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martyr; and is so, in some degree, of all other princes. Yet this we may justly say in defence of the common people in all civilized nations, that it must be a very bad government indeed, where the body of the subjects will not rather choose to live in peace and obedience, than take up arms on pretence of faults in the administration, unless where the vulgar are deluded by false preachers to grow fond of new visions and fancies in religion; which, managed by dexterous men, for sinister ends of malice, envy, or ambition, have often made whole nations run mad. This was exactly the case in the whole progress of that great rebellion, and the murder of king Charles I. But the late revolution under the prince of Orange was occasioned by a proceeding directly contrary, the oppression and injustice there beginning from the throne: for that unhappy prince, king James II., did not only invade our laws and liberties, but would have forced a false religion upon his subjects, for which he was deservedly rejected, since there could be no other remedy found, or at least agreed on. But, under the blessed martyr, the deluded people would have forced many false religions, not only on their fellowsubjects, but even upon their sovereign himself, and at the same time invaded all his undoubted rights; and because he would not comply, raised a horrid rebellion, wherein, by the permission of God, they prevailed, and put their sovereign to death, like a common criminal, in the face of the world.
Therefore, those who seem to think they cannot otherwise justify the late revolution, and the change of the succession, than by lessening the guilt
of the puritans, do certainly put the greatest
affront imaginable upon the present powers, by supposing any relation or resemblance between that rebellion and the late revolution; and, consequently, that the present establishment is to be defended by the same arguments which those usurpers made use of, who, to obtain their tyranny, trampled under foot all the laws both of God
One great design of my discourse was, to give you warning against running into either extreme of two bad opinions with relation to obedience. As kings are called gods upon earth, so some would allow them an equal power with God over all laws and ordinances; and that the liberty, and property, and life, and religion of the subject, depended wholly upon the breath of the prince; which however, I hope, was never meant by those who pleaded for passive obedience. And this opinion hath not been confined to that party which was first charged with it; but had sometimes gone over to the other, to serve many an evil turn of interest or ambition ; who have been as ready to enlarge prerogative, where they could find their own account, as the highest maintainers of it.
On the other side, some look upon kings as answerable for every mistake or omission in government, and bound to comply with the most unreasonable demands of an unquiet faction; which was the case of those who persecuted the blessed martyr of this day from his throne to the scaffold.
Between these two extremes, it is easy, from what hath been said, to choose a middle; to be good and loyal subjects, yet, according to your power, faithful assertors of your religion and liberties; to avoid all broachers, and preachers of newfangled doctrines in the church; to be strict observers of the laws, which cannot be justly taken from you without your own consent: in short,“ to obey God and the king, and meddle not with those who are given to change.”
ON FALSE WITNESS. *
EXODUS, xx. 16.
Thou shalt not bear false Witness against thy
In those great changes that are made in a country by the prevailing of one party over another, it is very convenient that the prince, and those who are in authority under him, should use all just and proper methods for preventing any mischief to the public from seditious men. And governors do well, when they encourage any good subject to discover (as his duty obligeth him) whatever plots or conspiracies may be any way dangerous to the state: neither are they to be blamed even when they receive informations from bad men, in order to find out the truth, when it concerns the public welfare. Every one, indeed, is naturally inclined to have an ill opinion of an informer; although it is not impossible but an honest man may be called by that name. For whoever knoweth any thing, the telling of which would prevent some great evil to his prince, his country, or his neighbour, is bound in conscience to reveal it. But the mischief is, that, when parties are violently inflamed, which seemeth unfortunately to be our case at present, there is never wanting a set of evil instruments, who, either out of mad zeal, private hatred, or filthy lucre, are always ready to offer their services to the prevailing side, and become accusers of their brethren, without any regard to truth or charity. Holy David numbers this among the chief of his sufferings; “ False witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. Our Saviour and his apostles did likewise undergo the same distress, as we read both in the Gospels and the Acts.
* The Dean, in consequence of his political opinions, and the firmness with which he avowed them, was often exposed to danger and prosecution, by informers of various descriptions. He was, therefore, well qualified to place before his congregation the danger to public order and individual liberty, as well as to religion and morality, from the pestilent tribe, the Delatores of the Roman empire.
Now, because the sin of false witnessing is so horrible and dangerous in itself, and so odious to God and man; and because the bitterness of too many among us is risen to such a height, that it is not easy to know where it will stop, or how far some weak and wicked minds may be carried by a mistaken zeal, a malicious temper, or hope of reward, to break this great commandment deliver,