THE REBELS TEXT OPENED, AND THEIR Solemn Appeal ANSWERED.

Being a SERMON Preach'd in the Parish Church of Up-Lime, on the Thanksgiving-Day for our Won­derful Deliverance from the late Horrid Rebellion.

Being Sunday, July 26. 1685.

By CHARLES HƲTTON, A. M. and Rector of the said Parish.

Accipe nunc Danaûm insidias, & crimine ab uno Disce omnes.

Virg. Aen. 2.

LONDON, Printed for Walter Kettilby at the Sign of the Bishop's Head in S. Paul's Church-yard. 1686.

To the Right Worshipful Sir John Cotton of Botheraux Castle in Cornwal, Knight, and one of His Majestie's Justices of the Peace for that County.

SIR,

THIS Sermon you were pleas'd to desire a Copy of, and others since commanded me to Print it: I have now gratified both, and run the risque of publick censures, which yet I expect from none but the dissenting and rebelli­ous Party: and those I as much despise as they do Government. If it be a crime to Preach up Loyalty to God, and the King, in an age wherein there are such numerous and daring Rebels to both; I must confess my self guilty of it: but shall not ask pardon of them, till they beg theirs from God, and repent of this great sin, which (like Witches, to whom they are compared) 'tis doubtful whether they will ever do. However to leave such among us without excuse, this Sermon with some little alterations has already visited other Churches and Counties besides my own, and is now like to visit more; that if possible, the Antidote may be as diffusive as the Poison: yet how to ex­pel [Page] it quite, whether by making new Laws, or ra­ther reviving the old, and putting them in a vigorous execution, is humbly submitted to the wisdom of the present Parliament; from whose united Heads, and Hearts, and Hands, we now hope for, and almost promise our selves a perfect Cure. And I am confident you will not be wanting in your Sphere to contribute what you can towards it; you, who stood so firm to the Church, and Crown, amidst those black and dismal storms that formerly clouded, and eclipsed both; and have ever since, even when things ran high again in favour of Rebellion, and once more threatned ruine to our antient English Monar­chy, and Episcopacy, preserv'd your Integrity, and Loyalty intire: which therefore together with your Charity and Hospitality (Vertues that are natural to your Family) without doubt you will carry with you to your Grave; as those will carry you farther, even to the regions of Bliss and Immortality: where that you may late, and safely arrive, is the hearty Prayer of,

SIR,
Your most humble Servant, and obliged Kinsman, Charles Hutton.
JOSHUA xxii. 22.

The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, he knows, and Israel be shall know, if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the Lord, (save us not this day.)

IT is the unhappy Fate of the Holy Scriptures to be abused into a kind of publick Armory, whence the several contending Parties of the Christian World fetch Weapons to arme them­selves, and fight each other; no Sect is so profligate, no not that which perverts Faith into Fa­ction, and Religion into Rebellion, but has recourse to the Sacred Bible to palliate and justifie their impi­ous actions: Neither is this some new thing not heard of in former Ages; since we find it practis'd a­bove sixteen hundred years ago by the grand Impo­stor of the World: He would fain have perswaded the Blessed Jesus to have thrown himself headlong from the lofty Temple, on presumption the good An­gels would miraculously interpose, and prevent all danger in his Fall: And this he prov'd our Saviour might lawfully do, from a distorted Passage of Da­vid's Psalms, Psal. 91.11, 12. And Satan has always [Page 2] had, and still has his Agents and Emissaries, that use the same Devilish Policy. This they were at in Forty two, and, God knows, play'd it then with too great success: And though some of those are long since dead, and gone to their own place; yet, as if there were a transmigration of Souls, and they did live a­gain in their present Successors, the same evil Spirit is conjur'd up again, and appears in Samuel's Mantle; there being men found in our days, who, though in open and actual Rebellion against God and the King, and involv'd in all those crimes that horrid Sin in­cludes, had nevertheless the impudence to appeal to Heaven for the justice of their Arms, and to challenge God to decide for them in the Day of Battel. And this plainly appears by a Clause in their late bloudy and blasphemous Declaration; in the Close of which, those very words I just now repeated, as near as I can remember them, are inserted: and it is further confirmed, by their insisting on this very Text, as I am credibly informed, the Day before the Battel. Now since this their solemn Appeal has been answer'd from Heaven in a most solemn and stupendious manner, and God has decided against them to their intire Defeat, and total Overthrow; I know no place of Scripture fitter to be insisted on at this time: partly to con­firm some of you in your unshaken Loyalty, and to convince others that waver'd in it; and partly to clear the Text from those corrupt Glosses, false Do­ctrines, and fallacious Inferences, which Rebel and Army Preachers have raised from it: And that I may do this effectually, I shall give you the real Occasion, natural Division, and genuine Application of the Words.

