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their principles; and till they do they may be justly suspected. Neither will the bare name of protestants set them right; for surely Christ requires more from us than a profession of hating popery, which a Turk or an atheist may do as well as a protestant.
If an enslaved people should recover their liberty from a tyrannical power of any sort, who could blame them for commemorating their deliverance by a day of joy and thanksgiving? And doth not the destruction of a church, a king, and three kingdoms, by the artifices, hypocrisy, and cruelty of a wicked race of soldiers and preachers, and other sons of Belial, equally require a solemn time of humiliation ? especially since the consequences of that bloody scene still continue, as I have already shown, in their effects upon us. Thus I have done with the three heads I proposed to discourse
I But before I conclude, I must give a caution to those who hear me, that they may not think I am pleading for absolute unlimited power in any one man. It is true all power is from God; and as the apostle says, “the powers that be are ordained of God;" but this is in the same sense that all we have is from God, our food and raiment, and whatever possessions we hold by lawful means. Nothing can be meant in those, or any other words of Scripture, to justify tyrannical power, or the savage cruelties of those heathen emperors who lived in the time of the apostles. And so St. Paul concludes, “ The powers that be are ordained of God :" for what? why, “for the punishment of evil-doers, and the praise, the reward of them that do well.” There is no more inward value in the greatest emperor than in the meanest of his subjects: his body is composed of the same substance, the same parts, and with the same or greater infirmities; his education is generally worse, by flattery, and idleness, and luxury, and those evil dispositions that early power is apt to give. It is therefore against common sense that his private personal interest or pleasure should be put in the balance with the safety of millions, every one of which is his equal by nature, equal in the sight of God, equally capable of salvation; and it is for their sakes, not his own, that he is entrusted with the government over them. He hath as high trust as can safely be reposed in one man; and if he discharge it as he ought, he deserves all the honor and duty that a mortal may be allowed to receive. His personal failings we have nothing to do with; and errors in government are to be imputed to his ministers in the state, To what height those errors may be suffered to proceed is not the business of this day, or this place, or of my function to determine. When oppressions grow too
great and universal to be borne, nature or necessity may find a remedy. But if a private person reasonably expects pardon upon his amendment for all faults that are not capital, it would be a hard condition indeed not to give the same allowance to a prince, who must see with other men's eyes, and hear with other men's ears, which are often wilfully blind and deaf. Such was the condition of the 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 fellow-subjects, 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 of both God and man.
One great design of our 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 hath sometimes gone over 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 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.”
Which that you may all do, &c.
SERMON THE SEVENTH.
ON FALSE WITNESS.
EXODUS xx. 16.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. 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 anything, the telling of which would prevent some great evil to his prince, his country, or his neighbor, 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 zcal, 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.” Ps. xxvii. 12. Our Savior and his apostles did likewise undergo the same distress, as we read both in the Gospels and the Acts.
Now because the sin of false witnessing is so horrible aud 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 delivered in the text; therefore, in order to prevent this evil and the consequences of it, at least among you who are my hearers, I shall, First, Show you several ways by which a man may be called a false
witness against his neighbor. Secondly, I shall give you some rules for your conduct and behavior,
in order to defend yourselves against the malice and cunning of
false accusers. And, lastly, I shall conclude with showing you very briefly how far
it is your duty as good subjects and good neighbors to bear faithful witness when you are lawfully called to it by those in authority, or by their sincere advice of your own consciences.
As to the first, there are several ways by which a man may be justly called a false witness against his neighbor.
First, According to the direct meaning of the word, when a man accuseth his neighbor without the least ground of truth. So we read, “ that Jezebel hired two sons of Belial to accuse Naboth for blaspheming God and the king, for which, although he was entirely innocent, he was stoned to death.” And in our age it is not easy to tell how many men have lost their lives, been ruined in their fortunes, and put to ignominious punishment, by the downright perjury of false witnesses, the law itself in such cases being not
able to protect the innocent. But this is so horrible a crime that it doth not need to be aggravated by words.
A second way by which a man becometh a false witness is when he mixeth falsehood and truth together, or concealeth some circumstances which, if they were told, would destroy the falsehoods he uttereth. So the two false witnesses who accused our Savior before the chief priests, by a very little perverting of his words, would have made him guilty of a capital crime; for so it was among the Jews to prophesy any evil against the temple : “ This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days:" whereas the words, as our Savior spoke them, were to another end, and differently expressed; for when the Jews asked him to show them a sign, he said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” In such cases as these an innocent man is half confounded, and looketh as if he were guilty, since he neither can deny his words nor perhaps readily strip them from the malicious additions of a false witness.
Thirdly, A man is a false witness when, in accusing his neighbor, he endeavors to aggravate by his gestures and tone of his voice, or when he chargeth a man with words which were only repeated or quoted from somebody else. As if any one should tell me that he heard another speak certain dangerous and seditious speeches, and I should immediately accuse him for speaking them himself, and so drop the only circumstance that made him innocent. the case of St. Stephen. The false witness said, “ This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law.” Whereas St. Stephen said no such words, but only repeated some prophecies of Jeremiah or Malachi, which threatened Jerusalem with destruction if it did not repent; however, by the fury of the people, this innocent holy person was stoned to death for words he never spoke.
Fourthly, The blackest kind of false witnesses are those who do the office of the devil, by tempting their brethren in order to betray them. I cannot call to mind any instances of this kind mentioned in holy Scripture. But I am afraid this vile practice hath been too much followed in the world. When a man's temper hath been so soured by misfortunes and hard usage, that perhaps he hath reason enough to complain, then one of these seducers, under the pretence of friendship, will seem to lament his case, urge the hardships he hath suffered, and endeavor to raise his passions, until he hath said