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AN APOLOGY FOR SMECTYMNUUS. - John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 1 
The Prose Works of John Milton: With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 1.
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AN APOLOGY FOR SMECTYMNUUS.
[first published 1642.]
If, readers, to that same great difficulty of well-doing what we certainly know, were not added in most men as great a carelessness of knowing what they and others ought to do, we had been long ere this, no doubt but all of us, much farther on our way to some degree of peace and happiness in this kingdom. But since our sinful neglect of practising that which we know to be undoubtedly true and good, hath brought forth among us, through God’s just anger, so great a difficulty now to know that which otherwise might be soon learnt, and hath divided us by a controversy of great importance indeed, but of no hard solution, which is the more our punishment; I resolved (of what small moment soever I might be thought) to stand on that side where I saw both the plain authority of Scripture leading, and the reason of justice and equity persuading; with this opinion, which esteems it more unlike a Christian to be a cold neuter in the cause of the church, than the law of Solon made it punishable after a sedition in the state. And because I observe that fear and dull disposition, lukewarmness and sloth, are not seldomer wont to cloak themselves under the affected name of moderation, than true and lively zeal is customably disparaged with the term of indiscretion, bitterness, and choler; I could not to my thinking honour a good cause more from the heart, than by defending it earnestly, as oft as I could judge it to behove me, notwithstanding any false name that could be invented to wrong or under-value an honest meaning. Wherein although I have not doubted to single forth more than once such of them as were thought the chief and most nominated opposers on the other side, whom no man else undertook; if I have done well either to be confident of the truth, whose force is best seen against the ablest resistance, or to be jealous and tender of the hurt that might be done among the weaker by the intrapping authority of great names titled to false opinions; or that it be lawful to attribute somewhat to gifts of God’s imparting, which I boast not, but thankfully acknowledge, and fear also lest at my certain account they be reckoned to me rather many than few; or if, lastly, it be but justice not to defraud of due esteem the wearisome labours and studious watchings, wherein I have spent and tired out almost a whole youth, I shall not distrust to be acquitted of presumption: knowing, that if heretofore all ages have received with favour and good acceptance the early industry of him that hath been hopeful, it were but hard measure now, if the freedom of any timely spirit should be oppressed merely by the big and blunted fame of his elder adversary; and that his sufficiency must be now sentenced, not by pondering the reason he shows, but by calculating the years he brings. However, as my purpose is not, nor hath been formerly, to look on my adversary abroad, through the deceiving glass of other men’s great opinion of him, but at home, where I may find him in the proper light of his own worth; so now against the rancour of an evil tongue, from which I never thought so absurdly, as that I of all men should be exempt, I must be forced to proceed from the unfeigned and diligent inquiry of my own conscience at home, (for better way I know not, readers,) to give a more true account of myself abroad than this modest confuter, as he calls himself, hath given of me. Albeit, that in doing this I shall be sensible of two things which to me will be nothing pleasant; the one is, that not unlikely I shall be thought too much a party in mine own cause, and therein to see least: the other, that I shall be put unwillingly to molest the public view with the vindication of a private name; as if it were worth the while that the people should care whether such a one were thus or thus. Yet those I entreat who have found the leisure to read that name, however of small repute, unworthily defamed, would be so good and so patient as to hear the same person not unneedfully defended. I will not deny but that the best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words. And that I could at this time most easily and securely, with the least loss of reputation, use no other defence, I need not despair to win belief; whether I consider both the foolish contriving and ridiculous aiming of these his slanderous bolts, shot so wide of any suspicion to be fastened on me, that I have oft with inward contentment perceived my friends congratulating themselves in my innocence, and my enemies ashamed of their partner’s folly: or whether I look at these present times wherein most men, now scarce permitted the liberty to think over their own concernments, have removed the seat of their thoughts more outward to the expectation of public events: or whether the examples of men, either noble or religious, who have sat down lately with a meek silence and sufferance under many libellous endorsements, may be a rule to others, I might well appease myself to put up any reproaches in such an honourable society of fellow-sufferers, using no other defence. And were it that slander would be content to make an end where it first fixes, and not seek to cast out the like infamy upon each thing that hath but any relation to the person traduced, I should have pleaded against this confuter by no other advocates than those which I first commended, silence and sufferance, and speaking deeds against faltering words. But when I discerned his intent was not so much to smite at me, as through me to render odious the truth which I had written, and to stain with ignominy that evangelic doctrine which opposes the tradition of prelaty; I conceived myself to be now not as mine own person, but as a member incorporate into that truth whereof I was persuaded, and whereof I had declared openly to be a partaker. Whereupon I thought it my duty, if not to myself yet to the religious cause I had in hand, not to leave on my garment the least spot or blemish in good name, so long as God should give me to say that which might wipe it off. Lest those disgraces, which I ought to suffer, if it so befall me, for my religion, through my default religion be made liable to suffer for me. And, whether it might not something reflect upon those reverent men, whose friend I may be thought in writing the Animadversions, was not my last care to consider; if I should rest under these reproaches, having the same common adversary with them, it might be counted small credit for their cause to have found such an assistant, as this babbler hath devised me. What other thing in his book there is of dispute or question, in answering thereto I doubt not to be justified; except there be who will condemn me to have wasted time in throwing down that which could not keep itself up. As for others, who notwithstanding what I can allege have yet decreed to misinterpret the intents of my reply, I suppose they would have found as many causes to have misconceived the reasons of my silence.
