THE Damning Nature of Rebellion: Or, The Universal Unlawfulness of Resistance Under pain of Damnation, in the saddest sens ASSERTED IN A SERMON Preached at the Cathedral of Norwich, May 29. 1685.


And of the Happy Restauration both of Him and of the Government from the Great Rebellion.

By William Jegon, late Fellow of Kings-College in Cambridge, and Rector of Swanton Morley in Norfolk.

LONDON: Printed for Will. Oliver, Bookseller in Norwich, 1685.


Aug. 27. 1685.

C. Alston, R. P. D. Hen. Episc. Lond. a Sacris Domesticis.

To the Right Worshipful FRANCIS GARDINER, Esq MAYOR of the City of Norwich, And one of His Majesties Justices of the Peace for the County of NORFOLK.


THAT the Publication of this Discourse is entirely owing to your earnest sollicitation, I can safely avow to the World, having by me sufficient evidence of it, I mean your Letter, which, if it were allowable to produce it, would evince more than I appeal to it for, even that I could not without incurring the imputation of rudeness, or at least affect­ed modesty, decline your request; but I can further Appeal to you, and am secure of your attestation, that I consented to it with this condition, that our worthy Diocesans approbation should be first obtained, which you readily undertook, and have it seems effected: And this is what I had to say concerning the Publication. As to the substance of the Discourse I have little else to say but that I am sure 'tis honest, and I have this convincing evidence of it, that you yourself approv'd it, whose invincible Loyalty is so well known, and known to be so well grounded.

Whether it may do that service you conceive, whatever I wish, I am sure I have too much cause to fear, when after so many excellent Discourses Publish'd to the same purpose, to prove the absolute Ʋnlawfulness of Resistance, and proving it [Page]to all the purposes of Conviction, we find persons at this time of day the most notoriously guilty of it, that will not at their last dying moments be induced to own it or repent of it, which may serve for a confirming evidence of what I urge towards the conclusion of my Discourse, that this sin of Resistance is seldom at all, and seldomer truly repented of, and therefore the more to be dreaded as, if not certainly, yet too too probably exposing to Damnation in the saddest sense.

But if it may contribute in any the least measure to those Ends you may conceive, and wish it may, and, it seems, hope it will, those excellent Ends you yourself with so much zeal and constancy, with such unwearied diligence pursue, even the ser­vice of our Sovereign and the security of the Government, I shall think myself happy, and thankfully acknowledg it: But however the event be, which is uncertain, if you will please to interest yourself in it, by accepting this Discourse, whereof you occasioned the Publication, you will very certainly and suffici­ently oblige,

SIR, Your most Humble Servant, WILLIAM JEGON.

They that resist, shall receive to themselves Damnation.

'Tis true, we have lost, to the great and gene­ral grief of all good People, the principal subject of this days Anniversary Solemni­ty, our Late Excellent Sovereign, who was this day wonderfully born, and this day more wonder­fully restor'd, or rather (if I may so say) new-born to his People; we have lost him indeed, and such is our loss, so very great and so justly deplorable, that I could almost be tempted to laments on this very day of publick festivity and rejoycing: And I pre­sume I might very excusably give way to them, were it not that this loss is so happily repair'd, as there may seem to have pass'd rather an exchange than a loss, and an exchange rather of Names than Per­sons. The Tempers, the Vertue, and the very souls of the two Royal Brothers being so like, so undistin­guishable, that we are scarce sensible even of a change, but think, or may think that both the Bro­thers live as formerly, and, as formerly, act with one soul still.

But be it that we have lost the main and principal subject of this days Annual Joy, yet have we not wholly lost the ground of it; for this day is Sacred and Memorable, not only for the birth of our late Sovereign, but (as we all know) for his Restauration [Page 6]too: Nor his alone, but the whole Nations Happi­ness and the Churches Honour, I had almost said her very Being; for she lay so long time buried in the dust and rubbish of Anarchy and Confusion, that she seem'd almost forgotten, as though she had never been; and therefore her Restauration might not improperly be styl'd her Resurrection. But howe­ver that be, and whatever the Church of England is for outward splendour and beauty of Holiness, all is the effect of this days Mercy, which ought therefore to be ever sacred and memorable with us, as 'tis order'd to be by publick Authority. And tho' indeed we have of late had too much cause, (such was the will of Heaven) to mourn, yet still this day is sacred to festivity on the whole Nations account, but especi­ally on the Churches; and we ought to rejoyce ac­cordingly, and humbly and heartily bless and praise Almighty God on her behalf, and devoutly and ear­nestly pray for the continuance of that happiness she was this day restor'd to, that Peace may still be within her Walls, and plenteousness within her Pa­laces: And this is a Duty incumbent upon all her Children at all times, especially now on this memo­rable day, and 'tis to be hoped we shall be all accor­dingly affected to the suiting both our hearts and offices to the Grand occasion.

But then we may be allowed to remember, as well from what a wretched state of misery and confusion, as to what a glorious state of happiness and peace we of this Church and Nation were by this days mercy advanc'd, and withal what Principles were set on foot, and what Practices made use of to bring us to that wretched state, and accordingly to endea­vour [Page 7]the refutation of those, and, as far as in us lies, the prevention of these for the future.

And as to the Church which was most concerned in them, notwithstanding what was hinted of her resurrection this day by way of allusion, 'tis to be consider'd she is not yet Triumphant (God knows▪) but too plainly Militant still, and under Persecution from the Tongues and Pens of perverse men, her Ad­versaries on either side of her; and both so constant in their malicious opposition to her, that she seems indeed (as she hath been represented) the very tran­script of her Saviour suffering between two Malefa­ctors, with this difference still, that both revile her, and but one her Saviour.

For on the one hand she is tax'd with plain Prote­stantism, or professing the true reform'd Religion, on the other with pretended Popery: Her Enemies on that side brand her for Schismatical, on this for An­tichristian: By those she is twitted with Novelty, by these with Antiquity as high up as the first working of the mystery of Iniquity, whensoever it was.

But the misery is, and 'tis really pittyable, that all her protesting, renouncing and abjuring Popery, will not suffice to clear her of it: Not all her Vindicati­ons and repeated Victories by her invincible Cham­pions over all her Adversaries of the Roman Communi­on, can either convince or satisfie, or at least silence her domestick Opposers, but still she is exclaim'd a­gainst as Popish, plainly Popish in her Government, in her Liturgies, and in her Ceremonies: Yea, her Ministers, how formidable soever, as Adversaries to the Church of Rome or Bulwark to their own, and by the ingenuous of that Church reputed rather not [Page 8] Catholicks than Hereticks, as the rest style them, are yet at home, by her true Protestant sticklers, loudly repre­sented as Papists in Masquerade, if not plainly and openly Popish.

As for her Doctrine, it is, as Reform'd, wholly op­pos'd to Popery, and therefore sure by no means censu­rable as Popish: Well, I meddle not with other points of her Doctrine now, but I am very sure it can never be thought either Popish or Phanatical in the point of Obedience to the Higher Powers, which is the subject of my Text: For this she as clearly asserts, as firmly establishes, and faithfully and constantly practised as ever was done in any of the purest and best Ages of Christianity.

And to give some little hints of her opposition both to Popery and Phanaticism in this point: She does not derive her Sovereign's Authority either from the Pope immediately, or from the People: She does not subject him to a Conclave or a Consistory, or a High Court of Justice: She does not allow him to be sen­tenc'd and depos'd by a General Council or a General As­sembly: To be cut off by a Knife, nor yet by an Axe: To be posted out of the World by Powder in Barrels, or Powder and somewhat else in Blunderbusses: Nay, she does not allow him to be so much as resist­ed upon any pretence whatsoever, without danger of Damnation in the saddest sense.

