HEAD. VII. The Sufferings of many, for Refusing to pay the wicked Exactions of the Cess, Locality, Fines &c. Vindicated.
Having come to a conclusion of the six heads proposed to be treated of; I Judged it conducing by way of postscript to subjoin a Seventh, in vindication of these conscientious and truly tender sufferers, who in the dread and aw of the holy, Sovereign & Supreme Law-giver, who commandeth his subjects and followers to abstain from all appearance of evil, did in obedience to him and his Royal Law, choose rather to suffer the rage, robberies & violence of Cruel and bloody enemies, together with Censures, reproaches, obloquies & contempt of apostatizing professors, than to give any aid or encouragement to the avowed and declared enemies of Christ, that might contribute to the promoting their Sacrilegious Tyrannical and hellish projects & practices, calculated & prosecuted against the Gospel and Kingdome of Christ, the Covenanted reformed Religion of the Church, the Rights, Laws and Liberties of the people, and to the Introducing of Antichristian Idolatry, Tyranny & Slavery, by paying any of their wicked & wickedly imposed exactions, raised for furthering their hellish designs, of which, none who pays them can be Innocent.
IT will possibly seem impertinent, or at least preposterous at such a time, when the pressure of these burdens is not more pinching to the Generality of professing people, and in such a retrograde order, as after the discussion of the foregoing Heads, to subjoin any disquisition of these Questions, which are now out of date and doors with many. But considering that the Impositions of these Burdens are still pressing to some and the difficulties of doubts & disputes about them still puzzling, the sin & scandal of complying with them still lying upon the Land, not confessed nor forsaken, the leaven of such Doctrine as daubs & defends the like compliance still entertained, the Sufferings of the Faithful for refusing them, still contemned & condemned, and the fears & expectations of more snares of that nature, after this fair weather is over, still increasing, if I may be so happy as to escape impertinencies in the manner of managing this disquisition, I fear not the Censure of the impertinency or needlessness of this Essay. As to the order of it, it was intended to have been put in its proper place among the Negative Heads of Sufferings: But knowing of how little worth or weight anything that I can say is with the prejudged, and having a Paper writ by two famous Witnesses of Christ against the Defections of their day, Mr. [Robert] McWard & Mr. [John] Brown [of Wamphray], more fully & largely detecting the iniquity of the Cess (from which the wickedness of other exactions also may be clearly deduced) though at such distance at the writing of the foregoing Heads, that it could not be had in readiness to take its due place, and time would not allow the suspending other things until this should come to hand; I thought it needful, rather than to omit it altogether, to insert it here. However, though neither the form of it, being by way of Letter, nor the method adapted to the design of a moving dissuasion, nor the length & prolixity thereof, will suffer it to be here transcribed as it is; yet to discover what were their sentiments of these things, and what was the Doctrine Preached and Homologated by the most faithful both Ministers and Professors of Scotland, eight or nine years since, how closely continued in by the Contendings of this Reproached Remnant, still persecuted for these things, and how clearly abandoned & resiled [retracted] from, by their Complying Brethren now at Ease, I shall give a short Transumpt [written account] & Compend of their Reasonings; in a method subservient to my Scope and with Additions necessary for applying their Arguments against the other Exactions here adduced in this Head, and bringing them also under the dint of them, though not touched by them expressly. I must put altogether, because it would dilate the Treatise already excressed [enlarged] into a bigness, far beyond the boundaries I designed for it, to handle them distinctly; and their affinity, both as to their fountain, nature, & ends, is such, that what will condemn one of them will condemn all. What and how many & manifold have been the exorbitant Exactions, as the fruits & foments of this cruel Tyranny, that the Godly in our Land, have been groaning under these 27 years, and upon what occasions they have been at diverse times, and in diverse manners & measures imposed, I need not here relate, the first part of the Treatise doth represent it. The first of these Tyrannical Exactions, were the Fines for not hearing the Curates, and other parts of Non-conformity; which, together with paying the Curates’ stipends, were too universally at first complied with: But afterwards upon more mature consideration and after clearer discoveries of the Imposers projects & practices, they were scrupled & refused by the more tender. And their Sufferings, upon the account of that Recusancy, have been very great & grievous, to the utter impoverishment & depopulation of many Families, besides the personal Sufferings of many in long Imprisonments, which some chose rather to sustain with patience, than pay the least of those Exactions. Yea, some when ordered to be legally liberate, and set forth out of Prison, chose rather to be detained still in bondage, than to pay the Jailor-fees, their Keepers demanded of them. Many other wicked Impositions have been pressed & prosecuted, with great rigor & rage, as Militia-money, and Locality, for furnishing Soldiers, listed under a banner displayed against Religion & Liberty, with necessary provision, in and for their wicked service; which of late years have been contended against by the Sufferings of many, and daily growing a Trial to more. But the most impudently insolent of all these Impositions, and that which plainly paraphrases, openly expresses & explains all the rest, calculate for the same ends, was by that wicked Act of Convention, enacted Anno 1678. Declaring very plainly its ends, to levy & maintain forces for suppressing Meetings, and to shew unanimous affection for maintaining the Kings Supremacy established by Law. Or as they represent it in their Act, for continuation of it, Act. 3. Parl. 3. Char. 2. August 20. 1681.
Seeing the Convention of Estates holden at Edinburgh in the month of July 1678 upon weighty Considerations therein specified, and particularly the great danger the Kingdom was under, by seditious & rebellious Conventicles, and the necessity which then appeared, to increase the forces, for securing the Government, and suppressing these rebellious Commotions, which were fomented by seditious principles & practices, did therefore humbly & dutifully offer a cheerful & unanimous Supply of 800000 pound Scots—in the space of five years—And the Estates of Parliament now convened, having taken to consideration, how the dangers from the forsaids Causes do much increase, in so far as such as are seditiously & rebelliously inclined, do still propagate their pernicious principles, and go on from one degree of rebellion to another, till now at last the horrid villainies of murder, assassination, & avowed rebellion, are owned, not only as things Lawful, but as obligations from their Religion—Do therefore, in a due sense of their duty of God, to their Sacred Sovereign, and the preservation of themselves and their posterity, of new make an humble, unanimous, cheerful, & heartily offer, for themselves, and in name of, and as representing this his Maj. ancient Kingdom, of a continuation of the foresaid Supply, granted by the Convention of Estates; And that for the space of five years or ten terms successive, beginning the first Terms payment at Martin-mas 1683. which yet is to be continued until Martin-mas 1688.
Here is a Sample of their wicked Demands, shewing the nature, quality, & tendency of all of them: Wherein we may note. 1. That they continue it upon the same Considerations, upon which it was first granted. 2. That these were, & yet remain to be, the danger of the Meetings of the Lord’s people for Gospel Ordinances, by them forced into the Fields, which they call Rebellious Conventicles; and the necessity of securing their Usurpation upon the Prerogatives of Christ, Liberties of His Church, and Privileges of Mankind (which they call their Government) and suppressing the Testimonies for the Interest of Christ (called by them Rebellious Commotions.) 3. That their motive of continuing it, was their Considerations of some weak Remainders of former zeal for God, in prosecuting the Testimony for the Interests of Christ, and Principles of the Covenanted Reformation (which they call propagating pernicious Principles) and some weak attempts to oppose & resist their Rebellion against God, and vindicate the Work, & defend the people of God, from the destruction they intended against them, and their Lawful & obliged endeavours to bring the Destroyers & Murderers to condign punishment (which they call horrid villainies of Murder, Assassination, & avowed Rebellion.) Here all the Active Appearances of the Lord’s people, vindicated in the foregoing Heads, are industriously Represented, under these odious & invidious Names, as motives to contribute this Supply of means to suppress them, and to involve all the Contributors in the guilt of condemning them. 4. That as a Test of their Allegiance unto, & Confederacy with that Execrable Tyrant (which they call their duty to their Sacred Sovereign) they enact this as Representatives of the Kingdom, and must be owned as such by all the payers. 5. That it is the same Cess, that was granted by the Convention of Estates, and the Term of its continuation is not yet expired. And hence it is manifest, that that Act of Convention, though its first date be expired, and thereupon many plead for the Lawfulness of paying it now, that formerly scrupled at and witnessed against it, yet is only renewed, revived, & corroborated, and the Exaction continued upon no other basis or bottom but the first State Constitution. Which was, & remains to be a Consummating & Crimson wickedness, the cry whereof reaches Heaven: Since upon the matter it was the setting of a day, betwixt & which (exceeding the Gadarenes wickedness, & short of their Civility) they did not beseech Christ & His Gospel to be gone out of Scotland, but with armed violence declared, they would with the strong hand drive Him out of His possession; in order to which their Legions are levied, with a professed Declaration, that having exauctorate [dethrone] the Lord’s Anointed by Law, and clothed the Usurper with the spoils of His Honour, they will by force maintain what they have done, and having taken to themselves the House of God in possession, they will sacrifice the Lives, Liberties, & fortunes of all in the Nation, to secure themselves in the peaceable possession of what they have robbed God; And that there shall not be a Soul left in the Nation, who shall not be slain, shut up, or sold as slaves, who will own Christ and His Interest. All which they could not, nor cannot accomplish, without the subsidiary Contribution of the peoples help. This is the plain sense of the Act for the Cess; and, though not expressed, the tacit & uniform intention of all the rest. Yet for as monstrous and manifest the wickedness of these designs are, so judicially were the bulk of our Seers plagued with blindness, that many of them were left to plead for the payment of these Impositions; others, though they durst not for a world do it themselves, to be silent, and by their silence to encourage & embolden many to such a Compliance; presuming with themselves, and without further enquiry, that the zeal of God, and love to His Glory, and the Souls of their Brethren, would constrain them to speak in so clamant a case, if they did observe any sin in it. Whereby the Universality was involved in the guilt of these things, especially deceived by the patrociny & pleadings of such of late, who formerly witnessed against it. O that it might be given to us to remember Lots wife, turned into a Pillar of Salt, to season us lest the stink of our Destruction, and what may follow upon it, be all that the posterity get for a warning not to tread our paths. As for the few that have suffered upon this Head, they have been so discruciated [deeply distressed] with perplexities, in their Conflicts with the rage of Enemies, and reproach of Friends, and fear of these snares attending every lot or occupation they could put themselves in, that they have been made to desire death, as their best refuge, and only retreat wherein they may find rest from all these rackings: For in no place could they escape the reach of some of these Impositions, nor the noise of their clamarous Contendings of Arguments that pleaded for it. But some have had more Love to Christ and His Interests, than language to plead for Him, and more resolution to suffer than learning to dispute for His Cause; And where pure zeal for Christ, and love to His bleeding Interests, in a time when He is crucified afresh, and put to open shame, and the Concurrence of all is required to help forward the War against Him, is in integrity & vigor, it will burn with its flame those knots that it cannot in hast loose; And chose rather to lie under the imputation of being zealous without knowledge, than lose or let go such an opportunity of witnessing a good Confession; yea when it could do no more, expire with an Ichabod in its mouth.
