if ye think ye may with a pious presumption strive to go beyond God in mercy, I shall not be one now that would diffuade ye. Though God for less than ten just persons would not spare Sodom, yet if you can find, after due search, but only one good thing in prelaty, either to religion or civil government, to king or parliament, to prince or people, to law, liberty, wealth, or learning, fpare her, let her live, let her spread among ye, till with her shadow all your dignities and honours, and all the glory of the land be darkened and obscured. But on the contrary, if she be found to be malignant, hostile, destructive to all these, as nothing can be surer, then let your severe and impartial doom imitate the divine vengeance; rain down your punishing force upon this godless and opprelfing government, and bring such a dead sea of subversion upon her, that she may never in this land rise more to afflict the holy reformed church, and the elect people of God,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

ALTHOUGH it be a certain truth, that they who undertake a religious cause need not care to be men-pleasers ; yet because the satisfaction of tender and mild consciences is far different from that which is called men-pleasing; to satisfy such, I shall address myself in few words to give notice beforehand of something in this book, which to some men perhaps may seem offensive, that when I have rendered a lawful reason of what is done, I may trust to have faved the labour of defending or excusing hereafter. We all know that in private or personal injuries, yea in public sufferings for the cause of Christ, his rule and example teaches us to be so far from a readiness to speak evil, as not to answer the reviler in his language, though never so much provoked: yet in the detecting, and convincing of any notorious enemy to truth and his country's peace, especially that is conceited to have a voluble and smart fluence of tongue, and in the vain confidence of that, and out of a more tenacious cling to worldly respects, stands up for all the rest to justify a long usurpation and convicted pseudepifcopy of prelates, with all their ceremonies, liturgies, and tyrannies, which God and man are now ready to explode and hiss out of the land; I suppose, and more than fuppofe, it will be nothing disagreeing from christian meekness, to handle such a one in a rougher accent, and to send home his haughtiness well bespurted with his own holy-water. Nor to do thus are we unautoritied either from the moral precept of Solomon, to answer him thereafter that prides him in his folly; nor from the example of Christ, and all his followers in all ages, who, in the refuting of those that refifted sound doctrine, and by fubtile diffimulations corrupted the minds of men, have wrought up their zealous souls into such vehemencies, as nothing could be more killingly spoken: for who can be a greater enemy to mankind, who a more dangerous deceiver, than he who, defending a traditional corruption, uses no common arts, but with a wily stratagem of yielding to the time a greater part of his cause, seeming to forego all that man's invention hath done therein, and driven froin much of his hold in scripture; yet leaving it hanging by a twined thread, not from divine command, but from apoftolical prudence or assent; as if he had the surety of some rolling trench, creeps up by this mean to his relinquished fortress of divine authority again, and still hovering between the confines of that which he dares not be openly, and that which he will not be sincerely, trains on the easy christian insensibly within the close ambushment of worst er. rours, and with a fly shuffle of counterfeit principles, chopping and changing till he have gleaned all the good ones out of their minds, leaves them at last, after a flight resemblance of sweeping and garnishing, under the sevenfold poffeffion of a desperate ftupidity? And therefore they that love the souls of men, which is the dearest love, and stirs up the noblest jealousy, when they meet with such collusion, cannot be blamed though they be transported with the zeal of truth to a well heated fervency; especially, seeing they which thus offend against the fouls of their brethren, do it with delight to their great gain, ease, and advancement in this world; but they that seek to discover and oppose their false trade of deceiving, do it not without a sad and unwilling anger, not without many hazards; but without all private and personal



fpleen, and without any thought of earthly reward, when. as this very course they take stops their hopes of afcending above a lowly and unenviable pitch in this life. And although in the serious uncasing of a grand impofture (for to deal plainly with you readers, prelaty is no better) there be mixed here and there such a grim laughter, as may appear at the fame time in an austere visage, it cannot be taxed of levity or insolence: for even this vein of laughing (as I could produce out of grave authors) hath ofttimes a strong and sinewy force in teach, ing and confuting; nor can there be a more proper object of indignation and scorn together, than a false prophet taken in the greatest, dearest, and most dangerous cheat, the cheat of souls: in the disclosing whereof, if it be harmful to be angry, and withal to cast a lowering smile, when the properest object calls for both, it will be long enough ere any be able to say, why those two. moft rational faculties of human intellect, anger and laughter, were first seated in the breast of man. Thus much, rea. ders, in favour of the softer fpirited christian, for other exceptioners there was no thought taken. Only if it bę asked, why this close and succinct nanner of coping with the adversary was rather chosen, this was the reason chiefly, that the ingenuous reader, without further amusing himself in the labyrinth of controverfal antiquity, may come to the speediest way to see the truth vindicated, and fophiftry taken fort at the first false bound. Next, that the Remonstrant himself, as oft as he pleases to bę frolic, and brave it with others, may find no gain of money, and may learn not to insult in so bad a cause, But now he begins,


Remonftrant. My single remonstrance is encountered with a plural adversary.

Answer. Did not your single remonftrance bring along with it a hot scent of your more than fingular affection to spiritual pluralities, your fingleners would be less sulpected with all good christians than it is,


Remonft. Their names, persons, qualities, numbers, I care not to know.

Answ. Their names are known to the all-knowing Power above; and in the mean while, doubtless, they reck not whether you or your nomenclator know them or not. .

Remonft. But could they say my name is Legion, for we are many ?

Anfw. Wherefore should ye begin with the devil's name, descanting upon the number of your opponents ? Wherefore that conceit of Legion with a by-wipe? Was it because you would have men take notice how you esteem them, whom through all your book so bountifully you call your brethren? We had not thought that Legion could have furnished the Remonstrant with so many brethren.

Remonst. My cause, ye gods, would bid me meet them undismayed, &c.

Answ. Ere a foot further we must be content to hear a preambling boast of your valour, what a St. Dunstan you are to encounter Legions, either infernal or human.

Remonft. My cause, ye gods.

Answ. What gods ? Unless your belly, or the god of this world be he? Show us any one point of your remonftrance that does not more concern superiority, pride, ease, and the belly, than the truth and glory of God, or the salvation of fouls.

Remonft. My cause, ye gods, would bid me meet : them undismayed, and to say with holy David, “though a hoft, &c."

Answ. Do not think to persuade us of your undaunted courage, by misapplying to yourself the words of holy David; we know you fear, and are in an agony at this present, left you should lose that superfluity of riches and honour, which your party usurp. And whosoever covets, and so earnestly labours to keep such an incumbering surcharge of earthly things, cannot but have an earthquake still in his bones. You are not armed, Remonstrant, por any of your band; you are not dieted, nor your loins girt for spiritual yalour, and christian warfare, the lug


« VorigeDoorgaan »