I need not tell you at this time of day that there have been Doctrines currently vented, and practises set on foot exactly agreeing to them, but both as di­rectly opposite to the Doctrine of our Church; yea, and of the whole Church of Christ too, for a thousand years at least, as any thing can possibly be: It may there­fore [Page 9]seem very seasonable, upon such an occasional meeting as this, to enquire what the Scripture asserts in the Case, and see whether it does not fully autho­rise the Doctrine of our Church, and condemn the con­trary: Accordingly I have chosen a Text, the clea­rest and severest against Resisting, of any in the whole Bible, They that resist, shall receive to themselves Damnation.

It has been observed from sundry of the Antients, that in the Infancy of Christianity, there was a rumour spread (which is suppos'd to have taken its rise from Judas of Galilee, mention'd, Act. 5.37.) that the Gospel was design'd to undermine Kingdoms and Common­wealths; as if indeed the design of our Saviours first coming were the same with that which is reserv'd for his second, 1 Cor. 15.24. To put down all rule, and all authority, and power: And that for this reason our Saviour him­self, and his Apostles, did so frequently and so earnest­ly inculcate the Doctrine of Obedience to the Higher Pow­ers, that the Religion might not incur an odium.

I say nothing now to the reason alledged, but that both our Saviour himself and his Apostles did actually inculcate so the said Doctrine, is obvious to all that are never so little conversant in the Sacred Writings; and were there no other Instances to be produced thence, yet this place of Sr. Paul, from whence I have my Text, is so plain and pregnant, so full and compre­hensive, as there needs no more to inform and satisfie the consciences of those who are willing to know their Duty, and do not seek for cavil or subterfuge rather than satisfaction.

And so fully has this place been canvas'd and dis­cuss'd, the Point so amply debated, and the Case so c [...]early stated from hence, that there can be no pre­tence [Page 10]of ignorance but what is more or less wilful, and let us take a cursory view of the context, which begins thus:

Let every soul be subject to the Higher Powers, that is, to the supream Authority of a Nation in whomsoever vest­ed, as is unanimously agreed on by all unprejudic'd men of sense and learning, and clearly determin'd by the context following; the word [...], Powers, being afterwards explained by [...], Rulers, Ver. 3. and [...], the Ministers of God, Ver. 4. and [...] being or­dinarily us'd both by Classic Authors, and by St. Peter himself for supream, and so render'd by our Transla­tors, 1 Pet. 2.13.

To these Higher or Supream Powers, the Apostle re­quires expresly that every soul be subject: And here 'tis pertinently remark'd by Origen, that the Apostle has put his injunction in a term the most general and comprehensive that could be, and yet particularly applicable to every individual, let every soul be subject, as obliging all that have but a common soul or spirit.

And our Church Homilies are very particular too, and no less pertinent in their remark upon this place. Homily of Obedi­ence, pag. 64. Ed. 1673. We ought diligently to obey St. Paul, that dear and chosen Apostle of Christ, even as we would obey our Saviour Christ himself if he were here present; and let us learn of him, that all persons having souls (he excepteth none, nor exempteth none, neither Priest, Apostle, nor Prophet, saith St. Chrysostom And he saith it in­deed yet more par­ticularly: And to the same pur­pose Theo­doret, and long after both, St. Bernard.) do owe of bounden Duty, and even in conscience, Obedience, Submission and Subjection to the Higher Powers which be set in Authority by God: Forasmuch as they be God's Lieutenants, God's Presidents, God's Commissioners, God's Judges, ordained of God himself, of whom alone they have all their Power and all their Authority; and the same St. Paul threatneth no less [Page 11]pain than everlasting damnation to all disobedient Persons, to all resisters against this general and common Authority: For­asmuch as they resist not man but God, not man's device and invention, but God's Wisdom, God's Order, Power and Authority.

This is sufficiently plain, and this must be granted the standing sense of the Church of England touching this place of the Apostle, because these Homilies, and the Doctrine contained in them, are establish'd by publick Authority.

And the same in substance was the current sense of the whole Church of Christ in the first and purest Ages of it, and generally of the Churches of the Reformation.

But to proceed, the Apostle adds, as the ground or reason of this universal subjection to the Higher Powers, that there is no Power but of God: The Powers that be (or the Powers then in being, for so some understand [...], and so Nero's Power who was then regnant) are ordained of God. Can any thing possibly be more plain than this for the Divine Institution of Sovereignty? a thing so plain indeed, not only from this and sun­dry other places of Holy Writ, but from natural rea­son too, that one of the Antients affirms, Orosius. they who have not read the Scriptures do think it (as very many Learned Heathens have declar'd they did) and they who have read them do know it. And in no one point of Christian Doctrine have the Antient Sages of our Reli­gion, the Primitive Fathers, more unanimously agreed, as the Unlearned as well as the Learned know at this time of day: And all the Churches of the Reformation are clear for it, as appears from their Confessions. And for our own Church, yea, and State too, for I may safe­ly joyn them together in this, they are as express for it as the plainest words can shew them to be:

The Common Lawyers agreeing in it with the Casuists, and the Statutes as plainly and fully asserting it as the Canons.

But if there were nothing else to prove it, yet the Power of the Sword, or the Power of Life and Death, which is an essential branch of Sovereignty, undeniably evinces it to be originally from God, who alone could give the said Power; and I would fain see it prov'd, that the King-creating People ever had this Power: And if they never had it themselves, how they could impart it is somewhat mysterious.

But notwithstanding so general and unanimous a consent both of Churches and Persons, as well Antient as Modern, in a point so very plain from the Apostle, and in a manner self-evident, great numbers in the Church of Rome, and the Jesuits especially, assert the contrary, and therein are followed by the generality of our Sepe­ratists, That all supream Power is originally and radically sea­ted in the People, and that if Kings fail of their Duty, the People may supply it; at least in some Cases may do it of them­selves: That Kings are accountable to the People as their Superiors, and not only censurable and punishable, but as they are pleas'd to express it, Dethronable.

I shall not stand to dispute the Point with them now, but bating the invincible evidence to the con­trary of this from the Power of the Sword, wherewith Sovereign Princes are invested, I shall only put this Query, Whether more deference in point of credit and authority be due to St. Paul, and the most eminent Divines of the Church of Christ in all Ages, and these back'd with the concurrent sense of all sober Hea­thens, or to the Romish and Protestant Jesuits in this point, and without more ado I shall leave it to you

I have hitherto insisted upon the Context, and shewn how it has been (as St. Peter signifi'd of old, concerning some other passages of our Apostle) wrested by (the un­learned and unstable shall I say? yea, rather by) the malitious and seditious to their own destruction, eternal, 'tis to be fear'd; and how justly to be fear'd, will appear by enquirng into the Words I have chosen for my Text, which are as plain and express against resisting, as the Context for obeying the Higher Powers, They that resist, shall receive to themselves Damnation.

Which Words, as they stand in our Translation, are plain indeed, but as they are in the Original, they are more liable to cavil and exception, and then 'tis not to be expected they should escape it, when there have been, in sundry Ages, so many whose Interest it was to make it, in order to the success (I mean) of their wick­ed Attempts.