But shortly to come to the point. I shall 1. Permit some Concessions. 2. Propose some parallel Questions. 3. Offer some Reasons to clear it.
1. I shall willingly grant in the General, concerning paying of Exactions, Impositions, or Emoluments.
1. They are to be paid to these to whom they are due: As Tribute & Custom is to be paid to the Powers ordained of God, and for this Cause that they are God’s Ministers attending continually upon this very thing Rom. 13. 6, 7. So Stipends and all outward Encouragements are due to Ministers of the Gospel, who sow Spiritual things and should reap these carnal things 1 Cor. 9. 11, 12. Fines also, and all legal Amercements for Delinquencies against just Laws, must be payed, Deut. 22. 19. And whatsoever is due by Law to Officers, appointed by Law for keeping Delinquents in Custody: As all Debts whatsoever. But Tyrants Exactions, enacted & exacted for promoting their wicked designs against Religion & Liberty; Hirelings Salaries, for encouraging them in their intrusions upon the Church of God; Arbitrary Impositions of pecuniary punishments for clear Duties; And extorted hirings, of the subordinate instruments of Persecutors’ oppressions, are no wise due and cannot be debt, and therefore no equity to pay them.
2. Its Lawful to pay them, when due and debt either by Law or Contract, even though they should be afterward abused and misimproven to pernicious ends. But these payments for such wicked ends, either particularly specified & expressed in the very Act appointing them, or openly avouched by the Exactors are of another nature, than Impositions fundamentally appointed for the public good; and the after misapplication thereof, made by such as are entrusted therewith, is no more imputable unto the Land or Payers, than is the theft of a Collector stealing or running away with the same without making Count or reckoning to Superiours. It is then a foolish thing to say, that former Impositions were peaceably paid, though we saw and were convinced that their use was perverted, and they were used against the good of the Land and God’s people. For no such thing was laid down as the ground, or declared as the end, of these exactions; but what fell out was by the personal abuse and perversion of those in power; which was their own personal fault, and posteriour to the legal engagement and submission to the payment thereof by the Land in their Representatives.
3. Its Lawful to pay them sometimes, even when fundamentally and Originally from the first Constitution of them they were not due, but Illegally or Usurpatively challenged & exacted, if afterwards they were by dedition [yielding] or voluntary engagement legally submitted unto by the true Representatives. But not so, when they were never either Lawfully enacted, or legally exacted, or voluntarily engaged by the Representatives, except such as represented the enslavement of the Nation, and betrayed the Country, Religion, Liberty, Property, and all precious Interests, and declaredly imposed to further the destruction of all. Nor can any with reason say, that this Case is but like the Case of the people of Israel under the feet of Enemies, paying to them of the fruits of their Ground, as was regretted & lamented by Nehemiah Chap. 9. 36, 37. For so they must say, the Exactions now in debate are their Redemption-money, and by these they purchase their Liberty of Life & Lands, and own themselves to be a people under Conquest. And yet they cannot deny, but they are both exacted & paid as Tests of their Allegiance as Subjects, and Badges of their Loyalty & Obedience. But this is answered before Head 2. Conces. 7. §. 2. Pag. If any should object the practice of Christ, though otherwise free, yet paying Custom lest He should offend: It is fully solved ibid. Head 2. Conces. 9. Pag. Here its sufficient to hint (1) That which made them marvel at His wise Answer was, that He left the Title unstated, and the Claim unresolved, whether it belonged to Cesar or not, and taught them in the general to give nothing to Cesar with prejudice to what was God’s; which condemns all the Payments we speak of, which are all for carrying on the War against God. (2) Cesar was no Tyrant nor Usurper at this time, because they had legally submitted themselves unto several Cesar’s successively before. (3) It was, lest He should offend: But here it will be evident, that the offence & scandal lieth upon the other hand, of paying the Exaction: And it is against all Religion to say, that both the doing and refusing to do the same Act, can give offence. But (4) make the Case like ours, and I doubt not to call it Blasphemy to say, that Christ would have paid, or permitted to pay a Taxation, professedly imposed for levying a War against Him, or banishing Him and His Disciples out of the Land; Or to fill the mouths of the greedy Pharisees, devouring widows houses, for their pretense of long Prayers; Or that He would have paid, or suffered to pay their Extortions, if any had been exacted of Him, or His Disciples, for His Preaching, or working Miracles; Or if help or hire had been demanded, for encouraging those that rose to stone Him for His good deeds.
4. It is Lawful to pay a part to preserve the whole, when it is extorted only by force & threatenings, and not exacted by Law; when it is a yielding only to a lesser suffering, and not a consenting to a Sin to shift suffering. The Objection of a man being seized by a Robber, transacting with him to give him the one half or more to save the rest and his life, commonly made use of to justify the paying of these Impositions, while under the power and at the reverence of such public Robbers, cannot satisfy in this Case. It is thus far satisfying, that there is a manifest Concession in it, that instead of righteous Rulers, we are under the power, and fallen into the hand of Robbers, from whom we are not able to rise up. But there is no parity. For to bring it home without halting, and make it speak sense, we must suppose that the Robber, not only requires a part for himself, and a part for his underling Shavers [i.e., priests], horse-rubbers &c. but a part upon this declared Account, that he may by that supply be enabled & furnished with all things necessary, for murdering my Father, Mother, Wife, Children, Kinsmen, & Friends (all whom he hath now in his power) yea, and for doing that besides, which is worse than all these put together: Whether then shall I, by giving the Robber that part which he seeks, enable him to do all these mischiefs? Or by refusing, expose myself to the hazard of being robbed or slain? Let the Conscience of any man answer this (for nothing can be here alleged against the parity as now propounded) and then I fear not but the Objection shall be found a blaze of empty words, blown away by any breath. But Alas! will this Tattle of a Robber be found relevant in that day, when the public Robbers shall be proceeded against by the just Judge? Let them who think so, think also, they see the Court fenced, and the Judge set, and hear these words sounding in their ears, ye are cursed with a Curse, for ye have robbed Me. even this whole Nation; And then they are like to lay as little weight on the Objection, for fear of falling under the weight of the Curse, as I do.
5. It is Lawful Passively by forcible constraint to submit to the execution of such wicked Sentences, as impose these burdens, if it be not by way of Obedience to them: This is suffering and not sinning. Hence it is easy to refell [refute] that Objection: If it be Lawful (which hitherto was never questioned) for a man, who is sentenced to die, to go to the place of execution, then a man being under the Moral force of a Law, which is equivalent, may pay Cesses, Localities, Fines &c. Ans. 1. Might it not be doubted, whether a man’s going upon his own feet to be execute, had as manifest, and ex natura rei [from the nature of the thing], a tendency, yea & proper Causuality to advance the design of the enemy, and his refusing to go had as clear a Testimony against the Clamant wickedness of their Course, as his refusing to pay their Impositions; Whether, I say in this case a man might not, yea ought not to refuse to go to the place of execution. But 2. Whosoever would conclude anything from it, to give it either life or legs, must make it run thus: Let the order run in this form (else there is no parallel, and so no inference) we appoint all the Opposers of our Course (that is all the lovers of our Lord Jesus) whom we have for their Rebellious Rendezvousing at Conventicles sentenced as Enemies & Traitors to die, to come and be hanged by virtue of our sentence; Otherwise besides the Moral force of the Law, adjudging them to die, we shall use force, and drag them like Dogs to the place of execution; And in putting us to this Trouble, they shall fall under the reproach, that being sentenced to die, they scrupled forsooth, yea refused to go on their own legs to the Gibbet. Let this I say be made the Case, which to me is the exact parallel, and their every Child will know what to Answer, or to hiss the Objection as pure ridicule. 3. I suppose the Objection speaks of a righteous & innocent person, who for Righteousness is brought, as a Sheep to the slaughter (for a Malefactor, who hath lost all right to his life, is not to be understood) Then to make the Case parallel, it must be taken for granted (1) There is a public Law with the penalty of death statute for the violation thereof. (2) That the person to be executed, hath not only transgressed that Law, but his disobedience to the Law is notour [notorious]. (3) That he is processed and convict of the transgression thereof: Whereupon follows (4) The Sentence, and then the Execution. Now the Law being wicked, and the man from the fear of God being constrained to disobey the Law, he can in nothing be justly construed Active, but in that disobedience or renitence: But in the whole of what befalls him for this, he being a captive Prisoner, is to be looked upon as passive. Yea the very Act of going to the place of execution in the present Case, howbeit as to its Physical entity, it is of the same kind with the Executioners Motion that goes along with him, yet in its Moral & Religious being, whence it hath its specification, its wholly the Suffering of a Captive, Well then, ere anything can be pleaded from the pretended parity; seeing there are Laws, made for paying such Exactions, Cesses, Salaries, & Fines, for the declared ends of ruining the people & Interests of Christ. It’s necessary, in order to a just parallel, that the Law must be first disobeyed. (2) The disobedience must be notour. (3) The delinquent must be processed & pursued, as guilty of the transgression, and convicted thereof, whereupon Sentence passeth against him for the breach of the Law. Here I grant all with advantage to the Cause: As in the first Case, so in this, he who is judged guilty of the breach of this wicked Law, and who is sentenced for that violation, ought to suffer patiently the spoiling of his goods, and not to decline suffering, if it were unto blood, striving against this sin.
