A SERMON Preached at Epsom upon the 9th of September, Being the Day of Thanksgiving Appointed by His MAJESTY for the Discovery and Disappointment OF THE REPUBLICAN PLOT, And now made publick to ob­viate false Reports.

By JOHN TƲRNER, late Fellow of Christs Colledge in Cambridge.

Quem recitas meus est, O fidentine, libellus, Sed malè dum recitas incipit esse tuus.

Benè agere & malè pati Regium est & Regiorum.

LONDON, Printed for W. Kettilby, at the Bishops-Head in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1683.

[Page 1]Eccl. X. 20.‘Curse not the King, no not in thy thought. For a Bird of the Air shall carry the Voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.’

WE are met together this day, not in a Con­venticle, as the manner of some is, to Whine against the Government in a melting Tone, and sanctifie the Breach of Law with Friday-Faces; to Worship God by Affronting his Vicegerent, and disobey the King for Conscience sake, but in a Loyal and Dutiful Assem­bly, by the King's express Appointment and Command, not to sow the Seeds of Sedition, nor to reap an Har­vest of Blood, but, as becomes good Christians and good Subjects, to detest and abominate both one and t'other.

And thanks be to God that we are met together this day, for it had like to have fared much otherwise with us, it wanted but a little, and God, who for our sins is wroth with his Inheritance, had utterly forsaken his Tabernacle of Shilo, and the Tent which he had pitched among men, the Priests and the Young men would have Fallen by the Sword, the Maidens would not have been given in M [...]riage, and there would have wanted Widows to make Lamentation.

This Church of England, the Joy of the whole earth, where God resides in a peculiar manner, as once between the Cherubims within the Vail of the Temple; this Church of England so Excellently placed between the two Extremes, of Popery on the one hand, and Fanaticism on the other; so Pure, so Wholsom, so Primitive in its Doctrines and in its Discipline, so just and wise; this Church that stands upon the Rock of Ages, and bids defiance to the Gates of Hell, that is Cemented by the Blood of Confessors and Martyrs, and was so lately purg'd by the Fire of Tribulation, to make it more beautiful and more strong together, yet for the Hypocrisie of some, and for the open profaneness of others in her Commu­nion, she was now a second time in danger of being lost, and the dreadful Voice of Samuel once more hover'd in the gloomy Sky; if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be destroyed, both ye and your King.

For had the King been spared, who, as the People said of David, is worth ten thousand of us, there might have been still some hope remaining, that this poor Church, though once more weltring in a Sea of Bloud, might have surviv'd the Calamity of her Sons. But the King and the Monarchy were to fall together, the King and the Duke were both of them to die, the King and his Family were to be extinguish'd, and it might have been said of the two Royal Brothers, as once of Saul and Jonathan his Son, The King and the Duke were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths they were not divided, they were swifter than Eagles, they were Stron­ger than Lyons, how are the mighty Fallen, and the wea­pons of war perished. Ye Mountains of Brittain, let there be no dew, neither let the rain descend upon you, for there the life of Charles was vilely cast away, the life of Charles, as though he had not been Anointed with Oyle. O let it [Page 3] not be told in Gath, nor publish'd in the Streets of Askelon, lest the Daughters of the Philistines rejoyce, lest the Daugh­ters of the Ʋncircumcised triumph; lest Papists, and Turks, and Infidels upbraid us that these are the Effects of True Protestant Religion, the barbarous Attendants of a tho­rough Reformation.

Let the Parisian Massacre from this time forward be silent, and let the Ghosts of Ireland walk no more, for the Saints have out-done the Cruelties of the Wicked, and Rome is Merciful in comparison of Geneva! Have the Papists found out a Clement and a Ravillac that thought it a Pious and a Meritorious Work, to lop the two Sparks of the Royal House of Bourbon; the Third and Fourth Henry succeeding one another? And have not our Pro­testants had their Court of Justice, where an hundred Clements and Ravillacs sat together to Murther a King under pretext of Law, and would have made us believe they wash'd their hands of the Guilt, at the same time when they wash'd their hands of the Guilt, at the same time when they wash'd them in his Bloud? And were not the same sort of Protestants, whose Bible is of the Transla­tion of Geneva, the men of Knoxe's Principles, and the men after Calvin's own heart, were not they whetting the Weapons of Destruction, to serve the Second Charles as they had served the First, and make him the Inheritor of his Fathers Fate as well as of his Throne? And as the Fathers death, whom the Indictment called Charles Stuart King of England, was ushered in by that of a Pious and a Learned Prelate, the then Archbishop and Primate of the English Clergy, so here the inhumane Butchery of a Scotch Archbishop was, as it were, a Prologue to the intended Murther of the Son, whom in derision they were used to call the King of Scots; although in this indeed the Parallel does not hold, that a Civil War preceded the Martyrdom of the Father, but a Massacre more Bloody [Page 4] was to follow that of the Son. For the King was not to fall singly by himself, but more like a Tartar than a Christian Prince, all his Faithful Servants and Depen­dants were to be made a Sacrifice at his Tomb.

The Godly Treason was not satisfy'd
To kill the King, and quench its thirsty Pride,
By sucking at the Royal Orifice,
This was too mean, too little a Device,
But as when Wines from Traiterous Bourdeaux sent
Are stav'd, and flow thorough the gaping vent,
So the whole Kingdom would at once have bled,
And its whole Strength at one broad Wound have shed;
While Slaughter in her Purple Vest array'd,
Her own fierce deeds with a wan look survey'd,
And fear'd those Terrours which her self had made.

These are they that separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit, and yet pretending to it almost as much as Christ and his Apostles. Good God! that men that cannot get down a Ceremony, though they would ne­ver so fain, should be able to swallow Treason and Rebelli­on! That they that change colour at the sight of a Sur­plice, should make no bones of Garments roll'd in Blood! So that the Prophet might have ask'd the same Question of every one of these Religious Monsters, that quarrel with Motes, and yet dispense with Beams, which he ask'd with his usual Eloquence upon anotheroccasion Who is this that comes from Edom, with his Garments dyed from Bozra? Wherefore art thou red in thine Apparel, and thy Garments like him that treadeth in the Wine Fat? When our Saviour talk'd to his Disciples of eating his Flesh, and drinking his Blood, and that no man could be his Disciple, that did not eat the one, and drink the other, they understanding him in the [Page 5] literal and first sense, said among one another, This is an hard saving, who can hear it? And the Evangelist tells us a very little after, That from that time many of his Disci­ples went back, and walked no more with him. Nay, the twelve themselves were startled at the thing, and in some doubt whether they also should forsake him or no, as appears by our Saviours question immediately subjoyned; will ye al­so go away? So grievously were they Scandalized and Of­fended at the very thought of eating Flesh, and drinking Bloud. But the religious Canibals of our times, make it a light matter to eat the Flesh, and pick the Bones of a Nati­on; they exceed in Barbarity the Sarmatians of old, who though they drank the Bloud of Horses, yet could not down with that of Men, this is a knack peculiar to the So­ber Party, and yet their Consciences are tender all this while; their Consciences are tender, but their Bowels are hard, their Mercies are cruel, their Fore-heads as impudent and impenetrable as the Adamant it self, and they make a­mends for the softness of their Heads, by Necks as stiff as the Obelisk at Rome, or the tall Monument at the Bridge-Foot.

Who would ever believe that these were the very men that were wont to declaim so loudly against the Popish Murthers, that talkt of nothing but Piedmont, and the Fifth of November, and the Marian Days, and the invin­cible Armada, and the Albigenses, the Persecutions of Hun­gary and France, the Churches of France, that have been lately so perfidiously demolished, and the Ministers of Hunga­ry that were condemned to the Gallies, and used to quiet their Children when they cryed, with the Names of Stephen Gardiner, and Bloody Bouner? but it is nevertheless true for being strange; the Papist and Fanatick, the Dissenter and the Jesuit, as bitter Enemies as they are to one another, yet they tend to a Point, and move about a Centre, they are like Si­meon [Page 6] and Levi Brethren in Iniquity, Instruments of Cruel­ty are in their Habitations, Cursed be their anger for it is fierce, and their wrath for it is cruel: O my Soul come not thou into their secret, unto their Assembly be not thou united. This Age stands amazed at so horrid a Discovery, and the next would scarce believe that so much Wickedness was de­signed in this; were it not that the Conspirators them­selves have all of them so unanimously confessed their Guilt; not the Witnesses only, whom a suspicious Malice may pretend to have accused others, that they might save themselves; but some have confessed the Treason by their Flight, even before they were known to be accused; others have confessed it by practising those barbarous Cruelties upon their own Persons, which were designed to be pra­ctised upon ours; others have owned it at the Bar, and at the place of Execution, where men do not use to tell lies against themselves; and he that will not believe a Crimi­nal, when he comes to dye, acknowledging his Guilt, will remain still in a state of Infidelity, though he and all the Accomplices of his Crime should arise together to vouch it from the Dead.