To the Term of resisting there is not much exception made, for tho' it may sometimes signifie no more than to act contrary to the Command of the Higher Powers, yet it cannot bear that signification in my Text, be­cause the Higher Powers may possibly command that which we are oblig'd, by a Power Superiour to theirs, to act contrary to, as if they Command any thing repug­nant to the express Word of God, then as St. Peter has determin'd the case, and as 'tis universally agreed on, we ought to obey God, and not Man; not any Human Power whatsoever, but to act contrary to their Com­mand: And that, for certain, is not to incur Damnation in the saddest sense, of which the word, [...] here is con­fessedly capable. But to resist (as the very Words used by the Apostle here plainly import) is to use hostile vio­lence, or forcibly to withstand, and that is to incur Dam­nation, [Page 14]according to our rendring the word [...], which the Apostle uses in the Text; but whether the word does really import here Damnation in the saddest sense, that is, eternal Condemnation from God, or only some Tem­poral Mulct or Punishment from the Magistrate, Whether it be unto Death, or to Banishment, or to Confiscation of Goods, or to Imprisonment, hath been, and still is, made a Que­stion: And truly I have not seen any determination of it so clear, Author A­nonymus. as it seems to me capable of. A learn­ed man, of the late times, hath told us indeed, That the Analogy of the place will sufficiently evince the Point, that this word, [...], is like a sword with two edges, fitted not only to kill the Body, but to destroy the Soul also; that it threatens punishment from the Magistrate, is very true, but not all: Ye must needs be subject, not only for Wrath, but also for Conscience sake. You are exhorted not to Rebel, because you may be Hang'd: But lest confidence in Numbers should answer this Objection, a stronger motive is us'd, You shall certainly be Damn'd. It is probable you may take the Gallows in your way, but, however, Hell will be the end: Yea, though you escape a shameful Death, yet you have forfeited eternal Life.

It may be so, as this Author says, and indeed it is too probable, but he has not clearly evinced it.

Some have gone further, and said much more, but I conceive not all that might be said upon it: And of late, in popular Discourses, it has been rather taken for granted, than designedly proved. I humbly offer, therefore, the result of my Meditations upon the Point, and upon the Text, and I shall do it in this method.

1. I shall endeavour to prove, that [...], in this place, does really signifie Damnation in the saddest sense, that is, eternal Condemnation from God, tho' not excluding the other more gentle sense of Temporal Punishment from the Magistrate.

2. I shall shew that there is nothing to take off the force of this intermination, no just case of exception against the rule of my Text, no pretence allowable; but for Subjects to resist, I mean, forcibly to resist their Lawful Sovereign, is absolutely and universally to incur Damnati­on, and nothing to atone for the Crime, in the sight of God, or to prevent the Punishment threatned here, but Repentance. And this is all I can think necessary to insist upon from the Words, saving only some little matter by way of Application.

I begin with the first, that [...], in this place, does realy signifie Damnation in the saddest sense.

Now, 'tis granted, the Word does signifie, in Scrip­ture, sometimes Human Judgment, sometimes Capital Pu­nishment, or the Sentence of Death inflicted upon Male­factors: But then it must be granted too, that, in ma­ny more places of Scripture, it signifies Divine and Eter­nal Punishment, or Damnation in the saddest sense: And that not only where it is joyned with other words, that plainly point and direct to that sense, but where it stands by it self alone, without any additional note or point of direction: And this hath been shewed at large by learned men, Particu­larly Dr. Hammond, in loc. & a­libi. and Dr. Falken­er, Christi­an Loyalty. Part 2. and so need not be stood upon now.

But this being taken for granted, that more gene­rally the Scripture uses the Word for Damnation in the sad­dest sense, the only question is, Whether so here in my Text, or no? I do not say excluding, but implying the other sense too of Temporal Punishment from the Magistrate.

There is, indeed, another remarkable place where the Word is used, but in what sense, is alike question'd; and that is, 1 Cor. 11.29. where it is applied to Ʋn­worthy Communicants: He that eateth and drinketh unwor­thily, [Page 16]eateth and drinketh [...], we read, Damnation to him­self: But whatever the real sense of [...] be there, it has been very pertinently observ'd, that in the late un­happy times, when the question was most stifly can­vass'd about the sense of my Text, most of those who were hottest for the gentler sense in the place of my Text, as making for their Interest who were actually in Arms against their Sovereign, and little fear'd any Tem­poral Punishment, were as hot for the sadder sense of the same Word in that other place to the Corinthians: And the result was, that effectual care was taken men should not incur Damnation for Communicating unworthi­ly, by keeping them from Communicating at all, for se­veral years together.

But then, that men might not be as much deterr'd from resisting, or taking up Arms against the King, or continuing in them, by any fear or apprehension of [...], signifying Damnation indeed in this place of my Text; it was eagerly contended for the gentler sense to be af­fix'd to this place, that [...] here should signifie only some Temporal Punishment, which the King might inflict, if he happened to Conquer his Rebels up in Arms against him: And if it should come to that once, then men were to look to themselves, and scape as well as they could.

Then resisting, or taking up Arms, Against the King. would be plain down-right Rebellion, and of a most horrid nature, but not 'till then, according to Cromwel's Doctrine, who, in the midst of the late War, declar'd, (it seems) That if he and his Party prevail'd, their opposers would be accounted the grandest Traytors, to the State, that ever were: But if the King should prevail, their undertaking would be judged the most horrid and black Rebellion that ever the Sun beheld. [Page 17]Then have a care of Attainders and Executions, of Gibbets or Axes, Confiscations or Imprisonments; but no beware of Damnation all this while: No, that was no part of their care or fear, and, indeed, Why should it? If taking up Arms against their Sovereign, were neither threatned, nor like to be attended with any worse consequence, than only some Temporal Mulct or Punishment, which were certain to be avoided by Conquest, if that were the issue: Or, if the worst should happen, it were more than possible to be avoided by flight or concealment, or perhaps by the clemency of the Conqueror, or at least the number of Resisters would secure the far greatest part from the utmost severities.

And when there was so many starting holes, so many, (possible, shall I say? nay,) probable ways of escaping this [...] of the Apostle, in their sense of it, who would needs have it import only some Temporal Punishment from the Magistrate, Why should they fear resisting or taking up Arms, or conti­nuing in them, and not rather go on to fight manfully the Lords Battels, and help him against the mighty; when they were so far from incurring Damnation for it, that they were plainly accursed if they did not, as they were fre­quently and roundly told from that Jer. 48 10. place of the Prophet, wretchedly mis-applied: Cursed is he that doth the work of the Lord deceitfully, or negligently, and cursed is he that keepeth back his sword from blood?

But, to recollect my self, though what has been now said cannot favour much of digression, because the Tenets and Practises specifi'd, are plain natural results from the premises laid down: For if to resist be not to incur Dam­nation in the saddest sense, but barely and simply some Tempo­ral Mulct or Punishment from the Magistrate, and that too not certain, not inevitable, and far from that, What should hinder resisting at any time upon a prospect of Conquest, or at least a considerable advantage?

But, God be thanked, the case is not altogether so clear for them, for 'tis certainly possible, that [...], in this place, may signifie Damnation in the saddest sense, as it does confes­sedly in sundry other places of Holy Writ; and, if it were only so, Resisters cannot be altogether secure.

But not to rest here, I shall forthwith betake me to the clearing my first Proposition, that [...], in this place of my Text, does really signifie Damnation in the saddest sense: And this I shall shew,

1. From the Context or the Analogy of the place.

2. From the current sense of the most approved Exposi­tors; and,

3. From parallel places of Holy-Writ, which represent Resisting as a Crime of a most gross horrid Nature, and conse­quently, damning in the sight God.

