Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

but follow their General, whose spiritual weapons are fiery darts? Eph. i. 16. Much and lamentable experience hath this State (if ever any) had of these mischievous engines of commotion, that have been hurled hither from beyond the Alps and Pyrenees. What is the remedy, but the same which is against the Devil, The shield of prevention? Stir up your vigilant care, O ye Great Leaders of Israel, by the strict execution of wholesome laws, to avoid the dint of these murderous subornations. And, when ye have done your best, it must be the Lord of Hosts, the great Protector of Israel, that must break the bow, and knap the spear in sunder; Psalm xlvi. 9.

2. Their second title is bulls; for their ferocity, for their strength. The Lion is a more lordly beast; but the bull is stronger; and, when he is enraged, more impetuous.

Such are the Enemies of the Church. How furiously do they bellow out threats, and scrape up the earth, and advance their crest, and brandish their horns, and send out sparkles from their eyes, and snuff out flames from their nostrils, and think to bear down all before them! What should I tell you of the fierce assaults of the braving enemies of the Church, whose pride hath scorned all opposition,

and thinks to push down all contrary powers, not of men only, but of God himself? Let us break their bonds, and cast their cords from us. Who is the Lord, that I should let Isracl go? Where is the god of Hamath, and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sephar. vaim, Hena, and Ivah ? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who are they among the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? saith proud Rabshakeh; 2 Kings xviii. 34, 35.

Hark how this Assyrian Bull roars out blasphemy against the Lord of Hosts; and all the rest of that wild herd have no less grass on their horns: stay but a while, and ye shall see him withed, and haltered, and staked, and baited to death. Here only is the comfort of the poor menaced Church, that the Mighty God of Israel, who says to the raging sea, Here shalt thou stay ihy proud waves, can tame at pleasure these violent beasts, or break their necks with their own fury. So let thine enemies perish, O Lord.

These bulls are seconded with their own brood, THE CALVES OF THE PEOPLE.

Who are they, but those, which follow, and make up the herd? the credulous seduced multitude; which, not out of choice, but example, join in opposition to God. Silly calves, they go whither their dams lead them, to the field or to the slaughter-house! Blind obedience is their best guide. Are they bidden to adore a God, which they know the baker made? they fall down upon their knees, and thump their breasts; as beating the heart, that will not enough believe in that pastry-deity. Are they bidden to go on pilgrimage to a chapel, that is a greater pilgrim than themselves; that hath four several times removed itself, and changed stations, as Turselline confidently? they must go, and adore those wandering walls. Are they bidden to forswear their allegiance, and to take arms

against their lawful and native sovereign? they rush into the battle, without either fear or wit; though for the aid of a sure enemy, which would make them all, as he threatened in Eighty Eight, alike good Protestants. Very calves of the people, whose simplicity were a fitter subject for pity, than their fury can be of malice; were it not that their power is wont to be employed to the no small prejudice of the cause of God! And would it boot ought, to spend time in persuading these calves that they are such? to lay before them the shame of their ignorance and stupidity? Hear wow this, O foolish people and without understanding, which have eyes and see not, which have ears and hear not; Jer. v. 21. How long will ye suffer yourselves to be befooled and beslaved with the tyranny of superstition? God hath made you men: why will ye abide men to make you vitulos populorum, the calves of the people. We must leave you as ye are; but we will not leave praying for your happy change; that God would consecrate you to himself, as the calves of his aitar, that ye may be offered up to him a holy, lively, reasonable, acceptable sucrifice in your blessed conversion. Amen.

3. The last and worst title of these enemies is, THE PEOPLE THAT DELIGHT IN WAR.

War is to the State as Ignis and Ferrum, the “Knife” and the “ Searing-iron,” to the body; the last and most desperate remedy: always evil, if sometimes necessary: it is not for pleasure; it is for need.

It must needs be a cruel heart, that delights in war. He, that well considers the fearful effects of war, the direption of goods, the vastation of countries, the sacking and burning of cities, the murdering of men, ravishing of women, weltering of the horse and rider in their mingled blood, the shrieks and horror of the dying, the ghastly rage of the killing, the hellish and tumultuous confusion of all things; and shall see the streets and fields strewed with carcases, the channels running with streams of blood, the houses and Churches Aaming, and, in a word, all the woeful tyrannies of death ; will think the heathen poets had reason to devise war sent up from hell, ushered and heralded by the most pestilent of all the Furies, every of whose hairs were so many snakes and adders to affright and sting the world withal. Little pleasure can there be in such a spectacle.

