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more? Hence an old malefactor in his execu tion at the gallows made no other confession but this; that he had very jocundly passed over his life in such courses; and he that would not for fifty years' pleasure endure half an hour's pain, deserved to die a worse death than himself. Questionless this man was not ignorant before, that there were such things as laws, assizes, and gallows; but had he considered and believed the terrors of another world, he might probably have found a fairer passage out of this. If there was not a minister in every parish, you would quickly find cause to increase the number of constables: and if the churches were not employed to be places to hear God's law, there would be need of them to be prisons for the breakers of the laws of men. Hence it is observable, that the tribe of Levi had not one place or portion together, like the rest of the tribes: but, because it was their office to dispense religion, they were diffused over all the tribes, that they might be continually preaching to the rest their duty to God; which is the most effectual way to dispose them to obedience to man; for he that truly fears God cannot despise the magistrate. Yea, so near is the connection between the civil state and religious, that heretofore, if you look upon well regulated civilized heathen nations, you will find the government and the priesthood united in the same person; "Anius rex idem hominum, Phœbique sacerdos," (Virg. Æn. 3. 80.) if under the true worship of God, "Melchizedeck, king of Salem, and priest of the most high God," (Hebrews, vii. 1.) And afterwards Moses, (whom, as we acknowledge a pious, so atheists themselves will confess to have been a wise prince,) he, when he took the kingly government upon himself, by his own choice, seconded by divine institution, vested the priesthood in his brother Aaron, both whose concernments were so coupled, that if nature had not, yet their religious, nay, their civil interests, would have made them brothers. And it was once the design of the emperor of Germany, Maximilian the First, to have joined the popedom and the empire together, and to have got himself chosen pope, and by that means derived the papacy to succeeding emperors. Had he effected it, doubtless there would not have been such scuffles between them and the bishop of Rome; the civil interest of the state would not have been undermined by an adverse interest, managed by the speciousand potent pretences of religion. And to see, even amongst us, how these two are united, how the former is upheld by the latter: the magistrate sometimes cannot do his own office dexterously, but by acting the minister; hence it is, that judges of assizes find it necessary in their charges to use pathetical discourses of conscience; and if it were not for the sway of this, they would often lose the
springs upon which those two move are rewards and punishments, answering the two ruling affections of man's mind, hope and fear. For, since there is a natural opposition between the judgment and the appetite, the former respecting what is honest, the latter what is pleasing; which two qualifications seldom concur in the same thing, and since, withal, man's design in every action is delight; therefore, to render things honest also practicable, they must be first represented desirable, which cannot be, but by proposing honesty clothed with pleasure; and since it presents no pleasure to the sense, it must be fetched from the apprehension of a future reward: for, questionless, duty moves not so much upon command as promise. Now, therefore, that which proposes the greatest and most suitable rewards to obedience, and the greatest terrors and punishments to disobedience, doubtless is the most likely to enforce one, and prevent the other. But it is religion that does this, which to happiness and misery joins eternity. And these, supposing the immortality of the soul, which philosophy indeed conjectures, but only religion proves, or (which is as good) persuades; I say these two things, eternal happiness and eternal misery, meeting with a persuasion that the soul is immortal, are, without controversy, of all others, the first the most desirable, and the latter the most horrible to human apprehension. Were it not for these, civil government were not able to stand before the prevailing swing of corrupt nature, which would know no honesty but advantage, no duty but in pleasure, nor any law but its own will. Were not these frequently thundered into the understandings of men, the magistrate might enact, order, and proclaim; proclamations might be hung upon walls and posts, and there they might hang, seen and despised, more like malefactors than laws: but when religion binds them upon the conscience, conscience will either persuade or terrify men into their practice. For, put the case, -a man knew, and that upon sure grounds, that he might do an advantageous murder or robbery, and not be discovered; what human laws could hinder him, which, he knows, cannot inflict any penalty, where they can make no discovery? But religion assures him, that no sin, though concealed from human eyes, can either escape God's sight in this world, or his vengeance in the other. Put the case also, that men looked upon death without fear, in which sense it is nothing, or at most very little; ceasing, while it is endured, and probably without pain, for it seizes upon the vitals, and benumbs the senses, and where there is no sense, there can be no pain; I say, if, while a man is acting his will towards sin, he should also thus act his reason to despise death, where would be the terror of the magistrate, who can neither threaten nor inflict any
