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let the King rejoice in God, and joy in thy strength; through the mercy of the Most High, let him never be moved.
Now, although it hath pleased Almighty God to break that yoke from off our necks, and to set us free from that oppression and violence: yet we ought not only to detest, but to bemoan the outrages and wickednesses, which were then committed; and seek to God, that he would avert from us those plagues and judgments, which the guilt of a part may deservedly bring upon these whole nations. For this is the unhappiness of being linked, though not in conspiracy, yet in national society, with evil-doers; that, although we first suffer from their sins, yet we may afterwards suffer for them: when but one Achan bad sinned; and that not so heinously, as to make him either a murderer or a regicide; God punisheth the whole camp of Israel for it, and causeth them to fee and fall before their enemies : Josh. vii. 11. Israel hath sinned.....for they have taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled: it was but the fact of one private man, and yet God chargeth it upon the whole : Israel hath sinned, and they have taken. Such a malignant influence hath the very community with wicked men, though we have no communion with their wickedness, to diffuse guilt and judgments upon a whole nation. Believe it, blood' is a loud and crying sin: the first, that was ever spilt, was beard as far as from earth to heaven: Gen. iv. 1o. The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground: and Rev. vi. 10. the souls under the altar cry with a loud voice, How long, O Lord, holy and true; dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the carth? And if the blood of private persons be so audible in God's ears, how much more loud and vocal is the blood of a slaughtered monarch! especially when the blood, oppression, and ruin of so many thousands as were involved in the direful consequences of that fatal day, join their voices with it, assault heaven, and cry aloud for vengeance. Let us then cry mightily to God, that the
voice of our prayers may be louder in his ears, than the voice of our provocations: and let us by our tears wash away that foul stain which lies upon our profession; and beg of God, that he would pour out a plentiful effusion of the blood of Christ, to cleanse these nations from the guilt of blood : for nothing less than the blood of God, which could expiate even for the shedding of itself, can expiate for the shedding of the blood of a King.
ALSO TO PUNISH THE JUST IS NOT GOOD, NOR TO STRIKE PRINCES
FOR EQUITY. TREASON and rebellion are such horrid and loathsoine crimes, that if they should appear in their native visage and genuine deformity, they could never form à party, nor allure men to divorce their allegiance, and espouse a cause whose very look is hideous, and whose portion is shame and damnation : and there fore they always wish themselves under some goodly vizor; and insinuate into the affections of the unwary and easily deceived multitude, under the specious prétences of piety and purity, zeal for the reformation of religion, the extirpation of superstition and idolatry, the security of our liberties and properties, the preservation of the kingdoms from tyranny and arbitrary government: and, to view, they expose no other consequents, but glorious days, godliness in its power, Christ upon his throne, and heaven upon earth; and such golden dreams, that too many of the people, in the simplicity of their hearts, have followed Absalom, and, transported with the witchcraft of rebellion, have abominated those who are truly loyal and orthodox, as enemies to the sceptre and kingdom of Christ, secret favourers of Popery, and open abettors of profaneness. When this zeal (and I may well call it a zeal without knowledge) hath once turned their brains, straight they receive a commission from heaven, to bind their own kings in chains, and their nobles in fetters of iron : straight it is trumpeted into their ears, that cursed is he, who goeth not forth to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty; that cursed is he, that withholdeth his sword from blood, and who doeth this work of the Lord negligently.
We have already seen the direful effects of this popular frenzy; and, if we are not wilfully blind, we may weil see that the same artifices are still made use of to the same ends. Wherein, as our stupidity is gross and inexcusable, to be twice gulled by the same methods, twice caught by the same bait; so is the craft and subtlety of our factious deceivers most conspicuous, in throwing out the most taking law that can be devised to make the 'rash vulgar eagerly stoop to it: for, if once they can be but flattered into an opinion, that they are the only saints, (and indeed man is a very silly creature, and loves to be flattered into glorious delusions) it is then very easy to make them believe, that it is their undoubted privilege and their birthright by grace, to thrash mountains : and to overturn all earthly power, which may give a check to that spiritual kingdom, which they have modelled in their own fancies; for such honour have all his saints.
Perhaps some here may think me too sharp, in making such a representation : but, indeed, it is impossible to speak of the humours of a mad and giddy age, without seeming severe to the infected; and he, who barely shews what they have been, and what in too great a measure they still are, is most satirical and biting. It is not my design to offend any : but if I am accounted their enemies for telling them the truth, it was the Apostle's lot before mine; and what was his support, I hope will be mine, the discharge of my duty and a good conscience.