They have Conspired together in acknowledging the Treason, as well as in committing it; and by that acknow­ledgment they have prevented themselves, and we are de­livered from the snares of Death: They have shown by so mi­raculous, so seasonable a Confession, just almost at the ve­ry nick of time when the dismal Tragedy was about to be acted, that there is a Providence presiding over Humane Affairs, that will not suffer Disloyalty to prosper, and so much Wickedness to go unpunished, that God will defend and prosper his Anointed, the Defender of the Faith, and the Majestique Image of his Person, and make every Loy­al Subject take up the Song of David in his Mouth, Verily there is a reward for the Righteous, surely there is a God that [Page 7] judgeth the Earth: They have verified the English Ob­servation, that Treason and Murther will never fail to come out, and justified the Counsel of Solomon in my Text, Curse not the King, no not in thy thought; for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath Wings shall tell the matter.

Upon occasion of which words, I shall do these follow­ing things.

First, I will demonstrate to you that Resistance against the King, or the Supreme Power, is in all Cases unlawful; Curse not the King, no not in thy thought.

Secondly, I shall apply that general Theory to the parti­cular Circumstances of this Conspiracy, which was an horrid Complication of the most barbarous Cruelty, the most perfidious Treachery, and the most vile Ingrati­tude together.

Thirdly, I shall reflect upon the Fatal Consequences that would have happened, if the intended Wickedness had taken effect.

Fourthly, I shall observe that there is a secret Provi­dence running through all things, and watching over all the Affairs of humane Life, that will not suffer such execra­ble Villany to escape either undetected or unpunished, For a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

Fifthly, and Lastly, You shall give me leave to ex­hort you, as my Duty is, and as yours requires of you upon this Solemn occasion, that you would lift up your Hearts with Joy and Thankfulness to God, who hath done so great things for us, and hath wrought so great Deliverance for the King and his People, to whose especi­al Providence and Watchful Goodness we can only as­cribe it, that we are not at this day in the same Conditi­on with some of the Conspirators themselves, who have deservedly suffered for their Crime, that we have not [Page 8] been given over as a prey to our Enemies, as for our ma­nifold Iniquities and crying Sins we have very well de­served to be; that the Sword hath not been drunk with the blood of the slain, and surfeited with the fat of the Mighty; and that the same voice is not heard howling and shrieking in our Streets, that was of old heard in Ra­mah of Galilee; The voice of lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning: Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Of all these in their order. And First, I say, That Resistance against the King, or the Supream Power, is in all Cases unlawful: Curse not the King, no not in thy thought: Now the reason why Resistance is in all Cases, and in all its De­grees and Circumstances absolutely unlawful, is in short this, That it supposes an Appeal of the People from the King to themselves, and makes them Judges of their own Cause, which if it be allowed in one Instance, there is no avoid­ing it, but it must be granted in all, and by that means the Government is not only very dangerously assaulted, but utterly overthrown, and the People will obey no longer, nor no further than they please themselves, which, what Confusion and Disorder it would immedi­ately bring upon the Affairs of Mankind, how giddy, how uncertain, how tumultuous, how dangerous and troublesome they would be to one another, you may more easily conceive within your selves, than I can find words to express; the Consequence of it would be nothing but Anarchy and Riots, and Eternal dashing of one Man, or one Parties Humour or Interest against another.

For to place the Soveraignty, or the last Appeal in all the People together is perfect Non-sense, for this Reason, because all the People will never be of a Mind so long as the World indures, and if they were, there would be no need of Magistrates, or of Government: To place it in a Ma­jority [Page 9] of the whole Body, though it be no less than Treason in the Eye of the Law, yet I will be so Civil as ra­ther to be Guilty of Misprision my self, than to turn In­former at this time, only I will observe, that such a Sup­position as this does effectually grant all that I contend for, that there is somewhere an absolute and unaccoun­table Power, which can in no case be resisted or opposed; for if it may, then 'tis no longer the Soveraign Power. But since it hath been proved already, that the Soveraign­ty cannot be in the whole Body or Collection of the Peo­ple taken together, if it be not in a Majority neither, then either it is in the Minor part of the People, so as if a Nation were to come to a Poll, the Minor part shall have a right of prescribing to the Major, and the fewer Voices shall carry it, which is contrary to the Reason of things, and to the Practice of all Ages in popular Electi­ons and Debates; and besides, if it be granted, yet it sup­poses a Supream and Soveraign Power, which cannot law­fully be resisted or opposed: Or else, Lastly, If the Sove­raignty be neither in all the People, nor in the Major, nor in the Minor part, nor in the Prince, or the Establish'd Government, which the Doctrine of Resistance supposeth it is not, then either it is no where at all, that is, there is no such thing to be met with as a Supream and unaccounta­ble Power, or every private Man is a Prince by himself, accountable to none but God, as Soveraign Princes are, and his Dominions extend as far as his Person or his single Power or Policy can reach; so that at this rate all Society would be immediately dissolved: And what a blessed po­sture of Affairs this would infallibly and unavoidably pro­duce, I take no delight in recounting with my self, but leave it to you to determine at your leisure, if any of you have leisure enough to consider all the Calamities and Mis­chiefs that would follow.

God Almighty expects nothing from us for his own sake, but only for ours; and therefore all the Duties, as well of Revealed as Natural Religion, are so ordered, that they are exactly Calculated and Proportioned to the Peace and Wellfare of Mankind; he commands us to be Chast and Temperate in our Lives, just in our Dealings, affa­ble and gentle in our Conversations, Merciful to such as are in want, patient in Adversity, humble and equal in our prosperous Condition, ready to forgive our Enemies, and to be heartily reconciled to such as have injured or offended us, to be Affectionate and Dutiful to our Parents, kind to our Relations, Faithful to our Friends, Careful of our Families, Obedient to our Superiours; but the true reason why he expects all this from us, is not that he reaps any thing of Advantage by it, who is entirely blessed and happy in himself, but only because the practice of these Du­ties is of so great and manifest importance to the good of hu­mane Life, to make us healthful and chearful in our par­ticular Persons, to make us most acceptable to others, as well as most easie to our selves, to keep the World in a state of Peace and Friendship, and make men live quietly and comfortably together.

And the same is true likewise of those Duties which have a more immediate Relation to God himself as their Object; he commands us to love and praise him, to meditate and fix our thoughts upon him, to pray to him in our ne­cessity, to trust in him in our wants, to fly to him as our last Refuge in the time of danger, to acknowledge our perpetual obligation to him and our perpetual depen­dance upon him, and to humble our selves at the Foot­stool of his Mercy with Sorrow and Contrition, and with resolutions of a better Life, at the consideration of the Sins we have committed aginst him. The true reason of all which is, not that God gets any thing by our Prayers, or that he is any loser, when we do not humble our [Page 11] selves before him for our Sins, but because a constant sense of the Existence and Being of a God, and of his Presence in the midst of us, as a Witness and Spectator of all our thoughts and actions; wherever we be, and whatsoever we are doing, or designing to do; a serious Reflection upon that Power and Justice which nothing can resist or bribe, that Knowledge from which nothing can possibly be conceal­ed, that Goodness to which we are so infinitely obliged, and upon which we have every moment an entire de­pendance, is apt to keep our minds waking with a perpe­tual sense of our Duty, to make us indeavour after Vir­tue, and study to conform our selves to the likeness and resemblance of so excellent a Being, to desire to please him by the practice of those Duties which have the great­est Congruity and Agreement with the Wisdom, Justice, and Goodness of his Nature, and which Reason and Re­ligion do both of them equally call for at our han [...]s.

