صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

spirit of reformation in the hearts of many thousands throughout the Kingdom, and more particularly near unto the place of their sitting, breathing out prayers and supplications to God for them day and night, with giving of thanks, that the reformation may prosper in their hands and be perfected by their hands:-And finally, most frequent intercourses between God and them, by his sending to them, (and even directing them to call to themselves,) his servants in great variety and frequency to pray with them daily, to fast and pray with them monthly, besides extraordinary days of humiliation, and to pray and give thanks with them upon ex traordinary days of thanksgiving, and these extraordinary days both of the one and the other sort being not a few, put them all together; and upon all these public and solemn occasions, to speak to them, in the name of God, words of direction and encouragement; and all this as a joint body together, with the advantage of having every affecting sermon perpetuated to them, by printing such as they see cause, or approve; while in the mean time the several members have the opportunity of constant hearing from God every Sabbath, and many of them every morning :-And, with all this, to have a selected number of men, chosen by themselves to attend years together, merely upon giving them advice about this reformation:-May I not now say in the close of all, what could have been done more for such a company of men, to make them willing and able to do God's whole work for his Church and people, for a full and perfect reformation? And is not this your story, honour able and worthy? Is it not the manifest story of God's providence toward the Parliament of England? And what doth he now expect from you, or what may we expect further from Him? Surely from Him, for my part, I can expect no less but that his intents are (though yet through some further difficulties, perhaps,) to carry your spirits, and the spirits of the whole Parliament strongly and powerfully on, to finish this so blessed a work. He hath pardon, and grace, and wisdom, and strength enough to answer and overcome all that can be said or thought to the contrary; in this persuasion I have divers years lived, and I hope in it I shall die, if I must die before the work be perfected."

The activity of these ministers, and the delight which they felt in adverting to their pragmatical behaviour, will be apparent to every one, in the three extracts subjoined:

Thomas VALENTINE preached before the Commons, September 29, 1646, from Rev. iii, 18, I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the

These men needed pardon from Heaven: But this method of applying the holy doctrines of Christianity, as sacred unction, to the consciences of men then openly engaged in rebellion against their Sovereign, was one great cause why evangelical piety, or true experimental religion, came afterwards into much disrepute, and was greatly neglected. This sad consequence, the reader will perceive, is adverted to and lamented in pages 296 and 804, as well as in other passages.

fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, &c. In his "use" of the doctrine, he says: "Give me leave to make a further application to you that are the Great Council of the kingdom; and let me tell you, that the people of this land look for this pure gold and white raiment; and, to purchase them they have offered fair-their plate, their money, their horses, their servants, and their sons! They begin to fear they shall not have these commodities which they have bidden well for, because, in all this time, they had little else than ends of gold and silver. We will persuade them to wait longer, and to help you by their prayers, that you may become the happy instruments of the kingdom's good, in making the gold and raiment in the text as plentiful, as the material gold was in Solomon's time.”

Thomas CASE, in the sermon quoted page lxviii, describes the following, as some of the advantages which the Long Parliament possessed to execute the designs which he has there proposed: A ministry neither ignorant, nor unfaithful, nor driving their own interests to serve you, to bring in the hearts of the people to you, which (till some taught otherwise) they did with such success, that your interest in the affections of the subjects was such, that you commanded their purses and their persons, their livelihoods and their lives, with as much freedom as ye did the wives of your bosoms or your hired servants. Oh that it were with you as in the days of old!"

In his Sermon before the Commons, August 26, 1646, Jeremiah BURROUGHES makes the following pertinent remarks concerning the early labours of himself and his Puritan brethren: "It is righteous, that those that are delinquents should be punished. What was the great title of our war, but the raising of the Posse Regni for the taking of delinquents, and bringing them to condign punishment? We made very much use of this argument continually, for the satisfying men in the justice of the war. If a judge in the country shall have the command of the Posse Comitatus to fetch in delinquents that are rebellious, then the Parliament hath the power of the Posse Regni. Now then, if God hath given them into your hands, there will not appear that righteousness as heretofore was thought to be, if they escape without condign punishment."

2-The spirit of Railing with which the Puritans were infected, and the lurking Attachment of the People to Episcopacy.

