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by me it never shall be forsaken, by God's grace, but maintained and fol. lowed, so long as I shall have abilities so to do.
If, then, I should answer your scruple concerning your engagement, upon this account of meddling with state-matters, in case the covenant should be made void, I must refer you to the words of the covenant itself, to let you see how far it doth oblige you to follow this way. The first, third, tifth, and sixth articles do limit your endeavours to your power, place, calling, vocation, and interest: If I conceive, then, my proper place, calling, vocation, and interest to be, in the pulpit, none other but to speak the oracles of God, and to meddle with nothing else directly, but with the knowledge of Jesus Christ and him crucified, as in the covenant of grace he is offered unto us, by repentance and faith in his name; and to mention nothing indirectly, but what is evidently opposite unto the tenor of some profitable truth belonging unto that matter. If (I say) this is so, then I may soon determine the bounds of my intermeddling, how far they should reach, and where to stop; for I am bound by my own promise not to meddle, further than a servant of Christ in the gospel ought to do; so that I should make myself a transgressor of the covenant, if I should interpose my judgment, in the pulpit, further than either makes to lead my hearers unto Christ, and to the observation of the covenant of grace, which the father hath made with us in him; or otherwise than is suitable to the rules of edification towards all, without offence and partiality towards any. If then I should step beyond this line, and take upon me, through some insight into 'state-designs, to play the statist towards the people, to sway their inclinations to some earthly byass, for certain ends, which Christ hath not bid me prosecute in his husbandry, I know not how I should be able to answer it unto my own conscience in his presence: For my spirit would tell me, that to play the huckster with the truth, to corrupt the word of God, and not to handle it in sincerity and as of God, is not the part of a faithful servant of Christ; therefore, as I would not have any to judge of me, I shall never take upon me to judge of any man's secret intentions in handling the word, and mixing heterogeneal matters of publick concernment with his sermon. Every one shall answer to his own master that which he hath done; and the day, which burneth as fire, and is near at hand, shall try his work, whether it be of combustible matter, or not. I have enough to do to look to my own feet, to walk in an even path; and I desire that all my brethren, who are engaged in the cover nant, may be careful to examine their own hearts and ways, according to the rules heretofore mentioned. And, if they consider conscionably the property of their calling and place, and find that, to discharge their duty in it, they must tell statesmen their duty, in private or in publick, as well as others, and that with some reference to publick matters of state, let them do it in God's name freely, but let the manner of doing it be such as becometh the gospel of Christ, and the stewards of the mys. teries of God; that is, let all be done in love, let nothing be offered without a clear discovery of God's will from the word. And, when worldly circumstances and matters of fact are mentioned, let no passion, no envy,' no vain-glory appear, nor any thing be done with a murmuring and disputing affection; but let the spirit of meekness and compassion govern
the whole carriage of the business, towards the restoring of those that are overtaken in a fault, rather than to shame them, or give others any occasion to insult over them. With these cautions, if the covenant doth bring any special engagement upon any man's conscience to take notice of state-matters, further than otherwise is incident to the ministerial function in an ordinary way, I suppose he may walk safely towards God, and without offence towards men, in matters of greatest scrupulosity.
But for a further clearing of scruples, which may be incident in this kind, I shall put a case, which, in evil times before the witnesses be killed, faithful ministers, in their warfare against the beast, may, and will be put unto. Let us then suppose', that it shall be made a crime worthy of death, to speak against any human constitutions, which authority shall set up in God's worship, altho’ never so contrary to the express word of God, as in the bishops times some were made offenders for a word, and a pretence, taken from any small thing, which seemed to contradict authority, was enough to out a man from his place whom they called a popular preacher; not so much because the thing deserved outing, but because any occasion would serve to silence a powerful and faithful minister. In such a case, the question is, how far a conscionable minister is bound to appear in opposition to the sanctions of authority ?
To this I shall answer, first, that, in such a case, where God's word is clearly opposite to the sanction of man in matters of his own worship, no man may with a good conscience he indifferent, connive, or seem to give way unto the establishment thereof willingly, for this would be a lukewarmness in God's service,
Secondly, No man can give an exact rule to another, what, on such occasions, as may fall out in reference to his flock, or against his adversaries, he should do, to quit himself, and not betray the truth, or the souls of his flock, unto ihe power of seduction, because circumstances are infinite; therefore men are to study general rules, and must in particulars be left unto the directions of God's spirit, who doth oftentimes call forth his servants to the battle upon smaller occasions, to fight as effectually as upon greater ones; and, in some men, the human imprudencies of their spiritual zeal may be as useful, in God's way of ordering the same, as the greatest prudence of others.