[Page 3]First, For the real occasion of these words, and that was this; Moses the Servant of the Lord, and Ruler of his People Israel, after he had conducted them safe from Egypt to the borders of Canaan, and cut his passage thither, through continual Miracles, Victories, and Successes, being conscious to himself of his great Age, and warn'd from Heaven of his approaching Fate, by Gods command adopts Joshua into the Copartnership of his royal Government, that it might sit more easie on his shoulders, when he came to bear it all, which he must do after his death, Num. 27.20. and withal among many other excellent instructions how to govern that stubborn and rebellious people, he gives him some relating to the division of the promised Land among the seve­ral Tribes, willing him to observe this method in making it: The Reubenites, Gadites, and half Tribe of Manasseh should take up their habitation in Gilead, and Bashan, and other adjacent Countries, which lay on this side Jordan, because they had been very importunate to fix their abode there, and for their good services he had granted it; but 'twas on this condition, that they continued to assist their Bre­thren the Children of Israel in conquering the Land of Canaan; and when that was done, and that Land divided between the other nine Tribes and half, these two Tribes and half might return, and dwell in the Countries which themselves first chose, Num. 32.29, 30, &c. accordingly after Moses had resign­ed his meek and righteous Soul unto God, and his reverend and aged body was interr'd by Him in some obscure and unknown grave, lest the giddy multi­tude, that so often murmur'd against him whilst a­live, should, now he was dead, repent of their for­mer [Page 4] insolent behaviour, and to compensate for it, worship his ashes, and adore his very dust: after this (I say) he that was before his Partner, and now his Successour, Joshua, having finisht his Conquest of the Holy Land, and divided it among the nine Tribes and half; pursuant to the instructions of his dying Predecessour, dismisses the two other Tribes and half, giving them their deserved praise and commendation, and seasonable advice to serve the great God, who had prosper'd their Arms, and gi­ven them rest from all their Enemies; and withal full power and commission to return and dwell in their wisht for, chosen, and promised possession, Jo­shua 22.1, 2, &c. Now in their journey homeward, these two Tribes and half, as they passed by the bor­ders of Jordan, set up a great Altar there; not one destin'd for Sacrifice or Oblation, but an Altar of remembrance to succeeding Ages, that they acknow­ledged, and ador'd the same God which Israel did; and had as much right as they to come and worship at Shiloh, the place where Gods honour dwelt, and where his Service was most solemnly perform'd, ver. 9, 10. but this made so great a noise, that it alarm'd their Brethren the Children of Israel, and caused them to think of revenging this innovation by sacri­ficing them on it, who first built this Altar; for a new Altar they thought bespoke a new Religion, and all those Schismaticks and Separatists that had a hand in it: and therefore they are for reducing them to order and conformity, by outward compul­sion and force; and to this end resolve to make War upon them, ver. 11, 12, &c. but before they proceed to this extremity (which is commonly, or ought to be, the last, and never used but in case of [Page 5] necessity) they sent selected Messengers from every Tribe, to demand the reason of this proceeding; and why they had erected an Altar (as it were) in defiance to that at Shiloh: if they were prejudiced against their Country, because it had not the visible Symbols of God's special Presence in it, as Canaan had, they were content these two Tribes and a half should come and dwell among them, although they themselves were straitned by it, ver. 19. Not­withstanding if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the Lord, wherein the Lord's Tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us: but rebel not against the Lord, nor rebel against us in building you an Altar, besides the Altar of the Lord. They would endure any incon­veniency, rather than suffer a Schism or Separation to happen among them. Now to this heavy Charge, the Reubenites, Gadites, and half Tribe of Manas­seh, plead Not guilty; and solemnly protest before God, who searcheth the hearts, That they had no other design in rearing this Altar, than the making it a Memorial for Posterity to understand that they were Worshippers of the same God, and ought to partake of the same Ecclesiastical Priviledges that their Brethren enjoyed that dwelt in the Holy Land. This was the true account of themselves and their Proceedings; and if their incensed Brethren would not believe it, nor any thing satisfie their boiling rage but their utter extirpation, all that they had left, and was lawful for them to do, was to invoke the God of Heaven, who is the great Protector of the innocent, to defend them from their Brethrens undeser­ved wrath, or at least so far to mitigate and appease it, that they might be delivered from the dire effects [Page 6] thereof. The Lord God of gods, &c.

In the Words I shall consider these three Parts:

  • I. A publick Declaration of the Sovereign Power and Majesty of God, That he is Omni­scient and Omnipresent, the supreme Lord, Governour and Judge of the whole World, The Lord God of gods, &c.
  • II. A Solemn Appeal to this supreme Lord, Go­vernour and Judge, for the Equity of their Proceedings; they desire help and delive­rance from him upon these and no other terms, That they were not in Rebellion or Transgression against the Lord, The Lord God of gods, he knows, &c.
  • III. A Supposition, That if they were Rebels, the Lord would not save them, If it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the Lord, save us not this day.

I begin with the First, viz.

I. A publick Declaration of the Sovereign Power and Majesty of God, That he is Omniscient and Omnipresent, the supreme Lord, Governour and Judge of the whole World, The Lord God of gods, &c.

All the Power and Majesty of Kings and Princes, of the high and mighty Men of the Earth, are but so many Streams and Rivulets that flow from this u­niversal and inexhaustible Spring; they are but so many Beams and Rays darted from this Almighty Sun, the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variable­ness, or shadow of turning, James 1.17. All the Knowledge and Wisdom of the subtilest Politicians, the profoundest Divines, the acutest Philosophers, and the learnedest Councellours, are but so many [Page 7] Particles of that infinite and boundless understanding, of that eternal and ubiquitary Soul (if I may so style the Divine Essence) from whence these intelligent and discerning Faculties proceed: And though for their Knowledge and Wisdom, as well as Power and Majesty, Men may be said to be Gods, and Kings and Princes are so called in Holy Scripture, Psal. 82.6. yet this acknowledgment must be made by us, and all Creatures; which was here openly declared by the two Tribes and half, and unanimously assent­ed to by all the rest, That there is one Sovereign Lord, The Lord God of gods, &c. he knows abso­lutely and independently, and not by Comparison or de­rivation; He knows intuitively, and not by the help of Reason or Discourse, not by the assistance of Premisses or Conclusion. But this Divine Knowledge is too wonderful for us, it is so high we cannot attain unto it, Psal. 139.6. We may admire and adore, and we ought to do so, but we can never compre­hend it; however the contemplation and adoration of this and all the other Attributes of God, as it is our business here on Earth, so 'twill be part of our happiness in Heaven; where we shall know as we are known, where Faith will be consummate in Vision, and we shall see face to face. But in the interim we may make this good Use of God's Omniscience and Omni­presence, to restrain our selves and others by it from open or secret sins.

