TO THE Reader.
THE Reader is desired to take notice, that as the late sad Confusions did awaken us to set upon this Exhortation; so it should have been published many weeks since in the midst of them, had not divers Interruptions occasioned the delay. If the Lord be at this time (in answer to the prayers of his servants) opening a doore of hope, (which we earnestly desire) as we shall bless his Name for so seasonable a mercy; so we hope it will not be at all improper, or unacceptable to any serious and sober Christians, as yet to awaken the People of this City to lay to heart the dangers which threaten them, and to set about the duties which may keep the Lord still amongst them.
A Seasonable EXHORTATION of Sundry MINISTERS in LONDON, to the People of their Respective CONGREGATIONS.
THough we are not ignorant of the Prejudices and Prepossessions wherewith the carnal World are leavened against our Calling, Office, and Doctrine; and what clamours and fiery contentions abide for them everywhere that plead Christs cause in the Gates; and that publick Testimonies against Errors are usually misconstrued, as the fruits of an inordinate and misguided zeal, and thought to proceed from an itch of medling, and the impulsions of private aims, rather than any good conscience, yet being plac’d by the Lord in this Publick Watch-Tower, and having had experience of notable success (thorow his blessing) on former endeavours in this kind; notwithstanding the reproaches and censures of evil minded men, we could not at least in such a time as this is, when the interesses of Christ Jesus our Lord, and his Churches upon earth are so nearly concerned, (that we say not exposed to apparent hazard and ruine) but blow our Trumpet, 1 and in all plainness of heart give warning to those committed to our charge of the approaching dangers.
Which course (we hope) can be justly offensive to none that fear God in the Land, and have the concernments of Religion upon their hearts, especially when they shall consider how strictly, and with what severity of Commination all are enjoined to contend for the faith once delivered to the Saints, 2 and peculiarly Ministers, who are set for the defence of the Gospel, 3 and invested with the title of Watchmen, 4 who are to give notice to the City of the Enemies approach, lest the blood of the slain be required at their hands; and of Pastors or Shepherds, 5 whom it concerneth in tenderness to the Flock, to warn every one with tears, when they see grievous Wolves ready to enter in amongst them; however, if we must displease, we had rather displease men by a faithful discharge of our duty, than our God by an impious and injurious silence in his cause, hoping that he will teach us to approve our selves as his Ministers by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report, as deceivers, and yet true.6
We therefore Ministers of the Gospel in the City of London, do with all affectionate earnestness Exhort the People of this City to awake, as out of sleep, and to lay to heart the great dangers that threaten us, which we may represent under a three-fold Consideration.
First, The fears of the return of Popery.
Secondly, The distracted estate of Religion among us.
Thirdly, Other Symptoms of Gods wrath hanging over our heads.
As to the first, We had verily thought that Popery had rendered it self justly odious by its own Abominations in Doctrine and Worship, as also by its bloody Tyranny lately revived in the slaughters of Ireland; and since that of Piedmont and Poland; and that in these days of light and knowledge, to imagine the possibility of a return to a second Deluge of Antichristianisme over the Protestant Churches, (which yet hath been the opinion of divers, Eminent for learning and godliness amongst us) was a groundless supposition, and to fear where no fear was; but alas, that to which for some years past we could hardly allow in our thoughts the room of remote possibility, is now grown into a near and an apparent probability, or a mischief at hand ready to break in upon us, if God in mercy prevent not.