6. Its Lawful of two evils of Sufferings to choose the least: where both come in the election, as in the Cases forementioned, and in a man’s throwing of his goods over board in a storm: These and the like are deeds in the present exigent voluntary & rational, being upon deliberation & choice, where the least evil is chosen under the notion of good, yea of the best that can be in the present case, and accordingly the will is determined, and meets & closes with its proper object: Or one of them only be proposed to be submitted to, but another lesser evil of suffering is in a man’s power to choose & propose, for purchasing his immunity from a greater; which is not imposed nor exacted of him, either by a wicked Law, or for wicked ends declared, but voluntarily offered; As in the Case of parting with some money to a Robber or Murderer to save the life, when he is seeking only the life; As the ten men that were going to the House of the Lord said unto Ishmael, slay us not for we have treasures in the field, for which he forbear and slew them not. Jer. 41. 8. In this a man does nothing, which under such circumstances is not only Lawful (one of the main ends for which goods are given to him, to wit the preservation of his life, being thereby attained) but it were a grievous sin, and would conclude him guilty of self-murder, not to make use of such a mean for preservation of his life, which God hath put in his power, and is in the case called for by His Precept. But however force may warrant one to do that, which may be done for shunning a greater evil of loss; yet it is never sufficient to make one do that which is a greater evil, than all the evil that can be said to be shunned: For the evil shunned is suffering, but the evil done to shun this, is real and active Concurrence, in manner, measure, & method, enjoined by Law, in strengthening the hands of those who have displayed a banner against all the Lovers of our Lord Jesus Christ; A manifest choosing of sin to shun suffering, and a saving of life with the prejudice of that in the preservation whereof he should be ready to lay down all, and be at a point to endure the worst this wicked world can make him suffer, ere he be found guilty in the matter of a Compliance of that nature. And though the rod of the wicked should seem to rest on his lot, for his refusal, and he be the object of their rage & revenge, for holding his integrity; yet he shall be honoured as a faithful Witness, helped to endure as seeing Him who is invisible, and amidst all his sufferings & sorrows, made to rejoice, in the hope that when God shall lead forth these Workers of iniquity, he shall not be found amongst the Company of these who have turned aside with them into their crooked Courses, and for that shall be overturned & crushed with them, under the Curse that is hovering over their heads. It’s true a man should not cast himself and his family (which if he provide not for, he is worse than an Infidel) upon sufferings, either needlessly or doubtfully, when he is not persuaded it is Truth & Duty he suffers for, and of value sufficient to countervail the loss he may sustain for it. But on the other hand, in the present and all like cases it is highly of the concernment of all men to be careful & circumspectly Cautions, when the Case comes to be stated upon suffering or not suffering, in examining well whether the Course whereby a man shuns suffering be of God, and not to take Plausibilities for Demonstrations; seeing the flesh is not only ready to inculcate that Doctrine, spare thy self, but is both witty of invention to plead for what will afford ease, and as unwilling to listen to what would, if attended unto, expose us to the malice & rage of rigorous enemies: It being always more becoming the Professors of the Gospel, and the Followers of our Lord Jesus, who must walk to Heaven bearing His Cross, to abstain at all hazards when the case is doubtful, than to rush forward upon an uncertainty, when it is not evident they have God’s approbation for what they do. Yea suppose a person erred to his own hurt in the first case, through weakness, yet it will argue much more sincerity & uprightness towards God, and is done with less danger than in the other. And as many as walk according to this Rule, are like to have the Peace of the Israel of God, to compense whatever of trouble or loss they may meet with in the world, when others shall not have this bird of Paradise to sing in their bosom.
II. But shunning prolixity, to come nearer the point, because perhaps some may allege such Cases are not determined in the Scriptures, nor can any Case be found parallel to these under Consideration, from which we may gather the determination thereof; Which I think indeed hard to find, because in the wickedness of former ages such monstrous Exactions had never a Precedent, for such declared ends, so declaredly impudent. I shall make some Suppositions, and propose some Questions, all of a piece, and some way parallel to this under debate, and leave any Conscience touched with the fear of God to answer.
1. Suppose, when our Lord Jesus and His Disciples were tossed upon the waves by the storm at sea. and he was sleeping, that then Herod or Pilate, or the Chief Rulers had sent peremptory orders to all men, to supply and furnish with such things as he had, the men they employed, to capacitate them once for all and forever to sink that floating bottom out of sight; and that somewhat should be given to the Soldiers engaged in that Enterprise, somewhat to the Pharisees for persuading them to it, and fines to be exacted from the Recusants, and Rewards to be given to such as should keep them in Custody that should fall in their hands, either of them that refused to pay the Moiety prescribed, or of such of them as should escape drowning. In this Case would, or durst any of the Lovers of Jesus comply with any of these demands? and not rather choose to perish with Him, or in opposition to such wicked attempts? Now hath not the Lord Jesus, and all the Interest He hath in the Nation, been embarked as it were in one bottom, and floating like a wreck in the sea? And have not these called Rulers in this Land, in their rage against the Lord’s Anointed, and the handful who adhere to Him, sent their peremptory orders to pay a Cess for sinking His floating Interests; and to pay the Curates for persuading to it; and fines for not concurring in it; And rewards to Jailors & others that are appointed to oppress the Recusants? Who durst concur then in this Compliance, who had love to Christ in exercise, and who had his friends in the same bottom embarked? And besides seeing the Great God had the man of whom this is required, bound with his own consent, under a Sacred & Solemn Oath, and under the penalty of never seeing His face, if he do not venture life & fortune to preserve that precious Interest, and all who are embarked with it from perishing. Shall he notwithstanding of this, give what these enemies to Christ, call for as His Concurrence, to enable them to execute their wicked Contrivance? Does any man think or dream that the pitiful Plea, of what they call a Moral force, will clear and acquit him before God from the guilt of a Concurrence in this Conspiracy, while in the meantime he furnished whatsoever these Enemies demanded of him with this express Declaro [announcement] that it was for this Cause exacted, and for this end imposed? Or can he think to be saved, when they shall be sentenced who with so much deliberation & despite have done this thing? O let us consider the after reckoning! And let us not with pretenses distinguish ourselves into a Defection, or distract ourselves into the oblivion of this, that God is righteous to whom the reckoning must be made.
2. Let it be supposed, under Saul’s Tyranny, when the Ziphims informed him of David’s hiding himself with them, Or when Doeg informed him of Abimelech’s resetting him, That an order had been given forth to all Israel, with this Narrative: Whereas that Rebel David had now openly despised Authority, had been entertained by the Priest, received Goliath’s sword from him, and gathered a Company of armed men together, therefore to the end he and his Complices, may be brought to Justice, We ordain all from Dan to Beersheba, to concur either personally in this Expedition against him, or to pay Cess to our standing forces to maintain them in this expedition, or so much to gratify the Ziphims for their kindness, or to furnish Doeg with a sword, to murder the Priests of the Lord. Would any that favoured David’s righteous Cause, have dared to do any of these? Would these that durst not concur themselves, contribute any encouragement to the Concurrers? Would Saul’s Servants that would not fall upon the Priests of the Lord themselves, have given Doeg one of their swords to do it, or money to buy one, if it had been demanded? To the same purpose, suppose a party comes to a Dissenter, with an express order, and this Narrative, Whereas there is such a Minister, meet with some people, at an execrable Conventicle as they call it (but in it self the pure Worship of God) therefore to the end the Minister may be taken & murdered, and the Servants of the Lord for the Countenance they gave him may be brought to the same punishment, they ordain him, for the accomplishing of their design, to furnish that party with all necessaries, or to pay such a sum of money for not concurring with them: Now should he in this case not only forbear to lay down his life for his brethren, and forbear to deliver them, that are thus drawn unto death on such an account, (into which forbearance the Great God will make so accurate an inquiry Prov. 24. 11, 12. as may make us tremble, whether we look backward or forward) but also furnish according to the tenor of this Order, that party of the Dragon’s Legions, in their War against the Prince Michael & His Angels, with supplies, and think to put off the matter and plead innocent with this, that he was under the Moral force of a Law, accompanied with such military force, as if he had refused, they would have taken away all he had &c.? For this Plea in its full strength, is to do evil that some good may come of it (no true good) which brings just damnation Rom. 3. 8. or to choose sin rather than affliction.
3. What if Manasseh, or other Idolatrous Princes, that sacrificed to Devils, and made Children pass through the fire to Molech, had enacted a Cess, or under severe Impositions of Fines had commanded all to concur to a solemn Sacrifice of that nature, charging every man against a certain day, to bring in his proportion in order to celebrate the Sacrifice with all its statute solemnities; Or should have taken a child from every father, and then made a Law that each of these should contribute such a sum, for furnishing with all necessaries, and maintaining these Murderers, whom they had conduced to shed the blood of their innocent Children or sacrifice them to Molech: Could it be expected that any of the Godly would have paid such Exactions, and then have wiped his mouth with the notion of a moral force? This comes home enough to our Case: For no sacrifice they can offer to the Devil, can be more real or so acceptable, as what they declare they intend to do; being so direct, not only an opposition to the coming of the Kingdom of Christ, but the deletion of His precious Interests, and extirpation of His faithful Remnant, and the giving Satan such an absolute Dominion in the Nation, as that they who have made the decree, and all who put it in execution, practically declare thereby they have mancipate themselves to his slavery, and sold themselves to work wickedness, in the sight of the Lord: So likewise, that all the rest of the Nation, may with themselves become his vassals, and in evidence of their opposition to Christ, and in recognition of Satan’s Sovereignty & their subjection, they are appointed to pay these blackmails.
