunto he had been ordained by God, and anointed by Samuel: yet David neither dare himself stretch forth his own hand against the Lords anointed, nor suffer Abishai to smite him, 1 Sam. 26.8, &c. nay his own heart smote him, because he had cut off Sauls skirt, 1 Sam. 24.5. Thus the de­struction of the Gibeonites was a pro­bable means to perfect the conquest of the land of Canaan, yet the children of Israel might not touch them, because Joshuah had made peace with them, and the Princes of the Congregation had sworn unto them: although therein they had dealt unadvisedly, yea contrary to the general direction, which they had received from God himself, Deut. 7.2. and in sundry other places: and though [Page 50] all the Congregation murmured against the Princes for it, Josh. 9. Yea, when al­most 400. years after, Saul in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah, sought to slay the Gibeonites, God punished it in the dayes of David, with three years famine year after year, and God was not intreated for the land, till after that they had performed all that the King had com­manded, according to the Gibeonites re­quest, 2 Sam. 12. So to take the next way thorow the land of the Philistines, might appear to be a ready means, for the ad­vancement of Gods glory, in the speedy performance of his promise to his peo­ple, in putting them into possession of the land of Canaan, the lot of their inhe­ritance: Yet because God would have it so, they must be led about, thorow the way of the wilderness of the Red sea, though there they wandered forty years together. Exod. 13.17, 18. Nay, rather then go the direct way thorow the coun­try of the Edomites, without the Kings leave, he refusing to permit them pas­sage, although they promised to behave themselves peaceably, they must turn [Page 51] away from him, Num. 20. So long be­fore they had kings of their own, did God begin to teach his people what re­spect was due unto them. Yea, when one day, contrary to Gods appointment, they would go up that way, which the day before they had refused at his com­mandment to go, God punished their presumption, and suffered them to be chased by their enemies as bees. Num. 14.40, &c. Deut. 2.1, 26, &c.

By this I suppose it may sufficiently appear, that your general rule for the choice of means to be used for the com­passing of ends intended, is not so general­ly true, but that it may meet with some exceptions, and therefore the practise thereof may have need to be limited with cautions.

SECT. XIV. Means effectually conducible to any end must not be used, if either un­lawful in themselves, or unto those that use them.


IT is true Sr. I can say nothing to the contrary: and therefore, as you have discovered the necessity of cautions in this kind, so I pray you be pleased fur­ther to inform me what they are.


The cautions I conceive may be easily collected out of the former instan­ces: yet for better evidence I shall not think much to answer your desire, and offer to your consideration these parti­culars,

First, whatever means you have a mind of your self, or are by others ad­vised, directed, perswaded, or comman­ded to use, as effectually conducible to any end, resolve not upon it, until you have thorowly tryed and examined the [Page 53] lawfulness of it, both in it self and unto you. For you may not do the least evil of purpose to obtain the greatest good, Rom. 3.5, &c. Job. 13.7. Excellently St. Austin to this purpose, lib. contra menda­cium ad Consentium. cap. 7. Interest quidem plurimum, qua causa, quo fine, qua inten­tione quid fiat. Sedea, quae constat esse pecca­ta, nullo bonae causae obtentu, nullo quasi bo­no fine, nulla velut bona intentione facienda sunt. It matters much for what cause, to what end, with what intent a thing is done. But that which is known to be a sin must not be done under any pretence of a good cause, nor as if it were done for any good end, or with any good in­tention. And a little after in the same Chapter. Quis ista dicat, nisi qui res hu­manas omnes (que) conatur mores leges (que) subver­tere, &c. As if there were no readier means (as indeed there is not) utterly to undoe the world at once, to digg up the foundation of obedience to all laws, both humane and divine, and to let loose the reins to all impiety, injustice and prophanes, then to suppose it lawful to do evil, that good may come thereof. [Page 54] Therefore though the end be never so good, which is intended, though the means propounded seem never so re­quisite and available unto that end, if you cannot use it without sin, you must resolve to let it alone; and that is, when in using that means, you shall do that, which is either unlawful in it self, or else unlawful unto you. And that you must esteem unlawful in it self, which by God is forbidden unto all men in general: that unlawful unto you, which God hath for­bidden to your self in particular, or though not unto all men in general, yet to men of such particular places and cal­lings, estates and conditions, as for the present you are in. Thus for the first case, Lot should not have offered to prostitute his daughters to the Sodomites, though it were to prevent their intended vio­lence unto the angels. Thus for the se­cond, Saul should not have spared any of the cattle of the Amalekites, though it were to offer sacrifice unto the Lord. Thus for the third, Joab and Abiathar, be­ing subjects, should not have followed Adonijah, and helped him, when he ex­alted [Page 55] himself, saying, I will be King with­out the knowledge and consent of David their supreme soveraign upon earth. Therefore Joseph, inticed to lewdness by his Mistris, pleads not impotence so much as impossibility, when he saith, How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? Gen. 39.9. as if what he ought not he could not have done. Laban, though he thought he had just cause to complain of Jacobs dealing, and power in his hand to do him hurt, yet durst not but forbear, because God had said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not unto Jacob good or bad, Gen. 31.28, 29. Ne­hemiah, though perswaded by a Prophet to go into the Temple to save his life, yet would not, because it was unfit for such a man as he to flee. Nehem. 6.10, &c.

SECT. XV. Amongst different opinions of what is lawful, or unlawful, necessary or indiffernt, in it self, nothing is to be done against conscience.


SUppose this that you say to be true (and I confesse I know no­thing that can be justly objected against it) yet you know there are many par­ticular cases, yea sometimes general questions, not so certainly decided, but that different opinions concerning them are professedly maintained by divers men; one condemning that as utterly unlawful, which another is confident may lawfully be done; one requiring that as absolutely necessary to be done, which another is resolved is either un­lawful, or at most but indifferent, and in such cases what course shall I resolve to take?


You are now indeed upon the [Page 57] point of greatest difficulty: for resol­ving whereof you must alwayes remem­ber that general rule of the Apostle, not to do any thing against the dictate of your own conscience: for even an erroneous conscience binds, though it do not excuse, a to [...]o but a tanto only. And when the Apostle saith, Let every man be fully perswaded in his own minde: and, Hast thou faith? have it to thy self before God. Happy is he, that condem­neth not himself in that thing which he alloweth: and he that doubteth is dam­ned if he eat: because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Rom. 4.5, 22, 23. By the judgement of all interpreters, I think it is agreed, that he doth not leave every man at li­berty to do what he listeth, but directly requires, that every man be perswaded certainly of the lawfulness of every acti­on, that he undertakes. Which perswa­sion of lawfulness (according to the scope of the Apostles speech) must be extended not onely to the nature and essence of the action, but likewise to those adherent circumstances, the variety whereof may [Page 58] alter the case: as upon what ground, to what end, with what intent it is done, and what the success of the action either must, or may be. So that you must resolve not to do any thing of which you are not fully perswaded in your own conscience, that it is lawful for you to do it; nor to leave any thing undone, whereof you are not fully perswaded in your own conscience, that it is not necessary to be done by you; whether simply in it self, or ex concesso, rebus sic stantibus. Not that the perswasion of your own conscience is a sufficient warrant to justifie you, either before God or man, for your do­ing of that, which you are confident your self is lawful, or for the leaving un­done that which you are satisfied in your self is not necessary. For that may be necessary to be done by you, which you are perswaded is not, and that may not be lawful to be done by you which you are perswaded is. But that your own conscience, being a power established by God in your soul, to judge between him and you, the voice there is a law unto you: which if you transgress, by doing [Page 59] contrary thereunto, you are condemned of your self; and if you neglect it, by do­ing any thing without the direction thereof, you overrun your warrant, and act without authority.

SECT. XVI. The right information of Conscience, concerning what is unlawful, or necessary, in it self, is to be sought for from the written word of God rightly understood and applyed.


IF then I must do nothing, but that whereof I am fully perswaded in my conscience, the main thing that I must look unto is, that my Conscience may be rightly informed, in every parti­cular I undertake, in every thing I do, or leave undone, that so it must be, and not otherwise. But where shall I meet with that right information?


With God, if you go to him to seek it, as you ought to do, and wait up­on [Page 60] him with patience, in the use of his means, which is his word rightly under­stood, & applyed by the direction of his holy spirit and according to the rules of right reason. It is Solomons advice, Prov. 3.5, 6. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy wayes acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. For, as David saith, Psal. 25.8, 9. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgement. Therefore Psal. 119.8. having asked the question, Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? he pre­sently gives the answer himself, by taking heed thereto according to thy word. And St. James, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, &c. Jam. 1.5, &c. And St. Paul, All Scripture is given by inspiration from God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thorowly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim. 3.16.17

SECT. XVII. Amongst divers opinions, concern­ing the true understanding of Scripture, their doubtful diffe­rences are to be tryed by their con­cord and agreement with un­doubted truths commonly re­ceived and agreed upon as prin­ciples.


LEt this go for granted: yet two things there are, that I must as well be satisfied in, as in the sufficient perfection of Scripture, or else I shall be as far to seek as ever I was. The one is this, that divers men are of different opinions, concerning the true understand­ing of the Scriptures: and those not only ignorant and ungodly men, but even those that are learned and judicious, yea, religious, and such as make conscience of their wayes. And therefore when I [Page 62] come to examine any action by the touchstone of the Scripture, the soul whereof is the sense and meaning of the words, and finde it so differently rende­red by divers, that both cannot possibly accord in one, what shall I doe? Let all alone untill they be agreed? Or how shall I satisfie my self, which of the two I must be guided by?