That the Popish Faction hath often attempted a re-entry into these Nations, and what vigorous endeavours have been used to carry on the Design, is not unknown to those that have been acquainted with the Times, and course of Affairs, since the Reformation in Queen Elizabeths days, and may easily be made evident to any that shall consider the many traiterous Attempts against that Queen, the Invasion in 88. the Powder-Treason, the endeavour of putting a Popish sense on the Articles of the Church of England, openly avowed by Franciscus de Sancta Clara, and secretly abetted by others, but never had the Adversary greater hopes of effecting it than now; which that it may not seem a groundless suggestion, we desire you to consider
1. The Union of Forraign, Popish Powers, which how soon the Court of Rome (being ever vigilant to improve such occasions for the Propagation of its own greatness) may make use of for the extirpation of the Protestant Religion, we need not divine; the frequent and confident expressions of our Adversaries, the Papists at home and abroad intimating such an intention, with hopes of success therein, especially here in England; and the breaches among the Protestants, turning their Arms upon one another, giving but too fair an occasion to them to carry on their purpose; A Kingdome divided against it self, cannot stand.
2. The Vast Numbers of Popish Emissaries, Priests and Jesuits, that swarme amongst us; English Colledges (as we are certified by credible reports) being much emptied, by reason of the multitudes that are sent hither. Now if you consider their Nearness to Great Ones, their Indefatigable Industry, compassing Sea and Land to make Proyselites to their Superstition; the vast treasures to support them; their strong influence and efficacy upon all sorts of persons; their acting under the disguise of Sectaries, and subtilly insinuating many of their Doctrines, tending to the disparagement of the Authority of Scriptures, and teaching Justification by inherent righteousness, Perfection, or absolute fulfilling the Law; unlawfulness to joyne in our Ordinances, nullity of our Ministry, &c. you will see cause with us to fear that these Locusts of the bottomless pit are now let loose, by a righteous Judgement (as from God) to deceive these Nations.
3. The Printing and Vending so many thousands of Popish books every year in the English Tongue, which considering the Apostacy of some, and the Indifferency of many others of Quality, taking offence at the unhappy divisions and distractions which have been, and do yet continue amongst us, cannot speak less to us than too great an inclination to a revolt to Popery.
4. The whole body almost of Popery published by Sectaries, especially Quakers, in whom (though seemingly the opposite extream) we cannot but observe a ready coincidency with Papists in their opinions, as darkness and darkness will sooner agree than light and darkness; yea, all Errors, issuing themselves into Antichristianisme, the great Apostacy from the Christian Faith, as into one common sinck; hereby the spirits of men are more prepared for the reception of Popish infusions.
5. Jesuitical Designs and Models of reducing England to Romes obedience, exactly followed, and promoted by many deluded Protestants, it being most apparent from the Political Treatises and Continual Practices of that Party, that nothing can more conduce to their ends, than the pulling down the Protestant Universities, (by which they have received their deadly wounds) and the impoverishing, disgracing and overthrowing a Godly, Learned Ministry, and sowing jealousies and dissentions between them and their people.
6. The toleration of Popery publickly pleaded for in Print, and by some of Power and Interest endeavoured, contrary to so many renewed Declarations of State, together with a varnish put upon the foulest Errors of that way by others of a prostituted conscience in their scandalous Pamphlets, which by the liberty of these times are permitted to come forth to the seducing of the people.
Secondly, The present distracted estate of Religion is sufficiently evident from
1. Our divisions both in civil and spiritual things, heightened by the various changes that have happened amongst us, which have begotten jealousies and animosities against one another, so that the wonted love and communion in holy duties is interrupted, strangeness and distances fomented, censures and hard opinions of each other entertained; and whil’st each Party are Promoting the Private Interests of their own Faction, the Publick Concernments of the Gospel suffer an irreparable loss and decay.
2. The many horrid and hideous Errors which for some years past have abounded amongst us, against the Authority of Scriptures, the deity of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, Trinity of Persons, the Immortality of the Soul, Doctrines of Repentance, Humiliation, Sanctification, Resurrection from the dead, the eternal recompences of heaven and hell; the decrying and abasing of Ordinances as so many empty forms, and the Ministry as an useless thing; yea, divers Sects of Libertines encreasing every day in numbers, power and malice; and under the various forms and names of Quakers, Seekers, Ranters, Familists, Behemists, &c. oppugning the received doctrine and unquestionable interests of Christ Jesus among us.