1. In vain (O Hypocrite!) dost thou seek dark­ness and solitude to conceal thy vice, and cover thy impiety, unless thou couldst go where the Almighty sees not, hide thy self where his knowledge cannot reach, and fly from thine own Soul, thou canst not be conceal'd from the All-seeing Eye of God, The [Page 8] Lord God of gods, he knows; He knows what thou dost in thy Closet, and secret Chambers, in thy silent and midnight Walks, and in thy most obscure Retire­ment.

2. In vain (O Atheist!) dost thou endeavour to banish God from all thy thoughts, and blasphe­mously imagine there is no such vast and infinite Knowledge in the Most High: Do what thou canst, the fear of the Almighty and invisible Power will break in upon thee, and the dread of Divine Vengeance will overtake thee; especially in times of publick calamity, or private distress: then notwithstanding all thy sottish Arts and methods to keep it off, thou wilt be haunted with the Apparition of a Deity, and the dismal apprehensions of a Judgment to come: then this ingenuous and open Confession will be ex­torted from thee, The Lord God of gods, he knows; He knows that I have been a great Sinner before him, and that I have no other way to escape his Justice, but by flying to his Mercy, that Mercy which I have hitherto abused and denied.

3. In vain (O Rebel!) dost thou go about to overturn and destroy that Government, which has hitherto preserv'd thee; in vain endeavour to raise thy self on thy Countries ruine, and Brethrens down­fal; Thy Works of Darkness are brought to light, thy Mystery of Iniquity revealed, and all thy Plots, which were laid as deep as Hell, are discovered by a Ray from Heaven, The Lord God of gods, he knows; He knows thy secret Clubs and close Cabals: and though he may, and sometimes does permit thy Twins of mischief to come to the Birth; yet he will not suffer them to be delivered; but he has delivered us, and does, and there­fore we trust he will still deliver us. And so much [Page 9] may suffice for the first Part of my Text, viz. a publick Declaration or Recognition of the Sove­reign Power and Majesty of God, that he is Omni­scient and Omnipresent, the supreme Lord, Gover­nour and Judge of the whole World. The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, he knows; which is twice repeated, to make the more lively Impression on us. I come now to the second Part, viz.

II. A solemn Appeal to this Sovereign Lord and supreme Judge, for the Equity of their Proceed­ings; they desire help, and expect deliverance from him upon these and no other terms, That they were not in Rebellion, nor transgression against the Lord.

'Tis usual with Good men, when their reputation is call'd in question, and they are accus'd of some heavy crime, of which they are altogether innocent, to appeal to Heaven for an Evidence in their Cause, and solemnly to request, that when men cannot, or will not, God himself would appear in their vindica­tion. Thus when righteous Job was disheartned by his best Friends, which should have been his chiefest Comforters, and uncharitably charg'd by them for being a great Sinner, because he had been a great Sufferer under the afflicting hand of God; he had no other way left to clear himself, but by calling on the Almighty, to testifie the integrity of his heart, and the innocency of his life, Job 16.19. Behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. Thus when pious David was slandered by reviling Shimei, tra­duced for being a Murderer, a Man of Bloud, and charg'd with the death of Saul, and all his house, in whose stead he reigned, 2 Sam. 16.7, 8. the only course he steer'd [Page 10] to take off this abominable imputation, was to refer his Cause to God, and to implore the Divine assistance to do him right, Psalm 7.8, 10. Judge me, O Lord, ac­cording to my righteousness, and according to my integri­ty that is in me; My defence is from God, who saveth the upright in heart. Thus when holy Paul was a­spersed by false Teachers, that were then crept into the Corinthian Church, and misrepresented by them as one whose bodily presence was weak, and speech contemptible, 2 Cor. 10.10. as one that had taken but little pains in the Lord's Vineyard, which he was sent to dress; to vindicate himself from this unjust calumny, St Paul thinks himself obliged to give them a short Narrative of his labours, and travels in the Gospel; which he does, Chap. 11. from ver. 21. to 30. and after the enumeration of several Particulars, makes this general Conclusion, That none of those great Pretenders to the Christian Religion had done and suffered so much for it, as he: And this he confirms by a most solemn Asseveration, wherein God is made a Party and a Judge, ver. 31. The God and Fa­ther of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for ever­more, knoweth, that I lye not. And this is the reason why in our Courts of Justice, the Witnesses that pass betwixt man and man, and betwixt the King and the Prisoner at the Bar, are required to take a Corporal Oath, wherein they solemnly appeal to God for the truth of what they say, and tacitely imply, that they are so far from expecting God's help, that they im­precate his wrath and vengeance upon themselves, in case they swear falsely; So help me God. And this was the true cause why the Reubenites, Gadites, and half Tribe of Manasseh make this solemn Appeal here in my Text, The Lord God of gods, &c. he [Page 11] knoweth: They were charged by their Brethren, the Children of Israel, with the horrid crimes of Schism and Rebellion; with making a Schism in the Church, and a Rebellion in the State, (and the one is commonly a step to the other, first a Schismatick, and next a Rebel) and those that were their Accu­sers, to strike the greater terrour and astonishment, did it with their Swords in their hands. Now to wipe off this harsh censure and severe reflection, which their uncharitable Brethren had pass'd on them for erecting this new Altar; they all solemnly protest before God, That they did it in the simplici­ty of their hearts, and with no other design than to signifie to future Ages, that their Children and Chil­drens Children had a right to the Covenant God made with their Father Abraham, were Members of the same visible Church, and Worshippers of the same living God: They did not build it to offer Sa­crifices, or to perform any other religious Service there; but barely as a Memorial, that they were of the same Extraction and Religion, as those were that inhabited the Holy Land. And if this Answer did not satisfie, but they were resolved to proceed to Acts of Hostility, and to make War upon them, they solemnly appeal to God to be the Umpire and Arbitrator betwixt them; and neither hoped for mercy or deliverance from their hands, in case their Apology were untrue, The Lord God of gods, &c. he knows. And indeed the Event prov'd, that these Reubenites, Gadites, and half Tribe of Manasseh, were in the right: For the Children of Israel were immediately convinc'd that they had done nothing out of opposition to the Government, or disobedi­ence to their Governours; and thereupon disbanded [Page 12] their Army, and bless'd the most high God that had kept them from destroying their innocent Bre­thren, Josh. 22.32, 33.

