Page images
PDF
EPUB

tions, whose apish fashions we can take up in the channels, neglecting their imitable examples : and, with what scorn, do they look upon us ! They have their solemn academies, for all those qualities, which may accomplish gentility ; from which they return richly furnished, both for action and speculation. They account knowledge and ability of discourse, as essential to greatness, as blood : neither are they more above the vulgar in birth, than in understanding. They travel with judgment, and return with experience: so do they follow the exercises of the body, that they neglect not the culture of the mind. From hence grows civility, and power to manage affairs ; either of justice, or state: from hence, encouragement to learning, and reverence from inferiors. For those only can esteem knowledge, which have it; and the common sort frame either observance or contempt, out of the example of their leaders. Amongst them, the sons of nobles scorn not either merchandise, or learned professions; and hate nothing so much, as to do nothing : I shame and hate to think, that our Gallants hold, there can be no disparagement, but in honest callings.

Thus, perhaps, I have abated the envy of this reproof, by communicating it to more; which I had not done, but that the generality of evil importunes redress. I well see, that either good or evil descends. In vain shall we hope for the reformation of the many, while the better are disordered. Whom to solicit herein, I know not, but all

. How glad should I be to spend my light to the snuff, for the effecting of this ! I can but persuade and pray: these I will not fail of: the rest to Him, that both can amend and punish.

EPISTLE VII.

TO MR. JONAS REIGESBERGIUS,

IN ZEALAND.

Written somewhile since, concerning some New Opinions then broached

in the Churches of Holland ; and under the name of Arminius, then living : persuading all great wits to a study and care of the cominon peace of the Church ; dissuading from all affectation of

singularity. I RECEIVED, lately, a short relation of some new paradoxes from your Leyden. You would know what we think. Í fear not to be censured, as meddling : your truth is ours: the sea cannot divide those Churches, whom one faith unites.

I know not how it comes to pass, that most men, while they too much affect civility, turn flatterers; and plain truth is, most-where, counted rudeness. He, that tells a sick friend he looks ill, or terms an angry tumour the gout, or a waterish swelling dropsy, is thought unmannerly.

For my part, I am glad that I was not born to feed humours. However you take your own evils, I must tell you, we pity you; and think you have just cause of dejection, and we for your not for any private cares ; but, which touch a Christian nearest, the Commonwealth of God.

Behold, after all those hills of carcases and streams of blood, your civil sword is sheathed; wherein we neither congratulate, nor fear your peace: lo now, instead of that, another while, the spiritual sword is drawn and shaken ; and it is well, if no more. Now the politic State sits still, the Church quarrels.

Oh, the insatiable hostility of our great enemy! with what change of mischiefs, doth he afflict miserable man! No sooner did the Christian world begin to breathe from persecution, but it was more punished with Arianism: when the red dragon cannot devour the child, he tries to drown the mother; and when the waters fail, he raises war.

Your famous Junius had nothing more admirable than his love of peace: when our busy Separatists appealed him, with what a sweet calmness, did he reject them; and, with a grave importunity, called them to moderation ! How it would have vexed his holy soul, now out of the danger of passions, to have foreseen his chair troublesome! God forbid, that the Church should find a challenger, instead of a champion.

Who would think, but you should have been taught the benefit of peace, by the long want ? But, if your temporal state, besides either hope or belief, hath grown wealthy with war; like those fowls, which fatten with hard weather: yet be you sure, that these spiritual broils cannot but impoverish the Church; yea, affamish it. It were pity, that your Holland should be still the amphitheatre of the world; on whose scaffolds all other nations should sit, and see variety of bloody shews, not without pity and horror.

If I might challenge ought in that your acute and learned Armi. nius; I would thus solicit and conjure him : “ Alas! that so wise a man should not know the worth of peace; that so noble a son of the Church should not be brought to light, without ripping the womb of his mother! What mean these subtle novelties ? if they make thee famous, and the Church miserable, who shall gain by them? Is singularity so precious, that it should cost no less, than the safety and quiet of our common Mother? If it be truth thou af- . fectest; what, alone ? Could never any eyes, till thine, be blessed with this object? Where hath that sacred verity hid herself, thus long, from all her careful inquisitors, that she now first shews her head to thee unsought ? Hath the Gospel shined thus long and bright, and left some corners unseen ? Away with all new truths : fair and plausible they may be; sound, they cannot: some may admire thee for them; none shall bless thee. But grant, that some of these are no less true, than nice points: what do these unseasonable crotchets and quavers trouble the harmonious plain-songs of

other grave

our peace? Some quiet error may be better, than some unruly truth. Who binds us to speak all we think? So the Church may be still, would God thou wert wise alone. Did not our adversaries quarrel enough before, at our quarrels ? were they not rich enough with our spoils? By the dear name of our common parents, what meanest thou, Arminius ? Whither tend these newraised dissensions? Who shall thrive by them, but they, which insult upon us; and rise, by the fall of truth? who shall be undone, but thy brethren? By that most precious and bloody ransom of our Saviour, and by that awful appearance we shall once make before the glorious Tribunal of the Son of God, remember thyself, and the poor distracted limbs of the Church. Let not those excellent parts, wherewith God hath furnished thee, lie in the narrow way; and cause any weak one, either to fall, or stumble, or err. For God's sake, either say nothing, or the same. How many great wits have sought no by-paths, and now are happy with their fellows! Let it be no disparagement to go with many to heaven.”

What could he reply, to so plain a charge ? No distinction can avoid the power of simple truth. I know he hears not this of me, first: neither that learned and worthy Fran. Gomarus, nor your

fraternity of reverend divines, have been silent in so main a cause. I fear rather too much noise, in any of these tumults: there may too many contend ; not entreat. Multitude of suitors is commonly powerful: how much more in just motions !

