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tragedy,” that they enacted some laws for the restraint of Anabaptistica exorbitances; which laws, though never executed unto the extremity o them, yet were soon laid by, as to any execution of them at all. There were in this unhappy schism several truly godly men, whom it was thou! a very uncomfortable thing to prosecute with severe imprisonments these controversies; and there came also a letter from London to the
gy ernour of the Massachuset-colony, (like that which our blessed martyrologist John Fox, once wrote unto Queen Elizabeth, to prevent the persecutin with which the Anabaptists were then threatned,) subscribed by no les persons than Dr. Goodwyn, Dr. Owen, Mr. Nye, Mr. Caryl, and nine other very reverend ministers, wherein were these among other passages:
“We shall not here undertake (in the least) to make any apology for the persons, apirions and practices of those who are censured among you. You know our judgment sind practice to be contrary unto theirs, even as yours; wherein (God assisting) we shall continue to the end. Neither shall we return any answer to the reason of the reverend elders, for the justification of your proceedings, as not being willing to engage in the management of 175 the least difference with persons whom we so much love and honour in the Lord.—But the sum of all which at present we shall offer to you is, that though the court might apprebend that they had grounds in general warranting their procedure (in such cases) in the way wherein they have proceeded, yet that they have any rule or command rendring their so proceeding indispensably necessary, under all circumstances of fines or places, we are altro gether unsatisfied; and we need not represent unto you how the case stands with ourselves, and all your brethren and companions in the services of these latter days in these nations. We are sure you would be unwilling to put an advantage into the hands of some who setki pretences and occasions against our liberty, and to reinforce the former rigour. Now, we cannot deny but this hath already in some measure been done, in that it hath been vogued, that persons of our way, principles and spirit, cannot bear with dissenters from them. And as this greatly reflects on us, so some of us have observed how already it has turned unto your own disadvantage.—We leave it to your wisdom to determine whether, under all these cir. cumstances, and sundry others of the like nature that might be added, it be not advisable at present to put an end unto the sufferings and confinements of the persons censured, and to restore them to their former liberty. You have the advantage of truth and order; you have the gifts and learning of an able ministry to manage and defend them; you have the care and vigilancy of a very worthy magistracy to countenance and protect them, and to preserve the
peace; and (above all) you have a blessed Lord and Master, who hath the keys of David, who openeth and no man shutteth, living for ever to take care of his own concernments among his saints; and assuredly you need not be disquieted, though some few persons (through their own iufirmity and weakness, or through their ignorance, darkness and prejadices) should to their disadvantage turn out of the way, in some lesser matters, into by-paths of their own. We only make it our hearty request to you, that you would trust God with his truths and ways so far, as to suspend all rigorous proceedings in corporal restraints of punishments, on persons that dissent from you, and practise the principle of their dissent without danger, or disturbance to the civil peace of the place. Dated March 25, 1669."
I cannot say that this excellent letter had immediately all the effect which it should have had; however, at length it has had its effect; and as Origen pleads against Celsus, that there ever were differences among professirs of Christianity from the beginning, and it was impossible but that there should be so; nevertheless, these differences hindered not their faith, and
love, and obedience: as Justin Martyr pleaded for forbearance, even in the churches, towards Christians that yet thought themselves under obliption to observe the Mosaic ceremonies—as Ignatius, before either of them, in his epistle to the Philadelphians, professes, “to persecute men on te account of religion, is to make ourselves conformable to the heathen, wbo know not God”—the Christians of New-England seem generally to be of such a tolerating disposition towards the Anabaptists; with the synod of Alexandria, condemning all external force in religion, of which the Arians were the first among pretended Christians, that were the inventors and promoters: nor hath Anabaptism had one jot the more of growth, I supprose, for it. But the alienation continued so long, that a synod of our churches, in the year 1679, having mentioned the miscarriages of these people among the sins to be reformed in the land, there was published the rear following, “a narrative of some considerable passages” relating to their church, by their pastor, "with consent of the whole:" which narrative had so many gross mistakes in it, making
Candida de nigris et de candentibus atra,* that such an answer unto it, as is directed for Cretians, was published under the title of "Ne Sutor ultra Crepidam.”+ And that answer endeavours to demonstrate, that if persons of any perswasion whatsoever, even the very same with what is held by the churches of New-England, should have acted with as much irregularity as our Anabaptists, they would have deserved greater punishment than any that had been inflicted upon these.