Thirdly, Altho'a faithful minister may neither connive nor shew any compliance with that which he knows to be clearly opposite to the will of God, but must be zealously affected and bent to stand out against it, in the sphere of his calling; yet he is not obliged, either at all times to set himself openly against it; or to appear in such a way of contradiction unto it, which may give the adversaries of the gospel some advantages, which they lie in wait to take against him, from the manner of his opposition or contradiction. Therefore it is lawful at all times, and in such cases very expedient, to use prudence, and by some spiritual stratagems to defeat the enemies of their advantages; which may be done sometimes by declining a direct and open 'contradiction of that which is the act of authority; and by using another way of opposing the same, which may be as effectual, and yet not liable to any exception.
For there are two ways of handling all matters of doctrine and practice, the one is positive, the other negative. The negative is to refute and contradict that which another doth assert or practise, condemning it as an error or a fault. The positive is to confirm and declare our own opinion as a truth; and, if this be done effectually, in a matter wherein our assertion doth by a clear consequence make void the error, or overthrow the practise of our adversary, it is no less profitable to bear witDess to the truth, than a direct reproving of vice by an express condemnation thereof. By this method then, a faithful minister may prudently decline a snare laid to entrap him, if he should presume to be so stout, as to contradict that which is expresly established ; and yet may zealously and effectually discharge his conscience, and preserve his flock from error, by a positive delivery of the truth, which, being entertained from God's word, will be liable to no exception, and yet destroy the error, and discover the fault of those that abuse their authority in all men's minds, and altho' the consequence be not expresly made, or the thing to be condemned once named.
Thus then, in matters of state, which authority may perhaps set on foot directly, in opposition to the kingdom of Christ, to make men guilty, that shall openly contradict it, zealous men may decline an open contradiction; and, by asserting strongly that matter of religion or worship, which is opposite in its nature to that matter of state, which authority would settle, quit their conscience fully; and, without naming the thing, which may not be professedly condemned, yet overthrow it in all men's minds. He that did assert strongly from the word of God, that the Lord's day is to be kept holy to God in spiritual duties, to enter into his rest, and mind him alone without any other thoughts; and that all professors are bound in conscience to intend this, as they desire to partake of his holiness, and that the neglect of this duty is a forfeiture of that holiness, which God in his covenant, by the ordinance of that day doth offer to us: He, I say, that did strongly make out this, to be a truth which cannot be controuled, did fully condemn and refute the Book of Sports on the Lord's day, which was set up by authority *, although he never did once name it; and so, in all other cases, something may be done of like nature, when adversaries lie in wait to find occasions of making men offenders, if they dare seem to be directly opposites to that which bears the name of authority. Also the thesis of a matter may be so fully handled, that the hypothesis need not to be once named, but all men will be able to make the application thereof by themselves. The defensive postures in fencing are easier and safer than the offensive; and he that is well skilled therein, that his adversary, by assaulting him, gain nothing else but weariness to himself, and the spending his strength in vain, will, in the end, have an easy conquest of him. And, to cure diseases there are two ways, either by the strengthening of the vital spirits in the natural constitution of every one, or by the purging out of evil humours; if nature can be so well fortified by cordials or fomentations, as to cast out that which is noxious by itself, it is far better and safer than to use purgations, which always bring some trouble, and
• Of King James I. and afterwards by King Charles I.
weaken the spirits for a time. Thus it is also with the best of reproofs and censures upon the minds of natural men. Verbum sapienti satis est. The Lord direct us wisely to walk in the light, and, by the power of it, to dispel the power of darkness, that we may shine without blame in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Let us pray for the spirit of promise, which will direct us in all truth, and the God of truth and peace be with you: In him I shall rest Your assured friend in Christ,
The dow which J. D hath made, and the covenant which he doth enter into
with God, in reference to the national covenant of the kingdoms. Sent to London from the Hague, the 21st of December, 1643.
