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most. And therefore, for these silent candidates of future preferment, I wish them no other punishment for the treason of their desire, than to be preferred under another change.
But I have not yet finished my text, nor, according to the command of it, spoke all my mind. I have one thing more to propose, and with that to conclude.
dition of the persons who did it, the means, circumstances, and manner of its transaction; I suppose it will fill the measure and reach the height of the words of the text: "that there was no such deed done nor seen since the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt to this day."
For my own part, my apprehension of it overbears my expression; and how to set it off, I know not; for black receives no other colour. But when I call together all the ideas of horror, rake all the records of the Roman, Grecian, and barbarian wonders, together with new-fancied instances and unheard of possibilities, yet I find no parallel; and therefore have this only to say of the king's murder, that it is a thing, than which nothing can be imagined more strange, amazing, and astonishing, except its pardon.*
And now, having done with the first part of the text, does it not naturally engage me in the duty of the second? Must such a deed, as was neither seen nor heard of, be also neither spoken of; or must it be stroked with smooth, mollifying expressions? Is this the way to cure the wound, by pouring oil upon those that made it? And must Absalom be therefore dealt with gently, because he was an unnatural and a sturdy rebel?
If, as the text bids, we consider of the fact, and take advice, (that is, advise with reason and conscience,) we cannot but obey it in the following words, and speak our minds. For could Croesus's dumb son speak at the very attempt of a murder upon his prince and father? and shall a preacher be dumb, when such a murder is actually committed?
Or do we think it is enough to make long doleful harangues against murder and cruelty, and concerning the prerogative of kings, without ripping up the particular, mysterious, diabolical arts of its first contrivance? Can things peculiar and unheard of be treated with the toothless generalities of a commonplace?
I will not be so uncharitable as to charge a consent in this particular wheresoever I find a silence: I will only conclude such to be wiser than others, and to wait for another turn; and from their behaviour rationally collect their expectation. But whosoever is so sage, so prudential, or (to speak more significantly) so much a politicus, as to fit himself for every change, he will find, that if ever another turn befalls the nation, it will be the wrong side outwards, the lowest upper
This was far from being intended as a reflection upon the act of indemnity itself, and much less upon the royal author of it, but only as a rhetorical attempt for expressing the transcendent height of one thing by an equally transcendent height of another; namely, by that of the mercy pardoning, and by that of the crime pardoned; both of them, in their several kinds, superlative.
Would you be willing to see this scene acted over again? to see that restless, plotting humour, which now boils and ferments in many traitorous breasts, once more display itself in the dismal effects of war and desolation? Would you see the rascality of the nation in troops and tumults beleaguer the royal palace? Would you hear ministers absolving their congregations from their sacred oaths of allegiance, and sending them into the field to lose their lives and their souls, in a professed rebellion against their sovereign? Would you see an insolent overturning army, in the heart and bowels of the kingdom, moving to and fro, to the terror of every thing which is noble, generous, or religious? Would you see the loyal gentry harassed, starved, and undone by the oppression of base, insulting, grinding committees? Would you see the clergy torn in pieces, and sacrificed by the inquisition of synods, triers, and commissioners?
And to mention the greatest last; would you have the king, with his father's kingdoms, inherit also his fortune? Would you see the crown trampled upon, majesty haled from prison to prison; and at length with the vilest circumstances of spite and cruelty, bleeding and dying at the feet of bloody, inhuman miscreants? Would you, now Providence has cast out the destructive interest from the parliament, and the house is pretty well swept and cleansed, have the old "unclean spirit return, and take to itself seven spirits,' seven other interests worse than itself, and dwell there, and so make our "latter end worse than our beginning?"
We hear of plots and combinations, parties joining and agreeing; and let us not trust too much in their opposition amongst themselves. The elements can fight, and yet unite into one body. Ephraim against Manasseh, and Manasseh against Ephraim; but both equally against the royal tribe of Judah. Now, if we dread these furies again being let loose upon us, oh! let us fear the return of our former provocations. If we would keep off the axe from our princes and nobles, let us lay it to our sins. If we wonld preserve their lives, let us amend our own. We have complained of armies, committees, sequestrators, triers, and decimators. But our sins, our sins are those that have sucked the blood of this nation; these have purpled the scaffold with the royal gore, these liave ploughed up so many
noble families, made so many widows, and snatched the bread out of the mouths of so many poor orphans. It is our not "fearing God," that has made others not to "honour the king;" our not benefiting by the ordinances of the church, that has enriched others with her spoils.
