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The churches peace asserted upon a civil account as it was (great part of it) deliver'd in a sermon before the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor in Guild-Hall-Chappel July 4 / by Ad. Littleton, presbyter.
Littleton, Adam, 1627-1694.
Wing L2560; ESTC R37938
we ought not in stark Charity to suppose but that they who profess the worst of Religions do in their conscience and according to their Principles take it to be the best in the world I hope there 's no one in this Assembly will make so uncharitable a reflection upon my Discourse as to imagine that has been the drift of it to countenance the bloody practices and cruel persecutions used either in the Popes Dominions or the Grand Signor's Territories Far be it from me to plead the cause either of the one or of the other Yet I do in my Conscience think that some of those the most violent Princes of either Religion that have been the most zealous Persecuters were in their Conscience perswaded that they were in the right You 'l say that 's fair for me to grant Our Saviour says the same they shall kill you and think they do God good service by so doing and yet I say Positively and I would have it taken notice of because it may concern some who may think themselves far enough from being in the same form with Turks and Papists I do Positively say that this their acting according to their Conscience will by no means excuse them For my proof I have both the great Apostles Rule and his Example too His Rule is set down Gal. 4. 18. It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing The case he brings it upon is not so clear I suppose upon the account of some false Teachers which endeavour'd to alienate them from that Doctrine which he had taught them and to withdraw them from the Church for their own advantage and this with a great shew of zeal in the fore-going verse They zealously affect you says he but not well yea they would exclude you or in another reading they would exclude us that you might affect them I wish our People would beware of such who with a great deal of zealous affection carry on their own designs But whatever the particular case was the Rule will hold in general 'T is good to be zealous if a man's cause be good and if the man be convinc'd his cause is so Otherwise Zeal without knowledge or in a wrong cause is a ridiculous and mischievous thing and is upon this score reckoned amongst the works of the flesh And thus is it with those Idolatrous People who the more zealous they are the more they have to answer I confess 't is a sad thing for any man to have an erring guide to follow I mean an erroneous Conscience For which way soever he take either with or against Conscience he is concluded to an unavoidable necessity of sinning and I must acknowledge too that 't is safest to sin on Conscience side and yet the mistake of Conscience will not be a sufficient plea for unjustifiable actions And thus it was with Paul who in the time of his Pharisaism was a zealous Persecutor and thought he did well but after his Conversion for that very thing condemns himself as the worst of sinners and yet was no less zealous for the Religion he turn'd to Now does his Zeal whilst he was a Pharisee which was his great sin make his Christian Zeal e're a whit the less commendable No sure No more does Nero's or Dioclesian's Persecutions of the Saints blemish any Christian Magistrates severity in defending the Faith against Hereticks or the Order of the Church against Alexander's killing of a Friend in his drink could be no Argument against his putting a Traytor to death by sober advice nor could the execution of a Traytor excuse the murder of a Friend To retort it upon the Objectors if they are so zealously affected that rather then their conceits shall not carry they will venture the pulling down Church and State about their ears let any one judge is not the Magistrate whom God hath intrusted with the care of his Church obliged to be as Zealous for the preservation of Church and State in the vigorous defence of Truth and Peace To make a familiar instance an honest man in possession shews a just courage in maintaining his right and is commended for it whilst the injurious invader let his courage be what it will is apprehended and deservedly punish'd by Law unless he grow too strong for the Law and then that 's a sad case I have done with the Arguments wherein I could not but think it my duty as to plead the Churches Peace so to vindicate her against Objections which are usually made and now shall only desire that as you have hitherto attended me with an obliging patience so you will extend that patience a little farther whilst I make an earnest and affectionate Address to you in a short Application with which I shall close all Let me then press it upon you Right Honourable and Worshipful the Magistrates and Patriots of this great City and you worthy Citizens of what rank and degree soever which hear me this day and I could wish my voice could reach from one end of the City to the other that you will all of you put on Publick Spirits and lay to heart the concerns of your Brethren and Companions and every man in his place exsert his Authority and Interest contribute his Prayers and endeavours for the Prosperity of the English Church and the composure of our unnatural irreligious differences in Religion Your City is the Metropolis of the Nation the Royal Seat of the Government and the great Staple of Trade which spreads its universal influence into all parts of the Land and your Example gives law to all the rest of the people 'T is your Iustice which holds the ballance in all National dealings 't is your mode of Religon here that is follow'd every where yonr fashions of serving God that are taken up and retayl'd into the Countrey The union of this City would unite us all O do not be wanting to so Pious so Necessary so Charitable a Work If you have any regard to God's Honour amongst us if any care of Religion if any love to your Native Countrey and the Government you live under if any kindness to your own Persons and Families to your Wives and little ones to your Friends and Relations if you have any hopes left after all those heavy Iudgments that have gone over you of enjoying Peace and Liberty and Plenty in your new dwellings if all these dear concerns do as I know they needs must lye near your hearts act then in the name of God for his sake and your own in a full and vigorous sense of these things and study the Churches Peace which is to secure them all to you by your unanimous Agreement in God's Worship and Service Your publick Iustice and Regulation of Trade and Reformation of Abuses in Civil Affairs and the prudent and vigilant administration of the Government of the City are things make you worthily spoken of but if this be all if there be not a