best evidence in the world against malefactors, which is confession: for no man would confess and be hanged here, but to avoid being damned hereafter. Thus I have in general shewn the utter inability of the magistrate to attain the ends of government, without the aid of religion. But it may be here replied, that many are not at all moved with arguments drawn from hence, or with the happy or miserable state of the soul after death; and therefore this avails little to procure obedience, and consequently to advance government. I answer by concession, that this is true of epicures, atheists, and some pretended philosophers, who have stifled the notions of a Deity and the soul's immortality; but the unprepossessed on the one hand, and the well-disposed on the other, who both together make much the major part of the world, are very apt to be affected with a due fear of these things: and religion, accommodating itself to the generality, though not to every particular temper, sufficiently secures government, inasmuch as that stands or falls according to the behaviour of the multitude. And whatsoever conscience makes the generality obey, to that prudence will make the rest conform. Wherefore, having proved the dependence of government upon religion, I shall now demonstrate, that the safety of government depends upon the truth of religion. False religion is, in its nature, the greatest bane and destruction to government in the world. The reason is, because whatsoever is false, is also weak. Ens and verum in philosophy are the same: and so much as any religion has of falsity, it loses of strength and existence. Falsity gains authority only from ignorance, and therefore is in danger to be known; for, from being false, the next immediate step is to be known to be such. And what prejudice this would be to the civil government is apparent, if men should be awed into obedience, and affrighted from sin, by rewards and punishments, proposed to them in such a religion, which afterwards should be detected, and found a mere falsity and cheat; for if one part be but found to be false, it will make the whole suspicious. And men will then not only cast off obedience to the civil magistrate, but they will do it with disdain and rage, that they have been deceived so long, and brought to do that out of conscience, which was imposed upon them out of design for though men are often willingly deceived, yet still it must be under an opinion of being instructed; though they love the deception, yet they mortally hate it under that appearance: therefore it is no ways safe for a magistrate, who is to build his dominion upon the fears of men, to build those fears upon a false religion. It is not to be doubted, but the absurdity of Jeroboam's calves made many Israelites turn subjects to Rehoboam's government, that they might be proselytes to
his religion. Herein the weakness of the Turkish religion appears, that it urges obedience upon the promise of such absurd rewards, as, that after death they should have palaces, gardens, beautiful women, with all the luxury that could be, as if those things, that were the occasions and incentives of sin in this world, could be the rewards of holiness in the other: besides many other inventions, false and absurd, that are like so many chinks and holes to discover the rottenness of the whole fabric, when God shall be pleased to give light to discover, and open their reasons to discern them. But you will say, what government more sure and absolute than the Turkish, and yet what religion more false? Therefore, certainly government may stand sure and strong, be the religion professed never so absurd. I answer, that it may do so indeed by accident, through the strange peculiar temper and gross ignorance of a people; as we see it happens in the Turks, the best part of whose policy, supposing the absurdity of their religion, is this, that they prohibit schools of learning; for this hinders knowledge and disputes, which such a religion would not bear. But suppose we, that the learning of the western nations were as great there as here, and the Alcoran as common to them as the Bible to us, that they might have free recourse to search and examine the flaws and follies of it, and withal, that they were of as inquisitive a temper as we, and who knows, but as there are vicissitudes in the government, so there may happen the same also in the temper of a nation? If this should come to pass, where would be their religion? And then let every one judge, whether the arcana imperii and religionis would not fall together. They have begun to totter already; for Mahomet having promised to come and visit his followers, and translate them to paradise after a thousand years, this being expired, many of the Persians began to doubt and smell the cheat, till the Mufti or chief priest told them that it was a mistake in the figure, and assured them, that upon more diligent survey of the records, he found it two thousand instead of one. When this is expired, perhaps they will not be able to renew the fallacy. I say, therefore, that though this government continues firm in the exercise of a false religion, yet this is by accident, through the present genius of the people, which may change; but this does not prove, but that the nature of such a religion (of which we only now speak) tends to subvert and betray the civil power. Hence Machiavel himself, in his animadversions upon Livy, makes it appear, that the weakness of Italy, which was once so strong, was caused by the corrupt practices of the Papacy, in depraving. and misusing religion to that purpose, which he, though himself a Papist, says, could not have happened, had the Christian religion been
kept in its first and native simplicity. Thus much may suffice for the clearing of the first proposition.