It is unreasonable to praise and magnifie the Name of God, for the Works of his Hands, or for the Administra­tions of his Providence, unless we do also indeavour to imitate those Perfections which we pretend so highly to approve; it is a contradiction to pretend to trust in him in our wants, or flye to him for succour in a dangerous time, and yet at the same time to be guilty of any base Design, or to use any unworthy or dis­honourable means to free our selves from want, or to deliver our selves from dan­ger; when we pray to him, we do it upon supposition of his Goodness, that he is ready to forgive, and easie to be intreated, and that he is as able as he is willing to help us; but now it would not only be unreasonable and unjust, but it would also be impudent and impious into the bar­gain, to expect that God should be kind and merciful to us, when we our selves are unmerciful to such as are in want, unjust to those with whom we Correspond or [Page 12] Traffick, inflexible and inexorable to such as have offended; and lastly, when he injoyns us to repent us of our Sins, and to acknowledge and bewail them in his presence, to make him the Confessor of all our actions, who is a Wit­ness to them, and will one day sit in Judgment upon them and us; the meaning of it is, that we may not be hardned in an obstinate course of sin, but that our minds by Confession and Repentance may preserve or produce in themselves a tenderness for Virtue, a shame for the past enormities of our Lives, and a steady purpose and resolu­tion for the Future to behave our selves so as is most for our own truest Interest, and for the Peace and quiet of the World.

Nay, when in Scripture he is so severe and terrible in his Menaces against Idolatry, when he commands us so frequently and so expresly not to worship any strange God, or any Creature like our selves, or any painted Image, or carved Representation, not to fall down to Stocks and Stones, to Silver Shrines, or Wooden Cruci­fixes, or to the Garlick and Onions of Egypt, when he is so jealous of his Glory, and will by no means give his Ho­nour to another; the meaning of all this at the very bot­tom, is, not that God stands in need of our Worship, that we can add any thing to him by our Praises or our Prayers; or that when we are guilty of Spiritual Fornication, by going a Whoring after strange Gods, or by placing the incommunicable Acts of Worship upon any other Object besides himself, he suffers or loses any thing by the bar­gain, for he cannot be more or less happy than he is, he was happy and perfect in the Sense and Contemplation of his own Blessed Nature for Millions of Ages before the World was made; and he may say to us, as he did out of the Whirlewind to his Servant Job, Where wast thou when I laid the Foundations of the Earth, when the morning [Page 13] stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy? He reaps no advantage from our Worship, or our Sa­crifice; and if he were an hungry he would not tell us, for he is all-sufficient in himself, and all the beasts of the Fo­rest are his, and so are the Cattel upon a thousand Hills, he knows all the Fowls of the Mountains, and the wild Beasts of the Field are in his sight. What is the Reason therefore why God is so jealous of his Honour? so zealous for the incommunicable Respect which is due to him from all his Rational Creatures? Why, the true and only Reason is, That God himself is the most Noble Object our thoughts can possibly entertain themselves upon, and we shall al­ways find our selves most happy in the ravishing Contem­plation of so bright, so lovely, so beautiful a Being; the consideration of his Attributes will produce in us large and generous Thoughts, a perfect hatred of every thing that is Wicked, and a contempt of every thing that is Sor­did and Mean; and, in a word, it will create in us, together with a Love and Admiration of him, a Breathing after him, and a desire to be like him.

But on the contrary, the Reason why Idolatry and Su­perstition are so severely prohibited and forbidden, is be­cause they are apt to produce quite contrary Effects upon the Lives and Manners of Men. For the practice of Ido­latry is either owing to an Opinion that God himself is pent up in some remote corner of the World, but is not always present in the midst of us; that he is not intimate­ly twisted into our most secret thoughts, and a Witness to our darkest and most concealed retirements, otherwise we should have no need to worship him by any Representation, when he is present himself; or else it is founded in a sup­position that God of himself will not at all times do for us whatever is best and most reasonable to be done, but that he relies in a manner upon the advice of others, and [Page 14] that he is an easie Being, governed by Court-Favourites and Minions that are about his Person, otherwise it would be very foolish, though they could hear and answer us, which they cannot do, to have recourse to the interest and in­tercession either of Saints or Angels: It consists on both sides in a poor and pitiful Opinion of the Divine Nature, which must needs produce a proportionable Coldness and Indifference in us, to resemble so easie and so little a Be­ing. It estranges us from the Life of God, by making us strangers to his Attributes and his Nature, and by fixing our Thoughts and our Worship upon finite, fading, and corporeal Objects, instead of an Immortal, Infinite, and Im­material Being.

If we do not believe God to be always present wherever we are, and whatever we are doing, we shall have the less regard to submit to his Will, or to obey his Laws, when he is either so remote that he cannot see us, or that he cannot come at us to punish us, if he do; and if we do believe him to be really present, what an af­front is it, instead of being a Duty, to Worship any thing but himself in his Presence? Nay, we must not on­ly believe him to be present, but we must constantly at­tend to this Belief, we must frequently pause and medi­tate upon it, that it may have the more powerful influ­ence upon our Conversations, and therefore this is the Character which the Psalmist somewhere gives of a Wicked and Unregenerate man, that he hath not God in all his thoughts. Again, If we believe God to be so easie a Be­ing, that he is not governed so much by the Equity of things, by the Reasonableness of our Requests, or by the Constancy of our Obedience, or by the Sincerity of our Repentance, as by the Interest of Favourites, the Intrea­ties of those whom he is pleased to call his Friends, and the Importunity of those about him; if we are once per­swaded [Page 15] that the Prayer of one Saint, and the Supereroga­tion of another, drawn out of the imaginary Treasury of the Church, will serve instead of Repentance and Obedi­ence on our parts, this must needs produce in the gene­rality of Men, a coldness and indifference in the perfor­mance of their Duty, and give great strength to the as­saults of those Temptations by which Humane Nature is continually surrounded.

And what hath been said of Idolatry, is true in a very great proportion of Superstition likewise. The Essence of Idolatry consists in the Worship of a false Object; that of Superstition in false and injurious Notions, concerning the true one, which hath been usually done by one of these two several ways.

First, When Men look upon him as such an easie Being, that he will accept of little Expiations, or of certain Rites or Ceremonies, whether of their own inventing, or of his appointment, instead of Repentance, Obedience, and Amendment of Life; whereas God who is infinitely concerned for the happiness of Mankind, will accept of nothing but our reasonable Service, and of those Acts of Duty and Religion, which have a manifest tendency to the good of Humane Life, and to the comfort of Societies, and particular Persons. He will not eat the Flesh of Bulls, nor drink the Blood of Goats, but he requires that we should offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay our vows unto the most high. To obey, in his esteem, is better than Sacrifice, and to hearken, than the fat of Roms; and he hath solemnly de­clared, That the Sacrifice of the Wicked is an abomination to him, that his Soul hateth it; and that he cannot away with the Sabbaths, and the New Moons, and the Solemn Assemblies, though of his own appointment, when joyned with the practice of Intemperance and Injustice, to the dammage and detriment, either of our selves or others.

The second sort of Superstition is, when Men look up­on God under the Notion of a touchy and uncertain Be­ing, that is angry for nothing, and pleased with as little; and therefore they worship him with ridiculous Rites, and childish Expiations, to procure his Favour, and to a­vert his Displeasure, and try almost as many, and as ex­travagant Remedies against the anger of Heaven, as if it were the Tooth-ach, or a Tertian-Ague. And the Evil of this sort of Superstition consists in this, That it destroys the Quiet and Tranquillity of Humane Life, by frighting it with causeless Fears, and imaginary Dangers, by mak­ing men perpetually solicitous, continually out of tune, and by producing in the habit of their minds, a Peevish, Fretful, Suspicious, Dissatisfied, Unsociable, and Unfriendly Temper.

To conclude this matter, Not only the practical Do­ctrines of the Gospel, as well as of Natural Religion, are founded in the interest of Mankind; but also the Articles of Belief, and the Miracles by which those Articles were confirmed.

The Articles of Belief, which I shall mention, are these two. First, the Doctrine of the Trinity; and Secondly, that of the Resurrection.

For the Doctrine of the Trinity, as puzling as it is, though after all the Scoffs of the Arians of old time, and of the Socinian Hereticks of late, I do not despair to make it out as clearly, as any Proposition that is never so cer­tain; I say, as puzling as it is, and upon Supposition that it were in it self every whit as unintelligible, as it is pretended to be, yet thus much we know for certain, that God being an Infinite, and by Consequence an Incom­prehensible Being, there may be some Propositions true concerning him, whose truth we that have only finite Un­derstandings cannot possibly comprehend; for nothing certainly can understand or comprehend the whole ex­tent [Page 17] and latitude of the Divine Nature, but the Divi­nity it self; and therefore in this case the Counsel of Jo­seph Scaliger is excellently good,

Nè tu semper audax quaere causas omnium,
Quaecun (que) libris vis prophet arum edidit,
Afflata caelo, plena veraci Deo,
Operta sacri supparo silentii,
Vel tange parcus vel pudenter praeteri:
Nescire velle quae Magister maximus
Docere non vult, erudita inscitia est.