This I confess is a great inconve­nience, & such as the consideration there­of may give men just occasion to break out, as St. Austin doth, into this passionate exclamation, O ubi estis, fontes Lachryma­rum? & quid faciemus? quò ibimus? Or as the Prophet Jeremiah, Jer. 9.1. Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night (I will not say only as he doth, for the slain of the daughter of my people, but) for the strifes of words, the prophane and vain bablings, the oppositions of sci­ence falsly so called, the foolish and un­learned questions, yea the doubtful dis­putations of those men, who many times more obscure, then illustrate, what they take in hand to clear. But you must not [Page 63] think it strange, it alwayes hath been, is, and ever will be so: so long as men see, but as thorow a glass darkly, they can­not expect to know any thing perfectly, but onely in part. I Cor. 13.9, 12. And though some, in comparison of others, may be men in understanding, 1 Cor. 14.20. yet St. Paul would have the Corin­thians, even in himself, and in Apollo, to learn not to think of men above that which is written: that none of you, saith he, be puffed up for one against another, 1 Cor. 4.6. When therefore you meet with such differences, remember that direction of St. John 1 John 4.1, &c. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God, &c. And the rule that he layes down to try them by, is their concor­dance and agreement with undoubted truths. All things in Scripture are not doubted of, or drawn into dispute: some things are so plainly and clearly laid down, that all men, by whom the Scrip­ture is received as the word of God, a­gree upon them. Let those then be your scantlings of the rest, and what you finde most agreeable to that, which is confest [Page 64] by all, that cleave unto. As falshood is alwayes inconsistent with truth, and con­trary unto it, as light is to darkness; so good and evil can no more close, and be firmly united unto one another, then di­amonds unto dust or dirt. This redu­cing of doubtful differences, in all mat­ters both of opinion and practice, unto commonly received principles, general­ly agreed upon, and tying them to stand to the trial thereof, is that which St. Paul so often calls for: as Rom. 16.17. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions, and offences, contrary to the do­ctrine, which you have learned, and avoid them, &c. 1 Cor. 3.11, &c. For other foun­dation can no man lay, then that which is laid, Jesus Christ, &c. Gal. 1.9. If any preach any other Gospel unto you, then that you have received, let him be accursed: and in other places.


I shall better understand your meaning, and the truth of this, if you will be pleased to illustrate it a little, with an instance or two.


That I will: and first for mat­ter of opinion. You know it is much [Page 65] disputed, between the Divines of the re­formed Churches and those of Rome, how those words of our Saviour, Mat: 26.26. This is my body, must be under­stood: whether in respect of natural ex­istence, or of sacramental use. To try which of these is the true meaning of the words, bring them both to those un­doubted principles, which no good Christian doth or dare deny: that the body of Christ was a true natural body, conceived by the holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: and that in the same in­dividual body he was crucified, died, was buried, rose again from the dead, ascen­ded into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God. That interpretation, which accords with these and all other prin­ciples, you may be sure is true, as the latter evidently doth; and that which is contrary to, and inconsistent with these, or any other certain principles, must needs be false: as the later apparently is. And the like may be said in other controverted points of doctrine.

Secondly, for matter of practice. It is disputed between the divines of the [Page 66] reformed Churches, and those of Rome, how that passage of St. Paul, Rom. 13.1, &c. Let every soul be subject to the higher powers &c. must be understood: whe­ther of the subjection of all persons and causes, as well Ecclesiastical as civil, unto those Magistrates, in whom the su­preme authority resides, or of civil on­ly. To try which of these is the true meaning of the place, bring them both to those undoubted principles, which no good Christian, no nor reasonable man can deny, Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris, and suum cuique, which we may see attested by our Saviour, Mat. 7.12. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them. Mat. 22.21. Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesars: and by St. Paul Rom. 13.7, 8. Render unto all their dues, &c. That interpretation, which accords with these principles, as the former doth, you may be sure is true: and that which is con­trary to, and inconsistent with these principles, as the latter is, must needs be false: and the like may be said in other cases and questions.

[Page 67]

But what if I be not able to re­solve of that accord or contradiction?


Such a case can hardly happen, if you seriously consider all particulars: and if it could, the equal evidence on either side, which should leave you with­out any certain ground of resolution, would manifest the question it self to be but vain and frivolous, and the indiffe­rencie such, that it would be no mat­ter at all, whether ever you resolved or no. But however, having used all the means you can for your best information when you resolve, let it be according as you shall be led by the most convincing evidence. What is the other particular, wherein you desire to be satisfied?

SECT. XVIII. Special immediate revelations from God, to shew what is unlawful, or necessary to our selves in par­ticular, although useful hereto­fore, are neither to be expected, nor easily to be believed now.


YOu said even now, that as I must esteem that unlawful in it self which by God is forbidden un­to all men in general, so I must esteem that unlawful for me, which God hath forbidden to my self in particular, or though not unto all men in general, yet unto men of such particular places and callings, estates and conditions, as for the present I am in. For the former you have told me, that my resolution must be guided by the holy Scriptures, inter­preted according to the rules of right reason, and the general received princi­ples [Page 69] of religion: but for the latter I am yet to seek. How shal I know, that that which is lawful in it self, as not being simply forbidden by God unto all men in ge­neral, is yet unlawful for my self in par­ticular, or that that which is not abso­lutely necessary, as not being by God re­quired of all men in general, is yet ne­cessary for my self, as being particularly required of me?


Whilst special immediate reve­lations were in use, as in the dayes of the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, the spirit, by which those particular in­structions and directions were given, was able also sufficiently to manifest his own authority, and as well to subdue and incline the will and affections, to assent unto and imbrace the truth of such discoveries, as to enlighten the minde and understanding to apprehend the meaning of them. This made even Balaam to say, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go be­yond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more. Num. 22.18. And the Prophet Jeremiah, Jer. 20.9. Then I said, I will [Page 70] not make mention of him: nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart, as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. St Luke of St. Paul and Timothy saith, That after they were come to Mysia, they as­sayed to go into Bithynia, but the spirit suffe­red them not. Acts 16.7. That when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in spirit, and testified unto the Jews, that Jesus was Christ, Acts 18.5. and St. Paul of himself, that he went bound in the spirit to Jerusalem. 20.22. But this was extraordinary, proper unto those times, and must neither be expected now, nor easily believed either of our selves or others: although I doubt not, but that even now adayes there are some that are both deceived themselves with false perswasions, and deceive others with fair pretences, that in some particu­lar cases they are immediately directed by the spirit of God, when indeed it is either the voice of their own corrupt hearts only, which they hearken to, or the subtile suggestions of Satan, who sometimes transforms himself into an angel [Page 71] of light, and his ministers into the Apostles of Christ, and ministers of righteousness, 2 Cor. 11.13, 14, 15. And we need not think it strange, since the holy Ghost hath so long ago expresly given warning of it. 1 Tim. 4.1, &c.


Do you think there may be no special immediate revelations now a­dayes, whereby some men may be gui­ded and directed themselves, and stirred up and enabled to guide and direct others in the performance of particular actions, as necessary, or effectually conducible to special ends?


I doubt not but there may, for the holy Ghost is not limited or straitned any more in respect of time, then place, but divideth severally to whom, and where, and when, and how he will, 1 Cor. 12.11. But it is not ordinary now, nor easily to be believed (as I said before) either of our selves or others, for fear lest in stead of the spirit of truth and of Christ, we either be deceived our selves, or deceive others, by the spirit of error and of An­tichrist.

SECT. XIX Some directions to try the preten­ded revelations of private spi­rits by.


WHat directions can you give me then to try the pretended revelations and instructions of private spirits by?


Even the same that I mentio­ned before, viz. their accord and a­greement with, or their inconsistent con­trariety to, and contradiction of them­selves, or of the written word. The good spirit, the spirit of truth, is alwayes con­stant to it self: the evil spirit, the spirit of errour is alwayes contrary either un­to it self, or unto the spirit of truth. Bring them then unto the royal standard of the word, wherein the spirit of truth undoubtedly doth speak, and try them there. It is Gods own advice to his peo­ple Israel by his Prophet Isaiah, Is. 8.19, [Page 73] 20. And our Saviours to the Jewes. John 5.39, &c.


This indeed may be a means to try such motions as proceed from pri­vate spirits by, in regard of the matter, whether it proceed from the spirit of truth, or the spirit of errour: but how shall I know in regard of the manner, whether it be by an ordinary, or by an ex­traordinary work of the spirit, that such motions in the minde are stirred up?


The onely means I know to this end is to consider these two things. First, the causes and occasions of such moti­ons, as proceed from an extraordinary work of the spirit, have themselves some­thing more then ordinary in them: as in Gideons incounter with the Midianites, Judges 7. Jonathans with the Philistines, 1 Sam. 14. David with Goliah, 1 Sam. 17. When the holy Ghost, in the book of Judges, had often said, that the spirit of the Lord came upon such or such a one, or that God raised him up to be a deli­verer, and that he judged Israel, intend­ing thereby an extraordinary, special, and immediate motion of the spirit of [Page 74] God, whereby he was both stirred up, and warranted, to undertake that im­ployment, he addeth in the end, In those dayes there was no King in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes: as intimating extraordinary motions of the spirit to take place onely in the ab­sence of ordinary means. And there­fore when the government was once set­led, we hear no more of that phrase, to import an extraordinary motion of the spirit stirring any man up to undertake and exercise that charge. So since the sacred volume of the Scriptures is com­plete, for them that acknowledge the sufficiencie thereof, to be the light of faith, and rule of life, either to expect in themselves, or pretend unto others, ex­traordinary revelations now, is in effect as much, as to light a candle at noon day, and fetch water in a bucket from a spring to pour into, not a river onely, but the Ocean it self.

Secondly, the adjuncts and effects of such motions, as proceed from an extra­ordinary work of the spirit, have them­selves something more then ordinary in [Page 75] them: as in the former examples, of Gi­deon, Jonathan, David, their extraordi­confidence before hand, and their suc­cess beyond expectation afterward.

But both these marks may be indiffe­rent common to all extraordinary mo­tions of a private spirit, whether good or bad: and therefore that which I spake of before, is that which you must chiefly look unto, to try the spirits by the word of God. If by your own private spirit, whether speaking in an ordinary or ex­traordinary manner, you be moved and guided to any thing that accordeth and agreeth with the written word, that hear­ken to, as the voice of the good spirit of God, and of truth: but if unto any thing contrary unto, and inconsistent with that word, that stop your ears a­gainst, as the voice of the evil spirit, of Satan, and of errour.

SECT. XX. What to do in such things, as are neither necessary, nor unlawful in themselves, nor unto us in par­ticular, but indefinitely only un­to men of such particular places and callings, estates and condi­tions, as for the present we are in.


BUt what shall I do in the last place by those particulars which are not by God forbidden in general un­to all men, nor unto my self in particular, but indefinitely, unto men of such parti­cular places and callings, estates and con­ditions, as for the present I am in?