To begin therefore an apology for those animadversions, which I writ against the Remonstrant in defence of Smectymnuus; since the preface, which was purposely set before them, is not thought apologetical enough, it will be best to acquaint ye, readers, before other things, what the meaning was to write them in that manner which I did. For I do not look to be asked wherefore I writ the book, it being no difficulty to answer, that I did it to those ends, which the best men propose to themselves when they write: but wherefore in that manner, neglecting the main bulk of all that specious antiquity, which might stun children, and not men, I chose rather to observe some kind of military advantages; to await him at his foragings, at his waterings, and whenever he felt himself secure, to solace his vein in derision of his more serious opponents. And here let me have pardon, readers, if the remembrance of that which he hath licensed himself to utter contemptuously of those reverend men, provoke me to do that over again, which some expect I should excuse as too freely done; since I have two provocations, his latest insulting in his short answer, and their final patience. I had no fear, but that the authors of Smectymnuus, to all the show of solidity, which the Remonstrant could bring, were prepared both with skill and purpose to return a sufficing answer, and were able enough to lay the dust and pudder in antiquity, which he and his, out of stratagem, are wont to raise; but when I saw his weak arguments headed with sharp taunts, and that his design was, if he could not refute them, yet at least with quips and snapping adages to vapour them out, which they, bent only upon the business, were minded to let pass; by how much I saw them taking little thought for their own injuries, I must confess I took it as my part the less to endure that my respected friends, through their own unnecessary patience, should thus lie at the mercy of a coy flirting style; to be girded with frumps and curtal gibes, by one who makes sentences by the statute, as if all above three inches long were confiscate. To me it seemed an indignity, that whom his whole wisdom could not move from their place, them his impetuous folly should presume to ride over. And if I were more warm than was meet in any passage of that book, which yet I do not yield, I might use therein the patronage of no worse an author than Gregory Nyssen, who mentioning his sharpness against Eunomius in the defence of his brother Basil, holds himself irreprovable in that “it was not for himself, but in the cause of his brother; and in such cases,” saith he, “perhaps it is worthier pardon to be angry than to be cooler.” And whereas this confuter taxes the whole discourse of levity, I shall show ye readers, wheresoever it shall be objected in particular, that I have answered with as little lightness as the Remonstrant hath given example. I have not been so light as the palm of a bishop, which is the lightest thing in the world when he brings out his book of ordination: for then, contrary to that which is wont in releasing out of prison, any one that will pay his fees is laid hands on. Another reason; it would not be amiss though the Remonstrant were told, wherefore he was in that unusual manner beleaguered; and this was it, to pluck out of the heads of his admirers the conceit that all who are not prelatical, are gross-headed, thick-witted, illiterate, shallow. Can nothing then but episcopacy teach men to speak good English, to pick and order a set of words judiciously? Must we learn from canons and quaint sermonings interlined with barbarous Latin, to illumine a period, to wreath an enthymema with masterous dexterity? I rather incline, as I have heard it observed, that a Jesuit’s Italian when he writes, is ever naught, though he be born and bred a Florentine, so to think, that from like causes we may go near to observe the same in the style of a prelate. For doubtless that indeed according to art is most eloquent, which turns and approaches nearest to nature from whence it came; and they express nature best, who in their lives least wander from her safe leading, which may be called regenerate reason. So that how he should be truly eloquent who is not withal a good man, I see not. Nevertheless, as oft as is to be dealt with men who pride themselves in their supposed art, to leave them inexcusable wherein they will not be bettered; there be of those that esteem prelaty a figment, who yet can pipe if they can dance, nor will be unfurnished to show, that what the prelates admire and have not, others have and admire not. The knowledge whereof, and not of that only, but of what the Scripture teacheth us how we ought to withstand the perverters of the gospel, were those other motives, which gave the Animadversions no leave to remit a continual vehemence throughout the book. For as in teaching doubtless the spirit of meekness is most powerful, so are the meek only fit persons to be taught: as for the proud, the obstinate, and false doctors of men’s devices, be taught they will not, but discovered and laid open they must be. For how can they admit of teaching, who have the condemnation of God already upon them for refusing divine instruction? That is, to be filled with their own devices, as in the Proverbs we may read: therefore we may safely imitate the method that God uses; “with the froward to be froward, and to throw scorn upon the scorner,” whom, if any thing, nothing else will heal. And if the “righteous shall laugh at the destruction of the ungodly,” they may also laugh at the pertinacious and incurable obstinacy, and at the same time be moved with detestation of their seducing malice, who employ all their wits to defend a prelaty usurped, and to deprave that just government, which pride and ambition, partly by fine fetches and pretences, partly by force, hath shouldered out of the church. And against such kind of deceivers openly and earnestly to protest, lest any one should be inquisitive wherfore this or that man is forwarder than others, let him know that this office goes not by age or youth, but to whomsoever God shall give apparently the will, the spirit, and the utterance. Ye have heard the reasons for which I thought not myself exempted from associating with good men in their labours towards the church’s welfare; to which, if any one brought opposition, I brought my best resistance. If in requital of this, and for that I have not been negligent toward the reputation of my friends, I have gained a name bestuck, or as I may say, bedecked with the reproaches and reviles of this modest confuter; it shall be to me neither strange nor unwelcome, as that which could not come in a better time.
Having rendered an account what induced me to write those animadversions in that manner as I writ them, I come now to see what the confutation hath to say against them; but so as the confuter shall hear first what I have to say against his confutation. And because he pretends to be a great conjector at other men by their writings, I will not fail to give ye, readers, a present taste of him from his title, hung out like a tolling sign post to call passengers, not simply a confutation, but “a modest confutation,” with a laudatory of itself obtruded in the very first word. Whereas a modest title should only inform the buyer what the book contains without further insinuation; this officious epithet so hastily assuming the modesty which others are to judge of by reading, not the author to anticipate to himself by forestalling, is a strong presumption, that his modesty, set there to sale in the frontispiece, is not much addicted to blush. A surer sign of his lost shame he could not have given, than seeking thus unseasonably to prepossess men of his modesty. And seeing he hath neither kept his word in the sequel, nor omitted any kind of boldness in slandering, it is manifest his purpose was only to rub the forehead of his title with this word modest, that he might not want colour to be the more impudent throughout his whole confutation. Next, what can equally savour of injustice and plain arrogance, as to prejudice and forecondemn his adversary in the title for “slanderous and scurrilous,” and as the Remonstrant’s fashion is, for frivolous, tedious, and false, not staying till the reader can hear him proved so in the following discourse? Which is one cause of a suspicion that in setting forth this pamphlet the Remonstrant was not unconsulted with: thus his first address was “an humble remonstrance by a dutiful son of the church,” almost as if he had said, her white-boy. His next was, “a defence” (a wonder how it escaped some praising adjunct) “against the frivolous and false exceptions against Smectymnuus,” sitting in the chair of his title-page upon his poor cast adversaries both as a judge and party, and that before the jury of readers can be impannelled. His last was “a short answer to a tedious vindication;” so little can he suffer a man to measure either with his eye or judgment, what is short or what tedious, without his preoccupying direction: and from hence is begotten this “modest confutation against a slanderous and scurrilous libel.” I conceive, readers, much may be guessed at the man and his book, what depth there is, by the framing of his title; which being in this Remonstrant so rash and unadvised as ye see, I conceit him to be near akin to him who set forth a passion sermon with a formal dedicatory in great letters to our Saviour. Although I know that all we do ought to begin and end in his praise and glory, yet to inscribe him in a void place with flourishes, as a man in compliment uses to trick up the name of some esquire, gentleman, or lord paramount at common law, to be his bookpatron, with the appendant from of a ceremonious presentment, will ever appear among the judicious to be but an insulse and frigid affectation. As no less was that before his book against the Brownists, to write a letter to a Prosopopœia, a certain rhetorized woman whom he calls mother, and complains of some that laid whoredom to her charge; and certainly had he folded his epistle with a superscription to be delivered to that female figure by any post or carrier, who were not a ubiquitary, it had been a most miraculous greeting. We find the primitive doctors, as oft as they writ to churches, speaking to them as to a number of faithful brethren and sons, and not to make a cloudy transmigration of sexes in such a familiar way of writing as an epistle ought to be, leaving the tract of common address, to run up, and tread the air in metaphorical compellations, and many fond utterances better let alone. But I step again to this emblazoner of his title-page, (whether it be the same man or no, I leave it in the midst,) and here I find him pronouncing without reprieve, those animadversions to be a slanderous and scurrilous libel. To which I, readers, that they are neither slanderous, nor scurrilous, will answer in what place of his book he shall be found with reason, and not ink only, in his mouth. Nor can it be a libel more than his own, which is both nameless and full of slanders; and if in this that it freely speaks of things amiss in religion, but established by act of state, I see not how Wickliff and Luther, with all the first martyrs and reformers, could avoid the imputation of libelling. I never thought the human frailty of erring in cases of religion, infamy to a state, no more than to a council: it had therefore been neither civil nor Christianly, to derogate the honour of the state for that cause, especially when I saw the parliament itself piously and magnanimously bent to supply and reform the defects and oversights of their forefathers, which to the godly and repentant ages of the Jews were often matter of humble confessing and bewailing, not of confident asserting and maintaining. Of the state therefore, I found good reason to speak all honourable things, and to join in petition with good men that petitioned: but against the prelates, who were the only seducers and misleaders of the state to constitute the government of the church not rightly, methought I had not vehemence enough. And thus, readers, by the example which he hath set me, I have given ye two or three notes of him out of his title-page; by which his firstlings fear not to guess boldly at his whole lump, for that guess will not fail ye; and although I tell him keen truth, yet he may bear with me, since I am like to chase him into some good knowledge, and others, I trust, shall not misspend their leisure. For this my aim is, if I am forced to be unpleasing to him whose fault it is, I shall not forget at the same time to be useful in something to the stander-by.
