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that saith, we ought to obey God rather than men, Acts vi. 29.
Such being the duty of a christian, who doth not see the troubles which the religion of Jesus Christ may excite in families ? for I repeat it again, where is the society, where is the family, that hath not adopted its peculiar errors and vices? Into what society can you be admitted ? With what family can you live? What course of life can you pursue, in which you will not be often obliged to contradict your friend, your superior, your father?
II. The explanation of our first article, hath almost been a discussion of the second ; and by considering the nature of the troubles which religion occasions, we have in a manner proved, that they ought not to be imputed to those who teach this religion : but to them who hear and resist it. This is the apology for our gospel, for our reformation, and for our ministry. This is our reply to the objections of ancient and modern Rome.
One of the strongest objections that was made against primitive christianity, was taken from the troubles which it excited in society. “A religion, said some, that kindles a fire on earth ; a religion, which withdraws subjects from the allegiance they owe to their sovereign ; which requireth its votaries to hate father, mother, children ; that exciteth people to quarrel with the gods themselves; a religion of this kind, can it be of heavenly original ? Can it proceed from any but the enemy of mankind ?" Blasphemy of this kind is still to be seen in a city of Spain, where it remains on a column that was erected by Dioclesian, and on which we read these words: To Dioclesian, Jovius, and Mariminus, Cæsars, for having enlarged the bounds of the empire, and for having exterminated the name of Christians, those disturbers of the public repose
The enemies of our reformation adopt the sentiment, and speak the language of the ancient Romans. They have always this objection in their mouths: Your reformation was the source of schisms, and disturbances. It was that which armed the Condes, the Chatillons, the Williams : or to use the words of an historian, who was educated in a society where the sincerity necessary to make a faithful historian is seldom acquired; Nothing was to be seen, says he, in speaking of the wars, which was excited under the detestable triumvirate,* Nothing was to be seen but the vengeance of some, and the crimes of others, nothing but ruins, and ashes, blood and carnage, and a thousand frightful images of death ; and these were, adds this venal pen, these were the fruits of the new gospel, altogether contrary to that of Jesus Christ, who brought peace on earth, and left it at his death with his apostles.
But I am pleased to see my religion attacked with the same weapons, with which Jesus Christ, and his apostles, were formerly attacked. And I rejoice to defend my religion, with the same armor, with which the primitive christians defended it against the first enemies of christianity. To the gospel, then; or to the cruelty of tyrants, to the inflexible pride of the priesthood, to the supersti
* The duke of Guise, the constable de Montmorenci, and the marshal de St. Andre. The jesuit, whose words our author quotes, is speaking of the reign of Henry II. in which the kingdoin was governed, or rather disturbed, by the triumvirate, mentioned by Mr. Saurin. They, according to the president Thuanus, were governed by Diana of Poitiers, duchess of Valentinois, the king's mistress ; and she by her own violent and capricious passions. Hæc violenta et acerba regni initia, facile ministris tributa sunt ; præcipue Diana Pictuviensi, superbi et impotentis animi feminæ ; ;:.
Thuall, hist. lib. 3.
ARBITRIO OMNIA RE GEBANTUR.
tious rage of the populace, ought these ravages to be imputed? What did the primitive christians desire, but liberty to worship the true God, to free themselves from error, to destroy vice, and to make truth and virtue triumph in every place? And we, who glory in following these venerable men, we ask, What treasons have we plotted ? Rome! What designs hast thou seen us form ? Have we attempted to invade thy property, to conquer thy states, to usurp thy crowns? Have we envied that pomp, which thou displayest with so much parade, and which dazzles thy gazing followers ? What other spirit animates us, beside that of following the dictates of our own consciences, and of using our learning, and all our qualifications, to purify the christian world from its errors and vices? If the purity of our hands, if the rectitude of our hearts, if the fervor of our zeal, have provoked thee to lift up thine arm to crush us, and if we have been obliged to oppose thine unjust persecutions by a lawful self-defence; is it to us, is it to our reformation, is it to our reformers, that the discord must be ascribed ?
That, which makes an apology for the reformation, and for the primitive gospel, makes it also for a gospel-ministry. It is sufficiently mortifying to us, my brethren, to be obliged to use the same armor against the children of the reformation, that we employ against the enemies of it. But this armor, how mortifying soever the necessity may be, that obligeth us to put it on, is an apology for our ministry, and will be our glory before that august tribunal, at which your cause, and ours, will be heard; when the manner, in which we have preached the gospel, and the manner, in which you have received our preaching, will be examined. How often have you given your pastors the same title,
which the enemies of our reformation gave the reformers? I mean, that of disturbers of the peace of society. How often have you said of him, who undertook to shew you all the light of truth, and make you feel all the rights of virtue, He stirreth up the people ? But I ask again, ought the disturbances, which are occasioned by the preaching of the gospel, to be imputed to those who foment error, or to them, who, refute it ; to those, who censurse vice, or to them, who eagerly and obstinately commit it? Is the discord to be attributed to those, who drown reason in wine, or to them, who shew the extravagance of drunkenness? Is it to those, who retain an unjust gain, or to them, who urge the necessity of restoring it? Is it to those, who prophane our solemn feasts, who are spots in our assemblies, as an apostle speaks, Jude 12. and who, in the language of a prophet, defile our courts with their feet,* or to them, who endeavor to reform such abuses? To put these questions is to answer them, I shall, therefore, pass from them to our last article, and shall detain you but a few moments in the discussion of it.
III. We are now between two solemnities; between a fast, which we kept a few days ago, and a communion, that we shall receive a few days hence. I wish you would derive from the words of the text a rule to discover, whether you have attended
* Isaiah i. 12. Tread my courts. The French version better, que vous fouliez de tos pieds mes partis. Fouler aux pieds, is to trample on by way of contempt. The prophet meant to shew the imperfection of exterior worship; and probably our translators intended to convey the same idea by our plirase, Wherefore do ye tread my courts ? as if he had said, “ The worship of the mind and heart is essential to the holiness of my festivals ; but you only tread my courts; your bodies indeed are present; but your attention and affections are absent :
: you defile my courts, that is, you celebrate my festiv als una holily." See chap. xxix. 13.
the first of these solemnities, and whether you will approach the last, with suitable dispositions.
There is an opposition, we have seen, between the maxims of Jesus Christ and the maxims of the world ; and consequently, we have been convinced, that a christian is called to resist all mankind, to stem a general torrent; and, in that eternal division, which separates the kingdom of Jesus Christ from the kingdom of sin in the world, to fight continually against the world, and to cleave to Jesus Christ. Apply this maxim to yourselves, apply it to every circumstance of your lives, in or
, . der to obtain a thorough knowledge of yourselves.
Thou! thou art a member of that august body, to which society commits in trust its honor, its property, its peace, its liberty, its life, in a word, its felicity. But with what eye do men of the world elevated to thy rank accustom themselves to consider these truths? How often do these depositaries enter into tacit agreements reciprocally to pardon sacrifices of public to private interest ? How often do they say one to another? Wink you at my injustice to-day, and I will wink at yours to-morrow. If thou enter into these iniquitous combinations, yea, if thou wink at those who form them; if thou
l forbear detecting them, for fear of the resentment of those, whose favor it is thine interest to conciliate: most assuredly thou art a false christian ; most assuredly thy fast was a vain ceremony, and thy communion will be as vain as thy fast,
Thou ! thou art set over the church. In a body composed of so many different members, it is impossible to avoid finding many enemies of Jesus Christ, some of whom oppose his gospel with erroneous maxims, and others with vices incompatible with christianity. If thou live in, I know not what union with thy flock; if thou dare not condemn in