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holy character, law, worship, truth, and servants, is the principal source of persecution; the judge in FAITHFUL'S trial. The interference of spiritual religion with men's covetous, ambitious, and sensual pursuits; and the inter: ruption it gives to their false peace and unanimity ini ungodliness or hypocrisy, which it tends to expose and undermine, form the grounds of the indictment: that is, when the persecuted can truly answer, that they only set • themselves against that which sets itself against God;' and when they do not suffer“ as evil-doers, busy-bodies in other “ men's matters," ambitious competitors for secular advantages, or contentious disputants about political questions.
..23. Witnesses... The names of these witnesses declare the characters of the most active instruments of persecution. Even PILATE could perceive that the Jewish scribes and priests were actuated by envy, in delivering up JESUS to him. His instructions discredited theirs, and diminished their reputation and influence: he was more followed than they; and in proportion as he was deemed a teacher sent from God, they were regarded as blind guides. Thus formal instructors and learned men, who are strangers to the power of godliness, have always affected to despise the professors and preachers of the gospel as ignorant enthusiasts; they envy the reputation acquired by them, and are angry at the success of their doctrines. If they have not the authority to silence the minister, they will browbeat such of his hearers as are within the reach of their influence; especially, if they have affronted them, by forsaking their uninteresting in. structions. If they cannot prevail upon “ the powers that be" to interfere, they will employ reproaches, menaces, or even oppression, to pbstruct the progress of evangelical ministers: should any obsolete law remain unrepealed, of which they can take advantage, they will be the first to enforce it : and, if the rulers engage in persecution, they will take the lead, as prosecutors and witnesses.-As this was remarkably the case in our author's days; and as the history of the old and new
Testament, and every authentic record of persecutions, give the same view of it; we cannot be greatly at a loss to know what was especially meant by this emblem.-In other respects there is seldom much in the circumstances of pious persons, to excite the envy of their ungodly neighbours; as they despise their spiritual privileges and comforts.
107..6. Disloyal...It has always been the practice of envious accusers to represent those who refuse religious conformity as disloyal, and disaffected to the civil govern. ment of their country; because they judge it right to obey God rather than man; how grievous then is it, that any, who profess the gospel, should give plausibility to such calumnies! How desirable for them, after the example, and in obedience to the precepts of Christ and his apostles,
by well-doing to put to silence the ignorance of foolish “ men,” “ to avoid all appearance of evil;" “ to render to “ Cesar the things that are Cesar's;” and to constrain even enemies to bear testimony to their peaceable deportment! This would exhibit their patient suffering for conscience' sake as amiable and respectable in the eyes of all, not immediately engaged in persecution; and would give a sanction to their most bold and decided testimony against every kind of vice, irreligion, and false religion. But when they revile the persons of rulers, or make religion the pretext for intermed. dling out of their place in political matters, and of attempting to disturb the peace of the community, they exceedingly strengthen men's prejudices against the doctrines of the gos. pel, and the whole body of those who profess them; and thus give occasion, and furnish an excuse, for that very persecution, of which they complain, in other respects, with the greatest justice.
..22. They called...SUPERSTITION represents another class of underling persecutors (for the principals are often masked infidels). Traditions, human inventions, forms, and externals, appear to them decent, venerable, and sacred; and are mistaken, with pertinacious ignorance, for the substance
of religion. As mere circumstances of worship, some of these may very well answer the purpose; provided they be not imposed, magnified above their value, or substituted in the place of things essentially good: others are bad, in their origin, use, and tendency; yet the truths, ordinances, and commandments of GOD are made void, that men may keep them. What is pompous or burdensome appears to such men meritorious; and the excitement of mere natural pas. sions (as at a tragedy) is deemed a most needful help to true devotion. They are, therefore, eminently qualified to be witnesses against the faithful servants of God: for they " think they are thus doing him service," while they are opposing a company of profane despisers of their idolized forms; a set of fanatics, heretics, and pestilent schismatics. Their religious zeal contracts and hardens their hearts, and the supposed goodness of the cause sanctifies their bitter rage, enmity, and calumny. The manifest odiousness of these proceedings should excite all who love the truth to keep at the utmost distance from such obstinate confidence and violence; to discountenance them to the utmost, in the zealots of their own party; and to leave the enemies of the gospel, if possible, to monopolize this disgrace. For hitherto, almost every party has been betrayed into it, when advanced to power, and has given its opponents the most plausible arguments against it.