All that you have to do in this case is, First to consider what particu­lar place and calling, estate and con­dition, for the present you are in; as whether a superiour in authority over, [Page 77] or an inferiour in subjection unto others; whether poor or rich; in prosperity or in adversity, and the like. Secondly, to con­sider what general rules the holy Ghost in Scripture hath laid down, for the or­dering and governing of all men, in such a particular place and calling, estate and condition, as yours is. The result of these two must be your resolution, as that which is the conclusion of a practical syllogism: whereof the proposition, or major, is given you by God in his word: the assumption, or minor, you finde by experience in your self: and can no more deny the conclusion, then you can re­nounce your reasonable soul, and yield your self to be a beast.


I pray you, Sr. give me an exam­ple of this, as you have done of the other particulars.


Take that of Joab then, though otherwise not so good a man as he should have been, yet in this an eminent pattern of loyalty. Joab was a subject and servant unto David, intrusted by him with the managing of the war against the children of Ammon, 2 Sam. 11.1, &c. [Page 78] The general rule for those that are in that estate and condition, wherein Joab then was, is not to seek their own honour to the disadvantage of the honour of them, by whom they are imployed, whose subjects and servants they are. For a son honoureth his father, and a ser­vant his master. Mal. 1.6. In considerati­on hereof, when Ioab might have per­fected the victory himself in Davids ab­sence, yet he will not, but sends for David to come and be present himself in his own person: and gives the reason, least I take the city, and it be called after my name. 2 Sam. 12.27, 28. So 2 Sam. 24. when David bade Ioab number the peo­ple: though the Kings word were abo­minable to Ioab, as the phrase is, 1 Chron. 21.6. that is, though Joab were altoge­ther of another minde, and would have disswaded David from it, as a needless, or unfitting thing: yet, being an action not unlawful in it self, Ioab is content to yield, and the Kings word prevailed a­gainst Ioab and the captains of the host, and they did as they were commanded by the King. The neglect of which re­spect [Page 79] at other times, in that he treache­rously slew Abner and Amasa, and tray­terously attempted to advance Adonijah to the throne of the kingdom in Davids life time, without his knowledge and consent, cost him his life: nor could the horns of the altar protect him, though he thought to take sanctuary in the Tabernacle of the Lord. 1 Kings 2. 28, &c.

SECT. XXI. Things in themselves indifferent may become either necessary, or unlawful, to inferiours, being commanded, or forbidden them by their superiours.


IT seems then you think, that things in themselves indifferent, as those which are neither commanded nor for­bidden by God, unto all men in general, may become either necessary, or unlaw­ful, unto those that are inferiours, being [Page 80] commanded, or forbidden them by their superiours.


It is true, I do so: and so must you too, and every one else, that will not be an utter enemy to all humane au­thority & professed friend of confusion, For order is the life and soul of action, and subordination the essence of order: which can never be maintained, without authority established in those to whom of right it doth belong, both to make laws, that must be obeyed, and to ex­act obedience to the laws that are made.


But if by those laws there be any thing forbidden, which God hath com­manded, or any thing commanded which God hath forbidden, what must they do then?


Obey God, rather then men: for his authority is absolute and supreme originally of, and finally, for himself; theirs but subordinate and limited, of him, from him, by him, through him, to him, and for him.


But you said before, that lawful­ness must be extended, not onely to the [Page 81] nature and essence of the action, but like­wise to those adherent circumstances, the variety whereof in things in themselves indifferent, may alter the case; as up­on what ground, to what end, with what intent, and the like: and actions consi­dered, not simply in themselves, but to­gether with such adherent circumstances, are no longer indifferent to their agents, but either necessary, or unlawful; and so humane authority may seem not to extend to them; for that which is ne­cessary may not be forbidden, and that which is unlawful may not be com­manded.


It is true that you say: and if the constitutions of supreme Authority had not a special place in the determi­nation of those adherent circumstances, there would be no use of humane laws. But when the general rules of equity, laid down in Scripture, are limited in re­spect of particular circumstances by hu­mane laws, all that live under that su­preme authority, by which those laws are made, are bound in conscience to submit themselves unto them: and the [Page 82] necessity, or unlawfulness of actions con­sidered with their adherent circumstan­ces, depends upon no one thing so much as the voice of that authority, whereby they are determined.


Is not this to make men the ser­vants of men, contrary to the precept of St. Paul, 1 Cor. 7.23. and to intangle them again with the yoak of that bon­dage, from which Christ hath made them free?


No: for the liberty wherewith Christ hath made men free, is not ci­vil, but spiritual; and spiritual liberty is neither contrary to, nor inconstent with civil subjection; as the Apostle plainly shewes in the next foregoing verse, and Gal. 5.13. when he saith, Brethren ye have been called unto liberty, onely use not li­berty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another: and St. Peter having said, Submit your selves unto every ordinance of man for the Lords sake, &c. adds, As free, and not using you liberty as a cloak of malici­ousness, but as the servants of God. 1 Pet. 2.13, &c.


But you say that men are bound [Page 83] in conscience to submit themselves unto those laws which are made by that su­preme authority, under which they live: and is it not spiritual bondage to be bound in conscience?


If you speak of such spiritual bondage as is evil, and from which the liberty purchased by Christ hath set men free, all bond of conscience is not spiritual bondage: for to be bound in conscience to serve God in obedience, according unto his revealed will, in ho­liness and righteousness, is not contrary, but subordinate unto spiritual liberty, the very end for which we are delivered out of the hands of our enemies, as Zachary speaks, Luke 1, 74, 75. But carnal liber­ty, to obey unrighteousness, is spiritual bondage indeed, yea sinful slavery. If Su­periours command such things, as are un­lawful, or forbid such things as are ne­cessary, their inferiours are not bound in conscience to obey them: for such o­bedience is contrary to, and inconsistent with their spiritual liberty. But when the things commanded by supreme au­thority are not unlawful, nor the things [Page 84] thereby forbidden necessary, those that live under that authority are bound in conscience to yield obedience: and the bond is put upon the conscience, not by those men, in whom the supreme hu­mane authority resides, but by God him­self, from whom they receive, and under whom, for him and in his stead, they ma­nage that authority; and by whom their subjects are commanded to submit them­selves, and obey them that have the rule over them: and so those things, which before the determination of authority were in themselves indifferent, afterward become, either necessary or unlawful unto them, who owe obedience unto that authority for the Lords sake.

SECT. XXII. Of passive obedience in suffering wrong patiently. Whether sub­jects, to defend themselves, and maintain their own right, may by open violence, and force of arms, resist their supreme Magi­strates?


ALL this may be true of active obedience, in doing good wil­lingly: but what will you say of passive obedience, in suffering wrong patiently? Are all inferiours bound in conscience to submit themselves unto their superiours, in suffering patiently what they inflict upon them wrongfully? May they not stand upon their own defence, and for the maintenance of their own right, e­ven by open force of arms, resist them?


Many men I know are of divers [Page 86] minds in this particular: but if you seri­ously consider what arguments are ur­ged upon either side; I think you will finde more principles of humane poli­cy, and worldly wisdom, then rules of religion, and Christian piety, pleading for the lawful liberty of resistence, and more evidence of grace, then nature, ap­pearing in behalf of patient suffering. Besides that of them who are most ear­nest to maintain the former, some are constrained to fly to such principles, as for ought I can perceive, are either false in themselves, or in the application of them tend to the utter overthrow of all good government, and take away the very foundation of all humane authori­ty: others are forced to limit and restrain it with so many cautions, that it is dif­ficult, if not impossible to instance any particular example, wherein they have been all observed. So that it may seem a great deal safer for subjects to suffer according to the will of God, and com­mit the keeping of their souls to him, in well doing, as to a faithful Creatour, as St. Peter speaks. 1 Pet. 4.19. then to ha­zard [Page 87] the miscarriage of his good cause, by their own ill handling of it.


I see, Sr. you are not willing to express you opinion in this particular so fully, as you have done in the rest: and therefore, although I heartily desire satis­faction in a case of such importance, yet will I not press you further for it.


You need not, if you remem­ber what I said before, in my second ex­ample of doubtful differences reduced unto commonly received principles, ge­nerally agreed upon. For if the case be such, that subjects may, by resisting with force, defend their own right, against their Soveraigns, in whom the supreme authority resides, so, that withall they shall not be in danger to offer the like wrong unto them, or to others in them, from which they desire to defend them­selves; nor to withhold any thing from them, which is due unto them, it may be lawful; otherwise not: because then they should do contrary to those gene­ral rules, Suum, cuique, and Quod tibi non vis fieri, alteri ne feceris; which no man can deny: and such self-contradiction [Page 88] makes a man inexcusable, as St. Paul tells us, Rom. 2.1, &c. But the true reason why I forbear to inlarge my self in this as far as in other particulars, is, because the question cannot well be resolved in these, unless there were some particular case propounded in Hypothesi, with all the several circumstances of it, that the answer might be drawn accordingly. And such a case, wherein it might be lawful for subjects to resist their Sove­raigns, in whom the supreme humane authority resides (any otherwise, then onely by denying, withholding, and withdrawing active obedience unto their unlawful commands) I am as loath my self to imagine, as it may be you are unable to give instance of. Yet to say some thing towards your satisfaction in this particular, I will first state the question, as I understand it, and then shew you some of the cautions, with which I finde resistence for defence restrained and limited, by them that take upon them to maintain it lawful: which cautions if they be not duly observed, the supposed lawful liberty must by their own confes­sion cease.

SECT. XXIII. The question stated.

FIrst, you must consider, that the question is not of resisting wrong done by private persons, without the consent or warrant of supreme Authori­ty: for in such a case, the rule they give holds good, Contra quos licita est defensio per magistratum, contra eosdem est licita de­fensio privata in casu necessitatis, cum ea quae fit per magistratum haberi non potest: quoniam tunc reges armant etiam privatos. And in such a case indeed, the resistence is not against, but in the behalf of the supreme Magistrate.

Secondly, you must consider, that the question is not of resisting the supreme Magistrate by meer private men, with­out the consent or warrant of the ordi­nary power, as they call it: for this they confess were gladium sumere a Deo & a le­gibus sibi non concessum.

Thirdly, you must consider, that the [Page 90] question is not of resisting those that onely pretend, and have no just title to supreme authority: for this will easily be granted to be lawful; so that it be not done with an intent to detain that supreme authority from them, to whom it doth belong, or to transfer it unto others.

