CHAP. 15.

A sixth false Ground of confident enduring Miseries. 
A conclusion of the first Doctrine.

6. In others from a misguided headstrong zeal in will-worship, an impotent peremptory conceit that they suffer in the cause of God, and for the glory of religion. This [[52]] unhallowed fury possessed many heretics of old. Upon this false ground the Donatists in the fourth century after Christ offered themselves willingly, and suffered death most courageously. And so did the Euphemites, who for the multitude of their supposed martyrs, would needs be called Martyrians. We also learn from history that Turks, Tartars, and Moors both fight and die most bravely for the blasphemous opinions of Mahomet; and that the Assassins[1], a company of blood-thirsty villains and desperate cut-throats, who would without all scruple or fear undertake to dispatch any man whom their general commanded them to murder, died oftentimes with great constancy and undismayedness; and this they accounted a special point of religion. But especially at this day the Popish pseudo-martyrs (indeed true traitors) are stark mad with this superstitious rage. First, they drink full deep of the golden cup of abominable “fornication in the hand of the great whore;” immediately whereupon they grow into an insatiable and outrageous thirst after the blood of souls, poisoning them with the doctrine of devils, and also after the blood of whomsoever withstands their accursed superstitions, even though they wear imperial crowns upon their heads; by plotting and practising treasons, patricides, assassinations, poisonings, ruins of whole nations, barbarous massacres, blowing up of parliaments, and a world of mischiefs, which cast an inexpiable stain and obloquy upon the innocency of the Christian religion. At last they come to Tyburn, or some other place of just execution, and then they will needs persuade the world that they are going towards heaven to receive a crown of martyrdom. They seem there already to triumph extraordinarily, and to contemn tortures. With an affected bravery they trample upon the tribunals of justice; kiss the instruments of death in sign of happiness at hand; and throw many resolute and rejoicing speeches amongst the people, as though they had one foot in heaven already: when, alas! poor blind, misguided souls, while they thus wilfully and desperately abandon their lives upon a groundless and graceless conceit that they shall become crowned martyrs, they are like a man, who lying asleep upon a high and steep rock, dreams that he is created a king, guarded with a goodly train of ancient nobles, furnished with many princely houses and stately palaces, enriched with the revenues, majesty, and magnificence of a mighty kingdom. attended with all the pleasures his heart could desire; but starting up suddenly and leaping for joy, falls headlong and [[53]] irrecoverably into the raging sea; and so in lieu of that imaginary happiness he vainly grasped in a dream, he destroys himself and loses that little real comfort he had in this miserable life. That pair of incarnate devils, the English Fawkes and French Ravaillac; the one, after that in the pope’s cause he had embrued his hands in the royal blood of a mighty king and the greatest warrior upon earth; the other having done his utmost to blow up at once the glory, power, wisdom, the religion, peace, and prosperity of the most renowned state under the heavens, were both prodigiously bold, confident, peremptory. But was this courage think you inspired into them by the “lion of the tribe of Judah,” already triumphant in the heavens, or by that roaring dragon of the bottomless pit A man of an understanding, impartial, discerning spirit would scarcely wish a clearer demonstration of the truth and orthodoxy of our religion than to mark the different ends of our blessed martyrs in Queen Mary’s time, and those popish traitors which are sometimes executed among us. They both ordinarily at their end express a great deal of confidence. But in the pseudo-catholic antichristian martyrs, it is so enforced, artificial, ambitious, affected; their speeches so cunning, and composed on purpose to seduce the simple; their last behaviour so plotted beforehand and formally acted; their prayers so unhearty, plodding, and slight; their whole carriage so unspiritual and unlike the saints of God; discovering neither former acquaintances with the mysteries of true sanctification, nor those present feeling elevations of spirit which are wont to fill the souls which are ready to enter into the joys of heaven, that to a spiritual eye, to a man versed in the purity and power of godliness, it is most clear that their comfort in such cases is of no higher strain nor stronger temper than the moral resolution of a heathen, and headstrong conceit of heresy can represent or reach unto. It is otherwise with the true martyrs of Jesus, slain most cruelly by that “great whore, the mother of harlots,” drunken with a world of innocent blood as with sweet wine; as we may see and feel in that glorious martyrology of our saints, in the merciless times of Queen Mary. The constant profession and power of our most true and ever-blessed religion did create such a holy and humble majesty in their carriages, so much of heaven and sober undaunted-ness in their countenances, such joyful springings and spiritual ravishments in their hearts; such grace and powerful piercings in their speeches; such zeal and hearty meltings in their prayers; such triumphant and heavenly exaltations amid the flames, that it was more than manifest [[55]] both to heaven and earth, to men and angels, that their cause was the cause of God; their murderer, that man of sin; their blood, the seed of the church; their souls, the jewels of heaven; and their present passage, the right and ready way to that unfading and most glorious crown of martyrdom. That which in fiction was fathered upon Father Campion was most true of every one of our true martyrs:

That every one might say, with heavy heart that stood:
Here speaks a saint, here dies a lamb, here flows the guiltless blood.

Thus you have heard upon what weak props and sandy foundations that confidence stands and is built which carnal men seem to lay hold upon with great bravery in times of trouble and distress. But the comfort which sweetly springs from that spirit 1 speak of, supported out of special favour and interest by the hand of God all-sufficient, and the unconquerable calmness of a good conscience, is grounded upon a rock, upon which though the rain descends, the floods come, the winds blow, the tempests beat, yet it stands like Mount Zion, sure, sober, strong, lasting, impregnable. Nay, it is of that heavenly metal and divine temper, that it ordinarily gathers vigour and power from the World’s rage; and grows in strength and resolution together with the increase of all unjust oppositions. Persecutions and resist. once serve as a provocation and seasoning to its sweetness. It is not enforced, formal, artificial, affected, furious, desperate, misgrounded, ambitious, upon a humour in the face only; only in hot blood, out of a vain-glorious pang, &c. Such may be found in aliens and resolute reprobates. It were nothing worthy if strangers might meddle with it; if men or devils, or the whole world could take it from us; if it were sustained only by any created power or arm of flesh. This pearl that I praise, and persuade unto, is of a higher price and more transcendent power than any unregenerate man can possibly compass or comprehend. It bath for its seat, a sanctified soul; for the fountain of its refreshing, the Spirit of all comfort; for its foundation, the favour of God; for its warrant, the promises of the “Amen, the faithful and true witness;” for its object, an immortal crown; for its continuance, the prayers of all the saints; for its companions, inward peace, invincible courage, a holy security of mind; for its end and perfection, “fullness of joy and pleasures at God’s right hand for evermore;” in a word, this courageous comfort and true nobleness of spirit, which dwells in the heart of the true-hearted Christian, doth differ as much from, and as far surpasses all the groundless [[55]] confidences of every carnal man or religious counterfeit, as the real possession of gold surpasses an imaginary dream of gold; as the true natural lively grape which glads the heart, excels a painted juiceless grape, which only feeds the eye; or as a strong and mighty oak rooted deeply in the earth, which no storm or tempest can displant or overthrow, is superior to a. stake in a dead hedge, or staff stuck lightly into the ground, which every hand may snatch away, or blast of wind supplant and overthrow.

[1] A sect of Mahometan enthusiasts.