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them. Even Christ himself was crucified as an enemy to Cæsar, and Pilate driven to it by the noise of them that cried out, that if he let them go he was not Cæsar's friend : John xix. 12.
They first tempted him with the question, “Whether it were lawful to pay tribut unto Cæsar;" Matt. xxi. 17. Luke xx. 22. And though they could this way take no hold of him, yet this was the first article of his accusation : “We have found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar:” Luke xxiii. 2. And how loyal would those rebellious Jews seem, when they thought it the only way to engage the Roman power against Christ? Then they cry out, “We have no king but Cæsar;" John xix. 15. And this was the common accusation against the Christians both by Jews and Gentiles. The language of the Jews you may hear from Tertullus : “We have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes;" Acts xxiv. 5. And at Thessalonica, the charge against them was, that they “ turned the world upside down, and did all contrary to the decrees of Cæsar;" chap. xvii. 6, 7. And thus the best Christians have by such been slandered from age to age; because the devil and his instruments know not how sufficiently to molest them, except they engage the rulers against them. But yet all this doth not conquer the patience and loyalty of confirmed Christians. They are wiser than that wise man that Solomon saith, “Oppression maketh mad;" Eccles. vii. 7. If usurpers or malicious liars shall a thousand times call them rebellious and seditious, it shall not drive them from their due subjection. They can patiently follow their Lord and the ancient Christians, in the enduring of such slanders, and suffering as enemies to Cæsar, so they do but escape the sin, and be not such as malice calleth them. They had rather die as reputed enemies to government, than to be such indeed. They prefer subjection before the reputation of it; for they look not for their reward from princes, but from God. If they can preserve their innocence, they can bear the defamation of their names, being satisfied in the hopes of the joyful day of the judgment of Christ, which will fully justify them and set all straight. Indeed they know that a state of subjection is easier and safer than places of command;
and that it is easier to obey than govern. And so far are they from envying men's greatness, and from desiring dominions, that they pity the tempted, and dangerous, and troublesome state of those in power, and are thankful to God for their quieter and safer station. They heartily pray for kings and all that are in authority; not that by their favor they may rise to places of wealth and honor, but “that under them they may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty ; 1 Tim. ii. 2. Yea, though infidel princes hate and persecute them, they continue to pray for them, and to honor their authority, and will not thereby be driven from their duty. If God cast their lot under infidel, ungodly, and malicious governors, they do not run to arms to save themselves, or save the Gospel; as if God had called them to reform the world, or keep it from the oppression of the higher powers. Nor do they think it a strange, intolerable matter for the best men to be lowest, and to be the suffering side, and so fall to fighting that Christ and the saints may have the rule. For they know that Christ's kingdom is not of this world, (John xviii. 36.); that is not a visible monarchy, as bis usurping vicar doth pretend; and that Christ doth most eminently rule unseen, and disposeth
1 of all the kingdoms of the world, even where he is hated and resisted; and that the reign of saints is in their state of glory; and that all God's graces do fit them more for a suffering life, than for worldly power. Their humility, meekness, patience, self-denial, contempt of the world, and heavenly mindedness, are better exercised and promoted in a suffering, than a prosperous, reigning state.
When they think of the holy blood which bath been shed by heathen Rome, from Christ and Stephen, till the days of Constantine; and the far greater streams which have been shed by the bloody papal Rome; wherever they bad power, in Piedmont, Germany, Poland, Hungary, in Belgia, England, and in other lands; the thirty or forty thousand murdered in a few days at the Bartholomew massacre in France; the two hundred thousand murdered in a few weeks in Ireland, they are not so unlike their suffering brethren, as to think that striving for honors and command, is their way to heaven. When Christ bath foretold them that self-denial under the cross, tribulation, and persecution, is the common way; (Luke xiv. 26, 27. 29. 33. Acts xiv. 22. John xvi. 33.
Rom. v. 3. vii. 35. 2 Tim. iii. 12. Matt. v. 10–12. 2 Thess. ii. 6, 7. 10. Mark x. 30.)-so far are they from fighting against the injuries and cruelties of their governors, that they account the reproach of Christ to be greater riches than all their treasures, (Heb. xi. 25, 26.), and think they are blessed when they are persecuted (Matt. v. 10.), and say with Paul, “ God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world;" Gal. vi. 14. And 2 Cor. xii. 19. “ Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.” “Nay, in all these things, when persecuted and killed all the day long, and counted as sheep to the slaughter, they are more than conquerers through Christ;" Rom. viii. 35– 37. They obtain a nobler conquest than that which is obtained by the sword.