1. I shall shew it from the Context or the Analogy of the place.

And here, 1. Let every soul be subject to the Higher Pow­ers, is plainly the Precept establish'd upon this Penalty, whatever it be that [...] imports; and we are pretty well agreed about the Notion of the Higher Powers: How­ever, I have prov'd already that it signifies the supream Au­thority of a Nation, in whomsoever vested. That we be subject to this Authority, is an Apostolical Precept; and our Blessed Saviour has expresly given the same Authority to his Apostles Doctrine, as to his own delivered by himself, and commanded them to be received with the same defe­rence of belief and submission, as what they deliver in point of Doctrine or Precept as himself: He that receiveth you, recei­veth me, and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me, St. Matt. 10.40. And, as it was intimated before, as the sense of the Church of England, we ought to obey St. Paul, even as we would obey Christ himself: And sure, from [Page 19]what has been said, 'tis plain we ought. Whatever then the Apostles deliver, as the Doctrine of Christ, is Gospel as much as any thing Recorded by the four Evangelists: And the Apostle is very plain for this, That all who obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, shall be punish'd with everlasting destruction, 2 Thess. 1.8, 9. Subjection to the Higher Pow­ers is here expresly injoyned by the Apostle, and conse­quently is a Gospel Precept: And notwithstanding Mr. Baxter's nicety of a Resistance not contrary to subje­ction, certainly all forcible Resistance, which is plainly the Apostles meaning here, is sufficiently contrary to subjecti­on. Now, whether to resist the Higher Powers, and conse­quently to disobey the Gospel, be not to incur everlasting Destruction, or Damnation in the saddest sense, I leave to be consider'd.

Again, 2. All Power, and by a necessary consequence the Higher Powers, are of Divine Institution: This is expresly asserted by the Apostle here, There is no Power but of God: the Powers that be, are ordained of God: And thence he in­fers, That whosoever resisteth the Power, resisteth the Ordinance of God. Now, whether to resist a plain Ordinance of God, an institution founded and established by Divine Authority, if we will take the Apostles word for it, be not to offer con­tempt to the sacred Authority of God himself, and so to in­cur his final dispeasure, and consequently Damnation in the saddest sense, without Repentance, I leave again to be con­sider'd.

3. The Apostle adds here, Vers. 5. of this Chap. Ye must be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience-sake: Here by wrath, all the World understands Temporal Punishment: And, as Dr. Hammond hereupon urges, if that were all that is meant by [...] in the Text, it could not be true, much less concluded thence, that men must be subject, not [Page 20]only for wrath; but if we must needs be subject, and by, at least, an equal necessity, not resist, not only for wrath, or for fear of Temporal Punishment, then he that does actually resist, shall receive or incur more than a Temporal Punishment, even all the consequence of a mounded, grieved conscience, which, when it accuses, binds over to eternal wrath, or Damnation in the saddest sense, without repentance, as no man doubts, that pretends any acquaintance with the Christian Doctrine. If therefore we will allow the Apostle to speak sense here, we must grant there lies on us, from these words, a neces­sity of subjection, and consequently of not resisting for some higher and further reason, than only a fear of temporal punish­ment; and what that can be other than eternal, or Damna­tion in the saddest sense, I leave again to be consider'd.

But here it is urged bo way of Objection, and that from the Context too, that [...], in this place, must signifie only some Temporal Punishment from the Higher Powers, because it follows immediately, Rulers are not a terror to good Works, but to the evil.

By the way, their Objection plainly implies, that to re­sist is an evil Work, or else it were not punishable by the Magistrate; and as such it is, as all other evil Works are, not only a ground of Temporal Punishment, but exposes Men to Eternal, without Repentance.

But to answer directly to the Objection; 1. It is not deny'd, but Resistance is a matter which the Magistrate is concern'd to punish; and they that actually resist him, may secure themselves: he will punish them for it, if it be in his power, and he be not some way appeas'd, or otherwise prevented. But who can persuade himself, that the Blessed Apostle, by the Spirit of God directing him, should threaten so great a Crime as Resisting, which is no better than Re­bellion, and that is as the sin of witchcraft, with an award [Page 21]which is common to it, with the meanest offences in the World? nay, that the Great and Learned Apostle should ar­gue against resisting from so poor a Topick, as fear of Tem­poral Punishment only, seems to me so jejune and flat, as is infinitely below his Character, as the great Doctor of the Gentiles: He needed not his Education at the feet of Ga­maliel, much less his Infallibility as an Apostle to dictate this, for certainly Nokes or a Styles, a Cade or a Kett, or any of the Rabble of Resisters, need not be told that they incur a Temporal Punishment from the Magistrate, if they be subdued and taken in the Act of Resisting, or deprehended in the At­tempt or Design of it. But if they happen to subdue or awe the Magistrate, or some way or other to escape, as 'tis odds but they may, at least the more inconsiderable among them, What signifies the intermination of the Magistrates Anger, and the consequence of it, some Temporal Punishment, to deter them from resisting?

2. Again, If fear of Temporal Punishment were the sum of the Apostles Argument in this place, Why should he particularly apply it to the instance of resisting? the su­pream Magistrate might be said indeed not to bear the sword altogether in vain, if he did bear it only against Treason, Rebellion, and such like violations of Majesty, as immedi­ately concern his own Person: But certainly he could not be said to bear it to any great purposes of advantage to the Commonwealth, or Community of his Subjects, if he did not bear it against other Criminals and Malefactors as well as against Resisters or Traytors, and if equally against all, Why the Apostle should alledg the fear or danger of it a­gainst Resisters only? if that were all he meant, I am very much to seek; and therefore, methinks, for the honour of the Apostle, Christians should not presume to father so trifling an Argument upon him, as that if any resist [Page 22]the Higher Powers, they shall receive a Temporal Punish­ment: If we understand the merit here, and not the event, that resisters deserve a Temporal Punishment, 'tis very true indeed, but to no great purpose of deterring them: If the event, it will not always hold, for certain, it will not in the ca [...]e of a prosperous Rebellion, or flight, or conceal­ment, or some other way of avoidance.

And now to sum up what has been said upon this first Argument taken from the Context; Seeing, 1. It is an A­postolical, and consequently a Gospel Precept, That we be subject to the Higher Powers; and to resist them, in the plain sense of my Text, must be granted not to be subject, and not to be subject, is not to obey the Gospel, and not to obey the Gos­pel, is, to incur everlasting Destruction, without Repentance.

Seeing in the second place, that to resist the Higher Pow­ers is evidently to resist the Ordinance of God, and that is to offer contempt to the sacred Authority of God himself, and that can be no less than to incur his final displeasure, and consequently, Damnation in the saddest sense, without Re­pentance still.

3. Seeing we must needs be subject, and, by consequence, not resist, not only for wrath, or for fear of Temporal Punish­ment, it must be for some other reason, or on some further account, and that is, plainly, for fear of wounding our Con­sciences, which will certainly expose us to the wrath eter­nal, without Repentance.

4. And lastly, Seeing it were exceedingly below the Apostle to argue against Resisting, from so poor a Topick, as fear of Temporal Punishment only, which all the World knows will certainly attend the Crime of Resisting, if not some way or other prevented, and which might as well be urged against any other instance of offending the Laws. I shall not make my own reference, but leave it as before [Page 23]to be consider'd, whether the Apostle can reasonably be sup­pos'd to intend by the word [...], in this place, any thing less that eternal Damnation, without Repentance, as the pu­nishment of Resisting.

And so I proceed to my second medium, by which I proposed to prove this, and that is the current sense of the most approved Expositors.

And here I might urge what I find asserted to my hand, that not one Writer for a thousand years, of any credit in the Church, did ever doubt or question the Doctrine of Obedience to the Higher Powers, as 'tis maintained by the Church of England, or the unlawfulness of resisting them, upon any pretence whatever: And why? but because the Holy Scripture so frequently, and particularly St. Paul, here in this Chapter has so plainly stated it, made it so clear and manifest, and so formidably threatned the oppugners of it. And for the practice of the Primitive Christians in all parts of the Word (which is incomparably the best Comment upon the Scriptures of the New Testament) 'tis very cer­tain they were universally subject to their Governors, in omnibus licitis, and never resisted them, whatever ground or pretence they might have for it; and this, indeed, is al­most as universally acknowledg'd that they did not actually resist: Their Reasons we shall after enquire into. But take we this by the way, in St. Austin's words; Their Demeanour was perpetually and invincibly Loyal towards their Temporal Governors, without any the least Resistance, propter Dominum eternum, for fear of offending their great and eter­nal Sovereign, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and thereby incur­ring his final displeasure, the effects whereof are intolerable and eternal, and altogether unavoidable, but only by Repentance.