If therefore any shall think that a good and holy cause (as every party is apt to think its own to be), if they shall think that equity and piety, religion and reformation, that the most precious cause and the most holy designs, can justify rebellions or sanctify the authors of them, I desire them, in the name of the Great God, soberly to consider that short portion of Scripture which I have chosen for my text, and on which my
following Discourse shall be grounded. They are the words of the wisest of men:
Prov. xvii. 26. Also to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity.
It is true, indeed, that these words were spoken by one who was a prince; yea, one of the greatest princes upon earth : yet he spoke them by the dictate of the King of Heaven, And, there
-which, ac :לא טוב להכות נדיבים על ישר ,order of the words
fore, it is a most impious and profane spirit, that hath prompted some to say, that Solomon, in his writings, hath pleaded his own interest; and hath strained the right of kings so high, because himself. was one. If this be not an unpardonable sin, in those, who pretend to be more refined Christians than others : yet I am sure it is one sort of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, by whose immediate direction Solomon wrote, and wrote for our direction; which if they will not follow, I think the king's loss of his subjects' obedience is nothing near so considerable, as the subjects' loss of their own souls.
I very well know, that some have perversely translated this text; and, instead of striking princes for equity, have rendered it princes striking for equity. It is true, indeed, that it is not good for princes to strike their subjects for equity, since this were tyranny and persecution : but, though this be a truth, yet every truth is not a true interpretation; nor can it possibly be the sense of this place. First, because it is against the natural
, : cording to the plain grammatical construction, ought to be rendered as our Translation, the Septuagint, and the Arabic have it: It is not good, to strike princes for equity; or else we must make an unnatural and ungrammatical transposition of the words, where there is no occasion for it. And, secondly, because they, who do otherwise render the words, must accuse Solomon of committing a tautology in one of his short and concise Proverbs; and all men know that it is agaiust the genius of proverbial speeches, to have any insignificant redundancies : yet if we must translate these words, as some would have us, that it is not good, for princes to strike for equity, is not this the very same sense with what he had said before, that it is not good, 19. punish the just? for those princes, who do strike for equity, do certainly punish the just.
The words, therefore, seem to have a double aspect.
The one respects Princes; forbidding them to punish their righteous subjects: To punish the just, is not good.
The other respects the People; forbidding them to rebel against their princes for equity's sake: It is not good.....to strike princes for equity.
It is not good, to punish the just. It is neither good in conscience, nor good in consequence: it is not good in conscience, because it is the highest piece of injustice, that can be com. mitted, to wrong those who wrong not any law either of God or man, and to exact a penalty from those who are guilty of no transgression ; this is absolute tyranny and oppression : it is not good in consequence, because God will be the avenger of all such ; and he, that doeth wrong, shall receive for the wrong which he hath done : and there is no respect of persons, as the Apostle speaks, Col. iii. 25. Persecution for the sake of Christ, as it is an evident token.....of salvation, to those, who meekly suffer it; so it is an evident token of perdition, to those, who inflict it: as we have it, Phil. i. 28, 29. But, because every man's ways seem right in his own eyes, although they are never so crooked in the eyes of God, therefore their fondness for their own sentiments and their zeal for their own way will make them account all who oppose them as enemies to the truth and persecutors of righteousness; and if any the least restraint be laid upon their illegal and licentious practices, though it be done with the greatest moderation and upon the highest necessity of preventing the general ruin, this they look upon as a punishing of the just and godly: and I am afraid too many think their party most grievously persecuted, only because they have not yet the power, which, by all Jesuitical artifices, they are labouring to get of persecuting others. That, therefore, we may not be imposed on by the exclamations of those, who arrogate to themselves to be the only people of God, let us not so much consider whether they be just and righteous, (I heartily wish that all who have so goud an opinion of themselves were really so) but whether they suffer for justice and righteousness' sake. If so, then happy and blessed are they: the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon them. But, if any man suffer for transgressing the laws of the magistrate, which he is not sure to be contrary to the laws of God; if any man suffer in the defeat of a conspiracy, or in carrying on turbulent and seditious designs against the peace of the established
of the established government; if any man suffer, as he is a busy promoter of any particular faction of Christians, rather than a zealous promoter of the general profession of Christians ; let us not think that man suffers as a Christian, but for acting directly contrary to the express rules of Christianity. But, indeed, what sufferings, what punishments were they, which could exasperate their minds to enter into that hellish and accursed design, for the discovery and disappointment of which we this day bless our great
and gracious God? did they suffer from the state; unless it were grievous in their eyes that it was peaceful, prosperous,