But here I must remark, That such solemn appeals as these are then only lawful, when the Persons are truly innocent that make them, and necessitated in their own defence to do it: and the instances I be­fore gave you, were of such men, their cause was just and good, and yet traduc'd as otherwise; and therefore they were not afraid solemnly to invite God to be a witness, and a Judge in it. And this will plainly appear by making a stricter inquiry into those circumstances these two Tribes and half were in, when this solemn Appeal was extorted from them: they were now on the other side Jordan, where their great distance from Shiloh, together with their own strength, being soon able to raise a considerable Ar­my of old experienc'd Souldiers, might easily have tempted them, (and not without prospect of success) to have endeavour'd an alteration of Government both in Church and State; especially having so fair an opportunity to have done it, as their Brethrens being first in Arms afforded them; and they might have really pretended in their own justification, that they only undertook a defensive War, (which was the false pretence of the old Rebels in Forty Two) and did but stand upon their own guard to hinder their Brethren from cutting their Throats. But they were ignorant of such sinful shifts and evasions, in those pure and elder times; and knowing them­selves to be Joshua's Subjects (who by Gods own appointment succeeded Moses in the Government of Israel) they knew it was unlawful upon any pretence whatsoever to resist their Sovereign Prince: and there­fore [Page 13] instead of lifting up their Hands against him in a Warlike manner, they lift them up to Heaven in a de­vout and praying posture, beseeching, and importu­ning the God of it, to convince him of their innocence; and by that means to keep him from destroying them. This was really the case of the two Tribes and half; they did not under the greatest provocation that could be, enter into a defensive War, nor take any So­lemn League and Covenant to begin, and carry it on. But for men that by all the tyes of Nature, and obli­gations of sacred Oaths, are bound to yield allegi­ance and subjection to their lawful King, neverthe­less to Levy an Offensive War against him, and to carry it on by the same ungodly and bloody means by which it was begun: for such as these to appeal to Heaven for the justice of their Arms, and to challenge God to decide for them in the day of Battel, is such a piece of arrogance and presumption, as can scarce be parallell'd in all the Volumes of Antiquity. And yet this was the case of our late mad Reformers: They inva­ded our Land, and made War upon their Lawful Prince, and so were Rebels; they traduc'd his Royal Person, and Government, and so were Slanderers; they deceiv'd the people with innumerable false stories and legendary tales, and so were Lyars; they rob'd, and plunderd their fellow-subjects of their proper Goods, and so were Thieves: and lastly, they imbrued their hands in their Brethrens Blood, and so were Murderers. Yet these men, I say, had the forehead to conjure the God of Heaven, as their Arms were just, to give the Victory on their side. Good God! into what an age are we fallen, that can reconcile Paradoxes, and twist Contradictions! That men should be enemies to ar­bitrary power, and yet endeavour to introduce it! [Page 14] that men should advance the Glory of God, by com­mitting Sacriledge! that men should be the People of God, that by their works shew themselves the Chil­dren of the Devil, who was a Lyar, and Murderer from the beginning! And, lastly, that men should pre­tend to fight for Religion, who really have none! These are such mysterious Riddles, as 'tis beyond the skill of an Oedipus to resolve.

But possibly some of you may imagin this discourse hath too much zeal and transport in it; yet I am confident that imagination will soon vanish, when you seriously consider Gods honour is deeply con­cern'd, and seems to lye at stake, being highly af­fronted and abus'd by such vile Hypocrites as these: and we know the meekest man upon earth grew angry and impatient, when he saw the Israelites worship, and dance before the Golden Calf, Exo. 32.19. and when we see the people running after such another Idol, and falling down before it, 'tis high time to tell Judah of her sins, and Israel of her transgressions: And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house) yet let them know there has been a Prophet among them, Ezek. 2.5. And truly without vanity I may say, I have faithfully discharg'd my duty in this particular, having often, and earnestly be­seech'd you with abundance of arguments, and vehemence of speech, to take heed of Rebellion which is as the sin of Witchcraft; to beware of resist­ing the higher powers, for they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation; to lay to heart the character Jacob gives of his two ungodly children, Gen. 49.5.6. Simeon and Levi are Brethren, instruments of cruelty are in their habitations; O my soul come not thou [Page 15] into their secret; unto their assembly mine honour be not thou united: for in their anger they would slay Kings, and dig down the walls of Church and State. These things I have frequently inculcated, and press'd upon your consciences, as you can all bear me witness, and I know I got some enemies by endeavouring to convince men of this great truth: but I verily believe they now wish they had taken my advice, which has been so often given them from this Sacred Place; and then all the spoil and plunder, the rapine and destruction, the wounds and bloodshed which we so lately felt, might hap­pily have been prevented; then they might have liv'd in peace, in their own houses, with their own fami­lies, and under their own Vine and Fig-tree. But be­cause they would not know in this their day the things that did belong to their peace, they are now therefore hid from their eyes, Luke 19.42. Now they must all put their hands upon their mouths, and confess, The Lord is just in all his ways and righteous in all his works; now they must acknowledg themselves confu­ted by their own daring argument, and that their cause was bad, because God did decide it against them in the day of Battel.