As therefore he began in the title, so in the next leaf he makes it his first business to tamper with his reader by sycophanting and misnaming the work of his adversary. He calls it “a mime thrust forth upon the stage, to make up the breaches of those solemn scenes between the prelates and the Smectymnuans.” Wherein while he is so over-greedy to fix a name of ill sound upon another, note how stupid he is to expose himself or his own friends to the same ignominy; likening those grave controversies to a piece of stagery, or scenework, where his own Remonstrant, whether in buskin or sock, must of all right be counted the chief player, be it boasting Thraso, or Davus that troubles all things, or one who can shift into any shape, I meddle not; let him explicate who hath resembled the whole argument to a comedy, for “tragical,” he says, “were too ominous.” Nor yet doth he tell us what a mime is, whereof we have no pattern from ancient writers, except some fragments, which contain many acute and wise sentences. And this we know in Laertius, that the mimes of Sophron were of such reckoning with Plato, as to take them nightly to read on, and after make them his pillow. Scaliger describes a mime to be a poem intimating any action to stir up laughter. But this being neither poem, nor yet ridiculous, how is it but abusively taxed to be a mine? For if every book, which may by chance excite to laugh here and there, must be termed thus, then may the dialogues of Plato, who for those his writings, hath obtained the surname of divine, be esteemed as they are by that detractor in Athenæus, no better than mimes. Because there is scarce one of them, especially wherein some notable sophister lies sweating and turmoiling under the inevitable and merciless dilemmas of Socrates, but that he who reads, were it Saturn himself, would be often robbed of more than a smile. And whereas he tells us, that “scurrilous Mime was a personated grim lowering fool,” his foolish language unwrittingly writes fool upon his own friend, for he who was there personated was only the Remonstrant; the author is ever distinguished from the person he introduces. But in an ill hour hath this unfortunate rashness stumbled upon the mention of miming, that he might at length cease, which he hath not yet since he stepped in, to gall and hurt him whom he would aid. Could he not beware, could he not bethink him, was he so uncircumspect as not to foresee, that no sooner would that word mime be set eye on in the paper, but it would bring to mind that wretched pilgrimage over Minshew’s dictionary called “Mundus alter et idem,” the idlest and paltriest mime that ever mounted upon bank? Let him ask “the author of those toothless satires,” who was the maker, or rather the anticreator of that universal foolery, who he was, who like that other principal of the Manichees the arch evil one, when he had looked upon all that he had made and mapped out, could say no other but contrary to the divine mouth, that it was all very foolish. That grave and noble invention, which the greatest and sublimest wits in sundry ages, Plato in Critias, and our two famous countrymen, the one in his “Utopia,” the other in his “New Atlantis,” chose, I may not say as a field, but as a mighty continent, wherein to display the largeness of their spirits, by teaching this our world better and exacter things than were yet known or used: this petty previcator of America, the zany of Columbus, (for so he must be till his world’s end,) having rambled over the huge topography of his own vain thoughts, no marvel if he brought us home nothing but a mere tankard drollery, a venereous parjetory for stews. Certainly, he that could endure with a sober pen, to sit and devise laws for drunkards to carouse by, I doubt me whether the very soberness of such a one, like an unliquored Silenus, were not stark drunk. Let him go now and brand another man injuriously with the name of Mime, being himself the loosest and most extravagant Mime that hath been heard of, whom no less than almost half the world could serve for stage-room to play the Mime in. And let him advise again with Sir Francis Bacon, whom he cites to confute others, what it is “to turn the sins of Christendoin into a mimical mockery, to rip up the saddest vices with a laughing countenance,” especially where neither reproof nor better teaching is adjoined. Nor is my meaning, readers, to shift off a blame from myself, by charging the like upon my accuser, but shall only desire, that sentence may be respited, till I can come to some instance whereto I may give answer.
Thus having spent his first onset, not in confuting, but in a reasonless defaming of the book, the method of his malice hurries him to attempt the like against the author; not by proofs and testimonies, but “having no certain notice of me,” as he professes, “further than what he gathers from the animadversions,” blunders at me for the rest, and flings out stray crimes at a venture, which he could never, though he be a serpent, suck from any thing that I have written, but from his own stuffed magazine, and hoard of slanderous inventions, over and above that which he converted to venom in the drawing. To me, readers, it happens as a singular contentment; and let it be to good men no light satisfaction, that the slanderer here confesses, he has “no further notice of me than his own conjecture.” Although it had been honest to have inquired, before he uttered such infamous words, and I am credibly informed he did inquire; but finding small comfort from the intelligence which he received, whereon to ground the falsities which he had provided, thought it his likeliest course under a pretended ignorance to let drive at random, lest he should lose his odd ends, which from some penurious book of characters he had been culling out and would fain apply. Not caring to burden me with those vices, whereof, among whom my conversation hath been, I have been ever least suspected; perhaps not without some subtlety to cast me into envy, by bringing on me a necessity to enter into mine own praises. In which argument I know every wise man is more unwillingly drawn to speak, than the most repining ear can be averse to hear. Nevertheless, since I dare not wish to pass this life unpersecuted of slanderous tongues, for God hath told us that to be generally praised is woeful, I shall rely on his promise to free the innocent from causeless aspersions: whereof nothing sooner can assure me, than if I shall feel him now assisting me in the just vindication of myself, which yet I could defer, it being more meet, that to those other matters of public debatement in this book I should give attendance first, but that I fear it would but harm the truth for me to reason in her behalf, so long as I should suffer my honest estimation to lie unpurged from these insolent suspicions. And if I shall be large, or unwonted in justifying myself to those who know me not, for else it would be needless, let them consider that a short slander will ofttimes reach further than a long apology; and that he who will do justly to all men, must begin from knowing how, if it so happen, to be not unjust to himself. I must be thought, if this libeller (for now he shows himself to be so) can find belief, after an inordinate and riotous youth spent at the university, to have been at length “vomited out thence.” For which commodious lie, that he may be encouraged in the trade another time, I thank him; for it hath given me an apt occasion to acknowledge publicly with all grateful mind, that more than ordinary favour and respect, which I found above any of my equals at the hands of those courteous and learned men, the fellows of that college wherein I spent some years: who at my parting, after I had taken two degrees, as the manner is, signified many ways, how much better it would content them that I would stay; as by many letters full of kindness and loving respect, both before that time, and long after, I was assured of their singular good affection towards me. Which being likewise propense to all such as were for their studious and civil life worthy of esteem, I could not wrong their judgments, and upright intentions, so much as to think I had that regard from them for other cause, than that I might be still encouraged to proceed in the honest and laudable courses, of which they apprehended I had given good proof. And to those ingenuous and friendly men, who were ever the countenances of virtuous and hopeful wits, I wish the best and happiest things, that friends in absence wish one to another. As for the common approbation or dislike of that place, as now it is, that I should esteem or disesteem myself, or any other the more for that; too simple and too credulous is the confuter, if he think to obtain with me, or any right discerner. Of small practice were that physician, who could not judge by what both she or her sister hath of long time vomited, that the worser stuff she strongly keeps in her stomach, but the better she is ever kecking at, and is queasy. She vomits now out of sickness: but ere it will be well with her, she must vomit by strong physic. In the mean time that suburb sink, as this rude scavenger calls it, and more than scurrilously taunts it with the plague, having a worse plague in his middle entrail, that suburb wherein I dwell shall be in my account a more honourable place than his university. Which as in the time of her better health, and mine own younger judgment, I never greatly admired, so now much less. But he follows