But, if either he or you shall turn me home, and bid me spend my little moisture upon our own brands; I grant there is both the same cause, and the same need. This counsel is no whit further from

us,

because it is directed to you. Any reader can change the person. I lament to see, that, every where, peace hath not many clients; but fewer lovers: yea, even many of those, that praise her, follow her not. Of old, the very Novatian men, women, children brought stones and mortar, with the orthodox, to the building of the Church of the Resurrection; and joined lovingly with them, against the Arians : lesser quarrels divide us; and every division ends in blows, and every blow is returned ; and none of all lights beside the Church.

“ Even the best Apostles dissented: neither knowledge nor holiness can redress all differences.”. True; but wisdom and charity could teach us to avoid their prejudice. If we had but these two virtues, quarrels should not hurt us, nor the Church by us. But, alas, self-love is too strong for both these. This alone opens the food-gates of dissension; and drowns the sweet, but low valley of the Church. Men esteem of opiniɔns, because their own; and will have truth serve, not govern. What they have undertaken, must be true: victory is sought for, not satisfaction ; victory of the author, not of the cause: he is a rare man, that knows to yield, as well as to argue.

What should we do then, but bestow ourselves upon that, which

too many neglect, public peace: first, in prayers, that we may prevail; then, in tears, that we prevail not ?

Thus have I been bold to chat with you, of our greatest and common cares. Your old love, and late hospital entertainment in that your island, called for this remembrance; the rather to keep your English tongue in breath, which was wont not to be the least of your desires. Would God you could make us happy with news; not of truce, but sincere amity and union; not of provinces, but spirits. The God of Spirits effect it, both here and there, to the glory of his Name and Church!

EPISTLE VIII.

TO W. J.

CONDEMNED FOR MURDER.

Effectually preparing him, and, under his name, whatsoever Male

factor, for his Death. It is a bad cause, that robbeth us of all the comfort of friends ; yea, that turns their remembrance into sorrow. None can do so, but those, that proceed from ourselves : for outward evils, which come from the infliction of others, make us cleave faster to our helpers ; and cause us to seek and find ease, in the very commiseration of those that love us : whereas, those griefs, which arise from the just displeasure of conscience, will not abide so much as the memory of others' affection; or, if it do, makes it so much the greater corrosive, as our case is more uncapable of their comfort. Such is yours. You have made the mention of our names tedious to yourself, and yours to us. This is the beginning of your pain, that you had friends. If you may now smart soundly from us, for your good, it must be the only joy you must expect, and the final duty we owe to you.

It is both vain and comfortless, to hear what might have been : neither would I send you back to what is past, but purposely to increase your sorrow; who have caused all our comfort, to stand in your tears. If, therefore, our former counsels had prevailed, neither had your hands shed innocent blood, nor justice yours. Now, to your great sin, you have done the one; and the other must be done, to your pain : and we, your well-willers, with sorrow and shame live to be witnesses of both.

Your sin is gone before; the revenge of justice will follow: sec. ing you are guilty, let God be just. Other sins speak: this crieth; and will never be silent, till it be answered with itself. For your life; the case is hopeless : feed not yourself with vain presumptions; but settle yourself to expiate another's blood, with your own. Would God your desert had been such, that we might, with any comfort, have desired you might live: but now, alas, your fact is so heinous, that your life can neither be craved without injustice, nor be protracted without inward torment. And, if your private affection should make us deaf to the shouts of blood, and partiality should teach us to forget all care of public right; yet resolve, there is no place for hope.

Since, then, you could not live guiltless, there remains nothing, but that you labour to die penitent; and, since your body cannot be saved alive, to endeavour that your soul may be saved in death. Wherein, how happy shall it be for you, if you shall yet give ear to my last advice! too late indeed for your recompence to the world ; not too late for yourself.

You have deserved death, and expect it: take heed, lest you so fasten your eyes upon the first death of the body, that you should not look beyond it to the second; which alone is worthy of trembling, worthy of tears. For this, though terrible to nature, yet is common to us, with you. You must die: what do we else? And what differs our end from yours, but in haste and violence? And who knows whether in that ? it may be, a sickness, as sharp, as sudden, shall fetch us hence: it may be, the same death, or a worse, for a better cause. Or, if not so, there is much more misery in lingering : he dies easily, that dies soon : but the other is the utmost vengeance, that God hath reserved for his enemies. This is a matter of long fear, and short pain : a few pangs let the soul out of prison ; but the torment of that other is everlasting: after ten thousand years scorching in that flame, the pain is never the nearer to his ending: no time gives it hope of abating; yea, time hath nothing to do with this eternity : you, that shall feel the pain of one minute's dying, think what pain it is, to be dying for ever and ever. This, although it be attended with a sharp pain, yet is such as some strong spirits have endured without shew of yieldance: I have heard of an Irish traitor, that, when he lay pining upon the wheel with his bones broke, asked his friend if he changed his countenance at all; caring less for the pain, than the shew of fear: few men have died of greater pains, than others have sustained and live: but that other overwhelms both body and soul; and leaves no room for any comfort, in the possibility of mitigation. Here, men are executioners, or diseases; there, fiends: those devils, that were ready to tempt the graceless unto sin, are as ready to follow tae damned with tortures. Whatsoever become of your carcase, save your soul from the flames; and so manage this short time you have to live, that you may die but once.

This is not your first sin: yea, God hath now punished your former sins, with this : a fearful punishment in itself, if it deserved no more. Your conscience, which now begins to tell truth, cannot but assure you, that there is no sin more worthy of hell, than mur

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »