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assemblies called to their cities from the whole territory on such occasion, declare and publish their assent or dissent by deputies, within a time limited, sent to the grand council; yet so as this their judgment declared shall submit to the greater number of other counties or commonalties, and not avail them to any exemption of themselves, or refusal of agreement with the rest, as it may in any of the United Provinces, being sovereign within itself, of times to the great disadvantage of that union. In these employments they may, much better than they do now, exercise and sit themselves till their lot fall to be chosen into the grand council, according as their worth and merit shall be taken notice of by the people.
As for controversies that shall happen between men of several counties, they may repair, as they do now, to the capital city, or any other more commodious, indifferent place, and equal judges. And this I find to have been practised in the old Athenian Commonwealth, reputed the first and ancientest place of civility in all Greece; that they had in their several cities a peculiar, in Athens a common government; and their right, as it befel them, to the administration of both. They should have here also schools and academies at their own choice, wherein their children may be bred up in their own sight to all learning and noble education ; not in grammar only, but in all liberal arts and exercises. This would soon spread much more knowledge and civility, yea, religion, through all parts of the land, by communicating the natural heat of government and culture more distributively to all extreme parts, which now lie numb and neglected, would soon make the whole nation more industrious, more ingenious at home; more potent, more honourable abroad. To this a free commonwealth may easily assent ; (nay, the parliament hath had already some such thing in design ;) for of all governments a commonwealth aims most to make the people flourishing, virtuous, noble, and high-spirited. Monarchs will never permit; whose aim is to make the people wealthy indeed perhaps, and well fleeced, for their own shearing, and the supply of regal prodigality; but otherwise softest, basest, viciousest, servilest, easiest to be kept under: and not only in fleece, but in mind also sheepishest; and will have all the benches of judicature annexed to the throne, as a gift of royal grace, that we have justice done us; whenas nothing can be more essential to the freedom of a people, than to have the administration of justice, and all public ornaments, in their own election, and within their own bounds, without long travelling or depending upon remote places to obtain their right, or any civil accomplishment; so it be not supreme, but subordinate to the general power and union of the whole republic. In which happy firmness, as in the particular above-mentioned, we shall also far exceed the United Provinces, by having, not as they, (to the retarding and distracting ofttimes of their counsels or urgentest occasions,) many sovereignties united in one commonwealth, but many commonwealths under one united and intrusted sovereignty. And when we have our forces by sea and land, either of a faithful army, or a settled militia, in our own hands, to the firm establishing of a free commonwealth, public accounts under our own inspection, general laws and taxes, with their causes in our own domestic suffrages, judicial laws, offices, and ornaments at home in our own ordering and administration,'all distinction of lords and commoners, that may any way,
divide or sever the public interest, removed ; what can a perpetual senate have then, wherein to grow corrupt, wherein to encroach upon us, or usurp? or if they do, wherein to be forinidable? Yet if all this avail not to remove the fear or envy of a perpetual sitting, it may be easily provided, to change a third part of them yearly, or every two or three years, as was above mentioned ;
or that it be at those times in the people's choice, whether they will change them, or renew their power, as they shall find cause.
I have no more to say at present: few words will save us, well considered; few and easy things, now seasonably done. But if the people be so affected as to prostitute religion and liberty to the vain and groundless apprehension, that nothing but kingship can restore trade, not remembering the frequent plagues and pestilences that then wasted this city, such as through God's mercy we never have felt since; and that trade flourishes no where more than in the free commonwealths of Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries, before their eyes at this day; yet if trade be grown so craving and importunate through the profuse living of tradesmen, that nothing can support it but the luxurious expenses of a nation upon trifles or superfluities ; so as if the people generally should betake themselves to frugality, it might prove a dangerous matter, lest tradesmen should mutiny for want of trading; and that therefore we must forego and set to sale religion, liberty, honour, safety, all concernments divine or human, to keep up trading: if, lastly, after all this light among us, the same reason shall pass for current, to put our necks again under kingship, as was made use of by the Jews to return back to Egypt and to the worship of their idol queen,
because they falsely imagined that they then lived in more plenty and prosperity; our condition is not sound but rotten, both in religion and all civil prudence; and will bring us soon, the way we are marching, to those calamities, which attend always and unavoidably on luxury, all national judgments under foreign and domestic slavery : so far we shall be from mending our condition by monarchising our government, whatever new conceit now possesses us. However, with all hazard I have ventured what I thought my duty to speak in season, and to forewarn my country in time ; wherein I doubt not but there be many wise men in all places and degrees, but am sorry the effects of wisdom are so little seen among us. Many circumstances and particulars I could have added in those things whereof I have spoken: but a few main matters now put speedily in execution, will suffice to recover us, and set all right; and there will want at no time who are good at circumstances; but men who set their minds on main matters, and sufficiently urge them, in these most difficult times I find not many.
What have spoken, is the language of that which is not called amiss “ The good old Cause:" if it seem strange to any, it will not seem more strange, I hope, than convincing to backsliders. Thus much I should perhaps have said, though I were sure I should have spoken only to trees and stones; and had none to cry to, but with the prophet, “ O earth, earth, earth!” to tell the very soil itself, what her perverse inhabitants are deaf to. Nay, though what I have spoke should happen (which thou suffer not, who didst create mankind free! nor thou next, who didst redeem us from being servants of men !) to be the last words of our expiring liberty. But I trust I shall have spoken persuasion to abundance of sensible and ingenuous men; to some perhaps, whom God may raise to these stones to become children of reviving liberty; and may reclaim, though they seem now choosing them a captain back for Egypt, to bethink themselves a little, and consider whither they are rushing; to exhort this torrent also of the people, not to be so impetuous, but to keep their due channel ; and at length recovering and uniting their better resolutions, now that they see already how open and unbounded the insolence and rage is of our common enemies, to stay these ruinous proceedings, justly and timely fearing to what a precipice of destruction the deluge of this epidemic madness would hurry us, through the general defection of a misguided and abused multitude.
BRIEF NOTES UPON A LATE SERMON,
THE FEAR OF GOD AND THE KING.
PREACHED AND SINCE PUBLISHED
BY MATTHEW GRIFFITH, D.D.,
AND CHAPLAIN TO THE LATE KING.
WHEREIN MANY NOTORIOUS WRESTINGS OF SCRIPTURE, AND
SITIES, ARE OBSERVED,
(FIRST PUBLISHED 1660.)
I AFFIRMED in the preface of a late discourse, intitled, “ The ready Way to establish a Free Commonwealth, and the Dangers of re-admitting Kingship in this Nation,” that the humour of returning to our old bondage was instilled of late by some deceivers; and to make good, that what I then affirmed was not without just ground, one of those deceivers I present here to the people: and if I prove him not such, refuse not to be so accounted in his stead.
He begins in his epistle to the General,* and moves cunningly for a license to be admitted physician both to church and state ; then sets out his practice in physical terms, “ a wholesome electuary to be taken every morning next our hearts;" tells of the opposition which he met with from the college of state physicians, then lays before you his drugs and ingredients; “ Strong purgatives in the pulpit, contempered of the myrrh of mortification, the aloes of confession and contrition, the rhubarb of restitution and satisfaction;" a pretty fantastic dose of divinity from a pulpit mountebank, not unlike the fox, that turning pedlar opened his pack of ware before the kid; though he now would seem, “to personate the good Samaritan," undertaking to “describe the rise and progress of our national malady, and to prescribe the only remedy;" which how he performs, we shall quickly see.
First, he would suborn St. Luke as his spokesman to the General, presuming, it seems, “ to have had as perfect understanding of things from the very first,” as the evangelist had of his gospel; that the General, who hath so eminently borne his part in the whole action, "might know the certainty of those things" better from him a partial sequestered enemy; for so he presently appears, though covertly, and like the tempter, commencing his address with an impudent calumny and affront to his excellence, that he would be pleased « to carry on what he had so happily begun in the name and cause” not of God only, which we doubt not, but “ of his anointed,” meaning the late king's son; to charge him most audaciously and falsely with the renouncing of his own public promises and declarations, both to the parliament and the army, and we trust his actions ere long will deter such insinuating slanderers from thus approaching him for the future
But the General may well excuse him; for the Comforter himself scapes not his presumption, avouched as falsely, to have empowered to those designs “him and him only,” who hath solemnly declared the contrary. What fanatic, against whom he so often inveighs, could more presumptuously affirm whom the Comforter hath empowered, than this anti-fanatic, as he would be thought?
THE TEXT. Prov. xxiv. 21.-My son, fear God and the king, and meddle not with them
that be seditious, or desirous of change, &c.
Letting pass matters not in controversy, I come to the main drift of your sermon, the king; which word here is either to signify any supreme magistrate or else your latter object of fear is not universal, belongs not at all to many parts of Christendom, that have no king; and in particular not to us. That we have no king since the putting down of kingship in this commonwealth, is manifest by this last parliament, who, to the time of their dissolving, not only made no address at all to any king, but summoned this next to come by the writ formerly appointed of a free commonwealth, without restitution or the least mention of any kingly right or power; which could not be, if there were at present any king of England. The main part therefore of your sermon, if it mean a king in the usual sense, is either impertinent and absurd, exhorting your auditory to fear that which is not; or if king here be, as it is understood, for any supreme magistrate, by your own exhortation they are in the first place not to meddle with you, as being yourself most of all the seditious meant here, and the “ desirous of change, in stirring them up to “fear a king,” whom the present government takes no notice of.
You begin with a vain vision, “God and the king at the first blush" (which will not be your last blush)“ seeming to stand in your text like those two cherubims on the mercy-seat, looking on each other." By this similitude, your conceited sanctuary, worse than the altar of Ahaz, patterned from Damascus, degrades God to a cherub, and raises your king to be his collateral in place, notwithstanding the other differences you put; which well agrees with the court-letters, lately published, from this lord to the other lord, that cry him up for no less than angelical and celestial.
Your first observation, page 8, is, “ That God and the king are coupled in the text, and what the Holy Ghost bath thus firmly combined, we may not, we must not dare to put asunder;" and yourself is the first man who puts them asunder by the first proof of your doctrine immediately following, Judg. vii. 20, which couples the sword of the Lord and Gideon, a man who not only was no king, but refused to be a king or monarch, when it was offered him, in the very next chapter, ver. 22, 23, “I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.' Here we see, that this worthy heroic deliverer of his country thought it best governed, if the Lord governed it in that form of a free cominonwealth, which they then enjoyed, without a single person. And ihus is your first scripture abused, and most impertinently cited, nay, against yourself, to prove, that “kings at their coronation have a sword given them,” which you interpret “the militia, the power of life and death put into their hands," against the declared judgment of our parliaments, nay, of all our laws, which reserve to themselves only the power of life and death, and render you in their just resentment of this boldness another Dr. Manwaring
Your next proof is as false and frivolous, “ The king,” say you, “is God's sword-bearer;" true, but not the king only: for Gideon, by whom you seek to prove this, neither was nor would be a king; and as you yourself confess, page 40,“ There be divers forms of government." “ He bears not the sword in vain,” Rom. xiii. 4: This also is as true of
lawful rulers, especially supreme; so that “Rulers,” ver. 3, and therefore this present government, without whose authority you excite the people to a king, bear the sword as well as kings, and as little in vain. “They fight against God, who resist his ordinance, and go about to wrest the sword out of the hands of his anointed.” This is likewise granted: but who is his anointed ? Not every king, but they only who were anointed or made kings by his special command; as Saul, David, and his race, which ended in the Messiah, (from whom no kings at this day can derive their title) Jehu, Cyrus, and if any other were by name appointed by him to some particular service: as for the rest of kings, all other supreme magistrates are as much the Lord's anointed as they; and our obedience commanded equally to them all; “for there is no power but of God,” Rom. xiii. 1: and we are exhorted in the gospel to obey kings, as other magistrates, not that they are called any where the Lord's anointed, but as they are the “Ordinance of man,” i Pet. ii. 13. You therefore and other such false doctors, preaching kings to your auditory, as the Lord's only anointed, to withdraw people from the present government, by your own text are self-condemned, and not to be followed, not to be “meddled with,” but to be noted, as most of all others the “seditious and desirous of change.”
Your third proof is no less against yourself. Psal. cv. 15, “ Touch not mine anointed." For this is not spoken in behalf of kings, but spoken to reprove kings, that they should not touch his anointed saints and servants, the seed of Abraham, as the verse next before might have taught you, he reproved kings for their sakes, saying, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm ;” according to that, 2 Cor. i. 21, “He who hath anointed us, is God.” But how well you confirm one wrested scripture with another! 1 Sam. viii. 7, “They have not rejected thee, but me:" grossly misapplying these words, which were not spoken to any who had “ resisted or rejected” a king, but to them who much against the will of God had sought a king, and rejected a commonwealth, wherein they might have lived happily under the reign of God only, their king. Let the words interpret themselves; ver. 6, 7, “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us: and Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee ; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” Hence you conclude, “ so indissoluble is the conjunction of God and the king." O notorious abuse of Scripture! whenas you should have concluded, so unwilling was God to give them a king, so wide was the disjunction of God from a king. Is this the doctrine you boast of, to be “so clear in itself, and like a mathematical principle, that needs no farther demonstration ?”' Bad logic, bad mathematics, (for principles can have no demonstration at all,) but worse divinity. O people of an implicit faith, no better than Romish, if these be thy prime teachers, who to their credulous audience dare thus juggle with Scripture, to allege those places for the proof of their doctrine, which are the plain refutation : and this is all the Scripture which he brings to confirm his point.
The rest of his preachment is mere groundless chat, save here and there a few grains of corn scattered to entice the silly fowl into his net, interlaced here and there wilh some human reading, though slight, and not without Vol. II.