But to be more particular, with reference to the Argument in hand.

Among the Antients, St. Chrysostom, and those who fol­low'd by way of expounding the Scriptures nearest the Let­ter, for the rest, almost all before him, were mostly given to Allegorical Expositions: St. Chrysostom, I say, and his followers, as Theophylact and Oecumenius, I may add Photius too, for so much as remains of his Comments, are generally accounted the best Commentators. St. Chrysostom (says a Dr. Cave his Life St. Chry­stom. Learned Man of our own Church) had so hap­py a Talent in expounding the Scripture, in the most obvious and litteral sense, that, as an Antient Writer assures us, his judgment herein was accounted the common standard of the Church, and out-weigh'd the Expositions of all the other Fathers: Now he and his followers, with one consent, de­clare plainly, if not expresly too, for the sadder sense of [...] in this place. St. Chrysostom's [...], no light, but very severe vengeance, and that from God, who is [...], a severe avenger of all such as con­temn these Higher Powers, and thereby, [...], ex­ceedingly provoke God, is sufficiently clear for my pur­pose; and so Theophylact, [...], he that resists shall be punish'd by God himself: And to the same pur­pose, Photius in Oecumenius (whom I may therefore cite as one) expresly interprets the word [...] here, by [...], Condemnation from God. I deny not but all these, how much soever they are for the sadder sense of [...] here, do withal include the other sense too of Temporal Punishment from the Magistrate; which I know none that offers to exclude, though I think it not very necessary to be urgent for it, or lay any great stress upon it, because so likely to follow in all cases of Resisting that are impro­sperous, and do not prevail upon the Legal establish'd Autho­ity.

But be it that the Apostle implied, in the word [...] here, [Page 25]a Temporal Punishment from the Magistrate, so it be granted, as 'tis by these Antients expresly, that he meant by it, and that chiefly too, eternal Damnation from God.

And with these of the Greek Church, agree St. Ambrose and St. Austin for the Latin. St. Ambrose upon those words, Ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, id est, ultionem presentem; that is, says he, for fear of present or temporal vengeance, sed & propter futurum judicium, but also for fear of the judgment to come, quia si hic evascerint, illic eos poena expectat ubi ipsa accusante conscientia punien­tur: For however, says he, they escape here, yet there their own conscience will be their accuser, and God himself their avenger.

And St. Austin says, Ep. 1 [...] concerning Resisters, that besides what they may suffer from men, apud Deum fortem non ha­bebunt, they shall have no part with God; and elsewhere he reckons it very clear and manifest: Patet (says he) mor­tale peccatum esse potestati civili resistere, 'tis evident, that to resist the Civil Power is a Mortal Sin: And by Mortal, we know he means a Sin of a damning nature, that fearfully exposes to the wrath and indignation of Almighty God.

And with these consents St. Bernard too, though liv­ing in an Age when the Papal Power had not a little en­croach'd upon the Imperial, but much corrupted the Chri­stian Doctrine in point of Obedience to the Higher Power: Yet he, even in that Age, asserted it damnable in the saddest sense to resist, and that from this place of the Apostle in my Text Ep. 1 [...] & 221. Ludovic Regem..

And to come down to those of the Reformation, the ge­nerality of them are clear, if not for the sadder sense of [...] here, yet, which is all one, for the damning nature of Resi­stance; even Paraeus, who has been censur'd for some unad­vised expressions in the Case, is very clear and right with o­thers in his Comment upon my Text, not only affiring [Page 26]that [...] here may be taken in either sense, of Temporal or Eternal Punishment: But that however Resisters may e­scape the hands of Men, yet, Certe a Deo, from God they are sure of a severe award.

And to Contract, the most eminent Divines of the Refor­mation, though they meddle not with the word [...] in my Text, yet they agree in the substance of it, generally assert­ing it damnable to resist; and none, or very few of those that call themselves Protestant Divines, are Dissenters in this, but only those of the Kirk of Scotland, and their Bre­thren here, the Presbyterians and Phanaticks.

As for the sense of the Church of England, and all her Divines, or true and regular Sons, as well as Fathers in the case, 'tis so plain and clear, and so very well known that, it were an inexcusable impertinence to insist particularly upon it at this time of day.

And now being compassed with so great a Cloud of Witnesses, having such a concurrent stream of Expositors and others on my side, I hope I may venture to assert, from the importance of the word [...] in my Text, that it is a sin of a damning nature to resist the Higher Powers.

But I shall add to the Confirmation of it, from my third proposed Topick, and that is, from parallel places of Holy Writ, which represent resisting as a Crime of a most horrid nature, or at least a very great sin against God, and conse­quently of a damning nature.

I instance, 1. In that very remarkable expression of Mo­ses to Korah and his Company, when they associated them­selves together against him, and were not far from taking up Arms, but certainly so far resisted him, as openly to op­pose his Authority, as an encroachment upon them. Ye are gathered together, says he to Korah the Ring-leader, thou and all thy Company are gathered together against the Lord, Numb. 16.11.

They were not so senseless as to gather together intenti­onally against the Lord; no, but they were gathered to­gether against Moses, their supream Civil Governor appoin­ted so by God, against Aaron the chief in the Ecclesiastical Administration: And this Moses calls their gathering toge­ther against the Lord. And, as Arch-Bishop Ʋsher observes, even Women did see plainly that in opposing Moses and Aaron in such a manner, they opposed God himself, the ordainer of their Authority, for so the Daughters of Zelo­phehad, Mumb. 27.3.

But for a full Confirmation of it, God himself attested it in such a manner, as sufficiently shew'd his extream indigna­tion against it, and consign'd, to all succeeding Ages, his utter abhorrence and detestation of Resisting, as a Crime of a most highly dreadful, and consequently damning nature; and cer­tainly, (as one observes) that some have smarted for it e­ternally, is for ever enough to convince us, that God is high­ly dispeased with every one that thrusts himself into the guilt of it. But of these first Resisters, the Text tells us, That they went down alive into the Pit, according to our Tran­slation; but the Margin reads into Hell, which Optatus Contr [...] Parmen understands literally, Tartareo carcere subito clausi: For certain to such as follow their steps, St. Jude saith, Is re­served the blackness of darkness for ever, St. Jude 13. and St. Peter says the same, 2 Pet. 2.17.

2. But a second Instance is that of Samuel, who telling the People that had been importunate with him for a King to be set over them, after the manner of their Neighbour­ing Nations, when indeed they were under a Theocracy, God himself being immediately their King: Samuel, I say, telling them the manner of a King, in such Instances as some will have to savour of an Arbitrary Power, tho' others reckon them only the necessary burdens and charges of Go­vernment. [Page 28]However that be, the Prophet adds, that when they had once subjected themselves to that Power, and felt themselves aggrieved by it, they should cry out in that day, because of their King they had chosen them, and the Lord would not hear them in that day; it seems they should have nothing left them, even in case of real grievance, but recourse to God, and that would prove, in their case, ineffectual too, God would not hear them. But how if they should take upon them to redress their grie­vances themselves, by resisting and taking up Arms against their King? Why! it would only be directly and daringly to intrench upon God's Prerogative of Vengeance: But of that I leave you to conceive the issue.