108..6. Then was...PICKTHANK represents a set of tools that persecutors continually use: men of no religious principle, who assume the appearance of zeal for any party, as may best promote their interests; who inwardly despise both the superstitious and the spiritual worshipper; and see nothing in the conduct or circumstances of the latter to excite their rage or envy. But if their superiors be disposed to persecute, they will afford their assistance; for preferment runs in this channel. So that they bear testimony against believers from avarice or ambition, and flatter the most execrable characters, in order to get forward in the world: this being the grand
object to which they readily sacrifice every thing else.-The names of the persons, concerning whom FAITHTUL spoke, shows that his crime consisted in protesting, by word and deed, against vices which the great too often think them. selves privileged to commit without censure; and not in reviling the persons or misrepresenting the actions of supe. riors. The former may with great propriety be done at all times; and on some occasions the testimony against sin cannot be too closely applied to the consciences of the guilty, without respect of persons; but the latter is always unjust and unscriptural.
109..5. I say...FAITHFUL's defence is introduced by these lines, as in the foregoing instances
• Now, FAITHFUL, play the man, speak for thy God;
Christians, in such circumstances, should be more concerned for the honour of God than for their own credit or safety: they should take occasion to bear a decided testimony to the truths, commandments, and institutions of scripture; leaving it to their accusers, judges, or hearers, to determine what sentiments and practices are thus proved to be anti-christian, or what numbers of “ teachers in ISRAEL' are exposed as blind guides. That faith, (by which alone we approach to God, and acceptably worship him,), has no other object than divine revelation; nothing dorre without the express warrant of scripture can be profitable to eternal life, whatever may be said for its expediency; but every thing foisted into religion contrary to that sacred rule must be an abomination. Human faith may please men; but without a divine faith it is impossible to please God, either in general or in any particular action. And as we seldom can speak against the vile lusts of inen, without being judged by implication
to rail against such as are notoriously addicted to them, we cannot be the followers of him “ whom the world hated, " because he testified, of it that its works were evil,” unless we be willing to risque all consequences in copying his example.
..26. The judge...A more just and keen satyrical description of such legal iniquities can scarcely be imagined, than that contained in this passage. The statutes and precedente adduced (with an humorous and well imitated reference to the style and manner in which charges are commonly given to juries) show what patterns persecuting legislators and magistrates choose to copy, and whose kingdom they labour to uphold. Nor can any impartial man deny, that the infer. ence is fair which our author meant the reader to deduce; namely, that nominal protestants, enacting laws requiring conformity to their own creeds and forms, and inflicting punishments on such as peaceably dissent from them, are actually involved in the guilt of these heathen persecutors, and of their anti-christian successors; even if their doctrine and worship be allowed to be scriptural and spiritual. Such methods only serve to promote hypocrisy, and to expose the conscientious to the malice, envy, or avarice of the unprincipled. The names of the jury-men, and their general and particular verdicts, the cruel execution of FaithFUL., and the happy event of his sufferings, need no comment. It was not indeed the practice of the times, to which this representation belongs, to inflict death on those who were persecuted for conscience' sake: yet very great rigours were used; the system then adopted, if carried to its consequences, must have ended in the extermination of all non-conformists from the land; it was natural to expect still greater cruelty from persons who were found capable of the severities already experienced; and without all doubt many actually lost their lives, in one way or other, by the persecutions to which they were exposed. All those who feel a disposition to employ the power of the magistrate against such as differ