The inferences from hence are two. 1. If government depends upon religion, then this shews the pestilential design of those that attempt to disjoin the civil and ecclesiastical interest, setting the latter wholly out of the tuition of the former. But it is clear that the fanatics know no other step to the magistracy, but through the ruin of the ministry. There is a great analogy between the body natural and politic, in which the ecclesiastical or spiritual part justly supplies the part of the soul; and the violent separation of this from the other, does as certainly infer death and dissolution, as the disjunction of the body and the soul in the natural; for when this once departs, it leaves the body of the commonwealth a carcass, noisome, and exposed to be devoured by birds of prey. The ministry will be one day found, according to Christ's word, "the salt of the earth," the only thing that keeps societies of men from stench and corruption. These two interests are of that nature, that it is to be feared they cannot be divided, but they will also prove opposite, and, not resting in a bare diversity, quickly rise into a contrariety: these two are to the state, what the elements of fire and water to the body, which united, compose, separated, destroy it. I am not of the Papist's opinion, who would make the spiritual above the civil state in power as well as dignity, but rather subject it to the civil; yet thus much I dare affirm, that the civil, which is superior, is upheld and kept in being by the ecclesiastical and inferior; as it is in a building, where the upper part is supported by the lower; the Church resembling the foundation, which, indeed, is the lowest part, but the most considerable. The magistracy cannot so much protect the ministry, but the ministers may do more in serving the magistrate. A taste of which truth you may take from the holy war, to which how fast and eagerly did men go, when the priest persuaded them, that whosoever died in that expedition was a martyr? Those that will not be convinced what a help this is to the magistracy, would find how considerable it is, if they should chance to clash; this would certainly eat out the other. For the magistrate cannot urge obedience upon such potent grounds, as the minister, if so disposed, can urge disobedience. As for instance, if my governor should command me to do a thing, or I must die, or forfeit my estate; and the minister steps in, and tells me, that I offend God, and ruin my soul, if I obey that command; it is easy to see a greater force in this persuasion from the advantage of its ground. And if divines once begin to curse Meroz, we shall see that Levi can use the sword as well
as Simeon; and although ministers do not handle, yet they can employ it. This shews the imprudence, as well as the danger of the civil magistrate's exasperating those that can fire men's consciences against him, and arm his enemies with religion. For I have read heretofore of some, that, having conceived an irreconcileable hatred of the civil magistrate, prevailed with men so far, that they went to resist him even out of conscience, and a full persuasion and dread upon their spirits, that, not to do it,* were to desert God, and consequently to incur damnation. Now, when men's rage is both heightened and sanctified by conscience, the war will be fierce; for what is done out of conscience, is done with the utmost activity. And then Campanella's speech to the King of Spain will be found true, Religio semper vicit, præsertim armata; which sentence deserves seriously to be considered by all governors, and timely to be understood, lest it comes to be felt.
2. If the safety of government is founded upon the truth of religion, then this shews the danger of any thing that may make even the true religion suspected to be false. To be false, and to be thought false, is all one in respect of men, who act not according to truth, but apprehension. As, on the contrary, a false religion, while apprehended true, has the force and efficacy of truth. Now there is nothing more apt to induce men to a suspicion of any religion, than frequent innovation and change; for since the object of religion, God-the subject of it, the soul of man-and the business of it, truth is always one and the same, variety and novelty is a just presumption of falsity. It argues sickness and distemper in the mind, as well as in the body, when a man is continually turning and tossing from one side to the other. The wise Romans ever dreaded the least innovation in religion: hence we find the advice of Mæcenas to Augustus Cæsar, in Dion Cassius, in the fifty-second book, where he counsels him to detest and persecute all innovators of divine worship, not only as contemners of the gods, but as the most pernicious disturbers of the state; for when men venture to make changes in things sacred, it argues great boldness with God, and this naturally imports little belief of him; which, if the people once perceive, they will take their creed also, not from the magistrate's laws, but his example. Hence in England, where religion has been still purifying, and hereupon almost always in the fire and the furnace, atheists and irreligious persons have took no small advantage from our changes. For in King Edward the Sixth's time, the divine worship was twice altered in two new liturgies. In the first of Queen Mary, the Protestant religion was persecuted
* See Sermon XII. on Prov. xii. 22.