But now if this Doctrine were not only unintelligible in it self, but also of no use in common Life, to what pur­pose should it be revealed? For certainly God does not design in the Scripture to puzzle and confound his Crea­tures to no purpose, but only to teach and inform them for their benefit and advantage; and therefore though the Doctrine of the Trinity, by reason that it is conversant about an Infinite Subject, cannot so easily be made out by a Finite Understanding; yet if we can shew any use of it, for the Benefit of Life, this is an argument to us of its truth, though it be not the Object of our Comprehensi­on. And the use that is to be made of it in life, is this, That if we are verily perswaded of the truth of this Doctrine, if we believe that Jesus Christ was not only sent by God, but that he is really and truly God himself; this ought certainly to possess the Hearts of all his true Disciples, with the greater Reverence and Esteem for his Laws: and if we believe the Holy Ghost, not only to be an Effect or Emanation of the Divine Power, which is all that the Socinians understand by it, but that he is really and truly a Divine Person, that he is not barely an Attribute of God; or an Effect of the Divine Power and Will, but that he is really and truly God himself, we shall then certainly give the greater [Page 18] heed to all the good Motions, and all the Virtuous Inclinations of our minds, for fear of quenching and doing despite to the Spirit of Grace, of doing violence to the God within us, whose Temples in Scripture our Bo­dies are said to be.

And this by the way, among other very good Argu­ments that have been urged against it, is a very good Ar­gument of the falsity of the Doctrine of Transubstantia­tion, which, besides that it is a contradiction to our Facul­ties and our Senses, besides that it is conversant about an Object, of which we may pretend to be Competent Judges, that is, about an Humane Body; I say, besides this, though we should suppose it to be true, we can as­sign no use of it for the bettering our Lives, or for the interest of Mankind; but on the contrary it would be much better for us, that it should be as it is, a false and absurd Doctrine, because the belief of it puts so many Indignities upon the Person of Christ, and by consequence weakens the Authority of his Gospel; as, that the Body of God should be eaten, not only by Men, but sometimes by Rats and Mice, and other Vermine; that in the Visitation of the Sick, the Priest shall carry God Almighty in his Pocket, together with his Snuff-Box, his Tooth-pick, and his Tabaco; that he is champed between the Teeth, that he descends into the Stomach and the Bowels, and from thence into the Draught, and other very reproachful and ignominious Circumstances, which it is a shame to mention; and yet this is one of the great reasons of all the Romish Persecutions, because we cannot perswade our selves to believe so impious and so absurd a Doctrine as this.

Quod panem aut furfur, similamve aut dona Lyaei
Nolumus esse Deos, summà (que) in sede locare
Mystica quae sacris adhibent ur pocula mensis,
Quae (que) salutiferas fundunt bellaria vires;
Quòd non foetenti Drvinum stercus ab alvo
Ejicitur salsumque perennat ab inguine Numen;
Quod Servatores nostros non tradimus Orco,
Christophagi cives, & Christicida Sacerdos.

For the Doctrine of the Resurrection, though it can­not be denied but there are Difficulties in it, though they are not so great neither, but that they are capable of be­ing explained, as I have endeavoured to do upon ano­ther occasion; yet this is certain, that the belief of it must needs have a very potent influence upon the manners of the World, and that it is an equal Argument of the truth of this Doctrine, and of the goodness of God toge­ther, that he hath made the performance of those Duties, the Conditions of a Blessed Immortality in the World to come, which are our truest Interest, and our highest Wisdom in this.

Lastly, For the Miracles by which the Gospel was con­firmed, they are all of them placed in some Event or o­ther, that was for the advantage and benefit of the World; our Saviour went about continually doing of Good, he healed Diseases, and cast out Devils, he cleansed the Le­pers, he restored the Lame and Blind to the use of their Feet, and of their Sight, he stopt running Issues that had been of long continuance, he bid the Sick of the Palsie rise and walk, and he raised the very Dead out of their Graves, to come and give Testimony to the truth of his Doctrine; though it might have been perhaps an equal Confirmation of it, to have removed Mountains, or to have called the Sun out of the Firmament, or to have torn the hardest Rocks in sunder; but this was not so sui­table to the Nature of the Doctrine it self, which was all of it Calculated, as I have largely shewn, to promote the [Page 20] Interest and Welfare of the World.

So that it being so undeniably clear that all the Duties, whether of Natural or of Revealed Religion, are placed in the Welfare and Happiness of Mankind; give me leave to shew you that this is no Digression, by applying it to the Subject we are ingaged in, concerning Passive Obe­dience, or Non-resistance to the Supreme Power; and if the Mischiefs of Resistance shall appear to be greater, up­on a just and impartial Survey of the whole Matter than those of Arbitrary Power, and in any other case there is no need of Resistance, then it follows plainly, that Resistance is in all Cases unlawful. Wherefore to make short work of the matter, If any Man will shew me, or will so much as dare to shew his Face, and look as if he would pretend to shew me, that ever a quarter of so much Blood was split, so many Properties invaded, so many Estates confiscate, by the Arbitrary Power and Humour of any Lawful Prince, as in the memory of many that are here present, in the last Civil War, then I will be content to laugh for company with Julian the Apostate, and scoff at Passive Obedience, as much as he hath done.

Caiaphas being High Priest uttered a Prophetick say­ing, as it seems in virtue of his Office, That it was expedi­ent that one man should dye for the People. For so St. John tells us, Joh. XI. from 49th to the 51st. Caiaphas being the High-Priest that year, said unto them, Ye know no­thing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should dye for the People, and that the whole Nati­on perish not. And this spake he not of himself, but being High-Priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should dye for that nation. Which words though in their Prophetick meaning, they did refer to the Expiatory Sacrifice of the Blessed Jesus upon the Cross for our Sins; yet it is plain that the reason of them is grounded upon this Maxim, [Page 21] that the Interest of a Nation is to be preferred before the Interest or Wellfare of one man. It is expedient for us that one Man should dye for the People, and that the whole nation perish not. So that we have here a sure word of Prophecy, that is the Testimony of God himself, that a greater Interest of Mankind is to be preferred before a les­ser; for what is here affirmed of one Man, with relati­tion to the whole People of the Jews, the same holds in its proportion, and in the Reason of it of any lesser number, with reference to a greater. From whence it follows plainly, though I am by no means a Friend to Arbitrary Government, and though, God be thanked, un­der so Merciful and Just a Prince, whose Goodness is the only thing that is excessive in him, we have no manner of occasion to defend it; I say, from hence it follows plainly, that it is unlawful, because a few Men suffer in their Fortunes or their Lives, by the Cruelty and Inju­stice of an Arbitrary Power, for the People to take up Arms, to protect themselves against it; because the Cru­elties and Desolations of War are incomparably greater than those of an unjust or an unmerciful Prince: And therefore, if God Almighty may be allowed to be a more competent Judge in the Case, than the Author of Julian the Apostate, it is much better for the People to be quiet.

I know, the barbarous Persecutions of the Primitive Christians will be urged in this Case, they being so nu­merous as they were, so cruelly persecuted, so barba­rously tormented, and for so good a Cause, meerly for Believing and Embracing that Doctrine which taught nothing but what was for the good of the Persecutors themselves; and because the just and full stating of this matter, is a thing of great importance to the true deciding of the Question under Debate,

Therefore, I shall consider in the First Place, the mat­ter of Fact; and,

Secondly, The Behaviour of the Christians under it: and,

Thirdly, The Reason upon which that Behaviour was founded.

First, For the Matter of Fact, it is unquestionably cer­tain, That the Persecution upon the Christians, for many Ages, was very heavy and cruel, which our Saviour fore­saw before he left the World, and therefore took care to arm them by his Doctrine against it, bidding them not fear those that could kill the Body, and pronouncing a Blessing upon all those that suffered Persecution for Righ­teousness sake: And Pliny himself, who was Proconsul of Bithynia, in the Reign of Trajan, confesses, in a Letter to his Master upon that occasion, which is still extant, that he was weary of tormenting them; but yet after all, I love to give the Devil his due: and because I would not so much as imply or insinuate any thing meerly to defend a Cause which is not true, therefore I shall presume to say, That the Persecution of the Primitive Christians was neither so great, nor so unjust, as it is commonly repre­sented. And First, I say, it was not so great, and I give these Reasons for my Opinion:

First, That the Writers of those times, who have given us the accounts we have of those Persecutions, have cer­tainly exaggerated and aggravated the matter beyond the truth of things; and this among others was the peculiar Fault of Gregory Nazianzen, with Relation to Julian the Apostate, rather to shew his Wit, and to expose a Passio­nate and Ungovernable mind, than that Julian deserved such usage at his hands, who, bating that he was no Chri­stian, was otherwise as Wise and Virtuous, and in all points as Gallant and as excellent a Prince as ever wielded Scepter, or sat upon a Throne.