me to the city, still usurping and forging beyond his book notice, which only he affirms to have had; “and where my morning haunts are, he wisses not.” It is wonder, that being so rare an alchymist of slander, he could not extract that, as well as the university vomit, and the suburb sink which his art could distill so cunningly; but because his limbec fails him, to give him and envy the more vexation, I will tell him. Those morning haunts are where they should be, at home; not sleeping, or concocting the surfeits of an irregular feast, but up and stirring, in winter often ere the sound of any bell awake men to labour, or to devotion; in summer as oft with the bird that first rouses, or not much tardier, to read good authors, or cause them to be read, till the attention be weary, or memory have its full fraught: then with useful and generous labours preserving the body’s health and hardiness to render lightsome, clear, and not lumpish obedience to the mind, to the cause of religion, and our country’s liberty, when it shall require firm hearts in sound bodies to stand and cover their stations, rather than to see the ruin of our protestation, and the inforcement of a slavish life. These are the morning practices; proceed now to the afternoon; “in playhouses,” he says, “and the bordelloes.” Your intelligence, unfaithful spy of Canaan? He gives in his evidence, that “there he hath traced me.” Take him at his word, readers, but let him bring good sureties ere ye dismiss him, that while he pretended to dog others, he did not turn in for his own pleasure: for so much in effect he concludes against himself, not contented to be caught in every other gin, but he must be such a novice, as to be still hampered in his own hemp. In the animadversions, saith he, I find the mention of old cloaks, false beards, nightwalkers, and salt lotion; therefore the animadverter haunts playhouses and bordelloes; for if he did not, how could he speak of such gear? Now that he may know what it is to be a child, and yet to meddle with edged tools, I turn his antistrophon upon his own head; the confuter knows that these things are the furniture of playhouses and bordelloes; therefore by the same reason “the confuter himself hath been traced in those places.” Was it such a dissolute speech, telling of some politicians who were wont to evesdrop in disguises, to say they were often liable to a nightwalking cudgeller, or the emptying of a urinal? What if I had writ as your friend the author of the aforesaid mime, “Mundus alter et idem,” to have been ravished like some young Cephalus or Hylas, by a troop of camping housewives in Viraginea, and that he was there forced to swear himself an uxorious varlet; then after a long servitude to have come into Aphrodisia that pleasant country, that gave such a sweet smell to his nostrils among the shameless courtezans of Desvergonia? Surely he would have then concluded me as constant at the bordello, as the galley-slave at his oar. But since there is such necessity to the hearsay of a tire, a periwig, or a vizard, that plays must have been seen, what difficulty was there in that? when in the colleges so many of the young divines, and those in next aptitude to divinity, have been seen so often upon the stage, writhing and unboning their clergy limbs to all the antic and dishonest gestures of Trinculoes, buffoons, and bawds; prostituting the shame of that ministry, which either they had, or were nigh having, to the eyes of courtiers and court ladies, with their grooms and mademoiselles. There while they acted and overacted, among other young scholars, I was a spectator; they thought themselves gallant men, and I thought them fools; they made sport, and I laughed; they mispronounced, and I misliked; and to make up the atticism, they were out, and I hissed. Judge now whether so many good text-men were not sufficient to instruct me of false beards and vizards, without more expositors; and how can this confuter take the face to object to me the seeing of that, which his reverend prelates allow, and incite their young disciples to act? For if it be unlawful to sit and behold a mercenary comedian personating that which is least unseemly for a hireling to do, how much more blameful is it to endure the sight of as vile things acted by persons either entered or presently to enter into the ministry; and how much more foul and ignominious for them to be the actors!
But because as well by this upbraiding to me the bordelloes, as by other suspicious glancings in his book, he would seem privily to point me out to his readers, as one whose custom of life were not honest, but licentious; I shall intreat to be borne with, though I digress; and in a way not often trod, acquaint ye with the sum of my thoughts in this matter, through the course of my years and studies. Although I am not ignorant how hazardous it will be to do this under the nose of the envious, as it were in skirmish to change the compact order, and instead of outward actions, to bring inmost thoughts into front. And I must tell ye, readers, that by this sort of men I have been already bitten at; yet shall they not for me know how slightly they are esteemed, unless they have so much learning as to read what in Greek απειϱοϰαλία is, which, together with envy, is the common disease of those who censure books that are not for their reading. With me it fares now, as with him whose outward garment hath been injured and illbedighted; for having no other shift, what help but to turn the inside outwards, especially if the lining be of the same, or, as it is sometimes, much better? So if my name and outward demeanour be not evident enough to defend me, I must make trial, if the discovery of my inmost thoughts can: wherein of two purposes both honest, and both sincere, the one perhaps I shall not miss; although I fail to gain belief with others, of being such as my perpetual thoughts shall here disclose me, I may yet not fail of success in persuading some to be such really themselves, as they cannot believe me to be more than I what fain. I had my time, readers, as others have, who have good learning bestowed upon them, to be sent to those places, where the opinion was, it might be soonest attained; and as the manner is, was not unstudied in those authors which are most commended; whereof some were grave orators and historians, whose matter methought I loved indeed, but as my age then was, so I understood them; others were the smooth elegiac poets, whereof the schools are not scarce, whom both for the pleasing sound of their numerous writing, which in imitation I found most easy, and most agreeable to nature’s part in me, and for their matter, which what it is, there be few who know not, I was so allured to read, that no recreation came to me better welcome: for that it was then those years with me which are excused, though they be least severe, I may be saved the labour to remember ye. Whence having observed them to account it the chief glory of their wit, in that they were ablest to judge, to praise, and by that could esteem themselves worthiest to love those high perfections, which under one or other name they took to celebrate; I thought with myself by every instinct and presage of nature, which is not wont to be false, that what emboldened them to this task, might with such diligence as they used embolden me; and that what judgment, wit, or elegance was my share, would herein best appear, and best value itself, by how much more wisely, and with more love of virtue I should choose (let rude ears be absent) the object of not unlike praises: for albeit these thoughts to some will seem virtuous and commendable, to others only pardonable, to a third sort perhaps idle; yet the mentioning of them now will end in serious. Nor blame it, readers, in those years to propose to themselves such a reward, as the noblest dispositions above other things in this life have sometimes preferred: whereof not to be sensible when good and fair in one person meet, argues both a gross and shallow judgment, and withal an ungentle; and swainish breast; for by the firm settling of these persuasions, I became, to my best memory, so much a proficient, that if I found those authors any where speaking unworthy things of themselves, or unchaste of those names which before they had extolled; this effect it wrought with me, from that time forward their art I still applauded, but the men I deplored; and above them all, preferred the two famous renowners of Beatrice and Laura, who never write but honour of them to whom they devote their verse, displaying sublime and pure thoughts, without transgression. And long it was not after, when I was confirmed in this opinion, that he who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, ought himself to be a true poem; that is, a composition and pattern of the best and honourablest things; not presuming to sing high praises of heroic men, or famous cities, unless he have in himself the experience and the practice of all that which is praiseworthy. These reasonings, together with a certain niceness of nature, an honest haughtiness, and self-esteem either of what I was, or what I might be, (which let envy call pride,) and lastly that modesty, whereof though not in the titlepage, yet here I may be excused to make some beseeming profession; all these uniting the supply of their natural aid together, kept me still above those low descents of mind, beneath which he must deject and plunge himself, that can agree to salable and unlawful prostitution.