And now, since I have slid into a mention of the church of England, which at this time is so much struck and railed at, and in danger (like its first head) to be crucified between two thieves, I shall say thus much of it; that it is the only church in Christendom we read of, whose avowed principles and practices disown all resistance of the civil power; and which the saddest experience and the truest policy and reason will evince to be the only one that is durably consistent with the English monarchy. Let men look both into its doctrine and into its history, and they will find neither the Calvins, the Knoxes, the Junius Brutuses, the synods, nor the holy commonwealths of the one side; nor yet the Bellarmines, the Escobars, nor the Marianas of the other. It has no fault but its revenues; and those too but the remainders of a potent, surfeited sacrilege. And therefore, if God in his anger to this kingdom should suffer it to be run down, either by the impious nonsense and idolatry of one party, or the sordid tyranny and fanaticism of the other; yet we will acquiesce in this, that if ever our church falls, it falls neither tainted with the infamy of popish plots, nor of reforming rebellions; and that it was neither her pretended corruption or superstition, but her own lands, and the kingdom's sins, that destroyed her.
For when I hear of conspiracies, seditious designs, covenants, and plots, they do not much move or affright me. But when I see the same covetousness, the same drunkenness and profaneness, that was first punished in ourselves, and then in our sanctified enemies; when I see joy turned into a revel, and debauchery proclaim itself louder than it can be proclaimed against; these, I must confess, stagger and astonish me, and I cannot persuade myself, that we were delivered to do all these abominations.
But, if we have not the grace of Christians, have we not the hearts of men? Have we no bowels, no relentings? If the blood and banishment of our kings cannot move us, if the miseries of our common mother the church, ready to fall back into the jaws of purchasers and reformers, cannot work upon us, yet shall we not at least pity our posterity? Shall we commit sins, and breed up children to inherit the curse? Shall the infants now unborn have cause to say hereafter, in the bitterness of their souls, "Our fathers have eaten the sour grapes of disobedience, and our teeth are set on edge" by rebellions and confusions?
How does any man know, but the very oath he is swearing, the lewdness he is committing, may be scored up by God as one item for a new rebellion? We may be rebels, and yet neither vote in parliaments, sit in committees, or fight in armies. Every sin is virtually a treason; and we may be guilty of murder, by breaking other commands besides the sixth.
But at present "we are made whole :" God has by a miracle healed the breaches, cured the maladies, and bound up the wounds of a bleeding nation: what remains now, but that we take the counsel that seconded a like miraculous cure; "Go, sin no more, lest a worse evil come unto thee." But since our evil has been so superlative as not to acknowledge a worse; since our calamities, having reached the highest, give us rather cause to fear a repetition, than any possibility of gradation; I shall dismiss you with the like though something altered advice, "Go, sin no more, lest the same evil befall you."
Which God of his infinite mercy prevent, even that God by whom kings reign and princes decree justice; by whom their thrones are established, and by whom their blood will assuredly be revenged. To whom therefore be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion both now and for evermore. Amen.
SATAN HIMSELF TRANSFORMED INTO AN ANGEL OF LIGHT.
PREACHED BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY, AT ST MARY'S CHURCH, OXON, ON AN ACT-SUNDAY. "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."- -2 COR. xi. 14.
He who has arrived to that pitch of infidelity as to deny that there is a devil, gives a shrewd proof that he is deluded by him; and so by this very denial does unawares infer the thing which he would deny. There have indeed been some in all ages, sects, and religions, who have promoted the devil's interests by arguing against his being. For that which men generally most desire, is to go on in their sin without control; and it cannot be more their desire, than the devil accounts it his interest that they should do so. But when they are told withal, that he who tempts to sin now, is to execute God's wrath for our sin hereafter, the belief of a spirit, appointed to so terrible an office, standing so directly between them and their sins, they can never proceed smoothly in them, till such a belief be first taken out of the way; and therefore, no wonder if men argue against the thing they
terms perfectly equipollent; they would do wisely to consider, that as the fowler would certainly spoil his own game, should he not, as much as possible, keep out of sight; so the devil never plants his snares so skilfully and successfully, as when he conceals his person; nor tempts so dangerously, as when he can persuade men that there is no tempter.