Now the use I shall make of this second part is this, To beg you to take heed of appealing to the great God to justify your unrighteous Deeds; To beware of Fathering the Works and Inventions of the Devil upon the God of Truth: This is a Sin of a monstrous guilt, and prodigious magnitude, and if not the very sin against the Holy Ghost, 'tis near of Kin to it; and certainly the very same that Si­mon Magus did commit, when he gave out that himself was some great one; and what he did, though 'twas by the instigation of the Devil, to be done by in­spiration [Page 16] from God, Acts 8.9, 10. This sin, I say, if not the same, is next to that which is unpardon­able; and therefore St. Peter left that great Impo­stor in a very doubtful and almost desperate con­dition, affording him no other hopes or comfort but this, Perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee; perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, ver. 22, 23. 'Tis a bold attempt to play with Lightning, or face the Thunder, or run upon a Cannons mouth ready to be discharged. Tis more daring and dangerous to mock God, and gild the blackest Villanies with the specious fringes of the glory of God, and the Protestant Religion: whereas the glory of God was never more sullied, and the Protestant Religion never more barbarously handled, than in the House of such pretended Friends, who (as Brutus did Caesar) have given it more mortal Wounds, than all its other Enemies round about. But such Incendiaries as these, who bring unholy Fire to Gods Holy Altar, instead of burning that, must expect to perish in the Flames, themselves have kindled: For God will be sanctified in them that come nigh him, and will be glorified before all the people, Lev. 5.3.

And (my Brethren) 'tis fit God should be glori­fied by us at this time; as for all his other mercies, so for that great mercy which we commemorate this day, and which comprehends so many under it, no less than the entire defeat, and total overthrow of our implacable Enemies, whose tender mercies are cruel; no less than the preservation of our gra­cious King, and all his Loyal Subjects; of our Li­berties and Properties, our Lives and Fortunes, [Page 17] our Laws and Religion, from the hands of such desperate men as threatned to trample under feet, and quite destroy them. For it has pleased God, and his Debtors we are for it, to cross the bloody and treacherous designs of all those who bare an ill will to our Sion; and to disappoint the wicked and crafty devices of an aspiring Absolon, and conspiring Achitophel, who impiously attempted to pull David from his Throne, and to lay his honour in the dust: it has pleas'd Almighty God, (and we are ever bound to bless him for it, beyond the expectation of all, and the belief too of many) to put a sudden and happy end to a bloody and unnatural Rebellion, which might have been prolong'd for many Years, and wasted and worn us out to nothing, and at last en­ded in the desolation of our Country, and the translation of our Kingdom into the hands of some Foreign Power. But in the midst of these heavy Judgments God was pleas'd to remember mercy, and to think on the poor Church of England; which he has redeem'd of old, and so miraculously preserv'd ever since the first happy Reformation, and to preserve and continue us Members of the same; who after the manner which some call He­resy, and others Superstition, so worship the God of our Fathers, Acts 24.14. So I pass from the second part, viz. the Solemn Appeal, to the third, which is,

III. The supposition, That if they were Rebels, or Transgressors against the Lord, that he would not save them, If it be in rebellion, or if in transgres­sion against the Lord, save us not this day.

These two Tribes and half were so far convinc'd of the horrid Sin of Rebellion, whether it respect that which is made immediately against God, or that [Page 18] which is rais'd against our lawful Prince; that if they had been guilty of either, they confess'd they deserv'd no mercy from the hands of God or Man. And well might they think so, if we consider the true nature of this sin, and the indications of Gods wrath against it.

First, If we consider the nature of Rebellion, as it immediately respects God, 'tis a most enormous Crime, no less than an endeavour to pull the Almighty from his Throne, and seat our selves in it; to wrest the Scepter out of his hand, and take it into ours: and in effect, and as far as man is able, to ungod the Deity. And this was Lucifer's great sin, too great to be for­given, for which he was thrown from the highest Heaven into the lowest Hell; he was for invading the incommunicable Attributes and Prerogatives of God, and for assuming that divine honour and glo­ry which can be imparted to no Creature whatsoe­ver, as is plain from Isa. 14.13, 14. I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my Throne above the Stars of God, I will ascend above the heights of the Clouds, I will be like the most high: not like him in purity and holiness, that he never aimed at; but in Dominion and Majesty, and that cast him into the bottomless Pit, and continues him there to the Judgment of the great day, Jude 6. And every wilful and presumptuous Sinner is such a kind of Rebel, though not to that unpardonable degree; his vitious Life is a perfect contradiction to Heaven, and an open de­fiance to him that made him; every sin he know­ingly commits, is as it were an Arrow shot against the Almighty, and an audacious attempt to destroy his very being; I will not allow the World to be made, govern'd, and judg'd by an All-wise and All-powerful [Page 19] God, nor submit my self to any of his Laws, to be rul'd and restrain'd by them; but am resolv'd to live at large, and as loosly as I please; without God, and with­out hope in the World. This is the result of every obstinate Offenders Discourse; this the genuine in­terpretation of all his wicked actions.