ONE of their own body, the Rev. William JENKYN, “Minister of God's Word at Christ Church, London," has also well described that race of Puritans who overturned Church and State, in a sermon which he preached in the Abbey-church at Westminster, before the House of Peers, on the 27th of January, 1646. The Bishops had then been expelled from the Upper House, and in allusion to this event, the preacher informs their Lordships in his


Epistle Dedicatory: "The Lords spiritual (so called) grew too temporal; but the Lords temporal cannot be too spiritual. Temporal pragmaticalness ruined them; spiritual practices must uphold you. The power of Godliness is the only means to save your souls, and the best to silence your foes."-In the discourse itself he thus complains of "the insensibleness" of the Long Parliament: sensible we are of noises and stirring. How loud hath been the voice of the word in our ears, but how deaf have we been! Rare is the operation of the word in our congregation; the bellows are burnt, the lead is consumed, and yet the founder melteth in vain. (Jer. vi, 29.) Ministers are spent both in strength and numbers, and yet our lusts in neither: And, for the Parliament, it is a common observation, that it is sermon-proof! You command us to preach before you : Oh that God would command you to practise before us! You enjoin us to print: But it will be an unanswerable dilemma another day-ither the sermons you caused to be printed were good or bad: If bad, why were they so much as printed. If good, why not more than printed and practised also?" He then describes himself and brethren, in the following language: "Painful zealous ministers, that will tell us of our sins, are now looked upon as busy men, as those that meddle with the State: They are bid to keep to their texts as if that preach


Some of the Puritans attended strictly to this advice: Thus, in his sermon, before the House of Commons, January 27th, 1647, from Rev. xii, 1, 2:"A woman clothed with the sun, &c. and she, being with child, cried, travailing in "birth, and pained to be delivered;"-Dr. John Arrowsmith kept well to his text, as the reader will perceive when he has perused that discourse.

Stephen Marshall, before the House of Lords, October 28, 1646, also kept well to his text, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies,' &c. (Psalm viii, 2.)" I principally speak to your Lordships," said Stephen, "to take care that this magazine of the mouth, the powers that come out of the mouth of babes and sucklings may be preserved and recruited, and not any-ways disbanded. It is now a great dispute, among you that are wise statesmen, what we should do with our armies? Whether there being no visible enemy in the field, it would not be fittest to disband our present armies? A dispute I have nothing to do with: But this I have to do with, and make bold to tell you, whatsoever you do with other armies, you must not disband the Forces of the Babes and Sucklings, out of whose mouth comes your strongest help. You are far from having your work done as yet: Ireland is in a sad condition, England is woefully unsettled: Terrible divisions are found every where. Look to it, that you have a force about you. What other Forces are needful, I leave to your wisdoms; but, sure I am, these Babes and Sucklings are the Friarii, the Veterani, the old soldiers, the life-guard of England. Dis band them once, and you are lost.Give all the assistance possible, that these soldiers may be encouraged and multiplied in all parts of the land: I mean, the gospel may spread, the preaching of the gospel, that saints might be won, and that the church might be enlarged, be settled in peace, that there might be freedom to seek God, and to serve him according to his will; and know you for certain, that every soul which shall be won to Christ, be it the soul of a woman, or of an old man that stoops for age, or of a child,-yet every soul won to Christ, and so numbered among these Babes and Sucklings, will be as stout a soldier as ever you did employ, and will, in your extremity, do more than all the expe rienced Captains that tread on English ground," &c.


ing which is a coming close up to your lusts, were a going away from our texts. In the Bishops' times we were suffered to preach any thing, so we came not near their sins: And this prelacy is still kept up among us. Hence it is that faithful ministers are denied their maintenance, are abused by the nick-names of Antichristian, are voiced enemies to the Parliament, (are you and your lusts so near, that we cannot be enemies to one, but we must be enemies also to the other?) that they have changed their princi'ples, that they are turned Malignants: Whereas it is not the shore that moveth, but the boatman. The ministers are still the same men, and walk by the same rule, still are for you, the Covenant, and a pure Reformation. The Lord will one day judge who they are that continue faithful and firm both to Him and you, and who are unfaithful to Him, to us, and to your



In one of the most judicious sermons* preached before the House of Peers, on May the 26th, 1647, by the Rev. William HUSSEY,

I call this "one of the most judicious sermons preached before the house of Peers." Two or three extracts will corroborate my favourable judgment of it Their Lordships were then dwindling fast in public estimation; and the King, though a prisoner, was in treaty with his rebellious subjects. Instead of insulting fallen Majesty, and exciting the rage of the populace against the King, as was the practice of many of his co-pastors, Hussey made the following remarks: "I cannot but confess, these times have involved your Lordships in very great diffi. culties: But the greatest difficulty is, to amend yourselves. If you could but give testimony to the world, that you see yourselves, (partly by the fault of your ancestors, and partly by your own,) disabled from doing your country that ser vice which the duties of your places do require, and that you earnestly desire a reformation of yourselves; if you could but undertake the principal duty of your places, to be reconcilers of the King and people, and propose such terms of agreement as may be fit for Prince and people to receive, God would certainly assist you. You ought to deal plainly with King and people. Where you find the fault, lay the blame. Press the King to his duty, and the people to theirs. Let your propositions be legal, reasonable, and wholesome for the State. God and good men will not leave such endeavours without comfort and success. You ought not to join with the King against the Commons, nor with the Commons against the King; but carry the balance of justice so justly and friendly between them, that they may join in friendship one with another. You are trusted with the honour of the Crown, the justice of the people, the setting up the honour of Christ's kingdom: Ye must not suffer any of these to sink."