$5. Sed jam tempus equum spumantia solvere colla :f 'tis time to have done with these contentious matters; and thanks be to God we have done with them; and all the foam whereinto we were chafed by them, is now comfortably wiped off.
The great noise that hath been made in the world about the persecution made in New-England, I will now stop with only transcribing the words uttered in the sermon to the first "great and general assembly" of the province of the Massachuset-Bay, after the two colonies of Massachuset and Plymouth were by a royal charter united:
“Things will 'go well,' when magistrates are great promoters of the thing that good is,' and of “what the Lord requireth of them. I do not mean that it would be well for the civil magistrate, with a civil penalty, to compel men to this or that way of worship, which they are conscientiously indisposed unto. He is most properly the officer of humane society; and a Christian, by non-conformity to this or that imposed way of worship, does not break the terms on which he is to enjoy the benefits of humane society.
"A man has a right unto his life, his estate, his liberty, and his family, although he should bot come up unto these and those blessed institutions of our Lord. When a man sins in his political capacity, let political societies animadvert upon him; but when he sins only in a religious capacity, societies more purely religious are the fittest then to deal with him. Indeed, in the Old Testament the magistrate was an ecclesiastical officer; and compliance with
• White, blnck, and black, white. + The Shoemaker should stick to his Last.
the Mosaick rites was that which entitled men unto the benefits of Canaan, the typical and renowned land: But now these figurative things have more spiritual things to answer them. It may be feared that things will not ‘go well,' when heresies are not exterminated; but, I pray, when (except once perhaps or so in the case of Donatism) did fines or gaols ever sig. nifie any thing for the cure of hereticks? The primitive church, for the first three hundred years of Christianity, cut off a thousand new Hydra's heads, without borrowing such pena! laws as have since been used; it was by sound preaching, by discipline, by catechising, and by disputation, that they "turned to flight the armies of the aliens.' Then 'twas that Chris. tians did use to say, Non gladiis, aut jaculis, aut militari manu, veritas pradicatur, sed suudendo el consulendo.* Afterwards, indeed, the orthodox engaged the emperors unto severities upon the hereticks of those days, but what got they by it? When a wicked Manichee, a so:t of Quaker, was put to death, an excellent historian says, “'twas a most wretched example, and it made the heresie spread the more.' Such prosecutions do but give a principle, which would be but most fatal to the church of God; yea, they do but afford a root for Cain's club to grow upon. These violences may bring the erroneous to be hypocrites, but they will never m:ke them to be believers; no, they naturally prejudice men's minds against the cause, which is therein pretended for, as being a weak, a wrong, an evil cause. Wherefore, that things may go well,' I would willingly put in a barr against the persecution of any that may conscienciously dissent from our way. Possibly the zeal in some famous and worthy disciples of our Lord among our selves has been reported and reckoned as having once had a littie too much fire on this account; but the churches of God abroad counted that things did not 'go well' among us, until they judged us more fully come up unto the apostolical rale, ‘to leave the otherwise minded unto God.' Nor would I desire myself to suffer persecution upon a clearer cause than that of testifying against our persecution of other Christians that are not of my own opinion. I am sure that things will not go well’ as long as we incur the fulfillment of that aweful word, 'If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that
be not consumed one of another.' Nevertheless, when things •go well, there are magistrates that will set themselves to advance all the truths and ways of God among their people: Magis. trates are not only themselves to profess the truths, and practise the ways of God, but also to protect and farour all them that shall do the like. There is an aspect of singular kindness, defence and support, which magistrates are to bear unto them that embrace, and much more to them that declare the truths and ways of God. “Things went well' when it could be said, as in 2 Chron. xxx. 22, 'Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all that taught the good knowledge of the Lord.' Moreover it belongs unto magistrates to punish all the vices which disturb the good order and repose of humane society; and hence also liberty of conscience' is not to be admitted as a cloak for ‘liberty of prophaneness.' To live without any worship of God, or to blaspheme and revile his blessed name, is to be chastised as abominably criminal; for there can be no pretence of conscience thereunto. Things will go well' when we go thus, and when there is an accomplishment of that word in Rom. xiii. 3: “Rulers are not a terror to good works, but unto the evil.'”
