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THE OPINION OF
Mr. PERKINS, and Mr. BOLTON, and Others,
Concerning the Sport of
Published formerly in their Works, and now set forth to shew, that it is not a
Recreation meet for Christians, though so commonly used by those who own
By EDMUND ELLIS, Master of Arts,
Sam. vi. 22.--" I will yet be more vile than thus.”
Oxford: Printed by A, L, in the year 1660. Quarto, containing twenty pages,
Fallapit in Devonshire, I'sp; and Mr. Dennis Grenvile, younger Son of
these papers, chiefly for these two reasons : first, because I know you are sincerely of the same opinion, which, by them, I manifest to the world, that I ain of, and there. fore they must needs he acceptable unto you. Secondly, because you understand me a right in those actions, which the generality of other men, good and bad, who have occasion to takie notice of them, esteem as monstrous and improper for me, not rightly apprehending their symmetry and proportion to such principles, as they themselves must necessarily acknowledge to be good for me to act by; and, whilst there is any sin to be discernrd in me (which, alas! must needs be, as long as I continue in this earthly taberna, cle) it cannot be otherwise, by reason of the confused notions, men conmonly have, of such actions as proceed from a soul dif. ferently inclined, to wit, by the strength it retains of the old na. ture, and by what it hath received of the new. That stream of grace, which tlows continually through the whole course of the lives and conversations of those who are born again, mixing itself with the ocean, as it were, of so many sins and infirmities, and civil actions, is no more to be discerned hy the generality, than a stream of fresh in salt waters; it is the taste, not the sight, the knowledge of the heart, not of the brain, that apprehends the integrity of any man's actions; neither do I any more believe, that all good men thoroughly apprehend those actions, which sometimes they are pleased to censure, than that any man, who has, as they
say, a judicious palate, should be able to distinguish wines, or any other liquors, when he does but see them.
My dear friends, farewell, and pray earnestly, that my faith may not fail me; for, methinks, coming out into the sea of the world upon this occasion, my conscience commanding me, I am in the case, that Peter was in, Matthew xiv. 29, when he walked on the water to go to Jesus, as soon as he said, Come.
To my honoured Friend, Mr. Edmund Ellis.
My dearest Friend, Since you have given me notice of this your noble design, I think myself obliged to congratulate you in it, and to bless God for it, being so highly obliged unto you for those good instruc. tions, and pious admonitions, which, from time to time, I have received from you; and, although I have not trod so exactly in those
ways, which you have directed me to, yet it is my earnest prayer to God, that gentlemen would endeavour but as I have done; which if they did, surely such vain sports and bloody re. creations, which you trcat of, would no longer be pleasing to them. I know (to my grief I speak it) that the generality of gen. tlemen are no more capable to apprehend your discourses, than a man, the pores of his head being stopped by the extremity of cold, is able to distinguish betwixt ill and wholesome scents. It has been an experiment, tried through all ages since the creation, that the workers of iniquity hate light; that they cannot endure to be told of any sin, which they indulge unto themselves. The more ingenious the men be (unless truly christian, unless they live according to Christ's gospel, and would rather lose an eye, their right hand, nay, their lives, than wittingly and willingly commit the least sin) the more, you must expect, they will rail at and revile you: What. ever they pretend to your face, they would cut your throat with all their hearts; they play the wolf in the sheep's cloathing, hide the vulture's heart under the dove's breast.
What can you expect from such men, but scoffs, &c. ? Who in corners (not in publick, for fear that small rod of justice, which is yet left, might make them smart) laugh at God, and despise what they themselves preach: A wonder, that God inflicts not some immediate punishment on such notorious offenders, who deride the wisdom of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. But, alas ! what will become of such men ? who do not only neglect, but despise so great salvation. Though God's revenging hand, which is able to grind them to powder, does forbear them for some small season, yet they shall surely one day most sadly feel it, when coals of fire and brimstone, and an horri. ble tempest, shall be showered down on their heads by the revenging hand of an angry God.