3. The odious scandals of those that profess themselves the people of God; as thier self-seeking under the pretence of publick good, their unparallel’d breaches of all civil and sacred Oaths and Covenants, both to God and Man, which however palliated by the cunning craftiness of men, (which makes the sin the greater) yet are known to God, and visible to the World, whereby the mouth of iniquity is opened, the reverence of Religion abated; and tis to be fear’d thousands upon this occasion look upon communion and close walking with God but as an empty notion, and meer imposture; so that to us there appeareth no visible way of repairing the credit of strict profession, but by a severe punishment of Professors from the Lords righteous Judgements ready to break out upon us.
4. The immense and boundless liberty permitted, assumed, and freely practised by many to write, print, publish and maintain all manner of blasphemies, and horrid opinions, without danger and controule, to subvert mens faith, and to devoure the souls of our Wives, Children, Friends, Servants, and to bury the truths of Christianity under the heap and rubbish of all sorts of Errors, the sad and woful effects whereof appear in many, by their Atheism, and Contempt of all Religion; in others, by their Scepticisme and Irresolution in any; in some, by their Apostacy from the truth, which they find so much despised, and back-sliding to Popery, as the only Religion wherein, in their opinion, union and order is retain’d; in most indifferency and lukewarmness, and much decay of the power of godliness. Lastly, some (as we are credibly informed) grown to that height of wickedness, as to worship the Divel himself.
5. Sabbath-Profanation, both as to opinion and practice, grown to a greater height than ever formerly; the Jewish Sabbath being cryed up instead of the Christian, and Shops opened upon the Lords day, and Wares publickly put to Sale; yea, some working the works of their ordinary Callings, in Knitting, and Sewing of garments in our publick Assembles: yea, in the very Pulpit, in the time of Gods publick Worship, to the great affront and contempt thereof.
6. The pouring out of men of all Sects, with a full mouth all manner of obliquie and contempt upon Ministry, and Ministers of the Gospel, openly interrupting them in the very Exercise of their Ministerial duty, whereby they are discouraged and obstructed in their work, while they are represented to the world under the notions of Baal’s Priests, insatiable Hirelings, Gehazi’s, Cheaters, Pulpited Divines, Distributers of Sundays Doles, Simonious decimating Clergy, Common Incendiaries, and cloathed with the livery of other such revilings, and all this to render whatever they shall say for the vindicating of truth, and reforming of manners, useless and ineffectual.
Thirdly, Other Causes and Symptomes of Gods wrath hanging over our heads; as
First, The frequent disappointments from time to time of all hopes of coming to any consistency and settlement of Government in the Nation, occasioned by our strange Confusions and Changes, pulling down and setting up, setting up and pulling down, which is a clear evidence that God hath in displeasure darkened our eyes, and hid counsel form us, Isa 9.19. Psal. 35. 6 Isa. 19.13.
Secondly, The sad Presages of Un-churching the Nation, or the departing of the glory of God from us, evidenced
1. By his calling home to himself, and laying aside many Eminent Workmen in Church and State, as if he had no more work to be done among us, and would now leave all open to ruin and devastation, Isa. 57.2. Isa. 3.1, 2, 3, 4-& 5.
2. By suffering those that remain, to be exercised with continual reproaches, and the defaming of many, which whatever is thought of it, is given in Scripture as a token of remediless ruine, 2 Chron. 36.16.
3. By our leaving our first love and former zeal for the truths and worship of God, for which our fore-fathers so earnestly contended, even with the loss of liberty, life and all things dear to them, striving against sin; but the present coldness and indifferency in the things of God, together with our barrenness and unanswerable walking to the Gospel of Christ, seemeth to speak no less to us than the removing of our Candlestick, or some great Eclipse of Religion among us, Rev. 2.4,5.
4. By the enmity and opposition which is everywhere manifested against the truths that are according to godliness, and malignity against the Professors thereof; a sin for which God threatened the Jewish Nation to take away the Kingdome of God from them, and to give it to a Nation, bringing forth the fruits thereof, Mat. 21.43.