Fourthly, you must consider, that the question is not of resisting by refusing, or endeavouring onely that we may not be active our selves in doing that which supreme Magistrates themselves, or o­thers by authority from them, would force us to do, and which without sin we cannot do, or by endeavouring to restrain them from doing it themselves; so long as that endeavour tends not, either unto the danger of their persons, or the dimi­nution of their authority and power o­therwise, or take, or withhold from them any thing that of right belongs unto them: for in this case neither the Ma­gistrate nor his authority is hurt, or hindered, but helped, and furthered. As when the King of Israel sent a messen­ger to take away Elishaes head, Elisha [Page 91] bade the Elders, that sate in his house with him, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door. 2 Kings 6.32.

But the question is, Whether in any case subjects of themselves, by joynt con­sent, or by the direction of inferiour ma­gistrates, may lawfully resist, and by force of arms defend themselves, and one another against supreme Magi­strates, acknowledged such, and those that are imployed by authority from them, yea though it be to the danger of their persons, the diminution of their au­thority, and the depriving them of any thing, that otherwise of right they might lay claim unto. In answering this que­stion, they that maintain the affirmative yet limit it with these cautions.

SECT. XXIV. Cautions, with which the affirma­tive is limited by them that maintain it.

FIrst, that the supreme Magistrate be actually degenerated into a tyrant, and publickly declared so to be: such a one as doth open and intolerable injury unto his subjects generally; or seeks by violence and force to constrain them un­to manifest idolatry or blasphemy.

Secondly, that the injustice and vio­lence, which they pretend to defend themselves against, be manifestly such, and great and grievous, not barely sus­pected or surmised only, or frivolous and light.

Thirdly, that it be onely in case of ex­treme necessity, when the whole Com­mon-wealth is in imminent danger to be utterly overthrown, and no other means of safety left, for the preservation [Page 93] of themselves, their lives, theire states, and the liberty of their consciences.

Fourthly, that all other good means have formerly been used for his refor­mation, but in vain.

Fiftly, that under the pretence of reli­gion and justice, private ends and advan­tages, be not aimed at, intended and sought.

Sixtly, that in all their proceedings they carefully observe such equity and moderation, that they themselves infringe not those liberties, and transgress not those laws, which they take upon them to maintain: for here that rule they give themselves must hold. Quod justum est justè persequaris.

Seventhly, that it be not onely inten­ded for, but likewise accompanied with a greater publick benefit, Ne Resp. volens vitare Charybdim incidat in Scyllam.

When you propose a particular case of this kinde, wherein these cautions are observed, that I may take notice of all the considerable circumstances appertaining thereunto, I will tell you what I think of the lawfulness, or unlawfulness of it.

SECT. XXV. Exceptions to some principles, upon which they endeavour to ground their opinion, who maintain the affirmative.


YOu said even now, that some of those, who take upon them to maintain the lawfulness of resistence in this kinde, are constrained to fly to such principles, as you conceive are either false in themselves, or in the application of them tend to the utter overthrow of all good government, and to take away the very foundation of all humane au­thority. I pray you let me hear some in­stances of such principles.


One is, that the supreme Magi­strate, in respect of those that are under his authority, is major singulis, but minor universis. This I take to be false: for the supreme Magistrate, as such, is Solo Deo minor, and unto all his subjects, not divi­sim onely, but conjunctim also, is in stead [Page 95] of God, who is greater then all. Another is, that the power of government is originally in the people, & only derived from, & intrusted by them, unto the su­preme magistrate. This I am perswaded is false: for the power of government is o­riginally in God, derived from, & intru­sted by him, to the supreme magistrate, even then when the person, in whom that authority resides, is designed by the peo­ple, as in elective governments, much more where the government is succes­sive, and hereditary. The holy Ghost in Scripture styleth Magistrates the mi­nisters of God, and the servants of the Lord: but never that I know the ministers of the people, or the servants of their subjects.

Another is, that subjects have an inte­rest in the supreme Magistrate, which is of a far more excellent and high nature, then that interest, which the supreme Magistrate hath in his subjects. But this I am confident is false: for the interest, which the supreme Magistrate, as such, hath in his subjects, is Gods interest, al­though not absolute, as his is; yet such as, [Page 96] however limited, he hath for God, and unto him must be answerable for his ma­nagement thereof.

Another is, that Salus populi est suprema lex, which is a truth indeed, if rightly un­derstood: But being so applyed, as that the people themselves, or any deputed by them, shall be esteemed competent judges of what is necessary for their own safety, without the concurrence and con­sent of the supreme Magistrate, tends utterly, as I conceive, to take away all authority from him, yea to loose the bands of all humane society. For if sub­jects shall stand no longer bound in con­science to obey their Soveraigns, then they themselves shall esteem it expedi­ent, and that it is not necessary to do o­therwise, the apprehension of the like necessity may as well warrant children to withdraw their obedience from their parents, servants from their masters, yea equals their friendship and fidelity from one another. Yea, though the neces­sity be not really apprehended indeed, but only pretended, and this supreme law pleaded for it, and that subjects, ei­ther [Page 97] severally or joyntly, may them­selves, or by any deputed by them, be Judges of that law, against, or without the approbation and allowance of supreme Authority, actum est de imperio, the Magistrate must hold his estate but of courtesie, at the will and pleasure of the people: for when ever they have a minde to disobey, and finde themselves in case to make their party good, it is no more but to pretend an extraordinary case of necessity, and then they have their commission to shew, from Salus populi est suprema lex.


What say you then to the cases of non-age, natural disability, or captivi­ty of the supreme Magistrate, by which there is a necessity, that his Authority, for the time, should be managed by others?


To this I could say, first, that God himself then declares the necessity, and not the people.

Secondly, that the necessity, in such cases, respects not the people immedi­ately, but the supreme Magistrate him­self.

Thirdly, That the Authority of the [Page 98] supreme Magistrate, in such cases, is not managed against him, but for him.

But I would rather say, that in such cases the known laws of each particular state, rather then general rules of rea­son and analogy, are to be resorted to, and consulted with. For in many cases, the general rules of reason and ana­logy may indifferently be urged on either side: and supreme Magistrates, as well as their subjects, will plead ex­traordinary cases, and the necessity of their own safety, both for their own and for their subjects sakes.

Another is, that subjects are not at all obliged to their supreme Magistrates, but under condition, viz. so far forth only, as they govern aright; and that cessante conditione cessat obligatio. But this, if generally understood of all, as well passive as active obedience, I presume is false: and if it be so meant, that sub­jects themselves shall have authority, without the consent of supreme Magi­strates, to determine the rectitude, or ir­regularity of their government, and ac­cordingly to yeild, or withdraw their [Page 99] obedience, why may not the same be said of all inferiours to their superiours, chil­dren to parents, servants to masters? Ego te meum dici tantisper volo, dum quod te dignum est facis. And what then shall be­come of all humane authority?


And what shall become of all the propriety, and liberty of subjects, if they may not lawfully defend them­selves, and by force of arms resist the unjust violence of their governours, and remove them, or constrain them to re­form their courses? Yea, what shall be­come even of the law of nature, which teacheth not onely reasonable men, but even brute beasts, to defend themselves, and the things they enjoy, against rapine and spoil? Much less may we think, that God would have whole nations left de­stitute of means, or lawful liberty by those means, to defend themselves from the violence of particular men a­busing their authority, and making their own wills and pleasures only the rules of their Government. What is this else, but to let loose the reines to a licentious, un­bounded sway of arbitrary govrenment, [Page 110] and to teach supreme Magistrates, that they may do what they list?


I see you would fain draw me to declare my self, and to tell you what I think of the lawfulness, or unlawful­ness of subjects resisting, and by force of arms defending themselves against supreme Magistrates, and those that are put in Authority by them. But in vain: for I told you before, that I will not, and indeed cannot well tell what to resolve of the question in general, unless some such particular case were propounded, as whereof all the several circumstances might be seriously considered, and com­pared together. Yet for your argument, how ever the question in general may speed, I presume it is such, as will not stand under that weight you seek to lay upon it. For first, it may easily be retorted thus, What shall become of all the pre­eminence, propriety of prerogative, Ma­jesty and Soveraignty, of supreme Ma­gistrates, if subjects have Authority to de­clare their Sovereigns actions tyrannical unjust, and violent, and then have lawful liberty to right, or rather to revenge [Page 101] themselves, and by force of arms depose their Sovereigns, or constrain them to govern so as pleaseth them? Yea what shall become of the law of nature, which teacheth not onely reasonable men, but even brute beasts, not to break order by resisting, where they are to be subject, not to permit themselves to be contem­ned, where they ought to be obeyed? Much less may we think, that God would have supreme Magistrates, who bear the image of his Majesty, and go­vern for him, left to the discretion of their people, and destitute of means or lawful liberty by those means, to compel them unto, and keep them in order, and to punish them for their diso­bedience, when they perceive them minded to make their own wills and pleasures onely the rules of their subjection. What is this else, but to let loose the reins to a licencious, unboun­ded sway of arbitrary disobedience, and to teach subjects, that they may do what they list?