How many thousands of gentlemen are there in this nation, who far more dread the thoughts of a year's imprisonment, being by that to be deprived of their jolly companions, than that sad divorce
betwixt the soul and body. Their eyes are so dim, by their long persistence in the ways of darkness, that they camot see the paths of light; and, rather than they will pain themselves to pluck off that tilm, which darkens their sight, they will perish for ever : They will rather be God's enemies, so they gain a good reputation in the world, being called prudent, discreet, &c. (though that is but a mistake) than be his faithful stewards, and be backbitten and railed on by the ignoraut of these our days. Did but men practise, as they say they believe, we should not see so great debauchi. cries, as now there are; they had rather be in their studies, with tears in their eyes, and hooks in their hands, than at the aichouse, tossing off caps, and delighting to see the innocent blood of poor crcatures. This your discourse will try the pureness of men's hearts, as fire gold. You must expect, that the mouths of those, who continually bark at you, being already open, will not close without some noise; they will try their utmost to affright you from undertaking such noble designs, whereby you do eminently serve God, and satisfy the desires of your brethren. Well, my duar friend, go on and prosper in all your endeavours, and be sure, that, though men do strive to cast aspersions on your candid namo, yet, in their hearts, they fear and reverence you. They are afraid tu own that in publick before men, which, in private chambers, they twattle before hoys. I say, my friend, let them be what they will, they are bencath your notici', since, hy such opprobrious speeches, they ccase from being christians; they cannot apprehend terrestrial friendship, how then can they heavenly? It is a general observation, that several men of one profession always discommend and undervalue one the other's work; and truly this is the same case with you: You and others are all baptised in Christis name, and, since you own what there you vowed to do, in which they are so defective, they envy and revile you, they hate to see themselves out-done by one of their own calling: Therefore you must expect, that all formal christians, who will not go to heaven, unless they miglit have the world for their co:npanion on their journey; who have a form of godliness, but dony the power thereof; who vind carthly things; who are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; who delight in the crcature more than the Creator :' }' say, you may be sure, that the greatest part of those, who cail theinselves christians, being ignorant of the spirit and life of religion, having religion only in their fancy, and thinking the very acts of it but wild chimeras, make it an ens rationis, or an empty notion, will despise and undervalue your writings. But, blessed be that God, who has and will uphold you against the devilisin oppositions of malicious men; who has made that gall, which has been cast in your teeth, to prove sweeter than honcy in your belly.
I could say more, did I not fear that I have already tired yon. I'can assure you, that no man can have a more perfect friendship for any one, than 1 have for you. You know, that I am,
My dearest friend, your most affectionate, March 20, -59.
THOUGII it bemy opinion, that the sport of cock-fighting is abso
lutely sinful, yet I would not have thee think, as the vulgar will be ready to say, that I esteem as unregenerate all those who are of a contrary judgment: I do not so little consider that of the apostle, “ in many things we offend all:" And certainly, the imme. diate cause of our offences, the perversness of the will, always proceeds from the understanding, or judgment perverted, in apprehending any thing the wrong way, by which it is inclined to ac. cept, or refuse the object, or thing proposed : But, though I do not conceive that the ignorance of the impiety of this sport is alto. gether inconsistent with a regenerate state, or the habit of true godliness, in some degree, yet I am not afraid to make known to. the world, that I cannot imagine how any man, whilst he is actually like unto God, the Father of Mercies, can possibly delight and recreate himself, in sceing his fellow-creatures (which are infi, nitely less inferior to us, than we to our, and their Creator) so subtle and active to wound and destroy cach other. Having this opioion of the sport of cock-fights, and seeing it so frequently used in the country where I live, no man, that I can hear of, opposing it as absolutely sinful, I could not retain the confidence I have, that I am, indeed, a faithful servant of the great God in the gospel of his Son, and a true lover of the souls of men, if I should not venture to oppose it myself ; though I am not ignorant, that, endeavoaring to destroy this common opinion, that this sport is not meet for christians, I must necessarily expect to be counted a fool., hardy and imprudent fellow. Methinks I hear, many men saying, unto me, appearing in publick upon this occasion, as Eliab, 1 Sam. xvii, 28, said to his brother David, “I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart.” This, indeed, would somewhat disturb me, if I did not consider, that omniscience is one of the attributes of the God whom I serve.