These things (which were then utter'd with many others, from 2 Chron. xii. 12, "In Judah things went well:") having the thanks of them that represented the province then returned for them, I chose in these terms here to represent the temper in this matter, which I suppose the considerate part of the province are now come unto: and so long as they continue of it, I durst almost prophesie, that sectaries will never be able to make any great impressions upon them. .
Well, the enemy of the New-English churches is hitherto disappointed: hac non successit, alia aggrediatur via.*
• Not by tho sword, or dart, or warlike might, is truth promulgated; but by persuasion and conviction. + He has not been successful in this region; let him try unothor,
CHAPT ER V.
WOLVES IN SHEEPS' CLOATHING:
OR, AN HISTORY OF SEVERAL IMPOSTORS, PRETENDING TO BE MINISTERS,
REMARKABLY DETECTED IN THE CHURCHES OF NEW-ENGLAND,
WITH A FAITHFUL ADVICE TO ALL THE CHURCHES, EMITTED BY SOME OF THE PASTORS ON THAT OCCASION.
Mendacia ad modicum placent, sed diu non durunt.*_HIERON.
SINCE De Tristibust may be a proper title for the book I am now writing, it will not be an improper chapter in the book, if some things calling for the sorrow of all that count sin a sorrowful thing, be now related.
But can any things more do it, than horrible and villainous impostures detected among the churches in pretended preachers of the "glorious gospel of God?" Reader, consider the advice here fetch'd from and to the ministers of New-England; and then consider our account of the criminals that occasion'd it. In considering these things, thou wilt not only observe some of our temptations, but thou wilt also observe many notable and wonderful displays of the divine Providence.
A Faithful Advice from several Ministers of the Gospel in and near Boston, CETO THE CHURCHES OF NEW-ENGLAND, RELATING TO THE DANGERS THAT MAY ARISE FROM IMPOSTORS,
PRETENDING TO BE MINISTERS.
It is not without some concern upon our minds, that in the late writings of our Presbyterian brethren in England, we find aweful complaints about “ bold intruders" into the work of the minislip, and the swarming of that rermine, with an hideous noise, not in corners and chambers, but in the very pulpits, likely to prove an Egyptian plague; upon which they add, “If these illiterate u-urpers are not speedily and effectually discountenanced by ministers, and people too, they who are already the blemish of non-conformity, will quickly prove the total ruin of it.” But it satisfied u more than a little to hear of their care, that the confusions thus complained may be prevented by a rote of this importance, that they would employ none to preach in any of their pulpits, but such 2 either arrived unto them with credible testimonials, or submitted themselves unto a solemn trial of their qualifications for the evangelical ministry. Our Congregational brethren in England being 2 arumed with a clamour of the dangers hence arising to the interests of our holy religion, we do with a like satisfaction find they have lately published a declaration, wherein signifying, “That inasLach as they count none meet to dispence the oracles of God unto others, who are not themselves qualified for communion in all ordinances, their joining themselves to a particular church of Christ Heuld be a good expedient to prevent ignorant and rash intruders into the ministry; seeing then it would be ihe duty of particular churches and their officers to take special care that none of their connnunion who are not qualified, may enter on that work ;” they thereupon add, “We express eur dislike, and witness against all ignorant and scandalous persons entring on the ministry; and we do in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ pray and beseech all such as fear God, that they give not the least encouragement unto the preaching of men, either ignorant or erroncous in the great articles of faith, or scandalous in their lives and conversations, or otherwise unmeet for this halu enployment, lest they bring the guilt of these men's sins on their own souls." In conformity to this watchfulness of our United Brethren, we cannot but in the most public
* Fulst hooils charm for a little while, but they not long endure. + Melancholy Incidents.
manner call upon our churches, that they beware of all undue precipitancy, in their admirting unqualified persons to be received and employed in the character of preachers unto them.
