« PreviousContinue »
"He cannot but observe this divine justice, yet with sorrow and pity." But sorrow and pity in a weak and over-mastered enemy is looked upon no otherwise than as the ashes of his revenge burnt out upon himself, or as the damp of a cooled fury, when we say, it gives. But in this manner to sit spelling and observing divine justice upon every accident and slight disturbance that may happen humanly to the affairs of men, is but another fragment of his broken revenge; and yet the shrewdest and the cunningest obloquy that can be thrown upon their actions. For if he can persuade men that the Parliament and their cause is pursued with divine vengeance, he hath attained his end, to make all men forsake them, and think the worst that can be thought of them.
Nor is he only content to suborn divine justice in his censure of what is past, but he assumes the person of Christ himself, to prognosticate over us what he wishes would come. So little is anything or person sacred from him, no not in heaven, which he will not use, and put on, if it may serve him plausibly to wreak his spleen, or ease his mind upon the Parliament. Although, if ever fatal blindness did both attend and punish wilfulness, if ever any enjoyed not comforts for neglecting counsel belonging to their peace, it was in none more conspicuously brought to pass than in himself; and his predictions against the Parliament and their adherents have for the most part been verified
It is a rule and principle worthy to be known by Christians, that no Scripture, no, nor so much as any ancient creed, binds our faith, or our obedience to any church whatsoever, denominated by a particular name; far less, if it be distinguished by a several government from that which is indeed catholic. No man was ever bid be subject to the church of Corinth, Rome, or Asia, but to the Church without addition, as it held faithful to the rules of Scripture, and the government established in all places by the Apostles; which at first was universally the same in all churches and congregations; not differing or distinguished by the diversity of countries, territories, or civil bounds. That church, that from the name of a distinct place takes authority to set up a distinct faith or government, is a schism and faction, not a church. It were an injury to condemn the Papist of absurdity and contradiction, for adhering to his Catholic Romish religion, if we, for the pleasure of a king and his politic considerations, shall adhere to a Catholic English.....
It happened once, as we find in Esdras and Josephus, authors not less believed than any under sacred, to be a great and solemn debate in the court of Darius, what thing was to be counted strongest of all other. He that could resolve this, in reward of his excellent wisdom, should be clad
in purple, drink in gold, sleep on a bed of gold, and sit next Darius. None but they, doubtless, who were reputed wise, had the question propounded to them; who, after some respite given them by the king to consider, in full assembly of all his lords and gravest counsellors, returned severally what they thought. The first held that wine was strongest; another, that the king was strongest; but Zorobabel, prince of the captive Jews, and heir to the crown of Judah, being one of them, proved women to be stronger than the king, for that he himself had seen a concubine take his crown from off his head to set it upon her own; and others beside him have likewise seen the like feat done, and not in jest. Yet he proved on, and it was so yielded by the king himself, and all his sages, that neither wine, nor women, nor the king, but truth of all other things was the strongest.
For me, though neither asked, nor in a nation that gives such rewards to wisdom, I shall pronounce my sentence somewhat different from Zorobabel; and shall defend that either truth and justice are all one, (for truth is but justice in our knowledge, and justice is but truth in our practice ;) and he indeed so explains himself, in saying that with truth is no accepting of persons, which is the property of justice, or else if there be any odds, that justice, though not stronger than truth, yet by her office, is to put forth and exhibit more
strength in the affairs of mankind. For truth is properly no more than contemplation; and her utmost efficiency is but teaching: but justice in her very essence is all strength and activity; and hath a sword put into her hand, to use against all violence and oppression on the earth. She it is most truly, who accepts no person, and exempts none from the severity of her stroke. She never suffers injury to prevail, but when falsehood first prevails over truth; and that also is a kind of justice done on them who are so deluded. Though wicked kings and tyrants counterfeit her sword, as some did that buckler fabled to fall from heaven into the capitol, yet she communicates her power to none but such as, like herself, are just, or at least will do justice. For it were extreme partiality and injustice, the flat denial and overthrow of herself, to put her own authentic sword into the hand of an unjust and wicked man, or so far to accept and exalt one mortal person above his equals, that he alone shall have the punishing of all other men transgressing, and not receive like punishment from men, when he himself shall be found the highest transgressor.
We may conclude, therefore, that justice, above all other things, is and ought to be the strongest ; she is the strength, the kingdom, the power, and majesty of all ages. Truth herself would subscribe to this, though Darius and all the monarchs of the world should deny. And if by sentence thus writ
ten it were my happiness to set free the minds of Englishmen from longing to return poorly under that captivity of kings from which the strength and supreme sword of justice hath delivered them, I shall have done a worl not much inferior to that of Zorobabel; who, by well-praising and extolling the force of truth, in that contemplative strength conquered Darius, and freed his country and the people of God from the captivity of Babylon. Which I shall yet not despair to do, if they in this land, whose minds are yet captive, be but as ingenuous to acknowledge the strength and supremacy of justice, as that heathen king was to confess the strength of truth: or let them but, as he did, grant that, and they will soon perceive that truth resigns all her outward strength to justice: justice therefore must needs be strongest, both in her own, and in the strength of truth. But if a king may do among men whatsoever is his will and pleasure, and notwithstanding be unaccountable to men, then, contrary to his magnified wisdom of Zorobabel, neither truth nor justice, but the king, is strongest of all other things, which that Persian monarch himself, in the midst of all his pride and glory, durst not assume.
So much he thinks to abound in his own defence, that he undertakes an unmeasurable task, to bespeak "the singular care and protection of God over all kings," as being the greatest patrons of law, justice, order, and religion on earth. But