Thinking with myself, what means I shonld use to effect this design, to convince the world, that the tem per and disposition of any man's soul, whilst he actually deligats in such a sport, must necessarily be offensive to God; at last I considered, though it be my opinivn, that for any man, who has attained to a competent degree of the art of expression, to publish those notions which he has gathered from his own experience of such christian, trụths, as are, in some sort, generally believed, in his own • srds, is a work most acceptable to the God of truth ; for, certainly, those notions of spiritual things which fix themselves, and reside in the head only of the generality of those who are called christians, are usually guided unto the heart by such expressions of the same things, as come froin the hearts of others : Yet, I say, at last I considered that truths of this pature, which are like to find so much opposi. tiou, will harily be received by any, who now oppose them, un, less they be brought in, as it were, with druin and trumpet; I mean, by the hands of some fainous and excellent writers; and therefore I would not, at present, : write of this subject, any more
than only to speak my opinion ; but have rather chosen to shew the world, what some eminent divines have written of it, which I conceive was never yet read and considered by any of those who de. light in such sports, and profess to walk as Christ walked.
And here, in the name of a christian, I call to my aid (in en. deavouring to evince this, that such a temper, as may actually consist with a delight in such sports, must needs be unchristian) all those who are of the same opinion, and, withal, are conscious to themselves, that God has given them an art of persuasion, an ability of conveying their own thoughts into the breasts of others, not only of those who are simply void of them, but of those also who oppugn and resist them : Such men I entreat upon all occa. sions, to manifest their dislike of such sports, and their reasons for it.
If these papers shall chance to be seen by the worthy and renowned author of the Whole Duty of Man, I shall humbly intreat him, as one who serves with him under Christ, the Captain of our salvation, to afford me some aid in this combate with the world, if be be of the same judgment, as, by his works, I presume he is. I doubt not, but the small thoughts and fancies, which those, who delight in this sport, are apt to conceive in favour of it, which arise in their minds, like mists and dark vapours, to obscure the reason of any thing they can ordinarily hear spoken against it, would suddenly vanish, like a morning cloud, when the sun appears, if it should be opposed by so noble a person; whose style, like a diamond, is bright and solid ; whose excellent rhetorick, and beauty of expression, does not, like weaker beauty, consist chictly in colour and complexion (in words, which are so apt to take, as they say) but in symmetry and exact proportion. And I hope, the amiable subject of his beauteous expressions will, in time, by the help of God's spirit, draw into itself the love of many, who, as yet, are lovers of the world. If the thoughts I have expressed of this sport be not suitable to his, I desire to be better informed by bim: For, I must profess, at present, it scandals me extremely to see christians, those who profess to have their bosons a nest for the heavenly dove, to be companions of the Lamb of God, to recreate themselves in blood, though it be of the meanest creatures; and to me no man's reason sceins more strong, or expression more clear, than what I find in the writings of this excellent person: Su that, whatever he shall be pleased to write on this subject, it will either make me see myself in an error, or lead me on further in the way of truth; if my opinion be true indeel, which, as yet, I have no reason to doubt, but that so many speak against it.
All that I have to say farther is this, that, if I did not as much despise the shame, as I am thought to desire the praise of the world, I would rather lose the hand I write with, than employ my pen upon such an occasion.
But I fear not the terms of fuol, or madman: It was said of my Saviour, “ He hath a devil.” My Lord was reviled, shall I be applauded? What greater comfort