3. But we have yet a plainer instance of the criminal na­ture of Resisting. 1 Sam. 26, where David having opportu­nity, which alone is oftentimes incentive enough in such cases, and absolute Power to have destroy'd the King his E­nemy, when 'tis certain he could as easily have taken away Saul's Life as his Spear, and we may suppose him promp­ted to it by two powerful motives, Interest and Revenge. And whatever there might be of guilt in it, Abishai offer'd to take that upon himself by perpetrating the fact, and laying violent hands upon Saul: Yet David would by no means suffer it, but urged this remarkable Query against it; Who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's Anointed and be guiltless? But before whom should David have been guilty? Or to whom accountable, if he had consented? for he was (as I may say) Heir apparent to the Crown by Divine Designation: And was not the King his implacable Enemy, that had persecuted him with the utmost of malice and virulency, against Law and against Reason? and had not God (as Abishai urged to him) delivered his Enemy into his hand, by casting all his Army into a deep sleep? [Page 29]and had cut them off, and the King with them, Who should have called David to an account for it?

Why truly nothing of all this was in the least to be feared in the Case: And yet David was infinitely afraid of stretching forth his hand against the Lords Anointed, or suffer­ing another to do it, because of the guilt attending it in the sight of God.

No! Homily of Obedience Part. II. As the sense of the Church of England is in her Ho­milies, concerning this very instance, David durst not for fear of offending God and his own Conscience (tho' he had oc­casion and opportunity for it) once lay his hand upon God's High Officer, The King. whom he did know to be a Person reserved and kept for his Office-sake only to God's Punishment and Judgment. And from this instance of David's invincible Loyalty, so clear and manifest, so abundantly evident (one would think) beyond contradiction, the Homily aforesaid infers, that it is an intolerable ignorance, madness and wickedness, for Subjects to make any Murmuring, Rebellion, Resistance, or Withstanding, Commotion or Insurrection against their most Dear and most Dread Sovereign Lord and King, ordained of God's Goodness for their Commodity, Peace and Quietness.

And if we may judg of the Criminal nature of Resisting, by God's severe proceedings against the Authors of it, What can we think, but that it is infinitely odious in his sight?

When the first and most remarkable instance of it he pu­nished by an astonishing Miracle, the Earth opening and swallowing up all the Resisters: And tho' 'tis true, nothing of this did ever happen again, yet that it did so once, is enough to assure us of God's eternal detestation of the Crime.

And in the next remarkable instance, I mean that of Absalom, so strangely infatuating the Counsels of the most [Page 30] politick, and so amazingly bringing the miserable Ring­leader to his end, by making the Hair of his Head instru­mental to his ruin, and cutting him off thus in the very act of his Crime, notwithstanding all the care his Royal Father took to prevent it: Sure if we reflect seriously upon God's severe displeasure, so signally evinced by such astonish­ing instances of it, we cannot, with any shadow of rea­son, imagine that Resisting should be so light and trivial a matter, as some would fain have it from their fancied im­portance of the word [...] in my Text.

And now, I would fain persuade my self, I have made it seem very probable, at least, that [...] in this place of my Text, does really signifie Damnation in the saddest sense, by what I have urged, 1. From the Context, which I am sure very strongly inclines to it, if I must not say abso­lutely clears it. From the concurrent sense of the most ap­proved Expositors, as well Antient as Modern: And, 3. From parallel places of Holy Writ, which very plainly shew, that Resisting is a sin exceedingly displeasing, or rather detestable in the sight of God, and consequently, I may say, of a dam­ning nature. I am sure our Church is very clear for the damning nature of it, [...]omily a­ [...]ainst Re­ [...]ellion, [...]ag. 379. declaring in express terms, that eter­nal Damnation is prepared for all impenitent Rebels in Hell with Satan, the first founder of Rebellion, and grand Captain of all Re­bels: And 'tis plain, that all Resisters with Her are Rebels. And the first Council that ever made any Canons against Resisting, was the fourth Council of Toledo in Spain, Anno 633. for there never was any occasion for the Churches provision against it before that, say some: For certain there was not, for the first three hundred and forty years, if not much longer. But that Council is very se­vere against the Authors and Abettors of the Crime, not only Excommunicating and Anathematizing them, but ad­judging [Page 31]them to be damned in God's future Judgment, and to have their part with Judas Iscariot: And this Sentence was confirmed in the Fifth Council that followed there, and the same was done in the Council of Calcuth.

But after all, supposing it could not be made so clear as it may seem to be, that [...] signifies in this place of my Text, eternal Damnation, without Repentance, yet what assurance can be given to any Christian, that makes the least doubt or scruple whether it does not, when it cannot be deny'd but the word is capable of that sense?

I cannot conceive any other way of satisfying the doubt, or silencing the scruple, but one of these two; either a plain Demonstration, or a new Revelation to the contrary.

As for the former of these, the matter is not capable of it: For who can pretend to Demonstrate, or (to use a term of greater Latitude) undeniably convince any man living, that the Apostle in this place, and by this word, did not mean Damnation in the saddest sense?

And for the other way of a new Revelation, however the Person pretending to it may satisfie himself, he cannot another, of the truth of his Revelation without a Miracle, or somewhat equivalent to attest it: And without that, what security can he give that he does not incur that Ana­thema of the Apostle, against Angel or Man that should Preach another Gospel, or the contrary to that he had Preached? Gal. 1.8, 9.

And without such Conviction, as either that of Demon­stration, or a new Revelation sufficiently attested, what in­finite hazard is it for a Christian to venture upon the guilt of Resisting, which, 'tis more than possible, for certain may be attended with Damnation in the saddest sense? I am pretty sure there is no absolute security against it, in case of actual Resisting, but Repentance only: And that must [Page 32]be granted infinitely hazardous in a War, especially if the War be sinful.

And for a Person to be taken away suddenly by death, in the very act of Resisting, as 'tis possible, yea, probable; nay, let me add, 'tis very great odds but he may, if en­gaged in it, and at his first appearance before the grand Tribunal, hear the Holy Spirit, or his Amanuensis St. Paul, avouch, that by [...], in this place, was truly meant Dam­nation in the saddest sense, is infinitely astonishing, and much too dreadful in Theory, ever to be hazarded in Practice by rational Christians, that does indeed believe, and has any tolerable apprehension of Damnation.

Well! but supposing the worst, Is there nothing to take off the force of this intermination? No lawful ground of resisting the Higher Powers?

No, not any, as I come to shew, according to my se­cond Proposal; namely, that there is no just case of excep­tion against the rule of my Text, no pretence allowable: But for Subjects to resist, I mean, forcibly to resist their Law­ful Sovereign, is absolutely and universally to incur Damnati­on, and nothing to atone for the crime in the sight of God, or to prevent the Punishment threatned here, but Repen­tance.

I confess this assertion cannot but seem a little strange, when there have been so many cases of exception made a­gainst this general Rule, so many pretences set on foot, and reckon'd allowable, so many starting holes found out.

But I am sure I have very good Authority for what I say, our Laws and Statutes as well as Canons, and the de­clared Doctrine of our Church being clear on my side: And this methinks should seem, in all reason, abundant­ly sufficient to any professed Member of our Church, who must necessarily renounce such his Membership, and cease [Page 33]to be of the Church of England, before he can allow himself the liberty of resisting.

As for our Laws, that of the 25 of Edw. 3. and those of the 13 & 14 of Charles the second, declare it universally unlawful to make or levy any war against the King, without the allowance of any case or pretence whatsoever; and the same is expresly required to be ac­knowledged by all the Clergy in the Act of Ʋniformity; and the same in substance is required of all Civil and Military Officers.