Next, (for hear me out now, readers,) that I may tell ye whither my younger feet wandered; I betook me among those lofty fables and romances, which recount in solemn cantoes the deeds of knighthood founded by our victorious kings, and from hence had in renown over all Christendom. There I read it in the oath of every knight, that he should defend to the expense of his best blood, or of his life, if it so befel him, the honour and chastity of virgin or matron; from whence even then I learned what a noble virtue chastity sure must be, to the defence of which so many worthies, by such a dear adventure of themselves had sworn; and if I found in the story afterward, any of them, by word or deed, breaking that oath, I judged it the same fault of the poet, as that which is attributed to Homer, to have written indecent things of the gods: only this my mind gave me, that every free and gentle spirit, without that oath, ought to be born a knight, nor needed to expect the gilt spur, or the laying of a sword upon his shoulder to stir him up both by his counsel and his arms, to secure and protect the weakness of any attempted chastity. So that even these books, which to many others have been the fuel of wantonness and loose living, I cannot think how, unless by divine indulgence, proved to me so many incitements, as you have heard, to the love and steadfast observation of that virtue which abhors the society of bordelloes. Thus from the laureat fraternity of poets, riper years and the ceaseless round of study and reading led me to the shady spaces of philosophy; but chiefly to the divine volumes of Plato, and his equal Xenophon: where, if I should tell ye what I learnt of chastity and love, I mean that which is truly so, whose charming cup is only virtue, which she bears in her hand to those who are worthy; (the rest are cheated with a thick intoxicating potion, which a certain sorceress, the abuser of love’s name, carries about;) and how the first and chiefest office of love begins and ends in the soul, producing those happy twins of her divine generation, knowledge and virtue: with such abstracted sublimities as these, it might be worth your listening, readers, as I may one day hope to have ye in a still time, when there shall be no chiding; not in these noises, the adversary, as ye know, barking at the door, or searching for me at the bordelloes, where it may be he has lost himself, and raps up without pity the sage and rheumatic old prelatess, with all her young Corinthian laity, to inquire for such a one. Last of all, not in time, but as perfection is last, that care was ever had of me, with my earliest capacity, not to be negligently trained in the precepts of Christian religion: this that I have hitherto related, hath been to show, that though Christianity had been but slightly taught me, yet a certain reservedness of natural disposition, and moral discipline, learnt out of the noblest philosophy, was enough to keep me in disdain of far less incontinences than this of the bordello. But having had the doctrine of Holy Scripture, unfolding those chaste and high mysteries, with timeliest care infused, that “the body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body;” thus also I argued to myself, that if unchastity in a woman, whom St. Paul terms the glory of man, be such a scandal and dishonour, then certainly in a man, who is both the image and glory of God, it must, though commonly not so thought, be much more deflowering and dishonourable; in that he sins both against his own body, which is the perfecter sex, and his own glory, which is in the woman; and that which is worst, against the image and glory of God which is in himself. Nor did I slumber over that place, expressing such high rewards of ever accompanying the Lamb, with those celestial songs to others inapprehensible, but not to those who were not defiled with women, which doubtless means fornication; for marriage must not be called a defilement. Thus large I have purposely been, that if I have been justly taxed with this crime, it may come upon me, after all this my confession, with a tenfold shame: but if I have hitherto deserved no such opprobrious word, or suspicion, I may hereby engage myself now openly to the faithful observation of what I have professed. I go on to show you the unbridled impudence of this loose railer, who, having once begun his race, regards not how far he flies out beyond all truth and shame; who from the single notice of the Animadversions, as he protests, will undertake to tell ye the very clothes I wear, though he be much mistaken in my wardrobe: and like a son of Belial, without the hire of Jezebel, charges me “of blaspheming God and the king,” as ordinarily as he imagines “me to drink sack and swear,” merely because this was a shred in his commonplace book, and seemed to come off roundly, as if he were some empiric of false accusations, to try his poisons upon me, whether they would work or no. Whom what should I endeavour to refute more, whenas that book, which is his only testimony, returns the lie upon him; not giving him the least hint of the author to be either a swearer or a sack drinker. And for the readers, if they can believe me, principally for those reasons which I have alleged, to be of life and purpose neither dishonest nor unchaste, they will be easily induced to think me sober both of wine and of word; but if I have been already successless in persuading them, all that I can further say, will be but vain; and it will be better thrift to save two tedious labours, mine of excusing, and theirs of needless hearing.
Proceeding further, I am met with a whole ging of words and phrases not mine, for he hath maimed them, and, like a sly depraver, mangled them in this his wicked limbo, worse than the ghost of Deiphobus appeared to his friend Æneas. Here I scarce know them, and he that would, let him repair to the place in that book where I set them: for certainly this tormentor of semicolons is as good at dismembering and slitting sentences, as his grave fathers the prelates have been at stigmatizing and slitting noses. By such handicraft as this, what might he not traduce? Only that odour, which being his own, must needs offend his sense of smelling, since he will needs bestow his foot among us, and not allow us to think he wears a sock, I shall endeavour it may be offenceless to other men’s ears. The Remonstrant, having to do with grave and reverend men his adversaries, thought it became him to tell them in scorn, that “the bishop’s foot had been in their book and confuted it;” which when I saw him arrogate, to have done that with his heels that surpassed the best consideration of his head, to spurn a confutation among respected men, I questioned not the lawfulness of moving his jollity to bethink him, what odour a sock would have in such painful business. And this may have chanced to touch him more nearly than I was aware; for indeed a bishop’s foot that hath all his toes maugre the gout, and a linen sock over it, is the aptest emblem of the prelate himself; who being a pluralist, may under one surplice, which is also linen, hide four benefices, besides the metropolitan toe, and sends a fouler stench to heaven, than that which this young queasiness retches at. And this is the immediate reason here why our enraged confuter, that he may be as perfect a hypocrite as Caiaphas, ere he be a high-priest, cries out, “Horrid blasphemy!” and, like a recreant Jew, calls for stones. I beseech ye, friends, ere the brickbats fly, resolve me and yourselves, is it blasphemy, or any whit disagreeing from Christian meekness, whenas Christ himself, speaking of unsavoury traditions, scruples not to name the dunghill and the jakes, for me to answer a slovenly wincer of a confutation, that if he would needs put his foot to such a sweaty service, the odour of his sock was like to be neither musk nor benjamin? Thus did that foolish monk in a barbarous declamation accuse Petrarch of blasphemy for dispraising the French wines. But this which follows is plain bedlam stuff, this is the demoniac legion indeed, which the Remonstrant feared had been against him, and now he may see is for him. “You that love Christ,” saith he, “and know this mis creant wretch, stone him to death, lest you smart for his impunity.” What thinks the Remonstrant? does he like that such words as these should come out of his shop, out of his Trojan horse? To give the watch-word like a Guisian of Paris to a mutiny or massacre; to proclaim a croisade against his fellow Christian now in this troublous and divided time of the kingdom? If he do, I shall say that to be the Remonstrant, is no better than to be a Jesuit; and that if he and his accomplices could do as the rebels have done in Ireland to the protestants, they would do in England the same to them that would no prelates. For a more seditious and butcherly speech no cell of Loyola could have belched against one who in all his writings spake not, that any man’s skin should be raised. And yet this cursing Shimei, a hurler of stones, as well as a railer, wants not the face instantly to make as though he “despaired of victory, unless a modest defence would get it him.” Did I err at all, readers, to foretell ye, when first I met with his title, that the epithet of modest there was a certain red portending sign, that he meant ere long to be most tempestuously bold and shameless? Nevertheless, “he dares not say but there may be hid in his nature as much venomous atheism and profanation, as he thinks hath broke out at his adversary’s lips; but he hath not the sore running upon him,” as he would intimate I have. Now trust me not, readers, if I be not already weary of pluming and footing this sea-gull, so open he lies to strokes, and never offers at another, but brings home the dorre upon himself. For if the sore be running upon me, in all judgment I have escaped the disease; but he who hath as much hid in him, as he hath voluntarily confessed, and cannot expel it, because he is dull, (for venomous atheism were no treasure to be kept within him else,) let him take the part he hath chosen, which must needs follow, to swell and burst with his own inward venom.