4. Let it be supposed, that after Nebuchadnezzar had made the decree, for all to fall down & worship his Image, and the three Children were apprehended for refusing it, he had made another, that all the Jews especially should contribute, everyone a Faggot, or money to buy it, to heat the furnace, or a rope to lead them to it: Can any man suppose, that Daniel, or the rest of the faithful, would have paid it? Even so, let it be supposed, that any one of these faithful Ambassadours of Christ, or all these zealous Workers together with God, who have laboured among the people in the Preached Gospel, should fall into the hands of these Hunters; And then they should make a Law, and appoint every man in the Nation, to send but one thread, to make a Tow [i.e., a rope], to hang that Minister, or to hang the whole Company of Christ’s Ambassadours, and a farthing to pay the Executioner: Can any man, without horrour think of complying so far as to contribute what is commanded? Or would not a Gracious man frighted into an abhorrence at the atrociousness of the wickedness, or fired into a flame of zeal for God, say without demur, as not daunted, with fear of what flesh could do unto him, I will rather venture my All to keep them alive, or be hanged with them, than by doing what is demanded be brought forth & classed in the cursed & cruel Company of those who shall be dragged before the Tribunal of Christ, with their fingers dyed & dropping with the blood of those who are peculiarly dear to Him? I know it will be said that in all these cases it would be a clear case of Confession. Well, that’s all I would have granted: For that which doth over balance to a Testimony, in all the cases mentioned, is so far from being wanting in the cases now under consideration, that they have all to enforce the duty, that all of them put together do include; As will be clear to any who consider (1) The preciousness of the things & Interests to be destroyed (2) The Concurrence called for from every one, that this desperate design may be accomplished. (3) The great, manifold, & indispensable obligations all are under, not only to abstain from the required Concurrence, but to preserve also & maintain these things in opposition to all, whom Satan sets on work to serve him in this Expedition against the Son of God, and to do it or endeavour it with the loss of life, and all things dearest to men, to the end that these things which are Satan’s eyesore, as only obstructive of His Kingdom, may be preserved among the poor Remnant, and propagate in their power & purity to the posterity. Happy he who shall be found so doing now, when the Dragon and his Angels are drawn into the fields, and have proclaimed the War, and published to the world the Causes thereof; So that now this General having laid aside all his old disguises, doeth in his true shape march upon the head of his black Legions, who wear his badge & colours, and fight under his banner & standard.
III. In the last place, with all possible brevity, I shall offer some Reasons against Compliance with these Exactions in Cumulo [in fulness].
1. To pay these Impositions, upon such declared Accounts, for such declared Causes, and for such declared ends, would condemn the Contendings & Sufferings of many eminently Godly, especially in our day who have refused them. Of these Questions & Sufferings thereupon among the Godly in former times, we cannot instruct much, for such insolent Impositions, as to all the dimensions of their heinousness, were never heard before. But we want not Examples of the Saints refusing to give their money and other such things to wicked men, either to comply with their wicked demands, obey their wicked Laws, encourage their wicked courses, or further their wicked designs. In Scripture we find Paul would not give Felix money that he might be loosed, though he sent for him often for that end Act. 24. 26.
Mr. [James] Durham in his exposition of the Revelation. Chap. 6. vers 9. Lect. 6. Pag. gives an account, that when in the persecution of Dioclesian the Persecutors sought but the Bibles, poor coats, money, or Cups (wherewith they served) to be given them, as some Evidence of their ceding; But they refused to accept deliverance upon these terms: yea when the Soldiers, partly wearying to be so bloody, partly desirous of seeming victory over Christians, did profess themselves content to take any old paper or clout in place of the Bible, they refused to give any Ecvola (as it was called from the Greek ἐκβάλλω) or cast-away clout; yea when Soldiers would violently pluck such things from them against their wills, they would follow them, professing their Adherence unto the Truth, and that they had not any way willingly delivered these things, as it is to be seen in Baronius. An. 303. pag. 748. It is reported of one Marcus Arethusius, who was put to torment under Iulian, because he would not build the Idol Temple which he had formerly demolished, when they were content to accept some part of the Expenses from him, and to spare his life, he refused to give obolum or one half penny, Sozom. Lib. 5. 9. Cent. Mag. Cent. 4. pag. 797. and 833. By which and many other instances we may see, how resolutely the primitive Saints held fast their Testimonies: from which especially they were called Martyrs or witnesses; and by which often, not only many weak ones were strengthened, but also many Persecutors convinced and made to cry out, Certainly great is the God of the Christians; while as they saw that no Allurements on the one side, nor Terrors on the other, could make them loose their grips, but still Truth and Christ were born witness unto, and well-spoken of by them. It will not be unnecessary here to consider some of Mr. Durham’s observations in the fourth Lecture, for clearing thereof, he adduced these matters of fact. Such as Obs. 7. That the giving of a Testimony by outward Confession of the Truth when called for, is necessary, and commendable, as well as soundness of faith; yea it is oftentimes the outward testifying of the Truth before men, more than the faith of it before God, that bringeth on suffering: And there was nothing more abhorred in the primitive Christians than dissembling of a Testimony, to evite suffering, as appeareth in Augustin’s writings de mendacio & contra mendacium [concerning a lie, and against a lie], and the writings of others to that purpose. Obs. 8. That every Truth of the word may be a ground of suffering warrantably: For the least thing that hath a Truth in it, as well as the more concerning fundamental Truths, is the word of God, and so cannot be dispensed with by His people. Obs. 9. Every Truth in the word hath an outward Testimony joined to it, and sometimes may be called for upon very great hazards. Obs. 10. When it is called for, this Testimony or confession to any Truth before men, is no less necessary, and ought as peremptorily to be held and stuck to as the former: Therefor it is called (Rom. 10.) Confession unto Salvation. And called for by a peremptory certification. Matt. 10. 32. 33. Obs. 11. That these who are sound in the Faith of the word, will be also exceeding tenacious of their Testimony, in Scripture, and in primitive times, we will find the Saints sticking at, and hazarding themselves on things which appear of very small moment, yet were to them of great concernment because of the Testimony, which was involved in them, which they would not let go. Such was Mordecai, Ester 3. Daniel 6. his not shutting of his windows. Yea further in his lately printed Sermons on Matth. 16. 24. Serm. 7. pag. 155. the same Author saith. There is not in some respect a more and a less in the matter of duty and in the matter of Truth or in respect of Suffering. And a little after. §. 5. he says, We would not limit sufferings for Christ to things simply Lawful or unlawful, for it may be sometimes for things indifferent in their own nature, which yet being so & so circumstantiated to us may draw on suffering; a thing may be indifferent & Lawful to some, which to others stated under such & such circumstances may be counted a receding from some part of a just Testimony; even though the matter be not such in itself and in its own nature, yet it may be so circumstantiate to some persons as it may be liable to that Construction if they shall recede from or forbear it; as in the Example of Daniel, who suffered for opening his windows, which was a thing indifferent in itself and not essential to his worshiping of God, but—he finds himself bound in conscience, and that on very just ground, to do as he was wont to do before, and that on the manifest hazard of his life, left his malicious enemies should have it to say, that he receded from his duty, & that he thought more shame now, or was more afraid now, than before to worship the true God. How worthy Mr. Knox argueth for withholding Emoluments from the false Bishops and Clergy may be seen before, part. 1. per. 3. pag. 28, 29.
The general Assembly in their Declaration dated July ult: 1648. concerning the then unlawful engagement in a War against England, plainly & positively Dehorteth all members of the Kirke of Scotland from contributing any assistance thereunto, expressed as followeth; ‘That they do not concur in, nor any way assist this present engagement, as they would not partake in other men’s sins, and so receive of their plagues but that by the grace & assistance of Christ, they steadfastly resolve to suffer the rod of the wicked, and the utmost which wicked men’s malice can afflict them with, rather than to put forth their hands to iniquity.’ In which Declaration may be seen at large, that candor, faithfulness & freedom which becometh the Ministers of the Gospel, & dignity of Watchmen, in their seasonable warning & dissuading all from assisting any way to that unlawful engagement, perceiving the sin and snare thereof, So obviously tending to the involving the Land in guilt, & exposing to wrath; yea and that notwithstanding of the fair and plausible pretexts of the engagers and joiners therein, who pretended & professed their undertaking to be for the furthering reformation, establishing and securing the Covenanted Religion from the plottings & endeavours of the Popish, Prelatic & Malignant enemies thereof, and prosecuting the ends of the Covenants; Pretenses which no doubt our silent & time-serving Ministers (if they had any such now to plead) would strenuously improve, in vindication of their prudent silence, sinful & shameful Compliances. Alas how sad & lamentable is the condition of the Church & Nation now! that even when the case is so far altered that not only all such pretenses are laid aside, Reformation deserted & disdained, the established Religion razed & ruined, the Covenant broken & burned, and the owning the obligation thereof declared Treason, but also an absolute Power pleaded & exercised to the suspending, stopping & disabling all penal Laws against Popery & Prelacy, a gap opened by an Antichristian toleration to the letting in all the Heresies, Idolatries & blasphemies of the mother of Harlots, and the Land openly defiled therewith, unjust & wicked Taxations arbitrarily imposed and levied, for the most dreadful, Sacrilegious and hellish ends that ever was published to the world, far exceeding in wickedness these testified against by the Assembly 1648, or any formerly. While the Watchmen have so far abandoned their duty of setting the trumpet to their mouth and giving due warning of the sin and danger of those dreadful and Judgment-procuring courses, that they are caught in the snare & found complementing & encouraging, the principal Instrument of all these evils, by their scandalous flattering Addresses.
How faithful & tender some have been even in our day their sufferings and losses in a measure above others makes manifest, amongst whom the worthy Laird of Kersland is not to be forgotten, whose Estate heritable & moveable was declared forfeited, and seized, for his appearing in Arms to join with that faithful party who by horrid oppression were forced to betake themselves to defensive resistance anno 1666; who considering the equity of the cause he appeared for, the indispensableness of the obligations binding him to that duty, and how much a good Conscience is to be preferred to an Estate, durst not part with the sweet comforts of the one for the uncertain profits of the other; And as he was earnest with God by frequent & fervent Prayer for light & steadfastness in the matters of his suffering & Testimony, So it pleased the Lord, so to determine his heart therein, as that all the endeavours & persuasions used both by friends & foes to move him to a composition with the enemies for his Estate proved unsuccessful, yea it is well known how that severals, both of his near relations & others, who used the most forcible & persuasive Arguments, as the consideration of the ancient & honourable Family he was descended from; The miserable case that he, his Lady and Children should be in, without his Estate; The Counsel & Judgment of grave & Godly Ministers; The freedom & practice of other learned and knowing men; Together also with the imputation of vain scrupulosity, simple & unwarrantable nicety & preciseness &c, that yet even some of those who dealt most with him, were by his defenses & reasonings convinced of the equity of his cause, and brought to commend his upright resolution, and to applaud his tenderness and faithfulness; and in particular his own father, who pleaded much that he would only consent, that he with others of his friends might compose in favours of his Family, and that he himself should be no ways concerned in it further than to assent that the thing be done, but could not prevail, who afterwards blessed God that he did not, declaring that he had much more satisfaction, & comfort in his sons honesty, & steadfastness than many such Estates could ever have afforded him.
