« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
building and removing of meeting-houses has unfitted the neighbours for lifting up pure hands without wrath in those houses; enclosing of commons hath made neighbours that should have been like sheep, to bite and devour one another; disposal of little matters in the military, has made people almost ready to fall upon one another with force of arms; scarce any one engaged much in the service of this people, but they have made it an extraordinary day of temptation for that man; little piques between some leading men in a town have misled all the neighbours far and near into most unaccountable party-making.” Whereby we may see what a church it is he boasts so much of elsewhere, Book I., chap. ii., page 1, as “a country so signalized for the profession of the purest religion," &c., that differs at such a rate, though I grant there may be some different sentiments in lesser matters, between members of the same church; but to differ so unaccountably as he says, to be even at daggers-drawing, as he confesses, with force of arms to be ready to devour one another, is very unaccountable, indeed, and ominous to any church. And then, “on the one side," as he says, “rigid and high-flown Presbyterians, and on the other side, separating Morelian and Brownistical Independents, and both a jealous eye upon one another," renders them far from unity, but divided, and so not like to stand, as Christ said ; to be sure it cannot be that One church of which He is the Head. And which shall. we count best, Presbyterians or Independents, or what religion he is of, when both are stigmatized by him with the old make-bate terms of distinction, and the reproaches and calumnies which they, he calls “good men,” have cast one upon another, both in things civil and religious, even in General Court, the “ministers charged with declension from primitive foundation-work, innovation in doctrine and worship, opinion and practice, invasion of the rights, liberties, and privileges of churches, usurpation of a lordly prelatical power over God's heritage, and the like things,” too long to rehearse; and their ministers' complaints, and mean and beggarly compliance for a maintenance, as if it was a disgrace to work with their hands the thing that is honest, as the apostle did, that the Gospel might not be chargeable or blamed, or he come under the power of any man, which is quite contrary to New England; all which shows that they are far from being any true Gospel Church.
Ibid., Chap. i., page 7.--He compares Roger Williams to a windmill, that by his rapid motion was like to set the “whole country on fire,-a preacher that had less light than fire in him ;'' that “by his one sad example preached unto them the danger of that evil,” Rom. X. 2, “They have a zeal, but not according to knowledge,”—which may stand for the character of most of them. Yet in chap. i., page 9, commends him, though such a windmill, for his opposition “against the Quakers, maintaining the main principles of the Protestant religion with much vigour in some disputations, whereof he afterwards published a large account," in a book against George Fox and E. Burrough; but that “ haberdasher of small questions against the Power of Godliness," as their great Cotton called him, was answered by George Fox and John Burnyeat in another large book, entitled A New England Firebrand Quenched.
After these light skirmishes and bickerings by the way, in which I have followed him, notwithstanding his confessions of their not being right, nor their cause good, he comes, "Book VII., chap. iv., page 21, to lay a more formal siege against the city of our God, like one of the hardiest and resolutest soldiers, "acting under the energy of that old serpent,” to use his own term, the prince of darkness, that I have observed among all the armies of the aliens, under the power of Abaddon and Apollyon, the destroyer that hath appeared or risen up in this day of the Lamb's appearance, to make war against him and his followers, even like Gog and Magog, compassing the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city. He, like proud Goliath, “defying the armies of the living God," and, like railing Rabshakeh, “reproaching the people of God;" even as if, with Ahab, he had “sold himself to work wickedness," and to “revile and abuse the Lord's people,” who are innocent, as to him and all men, and “whose help and trust is in the name of the Lord.” In His strength I fear not to go forth against him and engage him, notwithstanding all his armour, and to wound him in the forehead where the mark of the beast is.
He calls this chapter Ignes Fatui : or, The Molestations given to the Churches in New England by that odd Sect of People called Quakers. Answer. Were the Churches of New England the Churches of Christ, they would not have counted it molestation for the Lord's people to come among them, at His command, to visit the Seed of God in those parts; but would, like those at Berea, who “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that” respect, have received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so;"' and for calling them “that odd sect called Quakers,'' it is no more than the people of God, who trembled at His word, were in former ages; for Paul was called “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes,” and the Christians, “a sect everywhere spoken against," as they are at this day.