But mark, readers, there is a kind of justice observed among them that do evil, but this man loves injustice in the very order of his malice. For having all this while abused the good name of his adversary with all manner of licence in revenge of his Remonstrant, if they be not both one person, or as I am told, father and son, yet after all this he calls for satisfaction, whenas he himself hath already taken the utmost farthing. “Violence hath been done,” says he, “to the person of a holy and religious prelate.” To which, something in effect to what St. Paul answered of Ananias, I answer, “I wist not, brethern, that he was a holy and religious prelate;” for evil is written of those who would be prelates. And finding him thus in disguise without his superscription or phylactery either of holy or prelate, it were no sin to serve him as Longchamp bishop of Ely was served in his disguise at Dover: he hath begun the measure nameless, and when he pleases we may all appear as we are. And let him be then what he will, he shall be to me so as I find him principled. For neither must prelate or archprelate hope to exempt himself from being reckoned as one of the vulgar, which is for him only to hope whom true wisdom and the contempt of vulgar opinions exempts, it being taught us in the Psalms, that he who is in honour and understandeth not, is as the beasts that perish. And now first “the manner of handling that cause,” which I undertook, he thinks is suspicious, as if the wisest and the best words were not ever to some or other suspicious. But where is the offence, the disagreement from Christian meekness, or the precept of Solomon in answering folly? When the Remonstrant talks of froth and scum, I tell him there is none, and bid him spare his ladle: when he brings in the mess with keal, beef, and brewess, what stomach in England could forbear to call for flanks and briskets? Capon and white broth having been likely sometimes in the same room with Christ and his apostles, why does it trouble him, that it should be now in the same leaf, especially where the discourse is not continued, but interrupt? And let him tell me, is he wont to say grace, doth he not then name holiest names over the steam of costliest superfluities? Does he judge it foolish or dishonest, to write that among religious things, which, when he talks of religious things, he can devoutly chew? Is he afraid to name Christ where those things are written in the same leaf, whom he fears not to name while the same things are in his mouth? Doth not Christ himself teach the highest things by the similitude of old bottles and patched clothes? Doth he not illustrate best things by things most evil? his own coming to be as a thief in the night, and the righteous man’s wisdom to that of an unjust steward? He might therefore have done better to have kept in his canting beggars, and heathen altar, to sacrifice his threadbare criticism of Bomolochus to an unseasonable goddess fit for him called Importunity, and have reserved his Greek derivation till he lecture to his fresh men, for here his itching pedantry is but flouted.
But to the end that nothing may be omitted, which may farther satisfy any conscionable man, who, notwithstanding what I could explain before the Animadversions, remains yet unsatified concerning that way of writing which I there defended, but this confuter, whom it pinches, utterly disapproves; I shall essay once again, and perhaps with more success. If therefore the question were in oratory, whether a vehement vein throwing out indignation or scorn upon an object that merits it, were among the aptest ideas of speech to be allowed, it were my work, and that an easy one, to make it clear both by the rules of best rhetoricians, and the famousest examples of the Greek and Roman orations. But since the religion of it is disputed, and not the art, I shall make use only of such reasons and authorities, as religion cannot except against. It will be harder to gainsay, than for me to evince, that in the teaching of men diversely tempered, different ways are to be tried. The Baptist, we know, was a strict man, remarkable for austerity and set order of life. Our Saviour, who had all gifts in him, was Lord to express his indoctrinating power in what sort him best seemed; sometimes by a mild and familiar converse; sometimes with plain and impartial home-speaking, regardless of those whom the auditors might think he should have had in more respect; other while, with bitter and ireful rebukes, if not teaching, yet leaving excuseless those his wilful impugners. What was all in him, was divided among many others the teachers of his church; some to be severe and ever of a sad gravity, that they may win such, and check sometimes those who be of nature over-confident and jocund; others were sent more cheerful, free, and still as it were at large, in the midst of an untrespassing honesty; that they who are so tempered, may have by whom they might be drawn to salvation, and they who are too scrupulous, and dejected of spirit, might be often strengthened with wise consolations and revivings: no man being forced wholly to dissolve that groundwork of nature which God created in him, the sanguine to empty out all his sociable liveliness, the choleric to expel quite the unsinning predominance of his anger; but that each radical humour and passion, wrought upon and corrected as it ought, might be made the proper mould and foundation of every man’s peculiar gifts and virtues. Some also were indued with a staid moderation and soundness of argument, to teach and convince the rational and soberminded; yet not therefore that to be thought the only expedient course of teaching, for in times of opposition, when either against new herersies arising, or old corruptions to be reformed, this cool unpassionate mildness of positive wisdom is not enough to damp and astonish the proud resistance of carnal and false doctors, then (that I may have leave to soar awhile as the poets use) Zeal, whose substance is ethereal, arming in complete diamond, ascends his fiery chariot drawn with two blazing meteors, figured like beasts, out of a higher breed than any the zodiac yields, resembling two of those four which Ezekiel and St. John saw; the one visaged like a lion, to express power, high authority, and indignation; the other of countenance like a man, to cast derision and scorn upon perverse and fraudulent seducers: with these the invincible warrior, Zeal, shaking loosely the slack reins, drives over the heads of scarlet prelates, and such as are insolent to maintain traditions, bruising their stiff necks under his flaming wheels. Thus did the true prophets of old combat with the false; thus Christ himself, the fountain of meekness, found acrimony enough to be still galling and vexing the prelatical pharisees. But ye will say, these had immediate warrant from God to be thus bitter; and I say so much the plainer is it proved, that there may be a sanctified bitterness against the enemies of truth. Yet that ye may not think inspiration only the warrant thereof, but that it is as any other virtue, of moral and general observation, the example of Luther may stand for all, whom God made choice of before others to be of highest eminence and power in reforming the church; who, not of revelation, but of judgment, writ so vehemently against the chief defenders of old untruths in the Romish church, that his own friends and favourers were many times offended with the fierceness of his spirit; yet he being cited before Charles the Fifth to answer for his books, and having divided them into three sorts, whereof one was of those which he had sharply written, refused, though upon deliberation given him, to retract or unsay any word therein, as we may read in Sleidan. Yea, he defends his eagerness, as being “of an ardent spirit, and one who could not write a dull style;” and affirmed, “he thought it God’s will, to have the inventions of men thus laid open, seeing that matters quietly handled were quickly forgot.” And herewithal how useful and available God hath made his tart rhetoric in the church’s cause, he often found by his own experience. For when he betook himself to lenity and moderation, as they call it, he reaped nothing but contempt both from Cajetan and Erasmus, from Cocleus, from Ecchius, and others; insomuch that blaming his friends, who had so counselled him, he resolved never to run into the like error: if at other times he seem to excuse his vehemence, as more than what was meet, I have not examined through his works, to know how far he gave way to his own fervent mind; it shall suffice me to look to mine own. And this I shall easily aver, though it may seem a hard saying, that the Spirit of God, who is purity itself, when he would reprove any fault severely, or but relate things done or said with indignation by others, abstains not from some words not civil at other times to be spoken. Omitting that place in Numbers at the killing of Zimri and Cosbi; done by Phineas in the height of zeal, related, as the rabbins expound, not without an obscene word; we