I shall here mention some considerations which prevailed with him to decline all composition directly or indirectly with the enemies in that matter. (1) That he could never attain to freedom to use any such manifest dissimulation, as deliberately to assent to anything that might import his acknowledging that to be a sin & fault (yea such a sin & fault as Rebellion) which he was convinced in his conscience to be unquestionable duty both before God & man, nor thereby dissemblingly to insinuate his undoubted right to his Estate, to be in the person or at the disposing of any other. (2) Considering that there can be no new right procured upon a composition, and granted to any, but such as shall carry in the narrative thereof that he had forfeited that Estate by Rebellion, with a long preamble condemning the cause of God, and dutiful endeavours of his people for Reformation, and in defense of Religion & Liberty, all as Sedition, Rebellion & Treason; whereupon he resolved rather to part with his Estate, than be any way instrumental & occasional to the indignifying that holy & honourable Cause with such disdainful, reproachful & blasphemous Epithets. And albeit such tenderness in principle & practice of this Worthy Gentleman, and of many others of the faithful sufferers in our day, be censured & condemned by the luke-warm & worldly-wise Professors in this age, as an unprecedented novelty, or precise & unwarrantable notion, yet we find it the same with the faithful sufferers in former ages, and exactly agreeing with the Doctrine & Principles of the most orthodox and famous Divines, for the Reverend and learned Calvin having the same case of conscience proposed to him by the Godly, persecuted in his age, to which his solid and faithful Answer is extant in his 375 Epistle, Article third, thus proposed and Answered. An a principe peti possit confiscatio bonorum, illorum nomine & gratia, quibus persecutio intenditur? Resp: certum est illud fieri non posse sine peccato, rescriptum enim sive indultum principis, complectitur omnino blasphemias apertas, contra Dei gloriam, quia fiet illic mentio, errorum & crimìnum, & laesoe majestatis divinae, à damnatis; quod rescriptum erit deinde in jure exhibendum illi qui eo uti cogitabit, atque illud est approbationis genus quoddam, nullo modo ferendum, quare non video ut viro pio & recte justituto in Evangelio, ejusmodi fictionibus sese liceat involvere. i.e., Whither the confiscation of goods can be sought back again from a Prince, in the name and behalf of these who are forfeited for Religion? to which he Answers, that it is certain it cannot be done without sin; for the new right, or the de novo damus [the new penalty], (as we call it) granted by the Prince, doeth really contain, open blasphemies against the glory of God; because therein mention is made of errors, crimes, & divine lese-Majesty, whereof the condemned are found guilty; which new right most in Law be exhibited by him who intendeth to use the same; and that is a certain kind of approbation no ways to be tolerate. Wherefore I see not that it is Lawful for a Godly man rightly instructed in the Gospel, to involve himself into such fictions.
2. From the Fountain & Conveyance, whence they proceed; the iniquity of these payments might be concluded; which is nothing else than that Arbitrary Power domineering over us, and oppressing & overpressing the Kingdoms with intolerable Exactions; which to pay is all the consent & Concurrence required of us to entail slavery on the posterity. I mean to pay it, out of submission only to the Moral force of its Imposition, which is all the justification required of that absolute Tyranny imposing it. For we have the Testimony of a King for it (K. James’ Speech to the Parliament anno 1609.) that a King degenerateth into a Tyrant, when he leaveth to rule by Law, much more when he begins—to set up an Arbitrary Power, impose unlawful Taxes &c. It can be denied by none, that know either Religion or Liberty, and are not enemies to both, that these Impositions under consideration, upon such accounts, for such ends, are as unlawful Taxes, and as illegally and arbitrarily imposed, as ever could demonstrate the most Despotical Absoluteness, Paramount to all Law, or precedent, but that of Benhadad, of a very Tyrannical strain, Thus saith Benhadad, thy silver & thy gold is mine—yet I will send my Servants, and they shall search thine house, and it shall be that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put in their hand, & take it away, 1 King. 20. 3, 6. which even an Ahab and his Elders would not hearken to nor consent. But from an Exotic Dominator this were not so intolerable, as from such as pretend an hereditary right to Govern, who should remove violence & spoil, and take away their Exactions from the Lord’s people, as the Lord saith, Ezek. 45. 9. but instead of that, that they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the Prince asketh and the Judge asketh for a reward, and the great man uttereth his mischievous desire, so they wrap it up, Mic. 7. 3. The easy Compliance with which, makes Zion as the grape gleanings of the vintage. If those Exactions be wicked, then Compliance with them must be iniquity: For it justifies the Court that enacts & exacts them, a packed Juncto [political group] of a prevalent faction made up of perjured Traitors, in a Course of enmity against God, and the Country, who to prosecute the War against the Almighty, and root out all His people out of the Land, condescend upon these Cesses, Fines &c. as a fit & adapted Medium thereunto. Wherefore, of necessity all that would not own that Conclusion, as their own deed, in these Representatives, and own them as their Representatives in that deed, must bear witness against the same, by a Refusal, to own the debt, or pay the same. But I shall conclude this, with observing (1) The holy & remarkable righteousness of the Lord, that we, who would not contend earnestly for the Liberty of the Gospel, who would not acquit ourselves like men, in witnessing our Loyalty to Christ, were not fixed in our Engagements, nor steadfast in holding the Liberties, wherewith Christ hath made us free, did not reclaim nor reluctate [show reluctance] when we saw our Royal Master’s Prerogative invaded; should be trod upon in all Civils, and treated as Slaves, even by these, whom we had gratified with a base & sinful forbearance to plead for God, and preserve from their violence these things, these precious & invaluable things, which we should have kept more tenderly than the apple of our eye. O the reluctancy of this Righteousness, in making the Gods whom we have served smite us, and in making them, whose interest we minded with a misregard & Perjury-involving neglect of the Interest of Christ, thus to destroy our poor pitiful Interests! And thus having taught them to be Captains over us, we must now sit in the house of bondage in our Land. (2) Who will not adore & admire the Righteousness of the Lord, particularly in leaving some of these to be designedly trod upon, who not only were involved in the common guilt of not with-standing these Encroachments, but first went a great way in concurring to the making of these wicked Laws; And now have been made to lye under the load, laid upon their loins, by the hands of such, to whom they gave the hand in overturning the Work of God? Why should not they be spoiled? Why should not the young Lions roar upon them, and make their Land waste? Why should not men of the same metal & soul with the Children of Noph & Tahapanes, break the Crown of their head (or feed upon their Crown) who have sold & set the Crown of Christ upon another's head, and concurred to crush His faithful Remnant? O let us learn to read & revere! Let us not be wheedled with we know not what, out of our good old Principles into the espousing the Interest, or embarking into the same bottom with men of such Principles & Practices. And whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord: Great loving kindness, that He hath shewed to his poor Remnant, in delivering us from deliverances by such Deliverers, whereby the work had been more really and more shamefully ruined, and the hope of the posterity more certainly razed.
3. From the declared Ends of all of them, declared either verbally or virtually, and indisputably & universally known: To wit, that by such Exactions they might be enabled to maintain & prosecute the National Rebellion against Christ, and root out His Gospel, and all the faithful Preachers & Professors thereof. These designs being notour [notorious], and the Impositions demanded being the best expedients, and most adapted means to attain them, it cannot but be manifest, that whosoever complies with the means do cooperate with the ends: Which, if anything, will involve the Compliers in the Contrivers sin, and make the Payers obnoxious to the Enactors judgments. If they that take rewards to slay Innocents, be liable to a Curse Deut. 27. 25. they cannot be free who give them: They cannot say Amen to it, who so cooperate to the effectuating the slaughter. If anything make Zion liable to be plowed as a field, when the heads thereof judge for reward, Mic. 3. 11, 11. it must be, when they demand such rewards, and the demands are complied with. But some may pretend, and under that pretense think to shut the shower of suffering, and command the serenity & sun-shine of a good Conscience too, and to shelter their soul under that shadow; That these Exactions may be necessary for other ends: Can any State be without Exactions? Is it not necessary that forces be maintained and such as are in public office in the Kingdom? Wherewithal shall the Nation be guarded against foreign invasion? Alas! the pretense is so false & frivolous as he could not escape the Censure of foolish, who in answering it appeared serious, save in a just indignation at its empty vanity. What are these forces and public Officers for? What are they employed about, but to promote the Dragons designs, and serve his drudgery? Shall these guard the Nation, who together with Religion tread upon the poor remaining shadow of Liberty? Do they indeed fear a foreign invasion? No, it doth not hold us here: These called Rulers hide not their designs, but hold them to our eye that we may not pretend ignorance. They will do the greatest hast first: Christ and His Interest is their great eyesore. This one Jesus who calls Himself a King (yea and He will be so to their cost) and His Subjects as the most dangerous party, are to be discussed in the first place: And thereafter, when they are liberate from that fear of His returning to His Throne, whom they have exauctorate [dethrone] (for if ever He do, they are ruined, make hast O Lord!) and have eaten the flesh and drunk the blood of His people, then they will be in a better case to defend the Land, by shewing the Enemy those Teeth & Tusks, wherewith they have torn the people of the Lord. But will men put out their own eyes, that they may be taken with the more tameness to grind in their Mill, and make them merry at our madness? Have we lost our senses, that we may with confidence jeopard our Souls? Have they not invaded the Mediator’s Kingdom, and taken to themselves His House in possession? And because Reavers [plundering foragers] may not be Rewers [common thieves], they will destroy all in the Land, who seem faithful to Christ, and resolute to follow the Captain of the host of Israel. But is it not enough that they menace Heaven? Will they mock us into the same Rebellion with themselves? He will not be mocked, but turn their jest into earnest. I cannot here shift the transcribing some of the very words of that Author, whose Reasonings I am but gleaning on this subject. ‘Oh Britain! O Scotland! bent into, & bold in backsliding, the wrath of God, and thy wo seems to be upon the wing. And alas! I am afraid, that by this Crowning & Crimson wickedness, the Lord God Almighty is making a way to His Anger, and preparing the Nation for a Sacrifice, to expiate in the sight of the world our Perjury, defection & Heaven-daring Provocations. Alas! I am afraid that the sword of the Lord, which shall avenge the quarrel of His Covenant, is near to be drawn—that the Contributors, as well as the stated party of contrivers, decreers and cruel Executioners of these decrees, may fall under the blow of the furbished sword of the Lord God: And that the Land of such abominations, may be swept of its Inhabitants with the besom [broom] of destruction, and soaked with the blood of those, who instead of contending for Christ, have by this payment associate with His stated, His declared, and implacable Enemies, whose rage is come up before Him, and will bring Him down to take revenge. Alas! My fears, My fears are multiplied upon me, that the war shall not only at last Land in Britain: But that He hath been all this while training up a Militia abroad, breeding them in blood, and teaching them how to be skillful to destroy, against the time He give them order to march, and put the flaming sword in their hand, to be bathed in the blood of backsliding Britain! Oh if our turning unto Him, that He might turn away from the fierceness of His Anger, might prevent this woeful day! But since instead of any turning unto Him, we surpass the deeds of the heathen, and out do in wickedness all that went before us, and proceed with a petulancy reaching Heaven from evil to worse; I am afraid that all the bloodshed since the sword was drawn in the Nations about, all the sacked Cities all the burnt crops & villages, all the wasted Countries, all the slain of the Lord by sea or Land, all the pillagings, rapes, Murders outrages (which rage itself, could hardly outdo) all the horrid & inhuman Cruelties, that have been committed during this bloody war (wherein the sea hath been dyed, and the Land as it were drowned with the blood of the slain) all the truculent & treacherous Murders of that Monster Alva in the Low Countries, all the incredible Cruelties of the Guises, and the bloodshed in the Massacres of France, all the Tortures that the people of the Lord have been put to in the valleys of Piedmont, by that Little fierce Tiger the Duke of Savoy, all the savage and barbarous butcheries of the Irish Massacre; shall be forgotten, or seem things not to be mentioned in one day; when what shall be done in Britain comes to be remembered. O Britain ô Britain: of all Nations under the Cope of Heaven, most ripe for the sickle of vengeance! shall this Throne of iniquity, which hath framed so many mischiefs into Laws, and all that are Complices in this wicked Conspiracy, who now are gathering themselves against the soul of the Righteous, & condemning the innocent blood, be able to save its subjects, when He comes to make inquisition for that blood? or shall the subjects calling in all from 60 to 16, be able to support the Throne? Alas! in vain shall they offer to draw up, and draw the sword & defend, when the Lord God of hosts draws His sword, to accomplish upon them the vengeance written, & wrapped up in these words, He shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness, yea the Lord our God shall cut them off. And if it come to this, then in that day escape who will, Professing Gentlemen, and others who in this have complied with the Rulers, shall not escape: Then shall they be paid for this Payment. The storm of His displeasure (even though they get their souls for a prey, yea so much the more as He will not suffer them to perish eternally) shall be observed to fall particularly upon their houses, Interests, & Estates. Who can think upon the wickedness of Britain, with its just aggravations, and imagine the righteous Lord will proportion His Judgments, to the heinousness of our guilt, and His revenges to the rage, whereby He, and His Christ hath been, and is opposed, and take other measures?