But I fear I have argued too far upon this point already; since it may seem something inartificial for the sermon to prove what the text had supposed. But since the infidelity of the present age has made the proof of that necessary, which former ages took for granted, I hope the usefulness of the subject will atone for what may seem less regular in the prosecution. It must therefore be allowed (and that not only from the foregoing probable arguments, but much more from an infallible and divine testimony) that there is a devil, a satan, and a tempter. And we have him here presented to us under such a strange kind of mask or visard that we cannot see him for light; and then surely he must needs walk undiscovered, who can make that, which discovers all things else, his disguise. But the wonder ought to abate, if we consider, that there is a light which dazzles and deludes, as well as one which informs and directs; and that it is the former of these which Satan "clothes himself with, as with a garment." A light so far resembling that of the stars, that it still "rules by night," and has always darkness both for its occasion and companion. The badge of truth is unity, and the property of falsehood variety; and accordingly the devil appears all things, as he has occasion; the priest, the casuist, the reformer, the reconciler; and in a word, any thing but himself. He can change his voice, his dress, and the whole scene of his fallacies; and by a dexterous management of the fraud, present you with an Esau under the form of a Jacob; for the old serpent can shift his skin, as often as he has a turn to serve by his doing so. For it is a short and easy transition from darkness to light, even as near as the confines of night and day. So that this active spirit can quickly pass from one to the other, and equally carry on work of darkness in both. We read of a dæmonium meridianum, though the sun, we know, is then highest, and the light greatest. The Psalmist, in Psalm xci. 6, tells us not only of a pestilence which walks in darkness," but also of a "destruction which wasteth at noon-day;" and consequently that he who is the great manager both of the one and the other, is as much a devil when he shines as Lucifer, as when he destroys as Satan.
Now the devil, I conceive, is represented to us thus transformed in the text, not so much in respect of what he is in his person, as in his practice upon men; for none
hate; and, for the freer enjoyment of their lusts, do all they can to baffle and throw off a persuasion, which does but "torment them before their time:" this undoubtedly being the true, if not only ground of all the disputes men raise against demons, or evil spirits, that their guilt has made it their concern that there should be none.
Nevertheless, on the other side, it must be considered, that the proving of spirits and immaterial substances from the common discourses of the world upon this subject, has not hitherto proved so successful as might be wished. For that there are such finite, incorporeal beings, as we call spirits, I take to be a point of that moment, that the belief of it ought to be established upon much surer proofs than such as are commonly taken from visions, and apparitions, and the reports which use to go of them; it having never hitherto been held for solid reasoning, to argue from what seems to what exists; or, in other words, from appearances to things; especially since it has been found so frequent, for the working of a strong fancy and a weak judgment to pass with many for apparitions. Nor yet can I think the same sufficiently proved from several strange effects, chances, aud alterations, which (as historians tell us) having sometimes happened in the world, and carrying in them the marks of a rational efficiency, (but manifestly above all human power,) have therefore by some been ascribed to spirits, as the proper and immediate causes thereof. For such a conclusion, I conceive, cannot be certainly drawn from thence, unless we were able to comprehend the full force and activity of all corporeal substances, especially the celestial; so as to assign the utmost term which their activity can reach to, and beyond which it cannot go; which, I suppose, no sober reasoner or true philosopher will pretend to.
And therefore, in the present case, allowing the forementioned common arguments all the advantage of probability they can justly lay claim to; yet if we would have a certain proof of the existence of finite spirits, good or bad, we ought, no doubt, to fetch it from that infallible word of revelation, held forth to us in the Scriptures; and so employ faith to piece up the shortness and defects of science; which, as nothing but faith can do, so that man must by no means pretend to faith, who will not sell his assent under a demonstration; nor indeed to so much as prudence, who will be convinced by nothing but experience, when perhaps the experiment may prove his destruction. He who believes that there is a devil, puts himself into the ready way to escape him. But as for those modern Sadducees, who will believe neither angel nor spirit, because they cannot see them; and with whom invisible and incredible pass for
ever dissembles or conceals himself, but he has a design upon another. And therefore, to prosecute the sense of the words by as full a representation of his frauds as I am able to give, I shall discourse of him in this method.