2. But the weak Christian having less patience, and more selfishness and passion, is more easily tempted to break his bounds, and with Peter run to his unauthorized sword, when he should submit to suffering; Matt. xxvi. 51, 52. And his interest and sufferings cause bis passions to have too great a power on his judgment, so that he is more easily tempted to believe that to be lawful which he thinks to be necessary to his own preservation; and to think that the Gospel and the church are falling, when the power of men is turned against them; and therefore he must with Uzzah put forth his hand to save the ark of God from falling. He is more troubled at men's injustice and cruelty, and maketh a wonder of it, to find the enemies of Christ and godliness to be unreasonably impudent and bloody; as if he expected reason and righteousness in the malicious world. His sufferings fill him more with discontent, and desires of revenge from God; Luke ix. 54. and his prosperity too much lifts him up; 2 Chron. Xxxü. 25. And in the litigious titles of pretenders to supremacy, he is oft too hasty to interest himself in their contentions, as if he understood not that whoever is the conquerer will count those rebels that were on the other side; and that the enemies of Christ will cast all the odium upon Christianity and piety, when the controversy is only among the statesmen and lawyers, and belongs not to religion
3. The seeming Christian will seem to excel all others in loyalty and obedience, when it maketh for his carnal ends : he will flatter rulers for honors and preferment, and always be on the rising side, unless when his pride engageth him in murmurings and rebellions. He hath a great advantage above true Christians and honest men, to seem the most obedient subject; because he hath a stretching conscience, that can do any thing for his safety or his worldly ends. If he be among the Papists, he can be a Papist; if among Protestants, he is a Protestant; and if he were among Turks, it is likely he would rather turn a Mahometan than be undone. No prince or power can command him any thing which he cannot yield to, if his worldly interest require it. If there be a law for worshipping the golden image, it is the conscionable servants of God, and not the time-servers, that refuse to obey it; Dan. jji. If there be a law against praying, (Dan. vi.) it is Daniel, and not the ungodly multitude that disobey it. If there be a command against preaching, (Acts iv. 17, 18.) it is the holy apostles and best Christians that plead the command of God against it, and refuse obedience to it; (ver. 20. 29.) The selfseeking, temporizing hypocrite can do any thing; and yet he obeyeth not, while he seemeth to obey : for it is not for the authority of the commander that he doth it, but for his own ends. He never truly honoreth his superiors; for he doth not respect them as the officers of God, nor obey them for his sake with a conscionable obedience. He feareth the higher powers as bears or tigers, that are able to hurt him ; or useth their favor as he useth his horse, to do bim service. Were it not for himself, he would liule regard them. The true Christian honoreth the basest creature more than the hypocrite and worldling honoreth his king : for he seeth God in all, and useth the smallest things unto his glory; whereas the worldling debaseth the highest, by the baseness of his estcem, and use, and end : for he knoweth not how to esteem or use the greatest prince, but for himself or for some worldly ends; 2 Tim. j. 3, 4.
XLIX. 1. A Christian indeed is a man of courage and fortitude in every cause of God; for he trusteth God, and firmly believeth that he will bear him out. He knoweth his superiors, and hath a charitable respect to all men : but as for any sellish or timorous respect, he
hath the least regard to man. For he knoweth that the greatest are but worms, whose breath is in their nostrils, that pass away as shadows, and return to dust; and that the most potent are impotent when they contend with God, and are unequal matches to strive against their Maker; aud that it will prove hard for them to kick against the pricks; and that whoever seemeth now to have the day, it is God that will be conqueror at last. Job xxv. 6. xvii. 14. xxiv. 20. Psal. lxxix. 31. ciii. 16. cxliv. 3-5. Acts ix. 4-6. "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help; his breath goeth forth; he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help; whose hope is in the Lord his God.” “ Woe to him that striveth with his Maker;" Isa. xlv. 9. He knoweth that it is more irrational to fear man against God, than to fear a flea or a fly against the greatest man. The infinite disproportion between the creature that is against him, and the Creator that is for him, doth resolve him to obey the command of Christ; “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do: but I will forewarn you whom you shall fear : fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you
fear bim;" Luke xii. 4. “ Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness the people in whose heart is my law: fear ye not the reproof of man, neither be afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them
like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation
, to generation;" Isa. lvii. 7,8. “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded; therefore have I set my face like a flint; and I know that I'shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? Let us stand together; who is mine adversary ? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God will help me : who is he that shall condemn me? Lo! they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up;" Isa. 1. 6—9. xxxv. 4. xli. 10. 13, 14. vii. 4. Jer. xlvi. 27, 28. Matt. x. 26. 31. « Cease
ye from man, whose breath is in his nos