4. From the Nature of these Payments, it is not our they are sinful Compliances & Transactions with Christ’s declared Enemies, and do partake of Unitive Confederacies with them; which are demonstrated to be sinful, Head 3. Arg. 1. in gen. Pag. Certainly such bargains cannot be discretive, exacted and complied with by Persons no ways incorporate together, being only overcome by mere force: since they are not only demanded and granted Acknowledgements of that Power that imposes them, as legally Lording over them, but obediential submissions to these wicked Laws that enacts them; which is a formal justifying of these Laws: For Laws cannot be obeyed except they be justified, seeing Laws unjust and unjustifiable cannot be obeyed. Therefore, seeing the Payment of the Cess, Locality, Fines stipends, fees &c. is an obediential Compliance with the Laws that enjoin them, that obedience can no more be justified, than the Laws enacting such Payments: which none can justify but he that is an enemy to those things for opposing which they are exacted. If then Compliances with the wicked Impositions & exactions of Arbitrary Dominators, enemies to the Work & People of God, be in Scripture condemned, then such Payments cannot be justified: But such Compliances are condemned, and cannot be approven. This was Issachar’s brand, that being a strong Ass, he couched between burdens, and bowed his shoulder to bear and became a servant to Tribute Gen. 49. 14. This was Asa’s folly, that he so far Complied with Benhadad, as to give money to take his help 1 King. 15. 18. Condemned by the Prophet Hanani 2 Chron. 16. 7. &c. much more if he had given it to help him. It’s one of the instances of the Evil that Menahem did in the sight of the Lord, 2 King. 15. 18–2c. that when Pul the King of Assyria came against the Land he gave him a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him, which he exacted of Israel: This was certainly evil in the sight of the Lord, for if the Confederacy was evil, then this price to procure it was evil also: And if Menahem’s exaction was evil, then Israel’s Compliance was evil also; for thus Ephraim was oppressed & broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the Commandment, Hos. 5. 11. It was also a part & proof of Ahaz’s Confederacy with Tiglith-Pileser King of Assyria, that he sent money to him 2 King. 16. 8. Which to all the fearers of the Lord is condemned & discharged Isai. 8. 12, 13. Which if it was evil, then also Hezekiah’s Compliance with Sennacherib, giving him money, and offering to bear that which was put on him, 2 King. 18. 14, 15. was evil: And also Jehoiakim’s taxing the Land, to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh 2 King. 23. 35. was sinful to the Exacter, and likewise to the Compliers. These were all sinful Compliances and Confederacies with the wicked, making their peace with them to whom they paid them: Therefore all Peace-making payments, by way of Unitive agreement with the wicked, must be sinful. And accordingly in the time of Montrose, the Gen. Ass. made an Act for Censuring the Compliers with the Public Enemies of this Church & Kingdom, Jun. 17. 1646. Sess. 14. See Part. 1. Per. 5. Pag. 82.
5. Where these Exactions are extorted only as badges of bondage, without Consent unto the Law imposing them, it’s a Case more suitable for lamentation then Censure, that she that was Princess among the Provinces should become tributary Lam. 1. 1. But when they are Acknowledgements of the Lawgivers, and an exact obedience to the Law, and voluntary agreement & bargain with them, strengthening them to the prosecution of their Mischiefs, they cannot be free of the Imposers sin. It was the sin of the men of Shechem, and a proof of their hearts inclination to follow Abimelech, that they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver, enabling him to kill threescore & ten persons and to hire vain & light persons to follow him, which they paid as an acknowledgement of his usurped Power, Judg. 9. 3–5. for which afterwards fire came out of the house of Abimelech & devoured them. Certainly a voluntary consent into a Mischief is a partaking with the sin of it, a consent unto Theft is a partaking with it Psal. 50. 18. But if there be any consent unto a Mischief, it must be when the person agrees it be done against himself, and voluntarily subjects himself to the force of the Law imposing it, and not only does not oppose or witness against the doing of it against others, but yields to its reaching himself, and gives what is demanded to strengthen the Robbers to exercise their Robbery over all. As the Payer of the Cess, Fines, & Fees, &c. gives all the consent required of him, to these Mischiefs framed into Law, not only to rob himself, but the Church & Nation of its dearest Treasure the Gospel, for the punishment of owning which, and as means to remove it, these Payments are exacted. But the Plea of the payers is, that they are constrained to it, and they do it against their will. Ans. 1 He who says he understands this, that the Payer of these Exactions can purge himself of the guilt of them, is like to buy an after wit at a dear rate. Can it be thought by any man of knowledge & conscience, that so remote a force makes the deed unvoluntary, whereby the payer is purged from the guilt of accession to the Imposers deed, whom hereby in this very Imposition he owns as his Representatives! 2. The payment cannot be involuntary; for the Law enjoining it, being the public & declared will of the Nation, requires no other voluntariness but obedience, and judgeth no other thing involuntariness but disobedience. So that the Law being satisfied, it absolves the Satisfier from all transgression, and looks upon all who yield obedience as equally willing, and equally out of the reach of its appended penalty, in case of disobedience. Neither are we to please ourselves with other fancies & fictitious unwillingness, when real obedience is yielded, whereby the Law is satisfied, and the Law-maker capacitated thereby to act all his intended Mischiefs. For to be unwilling to part with money in the Case, as it is no virtue in itself, so I suppose there are few who will be solicitous to purge themselves of this. And to be unwilling from some strugglings of light & conscience, is such an unwillingness as aggravates the guilt of the Giver, and makes it more heinous in the sight of God, and hateful in the eyes of all tender men: The Law enjoining such payments takes no notice of such reluctancies, only requireth obedience, and when that is yielded, the Law is satisfied, as to the voluntariness of the Action, and must construe the Agent a willing walker after the Command, and a voluntary Complier with the public will of the Nation. 3. It must be simply, really, & truly a voluntary deed, when there is Deliberation and Election. The Law requiring these payments being promulgate, every man must be supposed to put the question to himself, what shall I do in the case? Shall I obey and be free? Or disobey and suffer? Here is Election & choice upon mature deliberation: And so the deed becomes truly voluntary. This will be confirmed, if we consider the Law of God, Deut. 22. 25. concerning Rapes. Where, to make the involuntariness of the betrothed Virgin, she must not only be supposed to struggle & resist the attempt made upon her chastity & honour by the villain, but she must cry for assistance in that resistance, without which she is held in Law willingly to consent to the committing of that wickedness. And moreover if we consider the Law vers. 13. it will be manifest, in order to her escaping of death, that when violented and the villain hath committed this villainy, she is to carry as Tamar (when defiled of that beast, though of the blood Royal) did 2 Sam. 13. 19. that is, to complain & cry, and crave Justice against him, and be wanting in nothing, that may bring him to condign punishment. This doth aptly correspond to our Case. Scotland is the betrothed Virgin: We were espoused to Jesus Christ, and joined to Him, by a Marriage Covenant, never to be forgotten; But the Rulers, and with them the body of the Land have treacherously broken it: yet there is a Remnant that adhere to Him as Head & Husband; because of which, these called Rulers incensed against Him will violently commit a Rape upon them, and have them prostitute their bodies, their fortunes, yea their Souls & Consciences to their lusts, and thus they will needs ravish the Queen in the Kings presence. And so, while with displayed banner they declare they will drive our Covenanted Husband out of the Nation, and destroy all who will own Him as such, they call for our Assistance & Compliance, to enable them to accomplish this wickedness. Now either must we make all the Resistance that is in our power; or the Law judgeth us willingly to consent; and because of that we fall in the hands of the righteous Judge, and have neither the evidence of our Resisting, nor Crying, nor pursuing the wicked for this violent Rape, to produce and plead upon, why Sentence should not pass, and the Laws just severity be execute upon us. What? Alas! do they declare they will stone our Husband? (Ah! for which of His good deeds is this done) And shall they make a Law whereby we shall be obliged to furnish them with stones to do it? And shall they be obeyed? Is this our struggling? Is this our Crying? Is this our endeavour that the wicked may be brought to condign punishment? Oh! let us meditate terror, lest we be brought forth as willing Consenters! For whatever vengeance the jealous & just God shall execute upon them, who have committed the Rapt, shall equally, in its crushing & everlastingly confounding weight, fall upon them who do not by their-Refusing, & their Resisting make their unwillingness manifest; which in the present Case is their struggling their Crying, and calling God and man, to witness, they are not Consenters, but continue constant & loyal in their love to their betrothed Husband.