with fire and fagot, by law and public council of the same persons who had so lately established it. Upon the coming in of Queen Elizabeth, religion was changed again, and within a few days the public council of the nation made it death for a priest to convert any man to that religion, which before with so much eagerness of zeal had been restored. So that it is observed by an author, that in the space of twelve years there were four changes about religion made in England, and that by the public council and authority of the realm, which were more than were made by any Christian state throughout the world, so soon one after another, in the space of fifteen hundred years before. Hence it is, that the enemies of God take occasion to blaspheme, and call our religion statism. And now, adding to the former those many changes that have happened since, I am afraid we shall not so easily claw off that name; nor, though we may satisfy our own consciences in what we profess, be able to repel and clear off the objections of the rational world about us, which, not being interested in our changes as we are, will not judge of them as we judge, but debate them by impartial reason, by the nature of the thing, the general practice of the Church, against which, new lights, sudden impulses of the Spirit, extraordinary calls, will be but weak arguments to prove any thing but the madness of those that use them, and that the Church must needs wither, being blasted with such inspirations. We see, therefore, how fatal and ridiculous innovations in the Church are; and, indeed, when changes are so frequent, it is not properly religion, but fashion. This, I think, we may build upon as a sure ground, that where there is continual change, there is great show of uncertainty; and uncertainty in religion is a shrewd motive, if not to deny, yet to doubt of its truth.
Thus much for the first doctrine. I proceed now to the second, namely, That the next, and most effectual way to destroy religion, is to embase the teachers and dispensers of it. In the handling of this I shall shew,
1. How the dispensers of religion, the ministers of the word, are embased or rendered vile. 2. How the embasing or vilifying them is a means to destroy religion.
1. For the first of these, the ministers and dispensers of the word are rendered base or
vile two ways,
Old Testament the same word signifies a priest, and a prince, or chief ruler: hence, though we translate it "priest of On," (Gen. xli. 45,) and "priest of Midian," (Exod. iii. 1,) and
as it is with the people so with the priest," (Isa. xxiv. 2,) Junius and Tremellius render all these places, not by sacerdos, priest, but by præses, that is, a prince, or at least a chief counsellor, or minister of state. And it is strange, that the name should be the same, when the nature of the thing is so exceeding different. The like also may be observed in other languages, that the most illustrious titles are derived from things sacred, and belonging to the worship of God. ZEBROTÓS was the title of the Christian Cæsars correspondent to the Latin Augustus, and it is derived from the same word that σέβασμα, cultus, res sacra, or sacrificium. And it is usual in our language to make sacred an epithet to majesty, there was a certain royalty in things sacred. Hence the apostle, who, I think, was no enemy to the simplicity of the Gospel, speaks of a royal priesthood, (1 Pet. ii. 9,) which shews at least, that there is no contradiction or impiety in those terms. In old time, before the placing this office only in the line of Aaron, the head of the family and the first-born offered sacrifice for the rest; that is, was their priest. And we know, that such rule and dignity belonged at first to the masters of families, that they had jus vitæ et necis, jurisdiction and power of life and death in their own family; and from hence was derived the beginning of kingly government; a king being only a civil head, or master of a politic family, the whole people; so that we see the same was the foundation of the royal and sacerdotal dignity. As for the dignity of this office among the Jews, it is so pregnantly set forth in holy writ, that it is unquestionable. Kings and priests are still mentioned together, (Lam. ii. 6,) "The Lord hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest." (Hos. v. 2,) Hear, O priests, and give ear, O house of the king." (Deut. xvii. 12,) "And the man that doth presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth there to minister before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die." Hence Paul, together with a blow, received this reprehension, (Acts, xxiii. 4,)" Revilest thou God's highpriest?" And Paul in the next verse does not defend himself, by pleading an extraordinary motion of the Spirit, or that he was sent to reform the church, and might therefore lawfully vilify the priesthood and all sacred orders but in the 5th verse he makes an excuse, and that from ignorance, the only thing that could take away the fault; namely, "that he knew not that he was the highpriest," and subjoins a reason which farther advances the truth here defended: "for it is
(1.) By divesting them of all temporal privileges and advantages, as inconsistent with their calling. It is strange, since the priest's office heretofore was always splendid, and almost regal, that it is now looked upon as a piece of religion, to make it low and sordid. So that the use of the word minister is brought down to the literal signification of it, a servant: for now to serve and to minister, servile and ministerial, are terms equivalent. But in the
word revealed. Christ was himself poor and despised, and withal has instituted such a ministry. To the first part of this plea I answer, that Christ came to suffer, yet the sufferings and miseries of Christ do not oblige all Christians to undertake the like. For the second, that the ministry of Christ was low and despised by his institution, I utterly deny. It was so, indeed, by the malice and persecution of the heathen princes; but what does this argue or infer for a low, dejected ministry in a flourishing state, which professes to encourage Christianity? But to dash this cavil, read but the practice of Christian emperors and kings all along, down from the time of Constantine, in what respect, what honour and splendour they treated the ministers: and then let our adversaries produce their puny, pitiful arguments for the contrary, against the general, clear, undoubted vogue and current of all antiquity. As for two or three little countries about us, the learned and impartial will not value their practice; in one of which places the minister has been seen, for mere want, to mend shoes on the Saturday, and been heard to preach on the Sunday. In the other place, stating the several orders of the citizens, they place their ministers after their apothecaries; that is, the physician of the soul after the drugster of the body; a fit practice for those, who, if they were to rank things as well as persons, would place their religion after their trade.