Another thing is, That the Romans at the first were so little acquainted with the Christians, that they fre­quently called them by the name of Jews, so saith Sue­tonius, Judaeos impulsore Chresto tumultuantes; where by In Vit. Claud [...]. Judaei, or the Jews, it is manifest the Followers of Christ were understood, so that the Christians were lookt upon only as a Sect or Faction among the Jews, of which Christ was the head. Nay, so little were the Romans acquainted with the Doctrine of Christ, that they did not so much as know his Name; for in this very Citation they call him Chrestus, which is as much as to say, the Good, instead of Christus, which is as much as the Anointed, and answers to the Hebrew Mashiach, or the Messias; and so little did they See my Lord of Chester in his Book upon the Creed, upon the Article, And in Je­sus Christ, understand the Religion of the Jews, that it was commonly believed among them, that the Jews worshipped an Asses Head, and that Pompey sound nothing else when he pre­sumed to enter into the Holy of Holies; and yet why they should persecute the Jews for this, any more than they did the Egyptians for the Worship of the Ibis and the Crocodile, and such like Monsters, I do not understand; and it is certain that the Egyptians did Worship these Crea­tures, in Domitians time, if we will believe Juvenal who wrote in it; for so he tells us,

Nescis Volusi Bithynice, qualia demens
Aegyptus Portenta colit? Crocodilon adorat
Pars haec, illa colit saturam serpentibus Ibin.

But the true Reason why the Jews were Persecuted, was not because of their Religion, but because they were looked upon as a Rebellious People, as indeed they were; and so are their Brother Sabbatarians now a-days; and the Christians being lookt upon only as a Sect or Faction a­mong [Page 24] the Jews, they were accounted as Enemies to the Empire, and all that sided with them, or espoused the Cause and Interest of Christianity, were looked upon as taking part with their Enemies: Nay, the Jews them­selves represented the Christians as Enemies to Casar; and therefore St. Peter advises them to remove this Scandal, and let the World see how much the Christians had been misrepresented, by Patience and Obedience. Submit your selves to every ordinance of man, for the Lords sake, whe­ther it be to the King as Supreme, or unto Governours, as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well: For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. So that it is plain upon the whole matter, that the Jews and Christians were not at first di­stinguished from one another by the Romans; that the Christians were persecuted under the notion of Jews, and that the Jews were opprest as Enemies to the State, not upon a Religious but a Political account: Nay, they were so far from being prohibited the exercise of their Religion, that in Domitian's time there were places ap­pointed for their Publick Worship, as is evident by this passage of Juvenal;

Hic, ubi Nocturnae Numa constituebat amicae,
Nunc sacri fontis nemus & delubra locantur
Judaeis. Quorum Cophinus foenum (que) supellex.

But yet at this very time they were oppressed and kept under by the Romans to that degree, that all the Nation were in a manner Beggars; for so it follows in the very next words of that Poet,

Omnis eim populo mercedem pendere Jussa est
Arbor & ejectis mendicat sylva camoenis.

And in another place,

Arcanam Judaea tremens mendicat in aurem,

And in another,

Ede ubi consistas, in qua te quaero proseuchâ?

They were Vagabonds and Straglers all over the Em­pire, and got their living in a great measure by playing the Gypsies, and by telling of Fortunes; from whence the word Chaldaeus, which denotes any Inhabitant of Palestine or Assyria, is used by the Roman Authors, for a Cun­ning man, or a Fortune-Teller; and the Oracle uses [...] and [...] for the same sort of Men,


Nay, after the reception of Christianity in it, they were still looked upon as dangerous to the Empire, as appears by several Laws against them, still extant in the Theodo­sian Code, under the Title de Judaeis, Coelicolis, & Sama­ritanis; and besides that they were a stubborn and rebelli­ous People, they were looked upon as a very vicious Peo­ple likewise, as appears by a passage of Martial, who at once lays Perjury, and another small fault of Salamanca, to the charge of a Jew:

Paedicas puerum, verpe poeta, meum:
Ecce, negas, juras (que) mihi per templa Tonantis;
Non credo, jura, verpe, per Anchialum.

Nay, they were under so great Hatred and Detestation all over the Roman Empire, that to conceal themselves [Page 26] they used several tricks to repair the Defects that Cir­cumcision had made: And as from their being Circumci­sed they were called Verpi; so from this new Device, which several Laws were enacted to prohibit, they were called recutiti; and so Martial uses recutita colla boum; for the Necks of Oxen that had been skinned over again, after they had been galled by the Yoke; and St. Paul al­ludes to this Custom, in the 7th Chapter of the First to the Corinthians, in these words: Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised.

To conclude this matter, if we consider the famous Te­stimony of Tertullian, which is usually produced to ju­stifie the Meekness and Patience of the Primitive Christi­ans, where he tells the Roman Emperours, omnia vestra implevimus, That the Court and Camp, the Cities, Towns, and Villages, the Markets and Exchanges, and Courts of Judicature, were all of them full of Christians; if we re­flect upon that passage in the Life of Jovian, where when he refused to be the Emperour of Pagans, the Roman Ar­my, after the Death of Julian, all of them unanimously declared themselves to be Christians; if we survey the Vaults and Places under Ground, that are at this day to be seen at Rome, the description of which was published, not long ago, by the Writers of the Roma Subterranea, where v. Rom. sub­terr. L. 1. c. 2. s. 17. & in Mo­numento Sepule brali Alex. Mar­tyris, in Coe­met [...]rio Cal­listi. the Christians buried their Dead, and where, it is certain, they were used to Assemble; these places could neither be built without publick notice, neither was it possible for the Christians to meet together in them so privately, as not to be discerned. All which are very strong Argu­ments that Christianity, though it were opprest at some times, yet it had its lucid intervals, and was connived at at others; and that at the same time when it was Perse­cuted and Opprest, yet there were many that lived quiet­ly in the Profession of it, and enjoyed places of Honour [Page 27] and Profit into the Bargain; but yet I do not deny that at some times especially the Persecution was very Bloody, and that the Patience and Courage of the Christians seem­ed to vye for Mastery with the Barbarity and Fierceness of their Tormentors, insomuch that the Governours of the Church themselves were forced to make Laws on pur­pose to restrain the too forward Zeal of such as were Ambitious and Covetous of being Martyrs.

But in the Second place, as the Roman Persecutions were not altogether so great, so neither were they altogether so unreasonable or unjust, as they have been usually but falsly represented. I do not mean that any Power on Earth hath a right of Persecuting the true Religion, and a Religion that is so plainly founded in the Interest of Mankind; but the thing was this:

The People that professed Christianity increased so fast, and withdrew themselves in so great Numbers from the publick Assemblies, into private Meetings by themselves, that this was looked upon, as it deserved, by the Roman Government, with a very suspicious Eye, as a matter of very dangerous Consequence to the Imperial Eagles, whose Wings were like to be clipt by the prevailing Inte­rest of a growing Party, who withdrew themselves from the Publick into Corners, and what they did there, could not certainly be known by any but themselves: and though they made never so large professions of Patience and Humility, and of their embracing the Doctrine of Non-resistance; yet this was no security to the Roman Emperours, if ever they should be strong enough to set up for themselves. For we may talk what we please; and though the Doctrine of Non-resistance be a very wholsome and a very reasonable Doctrine, yet when a Party gets Power into their hands, it is hardly to be supposed but they will certainly use it to the endangering the [Page 28] Rights of Princes, and the Peace of the State.

If you ask, why the Roman Emperours did not rather turn Christians in this Case, that so they might secure this growing Party to themselves? To this it is to be answered, That besides the Prejudices which they had imbibed from their Education in the Pagan Superstition, it was at first against the Interest of the State to do it, because the Pagan Party was more numerous; so that in probability by declaring for Christianity, they must have lost their Empire, and their lives together; but afterwards when Christiani­ty got to such an head, that the torrent was no longer to be resisted or stem'd; then Constantine, rather out of Reason of State, than for the sake of the Fabulous Appa­rition of the Cross, found himself obliged to turn a Chri­stian.

Another very great inconvenience that always goes along with any Party that [...]parates from the Government, is this, That though the Principles of a Party be never so peaceable, yet this is certain, they love themselves better than those that are of another Perswasion, and they have a kindness for any man that sides with them, and takes their part, and therefore they are commonly made use of by Dis­contented and Ambitious Men, to work their Designs upon the State, under Religious Pretences, which bad men do ea­sily make, and weak men do as easily embrace, when there is an appearance of strength, that they are like to go through with their business. From whence it follows plainly, that all Separation from the publick Worship, is absolutely unlawful, unless in such Cases where the Go­vernment imposes such terms of Communion, as are in­consistent with the Honour of God, and the Happiness of Men, which I have shewn already to be the Case of Idolatry; and by consequence, the Primitive Christians are excused, though the Dissenters of our times are not, [Page 29] and therefore it is more just to make and execute laws a­gainst them, than it was against the Primitive Christi­ans of old; and we may take it for granted, for it is cer­tainly true, that the Separation from the Church of Eng­land was the true cause of that late horrid and lamenta­ble Plot, with which the Government was in so great danger of being overturned; for the Conspirators would never have dared to lay so detestable and wicked a Design, had they not known there was a numerous Party that would have stood by them when they had done; and though I am not so foolishly uncharitable to believe, but that most of the Dissenters knew nothing of the Design, yet it is certain, that had it taken Effect, they would have sided with the Conspirators against the Laws, the Monarchy, and the Church of England, by which they think themselves to be Opprest, and this without questi­on was the great incouragement to the Conspirators, as well to enter upon the Design at first, as to proceed so far in it as they did; and I am really of Opinion we shall never be free from a Plot in some proportion; if not a­gainst the Life of the King, yet against the Peace and Honour of his Government, so long as there is one Con­venticle in England remaining.

Another thing, which though it cannot make the Per­secution of good men, and of a good Religion Lawful, yet it may in part excuse, and justify the Roman Emperours for what they did, is, That the Christians were represented to them as a sort of Lewd, Vicious, and Debauch'd People, that in their Assemblies they practised a promiscuous Lust, and polluted themselves with incestuous Copulations, which though it were most scandalously false of such as were truly and in reallity Christians, yet it was but too true of many that were accounted of the number, such as the Gnosticks were, and the lewd Followers of Basilides, and [Page 30] Valentinus, of whom it is enough to make a Mans Ears tingle, and his Hair stand an end, to read those lewd Stories which Ephiphanius and Ireneus have reported; and it is certain, that the Roman Laws were not more severe against any thing, than against the practice of un­lawful Lust, insomuch that by the old Laws and Usages of the Empire, all the degrees prohibited in Marriage, which, by the Mosaick and the Roman Law, seem to me Authen. Col. h. 9. tit. 36. l. 154. Mo­saic, & Rom. Leg. 1. Collat. tit de in­ [...]eslis Nupt. p. 90. C. Theod. l. 3. tit. 12. l. 14. to have been exactly the same, were punished with Death; and this was the Sanction of a Novel of Justinian, still extant, and directed to the Inhabitants of Osdroena and Mesopotamia, and of another of Dioeletian and Maxi­minian, in the Fragments of Pythaeus; and it appears by a Law of Arcadius, and Honorius, in the Theodosian Code, whereby the Marriage of Cousin Germans, is dispensed with, that the punishment for the said Marriages, in the time of Theodosius, was no less than ignium & proscriptionis, both the Parties were to be burnt alive, and their Estates to be Confiscate; so that upon supposition that they did really believe such horrid Impieties to have been pra­ctised amongst them, as they were among some that went under the notion of Christians, it is no wonder that the Roman Laws were so severe against them.

Another thing, which though it cannot justifie the Persecution of the Christians, yet it may render it some­what less Barbarous and Unjust, than otherwise it would appear to be, is, That their over-forward, and over-heated Zeal was such, that they were not content according to their Duty, barely to stick to the profession of Christia­nity, without affronting and reviling the Pagan Super­stition and Idolatry, upon all occasions; and though I know not what others may think, yet I am of this Opi­nion till I am better informed, that if I should take a Voyage to Constantinople, to pick a quarrel with the [Page 31] Grand Seignior, and revile Mahomet for an Impostor; or to Rome, to take his Holiness by the Beard, and call him Antichrist, and Scarlet Whore, and if for my pains I should be condemned by the one to the Gallies, or by the o­other to the Inquisition, it would be very idle in this case for me to complain of Persecution, or to comfort my self with suffering for Righteousness sake; for God that hath given us express leave, if we be Persecuted in one City, to flee to another, gives us no warrant to expose our Persons to unnecessary Dangers; and besides, the Religion of a Nation, though it be false, is a Sacred thing, and ought not to be affronted and rudely set at nought, nor to be opposed by any thing, but by Ar­gument and Reason.

To all which it is to be added, That the Roman Empe­rours, though they were indeed, especially some of them, very Cruel and Inhumane towards their Christian Sub­jects, yet all the Cruelties and Indignities which they suffered, are not to be imputed to the Emperours and the Laws, but to the Rage and Fury of Idolatrous Bigots, and of an incensed Rabble: As for Example, It is Death by the Laws of this Nation, for a Popish Priest to be seen upon English ground, and it would be very well if it were so for a Non-conforming one too; but yet, if a man in the Streets being taken or suspected for a Romish Priest, shall without the formality of a Legal Process be torn in pieces by the Rabble, this is not to be imputed to the King and the Laws, when they could not have prevented it, though they would never so fain.

To summ up all that I have to say upon this point; As for the last Persecution under Julian the Apostate, if it may be called a Persecution, for it was but very gentle in comparison of the others; to speak a plain Truth, the Chri­stians of those times, who were very turbulent, [Page 32] though not altogether so bad as our True Protestants are now a days, may thank themselves for putting the Em­perour upon an apparent necessity, if he would sit safe upon the Throne, to oppress them; for the encouragement and countenance given to Christianity by the two last Em­perours, Constantine, and his Son Constantius, had very mischievous Effects upon the World, instead of doing a Service to it, which it is the Design of the Christian Re­ligion to do; but by the Passions and interfering Interests and Designs of men, it so happened, that the Factions between the Orthodox, and the Arians, and Dona­tists grew so high, that they shook the Empire, and threatned to tear the World in pieces; and Ju­lian, who had before espoused the Interest of Christi­anity, and it is probable would not have relinquisht it for no reason, saw no humane means so likely to settle and establish Peace in the Empire, as by discountenancing all the several Factions, and indeavouring to reduce again the Catholick Unity of the Pagan Superstition; and this, if I am not mistaken, is the great mystery of the Romish Religion at this day, it was designed and calculated to compound the business betwixt the Christians and the Pa­gans, to make all quiet, and to bring them both under the Popes Jurisdiction. For it is manifest that in that Religi­on there are many Rites and Practices that are of the growth of Paganism, and notwithstanding the footing which Christianity had gotten in the World, the Pagan Faction was powerful in the Empire, as low as Justinian's Linden. brog. Cod. l. l. Antiq. p. 938. and in the Capitulars of Charlemaine, which are a great deal later, there are Laws against Paganism, and against the eating of things sacrificed to Idols, still to be met with; which Laws would not only have been needless, but ri­diculous also, upon supposition that Paganism had been no where to be found in his Dominions.

But let that be as it will, I am very confident that the account of Julian's Persecution, is wholly to be ascribed to the Cause I have mentioned; and to the shame, not of Christi­anity, but of such as called themselves Christians, be it spo­ken, that as their Divisions shook the Empire in the time of Constantine, Constantius, and Julian, so afterwards they broke it utterly in pieces, they brought in the Goths, and other barbarous Nations into Italy and Spain, the Turks and Saracens into Greece; and we are as much obliged to the True Protestants of old for the Siege first of Constanti­nople, and at this present time of Vienna, as we are to those that are now, for their good Wishes, and pious E­jaculations, that the strongest Bulwark of Christendom may be taken.

And so I have done with the First Point, the matter of Fact, as to the Persecution of the Primitive Christians: I shall not have time to finish all the particulars which I proposed to my self to discourse upon, and therefore I shall only beg upon this solemn occasion, that you would give me so much of your Patience, that I may finish this point of Non-resistance, that so you may see the more plainly, what your Duty is, and by the practice of it ex­press your thankfulness to God for your Deliverance.

The Second thing to be considered is, how the Christi­ans behaved themselves under the Persecutions which they suffered. And to this I shall only answer in short, That they submitted to the greatest severities that could be used against them, that they submitted to them all with an un­shaken Constancy, and a miraculous Patience; that they were so far from resisting the Emperours, that they prayed for them, for the Health and Wellfare of their Persons, for the success of their Affairs, for peace within their Walls, and plenteousness within their Palaces, and for the victo­rious Issue of all their Warlike Enterprizes, and Atchieve­ments; [Page 34] they drew their Swords for their Defence and Honour, and served in their Armies, and were so nume­rous in them, that they had the Empire in a manner at their disposal, and yet never offered to lift up an hand a­gainst them, after all the Provocations, Cruelties, and Indignities that had been put upon them; but because the late Writer of Julian the Apostate makes it a different Case in Julian's time, from what it was before, and that the Christians might then have lawfully stood up in the defence of themselves, though they could not do it be­fore; and because he indeavours to bring the parallel home to our own Doors, therefore you shall give me leave, as becomes a good Subject, and a Faithful Mem­ber of the Church of England, and as the Solemnity of this occasion requires, to lay the impudence and unskil­fulness of that profligate Wretch, and mercenary Scribler, very briefly, and yet very plainly before you.

The difference of the Case which he makes to have been betwixt the Christians in Julian's time, and those that lived before him, is this, That in Julian's time, his two immediate Predecessors, Constantine and Constanti­us, had established Christianity in the Empire, and con­sequently the Laws of the Empire were on the Christians side, so that they could not be persecuted but against Law, and by consequence might lawfully defend them­selves.

This is the stress of his Argument fairly represented; and in my Answer to it, I shall consider:

First, Whether the thing it self, which he lays down, and takes for granted, is true, that the Laws of the Empire in Julian's time were on the Christians side.

And, Secondly, I shall, as he does, bring the matter home, and consider the Case of altering the Succession, and of Obedience to a Popish Successor, if any such, for [Page 35] for the sins of this Nation, should by Gods just Judg­ment be allowed to reign over us.

And first, I do absolutely and positively deny that the Laws of the Empire were or could be on the Christi­ans side, when Julian himself was against them; the rea­son is, because the Roman Government was absolute, and consequently the Will of the present Emperour was the only Law they had: Therefore the Roman Emperours were sometimes called in Greek, [...], and at other times, [...], both of which terms do signifie an absolute Lord; and there is an Appendix to the Code and Pandects of Justinian, which is for that reason en­tituled the Authentiques, that is to say, the Laws or Edicts of an Arbitrary and Uncontroulable Prince.

The Body of the Civil-Law, which was published by Justinian, consists wholly either of the Opinions of such as were accounted the best Roman Lawyers, which had their Force and Obligation from the Imperial Sanction, or of the Rescripts or Letters of the Roman Emperours to the Governours of Provinces and of Cities, and to the Pretors or Judges of the Law, and a decision of any Case under the Emperours hand, was every whit as good and indispu­table Law, as an Act of Parliament is amongst us; nay, the Senate were so far from having any share in the Go­vernment with him, that they are exposed by the Roman C. Th. lib 6. tit. [...]. l, 14. & ib tit. 4. l. 11. &c. v. etia [...] no­vel. Theod. tit. 1. & 2. &c. Theo­dos. l. 1. tit. 4. l. de responsis pru [...]entum, & l. 2. tit, 1. l 12. & l. 4. tit. 11. l 2. Satyristfor their Servility and Slavery to the Caesars; and I remember particularly in the Theodosian Code, there are several Laws directed to the Senate, and the time when they were read publickly amongst them, in order to their being obeyed, was entered down in the Registers or Me­moires of the House, which were as exact as the Jour­nals of our Parliaments are now a-days. And one of the first things in the Volume of Justinian, is to assert and vindicate the Imperial Authority, both in the making [Page 36] of Laws, and in the interpretation of them if any doubt v. Praesat. Cod. de no­ [...]o lodice [...]aciendo. should arise, which he decrees by virtue of his Arbitrary and Supream Authority to be wholly locked up in the Breast of the Emperour.

Lastly, It is plain that there were three several Re­viewals of the Roman Law, by the command of the Em­perours, v. Jac. Gor­throfred prolegom in C. Th. and the Volumes that were published received their Authority wholly and intirely from the Imperial Sanction or Decree; the first of these Reviewals was in the time of Adrian the Successor of Trajan, the second in that of Theodosius the younger, and the third in that of Justinian.

And now let any man judge what truth there is in the bold Affirmation of this unskilful Dabler in the Civil Law, that the Laws of the Empire were on the Christi­ans side, at the same time when the Emperour himself was against them, and when the Will of the Emperour was the only Law of the Empire; it would be easie to prove, and it hath been done to excellent purpose already, not only that he is no more a good Civilian, than he is a good Subject, or an honest Man, but that he hath studi­ed Magna Charta, and Bracton, and Fleta, and Cooke upon v. Dr. Hicks in his Jovian. Littleton, and the Judges Reports, and Ruled Cases, to as little purpose as he hath done his Bible.

If Julian were a Persecutor of Christianty, so were his Officers, and the Governours of the Provinces likewise, which they could neither do nor justifie without Autho­rity from him, which Authority was conveyed without Question in the usual manner by the Imperial Rescripts, or Letters, and if there are none of them extant at this day, this is no Argument that there never were any such Laws, but only that afterwards they were repealed, and therefore in those Collections of the Civil Law, which were published afterwards by Theodosius and Justinian, [Page 37] they were omitted as useless, or rather they could not be inserted without remaining still to the prejudice of Christianity in their former Force and Obligation.

And after all, the behaviour of the Christians towards Julian, though it were, [...]s it seems, more mutinous and disorderly than in former times, yet nothing appears that ever they did actually Conspire against him, much less that they spoke the Epilogue to Julian the Apostate, as our True Protestants were about to do; for whether the Author designed it or no, the Book was exactly fitted to prepare the minds of the People for the Rebellion that was to follow, and they that set him on work, did cer­tainly intend it for that purpo [...]e.

And what is it, I beseech you, that he produces to ju­stifie the matter of Fact, that the Christians were less O­bedient to Julian than to former Emperours; why he pro­duces several Witnesses for it, and very fine Witnesses in­deed they are; there was a passionate Old Gentleman Gregory Nazianzen's Father, there were three or four an­gry Women that sat talking together at their Needle­wo [...]k in a Window, there were the Antiochians, who were got into the way of Pafquils and Lampoons, and were very much degenerated from their Predecessors, a­mong whom the Scripture tells us the Believers were first called Christians; and there was Gregory Nazianzen him­self, who brings up the rear with a bun [...]le of Greek De­cla [...]ations made alter J [...]l [...] was ou [...] o [...] hearing, where­in he had a mind at once to sh [...]w the gre [...]ness of his Wit, and the smallness of his Dis [...]tion together, and all that th [...]se People did, was only that they murmured and r [...] ­pln [...]d, and gave the Emperour [...] Language and Ill Wishes, but they went no further, only the Old [...]an was on [...] a­bout, as it should seem, to kick his Royal Master, which of an Old Man was couraglously meant, and some [Page 38] body had so little wit to tell Posterity the Story, by which he did at once expose the Bishop, and magnifie the Vertue and the Patience of the Emperour, who could put up such Indignities in the midest of his Idolatry with a Christian temper, and without that just revenge which they deserved.

But does it appear that ever the Christians of that Age resisted him, or took up Arms against him, or that the generality of them, when we have set aside, a few passionate and Seditious Fellows, did talk so lewdly and so scandalously concerning him? No; but on the contra­ry it appears, that in his last Expedition the generality of his Army were Christians; and it cannot be supposed otherwise, if the Christians were so numerous in Tertul­lians time, but that after the Encouragement given to Christianity by two several Emperours succeeding one another, they were still more powerful and formidable than before, and yet we know of no Sword that was ever drawn in the Quarrel, or so much as intended to be drawn.

And so much concerning the nature of the Roman Go­vernment, and the behaviour of the Christians under it in the time of Julian; let us now briefly apply this to the Bill of Exclusion, and the Point of a Popish Suc­cessour to the Imperial Crown of these Kingdoms.

As for the Bill of Exclusion I shall not reflect upon the Persons that were chiesly concerned in it; this De­sperate Conspiracy hath I hope opened the Eyes of some of those Gentlemen that were Zealous for it; and there are others partly at the call of Nature, and partly by the stroke of Justice, that are gone to their own place; and I shall not insult over any mans Calamity, or go a­bout to disturb the Ashes of the Dead, but let all the Kings Enemies be as they are, unless they will Repent, [Page 39] and become Friends to themselves as well as to their Prince, and upon that condition, let them all be forgiven and forgotten.