6. A formal Consent to the wickedness of these Impositions were the less matter, if the payment of them were not also a Concurrence to assist them, and a strengthening their hands in it. But this is so manifest, that the paying of the Cess, Locality, Fines, Fees, &c. is a Concurrence with and a Contributing towards the promoting the wicked designs for which they are imposed, that he must have a conscience of brass, and in a great measure seared who will run upon such a formal Engagement against the Lord and His anointed King in Zion. If it was Aarons sin which made the people naked, and which brought so great a sin upon them, to take, and the peoples sin & shame to give, that Contribution of Golden ear-rings for making a Calf, Exod. 32. 3. &c. And if it was Gideon’s sin to take, and Israel’s to give, that Contribution of the ear-rings of their prey, to make an Ephod Judg. 8. 25. Then, as it is our oppressors sin to take, so it must be our sin & shame to give, their demanded Exaction to help them in erecting such Idols of Jealousy, as they have set up, and are commanding all to bow to, to provoke the Lord to Jealousy, especially when they affrontedly require such Contributions to be paid, both as punishments for not assisting, and as means to assist in their establishment. Should we thus help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? And will not this bring down wrath upon us from the Lord? 2 Chron. 19. 2. Alas! instead of Arguing, it were more fit to fall a weeping, when it’s come to be a question amongst us, whether, instead of coming to the help of the Lord, against the Mighty, we shall really help the Mighty against the Lord, and that while they call for our assistance formally upon this declared account. As the very inscription of their Acts does carry it in their front, requiring a supply to his Majesty &c. If this be not a Casting in a Lot among them, who can tell what it is? Sure it is a preparing a table for that troop, and a furnishing a drink-offering unto that number, Isai. 65. 31. Seeing it is a supplying them with necessaries, to solemnize their Idolatrous festivities, who forsake the Lord, and not only forget but lay waste His Holy Mountain, for which all that have any accession to it, are threatened to be numbered to the sword. If anything be a strengthening the hands of evil doers, Jer. 23. 14. certainly this is. For as they cannot accomplish their cursed ends without these Exactions, so the payment of them, is all the present, personal, & public Concurrence in waging this war with Heaven, that is required of the Nation, to wit, such a sum to furnish them with all necessaries, and maintain the Executioners of their hell-hatched and Heaven-daring Decrees & Orders: And the Law requiring no more but contributing what is appointed, looks equally upon all the Givers, as followers of the Command, and active Concurrers in complying with its end, and carrying on & promoting its design, and so assoils them from all the statute severities, in case of Deficiency.
7. If it were only a Concurrence in their wickedness to pay those their Exacted supplies, it were more easily comported with: But I fear it shall be found a hire & reward for their wicked service. At first they were only enacted & exacted as Helps to capacitate this Popish Prelatical & Malignant faction to prosecute the war they had undertaken & declared against Christ: But now, having thereby been enabled to carry it through this length that they have almost got all visible Appearances for Christ, in owning His Gospel, and propagating His Testimony, quite suppressed by means of these Impositions, and having got the fields cleared of those that formerly opposed their Course & Career, and all obstacles removed that might stand in the way of the Reception, they have prepared for their Mistress, the Babylonish lady, the Mother of Harlots; they now demand these payments, as their wages and Hire for their labour: Which to pay now is more than a justifying, seeing it is a rewarding them for their work. And to pay these Pimps, and to purchase their peace thereby, is worse than to bring the hire of a whore into the House of the Lord (Deut. 23. 18.) since it is a hiring them to bring the whore into the House of the Lord. O how hath Scotland plaid the Harlot with many Lovers! Is this the zeal we should have had to our Covenanted husband, and the honour of His House, that we have not only suffered His Enemies, to come in and take Possession of it, but Consented to their invasion, and not only Consented, but Invited them to come in, and not only Invited them, but Prostitute our Estates & Consciences also to their Arbitrary Lusts, and not only plaid the harlot with them, but hired them also when they had done! And for this the Lord may say to Scotland, as He said to His People of old, They give gifts to all whores, but thou givest thy gifts to all thy Lovers, and hirest them that they may come unto thee on every side, for thy whoredom; And the Contrary is in thee from other women in thy whoredoms—in that thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee, therefore thou art contrary, Ezek. 16. 33, 34. There Israel is taxed for hiring the Assyrians: But let it be considered and enquired into in the History, how this was: What evidence can be given of this in their Transactions with them? Was only that they were enticed, or did entice them into a Communion with their Idolatry? It is true, Ahaz may be an instance of that, in his sending the pattern of the Altar he saw at Damascus, 2 King. 16. 10. And it cannot be denied but in several respects they did partake with the Assyrians in their Idolatry, which was their Adultery. But what could be their hire they gave them for it, if it was not their Taxations they paid, and money they sent unto them? as Ahaz did vers. 8. and Hezekiah also, though a good man, 2 King. 18. 14, 15. Which can no more be justified, than Asa’s paying to Benhadad. It was then their Confederacies, and the hire of them the Lord calls the hire they gave unto their lovers. With this also Ephraim is charged, that he hired lovers, Hos. 8. 9, 10. of this we have instances in Menahem’s giving to Pul a thousand Talents of silver, and exacting it of the People, 2 King. 15. 19. 20. And in Hoshea his becoming servant to Shalmanesar King of Assyria, and giving him presents, 2 King. 17. 3. If then hiring wicked men in Confederacies to help the Lord’s People, be a hiring of lovers so much condemned in Scripture, what must a hiring of them to hurt them, and rewarding them after they have done, and when they formally seek it for such work be? but a giving the reward they seek to slay the Innocent (Deut. 27. 25.) and a voluntary yielding that which they take (Ezek. 22. 12.) Which if it be sin in the Takers, cannot be justified in the Givers, but will render both obnoxious to the Indignation of a provoked God, in the day when He shall begin to Contend for the wrongs He hath got, both by the Work and the wages. Now let all the Acts for the Cess and Continuation thereof, and other Acts & Edicts for fines & forfeitures, be considered in their just import, according to the true meaning of the Enactors, and the Causes for which they exact them, and will have them Complied with, It will be found they were both declared, intended, & improved, and accordingly approved by the Compliers. Not only as Helps but as Hires for our Oppressours and Destroyers, and for such as have been, and are more destructive and explicitly declared Enemies to Christ’s Interests & People in Scotland, than ever the Assyrians were to the Church in the old Testament. The Cess was not only a help but a hire to the Tyrant & His Complices, for suppressing Meetings for Gospel Ordinances; Especially the Continuation of it, from time to time was humbly, unanimously, cheerfully & heartily offered, for themselves and in name of, and as representing this Kingdom, as a hire for the doing of it, and an encouragement to suppress what remained of these Conventicles. The Locality was intended as a help to the Soldiers in their quarterings upon this account, But afterwards, being expressly discharged to be furnished without payment according to the current rates of the Country, Act. 3. Parl. 3. K. Char. 2. Aug. 20. 1681. The Contribution of it gratis must be interpreted for a reward of their service, Fines are appointed, not only for a punishment of Contraveners of their wicked Laws, but for a hire to their most violent Executers. Stipends for a hire to their Hireling Curates. And fees as a hire to Jailors to keep the Lord’s People in bondage. By which hires these destroyers have been rewarded, by them whom they have destroyed, and for which the righteous Lord will reward both.
8. Let it be considered, how far these submissions are short of, and how clearly these Compliances are inconsistent with, that duty which lies upon us with reference to them. Our obligation to God and our Brethren doth indispensably bind us to a Contrary carriage. If it bind us in our Station & Capacity to an Active renitency [resistance], It doth much more bind us up from such Compliances. Neither is it imaginable, how Moral force can ever justify our doing that deed, we are obliged by all imaginable bonds, yea if in any probable Capacity, by the utmost of real force, to counteract. Can we give them that which they require, and by which they are enabled to murder our Brethren, which we are so indispensably obliged to rescue our Brethren, Prov. 24. 11, 12. to relieve the oppressed Isai. 1. 27. to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke Isai. 58. 6. What do we owe to these Enemies, but seeing they have constitute themselves by these Acts implacable Enemies to Christ, His People & Interests in habitu [in habit], not only plainly & importunately to pray that He would overturn them, but to oppose their Course, to the uttermost of our power, and to concur to wrest that power out of their hands? And since they will needs make the whole Nation a Curse, they are so far from being to be complied with, that for these Exactings & Exactions they are to be looked upon, and carried unto, not only as these who have sold themselves to work wickedness, but endeavour also to engage with themselves all in the same guilt, and expose them to the same Curse. And therefore that the Anger of the Lord may be turned away from His people, everyone in his station is obliged to endeavour to bring these Achan’s to condign punishment.