Secondly, the bounds and limits, both of the rule and government of supreme [Page 102] Magistrates, and of the subjection and obedience of the people, that are under them, are set and determined by laws. First, by the law of God; I mean as it is revealed in his written word. Se­condly, by the law of nature, I mean as it is imprinted in the minds of men, and there discovered by the light of reason. Thirdly by the law of nations: I mean those common rules and principles of commerce and society, which are gene­rally agreed upon by all men. Fourthly, by the proper and peculiar laws of eve­ry particular state, whether fun­damental, or additional, agreed upon, or made by the supreme Magistrate, either by the advice, or with the consent of the people. By all these laws the pro­prieties, both of supreme Magistrates, and of their subjects, the preeminence, prerogative, majesty, soveraignty, and Authority of the one, the liberty, rights, and priviledges of the other, are both defined, and defended: and unto them the defence of these, and their propriety in these, doth of right belong unto whom the defence of those laws doth [Page 103] belong: and that is unto them that bear the sword, as having it put into their hands by God; and those that are war­ranted by them that bear it, supreme Magistrates I mean, and those whose Authority is derived from them. Of whom if it were granted, that their sub­jects might not lawfully by force of arms resist them, yet would it not follow, that therefore they might do what they list, and had the reins of an arbitrary government left in their hands: for they woud be no less bound by all the seve­ral sorts of laws before named, then if their people had lawful liberty in their own hands, to punish them for transgres­sing those laws. Which liberty when they assume unto themselves, and plead for as lawful, they seem at least to lay aside the condition of inferiours, and to change places with their superiours- For subjects, as subjects, can no more exercise the sword of justice, by any authority of their own, not derived from their Sovereigns, then supreme Magi­strates, as such, can be accountable un­to any, but to God himself, for the ma­naging [Page 104] of that authority, which as his immediate Vicegerents and substi­tutes they have from him. And this is a stronger tie upon supreme Magistrates, to keep them within their bounds, then any in the world besides can be. For the force of arms, that their subjects can prepare agaist them, they may perad­venture provide for the defeating of: but to fall into the hands of the living God is a fearful thing, against which there is, there can be no defence. The less then that subjects are allowed to right themselves against their Sovereigns, the more God himself is interested on their behalf, to revenge their wrongs, and his own, upon them that abuse his Authority. This made David, that he would not use the power which he had in his own hand, to right and revenge himself upon Saul, but left it to God, as belonging to him. The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord a­venge me of thee; but mine hand shall not be upon thee, 1 Sam. 24.12. Nor would he suffer Abishai, that was willing, and de­sirous to do it: for who, saith he, can stretch [Page 105] forth his hand against the Lords anointed, and be guiltless? As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him, or his day shall come to dye, or he shall descend into battel, and pe­rish. 1 Sam. 26, 9, 10.

Some, I know, answer, that David might lawfully have slain Saul, and that his forbearing to do it was for example sake, lest others in imitation of him should have been encouraged to kill Kings: and that it was singulare & heroi­cum exemplum, quod hosti pepercit, vitandi scandali causa. But this answer seems to me to contradict, both it self, and the text. To contradict it self: for that which is done for example sake, and to avoid scandal, is necessary to be done, and to do otherwise is unlawful: and there­fore according unto this answer, if for nothing else, yet for example sake, and to avoid scandal, David might not law­fully have slain Saul. To contradict the text: for David saith, Who? that is, none can stretch forth his hand against the Lords anointed and be guiltless. David could not have lawfully done that, which at least in his own opinion, no man could do [Page 106] and be guiltless. But I pray you let us leave this question: which hath been so often, and so much disputed by Prote­stant Divines, against Anabaptists and Papists, yea by the moderater Papists themselves, against those of their own profession, that call themselves Jesuits, and are indeed the most notorious in­cendiaries of the Christian world, that it is hard to say any thing now to the purpose, which hath not been already said.

SECT. XXVI. The question, whether subjects may resist their Sovereigns, belongs not peculiarly to Kings, or Mo­narchs alone, but is common un­to them, with all supreme Magi­strates, in what form of Go­vernment soever it be.


YEt one thing I pray you, Sr. sa­tisfie me in however. In that [Page 107] which you have said, concerning the cautions in this case propounded by some, and principles pleaded by others, I observe that you have not only of pur­pose forborn to answer directly to the question, but likewise to use the word Monarch, or King; instead thereof say­ing the supreme Magistrate, or Sove­reign: which, if it were done purposely, I should be glad to understand the rea­son of.


I confess I did it purposely: not to avoid that odium and prejudice which many men are too apt to enter­tain against all those, whom they think to cast scorn upon, when they call them Monarchists, or Royalists: for I have long ago learned to esteem all unjust asper­sions, and uncharitable censures, worthy onely of neglect. But the reason why I did it was, that you might take occasi­on thereupon to observe, that whatsoever is said in this question, concerning the lawfulness, or unlawfulness of subjects resisting, or defending themselves by force of arms, belongs not peculiarly to Kings, or Monarchs alone, but is com­mon [Page 108] unto them, with all supreme Ma­gistrates in what form of Govrnment so­ever it be. And therefore if to maintain the affirmative be to oppose Monarchical government, it must be as well prejudi­cial unto any other form: and if it be ne­cessary for the preservation of any state whatsoever, to maintain the negative, it will be as necessary that it should be maintained for the preservation of the state of Kings. For the distinction of the duties of Governours, and those that are to be governed by them equal­ly concerns all states under heaven; and the confusion of them hath the like influ­ence upon a Republick, as it hath upon a Monarchy: except there be this diffe­ference, that as Monarchy is a more per­fect form of Government, then any other, so a little blemish may sooner be seen, and will appear more odious, and dan­gerous in it, then in any other form, and therefore is to be the more carefully a­voided.

SECT. XXVII. Means warranted by God, as ef­fectually conducible to any end, must not be refused, or neglected, under any pretence to the contra­ry whatsoever.


LEt this then, if you please, suffice for your first caution, that be­fore I resolve upon the use of any means, as effectually conducible to any end, I must try and examine the lawful­ness of it, both in it self, and unto me. I pray you now go on unto the rest.


The second shall be this. What­ever means is commanded by God, and warranted by his word, as effectually conducible to any end, you must not neglect or be disswaded and discourag­ed from the use of it, how improba­ble soever, yea or impossible it may seem to be, in the eye of humane sense & reason, that it will be effectually con­ducible, [Page 110] and available, unto the end it should be used for. Thus that the walls of Jericho may fall down, Joshua and the Israelites, by Gods direction, must com­pass the city, and go round about it with the Ark, once a day six dayes to­gether, and seven times the seventh day, seven Priests must blow before the Ark, with seven trumpets of rams horns, and when they make a long blast, then all the people must shout with a great shout, Jos. 6.2, &c. and doing so the walls of Jericho fell flat before them. Thus the means to be delivered from the danger they were in by the Caldeans, which God by the Prophet Jeremiah directed Zedekiah and the men of Jerusalem, was to go out of the city and fall to the Cal­deans, Jer. 21.9. Jer. 38.17, 20. which because they neglected to hearken unto, the thing that they feared fell upon them, Jer. 39.1. Although, as the same Prophet speaketh, Lam. 12. The Kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world would not have believed, that the adversary and the enemy should have entred into the gates of Jerusalem.

[Page 111]

True, Sr. but these directions were given by special immediate reve­lation from God himself: which as you said before, is not to expected now a­dayes, nor easily believed, either in our selves, or others. And therefore this cau­tion, at least these examples, may seem to be but of little use now.


If you think so, you are decei­ved: for these examples serve sufficient­ly to prove the necessity, and excellent use of this caution: which is general, and respects not those directions alone, which are given by special and immedi­ate revelation from God, but likewise those, which are guided by general rules recorded in his written word: the truth whereof is no less certain, being rightly applyed unto particular cases now adayes, then if God himself from heaven should utter them, as is evident by that comparison, which St. Peter makes between the word of peophecie concerning Christ recorded in Scripture, and the voice from heaven, which they heard when they were with him in the holy mount, 2 Pet. 1.18, 19. and by that [Page 112] which our Saviour in the parable saith to the same purpose, Luke 16.31. and more plainly to the Jews, concerning the writings of Moses and his own words, John. 5.47. And according unto this rule, when Solomon saith, If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee: leave not thy place: for yielding pacifieth great offences. Eccl. 10.4. how contrary soever that di­rection may seem to the wayes of hu­mane wisdom, yet it is better to obey God, by humble submission to, then men, how wise soever they may seem to be, by obstinate oposition of su­preme authority; according to the coun­sel of Solomon. Eccl. 8.2, &c. So the par­ticular practice of passive obedience, in suffering wrong patiently, is more a­greeable unto the will of God, and a better means to advance his glory, and credit the Gospel of Christ, by putting to silence the ignorance of foolish men, and winning them that obey not the word, then to resist, and defend our selves by force against the consent, and without the warrant of those, in whom the supreme authority on earth resides: [Page 113] and is so warranted to be, by those ge­neral rules, that are given to this purpose, by St. Peter in his first Epistle, from the eleventh verse of the second to the end of the fourth Chapter: and by St. Paul. 1. Tim. 6.1, &c. and in sundry other places: though worldly-wise men, con­sulting with flesh and blood, will be re­dy to reply, as many of our Saviours own disciples did, upon another occasion, Joh. 6.60. This is a hard saying, who can bear it? though they should break out into open blasphemy, and say as it is reported some have done, that passive obedience is assive obedience. Of whom I doubt not but I may truely say, as St. Peter doth, 2 Pet. 2.1, 3. They bring upon themselves swift destruction, and their damnation slum­bereth not.

SECT. XXVIII. Means probably destructive of the supreme must not be used, though possibly they might be available for subordinate ends.


LEt this suffice likewise for your second caution, that the means which are warranted by Gods direction, as effectually conducible to any end, must not be refused, or neglected, under any pretence whatsoever to the contrary. What shall the third be?


The third shall be this. What ever means is effectually conducible unto any particular subordinate end, how good soever, if withal it be de­structive of, or inconsistent with the su­preme and general end, you must re­solve to let it alone, and not to meddle with it. Thus they of Cesarea, and they that were of Pauls company, though they earnestly desired, that he would [Page 115] not go up to Jerusalem, supposing that his tarrying from thence might be a means to preserve his life and liberty, yet when they saw that he would not be perswaded, as not willing to be pre­vented, or deprived of that opportuni­ty, which there he might have, to do God better service, in testifying the Gos­pel of the grace of God, they ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. Acts 21.14. On the contrary, when our Sa­viour began to shew to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and there suffer and be killed, Peter in kindness would counsel him better, as he thought, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee: but he receives this sharp reply, Get thee behinde me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Mat. 16.21, 22, 23. And afterward, when he would needs be as busy with his sword to defend, as before he had been with his tongue to disswade his master from danger, he meets with the like reproof again, not without a severe commina­tion of revenge for his rashness, Put up [Page 116] again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shal perish with the sword, Mat: 26.52. St. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, who leaned on his breast at supper, hath it, Put up thy sword into the sheath, John 18. As if he knew, that a subjects sword out of the sheath was not in its place, unless by Sovereign Autho­rity it had been called forth. And our Saviour, as if he himself had been bound in conscience to make restitution for the wrong that his servant had done against his will, heals the servants ear that Peter had cut off: and that not with­out a kinde of leave asking, Suffer ye thus far, Luke 22.51. And yet I presume no Christian dares deny, but that in the exercise of that authority, which Peter then did offer to resist, there was male-administration in the highest degree. If ever power were abused, it was when Christ himself was apprehended by it, yet in Christs own quarrel, against the officers of Annas and Caiphas, Christ himself saith to Peter, Put up thy sword into his place, into the sheath. Not that our Saviour wanted power to make his [Page 117] party good: for he adds in the next verse, Thinkest thou, that I cannot now pray to my father, and he shall presently give me twelve Legions of angels? but, as it fol­lows, verse. 54. How then shall the Scrip­tures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? The preservation of Christs liberty and life, was in it self a good end, and a good particular subordinate end, so long as it served for the advancement of the glory of God, the general supreme end, that is so long as his hour was not yet come, and so long he himself provided for it: but when the Scripture was to be ful­filled, which had said, he should be numbered amongst the transgressours, and make his soul an offering for sin, Isa. 53.10, &c. when God was to be more glorified by his death, then he would be by his life; then neither o­thers, nor himself, must any longer in­terpose for his preservation, and deli­verance. No, not though he were pro­voked unto it, not onely by one of the malefactors, that was hanged, and by the souldiers, that crucified him, but likewise by the rulers, and the [Page 118] people generally; and that with the strongest inducements that invention racked on the rules of art could reach unto. He saved others, let him save him­self, If he be the Christ the son of God. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. This one, How then shall the Scripture be fulfilled, that thus it must be? is an argument be­yond them all, which Christ himself cannot answer any other way, but by obedient suffering. And that he did it, not for our sakes onely, but for our example also, St. Peter tells us plainly 1 Pet. 2.21.