5. By the prevalency of Atheisme, Madness, and doating upon all manner of Error, (fomented by the intrusion of unskilful guides) endless separations, common ignorance, unbelief, profaness, and prejudice against wholesome Doctrine, and all Order and Discipline in the Church, and the many other Confusions and spiritual judgements which are upon us, all which we cannot but sadly look upon as dreadful preparations towards a Bill of Divorce which God is about to put into the hands of these Nations.
Now these things being so, we (whom the Lord hath placed in the Ministry, though unworthy) do promise for our selves,
1. To use all holy endeavours in our places and stations, to keep God and his truth amongst us, and to that end shall take all occasions to mourn before the Lord, and be more frequent in fasting and prayer, crying mightily to our God to return to the Tribes of his Inheritance, confessing our own sins, and the sins of the people, that (if it be possible) these dreadful effects of his wrath may be turned away, and he may revive his work in the midst of the years, and yet continue to be with us.
2. To be more diligent in watching over our several Flocks, feeding them with knowledge and understanding, and dispencing the Word and Sacraments with more tenderness and faithfulness, as also to use more care in Catechising and Seasoning youth with the fundamental principles of the Christian Faith, and to be more frequent in Family Inspection, both out own and yours, as the Lord shall give opportunity, and vouchsafe strength.
3. That we shall, as occasion is offered, endeavour your establishment in the present truths, 2 Pet. 1.12. especially against Popish delusions.
And we do in the bowels of Christ earnestly beseech and exhort you, out of a sense of the forementioned dangers, to prepare to meet the Lord, coming against us in Judgement, by humbling your selves under his mighty hand, and removing the evil of your ways, and seeking his face in Christ Jesus our Lord, that ye may be hidden in the day of his fierce anger, and in wrestling, may prevail with God to spare his people, that his heritage may not be given to reproach, and the Adversaries of his truth, say among themselves, Where is their God?
More especially we exhort you;
1. To take heed of false Teachers, Mat. 16.6. trying the spirits, 1 John 4.1 and holding fast that which is good, 1 Thes. 5.21. especially to beware of Popish Insinuations, under what pretence soever disguised, lest unawares you be led away by the Error of the wicked, which we do the rather suggest, out of a fear lest many may be too well conceited of that corrupt Religion, having never smarted under Antichristian Tyranny, as our fore-fathers did, and forgetting the blood and sufferings of the Holy Martyrs, and finding Rome justified by Englands Confusions, as Sodom was by Israels sins, Ezek. 16.51. But we hope (Brethren and Beloved in the Lord) that you will think no abhorrency great enough for that Faction and sort of men, who forbid you the reading of the Scripture in your own vulgar tongue, (as if the Word of God were a dangerous and infection book) who take away form the people of God the Communion of the Cup, so expressly established by Christs Institution; who require you to attend upon prayers in a language that you understand not; who daily offer up in their Mass, a proper and propitiatory Sacrifice, (as they call it) for quick and dead, though the Scripture assures us, that by one oblation once offered, Christ hath perfected for ever those that are sanctified, who set up Images for Worship, contrary to the second Commandment; who teach you the Invocation of Saints and Angels, to the prejudices of Christ Jesus our Lord, the only Mediator, between God & men; who preach up the merit of works, yea, works of Supererogation, and Popes pardons, and Purgatory for faults already forgiven, as if Christ had not fully satisfied for them; who by the words of Consecration pronounced by a Priest, profess to transubstantiate bread into the body of Christ, and then fall down to it, and worship it; who adde traditions of men to the Word of God, as of equal Authority therewith; who dispence with Oaths, and Incestuous Marriages, resolve their faith into Papal Infallibility; forbid the Marriage of Ministers, and yet tolerate Stews; who, to propagate the Roman Religion, and promote the interests of the Papal Sea, take upon them to dispose of Kingdoms, and in ordine ad spiritualia to invade the temporalities of Princes, and imbroyle their Nations in blood and confusion, and many such other Monstrous Tenents, and withall introduce a ridiculous mass of Ceremonies, and humane Inventions, not only besides the Word, but against it: We say we hope we need not many words to awaken you, that have so long enjoyed the purer light of Christianity, into a just indignation and hatred of these abominable Superstitions, Heresies and Idolatries
2. To manifest your sincerity, not only by an hatred of Error, but a love of the Truth, hoping you do sufficiently understand the difference between opposition to a false way, and yielding up your selves to the power of the Truth; and that there is little certainty of the stedfastness of those who side with the Right Party, rather out of Faction, Custome, Education, and Publick Countenance, than any sound evidence of, or affection to that good way which they do profess, 2 Thes. 2.10, 11.