THE tie of my conscience to the profession of the gospel, whereby I am made a subject of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, partaker of the privileges of the kingdom of heaven, and a free citizen of the spiritual Jerusalem, doth bind me to bear witness unto the truth, to join myself unto the professors thereof, and to subscribe my name unto the Lord, to serve under his banner, for the preservation and enlargement of his church, till he receive all the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. Therefore, according to the nature of the ministerial function, wherein God hath set me, and the vows which I have formerly made, to express my faithfulness towards him, and my blameless dealing free from partiality towards all men, and chiefly towards those of the houshold of faith: I conceive myself obliged to answer the call which is given me, whereby I am required to contribute help towards the publick edification of the church, whereof I am a member.
I declare then in the presence of Almighty God, who shall judge the quick and the dead, at the day of his glorious appearing, that I have no euds in this undertaking, but these :
First, To satisfy my conscience in the duties which I owe to Christ in his kingdom among all, and chiefly evangelical Christians, and more particularly amongst those of my national church.
Secondly, To shew my fidelity unto my lawful sovereign, to the kingdoms, and to the peace of both in the profession of the gospel. And,
Thirdly, To eudeavour the edification of all my evangelical brethren at home and abroad, who are distressed for'want of mutual love, and peaceable affections, and distracted by reason of uncharitable jealousies, passionate injuries, and injurious mistakes. Therefore my aim, in this enterprise, is, and shall be, without all mixture of human respects, to procure, so far as God shall enable me in the way of my spiritual calling, a remedy to these evils; and, to this effect, having renewed my covenant with Almighty God, and the vows by which I am solemnly obliged to the rules of my profession; I have answerably to the same lifted up my hand to heaven, and sworn to the most high God, as followeth:
First, That in the ministry of the new covenant of everlasting life and peace,which God hath graciously erected with mankind in Jesus Christ, and, according to the analogy of Christian faith, clearly taught, and the rules of Christian duties, expresly commanded in huly scripture; and, by the undoubted principles of sincere dealing, manifestly revealed in the conscience of every one, and useful for edification, and avoiding of offence in the communion of saints: I shall sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of God, endeavour to preserve every where, but more especially in the church of Scotland, and to advance towards perfection, in the church of England and Ireland, the reformed. religion, in the free and publick profession and practice of the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereaf, according to the word of God, and the example of the best reformed churches; and shall, by the means aforesaid, furthermore endeavour, as I shall find opportunity, to bring the churches of God in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity that may be evangelically obtained in religion, confession of faith, form of church-government, directory for worship and catechisings, that they, and their posterity, may as brethren, live in unity of the spirit, through the bond of peace, in faith, and love amongst themselves, and correspond amiably with foreigo protestants, that the God of peace, love, and unity, may delight to dwell in the midst of them.
That, by the means aforesaid, I shall in like manner, without worldly respects, and respecting of persons, endeavour the rooting out of all plants, which the heavenly Father hath not planted, and more particularly that I shall labour to extirpate all human usurped power over the church of God, and the consciences of men, tending to lead them in a lordly, tyrannical way to depend upon the will of man, by a blind credulity, and forced obedience in matters of faith, and religious practice, whether it be called now popery or prelacy, by the titles of archbishops, bishops, their courts, chancellors, commissaries, deans, and chapters, archdeacons, and such like ecclesiastical officers depending upon that hierarchy, or by what name soever it may or shall be called hereafter. And that, in like manner, I shall labour to extirpate all superstition, and all heresies condemned by the primitive general councils of the true ancient church; all schisin, chiefly amongst evangelical protestants, who have cast off the papal yoke; all prophaneness, and whatsoever shall be found contrary to sound doctrine, and the power of godliness, lest I partake of other men's sins, and be in danger io receive of their plagues, that the Lord may be one, and his name one, not only in the three kingdoms, but in all the kingdoms of the carth.
Thirdly, That I shall by the means aforesaid, in the same sincerity,, reality, and constancy, according to my calling, endeavour, with my estate and life, to preserve the rights and privileges of the parliaments, and the liberties of the kingdoms, which are fundamental and necessary for the conservation of the publick state ; and that I shall also preserve and defend, with my estate and life, the King's Majesty's person and authority, to which I am bound by the oath of allegiance, as to the head of the publick state, in the preservation and defence of the true