I. I shall endeavour to shew the way of his operation upon the soul, in conveying his fallacies into the minds of men.
II. I shall shew the grand instances in which he has played an angel of light, in the several ages of the church successively. And,
III. and lastly, give caution against some principles, by which he is like to repeat the same cheat upon the world, if not prevented in time to come.
I. And first, for the influence he has upon the soul.
things (as they may be not unfitly called) to the imagination. For this is the grand repository of all the ideas and representations which the mind of man can work either upon or by. So that Satan, our skilful artist, can as easily slide his injections into the fancy, as present a deluding image to the eye. From whence it is, that poor deluded women (followers of conventicles, or rather of such as meet them there) talk much of sudden joys, and raptures, and secret whispers of the Spirit, with a great deal more of such cant; in all which this grand impostor is still at his old work, and whether he speaks in the gentle charming voice of a comforter, or roars in the terrible thunders of damnation, is, and ever was, a liar from the beginning," and will be so to the end. Again, some perhaps have had a text, of something a peculiar significancy, cast into their fancy; as that for instance in Jerem. xlviii. 10, "Cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from shedding blood;" whereupon they presently thought themselves commissioned, by an extraordinary call from Heaven, to cut and slay all such as fought for the crown and the church, in the late infamous rebellion.* Likewise it is very credible, that the same spirit can in discourse suggest smart sentences and strictures of wit, far surpassing the invention of the speaker; for otherwise, whence can it be that persons, known to be deplorably dull in other things, can yet be witty upon a subject obscene or profane? And no doubt, what the Papists falsely and ridiculously said of Luther, may with great truth be said of many leading heretics, that the devil furnished them with arguments. For where the cause is his, he will never be wanting to give it a helping hand, but will be still with the heretic in his study, guiding his pen, and assisting his invention with many a lucky turn of thought and sophistical reasoning. So that upon the whole matter, the devil himself may, perhaps, more properly pass for the heretic, and Arius or Socinus only for the amanuensis. For he is able to present images of words and sentences to the imagination, in as clear and perspicuous an order, as the most faithful and methodical memory. And why should the common word be, that the devil stands at the liar's elbow, if he were not to be his prompter? But
3. The devil can work upon the soul, by an actual ingress into and personal possession of the man, so as to move and act him; and like a kind of vicarious soul, use his body, and the several faculties and members thereof, as instruments of the several operations which he exerts by them. Upon which account persons so possessed were heretofore called πνευματόφοροι, and ἐνεργούμενοι. And if any
To lay open here all the ways whereby this spiritual engineer works upon us, to trace the serpent in all his windings and turnings, is a thing, I believe, as much above a mere human understanding, as that is below an angelical; but so far as the ducture of common reason, scripture, and experience will direct our inquiries, we shall find that there are three ways by which he powerfully reaches and operates upon the minds of men. As,
1. By moving, stirring, and sometimes altering the humours and disposition of the body. That the soul in all its operations is strangely affected by and held down to the particular crasis and constitution of the corporeal part, is indubitable. And that the devil can model and frame the temperament of it to his own purpose, the woman whom Satan is said to have bound for so many years, (Luke, xiii. 16,) is a convincing instance. Now this expert anatomist, who has examined and looked into all the secret recesses, caverns, and little fibres both of body and soul, (as Í may so express the matter,) knows that there is no grace but has its counterfeit in some passion; and no passion of the mind, but moves upon the wheel of some humour of the body. So that it is easy for him to refine, and, as it were, sanctify the fire and fury of a choleric humour into zeal, and raise the operations of melancholy to the semblance of a mortified demureness and humiliation. On which case of supposed sorrow for sin, but real disturbance from some other cause, it is not to be questioned, but many repair to the divine, whose best casuist were an apothecary; and endeavour to cure and carry off their despair with a promise, or perhaps a prophecy, which might be better done with a purge. Poor selfdeluding souls! often misapplying the blood of Christ under these circumstances, in which a little effusion of their own would more effectually work the cure; and Luke as physician give them a much speedier relief, tian Luke as an evangelist.
