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of good fellowship, as they call it, is still foaming out against God's chiefest favourites the foulest censures : that they are hypocrites, humorists, factionists, traitors, pestilent fellows, and all that is nought.-There is no creature that ever God made, not Satan himself excepted, which is more maliciously set against and censured than good men. Neither should any have so bad a name as they, could the hellish mists of virulent tongues obscure and stain the glory of their reputation.”
And p. 43. “At this day, professors of the gracious way be in greatest disgrace with the most; and a drunkard, and swaggering good fellow, an usurer, a son or daughter of Belial, shall find more favour, applause, and approbation with the world, than a man which makes conscience of his ways, &c.”
Page 350. “They cry, these forward professors will all turn fantastical, familists, anabaptists, arians, any thing; which cry awakes the eye of state jealousy, and so, by an unworthy consequent, draws upon those who are true of heart, even God's best servants, and the king's best subjects, discountenance; suspicions, if not molestations, unnecessarily, causelessly.”
And p. 351, 352, out of Austin's Epistles, p. 137, he shows, that it was so in his time. “They every way, and infinitely labour, that when some professors of holiness have foully fallen indeed, or be only so slandered, the world would believe that they are all such; do you not think in his time the world did thus exult and exclaim, or in the like manner, upon Lot's fall ? Here now you see puritan Lot, who could not endure the good fellowship of the Sodomites, he is now himself seized on by incest : they are all such, I warrant you :'” citing Du Barta's translation by Silvester, p. 412.
Base, busy stranger! com'st thou hither thus
No puritan, thou shalt not here do so, &c. Thus you hear, from a conformable divine, how men calling themselves Christians, and being (some of them) formally religious, do prove themselves self-deceiving hypocrites, by their unbridled tongues, in reviling at those as Puritans, and too precise, that will not be self-deceiving formalists as well as they. I shall only add some of Bishop Hall's characters of an hypocrite, that you may see what formality is in the judgment of knowing men.
Page 169. "Walking early up into the city, he turns into the great church, and salutes one of the pillars on one knee; worshipping that God which at home he cares not for, while his
eye is fixed on some window, or some passenger, and his heart knows not whither his lips go. He rises, and looking about with admiration, complains on our frozen charity, commends the ancient-with the superfluity of his usury, he builds an hospital, and harbours them whom his extortion hath spoiled: so while he makes many beggars, he keeps some.
He turneth all gnats into camels, and cares not to undo the world for a circumstance. Flesh on a Friday is more abomination to him than his neighbour's bed. He abhors more not to uncover at the name of Jesus, than to swear by the name of God," &c. So Bishop Hall.
But perhaps you will say, these persons whom you describe, that will make a mock of godliness itself, are not to be numbered with hypocritės, but with the openly profane.
To which I answer, 1. Even these profess themselves to be Christians, and therefore are hypocrites when they are not what they do profess. 2. They persuade themselves that they are as truly godly as those that they reproach, and do not think that it is godliness, indeed, for which they do reproach them, but for engrossing the name or reputation of godliness to themselves, and for some differing manner or way of worship. For this is one of the most notable cheats by which the devil undoes the empty, formal hypocrite; finding that this man doth own Christianity in his opinion, but is void of the true spirit, and power, and life of Christian religion; he raiseth some controversies between the serious Christian and the hypocrite, about some controvertible points of doctrine, or about some modes or circumstances of discipline and external worship, and when they fall into two sides, the hypocrite thinks that it is but in these controversies' that the difference lies. The question, thinks he, is not whether men should be regenerate, godly, and religious, but whether my way of religion or the puritan's and precisian's be better! And presently he hence concludes, that indeed it is he that is the more truly religious. For, saith he, my judgment is sound, and the Puritan's is erroneous; I am of the judgment of the church, which he is against; the reverend prelates or doctors are more of my side than on his; I am for order, and he is for coufusion and irreverence, and followeth the humours and fancies of his own brain. And thus the devil turneth his eye from the main difference, and makes him believe that it is these controversies that are all that sets them at a distance. But alas ! man, thou overlookest the point that thy life and soul lieth on. Agree first in the serious hearty entertainment and practice of the substance of that holy truth which you are both in point of opinion agreed in, and do not condemn thyself in the things which thou allowest ; contradict not thy creed and profession by thy fleshly, worldly, negligent, careless, and ungodly life, but love God with all thy heart and might, and first seek his kingdom and his righteousness, which thou confessest thou shouldest do, and then the principal difference is healed, and thou hast escaped the principal danger of thy soul, and then it is not a few circumstantial differences that will divide your hearts, or divide you from each other in the life to come. Men that differ about bishops, and ceremonies, and forms of prayer, may be all true Christians, and dear to one another, and to Christ, if they be practically agreed in the life of godliness, and join in a holy, heavenly conversation. But if you agree in all your opinions and formalities, and yet were never sanctified by the truth, you do but agree to delude your souls, and neither of you will be saved for all your agreement.
