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SERM. of piety and devotion was turned into a fierce zeal CCVIII.

and contention about matters of no moment and importance; of whichwe have a most remarkable instance here in our own nation, when Austin the monk arrived here to convert the nation, and preach the Gospel amongst us, as the church of Rome pretended; but against all faith and truth of history, which affures us that christianity was planted here among the Britains several ages before, and perhaps sooner than even at Rome itself; and not only so, but had got considerable footing among the Saxons before Austin the monk ever set foot amongst us; I say, when Austin the monk arrived here, the two great points of his christianity, were to bring the Britains to a conformity with the church of Rome in the time of Easter, and in the tonsure and shaving of the priests, after the manner of St. Peter, as they pretended, upon the crown of the head, and not of St, Paul, which was by shaving or cutting close the hair of the whole head, as from some vain and foolish tradition he pretended to have learned: the promoting of these two customs was his great errand and buliness, and the zeal of his preaching was spent upon these two fundamental points ; in which after ve. ry barbarous and bloody doings, he at last prevailed. And this is the conversion of England, so much boasted of by the church of Rome, and for which this Austin is magnified for so great a saint ; when it is very evident from the history of those times, that he was a proud, ignorant, turbulent, and cruel man, who instead of first converting the nation to the faith of Christ, confounded the purity and simplicity of the christian religion, which had been planted and established among us long before. In latter ages, when the man of sin was grown up

to

to his full stature, the great business of religion was SERM.

CCVIII. the pope's absolute and universal authority over all Christians, even kings and princes, in order to fpiritual matters ; ecclesiastical liberties and immunities; and the exemption of the clergy, and all matters belonging to them, from the cognizance of the secular power ; the great points which Tho. a Becket contended fo earnestly for, calling it the cause of CHRIST, and in the maintenance whereof he perfifted to the death, and was canonized as a faint and a martyr. And among the people, their piety confifted in the promoting of monkery, and founding and en

wing monasteries ; in infinite fuperftitions, foolish doctrines, and more abfurd miracles to confirm them; in purchasing indulgencies with money, and hearing of masses for the redemption of souls out of purgatory; in the idolatrous worship of faints and their relicks and images, and especially of the blessed virgin, which at last grew to that height, as to make up the greatest part of their worship and devotion both publick and private. And indeed they have brought matters to that absurd pafs, that one may truly say, that the whole business of their devotion is to teach men to worship images, and images to worship God. For to be present at divine service and prayer celebrated in an unknown tongue, is not the worship of men and reasonable creatures, but of statues and images, who though they be present in the place where this service is performed, yet they bear no part in it, being void of all sense and understanding of what is done. And indeed in their whole religion, such as it is, they drive so strict a bargain with God, and treat him in fo arrogant a' manner, by their insolent doctrine of the merit of good works, as if God were as much beholden to them for their

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SER M. service and obedience, as they are to him for the re-
CCVIII.

ward of it, which they challenge as of right and jus-
tice belonging to them. Nay, so high have they
carried this doctrine, as to pretend not only to merit
eternal life for themselves, but to do a great deal
more in works of supererogation, for the benefit and
advantage of others; that is, when they have done
as much as in strict duty they are obliged to, and
thereby paid down a valuable consideration for hea-
ven, and as much as in equal justice between God
and man it is worth, their surplusage of their good
works they put as a debt upon God, and as so ma-
ny bills of credit laid up in the treasury of the church,
which the pope by his pardons and indulgencies may
dispense and place to whose aceount he pleaseth. And
thus by one device or other they have enervated the
christian religion to that degree, that it has quite
lost it's virtue and efficacy upon the hearts and lives
of men ; and instead of the fruits of real goodness
and righteousness, it produceth little else but super-
ftition and folly; or if it bring forth any fruits of cha-
rity, it is either so mis-placed upon these chimeras (as
hiring of priests to say so many masses for the dead,
to redeem their souls out of purgatory) that it sig-
nifies nothing; or else the virtue of it is spoiled by
the arrogant pretence of meriting by it. So apt
have men always been to deceive themselves by an
affected mistake of any thing for religion, but that
which really and in truth is fo. And this is that
which the apostle St. Paul foretold would be the
great miscarriage of the last times, that under a great
pretence of religion men should be destitute of all
goodness, and abandoned to all wickedness and vice,
" having a form of godliness, but denying the pow-
“ er of it," 2 Tim. iii. 5.

An

And though things have been much better since SERM

CCVIII. that happy reformation from the corruptions and erfors of popery, yet even among proteftants the malice and craft of the devil hath prevailed fo far, as to undermine, in a great measure, the necessity of a good life, by those lufcious doctrines of the Antinomians, concerning free grace, and the justification of a sinner merely upon a confident persuasion of his being in a state of grace and favour with God, and consequently that the gospel dischargeth men from obedience to the laws of God, and all manner of obligation to the virtues of a good life; which doctrines, how false and absurd foever in themselves, and pernicious in their consequences, did not only prevail very much in Germany, a little after the beginning of the reformation, but have since got too much footing in other places, and been too far entertained and cherished by some good men, who were not sufficiently aware of the error and danger of them. But blessed be God, the doctrine of our church, both in the articles and homilies of it, hath been preserved pure and free from all error and corruption in this matter on either hand, asserting the necessity of good works, and yet renouncing the merit of them in that arrogant sense, inwhich the church of Rome does teach and affert it; and fo teaching justification by faith, and the free grace of God in Jesus Christ, as to maintain the indispensable necessity of the virtues of a good life.

And thus I have done with the first reason, why it is so fit and necessary to press frequently upon Christians the indispensable necessity of the virtues of a good life, viz. because men are and have ever been so very apt to deceive themselves in this matter, and so hardly brought to that wherein religion mainly consists, viz. the practice of real goodness. I shall be brief upon the

II. Rea

SER M.

11. Reason, namely, because of the indispensable CCVIII.

necessity of the thing to render us capable of the dia
vine favour and acceptance, and of the reward of eter-
nal life. And this added to the former, makes the
reason full and strong. For if men be fo apt to de-
cieve themselves in this matter, and to be deceived
in it be a matter of such dangerous consequence, then
it is highly necessary to inculcate this frequently up-
on Christians, that no man may be mistaken in a
matter of so much danger, and upon which his eter-
nal happiness depends. Now if obedience to the laws
of God, and the practice of virtue and good works
be necessary to our continuance in a state of grace and
favour with God, and to our final justification by our
absolution at the great day, if nothing but holiness
obedience can qualify us for the blessed sight of
God, and the glorious reward of eternal happi-
ness; then it is matter of infinite consequence to us,
not to be mistaken in a matter of fo great importance ;
but that we work out our salvation with fear and
" and trembling," and " give all diligence to make
"our calling and election sure,” by “ adding to
“ our faith and knowledge, the virtues of a good
« life:” that “ by patient continuance in well-do-

ing, we seek for glory, and honour, and immor

tality, and eternal life;" and that we lo demean our selves " in all holy conversation and godliness,” as that we may with comfort and confidence "wait for “the bleffed hope, and the glorious' appearance of ... the great God, and our SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST; " who gave himself for us, that he might redeem « us from all iniquicy, and purify to himself a pecu6 liar people zealous of good works.” That this is indispensably necessary to our happiness, I have in my former discourse shewn at large, from the great end

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