Cotton Mather.—“If the Churches of our Lord Jesus Christ must in every age be assaulted by heretics.” Answer. The Church of Christ in all ages hath not only been assaulted by many enemies, with reproaches, &c., but persecuted by such as him and his generation, who did always resist the Holy Ghost, as their fathers did, so do these also resist the truth, men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith, &c., who always counted the truth heresy, and its followers heretics, “acting under the energy of that old serpent,” as he says, “who, knowing that as the first creation, so the new creation begins with light, hath used thousands of blinds to keep a saving light from entering into the souls of men." Answer. This is undoubtedly the very cause why they oppose the saving light of Jesus Christ from entering into their souls, because they are blinded by that old serpent, "the god of this world,” who hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto, or into them;" acting under the energy of that old serpent,“ that being a people of wrong understanding," as he says, “He that made them should not have mercy on them.' Which, to be sure, is the enemy's work to destroy the soul.
Cotton Mather._"It must be expected that the Churches of L New England should undergo some assaults from the worst of heretics that this age has produced," which "he knows not whether the Quakers be not upon many accounts.” And yet so stigmatizes them, though he knows not whether they be so or not; but this is so much like the Papists' calling the Protestants and martyrs, whom they burned for their religion, heretics, for want of better arguments to confute them, as their younger brethren in New England, notwithstanding Cotton Mather's pretences, have put their successors, the Quakers, to death for theirs, though in another manner, that it deserves no further answer, but contempt. "Quakerism, which has by some," says he, “been called the sink of all heresies." Answer. This is still but railing and reviling at the old rate, without proof; neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse us; but this we confess unto them, that after the way they call heresy, so worship we the God of our fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets; and have hope toward God, which they theinselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust; and herein do we exercise ourselves, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and men. And for his vomit and kennels that he speaks of, he may take it to himself, to whom it belongs, which I loathe to rake in, it showing his foulness, and the ground where he lies, and whence he came, and that he is drunk with rage. And I will not foul my paper, nor offend my reader, to mention it after him, it only showing his defiled mind, and the loathsomeness of his spirit; but, “as is the man, so is his communication;" nor shall I touch bis noisome stuff any more than needs must, to sweep it away into the kennel or pit from whence it came. · Cotton Mather —“Though it pretends to light, yet by the means of that very pretence, it leaves the bewildered souls of men in chains under darkness, and gives them up to the conduct of an ignis fatuus." Answer. This is false; for its pretence to light was and is real according to Scripture, and never by means of that pretence left any bewildered souls under chains of dark
ness: that any are left or remain there, is only the effect of falling from it, or rejecting the light, and rather loving darkness; but they who believe in the light, and give up to follow it, “shall not walk (or abide] in darkness, but shall have the light of life," as Christ, the Light, said, Jno. viii. 12. And it is very blasphemous to call the Light of Christ ignis fatuus, or foolish fire, “ in whom," as John Norris, a clergyman of the Church of England, and late Fellow of. All Souls College in Oxford, says, * " are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;"' and let him beware of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, for, though “all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,” Matt. xii. 31, even “ against the Son of Man," verse 32, “the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men, neither in this world, nor in the world to come,” verse 32. And I doubt not, but such as .so blaspheme will find it so real, that “the breath" or spirit “ of the Lord,” like a stream of brimstone, will kindle a fire under all their envy, that shall burn unto the lowest hell, if they repent not.
Cotton Mather._"But, this I know, they have been the most venomous of all to the Churches of America.” Nay, nay, though they in New England rejected them, they have been a blessing to many others in America, as well as in Europe, who have received them and their testimony, being as the cluster in which the “new wine is found, and one shall say, destroy it not, for a blessing is in it; so will the Lord do for His servants' sakes.” And I can tell him of what hath been more venomous to them, viz., “The ser- · pents,”'that, he says, " have been biting and stinging them.”
Cotton Mather, Chap. i., page 22.-—"The beginning of this upstart sect," and so the heathens called ancient Christians, and the Papists the Protestants, &c., “has been declared by one who was a pillar of it, in the year 1659, it is now about seven years since the Lord raised us up." Answer. And that declaration is true, that is, as to the general, about 1652. “And the North of England,” says he, “was reckoned the place of its nativity."
* Reflections on the Conduct of Human Life, page 77, col. 2 and 3.