III. The third sort to be spoken to, is those that let out their passion in hard speeches against superiors or others, that they think do wrong or persecute them on a religious account. At this time I will suppose the injury be real, and the complaint be just, it yet beseems not Christians to revile.
1. Consider how contrary this is to the example of Lord; and that he left us his example in this particular, with a special recommendation for our imitation. When he was falsely accused, and the High Priest urged him to answer for himself, (Matt. xxvi. 62, 63,) he was silent, to show that he could bear a false accusation, without so much as vindicating his innocency by a just defence. O learn both the lesson and motives recommended to you, 1 Pet. ii. 18, to the end. “Servants be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it if, when ye are buffetted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called, because
Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again ; when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” Here is the description of your duty, and your example. Are you used worse than Christ was used ? (Isa. liii. 7, 8.) He was oppressed, and he was afficted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. And if you will come to him, and be his disciples, you must learn of him to be meek and lowly in heart, that you may find rest unto your souls. (Matt. xi. 28, 19.)
2. Consider, as our kingdom is not of this world, so we are not to strive for worldly pre-eminence, nor with carnal weapons, but must know that our greatness here is in being the least, and our dignity in being the servants of all; and our gain is by our loss, and our honour by evil reports, and by disgrace, and our advancement by our debasement, and our preferment by being kept from worldly honour, and our joy by sorrow, and our exaltation by humiliation. And therefore it is contrary to our state of faith to murmur at them that deprive us of the pleasures of sense, or the ease and privileges of the flesh. Mark the description of Christianity in the gospel, and see how much of it consisteth in contempt of the esteem and honours of the world, and of all the accommodations and pleasures of the flesh, because of the expectation of the unseen eternal pleasures; and in the forsaking all, and taking up our cross, and following a crucified Christ; and in patience, and meekness, and forbearing and forgiving; and rather than seek either verbal or actual revenge, to give the cloak also to him that takes away our coat, and turn the other cheek to him that
Unmortified passion, and untamed nature, will not give some men leave to understand these passages of Christ, but they search for some such figure so to expound them by as shall annihilate the plain and proper sense.
Self-love so blindeth men, that when they read these gospel precepts, they feel not their consciences touched and bound by them, but they read them as if they read them not, and retain no more than if it were nonsense which they read. Had the commands aforesaid (of patience, forbearing, and forgiving,) but as much force and efficacy upon the souls of most professors as the com
mandments have that are against swearing, and cursing, and drunkenness, and fornication ; we should have much better maintained our innocency and our peace, and have more honoured our profession by showing the world Christianity exemplified in its proper, genuine nature and effects.
3. Consider, it is not oppression, persecution, or hard usage that will exempt us from the obligation of the fifth commandment, which requireth us to honour our superiors, our natural, and civil, and ecclesiastical fathers. It is the evil and froward, and not only the good and the gentle, that we must honour and obey. And the reason is plain from their original end. It is not as our trustees, or agents, or friends only, that our rulers must be honoured, but as the officers of the God of heaven ; nor is it only as they do good to us, but as they preserve order and justice in the world, and are the pillars of the Commonwealth. If magistrates should deal ever so hardly with you and me, yet still their office is of necessity to the common good. And if their office be necessary, their honour is necessary, for when they are dishonoured and despised, they are disabled. And therefore, for the common good, we must be careful to keep up the honour of our governors, even when we suffer by them ourselves. Princes were none of the best when the apostles commanded the churches to honour them, and obey them, and this not only for fear of their penalties, but for conscience' sake. (Rom. xiii. 5.) Of old it was they that walked after the flesh, in the lust of uncleanness, that were presumptuous and self-willed, and despised government, and were not afraid to speak evil of dignities; whereas the angels that are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusations against them before the Lord. (2 Pet. ii, 10, 11 ; Jude 8, 9.)
4. Consider, that reviling is a tongue-revenge, and revenge is God's, and he is engaged to repay, and hath commanded us not to avenge ourselves. As we must not step into the judge's tribunal whenever we think he is negligent in his administrations, so much less must we accuse God of negligence or injustice, by stepping into his throne. And though the railers of these times excuse their sin with the name of justice, they must show their commissions for the executing of that justice, before it will pass in heaven for an excuse. Is not God severe enougin? will not his judgment be terrible enough? would you wish men to suffer more than he will inflict on the impenitent? what! more than hell? and will it not be soon enough? are