It is a true observation of St. Chrysostom, that war to any nation is as a tempest to the sea, tossing and clashing of the waves together. And fain would I hear of that mariner, that takes delight in a storm. The executioners of peaceable justice are wont to be hateful: : no man abides to consort with a public headsman: and what metal then shall we think those men made of, who delight in cutting of throats, and joy to be the furious executioners of a martial vengeance; where, besides the horror of the act, the event is doubtful?

The dice of war run still upon hazard. David could send this message to Joab, The sword devours at randoin, go, and sugla; 2 Sam, xi. 25. Victory is not more sweet, than uncertain. And what man can love to perish?

It is true, that war is a thing that should not, but must be: neither is it other than an unavoidable act of vindicative justice; an useful enemy, a harsh friend: such an enemy, as we cannot want; such a friend, as we entertain upon force, not upon choice; because we must, not because we would. It challenges admittance, if it he just; and it is never just, but where it is necessary: if it must, it ought to be.

Where those three things, which Aquinas requires to a lawful war, are met, supreme authority, a warrantable cause, a just intention; a supreme authority in commanding it, a warrantable cause in undertaking it, a just intention in executing it; it is no other than Bellum Domini, God's war: God made it; God owns it; God blesses it. What talk I of the good Centurion ? the very angels of God are thus, Heavenly Soldiers. The wise Lacedemonians had no other statues of their deities but armed. Yea, what speak I of these puppets? the true God rejoices in no title more than of The Lord of Hosts. In these cases say now, Blessed be the Lord, who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight.

But if ambition of enlarging the bounds of dominion, covetousness of rich booties, emulation of a rival greatness, shall unsheath our swords; now every blow is murder. Woe to those hands, that are thus imbrued in blood! Woe to tiose tyrants, that are the authors of this lavish effusion; every drop whereof shall once be required of their guilty souls! God thinks he cannot give a worse epithet to those, whom he would brand for death, than, Wicked and blood-thirsty men. David might not be allowed to build God a House, because he had a bloody hand: the cause was holy; yet the colour offends. How hateful must those needs be to the God of Mercies, that delight in blood; the true brood of him, that is the man-slayer from the beginning.

There are strange diets of men, as of other creatures; whereof there are some, that naturally feed on poison and fatten with it: and it may be, there are cannibals, that find man's blood sweet. Yet I think it would be hard to find a man, that will profess to place his felicity in a cruel hazard: so doth he, that delights in war.

And if no man, for shame, will be known to do simply and directly so; yet, in effect, men bewray this disposition, if they be, First, Osores pacis, Haters of peace, as the Psalmist calls them; Psalm cxx. 7. stubbornly repelling the fair motions and meet conditions thereof: it, Secondly, they take up slight and unjust causes of war, as it is noted by Suetonius of Julius Caesar, which this Island had experience of that he would refrain from no occasion of war if never so unjust; contrary to the better temper and resolution of wiser Romans than himself, who would rather save one subject than kill a thousand enemies: if, Thirdly, they give wiitul provocations of this public revenge by gross, open, intolerable injuries; as Hanun did to David; such are encroachments upon their neighbour territories, violating the just covenants of league and commerce by main violences: if, Fourthly, they refuse to give just satisfaction, where they have unjustly provoked; as the Benjamites, in case of the sodomitical villainy of their Gibeah. Where all, where any of these are found, weil may we brand that people with delight in war. And, since they will needs delight in war, God shall fit them accordingly. With the froward, thou shalt shew thyself froward; Psalm xviii. 26. He shall delight in warring against them. He shall rouze up himself as a Giant refreshed with new wine. Therefore, thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of my adversaries, and revenge me of mine enemies ; Isaiah i. 24.

II. These are the Enemies. The DEFEAT follows; Rebuke and Scatter.

The two first, though bad enough, must be rebuked; the last must be scattered.

All God's enemies may not be to us alike, neither æquè nor equaliter. Some are Calves; simple, though violent: some others are Bulls; fierce and furious: some other Lions from among the reeds; ravenous and devouring: all these, though cruel, yet perhaps are not malicious; an INCREPA is enough for them.