But besides this Rebellion against God, there is another that comes but little short of it, and that is Rebellion against our lawful Prince; and this too is a sin of a deep dye, and a malignant nature; no less than an attempt to deface the Image, and resist the Authority of God. For as Kings Reign by his Power, so they bear his stamp: and for Subjects to invade either, is in effect to offer violence to Heaven, and fight against God himself; as he that offers an in­dignity to a Viceroy, does really affront the So­vereign that deputed him. But the nature of this sin will best appear by surveying some evil properties that belong to it, which are these:

First Rebellion contradicts the Principles of the Christian Religion, and thwarts the practices of those holy and inspir'd men that first taught them; look over all the sacred Books of the New Testament, and search every Chapter and Verse in it, from the be­ginning to the end, and I am confident you will find no one thing more inculcated than Obedience unto Sovereign Princes, and a quiet and peaceable submission to that Government under which we live; I am confident you will find no one thing more expresly condemn'd, and severely threatned, than resisting the higher Powers, and rising up in Arms against them, Rom. 13.1, 2, &c. Tit. 3.1. 1 Pet. 2.13, 14. and several other places, I have not now leisure to name; and probably the reason [Page 20] may be this, because all the other duties which con­cern God, and our Neighbour, depend very much upon the regular administration of humane affairs, and the due subordination of Mankind one to ano­ther, and cannot possibly be perform'd without it. God cannot be serv'd, nor Man subsist and be provi­ded for as he ought, unless Government be secur'd: and that can never stand without this Doctrine of non-resistance to support it; take away this main Pillar, and humane Societies must dissolve and fall to the ground: this no doubt was the reason why our Saviour and his Apostles have guarded the Sove­reign Authority with so many positive Precepts, and fenc'd it with so many repeated Rules, as that there are scarce more about his own Divinity. And they were not like the antient Stoicks, men that only spoke great things, and did not do them; their pra­ctice was correspondent to their Doctrine, and they maintain'd Passive Obedience by being themselves the first Examples of it. Christ himself could have commanded Legions of Angels to his assistance, one of which had been strong enough to have baffled and confounded all the Roman Legions; His Apo­stles could have wrought innumerable Miracles, the least of which might have rescued them from the violent hands of Herod, or Pontius Pilate, of Nero, or Dioclesian: But they durst not fetch Arms from Heaven to fight against the Lords Anointed; their Weapons were purely spiritual, even Prayers and Tears, the Spirit and Word of God, which in the hands of faithful Christians are mighty to the pulling down the strong holds of sin, 2 Cor. 10.4. and they renounced all Carnal Weapons, even Sword and Pistol, Pike and Gun; which in the hands of Rebels serve only [Page 21] to set up Satans Kingdom, and enlarge the Devils Dominions. This was the temper of those truly pri­mitive and Apostolick Spirits; they took care to write after that fair Copy, the Prince of Peace had left them; and would (as he had done before them) rather part with all, even life it self, than give the least disturbance to the State, or shew themselves Enemies to Caesar. And 'tis strange that men should fancy them­selves Christs Disciples, and yet scorn to stoop so low as to take up their Cross and follow him; 'tis strange that men should dream of reigning with Christ hereafter, that are not content to suffer with him here: yet such strange men are all Rebels, and so contrary is Rebellion to the Principles of Christianity, and to the practices of the first and best Christians.

Secondly, Rebellion opens the Sluces of Impiety, and lets in a deluge of mischiefs upon a Land; such as Fire, Sword, and Famine; Rapes, Plunder and Murders; Spoils, Rapine, and Devastation. These are some of the Black Retinue that wait upon this Cruel Master, (who like Beelzebub) has such Fiends and Furies to attend him; creates a kind of Hell where e're he comes, and in a manner damns that place before the day of Judgment.

Thirdly, Rebellion destroys humane Societies, and puts Mankind into the same condition with wild Beasts, making them to worry and devour each o­ther: such men will not be govern'd by Law, nor guided by reason, nor rul'd by Religion, but are deaf to those, and hearken only to their boundless Appetites, and extravagant Lusts, and will act as these hurry them on, and not as the other do per­swade them: In such a case we should always live in a perfect state of War; the World it self would be but a [Page 22] greater humane Slaughter-House, and mankind become so many Butchers to knock down and kill one another.

These are some sprinklings of that deluge of wo which men bring upon themselves and Country by Rebellion: and if my heart would serve me to de­scribe the miseries and Calamities of that which late­ly hapned here, and that other which broke out in forty one, and you would suffer your thoughts and meditations to dwell a while on both; I am confi­dent you would ingenuously confess, that not one half has been told you, and the whole can never be express'd. And so much may suffice to shew you the nature of this horrid sin, by the inseparable proper­ties that belong to it. I come next to treat of the indications of Gods wrath against it.

And first, As for that Rebellion which immedi­ately strikes at God, and is rais'd against the Divine Majesty; Lucifer, and his Sable Train are eternal Monuments of Gods heavy displeasure against it; for their mutiny and insurrection in Heaven, for their Rebellion and transgression against the Lord, they are condemn'd to the torments of Hell, and the un­speakable pains of a sad Eternity, Jude 6.