may find in Deuteronomy and three of the prophets, where, God, denouncing bitterly the punishments of idolaters, tells them in a term immodest to be uttered in cool blood, that their wives shall be defiled openly. But these, they will say, were honest words in that age when they were spoken. Which is more than any rabbin can prove; and certainly had God been so minded, he could have picked such words as should never have come into abuse. What will they say to this? David going against Nabal, in the very same breath when he had just before named the name of God, he vows not “to leave any alive of Nabal’s house that pisseth against the wall.” But this was unadvisedly spoken, you will answer, and set down to aggravate his infirmity. Turn then to the first of Kings, where God himself uses the phrase “I will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall.” Which had it been an unseemly speech in the heat of an earnest expression, then we must conclude that Jonathan or Onkelos the targumists were of cleaner language than he that made the tongue; for they render it as briefly, “I will cut off all who are at years of discretion,” that is to say, so much discretion as to hide nakedness. Whereas God, who is the author both of purity and eloquence, chose this phrase as fittest in that vehement character wherein he spake. Otherwise that plain word might have easily been forborne: which the masoreths and rabbinical scholiasts, not well attending, have often used to blur the margent with Keri instead of Ketiv, and gave us this insulse rule out of their Talmud, “That all words which in the law are written obscenely, must be changed to more civil words:” fools, who would teach men to read more decently than God thought good to write. And thus I take it to be manifest, that indignation against men and their actions notoriously bad hath leave and authority ofttimes to utter such words and phrases, as in common talk were not so mannerly to use. That ye may know, not only as the historian speaks, “that all those things for which men plough, build, or sail, obey virtue,” but that all words, and whatsoever may be spoken, shall at some time in an unwonted manner wait upon her purposes.
Now that the confutant may also know as he desires, what force of teaching there is sometimes in laughter; I shall return him in short, that laughter being one way of answering “a fool according to his folly,” teaches two sorts of persons, first, the fool himself “not to be wise in his own conceit,” as Solomon affirms; which is certainly a great document to make an unwise man know himself. Next, it teacheth the hearers, in as much as scorn is one of those punishments, which belong to men carnally wise, which is oft in Scripture declared; for when such are punished, “the simple are thereby made wise,” if Solomon’s rule be true. And I would ask, to what end Elijah mocked the false prophets? was it to show his wit, or to fulfil his humour? Doubtless we cannot imagine that great servant of God had any other, end, in all which he there did, but to teach and instruct the poor misled people. And we may frequently read, that many of the martyrs in the midst of their troubles were not sparing to deride and scoff their superstitious persecutors. Now may the confutant advise again with Sir Francis Bacon, whether Elijah and the martyrs did well to turn religion into a comedy or satire; “to rip up the wounds of idolatry and superstition with a laughing countenance:” so that for pious gravity the author here is matched and overmatched, and for wit and morality in one that follows:
Thus Flaccus in his first satire, and his tenth:
I could urge the same out of Cicero and Seneca, but he may content him with this. And henceforward, if he can learn, may know as well what are the bounds and objects of laughter and vehement reproof, as he hath known hitherto how to deserve them both. But lest some may haply think, or thus expostulate with me after this debatement, who made you the busy almoner to deal about this dole of laughter and reprehension, which no man thanks your bounty for? To the urbanity of that man I should answer much after this sort: that I, friend objector, having read of heathen philosophers, some to have taught, that whosoever would but use his ear to listen, might hear the voice of his guiding genius ever before him, calling, and as it were pointing to that way which is his part to follow; others, as the stoics, to account reason, which they call the Hegemonicon, to be the common Mercury conducting without error those that give themselves obediently to be led accordingly: having read this, I could not esteem so poorly of the faith which I profess, that God had left nothing to those who had forsaken all other doctrines for his, to be an inward witness and warrant of what they have to do, as that they should need to measure themselves by other men’s measures, how to give scope or limit to their proper actions; for that were to make us the most at a stand, the most uncertain and accidental wanderers in our doings, of all religions in the world. So that the question ere while moved, who is he that spends thus the benevolence of laughter and reproof so liberally upon such men as the prelates, may return with a more just demand, who he is not of place and knowledge never so mean, under whose contempt and jerk these men are not deservedly fallen? Neither can religion receive any wound by disgrace thrown upon the prelates, since religion and they surely were never in such amity. They rather are the men who have wounded religion, and their stripes must heal her. I might also tell them what Electra in Sophocles, a wise virgin, answered her wicked mother, who thought herself too violently reproved by her the daughter:
If therefore the Remonstrant complain of libels, it is because he feels them to be right aimed. For I ask again, as before in the Animadversions, how long is it since he hath disrelished libels? We never heard the least mutter of his voice against them while they flew abroad without control or check, defaming the Scots and Puritans. And yet he can remember of none but Lysimachus Nicanor, and “that he misliked and censured.” No more but of one can the Remonstrant remember? What if I put him in mind of one more? What if of one more whereof the Remonstrant in many likelihoods may be thought the author? Did he never see a pamphlet intitled after his own fashion, “A Survey of that foolish, seditious, scandalous profane Libel, the Protestation protested?” The child doth not more expressly refigure the visage of his father, than that book resembles the style of the Remonstrant, in those idioms of speech, wherein he seems most to delight: and in the seventeenth page, three lines together are taken out of the Remonstrance word for word, not as a citation, but as an author borrows from himself. Whoever it be, he may as justly be said to have libelled, as he against whom he writes: there ye shall find another man than is here made show of; there he bites as fast as this whines. “Vinegar in the ink” is there “the antidote of vipers.” Laughing in a religious controversy is there “a thrifty physic to expel his melancholy.” In the mean time the testimony of Sir Francis Bacon was not misalleged, complaining that libels on the bishops’ part were uttered openly; and if he hoped the prelates had no intelligence with the libellers, he delivers it but as his favourable opinion. But had he contradicted himself, how could I assoil him here, more than a little before, where I know not how, by entangling himself, he leaves an aspersion upon Job, which by any else I never heard laid to his charge? For having affirmed that “there is no greater confusion than the confounding of jest and earnest,” presently he brings the example of Job, “glancing at conceits of mirth, when he sat among the people with the gravity of a judge upon him.” If jest and earnest be such a confusion, then were the people much wiser than Job, for “he smiled, and they believed him not.” To defend libels, which is that whereof I am next accused, was far from my purpose. I had not so little share in good name, as to give another that advantage against myself. The sum of what I said was, that a more free permission of writing at some times might be profitable, in such a question especially wherein the magistrates are not fully resolved; and both sides have equal liberty to write, as now they have. Not as when the prelates bore sway, in whose time the books of some men were confuted, when they who should have answered were in close prison, denied the use of pen or paper. And the divine right of episcopacy was then valiantly asserted, when he who would have been respondent must have bethought himself withal how he could refute the Clink or the Gatehouse. If now therefore they be pursued with bad words, who persecuted others with bad deeds, it is a way to lessen tumult rather than to increase it; whenas anger thus freely vented, spends itself ere it break out into action, though Machiavel, whom he cites, or any other Machiavelian priest, think the contrary.