2. The devil can act upon the soul, by suggesting the ideas and spiritual pictures of
*Such persons, principles, and practices, can want nothing to enable them to overthrow any government, but to be countenanced by it.
peculiar proper improvements of each particular age. And, accordingly, let us take a survey of the several periods of them. As,
1. The grand ruling principle of the first ages of the church, then chiefly consisting of the gentile converts, was an extraordinarily zealous devotion and concern for the honour and worship of one only God, having been so newly converted from the worship of many: which great truth, since the devil could neither seasonably nor successfully oppose then, he saw it his interest to swim with the stream, which he could not stem, and, by a dexterous turn of hand, to make use of one truth to supplant another. Accordingly, having met with a fit instrument for his purpose, he sets up in Arianism, and with a bold stroke strikes at no lower an article than the godhead of the Son of God; and so manages this mighty and universal hatred of polytheism, to the rejection of a trinity of divine coequal persons, as no ways consistent with the unity of the divine essence. The blasphemy of which opinion needed, no doubt, a more than ordinary artist to give it the best gloss and colour he could, and therefore was not to be introduced and ushered into the world, but by very plausible and seemingly pious pleas.
As for instance, that the ascribing of a deity or divine nature to Christ, was not so much a removal of polytheism, as a change. That for Christ to decry the pagan gods, and yet assume the godhead to himself, was, instead of being their reformer, to be their rival; and that by thus transferring divine worship to his own person, he did not so much destroy idolatry, as monopolize it. Moreover, that Christ himself professes his Father to be greater than he; and therefore, that either he himself is not God, or, if so, that the deity then includes not the highest degree of perfection. For if Christ was God, and upon that account comprehended in him all perfections, how could the Father be greater? which relation yet must imply a degree of perfection above that of the Son. And if it should be here replied, that the Father is greater in respect of a personal excellency, but not of a natural; such as reply so should do well to consider, how it can be, that where essence includes all perfection, personality can add any further. Besides, that the granting Christ to be the Son of God will not therefore infer him to be God. For the son of a king is but his father's subject; and consequently, to assert any more concerning Christ, seems to be only paganism refined, and idolatry in a better dress.
one here should doubt, that a spirit can move and impel a body, since without quantity and dimensions on both sides there can be no contact, and since without contact some think all impulsions impossible, this maxim, if too far insisted upon, would bear as hard upon the soul itself, as to its moving the body, (allowing it to be a spiritual immaterial substance; which, I hope, in a Christian auditory, needs not to be proved.) And now, the premises thus supposed, how easy must it be for this spirit to cast any person possessed by him into a kind of prophetic ecstasy, and, with other amazing extravagancies, to utter through him certain sentences and opinions, and in the utterance thereof to intermix some things pious and good, to take off the suspicion, and qualify the poison of the bad? For so the sibyls used to wait, till at a certain time the demons entered into them, and gave answers by them, suspending the natural actings of their souls, and using their bodily organs of speech, with strange prodigious convulsions, and certain circumstances of raving and unseemly horror attending them; as Virgil elegantly describes the Cumæan sibyl, in his 6th Æneid.
-Subito non vultus, non color unus,
Non comptæ mansere comæ ; sed pectus anhelum,
Of which words, the Quakers amongst us (as little as they deal in Latin) have yet been the best and fullest interpreters, by being the liveliest instances of the thing described in them of any that I know. And so likewise in the case of the person possessed, (Acts, xix. 16.) Certainly he could never have prevailed over so many men, had he not had something in him stronger than man. But what needs there any further arguing, or how is it possible for that man to question whether the devil can enter into and take possession of men, who shall read how often our Saviour cast him out?
These, I say, are the physical ways of operation which the devil can employ, so as to insinuate thereby his impostures in a clever unsuspected manner: which three general ways doubtless may be improved by so experienced a craftsman into myriads of particulars. But I shall confine myself to his dealings with the church, and that only within the times of Christianity; and so pass to the second general head proposed.
II. Which was to shew the grand instances in which the devil, under this mask of light, has imposed upon the Christian world. And here we must premise this general observation, as the basis of all the ensuing particulars; namely, that it has been the devil's constant method to accommodate his impostures to the most received and prevailing notions, and the
These, I say, were the Arian objections against the deity of our Saviour; all of them extremely sophistical and slight, and such as the heathen philosophers had urged all along against the Christian religion, for near three hundred years before Arius was born: and we