And secondly, As for that Rebellion which strikes at Sovereign Princes, and is rais'd against their Royal Crown and Dignity, we have a convincing proof of Gods severe indignation against it, and that in an instance, which for the suddenness and dreadfulness of the punishment, is exactly parallel to it: for their murmuring and speaking against Moses who was the Ruler of that People, and but endeavouring to form a Rebellion against him, Corah and his Accomplices are swallowed up alive, and sent quick to Hell, to suffer the vengeance of Eternal Fire, Num. 16.31, [Page 23] 32, 33. and God being of the same unchangeable nature, without doubt retains the same hatred to both sorts of Rebels, and is as angry with them now as ever: and this he has abundantly testified, by shewing some visible tokens of his displeasure on them in all Ages, and punishing them with some ex­traordinary and unusual Death; as I could easily make out from innumerable Examples of the past and present times, but that I am loth to tire your patience in doing it. Let it suffice to instance in one more only, and him I can't omit, because we have all seen him so exactly parallel'd in these dayes, and that is Absolon, He was a beautiful, popular, and am­bitious Prince; beautiful all acknowledge him to be, 2 Sam. 14.25. in all Israel there was none so much prais'd as Absolon for his Beauty, from the soal of his Foot to the Crown of his Head there was no blemish in him; his complaisant and cringing carriage shews him popular, he hugs, and caresses, and kisses the meanest of the people, ch. 15.5, 6. and his ungrateful and unnatural demeanour towards his Royal Father David, speaks him extremely ambi­tious: For though he was once pardon'd his life, and before and after, the greatest Favourite at Court, and, through that good King's excessive kindness, rais'd to be the second man in the King­dom; yet this does not satisfie his aspiring Soul. He is for being the first, and snatching the Crown from his Father's head, and that Crown too, which after his Father's death did not of Right be­long unto him: and in order to it, he had fre­quent Consults how to accomplish his intended Treason, and at these Consults crafty Achitophel was still the chief, chap. 16.20. At last 'twas re­solved, [Page 24] That Absolon should cover his Rebellion with the specious pretence of Religion, a Vizard which it often wears to hide its monstrous defor­mity, chap. 15.7, 8. But this Vizard was soon pluckt off, and Absolon appear'd barefac'd at the Head of a great Army, who proclaim'd him King in Hebron: And this was done when there was another, better and rightful King in Israel; and it was done by some of those that either did, or pretended to follow him at first in the simplicity of their hearts, ver. 10, 11. to shew how easily men may pass from the lowest to the highest pitch of wickedness. And now 'twas time for David to arme against so formidable a Foe: and accord­ingly he does, dividing his Army into three Parts, with which he commanded his Generals to inclose, and fight him, whilst he himself unwillingly staid at Manahim, to expect the issue of the Battel; and the Event was this, That Absolon's Army was all slain, and scattered, and he himself that was Head of it, though he escap'd a little while, and fled for his life, was afterwards dismounted from the Mule he rode on, and seiz'd on in a Wood by the Kings Servants, and at last was put to death, by seve­ral Wounds, he receiving no less than three from Joab, and more from the hands of those Ten young men that compas'd him about, and slew him, 2 Sam. 18.14, 15. Thus fell the unfortu­nate Absolon, and by the many fatal strokes were given him, he seem'd to die more than once, be­cause he had been the death of so many, and shed so much innocent blood. Thus fell the short-liv'd King, that was proclaim'd one day, and slain the next; and he fell in this exemplary and remarka­ble [Page 25] manner, because he was a Rebel to his lawful Prince, If it be in Rebellion, or if in transgression against the Lord, save us not this day.

But here I must observe to you, that we are not always to judge of the goodness of a cause by the success that may attend it: then Turks were more in the right than Christians, the Blessed Jesus must yield to Mahomet, and the Sacred Bible to the Al­coran; for that those Infidels have been too victo­rious, and conquer'd and harass'd a great part of the Christian world. For the most part indeed God blasts ungodly Enterprizes in the very bud; or if he permits them to come to maturity, he meets with them at the long run by some sad and fatal disap­pointment even in this world; but this is not al­ways so, and this general rule (as all others) ad­mits of some exceptions: Sometimes a good Prince is unprosperous in asserting his own undoubted Right, born down with the stream of unhappy and cross e­vents, and at last comes to be imprison'd and dye on a Scaffold. This, I say, sometimes happens to a good Prince, to have a short and troublesom Reign, and in the end to be depos'd and murder'd; whilst an ungodly and daring Usurper steps into his Throne and reigns in peace, and dies in his bed. Some­times Rebellion thrives, and Treason prospers; and the uncircumcised Philistins, profest Enemies to God and Goodness, prevail over his own peo­ple, and carry away the Ark in triumph, 1 Sam. 4.10, 11. and prophane it with their Heathen Tem­ples and Idols, for the space of twenty years: all which time the Church of God was under an E­clipse; and his people being destitute of the Divine presence and Worship, were in a cloudy and dis­consolate [Page 26] condition, Chap. 7.2. And it came to pass whilst the Ark abode in Kiriath-jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. But at last these days of mourning were over, and God caused the Ark to be brought back again, and plagued all those that had a hand in taking, or keeping it away. And Israel was again blessed with their usual victories and success, ver. 10, 11. All which are such plain Emblems of our troubles in Church and State, during the late Usurpation, and of the hap­py revolution that hapned afterwards, which set­led us once more upon the sure foundations of peace and truth, that I need not spend time to draw the parallel, and make it plainer. The re­sult of all is this, That if we look only on the pre­sent state of things, and no further, we may err in our judgment about them, and charge God foolish­ly for the unequal distribution of them: but if we look forward, even to the final issue and event of things, when prosperous wickedness shall be cover'd with shame and confusion, and afflicted piety lift up her head, and be circled with a Crown of Glory; then we shall absolve Providence, and acknowledge that all the works of God are just and good; and that he will by no means condemn the righteous, or justifie the wicked, Exod. 23.7.