We have indeed often wished that the young men brought up in our own university, might appear with testimonials under the hands of the President and Fellows, that upon trial they are found able and pious, and likely to be blessings unto the churches, before the churches venture too far in setting of them up for preachers.
But inasmuch as there have sometimes arrived among us deceitful strangers, who have set tip themselves for preachers, and many unwary people have discovered much sinful folly, in suffering themselves to be strangely deceived by those impostors, it obliges us unto a further point of pastoral vigilance over the churches, whereof we are made the overseers.
'Tis well known that worthy ministers of the gospel, retiring to New-England from other courstries, have all along met with respects from our churches, equal (to say no more) unto what they have shown unto any of the pastors bred among themselves: Heaven is witness to the injustice of the slander by some uttered against us, “that we have ever been uncivil to strangers;" and the strangers themselves have been witnesses, that no where under heaven could they expect more civility than that wherewith we have ever treated them.
Nevertheless, we have, upon sufficient occasions, resolved, “ That for the future, no stranger, coming as a preacher among us, without sufficient assurances of his being what he pretends to be, shall be employed in our pulpits without a solemn examination of his capacities for the tremendous work of preaching the 'glorious gospel of God.'” And we earnestly request the reverend ministers of the gospel, in the several associations and vicinities throughout the country, to join with us in such a necessary resolution.
We do also solemnly advise all our people to beware of running after new preachers, of whose endowments and principles they have not had a reasonable attestation, lest they unawares run themselves into shameful and woful reflections. The apostolical injunctions, “ to prove all things." does not invite unstable people to run after all preachers, (as they too often pervert the sense of it) but it only directs people to examine, by the word of God, the doctrine which they hear from those that in an orderly way are to be heard as their teachers.
The “ preaching of the gospel,” being that grand institution whereon depends the everlasting salvation of men, Satan seeks it as a mighty triumph, to pervert it unto their everlasting destruction, And a people that, “ having itching ears, do after their own lusts heap up teachers to themselves," do miserably render themselves obnoxious unto the impressions of those new preachers that wil seduce them unto “damnable heresies.” Or suppose the new preachers do broach no new errors, yet, if they shall prove cheats, that have made the "preaching of the gospel" only a cloak for it-it covetous or lascicious, or other profane designs, they that shall have too suddenly improred these men, will be partakers of their sins. And the glorious ordinances of God will be likely to fall into loathsome contempt among the people, if contemptible fellows can easily prostitute them unto their pernicious purposes.
The sermons wherein the “everlasting gospel is preached,” as well as the prayers made in our congregations, are to be considered as a principal part of the “worship of God” among the people of God: they are to glorifie God and our Lord Jesus Christ, with agreeable confessions of the truths he has revealed unto us; and as in the peace-offering of old, God hath his part in them, ta well as the people theirs. Hence, whether the people that are the hearers be many or few, learned or weak, froward or meek, the preacher must prepare an offering, as far as he can, suitable for that God, who is a “great king, and whose name is dreadful.” But if every piece of ignorance and arrogance be set up for a preacher, the name of the holy God will be prophaned with an ofera that is made a ridicule in the repetition.
We are not unsensible that one thing which has much exposed some injudicious people among us, is an opinion that illiterate men may be serviceable and admirable preachers
. Now, inasmuch as the Jesuites have given this among their instructions to their emissaries, “to teach that learning is needless in a minister, and, if they understand the gospel, it is sufficient,” we are sorry that way of our people should be so besotted, not to say bejesuited. When the knowledge of the tongers and arts revived, religion had a revival with it: and though some unlearned men have been useful to the interests of religion, yet no man ever decried learning, but what was an enemy to religione whether he knew it or no. When our Lord chose fishermen to be ministers, (which often in impertinently pleaded) he would not send them forth until they had been a considerable while under