Our Canons declare expresly against all taking up of Arms, whe­ther offensive or defensive, without the Royal Authority, much more against it, upon any pretence whatsoever, under pain of Damnation, for which they cite the words of my Text, as very plain in their sense. The first of the Canons of 1640.

Our Homilies teach us, God hath shewn that he alloweth neither the Dignity of any Person, nor the Multitude of any Peo­ple, nor the Weight of any Cause, as sufficient for the which Subjects may move Rebellion against their Princes. Homily against Rebellion, p. 368.

It were endless to cite particular Writers of our Church to this purpose; but by what has been said, so clear is the Doctrine of our Church in the point, as some have made this remark upon it, That since the Reformation it is now again current Episcopal Doctrine, as it was always Apostolical, That Subjects ought by no means to resist, nor can be disobliged from their Obedience to their Sovereigns, upon any pretence whatsoever.

It being then so clearly the Doctrine of the Church of England, and that confirm'd or back'd by the Civil Sanction, and so the avow­ed sense of all the Authority of the Nation; is it not prodigiously strange to hear it excepted against, not only by English-men, but, what is much more, by pretended Members of the Church of England, as we have had, some few years past, sufficient evidence?

Well! but does the Church of England agree in the point with the Church of Christ in the primitive and purest ages of it? or with other Churches of the Reformation?

That it does perfectly agree with the primitive Church in the point, has been so frequently, so plainly, and so convincingly proved, that the Oppugners of it have been forced to have recourse either to down­right Slandering and Lying, or else to Enthusiasm.

To the first, affirming, contrary to the faith of antient and appro­ved Histories, and all accounts of those times, that the Doctrine of Non-resistance then generally maintain'd, and the practice of Christians [Page 34]exactly suited thereto, was grounded upon nothing else but weakness, or want of strength: they did not resist quia deerant vires, as Bellar­mine leads the Dance, and 'tis incredible how he is followed.

But in answer to it, 1. admitting, but by no means granting, that want of strength or forces was one ground of their constant Loyalty, without the least attempt of resisting; yet what an abominable slan­der is it to say, (which yet is said) that it was the only ground of it, when their Apologists and other eminent Writers, lay down unalte­rable reasons why they would not, did not, durst not resist, even because they thought themselves obliged to suffer any thing from the Govern­ment, rather than resist, by the most sacred and indispensable Laws of their Religion, as hath been very often, and of late abundantly made appear. Want of strength then was not the only ground of their not resisting, as some have shamefully slander'd them: And no wonder, when others have not stuck to speak as slanderously of the Apostles themselves, as if their end in prescribing Subjection and Obedience at first, were only to flatter the Emperours, and curry favour with them, as Salmeron had the impudence to affirm.

But, 2. that want of strength or forces was any ground or reason at all of their not resisting, is so far from truth, that there never was a more silly groundless falsity invented, as hath been invincibly made appear to the meanest capacities, and therefore I shall the less need to insist upon it. But I beg leave to urge two things with reference to it: The one is an instance not so commonly taken notice of, and that is this; In the Reign of Adrian the Jews almost universally, but espe­cially about Egypt and Cyrene, rebell'd against the Emperour, and ap­peared in Arms under Barchochebas their Leader, to the number of some hundred thousands; and much about the same time, as may be gather'd from Eusebius, there was a Persecution on foot against the Christians, which might have prompted them to joyn with those Jewish Rebels; and that they might have joyned with them if they would, is too certain, when they were used with at least as much cru­elty and savageness by the Rebels, meerly because they would not joyn with them, as ever they had been by any of their Persecutors, and yet they could never be drawn, by arts or arguments, by persuasion or force, to associate with the Rebels. And this instance seems to me so plain and home to the purpose, that I shall only make this remark upon it, That those of the Church of England in the late Times were not the first Martyrs or Confessors purely for Loyalty, these primi­tive Christians being their Precedents, and leading them the way.

The other thing I have to urge in the case, is this; Bellarmine and his followers, in very great numbers affirm, That the primitive Chri­stians wanted strength or forces to resist: but Tertullian, who lived in those times, says, They filled all places but the Temples, and were of all the standing Offices almost in the whole Empire. And St. Cyprian, not long after him, affirms, That they were vastly numerous and copious; that is, as the word seems to import, they were of the Militia or Souldiery too. And 'tis undeniably evident, that almost all Julian's Army when he died were Christians, as the Ecclesiastical Historians all with one mouth assert. Now, whether you will believe Tertullian and St. Cyprian, and so many antient Historians, or Bellarmine and his followers, is left to your choice.

But the prettiest that has been said upon this case of resistance, and St. Paul's Doctrine about it, is this, that Paul intended his Doctrine of Non-resistance purely with respect to the men he wrote to, of that Age 'tis meant, and no otherwise than as if a man should write to the Christians at present under the Turks Dominion, confessedly poor, and unable indeed to resist him; would he not write as Paul did? No que­stion but this learned Author fully knew the Apostle's mind: nay, and had consulted him personally upon the point, when he so confidently adds, That if Paul were alive, and saw wicked Kings reigning in Christian Commonwealths, he would leave them to their Subjects to be punished by them without blame. Whither are we rapt now? into the third Hea­vens, there to consult Paul? But I told you recourse was to be had of necessity either to downright standering and lying, or else to Enthusi­asm; and here seems to be somewhat of both.

But this was the familiar mode of the late Times to pretend Reve­lation: So John Goodwin; Now that Antichrist is apparently come to his full Power and Authority, that which was not known before, but kept con­ceal'd from the Churches of Christ, is fully manifest, that Christians may lawfully, in a lawful way, (that is when they may lawfully) stand up to defend themselves, in case they be able, against any unlawful assaults, by what assailants, or by what pretended Authority soever, made upon them. And another, The lawfulness of Rebellion is now discovered to God's Church as the necessary means to ruin Antichrist: So Burroughs cants af­ter Goodwin. But a more blunt Enthusiast has told us roundly, That [...]t was God's will the primitive Christians should confirm the truth by suffe­rings, but now that it is confirm'd, his will is that we should defend the truth by action, in destroying Tyrants. Boldly said indeed, and methinks this Gentleman seems more intimately acquainted with God himself, [Page 36]than the former was with St. Paul, as knowing God's secret will, for we know of nothing he has revealed but the contrary to this as his will in the case.

But to leave Enthusiasts as past conviction, and to have as little regard to those others who have the impudence to oppose a known certain truth, as clear as any thing of that nature can possibly be, with meer shams, I say the Doctrine of the Primitive Church is plain and manifest against all Resisting upon any pretence whatsoever, so plain and clear, that as was before observ'd, not one writer for a thousand years of any Cre­dit in the Church did ever question it; And Sigebert reckon'd the contrary doctrine a novelty at least, if not a plain Heresie, and justly imputes the original of it to Pope Hildebrand, as not crept into the World before him.

As for the Churches of the Reformation, they are no less plain and clear against all resisting, as any man may satisfie himself from their general confessions, and from the writings of particular members of them: I shall only urge the Authority of Erasmus, who though he liv'd and dy'd in the Communion of the Church of Rome, yet was for a Reformation, and according to some the occasion of it; and I the ra­ther insist upon his Authority, because his Comments are recommen­ded by our own Reformers, and ordered to be had in all our Churches: Now he in his Comment upon St. Luke 22. affirms, there is no He­resie more pernitious than this of the lawfulness of resisting: the Pre­cepts of Christ decrying it, his whole life being opposite to it, the Apostolical Doctrine testifying against it, it being rejected also by so many thousand Martyrs, and contradicted by the Antient Interpre­ters: I may add, by all impartial writers of the Reformation.