I come now briefly to apply the third and last Part, in drawing this Use or Inference from it: Be­ware of rebelling against God, or against Caesar; They have both long hands, and will strike sure at last, al­though the blow be long a coming. Our God is a con­suming fire, says the Apostle, Heb. 12.22. and the wrath of a King is as Messengers of Death, says the [Page 27] Wise man, Prov. 16.14. Take heed therefore of stirring up this fire, lest it consume thee; take heed of provoking this wrath, lest the Messengers of Death lay hold on thee. For every mans experience may convince him of this Great Truth, That no Wea­pon formed against God, or his Anointed, does ever prosper; but in the end cuts off those Rebels that first formed it, Isai. 54.17. Survey the many broken Vessels and shipwrack'd Tables, that every where float upon the Ocean of this World, and they all loudly proclaim to Standers-by, That they split upon this very Rock; and call to them to avoid it with as much care and circum­spection, as they would a Scylla or Charybdis. Alas! how many Souls have fallen in, and perished in these Depths of Satan, and yet all the while thought them­selves secure, and sailing on towards the heighths of God, even the Haven of an happy Eternity? Wherefore, let others fatal miscarriages set us right, and the Rocks on which they split keep us from being cast away. 'Tis dangerous, we say, to meddle with Edg-Tools, lest they cut our Fingers; 'tis more dangerous to effront God, who can cast Soul and Body into Hell-fire; or to oppose our lawful Sovereign, who may be truly styl'd, A King of Miracles, as well as his dearest Bro­ther the late King of Blessed Memory, to whom he seems to be an exact Parallel; so that we may truly say, what the Israelites did in the like case, When the Lord turned again the captivity of Sion, (and we were in a miserable Captivity during the Rebels Domination here) we were like unto them that dream; We could scarce believe our own senses, and that we were delivered from Captivity, when really it was so. And indeed so many miraculous circumstances did concur in the bringing it to pass, which I have not [Page 28] now time to enumerate, that we may truly say, This is the Finger of God, This has God done, and it is marvellous in our eyes, Psal. 118.23. Marvellous, that so strong an Army as the Rebels were, should be so suddenly broken, and shattered to pieces; and that a handful of men should do it! and therefore we may add that part of Deborah's Song of Thanksgi­ving for her Signal Victory over Sisera, Judg. 5.20, 31. They fought from heaven, the Stars in their courses fought against the Rebels: So let all thine Enemies pe­rish, O Lord; but let them that love him be as the Sun when he goeth forth in his might. I shall conclude my Discourse on this Subject with that excellent counsel of Solomon, which I hope will now sink down into your hearts, and for the future influence your whole lives and conversations; and that is, Prov. 24.21, 22. My Son, fear thou the Lord and the King, and med­dle not with them that are given to change: for their calamity shall rise suddenly, and who knoweth the ruine of them both.

FINIS.

Sermons Printed for Walter Kettilby, at the Bishop's Head in St. Paul's Church-yard.

  • DOctor Hick's Sermon of Temptation, before the Lord Mayor.
  • DOctor Hick's Sermon at the Act at Oxford.
  • DOctor Hick's Peculium Dei, before the Lord Mayor.
  • DOctor Hick's True Notion of Persecution.
  • DOctor Hick's Moral Shechinah.
  • DOctor Hick's Sermon before the Lord Mayor, Jan. 30.
  • DOctor Hick's Sermon before the L. Mayor, at the Spittle.
  • DOctor Hick's Sermon at Worcester, May 29.
  • Dr. Sharp's Sermon at the York-shire Feast.
  • Dr. Sharp's Sermon before the House of Commons.
  • Dr. Sharp's Duty and Happiness of Doing Good.
  • Dr. Sharp's Sermon at the Election of the Lord Mayor.
  • Dr. Calamy's Sermon, May 29. 1682. before the Lord Mayor.
  • Dr. Calamy's Sermon, Septemb. 9. 1683.
  • Dr. Calamy's Sermon, Septemb. 30. 1683. before the Lord Mayor.
  • Dr. Calamy's Sermon September 2. 1684. before the Lord Mayor.
  • Dr. Smith's Sermon.
  • Dr. Bisby's Sermon, Prosecution no Persecution.
  • Dr. Bisby's Modern Pharisees.
  • Dr. Bisby's Two Assize-Sermons.
  • Dr. Moore's Sermon before the Lord Mayor, 1682.
  • Dr. Moore's Sermon before the Lord Mayor, 1684.
  • Dr. Scot's Sermon before the Artillery Company.
  • Dr. Scot's Sermon before the L. Mayor, Dec. 16. 1683.
  • Dr. Scot's Sermon at Dr. Croun's Funeral.
  • [Page]Dr. Scot's Sermon July 26. 1685.
  • Dr. Scot's Assize-Sermon, at Chelmsford.
  • Mr. Lamb's Sermon before the King at Windsor.
  • Mr. Lamb's Sermon before the Lord Mayor.
  • Mr. Lamb's Sermon, wherein the Liberty of Humane Nature is Stated, Discuss'd and Limited.
  • Mr. Wagstaff's Sermon, Septemb. 9. 1685.
  • Mr. Wagstaff's Sermon before the Lord Mayor.
  • Mr. Wagstaff's Sermon, July 26. 1685.
  • Mr. Brown's Visitation-Sermon.
  • Mr. Brown's Sermon of Holy-days.
  • Mr. Wray's Sermon, The Rebellious City Destroy'd, September 2.
  • Mr. Brown's Loyalty protesting against Popery, and Fanaticism Popishly affected.
  • Mr. Resberry's Sermon at the Charter-House.
  • Mr. Resberry's Sermon at Sir Alan Broderick's Funeral.
  • Mr. Payne's Sermon at the Brentwood-Feast.
  • Mr. Payne's Sermon September 9.
  • Mr. Milbourne's Original of Rebellion, Preached Ja­nuary 30.
  • Mr. Milbourne's Sermon September 9. 1683.
  • Mr. Battel's Assize-Sermon at Hertford.
  • Mr. Leigh's Sermon of the Keeping of Holy-Days, Preached before the Right Reverend the Lord Bi­shop of London.
  • Mr. Grail's Four Sermons:
    • I. Of True Reformation of Our Selves.
    • II. Of Pious Reverence towards God and the King.
    • III. Of Just Abhorrence of Usurping Republicans.
    • IV. Of Due Affection to the Monarchy.
  • Mr. Gascarth's Sermon at Duke Lauderdale Funeral.
  • Mr. Holland's Assize-Sermon.
The End of the Catalogue.

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