Saul was one of these wild Bulls; Breathing out threatenings against the Church, and tossing upon his horn many worthy Christians. Had it not been pity, he had been destroyed in that height of his rage? An increpation brought him home. God had never such a champion, Now certamen bonum certavi, I have fought a good fight, saith he justly of himself; 2 Tim. iv. 7. This increpa then is, “ Discountenance them, dishearten them, discomfit them, disband them.” Put them down, O Lord, and let them know they are but men: humble them to the very dust, but not to the dust of death; to correction, as Habakkuk speaketh, not to a full destruction; only till they humbly bring pieces of silver, till they come in with the tributes of peaceful submission, of just satisfaction. The end of all just war is Peace. As we are first bidden to Enquire of Abel ere we infer it; offeres ei pacem; Deut. xx. 10: so when we hear of Abel, we must stint it. War to the State is physic to the body. This is no other than a civil evacuation; whether by potion or phlebotomy. What is the end of physic, but health? when that is once recovered, we have done with the apothecary. He wantons away his life foolishly, that, when he is well, will take physic to make him sick. It is far from us, to wish the confusion of the ignorant and seduced enemies of God's Church; those, that follow Absalom with an upright heart: no; we pity them; we pray for them. Oh, that they would come in with their pieces of silver, and tender their humble obediences to the apparent truth of God, and yield to the laws of both divine and human justice! Oh, that God would persuade Japhet to dwell in the tents of Shem! Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be, ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard; rest and be still; Jer. xlvii. 6,

But, for those other, that delight in war, DISSIPA, DOMINE; SCATTER them, O Lord. Confusion is but too good for them: bring. them to worse than nothing: The perfection and suddenness of this dissipation, is expressed emphatically, in the beginning of this Psalm, by a double metaphor: as smoke before the wind, as wax before the fire, so scatter them. Of all light bodies, nothing is more volatile than smoke; of all solid, none more flitting than wax. As wind is to the smoke, and fire to the wax, so are the judgments of God to his enemies; the wax melteth, the smoke vanisheth before them. The conceit is too curious, of those, that make the Gentiles to be smoke, who mount up in the opinion of their wisdom and power; the Jews wax, dropped from the honey-comb of their many divine privileges: no; all are both, smoke and wax. Even so do thou scatter them, O Lord, and be not merciful to them that offend on malicious wickedness.

Two thoughts only remain now for us. The First, that it must be God only who must rebuke and scatter: the Second, that it is our prayer only, that must obtain from God this rebuke, this dissipation. Both which when I have touched a little, I shall put an end to this exercise of your patient dovotion.

It is GOD ONLY, THAT MUST DO IT; for vain is the help of man. And how easy is it for the Almighty, to still the enemy and avenger! They are as a potter's vessel to his iron sceptre; as the thorns or wax to his fire; as chaff or smoke to his wind. To our weakness, the opposite powers seem strong and unconquerable: the Canaanitish walls reach up to heaven: and who can stand before the sons of Anak? When we see their bulwarks, we would think they roll Pe. lion upon Ossa with the old giants: when we see their towers, we would think they would scale heaven with the builders of Babel: when we see their mines, we would think they would blow up

the earth. Let the wind of God's power but breathe upon them, they vanish as smoke: let the fire of his wrath but look upon them, they melt as wax. Tyrannous Egypt had long made slaves of God's people, and now will make slaughter of them; following them armed at the heels into the channel of the sea. Stand still, and see the Salration of the Lord; for the Egyptians, which you have seen to day,

shall see no more for ever; Exod. xiv. 13.

The great host of proud Benhadad will carry away all Samaria, in their pockets, for pin-dust: ere long, ye shåll see their haughty king come in, haltered and prostrate. Vaunting Sennacherib comes crowing over poor Jerusalem, and he will lend them two thousand horses, if they can set riders on them; and scorns their King, and defies their God: stay but till morning, all his hundred four-score aıd five thousand shall be dead corpses. Vain fools! What is a finite power in the hands of an Infinite? Where there is an equality of force, there may be hard tugging; but where brass meets with clay, how can that brittle stuff escape unshattered? Let this cool your courages, and pull down your plumes, Oye Insolent Enemies of God. When ye look to your own sword, there is no rule with

ye

« PredošláPokračovať »