But as for the Bill which they preferred in Parliament, though I do not meddle with the Statute of Queen Eliza­beth so much talked of about the Succession, I do con­ceive that it was naturally unlawful for the King to pass it, and that for these two Reasons,

First, because a Successive Monarchy is without all question the best Form of Government upon the Face of the Earth, it being easie to shew, if the time would al­low it, and if it would not be too long a digression, that this sort of Polity is the least exposed to Factions, and by consequence is the best fitted to procure the Peace and Happiness of the World; and the King who is accounta­ble to God for the good of his People, hath no natural right to alter, or to consent to the alteration of the Esta­blishment from a better Form of Government to a worse, and yet this in all probability would have been the Con­sequence if that Bill had passed.

For if an Heir may be Excluded upon one Pretence, he may also upon another, and they that are Enemies to Monarchy will never want Pretences till all the Line be Excluded, and the Monarchy it self utterly sub­verted.

But then, Secondly, supposing a successive Monarchy to be but of equal advantage to the World with any other Form of Government whatsoever, or let us suppose it to be a little worss, which is as much as our Ad­versaries in reason can desire; yet the present Establish­ment, meerly for that reason, because it is the present, is the best, because of the Dangers and Animosities, the Strife and War, and Bloodshed to which all Altera [...]ions in Government are exposed; and therefore it was excel­lently [Page 40] well advised of Solomon in the 24th at the Pro­verbs at the 21st Verse; My Son fear thou the Lord and the King, and meddle not with them that are givan to change: For which he gives this admirable Reason in the very next Verse, For their Calamity shall rise suddenly, and who knoweth the Ruine of them both. And this ought in all Ages hereafter to be remembered to the Kings Honour, that the Dangerous and threatning importunity of a restless Faction was never able to move the Scale of Justice out of its Royal Ballance, or prevail with him to consent to any thing, though in never so great Straits and Exigences of his Affairs, which was like to be of so Dangerous Consequence to the Good of the People, as well as to the Rights of the Crown and the Royal Prero­gatives which himself and the Kings and Queens of Eng­land his Ancestors have enjoyed.

May he still continue to defend himself and us against the wicked Encroachments and Designs of Men much more Arbitrary than the Government they complain of, and as often as they Conspire against his Interest, his Ho­nour, or his Life, so often let them be detected and exemplarily punish'd, and let the King [...] rejoyce in thy strength, O Lord, exceeding glad let him be of thy Salvation.

For the business of Obedience to a Popish Sucessour, if God in his anger should send us such an one, I shall now immediately have occasion to consider it under the third and last head, in which I will be very brief, and in which I have promised to shew the Reasons upon which the passive behaviour of the Primitive Christians was founded, which I have in part considered already, and shew'd you that the Reason why Obedience, even to a Persecuting Prince, is of necessity required at our hands, is, Because it is better for the Peace of the World, and for the Happiness of Humane Life, that the Prince should [Page 41] be Arbitrary, than that the Subjects should be Judges in their own Cause, which they are of necessity supposed to be in all the cases of Resistance that can be supposed.

I shall now only strengthen what I have said alrea­dy, by some other Arguments which are more proper­ly of Theological consideration.

And first, There was the Command of our Saviour, who Commanded his Disciples in those times of Per­secution by no means to resist their Enemies and Op­posers in his Sermon on the Mount.

And secondly, This Doctrine of Obedience was over and over inculcated by the Apostles; St. Paul is strange­ly express to this purpose in the 13th to the Romans, Let every Soul be subject to the Higher Powers, for there is no Power but of God; the Powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the Power, resisteth the Ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive to themselves Damnation; for Rulers are not a Terrour to Good works, but to the Evil; wilt thou then not be afraid of the Power, do that which is good and thou shalt have praise of the same, for he is the Minister of God to thee for good: But if thou do that which is evil be afraid, for he beareth not the Sword in vain, for he is the Minister of God, a revenger to execute Wrath upon him that doeth Evil. Wherefore you must needs be subject, not only for Wrath, but also for Conscience sake. Not only for Wrath, that is, not on­ly out of a Principle of fear, but also for Conscience sake; that is, out of a Principle of Duty; which Duty I have shewn to be founded in the Peace and Quiet of the World, and in the Interest and Happiness of Humane Life; and therefore when he tells us that he is the Minister of God to us for Good, we must allow him in the Exercise of his Government, to judge for himself what that Good and Evil is, otherwise he will unavoidably bear the Sword in [Page 42] vain, and we shall never be punisht but when we please our selves. So also St. Peter argues in the words that have been already produced, submit your selves to every Ordi­nance of Man for the Lords sake, whether it be to the King as Supream, or unto Governours as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishmen [...] of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well; but now if we be allowed in all Cases to determine for our selves when we do well or ill, so as they shall have no power to punish or reward, but with our own consent, then it is we that are the Kings and the Governours, and not they.

Thirdly, The Doctrine of Non resistance is still further inferred and prest upon us, by considering the Example of our Saviour and those Miraculous Powers for the Disci­pline of the Church, which were given to the Apostles and first Preachers of the Gospel.

As for our Saviour, though he could at any time have destroyed his Enemies by a word of his Mouth, or a mo­tion of his Finger, or by the least act or intention of his Will, and though he could have called down so many Legions of destroying Angels to his assistance, yet he chose rather to be an Example of Meekness and Humility, of Patience and Obedience to the Powers he lived under, than of Resistance against them.

And for the Apostles and their Successors, it is well known that St. Peter, with the Sentence of Excommuni­cation denounced against them, struck Ananias and Sap­phira dead; and St. Paul, threatned with the like or some such usage Hymeneus and Alexander, and the incestuous Corinthian, and others; and it is commonly supposed by Learned Men, that this Power remained in the Church, of inflicting Death and Diseases after a Miraculous way, till the Empire took Christianity into its Protection, and then the Secular Sword was sufficient to back the Eccle­siastical [Page 43] Censures; but now they never had a Power of inflict­ing the like Plagues or Calamities upon any that were not of their own Body, which was as much as to say, that God expected that they should practise the Doctrine of passive Obedience, or Non-resistance, with respect to their Su­periours, though they had a Power of Discipline among themselves.

Fourthly and la [...], God himself did ordain and con­stitute an Arbitrary [...]overnment, when he appointed first Judges, and then Kings of Israel, that were invested with it; as appears from this, that there is no where any men­tion made of any Senate, or any number of Men that had a Power of limiting and controuling them, from the strange Enormities of the Sons of Eli, from whence not­withstanding no Rebellion; followed, from David's kil­ling the Amalekite without any Legal Process, as Solomon was about to serve the Child that he was going to divide, and from the Deaths of Joab and Shimei, who were both of them put to death with no other Process or Formality than the Kings Command; and lastly, from the Answer of Rehoboham to the Children of Israel before the Divisi­on of the two Kingdoms.

The Fathers of Families, who were the first Kings, had an unaccountable Power of Life and Death over their Chil­dren and Slaves, all over the East, and also by the Old Roman Law; and I do not speak this as if I had any fancy to be a Slave, but this was mostly the Government in the East, and so it continues to be to this Day; and God by appointing it in some Cases, hath shewn undeniably that it is more sutable to the Will of God, and to the Happiness of Men, that a Government should be Arbitrary, than that every Man should do that which is right in his own Eyes; as it was with the Israelites after the Death of Samson, when the Scripture tells us there was no King in Israel, for [Page 44] a King and a Judge were in Authority the same, only the one was Hereditary, and the other was not.

And now to apply all this to a Popish, Successor, or on [...] that is reputed a Papist, which the disturbers of o [...]r Peace pretend so much to fear; it is true, that the Laws of the Land are against Popery, but yet it is every whit as true, that the Laws of Nature, and the Practice of Christianity in all Ages, are against a Rebellion; and the Laws of the Land cannot warrant us to do that which the Laws of Na­ture forbid; it is true likewise, that we live in a temper­ed Monarchy, and that the People, though they have not the executive Power, nor any share in the Administrati­on, yet they have a right of consenting to those Laws by which they ought in Justice to be governed; but if the King will exceed his-bounds, a Civil War is as dangerous and destructive in one sort of Government as another, and consequently Resistance is in all Governments equally un­lawful.

I shall conclude with bogging your Pardon for the length of this Discourse, and with desiring you, since I have not time, to reflect within your selves upon the detestable blackness of the Crime of which the Kings Enemies and yours are Guilty, upon the Horrid Consequences that would have attended the success of it, and to adore that Providence that hath Delivered you from it, and pay your thanks to God by Obedience to the King, Obedience in your Thoughts, Obedience in your Actions, Obedience in your Principles, and always to be mindful of the ad­vice of Solomon, Curse not the King, no not in thy thought, for a Bird of the Air shall carry the Voice, and that which hath Wings shall tell the Matter.


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