SECT. XXIX. What means in their use are incon­sistent with, or contrary to the advancement of the glory of God.


BUt how shall I know what means are inconsistent with, or contrary to the general supreme end of all things, the advancement of the glory of God?


By that, which I told you be­fore, in the first caution: if they be such, as the use thereof is, either unlawful in it self, or unto you. For herein, saith our Saviour, is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit: so shall ye be my disciples, John. 15.8. and the fruit that God expects from men, to the end that he be glorifi­ed by them, is obedience. 1 Sam. 15.22, 23. Our Saviour of himself saith, I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work, which thou gavest me to do, John 17.4. and to his disciples, Let your light so shine [Page 120] before men, that they may see your good works, and glorifie your Father, which is in heaven. Mat. 5.16. So to the end that Christi­ans may shine as lights in the world, St. Pauls direction to the Philippians is, Do all things without murmurings and disput­ings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, Phil. 2.14, 15. When any thing is done agreeably unto the word of God, which he hath mag­nified above all his name, Psal. 138.2. then his glory is advanced, But when any thing is done contrary thereunto, he is dishonoured. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my my father, which is in heaven. Mat. 7.21. This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, Mat. 15.8, 9. That is done to Gods dishonour, what ever it be, and under what pretence soever, which is done against the rule of his revealed will.

SECT. XXX. Whether the glory of God may be advanced by the sins of men.


IS the glory of God then never ad­vanced by the sins of men? Doth not St. Paul suppose, that the truth of God may more abound through a mans lie, unto his glory? Rom 3.7. and doth he not expresly say, that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound? Rom. 5.20.


It is true, that God, who in the creation brought light out of dark­ness, yea made all things of nothing, can when he pleaseth bring good out of evil, and raise honour to himself out of those very actions, whereby he is most of all dishonoured. Yet we cannot say pro­perly, that his glory is advanced by any sinful action, but only that is advanced in it, or through it. Not by it, as by the cause, but in it, or through it, as the occa­sion. [Page 122] And if this were a sufficient war­rant for a man to do any thing amiss, that God will work himself honour out of it, the same plea might serve to justi­any the most hainous offences, and enormous crimes, that the devil him­self can ever devise to tempt men to. Our rule then must be to enquire, not what is inconsistent with, or contrary to that advancement of the glory of God, which he will raise unto, and work out for himself, but which he directeth us to labour for, and would have to be aimed at, and intended by us: and that, as before, is the honour that accrews to him by our obedience.

SECT. XXXI. Some means sometimes probably con­ducible to the supreme and prin­cipal, if necessarily destructive of, or inconsistent with, a particular subordinate end, are not alwayes to be used.


SO much for the third, that means destructive of the supreme must not be used, though they might be a­vailable for subordinate ends. What is the fourth caveat?


The fourth is this. What ever means is effectually conducible unto the supreme and general end of all things, if withal it be destructive of, or inconsistent with, the particular subordinate end, for which you stand ingaged, you must resolve to let it alone, and not to med­dle with it, unless the particular sub­ordinate end it self be such, as may be [Page 124] forborn, without any hinderance at all unto the general supreme end: and un­lesse that means be so necessary, that the general supreme end cannot be ob­tained without it by any other means. Thus for them that preach the Gospel to live of the Gospel, is effectually conducible unto the advancement of the glory of God: who hath ordained, that he that is taught in the word should com­municate unto him that teacheth him in all good things, Gal. 6.6. But for St. Paul to take wages of the Corinthians, a­mongst whom he conceived it neces­sary for him to preach the Gospel free­ly, was, though not unlawful in it self, yet so unfit for him, that he resolves it were better for him to die, then that any man should make his glorying void. 1 Cor. 9. 15. I will onely adde one caveat more, and then I think I shall have said all that is necessary for the resolution of your second question, and that shall be this. What ever means you appre­hend, or is offered unto you, as ef­fectually conducible to any end, con­sider well, whether there be not some [Page 125] other effect, of another nature and of more important consequence, likely to follow thereupon, rather then run the hazard whereof, it were better to for­bear the use of the means unto that end, and wait the opportunity of some o­ther means, that may not be subject to the like inconvenience. Thus Amaziah, intending war against the Edomites, thought it a good means to strengthen himself, by hiring 100000. mighty men of valour out of Israel for 100000. ta­lents of silver: but being warned by a man of God, that the assistance of the Israelites was like to bring a curse up­on the whole design, he rather chose to loose his 100000. talents of silver, and separate the army of Israel to go home again, then run so great an ha­zard, as by retaining them he should have done. 2 Chron. 25. Thus Achish, al­though he were confident enough of Davids fidelity, and thought that he and his men might do him good service in his wars against Israel, yet when he was put in minde, that David, for his own interest, was likely to be an adver­sary [Page 126] to them in the battel, sends him away. 1 Sam. 29. So though David had a minde to go forth with the people to battel against Absolom, yet was he easi­ly perswaded to tarry in the city, when he understood that it was better, and that the loss of half the people would not have been a matter of so great im­portance, as the hazzard of his person onely. 2. Sam. 18.2, &c.

SECT. XXXII. Men eminently virtuous, or notori­ously vicious, how far to be trust­ed, and adhered unto, or shunned and declined.


SIr, I thank you: you have said so much already, to give me satis­faction in those two particulars, wherein I have desired your advice, concerning the proposal of the ends which I ought to aim at, and the choice of the means, which I should use to those ends; that now, for the other two, concerning that [Page 127] esteem, which I ought to have them in whom I observe to be richly adorned, with eminent graces, or notoriously overtaken with false opinions, or evil practices, I think I may be able to answer my self: viz. that I must onely so far trust and adhere unto the former, as I finde both their endes and means to be good; and onely so far forth decline and shun the latter, as I see that they either propose unto themselves some evil ends, or use bad means, of purpose to attain unto those ends, which they propose unto themselves, whether good or bad. For by your former speech I perceive, you would have nothing false or evil, embraced, nor any thing that is true and good indeed, rejected, upon any occasion, or under any pretence whatsoever; nor any thing looked up­on as such, either good and true, or evil and false, out of any respect, that either partiality, or prejudice, in any kinde, can cast upon it; but only as reason ruled by religion shall manifestly make it appear to be such.

SECT. XXXIII. Partiality and prejudice two great occasions of confusion in the world.


YOu apprehend me rightly: and I heartily wish; that you and all others, were not onely perswa­ded of the necessity, but would also be careful in your practice to make use of that rule. For the neglect (if I may not more properly say concerning some, the contempt) of this caution breeds as great a confusion in the world, as almost any thing beside: so apt men are to take all things upon trust from them, of whom they have once entertained a good opinion, and to dislike whatsoe­ver they see proceed from them, whose persons they like not. Thus David, ha­ving said of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, he is good man, presently adds, and [Page 129] cometh with good tidings, before he knew what the tidings were, 2 Sam. 18.27. And Gedaliah would not believe, that Ishmael intended any treachery to­wards him, though Johanan and all the captains of the forces, that were in the field, endeavoured to perswade him to it, Jer. 40.13, &c. And Achish, though to please the Lords of the Philistines he yeeld to cashier David and his men, yet will not forgoe his good opinion of him, 1 Sam. 29.6, &c. But on the contrary, Joab will not be perswaded, that Abner, who formerly had made himself strong for the house of Saul, came to David to Hebron, with any other intent, but onely as a spie to deceive him. 2 Sam. 3.25. When Saul was once grown jealous and afraid of David, his own son Jona­than goes in danger of his life, if he offer but to speak a good word for him, 1 Sam. 20.30, &c. Yea David himself misled by the slanderous report of Zi­ba, will scarce give good Mephibosheth leave to plead his own innocencie, but cuts him off from his just apologie, with this short answer, why speakest thou any [Page 130] more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land, 2 Sam. 19.29. And therefore it hath alwayes been one special point of Satans subtily to garnish errours with great names, and to cast all the scorn and contempt, that possibly he can, upon the patrons of truth: together with an overweening opinion of some mens worth, to steal into the minds of the multitude an implicit perswasion, that they must not entertaine any sinister suspition of any thing that is said or done by them; and by infusing into their af­fection, an utter dislike of other mens persons, to turn their stomachs against any thing, that they see practised or ap­proved by them. Thus Balak makes no question, but he shall prevail against Israel, if he have Balaam on his side: for saith he, I wote that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. Num. 22.6. And Micah having entertain­ed a priest of his own consecration in his house, saith, Now I know that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have Levite to my Priest. Judg. 17.12, 13. Yea Simon the sorcerer, giving out that himself was [Page 131] some great one, so bewitched the peo­ple of Samaria, that they all had regard and gave heed unto him, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God, Acts 8.9, &c. On the other side, Ahab, hating Micaiah, hath no minde to hear him, yea though he knoweth, and telleth Jehoshaphat, that by him they may enquire of the Lord, yet he resolves before hand he shall hear no good but evil from him, 1 Kings 22.8. This made St Paul have so much adoe among the Corinthians, because there were some, that thought of him, as if he walked according to the flesh, and stuck not to say plainly, His bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible, 2 Cor. 10.2, 10. Thus the chief Priests and Phari­sees, yea even Nathaniel, an Israelite in whom was no guile, at first had an hard opinion of our Saviour himself, for his very countrys sake, Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no Prophet, say they, John 7.52. And can there any good thing come out of Nazareth, saith he, John 1.46. These as the two great rubs, that usually lie in the way of religion, I suppose St. [Page 132] Paul endeavours to remove from a­mongst the Corinthians, when he would have them learn not to think of men above that which is written, that none of you, saith he, be puffed up for one a­gainst another, 1 Cor. 4.6. And he gives the reason of that weighty charge, which he layes upon Timothy, to preach the word, and to be instant in season, and out of season; For saith he, the time will come, when they will not endure sound do­ctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables, 2 Tim. 4.3, 4. And therefore that gene­ral rule which he gives. 1 Thes. 5.21. is of perpetual use, Prove all things: hold fast that which is good.