Speaking in favour of a better maintenance for himself and his Puritan brethren, Hussey says: "There was great pretence of honour done to the Clergy, in the Court of England. Were the Bishops so much honoured at Court, that Christ might be honoured in them, that religion might be advanced by them? No such matter, but that they might be popular orators to draw over the people to put on the yoke of slavery, and that hath drawn so much envy of the people on them. The principle, notwithstanding, that was pretended, was a good prin❤ ciple that he who laboured in the word and doctrine, is worthy of double honour. (1. Tim. v. 17.) But the honour must be joined to the work, that the work may be done. Certainly it is the duty of Christian Kings and Princes, to use all means that come to their hands to encourage the choice of men for parts and education to become ministers, to make such public provision for ministers that men may by that obtain more honour, more maintenance by it, than by any other

Minister at Chiselhurst, in Kent, the following observations are made, by a professed adversary, in behalf of the Bishops who had


public profession. So that Kings and States cannot receive the Gospel, unless they honour the messengers of Christ, according to the command of Christ; not as beggars and private men give honour with cap and knee, but with honourable maintenance; and command that honour be given them from private subjects." He then successfully combats the common arguments for an ignorant ministry, and observes in conclusion: "This is the common cry of the multitude, Ye may see what good learning did in the Bishops' time : We must never look for better from it! Therefore down with it! Yet this I say, that if the value of but one Bishopric were bestowed on seven honest and able Divines that might maintain a School of Divinity, and [were] the scriptures interpreted by them according to the best improvement of human skill, such satisfaction would be given, that the mouths of those who fill the world with new fancies would be stopped, the hard places of scripture made plain, unity and piety much advanced : Which no one man's skill will ever be able to bring to pass, that would make more for the safety of the kingdom than all the forces and power of the sword."

With such sentiments as these about the superiority of the Puritans over the Bishops, it is not wonderful that Hussey should plead in the following manner> for a better maintenance : "Were any ministers received into this state as Commissioners to preach the Gospel ought? Have any sort of ministers been received as Ambassadors from a King to his own subjects? Were not those Bishops that were honoured by this State, first sized to the Prince's humour and good experience had of their servile condition, then sent out to stop the mouths of all that were not fitted to the same last, not with the commission of Christ to preach what He commanded, but with a new commission to preach what the Prince and his Commissioners should allow? And was all this done with intelligence, according to principles of christian religion? Or have not all these strivings to keep the ministers of the Gospel under, come from a more corrupt fountain, that they might not be bold to preach against their corruptions, or lay the yoke of Christ too heavily on the necks of kings, princes, and people!-Were not Bishops nursed up to keep the ministers of the Gospel from speaking boldly in the name of Christ? Was not this their style? No Bishop, No King! I never heard No Bishop, No Christ! But had they relied on Christ, and heard Christ freely speaking to them out of the Gospel, He would have kept them safer than the Bishops did. And I dare boldly say, No honour and freedom given to the ministers of the Gospel, No Christ received in that Commonwealth! Men dare not say,Christ is proud: A course must be taken to bring Christ a little lower!' But, Ministers are proud; they must be taken down; they must come under the gentry. If that be the end of taking down the Bishops, to make the Clergy below the Gentry, I would fain know, by what principle must wealth needs be of more esteem than religion? But let these men speak plain, and tell us they will bring Christ below the Gentry. Indeed, I have heard a gentleman that had some influence on the placing of a minister in a country church, should say, he scorned any minister should be so saucy as to tell him his faults:' And surely. the carriage of the Gentry has been such, as if they were above the commands of Christ."

The fact is, the character here drawn of the Bishops is much more applicable to the Puritans themselves: For no man was permitted to become a Court Preacher before the Long Parliament, unless he had first proved himself "to be sized to their humour, and good experience had of his servile condition." He was then qualified to be sent, as all the Assembly of Divines were commissioned by Parliament, August 10, 1643, "to go into the country to stir up the people to rise for their defence," or, as Hussey quaintly expresses it, "to stop the mouths of all that were not fitted to the same last." Where are the records of the Bishops, or of the Episcopal Clergy, engaging in a warlike crusade, and exciting

« السابقةمتابعة »