And thus much concerning the first way of debasing the ministers and ministry.
(2.) The second way is by admitting ignorant, sordid, illiterate persons to this function. This is to give the royal stamp to a piece of lead. confess, has no need of any man's parts or learning; but certainly, then, he has much less need of his ignorance and ill behaviour. It is a sad thing, when all other employments shall empty themselves into the ministry: when men shall repair to it, not for preferment, but refuge; like malefactors flying to the altar, only to save their lives; or like those of Eli's race, (1 Sam. ii. 36,) that should come crouching, and seek to be put into the priest's office that they might eat a piece of bread. Heretofore there was required splendour of parentage to recommend any one to the priesthood, as Josephus witnesses in a treatise which he wrote of his own life; where he says, to have right to deal in things sacred, was, amongst them, accounted an argument of a noble and illustrious descent. God would not accept the offals of other professions. Doubtless many rejected Christ upon this thought, that he was the carpenter's son, who would have embraced him, had they known him to have been the Son of David. The preferring undeserving persons to this great service was eminently Jeroboam's sin, and how Jeroboam's practice and offence has been
written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." To holy writ we might add the testimony of Josephus, of next authority to it in things concerning the Jews, who in sundry places of his history sets forth the dignity of the priests: and in his second book against Apion the grammarian has these words, πάντων τῶν ἀμφισβητουμένων δικασταὶ οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐτάχθησαν, the priests were constituted judges of all doubtful causes. Hence Justin also in his 36th book has this, Semper apud Judæos mos fuit, ut eosdem reges et sacerdotes haberent:" though this is false, that they were always so, yet it argues, that they were so frequently, and that the distance between them was not great. To the Jews we may join the Egyptians, the first masters of learning and philosophy. Synesius in his 57th epistle, having shewn the general practice of antiquity, ὁ πάλαι χρόνος ἤνεγκε τοὺς αὐτοὺς ἱερέας τε καὶ κριτὰς, gives an instance in the Jews and Egyptians, who for many ages ὑπὸ τῶν ἱερέων ἐβασιλεύθησαν, had no other kings but priests. Next, we may take a view of the practice of the Romans: Numa Pompilius, who civilized the fierce Romans, is reported in the first book of Livy sometimes to have performed the priest's office himself. "Tum sacerdotibus creandis animum adjecit, quanquam ipse plurima sacra obibat;" but when he made priests, he gave them a dignity almost the same with himself. And this honour continued together with the valour and prudence of that nation: for the success of the Romans did not extirpate their religion; the college of the priests being in many things exempted even from the jurisdiction of the senate, afterwards the supreme power. Hence Juvenal in his 2d Satire mentions the priesthood of Mars, as one of the most honourable places in Rome. And Julius Cæsar, who was chosen priest in his private condition, thought it not below him to continue the same office when he was created absolute governor of Rome, under the name of perpetual dictator. Add to these the practice of the Gauls mentioned by Cæsar in his 6th book, de Bello Gallico, where he says of the Druids, who were their priests, that they did judge "de omnibus ferè controversiis publicis privatisque." See also Homer in the 1st book of his Iliad representing Chryses priest of Apollo, with his golden sceptre, as well as his golden censer. But why have I produced all these examples of the heathens? Is it to make these a ground of our imitation? No, but to shew that the giving honour to the priesthood was a custom universal amongst all civilized nations. And whatsoever is universal is also natural, as not being founded upon compact, or the particular humours of men, but flowing from the native results of reason: and that which is natural neither does nor can oppose religion. But you will say, this concerns not us, who have an express rule and