SECT. XXXIV. What difference is to be made be­tween the opinions and practises of men eminently vertuous, and notoriously vicious.


WOuld you have men make no difference then between the opinions and practises, of those that are generally known to be orthodox, honest, and religious, and those whose credit hath already been crackt, and li­able to just exception for errors and en­ormities, whereof they may be appa­rently convicted? For I presume your instances already given reach not so far, but onely to false, or vain, unjust, or un­grounded surmises and suspitions onely. Or do you think it is to no purpose, that our Saviour saith, A good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit, &c. Luk. 6. 43, 44, 45.

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Yes I deny not, but there is a great difference to be made, between the opinions and practises of men emi­nently vertuous or vitious indeed; yea, if they be but generally reputed▪ and esteemed such: but that difference must reach no further, but unto the first ap­prehension which we have of them, not to the final resolution, whereupon we must settle, and set up our rest. The consideration of the persons, whose opi­nions or practises they are, may give us just occasion to suspend the censures, which at first we may think them wor­thy of, until we have further exa­mined and tried them. Or rather indeed for the honour that we owe to truth and holiness, and the detestation which we should have falshood and wickedness in, we ought to do so. But when it comes to the upshot, that we are to resolve which side we will sit down upon, or as our Saviour speaks of the choice we would make between two masters, whether we will hate the one, and love the other, or else hold to the one, and despise the other, then the [Page 135] adherent circumstances of the persons must be wholly laid aside, and the things themselves must be considered, as they are, or as they ought to be: otherwise we may be much mistaken. An hand­ful, yea a grain of wheat is no less good corn, because it is covered with an heap of chaffe, and tares are tares, although they be shed amongst good seed. Dead flies will send forth a stinking savour, even in the oyntment of the Apothecary: and a jewel of gold should not be under­valued, although it be found in a swines snout. But it may be you look for ex­amples rather then similitudes: and the holy Ghost in Scripture hath furnished us with those, as well as these. That mirrrour of divine, and miracle of hu­mane wisdom Solomon, even he whose name was called Jedidiah, beloved of the Lord, 2 Sam. 12.25. yet loved many strange women, who when he was old turned away his heart after other gods, 1 Kings 11.1, &c. Even Peter, that made that famous confession concerning our Saviour, Thou art the Christ the son of the living God, and received from him that [Page 136] excellent attestation, Blessed art thou Si­man Bar: Jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven: shortly after presuming to advise his master, as he supposed for his own good, receives this sharp reproof, Get thee behinde me Satan, thou art an of­fence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men, Mat. 16.16, &c. And though he seemed to be a pillar, yet St. Paul, when he saw that he was to be blamed, made no scruple to withstand him to his face, Gal. 2.9, 11. It were easie to be almost infi­nite in instances of this kinde: and to confess the truth, it is a more ordinary thing to finde a little folly in him, that is in reputation for wisdom and honor, as Solomon speaks, Eccles. 10.1. then to ob­serve in them, that are notoriously evil, any thing worthy of praise and imitati­on. And yet we are not altogether de­stitute of examples to that purpose. Even Balaam that loved the wages of un­righteousness, 2 Pet. 2.15. yet blessed Is­rael more then once, Num. 23. and 24. Ahab, that did sell himself to work [Page 137] wickedness, and did very abominably in following idols, yet took so to heart the judgements threatened against him and his house by the Prophet Eli­jah, that he rent his clothes, and put sack­cloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly, 1 Kings 21.25, &c. Yea upon Elijahs motion, he sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the Prophets of Baal together unto mount Carmel, and permitted them by Elijahs direction, to be apprehended and slain, 1 Kings 18.20, &c. Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: yet he destroyed Baal out of Israel, and did well in executing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord against the house of Ahab, 2 Kings 10.28, &c. Even Pilate, that condemned our Saviour, and Judas that betrayed him, and one of the thieves that was crucified with him, testified his innocence. Yea the Devil himself acknowledged Christ to be the holy one of God, Luk. 3.34. and Paul and his companions to be the servants of the most high God, and the Gospel [Page 138] which they preached, the way of sal­vation, Acts 16.17. So hard it is, or ra­ther impossible to finde any wisdom or goodness upon earth so pure and perfect, but that there may be observed in it some course allay of errour, igno­rance, or evil; which ought to be en­tertained with no more respect, then poyson in a golden cup: and scarce is there any man so desperatly given over to a reprobate mind, but that in one par­ticular or other, at least now and then, some beams of truth, and sparks of ho­nesty, may be discovered in his words and actions, which ought no more to be rejected, or despised, then pearls in a dunghil to be troden under foot. And though it be true, which you alledg, that every tree is known by his own fruit: and that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh: to which you may add that of St. James, Jam. 3.11, 12. Doth a fountain send forth, at the same place, sweet water and bitter? Can a fig-tree bear olive berries? either a vine figs? so can no foun­tain both yield salt water and fresh. Yet withall you must remember what the [Page 139] Prophet Jeremiah saith, The heart is de­ceitful above all things, and desperately wick­ed, who can know it? Jer. 17.9. and St. Paul, Gal. 6.3, 4. If a man think himself to be somthing, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoycing in himself alone and not in another. A re­generate man hath not one fountain a­lone in him, but two; a fountain of na­ture, and a fountain of grace: and that of nature is never so quite dried up in this life, but that it will sometimes be dropping, if not pouring out some of its own salt bitter water. And though unregenerate men be not trees of righte­ousness, that planting of the Lord, which bringeth forth spiritual fruits of grace, yet many times there may be gathered from them those blossoms of truth, and buds of moral obedience, which a sancti­fied servant of God, for the matter of his opinions and proctises, need neither be ashamed, nor afraid to use: and hav­ing brought them, as metal, to the royal standard of the word, and tryed them there, if the fault appear to be want of [Page 140] weight or fineness onely, he may let them pass for good bullion, though not for currant coin. And if every tree be known by his own fruit, it is not e­nough to look upon the fruit, but we must tast it too, that we may know what kinde the tree is of. And when we have all done, it is not the tasting of some fruit alone, that can assure us the rest, that comes from the same tree, is all of the same kinde, unless withal we can certainly tell, whether the stock and branches all grow naturally of them­selves together, or have been graffed on: Nay rather, by the different tast of the fruit, we may perswade our selves, that either the sap is not the same, wherewith it was nourished, or not alike conveyed unto it.

SECT. XXXV. A multitude must not be followed to do evil, nor the doing of good abstained from, though it be to avoid the society of a multitude of evil doers otherwise.


THis that you say per adventure may be true concerning the o­pinions and practices of some few parti­cular persons, that I should not take them upon trust from them that are general­ly well esteemed of, nor reject them be­cause they come from such men, as are commonly ill reported of: but what shall I do, when I see such opinions and practises generally received, or rejected, by whole multitudes, it may be by all, that I either know or have heard of, to be such?


In such a case you have the less cause to be doubtful; but yet withall take heed you be not too confident: for [Page 142] you must not follow a multitude to do evil; no, nor abstain from doing good, though it be to avoid the society of a multitude of evil doers otherwise. A multitude of honest well meaning men may be led aside, out of the wayes of truth and holiness, into the by-paths of errour and wickedness, by the subtil sug­gestions of a few deceivers: and the de­vil himself doth not alwayes work so powerfully in the children of disobedi­ence, but that some good opinions and practises may be retained, even amongst whole multitudes of them. Thus for the former, ten of the twelve men, that were sent to search the land of Canaan, bringing up an evil report of the land, which they had searched, set all the con­gregation of the children of Israel on murmuring; so that Caleb and Joshuah could not stil them: yet Moses & Aaron re­garded not the greater number; nay God himself took part with the two against the ten, Numb. 13. and 14. Two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that went in their simplicity, and knew not any thing, were drawn into action of rebellion [Page 143] against David, by his traiterous son Ab­solom: and the conspiracy was strong, saith the text, for the people increased continually with Absolom, 2 Sam. 15.11, 12. One Benjamite, a man of Belial, Sheba the son of Bichri, with a blast of a trum­pet, and a words speaking, draws all the men of Israel, to go up from after Da­vid, to follow him: even then, when they were in the heat of their quarrel with the men of Judah, for pretending more interest in David, then themselves were willing to acknowledge that they had, 2 Sam. 19. and 20. When Peter at Antioch withdrew, and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circum­cision, the other Jews dissembled like­wise with him, insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissi­mulation: yet St. Paul withstood him to his face, and sticks not to say plainly, that he was to be blamed, and that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, Gal. 2.11, &c. So for the later, The Pharisees, though hy­pocrites, and such as had made the word of God of none effect by their traditions: [Page 144] yet in the point of the resurrection were so orthodox, that in behalf thereof they make a party for St. Paul against the Sad­ducess, Acts 23.6, &c. Thus Festus saith, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accu­sed, have accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself, concerning the crime layd against him, Acts 25.16. and verse. 27. It seemeth unto me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signifie the crimes laid against him. Though the Romans were in other things given up unto a reprobate minde, as St. Paul com­plains, Rom. 1.28. yet this care in the publick administration of justice, to pro­ceed, not upon suspicions or surmises, but secundum allegata & probata, was no­thing the less commendable in them, or necessary to be practised by others. For as the same Apostle speaks, Rom. 2.14, 15. When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law are a law unto themselves. Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts: their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the [Page 145] mean while accusing, or else excusing one another. Therefore, as it followes verse 27. Shall not uncircumcision, which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? And as our Saviour, Mat. 12.41, 42. threateneth the Jews, that the men of Nineve, and the Queen of the south, shall rise up in judgement with them, and condemn them; because they repented at the preaching of Jonas, and she came from the uttermost parts of the earth, to hear the wisdom of So­lomon, yet they neglected and regarded not him, though greater then Jonas, and greater then Solomon. So if we take up­on us to be more sincerely affected unto truth and holiness, then other men are, and suffer our selves, in matter of opinion or practise, to be overswaied & carried away with partiality and prejudice, that we would rather sell the truth, then pur­chase the displeasure of them, whose persons we have in admiration because of advantage; and hazard the comfort of a good conscience, by neglecting the discharge of the necessary duties, that we owe to others, rather then incur an [Page 146] unjust uncharitable censure, such as the Jews cast on our Saviour himself, when they called him a friend of Publicans and sinners, those honest heathens shall rise up in judgment against us, and condemn us, that said, Amicus Socrates, amicus Plato, sed magis amica veri­tas: &, Tros Tyriusque mihi nullo discrimine agetur. Yea, we our selves shall be our own judges, either that we profess that which we should not, because we pra­ctise not that which we profess; or else that we practise not that which we we should, because we profess that which we practise not. And self-con­contradiction, in what kinde soever, in word or deed, or both, must of necessity be self-condemnation: unless we can pro­duce some authentical charter from heaven, whereby we our selves are pri­viledged, exempted from the common condition of mankind, and allowed li­berty, as often as we list, to new mould the nature of truth, and to make our own expedience alone the rule of our obedi­ence both to God and man.