And this sure cannot but seem abundantly sufficient to all unpreju­dic'd minds, that sincerely desire to know the truth, and are willing to be convinced of it.

Let me have leave to add this, as which makes very much for my Assertion of the absolute unlawfulness of resisting, that the Cases of Exception are so very wild and extravagant: and but two of them are worth taking notice of. As for the Additional ones of Grotius, 'tis said, he was young when he made them, and 'tis plain he was to serve an argument, having his Country-men to defend.

As for that of Religion, which some insist on, as not only a reason­able, but the very best ground of resisting, 'tis the most senseless impo­sition upon the common reason of mankind that can well be ima­gin'd, to pretend it: for who knows not that our Religion can never [Page 37]be lost or taken from us by all the Powers of Earth and Hell com­bin'd together against us, without our own consent. But what do I talk of Religion in the Case? that's commonly no more than the sur­face or shell; 'tis Ambition, or Interest, or Revenge is the Kernel or Substance, for without such mixtures, Religion (as a Learned Gentleman observes Sir William Temple, p. 57.) works no violent ef­fects, but produces rather examples of constant suffer­ing than of desperate actions. To pretend Religion therefore as a ground of resisting, is only to make appear our hypocrisie: which Harry Martin honestly disclaim'd when he cry'd out in the house a­gainst snivelling for Religion, as the ground of resisting the King: We have fought (says he) all this while for Liberty, and are we now whining about Religion? And one Colonel Purefoy, like another Peribo­nius, was much more ingenious, declaring plainly after the King was beheaded, that it was no more than what he had desir'd, and designed to contribute to, forty years before.

But still, as I said, there are two cases of exception insisted on, as of some validity. 1. If a Prince shall undertake to alienate his King­dom, or sell it, or give it up into the hands of another Sovereign, against the mind of his Subjects. A very pritty supposition, but only that it is so very unreasonable, as not to be supposed by all the rules of com­mom prudence or charity: besides, that it may be always pretend­ed, if once suffered to pass, and where are we then? Why then we are at the old pass of undermining the Thames: that is of having a­ny the most ridiculous and incredible stories obtruded upon us, and we must believe them for the good of the Common-wealth, which otherwise would be in mighty danger. Well! but there is another case of exception, rather more unreasonable than the former, and yet, at the least, as likely to be always pretended, and that is: If a Prince shall undertake to destroy his whole Kingdom, or any considerable part of it.

The former of these, besides, that it very reverendly supposes the Prince either a fool or a madman, is little better than non-sense, and next to impossible at least. But the latter, that a Prince should de­stroy a considerable part of his Subjects, was plainly the case of the Primitive Christians, who were certainly both for number and quality, but especially, for number, a very considerable part of the Roman Empire, pars major Civitatis cujus (que) (saith Tertullian) the greater part of every City: and according to Grotius, metu­enda plane multitudo in plain English formidable for their numbers: [Page 38]yet they were not only design'd to utter destruction, but actually destroy'd in vast infinite numbers, by the express order of their se­veral Emperours, and that with the utmost cruelty and savageness, contrary to all the rules of nature, reason, and humanity. And yet, still among these, qui ipsorum saevitiae arma opponeret inventus est nemo (says Grotius) and it has been sufficiently shewed already: not one was found that wou'd oppose their Cruelty by force of Arms. Not one? Yes, says Blondel, I have found two instances to the contrary. And the truth is, he has two instances, but they are both wondrous odd: As that of a company of drunken Villagers, very probably Pa­gans too, rescuing Dionysius Bishop of Alexandria from the hands of his Prosecutors, who were but private Souldiers neither: and the Ar­menians resisting Maximin who was not their Sovereign. Which only shew the good mans earnest desire to have them pertinent, whether they will be so or no.

But after all, there are Scripture instances produced to the contrary of this Assertion, that it is absolutely unlawful to resist.

And 'tis true, there are Scripture instances alledged, but no other­wise than as Texts of Scripture are by some quoted, only to make a flourish withall, and fill up a margin, or to seem proofs, though hard­ly the shadow of them.

And as for these instances out of Scripture, they have been consi­dered, and sufficiently prov'd to be either impertinent as some, or ex­traordinary as others, or lastly wicked, and so not to be brought into example. And they do but only shew how hard the Oppugners of this Doctrine are put to it, when they can produce no better for their purpose.

And now to come home to our selves, and very briefly to apply what has been said. The charge here against Resisting is Universal, and there is no limitation of it in the whole Scripture, none in the old Testament, much less in the new, and least of all in this Chapter where the rule is laid: and besides, the context or the Analogy of the place, the consent of sundry, the most eminent and learned expositours both antient and modern, and the practice of the best Christians in all ages have been shewn very clear for the absolute un­lawfulness of resisting upon what pretence soever under pain of Damna­tion. And sure, if to resist the higher powers be (as the Apostle asserts in general) to resist the Ordinance of God, it is eo nomine, in that re­spect alone so far from lawful in any case, or upon any pretence what­soever, that it is infallibly always a sin of a most provoking nature, [Page 39]and as such it is here threatned, as far as I can possibly conceive or understand with Damnation in the saddest sense. And let me say Damnation is not to be trifled with, nor the Apostle's fearful threat here eluded by slights and pretences; but be these what they will, if upon them we resist, we must cease to be Christians, cease to be of the Church of England, and cease to be in a saveable condition, unless a very great and solemn Repentance intervene.

But for that, besides, that it is always infinitely hazardous in case of resisting, such is the criminal nature of resisting, that the Scripture compares it to Witchcraft, and indeed it too nearly resembles the sin of Witchcraft in this respect, (not that it admits not of Repentance, for I will not say so of its parallel, but) that it is seldom at all, and seldomer truly repented of; and for this I shall seek no further than our own age and memory: with what a wild Enthusiasm did the Usur­per Cromwel go to his own place? What an opinion had he of his Saintship to the very last? as if he were one of those that needed no Repentance. When his end apparently drew near, he wou'd not be perswaded of it, but still fancied to himself that God had some fur­ther work in reserve for him. And his Brethren in iniquity and bloud, the Regicides that were executed, with what height of Fanaticism went they out of the World? how far from the least shew of Repentance? And oh blessed God! how few publick Recantations have we seen, not­withstanding so very many were engaged in the Great Rebellion?

But they were, they were the Saints; and as such I leave them, to bespeak your utter abhorrence and detestation of a Crime, which by what has been said may reasonably be concluded, or at least justly feared, to be of a most horrid nature, exposing to Damnation in the saddest sense. And let us consider the fearful issues of Damnation, and the infinite uncertainty of Repentance, which alone can prevent them in case of resisting. And as we would not lose our part with God, our share in the Joys and Glories of Jesus, our habitation in the Heavens with Angels and Saints in unspeakable happiness to eternal ages, which is the first sad part of Damnation. And then for the other, as we would not be given up to the insupportable amazements of a sad Eternity, and dwell with a Worm that dieth not, in a Fire that is not quenched, amidst Devils and damned Spi­rits for ever; let us beware of resisting the Higher Powers, which is a crime that exposes to all this, and more. But let us heartily bless Almighty God that we had no share in the great Rebellion, no [Page 40]hand in the Thirtieth of January, nothing to do but to bewail our own sins as accessary, and the sins of others as instrumental in it.

And for the mercy of this Auspicious Day to the Church still flou­rishing, though the Prince for whose Birth and Return it was so me­morable, be gone; and may it flourish still, as we have just ground to hope it will, under his excellent Parallel, our present gracious So­vereign, whom God long preserve. I say, for the mercy of this Au­spicious Day, let us be sure to render now and ever, as is both now and ever abundantly due, to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, all possible Praise, Honour, and Thanksgiving, Amen.


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