9. As it must be taken for granted, that these wicked Oppressions by Law are Perjury avouched in the sight of God, yea in a peculiar manner, our Covenanted subjection unto Him is turned into an open War against Him: So we cannot but believe, that for this height of wickedness the Curse of God (to which in the Covenant the Nation in case of breach, is liable by their own consent) and the Mediators Malediction shall follow, pursue, overtake, and fall upon the head of these, who have made the Decrees, and upon all who concur in the execution, and carry on this Course: Oh! it’s impossible to keep them company, and not fall with them into the hands of the living God. Well then, seeing everyone from whom these Exactions are required, is under an anterior obligation to God and the Brethren, to preserve these precious Interests, which the Imposers have been long essaying to root out & ruin, and His people whom they have been destroying, with the loss of all he hath, life not excepted. (For I suppose none, who acknowledgeth his Soul is still under the bond of the Covenant (and it’s like to cost him his soul who denies it) but he will own this to be duty; Nay none who hath any sense of Religion, but abstracting from the subjective obligation of a sworn Covenant, he will own an objective obligation from the Law of the great superior, that doth immediately bind the Conscience to witness against this course, and to lay down, if it should come to that, his life for his Brethren) Then for a man to give his goods to destroy these things & persons, which he is obliged to defend & preserve with the loss of all, is so clear a making himself a Transgressor, in paying his proportion, and being at the expense of destroying what he built, and building what he destroyed, that it seems inexplicable how he can dream to be innocent; especially when more lies upon it than the souls of the Compliers are worth, even the Interest of Christ in the Land. And to close this I would put home the question, and pose the Conscience of any that took that Covenant; If in that day the question had been asked at him whether he would have judged the paying of a Cess for the ends narrated, to suppress a Testimony for that Covenanted Reformation, the paying of fines & fees (for owning it) to the overturners, Breakers & Burners of it, to be a plain Perjury & palpable counteracting of the ends thereof? And let him speak his soul, and its beyond debate with me, he will not dare to say he took it in a sense which can subsist with these Compliances. Nay I doubt not, if to any Morally serious, it had been then said, yow will pay money &c. for destroying this Covenant and its ends, and deleting the Remnant that shall be found to adhere to it, he would have given Hazael’s answer. It concerns every man, that would be free of the Curse of it, to consider how he is brought to make inquiry after vows; or to dream of Consistencies betwixt the performing those Engagements, and the plainest concurring in a Counteracting thereof.
10. If then these Impositions be so wicked, and for such wicked Ends & Causes; Then, in order to my being free of this heinous guilt there is a necessity of my giving a Testimony, and such an one, which when brought to the Touchstone, will get God’s approbation, and be my Acquittance from a Concurrence. Now it is not imaginable that my Testimony, can be the exact obedience to the Law, against the wickedness whereof it is witnessed: But on the Contrary, it must be at least a plain & positive Refusing to yield obedience to that Law, when I am in no other case to counteract these Commands, for I must either obey and be guilty, or refuse and be innocent. I shall not here plunge into the Labyrinth of these debates & difficulties, wherewith this matter of Testimonies hath been perplexed, and mostly by those who have had no great mind to the thing. I shall only propound these few Queries (1) Whether anything less than a Testimony can free me of this guilt, whereby the Nation involved in it, is made a Curse? (2) Whether we believe that the Testimony of everyone shall be called for, in the day when God shall seek out this wickedness? (3) Whether, if ever it be necessary, it be not then when Christ is openly opposed, and everyone is called either to concur or to testify? (4) Whether a Testimony against a wicked Law must not be notour [notorious]? for my Testimony must make it evident that the Law is not obeyed by me, else it is no Testimony. (5) Whether it be not necessary also, that it be with that plainness & boldness, as it may keep some proportion with the prodigiousness of that wickedness testified against? (6) Whether to the making it a Testimony indeed, it is not only required, that an opposition be made at first, out that this be so persisted in, as by no subsequent deed, it be weakened? (7) Whether we do not take it for granted, that according as a man hath Testified, the sentence of the righteous Judge shall pass? For he who hath not purged himself thereby from the guilt of this Conspiracy, shall be led forth & punished with these Workers of iniquity. Its a saying which should sink in the soul of everyone who would be saved, especially in such a day, Whosoever therefore shall Confess me before men, him will I Confess also before my Father which is in Heaven, but whosoever shall deny me before men him will I also deny &c. Oh that men would now judge of things & Courses, as in that hour they desire to be judged and then there would be little difficulty, what to determine in the Case.
11. From what is said it appears, that there is no other way of Testifying against it, or shunning the sin of this wickedness, imposing & enjoining these Compliances, but by Refusing them: Which as it is clear duty, so it hath many Advantages to countervail all the supposed loss that can be sustained thereby. It is a shameful subterfuge to say, I strengthen them more by doing thus which will make them take all, and so put themselves in better case to do the Mischief decreed. For as it is then my suffering not my sin, so it is simply false that I do hereby strengthen their hands; for hereby I do more certainly weaken their hands, and wound their Cause by my Counteracting, Testifying & Suffering. For. 1. I do really to the uttermost of the sphere of my activity Counteract their design, And hence besides my own upmaking Peace of Conscience (which is my hundredfold in this Life) I glorify God in the day of visitation, behaving as the Subject & Soldier of the Prince Michael: And though I lose my life in the Conflict, yet the victory over the Dragon, and his Lieutenant & Trustees, and their Lictors [officers executing sentences on offenders] is thereby gained, and they are foiled, while I fight & overcome by my not loving my life in the present case unto the death. 2. I do by my example encourage my Brethren to stand fast, and withstand in this evil day. 3. I hereby transmit to Posterity a Pattern for imitation, and so propagate an opposition to this Course to succeeding generations. 4. I hereby (so to speak) engage God to arise & appear to plead His own Cause and His Peoples. For when we out of love to Him and zeal for His Interests, take our lives in our hands, or expose our substance as a prey in witnessing for Him, then He is engaged to own us, and to plead His Cause taking the quarrel then to be against Himself. Hence it is that when He puts on the Garments of vengeance for clothing, and goes forth to meet them who in their risings up against His People run upon the bosses of His Buckler, His Arm is said to bring salvation to Himself, Isai. 59. 16, 17. and Isai. 63. 5. This keeps a man in case to Pray against such a Party; Whereas a Compliance with them in the least degree, will wound a man’s faith, and weaken His Confidence, so that he cannot wrestle with God to prevail: For that wherein his strength lay, a good Conscience being sinned away, in vain doeth he essay, when he hath cut his own hair, to shake himself as at other times. Alas! If by keeping a due distance from his enemies, we were in case to play the Samson’s or Jacob’s on our knees, this Enemy who think it their stability to stand upon the ruins of Christ’s Interest, should not stand long upon their feet. He who would have his prayer heard, Thy Kingdom come, should make his Practice in a conformity thereto speak this plain language, If I perish I perish, but Comply I will not: For its not necessary that I live, or have an estate, but its necessary I should witness a good Confession against the wrongs done to Christ. 6. This keeps a man in case, either to Act for God with advantage, if an opportunity be put in his hand, or to Suffer, as under His supportings, and the shinings of His face, whereby even while dying he becomes an Ornament to his Profession, gives a dash to the Enemy, and so becomes more than a Conqueror.
12. Let us consider the matter of Scandal in the present case, and remember whose words these are, Wo to the World because of offences, and Wo to him by whom offences come. And it will appear the payers of these Exactions become highly guilty before God. 1. In stumbling & hardening this Party of Enemies. For, though there was never a Party before them in the Nation (and I much doubt if ever a Party can come after them to outdo them) who had so many evidences of Plagues poured upon their hearts, that He may pour forth His wrath, & cause His fury to rest upon them; And that, in His spotless Justice He will rain snares upon them, that thereafter He may rain fire & brimstone, & a horrible tempest as the portion of their Cup, when He shall come to plead His own Cause: yet we would beware lest we do anything that may embolden them, or make them bless themselves in this their stated opposition to Christ’s. And because we know not but some of the Elect, may for a time be carried down with the Current of this impetuous opposition to Him, and may concur actively for a season in promoting this Course, we ought even upon this supposition so to witness, and so to keep a distance from all apparent or interpretative Compliance with what they contrive & carry on, as they may by beholding our steadfastness be provoked to consider their own Course; that considering at last how their feet go down to death, and their steps take hold on hell, they may hasten their escape from the Company of His Enemies, lest they be consumed with the fire of His Indignation, if found congregate with the men of these God-provoking practices. 2. By paying what is required, I stumble also & offend my weak Brethren, while by my example they are encouraged to rush into the same Compliance. O let every man, whose Practice may be pleaded as a Pattern, remember that Word, and who spoke it, It were better that a Millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the midst of the sea, than offend any of these little ones. 3. Sufferers for refusing this payment are offended, when the payer doth not only encourage the Persecutors to proceed with rigor & rage against him as a peevish & froward Malcontent, but does what in him lies to wound the heart & weaken the hands of such a faithful Witness: Whereas, if the poor Sufferer saw himself by a Joint Testimony owned by his Brethren, he would be comforted, strengthened, & become more confident in the Conflict. 4. In paying these things, the Compliers either by their Example lay a snare for the posterity, to whose knowledge their Carriage may come; and so instead of leaving them a Pattern of contending earnestly for the faith, they spread a net for their feet, yea pave them a way to defection & Apostasy: Or else they engage the Great God, out of zeal to His own Glory, and tenderness to His People who shall succeed, for preventing of their following of such Progenitors, wherein they have not been followers of Him fully, to give such a Testimony against their untenderness, and set such marks of displeasure upon their Course, that the thoughts of turning aside with them, and following their steps shall be terrible to all that hear of it, lest for such a Compliance they fall as they did, for falling from their own steadfastness into the hands of the living God. But Alas! for the Posterity, under whose Curse we are like to go off the stage, because of our not having done what we ought, yea what we might, both for transmitting pure Ordinances unto them, and for not transcribing in our Practice the noble Example of our zealous & Heroic Ancestors, who valiantly resisted when violently attacked, and by their valour wrestled us into a State of Liberty? Well, if we leave those that shall succeed us such an Example as this, He is like to make us such an Example as will fright the following Generations, and force them to serve themselves heirs to them who have gone before us, who did acquit themselves as the good Soldiers of Jesus Christ, and not to us, the debt of whose declensions & defections cannot be paid, without the destruction of those who shall serve themselves heirs to us. But Alas! who does think on what he owes to the poor Posterity! Or who doth make Conscience to preserve for them that precious Treasure put in our Custody, and judges it more necessary than to live, to leave the Tract of a way of Contending zealously for God, and the Preservation of His Interests, and the Propagation of His own pure Ordinances to the Posterity, shining so clearly by suffering & blood, as the way-faring man, and they who shall come after, though fools need not err therein. Our only Comfort is, that the Lord who shall see His seed, and must prolong His days, will make His pleasure prosper, and preserve some to be Witnesses of it to His Praise.