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SERM. of princes, of nobles, of bishops and priests !) what miserLVII.
able oppressions, extortions, and rapines ! what execrable seditions and rebellions ! what barbarous animosities and feuds ! what abominable treasons, sacrileges, perjuries, blasphemies ! what horrible violations of all justice and honesty! And what, I pray, was the source of these things ? where did they begin? where but at murmuring against, at rejecting, at persecuting the spiritual governors, at casting down and trampling on their authority, at slighting and spurning at their advice? Surely would men have observed the laws, or have hearkened to the counsels of those grave and sober persons, whom God had appointed to direct them, they never would have run into the commission of such enormities.
It is not to be omitted, that, in the present state of things, the guilt of disobedience to spiritual governors is increased and aggravated by the supervenient guilt of another disobedience to the laws of our prince and country. Before the secular powers (unto whom God hath committed the dispensation of justice, with the maintenance of peace and order, in reference to worldly affairs) did submit to our Lord, and became nursing parents of the Church, the power of managing ecclesiastical matters did wholly reside in spiritual guides ; unto whom Christians, as the peculiar subjects of God, were obliged willingly to yield obedience; and refusing it, were guilty before God of spiritual disorder, faction, or schism : but now, after that political authority (out of pious zeal for God's service, out of a wise care to prevent the influences of disorder in spiritual matters upon the temporal peace, out of grateful return for the advantages the commonwealth enjoyeth from religion and the Church) hath pleased to back and fortify the laws of spiritual governors by civil sanctions, the knot of our obligation is tied faster, its force is redoubled, we by disobedience incur a double guilt, and offend God two ways, both as supreme governor of the world, and as king of the Church; to our
hism against the Church, we add rebellion against our prince, and so become no less bad citizens than bad
Christians. Some may perhaps imagine their disobedience SERM. hence more excusable, taking themselves now only thereby LVII.
. to transgress a political sanction : but (beside that even that were a great offence, the command of our temporal governors being sufficient, out of conscience to God's express will, to oblige us in all things not evidently repugnant to God's law) it is a great mistake to think the civil law doth anywise derogate from the ecclesiastical ; that doth not swallow this up, but succoureth and corroborateth it; their concurrence yieldeth an accession of weight and strength to each ; they do not by conspiring to prescribe the same thing either of them cease to be governors, as to right; but in efficacy the authority of both should thence be augmented, seeing the obligation to obedience is multiplied upon their subjects; and to disobey them is now two crimes, which otherwise should be but one.
SERM. Such is the nature of this duty, and such are the reasons
two impediments of that practice, and so leave this point.
1. One hindrance of obedience is this, that spiritual power is not despotical or compulsory, but parental or
pastoral; that it hath no external force to abet it, or to Matt
. xx. avenge disobedience to its laws: they must not rateğouLuke xxii. ová?e, or ruraxugister, (be imperious, or domineer,) they
are not allowed to exercise violence, or to inflict bodily
rectly influential upon the mind and conscience, (ways of 2 Tim. ii. rational persuasion, exhortation, admonition, reproof,) in 25.v. in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; conTimiii. 3.
vincing, rebuking, exhorting with all long-suffering and
• Μάλισα γαρ απάντων Χριστιανούς ουκ εφιίται προς βίαν επανορθούν τα των ápaperavóvows fraiopata, &c. Chrys. de Sacerd. 2.
'Ενταύθι ου βιαζόμενον, αλλά πείθοντα δεί σοιείν αμείνω τον τοιούτον. Ιbid.
their obligation to obey them; they cannot understand SERM. why they should be frighted by words, or controlled by LVIII. an unarmed authority.
But this in truth (things being duly considered) is so far from diminishing our obligation, or arguing the authority of our governors to be weak and precarious, that it rendereth our obligation much greater, and their authority more dreadful; for the sweeter and gentler their way of governing is, the more disingenuous and unworthy a thing it is to disobey it; not to be persuaded by reason, not to be allured by kindness, not to admit friendly advice, not to comply with the calmest methods of furthering our own good, is a brutish thing; he that only can be scared and scourged to duty, scarce deserveth the name of a man: it therefore doth the more oblige us, that in this way we are moved to action by love rather than fear. Yet if we would fear wisely and justly, (not like children, being frighted with formidable shapes and appearances, but like men, apprehending the real consequences of things,) we should the more fear these spiritual powers, because they are insensible: for that God hath commanded us to obey them, without assigning vi_ sible forces to constrain or chastise, is a manifest argument that he hath reserved the vindication of their authority to his own hand, which therefore will be infallibly certain, and terribly severe ; so the nature of the case requireth, and so God hath declared it shall be: the sentence that is Matt. xviii. upon earth pronounced by his ministers upon contuma-18. cious offenders, he hath declared himself ready to ratify in heaven, and therefore most assuredly will execute it. As under the old law God appointed to the transgression of some laws, upon which he laid special stress, the punishment of being cut off from his people ; the execution of which punishment he reserved to himself, to be accomplished in his own way and time; so doth he now in like
him to maintain the cause of his ministers, and to execute the judgments decreed by them; and if so, we may consider that it is a dreadful thing to Heb. x. 91. fall into the hands of the living God. Ecclesiastical autho
SERM. rity therefore is not a shadow, void of substance or force, LVIII. but hath the greatest power in the world to support and
assert it; it hath arms to maintain it most effectual and 2 Cor. x. 4. forcible, (those of which St. Paul saith ; The weapons of
our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God,-) it inflicteth chastisements far more dreadful than any secular power can inflict; for these only touch the body, those pierce the soul; these concern only our temporal state, those reach eternity itself; these at most yield a transitory smart, or kill the body, those produce endless torment, and
(utterly as to all comfort in being) destroy the soul. Spiritali
The punishment for extreme contumacy is called delivery gladio su- to Satan ; and is not this far worse than to be put into the perbi et
hands of any gaoler or hangman ? what are any cords of
hemp or fetters of iron, in comparison to those bands, of tur, dum de ecclesia which it is said, Whatever ye bind on earth, shall be bound ejiciuntur. Cypr. Ep.
in heaven ; which engage the soul in a guilt never to be loosed, except by sore contrition and serious repentance ? what are any scourges to St. Paul's rod, lashing the heart and conscience with stinging remorse? what any axes or falchions to that sword of the spirit, which cutteth off a member from the body of Christ? what are any fagots and torches to that unquenchable fire and brimstone of the infernal lake? what, in fine, doth any condemnation here signify to that horrible curse, which devoteth an incorrigible soul to the bottomless pit?
It is therefore indeed a great advantage to this power that it is spiritual.
2. Another grand obstruction to the practice of this duty is, pretence to scruple about the lawfulness, or dissatisfaction in the expedience of that which our governors prescribe ; that we are able to advance objections against their
decrees; that we can espy inconveniences ensuing upon Cypr. Ep. their orders; that we imagine the constitution may be re59. 52. (p. formed, so as to become more pure, more convenient and 97.)
comely, more serviceable to edification; that we cannot fancy that to be best, which they enjoin: for removing this obstruction let me only propound some questions,