3. To keep your selves unspotted from the prevailing corruptions of these back-sliding times, left being partakers in other mens sins, you be involved in their judgments, it being the Lords way to punish the Accessories that abett and assist evil things, by conniving at and consenting to them, as well as the Principal and Chief Actors; therefore we desire you to mourn in secret for the abominations of the Land, with purpose of heart to cleave to the Lord and his Truth, and to disclaim all such wicked practices and opinions as have rendered this Age wherein we live, the wonder and astonishment of sober and religious Christians.
4. To endeavour in your places, an healing of those sad breaches and divisions which have been amongst us, that so we may be mutually strengthened in the defence of the Gospel, and in the promoting of the common faith and salvation. And in as much as our knowledge here, and all other graces are imperfect, and the Lord hath so tempered the body, that the noblest member cannot say unto the meanest, I have no need of thee; let therefore the strong learn to bear the infirmities of the weak, and the weak to forbear the censuring of the strong; let not any either despise or judge, but all mutually receive and serve one another in love, that no prints of unkind distances and unbrotherly estrangements may be found amongst us; but that all who fear the Lord, may endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, not speaking hardly against, or wounding the names and reputations of one another, but speaking often together, unto the mutual reforming and building up each other in our most holy faith.
5. To be diligent in the spiritual and conscientious performance of Family duties, as those good old Exercises of Prayer both Morning and Evening, Reaching the Word, Singing of Psalms, Repeating of Sermons, and Catechising your children and servants, (duties too much in these loose and licentious days neglected, as matters of meer formality, but zealously and constantly observed by godly men in former and better times) that so the succession of Churches be not cut off, and the taint of these corruptions may not be transmitted to the next Ages but the ill education of youth, who are the seed plot of future woe or weal, and who in these loose and ungoverned times, are observed to have little favour of that Doctrine which is according to godliness, Ephes. 6.4.
6. That you would cause your children and servants to submit to publick Catechisings, and train them up in the reverence of a godly Ministry, lest they get a spirit of scorning betimes; for we have just cause to fear that many young ones, instead of being taught to cry Hosanna to Christ, Mat. 21.15 do rather learn to cry Baldpate to his Messengers, 2 King. 2.23. by the licentious defamings and reproaches of the present Age.
And now having discharged that trust which was incumbent upon us, as those that watch for your souls, and having in simplicity and sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom, but in the fear of God, set before you the diseases and dangers whereunto we lie exposed, with the remedies and duties which is such a day of trouble and rebuke the Lord calleth for: We earnestly beseech you in the bowels of the Lord Jesus, as you value the presence of God amongst you, and expect that he should return to the many thousands of this our Israel; as you prize the enjoyment of the reformed Religion, and therewithall the prosperity and tranquillity of this once flourishing City, and these now dilacerated Nations, to lay them sadly to heart; and since the Lord hath not utterly forsaken us, but there is yet hope in Israel, with holy Jacob, to hold him fast, and not to let him go untill he bless us, and return with mercy unto us, making this our Jerusalem a praise in the earth: To his effectual blessing we most humbly commend this poor service of ours, and this great City to his gracious guidance, and almighty protection, beseeching him to let his Eye and his Heart be perpetually upon it, to cover it all the day long under the Wing of his Providence, and with the hiding of his Power, to be a Wall of fire round about it, and still the glory in the midst of it.