SECT. XXXVI. The Conclusion,


SIr, I thank you for this favour, in that you have thus freely impar­ted your minde unto me. And now me­thinks some of those things, which you have said, in answer unto my demands, if rightly applyed, might be of good use, for the deciding of those differences, wherewith our Church and Common-wealth are now distracted.


I doubt not but they might: and to that purpose I often make use of them my self in private, for mine own satisfaction; & so may you do, if you will. But I will not presume in a business of so great importance, to publish mine own opinion to others, unless by autho­rity I were required, or allowed so to do. And, to deal plainly with you, I think, that though you, and I, and others, may privately seek satisfaction for our [Page 148] selves, and finde it, according to that in­formation which we have, yet no man can be fit for that imployment, where­by publick satisfaction in this case should be offered unto all, except he be very well acquainted with every consi­derable circumstance: and especially, unless he be such a one, as hath been ho­noured, and entrusted with the know­ledge of those arcana imperij, the sacred secresie whereof might seem to be pro­faned, if they should be exposed to the view of the vulgar. Therefore let us leave that resolution of those doubts, which others look for, unto them to whom of right it appertains to give it: and humbly beseech the onely wise God, the fountain of all goodness, so to govern the counsels, and give such a blessed issue unto the endeavours of all those that sit at the stern of the state, to guide the great affaires of Church and Com­mon-wealth, that the success of all their consultations, and actions, may be the turning of his hand upon us, purely to purge away our dross, and take [Page 149] away all our tinn, that his rest a­mongst us may be glorious, who is the blessed and onely potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords: who onely hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, or can see: to whom be honour and power ever­lasting. Amen.

A Postscript.

ALthough, when I penned the pre­cedent discourse, in the year 1642. I had much occasion to conceive, that many men were apt to be misled, into errours and enormities, by false preten­ces and principles, by factious prejudice against some, and partiality towards o­thers; yet I did not suspect that the ma­lady was, or would be accompanied with so much malignity, as since that time hath shewed it self, in rendring some men deaf unto divine direction, and in­capable of cure, by making them wil­lingly ignorant, or rather wilfully insen­sible of their sickness, and to dote upon their diseases themselves, as if they were signs and symptoms of their health: but hoped at least, that gentle applications would have been sufficient to digest, or to disperse the distempered humors, before they were grown to any setled [Page 151] and confirmed strength. Therefore in­tending to endeavour the prevention, or discovery, of such deceits, both in my self and others, by a brief and plain re­presentation of what I thought conside­rable, in divers particulars of important concernment relating unto matters of o­pinion and practise, I resolved to do it in the mildest, and most familiar manner that I could, even striving to decline the speaking out of those conclusions, the premises whereof I studied to fortifie as strongly as I could, and bring mens af­fections to be guided by their judg­ments, rather then their judgements to be swaied by their affections. I de­sired to imitate the practice of St. Paul, who saith of himself, 1 Cor. 10.31. I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved, and 1 Cor. 9.19, &c. Though I be free from all men, yet have I made my self servant to all, that I might gain the more, &c. Or rather to obey those pre­cepts of the holy Ghost, by the same Apostle, Gal. 6.1. If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a [Page 152] one in the spirit of meekness: and 2 Tim. 2.24, 25. The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men; apt to teach, pati­ent: in meekness instructing those that op­pose themselves. But now (Apr. 5. 1662.) considering what gross impieties have been practised, what devillish doctrines have been divulged, what horrid villa­nies have been acted amongst us, since that time: especially in the most exe­crable murther of our most gracious Soveraigne King Charles the first, with all the circumstantial aggravations of it, the antecedent preparations thereunto, the concomitant adjuncts, and conse­quent effects thereof: as St. Paul desired to be present with the Galatians, and to change his voice, because he was in doubt of them, Gal. 4.20. being afraid of them, lest he had bestowed upon them labour in vain, ver. 11. and threatened the Corinthians, that if he came again he would not spare, 2 Cor. 13.2. So intending to make that discourse more publick by the press, which for almost twenty years space hath passed thorow many private hands, in written copies onely, I finde my self much in­clined, [Page 153] though not to alter any thing ma­terial in it, yet to change my voice, and to speak out the exorbitancies of the three great wheels, upon which the motions of all our miseries have turned, Popery, Presbytery, and Popularity, (rightly understood, as I have said else­where, with relation to their rebellious principles, opinions and practises) so loud, as that those who are deafest, if withal they be not dead in those tres­passes and sins, might be awakened to repentance, and those that have yet any kindness for them, might be ashamed of their own inadvertency, when they should hear them apparently convinced of notorious guiltiness, in those four par­ticulars, which in that discourse I have endeavoured to disswade men from, false pretences and principles, factious pre­judice and partiality. But considering withal, that much hath been done to that purpose already by others, especially in the Mystery of the two Juntoes, and the History of Independency; and conceiving it very difficult at least, if not almost im­possible, to use sharpness, and speak bit­terly [Page 154] against those enormities them­selves, without a particular reflexion up­on some mens persons, which would be a likelier means to alienate their affecti­ons, then to rectifie their understandings, I set down my rest upon my former re­solution, and have altered nothing, either in respect of the notions or expressions, from that which I had written at first. Nor will I now add any thing more, but only a serious admonition, and earnest exhortation, unto all them that have read, or shall read that discourse, to con­sider, how much it concerns them to take heed, that presumptuous sins have not do­minion over them, and that they may be innocent from the great transgression of Self-contradiction: which first or last will be sure to bring with it self-condem­nation: to beware of giving credit unto false pretences, of building their opini­ons upon false principles, of giving enter­tainment unto any unjust, uncharitable prejudice against, or too indulgent parti­ality towards others. Especially to take heed, that they do not pull down more by their practise then they build up by [Page 155] their profession, nor by their actions bol­ster up and underprop the very same things, which by their opinions they pre­tend to demolish and pull down. For mine own part I think, that of the three great wheels, upon which, as I said before, the motions of all our miseries have tur­ned, it is not easily to be resolved, whe­ther Popery have been more beholding to Presbytery, or Popularity; Presbyte­ry to Popularity, or Popery; Popula­rity to Popery, or Presbytery: or which of the three is the greatest enemy to Ca­tholick Christian Principality and Pre­lacy. But, oh, what a strange kinde of Self-contradiction would it be, if those that profes they love and honour them both, and do it indeed, so really and cor­dially, that they would not spare their estates to do them good, nor fear to ad­venture both limbs and lives in their de­fence, should yet in the course of their conversations fight against them, by ob­stinately disobeying their holy, just, and good Commandments, and not theirs a­lone but Gods also? Out of question, an Orthodox Libertine, a Schismatical Saint, [Page 156] an holy heretick, a covetous conformist, a proud Prelatist, a riotous Royalist, are all of them equally contradictions in ad­jecto, and each of them as odious in the sight of God & of all good men, as any of the rest: what ever success they may have for a time, at last they will finde that prediction of our Saviour true, Every plant that my heavenly Father hath not plan­ted shall be rooted out. Mat. 15.13. And that censure of St. Paul will one day fall hea­vily upon them all, Therefore thou art inex­cusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judg­est: for wherein thou judgest another thou con­demnest thyself: for thou that judgest, dost the same things, Rom. 2.1. When Jerusalem had grievously sinned, Lam. 1.8. God in the indignation of his anger despised the King and the Priest, Lam. 2.6. Nor is it only violent resisting the power of Governours, but obstinate disobeying their authority also, that tends to the de­priving their people of them; and may be, if not the means whereby, yet the me­ritorious cause for which God may be provoked so to punish them, subjects sometimes may say of their Soveraign, [Page 157] as the Prophet Isaiah doth of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, though not in the same sence, Is. 53.5, 6. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every man to his own way, and the Lord hath layd on him the iniquity of us all. Great need we have all therefore to take heed, that none of us presume to keep a course in any sin, for fear lest by that we should, though but unwittingly against our wills, take part with our professed enemies, Rebels and Traitors, to deprive both our selves and others of that happiness, which we might all en­joy in the prosperity and peaceable go­vernment of those higher powers which would be the ministers of God to us for good, if we did well; to whom we must be subject, not for wrath, but for consci­ence sake; and for whom we are exhor­ted by St. Paul, 1 Tim. 2.1, 2. first of all to make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty: which then onely we can hope to do, when (as the same Apostle beseech­eth [Page 158] the Ephesians, Eph. 4.1, &c.) we walk worthy of the vocation, wherewith we are cal­led, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love: and endeavouring to keep the unity of the spi­rit in the bond of peace. When we are no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, where­by they lye in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: to whom be honour and power everlast­ing. Amen.



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