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fidels, lest they lose their service by it, and to preser their gain to men's souls? Is not this to sell souls for a little money, as Judas did his Lord! And whereas the law manumits them from servitude when they turn Christians, that it may invite them to conversion, (and this occasioneth wicked Christians to hinder them from knowledge,) were it not better move the government, therefore, to change that law, so far as to allow these covetous masters their service for a certain time, using them as free servants? 3. And whereas they are allowed only the Lord's Day for their own labor, and some honest Christians would willingly allow them some other time instead of it, that they might spend the Lord's day in learning to know Christ, and worship God, but they dare not do it, lest their wicked neighbors rise against them, for giving their slaves such an example; might not the governors be procured to force the whole plantation to it by a law, even to allow their infidel servants so much time on another day, and cause some to congregate them for instruction on the Lord's days? Why should those men be called Christians, or have any christian reputation, or privilege themselves, who think both Christianity and souls to be no more worth than to be thus basely sold for the gain of men's servilest labors? And what, though the poor infidels desire not their own conversion, their need is the greater, and not the less.
VI. I conclude with this moving inference: The great opposition that is made against doing good by the devil and his whole army through all the world, and their lamentable success, doth call aloud to all true Christians to over-do them. O what a kingdom of malignants hath Satan, doing mischief to men's souls and bodies through the earth ! hating the godly ; oppressing the just ; corrupting doctrine ; introducing lies; turning Christ's laborers out of his vineyard; forbidding them to preach in his name the saving word of life; hiding or despising the laws of Christ, and setting up their own wills and devices in their stead; making dividing, distracting engines, on pretence of order, government and unity; murdering men's bodies, and ruining their estates, and slandering their names, on pretence of love to the church and souls ; encouraging profaneness, blasphemy, perjury, whoredom, and scorning conscience, and fear of sinning. What diligence doth Satan use through the very christian nations, to turn
Christ's ordinances of magistracy and ministry against himself, and to make his own officers the most mischievous enemies to his truth and kingdom, and saving work; to tread down his family and spiritual worship, as if it were by his own authority and commission. To preach down truth, and conscience, and real godliness, as in Christ's own name, and fight against him with his own word, and to teach the people to hate his servants, as if this pleased the God of love.
And, alas ! how dismal is their success! In the East, the church is hereby destroyed by the barbarous Mahometans: the remnants by their prelates continued in sects, in great ignorance, and dead formality, reproaching and anathematizing one another, and little hope appearing of recovery. In the West, a dead image of religion, and unity, and order, dressed up with a multitude of gauds, and set up against the life and soul of religion, unity and order, and a war hereupon maintained for their destruction, with sad success: so that, usually, the more zealous men are for the papal and formal human image, the more zealously they study the extirpation of worshipping God in spirit and truth, and thirst after the blood of the most serious worshippers; and cry down them as intolerable enemies who take their baptism for an obliging vow, and seriously endeavor to perform it, and live in good earnest, as Christianity bindeth them: and they take it for an insufferable crime to preser God's authority before man's, and to plead his law against any thing that men command them. In a word, he is unworthy to be accounted a Christian with them, who will be a Christian indeed, and not despise the laws of Christ, and unworthy to have the liberty and usage of a man that will not sin and damn his soul : so much more cruel are they than the Turkish tyrants, who, if they send to a man for his head, must be obeyed.
And is the devil a better master than Christ? And shall his work be done with greater zeal and resolution ? Will he give his servants a better reward? Should not all this awaken us to do good with greater diligence, than they do evil? And to promote love and piety more earnestly than they do malignity and iniquity! is not saving church and state, souls and bodies, better worth resolution and labor than destroying them?
And the prognostics are encouraging. Certainly, Christ and his kingdom will prevail. At last, all his enemies shall be made his footstool ; yea, shall from him receive their doom to everlasting punishment which rebels against omnipotency, goodness and mercy, do deserve. If God be not God, if Christ will not conquer, if there be no life to come, let them boast of their success : but when they are rottenness, and dust, and their souls with devils, and their names are a reproach, Christ will be Christ, his promises and threatenings all made good. (2 Thess. i. 6, &c.) He will judge it righteous to recompense tribulation to your troublers, when he cometh with his mighty angels in flaming fire, to take vengeance on rebels, and to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all true believers. And when that solemn judgment shall pass on them that did good, and that did evil, described Matt. XXV., with a “Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom,"
“ and “Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,” doing good and not doing it, much more doing mischief, will be better distinguished than now they are, when they are rendered as the reason of those different dooms.
GOD'S GOODNESS VINDICATED;
HELP OF SUCH (ESPECIALLY IN MELANCHOLY)
TEMPTED TO DENY IT, AND THINK HIM TO BE CRUEL,
BECAUSE OF THE
PRESENT AND FUTURE MISERY OF MANKIND;
WITH RESPECT TO THE
DOCTRINE OF REPROBATION AND DAMNATION.
How much the glory of God and the salvation of men is concerned in the right understanding of his goodness, in all his ways and counsels towards them, is evidently seen by all that have any true notion of the Divine Excellency and man's felicity. God's goodness is his most solemnly proclaimed name and glory. It is his goodness duly known, that leads sinners to repentance, and unites their hearts to fear his name, and excites, and forever terminates that love which is our holiness and happiness to eternity. It is also too well known, how much this amiable Divine Goodness is denied or doubted of. What cavils are raised against it by men of corrupt minds! What secret prejudice lies against it, and how deeply rooted in our depraved nature ! Yea, with how fearful suggestions and apprehensions are some godly Christians (especially those that lie in the darkness of melancholy) sometimes perplexed about it! And even such as are grounded and settled in it, are liable to be assaulted, and may sometimes stagger and stumble at it. And indeed, though the kindness of God towards men hath appeared in the world, as visible as the sun in the firmament; yet man's darkened understanding, and his connate sensuality and selfishness, taking occasion from the more mysterious parts of providence, and those especially that most contradict the wisdom and interest of the flesh, hath caused disputes, and raised doubts, against the truth of that which is in itself as clear and sure as that there is a God or a world, or any thing existent. Whereupon this author was earnestly desired by a friend, to collect some principles in a narrow compass, that might silence cavillers, succor the tempted, and confirm the sound mind. And for these ends they are, with his permission, by his friend made public; Hosea xiv. 9. “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things ? prudent, and he shall know them ? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein."
April 27, 1671.