EDward Reynolds, Minister of Lawrence Jury.
Arthur Jackson, Minister of Faiths under Pauls.
Charles Offspring, Minister of Antholins.
Edmund Calamy, Minister of Aldermanbury.
Simeon Ashe, Minister of Austins, London.
Thomas Case, Minister of Giles in the Fields.
Thomas Whitfeld, Minister of Peters in Broad-street.
Thomas Manton, Minister of Covent-garden.
Roger Drake, Minister of Peters Cheap.
James Nalton, Minister of Leonards Foster –lane.
John Sheffield, Minister of Swithins.
William Jenkins, Minister of Christ Church.
Gabriel Sangar, Minister of Martins in the Fields.
William Wickins, Minister of Georges Southwark.
Matthew Haviland, Minister of Trinity Parish.
William Blackmore, Minister of Peters Cornhill
Thomas Watson, Minister of Stephens Walbrook.
Arthur Barham, Minister of Hellens.
William Whitaker, Minister at Magdalens Bermondsey.
Thomas Wadsworth, Minister of Newington Butts.
Benjamin Needler, Minister of Margaret Moses.
Zechariah Crofton, Minister of Botolphs Algate.
John Wells, Minister of Olaves Jewry.
William Bates, Minister of Dunstans in the West
John Meriton, Minister of Nicholas Acons.
Samuel Smith, Minister at Bennets Grace Church.
Richard Adams, Minister of Mildreds Bread-street.
Daniel Batchelor, Minister of Anne Aldersgate.
Thomas Parson, Minister of Michael Woodstreet.
John Kitchin, Minister of Mary Abchurch.
Giles Hinton, Minister of Mandlins Old-fish-street
Thomas Meriton, Minister of Michael Coleabby.
John Gibbon, Minister of Blackfryars.
John Rumney, Minister of Thomas Apostles.
Matthew Pool, Minister of Michael Quern at London.
John Crodacott, Minister of Saviours Southwark.
John Hering, Minister of Brides London.
Robert Tatnol, Minister of John Evangelist.
Thomas Jacomb, Minister of Martins Ludgate.
George Fawler, Minister of Bride-well, precinct London.
Thomas Dawks, Minister of Michael Queen-hithe.
Thomas Willes, Minister of Botolph Billingsgate.
Thomas Doelittle, Minister of Alphage.
John Jackson, Minister of Bennets Pauls Wharfe.
Thomas Clendon, Minister of All-hallows Barking.
Ralph Strettel, Minister of Johns Zachary.
Thomas Gouge, Minister of Sepulchres.
William Cooper, Minister of Olaves Southwark.
Thomas Lye, Minister of All-hallows Lumbard-street.
Peter Witham, Minister of John Baptist-Walbrook.
Thomas White, Minister of Mary Hill.
Samuel Clark, Minister of Bennet Fink.
George Smalwood, Minister of Mildreds in the Poultry.
Willaim Spurstow, D.D. Minister of Hackney.
William Taylor, Minister of the Gospel in Coleman-street.
Peter Vinke, Minister of Michael Cornhill.
Samuel Annesley, Minister of Giles Cripplegate.
John Seabrook, Minister of Andrew Le Wardrobe.
Has. Bridges, Minister of Albans Woodstreet.
Leonard Cook, Minister at Islington.
Elijah Pledger, Minister of the Gospel at Christ-Church.
Morgan Hopton, Minister of Andrews Holborn.
Stephen Watkins, Minister of Southwark.
1. Isa. 58 1.?
2. Jude 3. ?
3. Phil. 1.17.?
4 Ezek. 33. from ver. 1. to ver. 10.?
5. Acts 20. 29, 33, 31. & Joh. 10.12. ?
6. 2 Cor. 6.8.?