« ZurückWeiter »
flock that was gathered at that time, but to prosecute the constant increase of it, and to bring those sheep into it that were not of that fold. But the other word was addressed to him by a voice from heaven, when the sheet was let down to him full of all sorts of beasts, of which some were unclean,“ Rise, Peter, kill and eat!” to let all see, that it is the duty of the great pontiff to rise up with apostolical vigilance, to kill and to extinguish in the infidels their present life, and then to eat them, to consubstantiate their false and brutal doctrine into the verity of our faith. There is an affectation in these last words, suitable to the genius of the Italians. This application of these two passages, as containing the duties of a pope, was formerly made by Ba in a flattering speech to encourage Pope Paul the Fifth in the war he was designing against the Venetians.
By this we see, that how much soever we may let the fears of popery wear out of our thoughts, they are never asleep, but go on steadily, prosecuting their desigas against us. Popery is popery still, acted by a cruel and persecuting spirit; and with what caution soever they may hide or disown some scandalous practices, where heretics dare look into their proceedings, and lay them open; yet even these are still practised by them, when they know they may safely do it, and where none dare open their mouth against them; and therefore we see what reason we have to be ever watching, and on our guard against them.
This is the duty of every single Christian among us; but certainly those peers and commoners, whom our constitution has made the trustees and depositaries of our laws and liberties, and of the legal security of our religion, are under a more particular obligation of watching carefully over this sacred trust, for which they must give a severe account in the last day, if they do not guard it against all danger, at what distance soever it may appear. If they do not maintain all the fences and outworks of it, or suffer breaches to be made on any of them ; if they suffer any part of our legal establishiment to be craftily undermined ; if they are either absent or remiss, on critical occasions; and if any views of advantage to themselves prevail on them, to give up or abandon the establishment and security of our religion; God may work a deliverance for us another way, and if it seem good in his eyes, he will deliver us; but they and their families shall perish, their names will rot and be held in detestation ; posterity will curse them, and the judgments of God will overtake them, because they have sold that which was the most sacred of all things, and have let in an
inundation of idolatry, superstition, tyranny, and cruelty, upon their church and country.
But, in the last place, those who are appointed to be the watchmen, who ought to give warning, and to lift up their voice as a trumpet, when they see those wolves ready to break in and devour the flock, have the heaviest account of all others to make, if they neglect their duty; much more if they betray their trust: if they are so set on some smaller matters, and are so sharpened upon that account, that they will not see their danger, nor awaken others to see it, and to fly from it ; the guilt of those souls who have perished by their means “ God will require at their hands.” If they, in the view of any advantage to themselves, are silent when they ought to cry out day and night, they will fall under the character given by the prophet, of the watchmea in his time; “ They are blind, they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark, sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber; yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough : and they are shepherds that cannot understand ; they all look to their own way, every one for his gain from his quarter : that say, Come, I will fetch wine, and we
ill fill ourselves with strong drink ; to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant."
This is a lively description of such pastors as will not so much as study controversies, and that will not know the depths of Satan ; that put the evil day far off, and, as the men in the days of Noah or Lot, live on at their ease, satisfying themselves in running round a circle of dry and dead performances; that do neither awaken themselves nor others. When the day of trial comes, what will they say ? To whom will they fly for help? Their spirits will either sink within the in, or they will swim with the tide : the cry will be, The church! the church! even when all is ruin and desolation. I hope they will seriously reflect on the few particulars that I have, out of many more, laid together in this Introduction, and see what weight may be in them, and look about them, to consider the dangers we are in, before it is too late : but what can be said of those who are already going into some of the worst parts of popery? It is well known, that in practice, the necessity of auricular confes sion, and the priestly absolution, with the conceit of the sacrifice of the mass, are the most gainful parts of popery, and are indeed those that do most effectually subdue the world to it. The independence of the church on the state is also so contended for, as if it were on design to disgrace our Reformation. The indispensable necessity of the priesthood to all sacred functions, is carried in the point of baptism further than popery. Their devotions are openly recommended, and a union with the Gallican church has been impudently proposed ; the Reformation and the reformers are by many daily vilified; and that doctrine that has been most universally maintained by our best writers, I mean the supremacy of the crown, is on many occasions arraigned. What will all these things end in? And on what design are they driven? Alas! it is too visible.
God be thanked, there are many among us that stand upon the watch-tower, and that give faithful warning ; that stand in the breach, and make themselves a wall for their church and country; that cry to God day and night, and lie in the dust mourning before him, to avert those judgments that seem to hasten towards us: they search into the “ mystery of iniquity” that is working among us, and acquaint themselves with all that mass of corruption that is in popery. They have another notion of the worship of God, than to dress it up as a splendid opera : they have a just notion of priesthood, as a function that imports a care of souls, and a solemn performing the public homage we owe to God; but do not invert it to a political piece of craft, by which men's secrets are to be discovered, and all are subdued by a tyranny that reaches to men's souls, as well as to their worldly concerns. In a word, they consider religion in the soul as a secret sense of Divine matters, which purifies all men's thoughts, and governs all their words and actions: and in this light they propose it to their people, warning them against all dangers, and against all deceivers of all sorts : watching over them as those that must give an account to the “Great Bishop of souls: feeding the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers ;” ready to lay down their lives for them ; looking for their crown from the “ Chief Shepherd, when he shall appear.”
May the number of these good and faithful servants increase daily more and more! May their labours be so blessed, that they may see the travail of their soul and be satisfied! And may inany, by their means and by their example, be so awakened, that they may “ resist even to blood, striving against sin,” and against the man of sin ! And may I be of that number, labouring while it is day, and ready when the night comes, either to lie down and rest in the grave; or, if God calls me to it, to seal that doctrine, which I have been preaching now above fifty years, with my blood! May his holy will be done, so I may but glorify him in my soul and body, which are his !