Now, readers, I bring ye to his third section; wherein very cautiously and no more than needs, lest I should take him for some chaplain at hand, some squire of the body to his prelate, one that serves not at the altar only, but at the court cupboard, he will bestow on us a pretty model of himself; and sobs me out of half a dozen phthisical mottoes wherever he had them, hopping short in the measure of convulsion-fits; in which labour the agony of his wit having escaped narrowly, instead of well-sized periods, he greets us with a quantity of thumb-ring posies. “He has a fortune therefore good, because he is content with it.” This is a piece of sapience not worth the brain of a fruit trencher; as if content were the measure of what is good or bad in the gift of fortune. For by this rule a bad man may have a good fortune, because he may be ofttimes content with it for many reasons which have no affinity with virtue, as love of ease, want of spirit to use more, and the like. “And therefore content,” he says, “because it neither goes before, nor comes behind his merit.” Belike then if his fortune should go before his merit, he would not be content, but resign, if we believe him, which I do the less, because he implies, that if it came behind his merit, he would be content as little. Whereas if a wise man’s content should depend upon such a therefore, because his fortune came not behind his merit, how many wise men could have content in this world? In his next pithy symbol, I dare not board him, for he passes all the seven wise masters of Greece, attributing to himself that which on my life Solomon durst not: “to have affections so equally tempered, that they neither too hastily adhere to the truth before it be fully examined, nor too lazily afterward.” Which, unless he only were exempted out of the corrupt mass of Adam, born without sin original, and living without actual, is impossible. Had Solomon, (for it behoves me to instance in the wisest, dealing with such a transcendant sage as this,) had Solomon affections so equally tempered, as “not adhering too lazily to the truth,” when God warned him of his halting in idolatry? do we read that he repented hastily? did not his affections lead him hastily from an examined truth, how much more would they lead him slowly to it? Yet this man, beyond a stoic apathy, sees truth as in a rapture, and cleaves to it; not as through the dim glass of his affections, which, in this frail mansion of flesh, are ever unequally tempered, pushing forward to error, and keeping back from truth ofttimes the best of men. But how far this boaster is from knowing himself, let his preface speak. Something I thought it was, that made him so quick-sighted to gather such strange things out of the Animadversions, whereof the least conception could not be drawn from thence, of “suburb-sinks,” sometimes “out of wit and clothes,” sometimes “in new serge, drinking sack, and swearing;” now I know it was this equal temper of his affections, that gave him to see clearer than any fennel-rubbed serpent. Lastly, he has resolved “that neither person nor cause shall improper him.” I may mistake his meaning, for the word ye hear is “improper.” But whether if not a person, yet a good parsonage or impropriation bought out for him, would not “improper” him, because there may be a quirk in the word, I leave it for a canonist to resolve.
And thus ends this section, or rather dissection, of himself, short ye will say both in breadth and extent, as in our own praises it ought to be, unless wherein a good name hath been wrongfully attainted. Right; but if ye look at what he ascribes to himself, “that temper of his affections,” which cannot any where be but in Paradise, all the judicious panegyrics in any language extant, are not half so prolix. And that well appears in his next removal. For what with putting his fancy to the tiptoe in this description of himself, and what with adventuring presently to stand upon his own legs without the crutches of his margin, which is the sluice most commonly that feeds the drought of his text, he comes so lazily on in a simile, with his “armful of weeds,” and demeans himself in the dull expression so like a dough-kneaded thing, that he has not spirit enough left him so far to look to his syntax, as to avoid nonsense. For it must be understood there that the stranger, and not he who brings the bundle, would be deceived in censuring the field, which this hipshot grammarian cannot set into right frame of construction, neither here in the similitude, nor in the following reddition thereof; which being to this purpose, that “the faults of the best picked out, and presented in gross, seem monstrous; this,” saith he, “you have done, in pinning on his sleeve the faults of others;” as if to pick out his own faults, and to pin the faults of others upon him, were to do the same thing. To answer therefore how I have culled out the evil actions of the Remonstrant from his virtues, I am acquitted by the dexterity and conveyance of his nonsense, losing that for which he brought his parable. But what of other men’s faults I have pinned upon his sleeve, let him show. For whether he were the man who termed the martyrs Foxian confessors, it matters not; he that shall step up before others to defend a church-government, which wants almost no circumstance, but only a name, to be a plain popedom, a government which changes the fatherly and ever-teaching discipline of Christ into that lordly and uninstructing jurisdiction, which properly makes the pope Antichrist, makes himself an accessory to all the evil committed by those, who are armed to do mischief by that undue government; which they, by their wicked deeds, do, with a kind of passive and unwitting obedience to God, destroy; but he, by plausible words and traditions against the Scripture, obstinately seeks to maintain. They, by their own wickedness ruining their own unjust authority, make room for good to succeed; but he, by a show of good upholding the evil which in them undoes itself, hinders the good which they by accident let in. Their manifest crimes serve to bring forth an ensuing good, and hasten a remedy against themselves; and his seeming good tends to reinforce their self-punishing crimes and his own, by doing his best to delay all redress. Shall not all the mischief which other men do be laid to his charge, if they do it by that unchurch-like power which he defends? Christ saith, “he that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathers not with me, scatters.” In what degree of enmity to Christ shall we place that man then, who so is with him, as that it makes more against him; and so gathers with him, that it scatters more from him? Shall it avail that man to say he honours the martyrs’ memory, and treads in their steps? No; the pharisees confessed as much of the holy prophets. Let him, and such as he, when they are in their best actions, even at their prayers, look to hear that which the pharisees heard from John the Baptist when they least expected, when they rather looked for praise from him; “generation of vipers, who hath warned ye to flee from the wrath to come?” Now that ye have started back from the purity of Scripture, which is the only rule of reformation, to the old vomit of your traditions; now that ye have either troubled or leavened the people of God, and the doctrine of the gospel, with scandalous ceremonies and mass-borrowed liturgies, do ye turn the use of that truth which ye profess, to countenance that falsehood which ye gain by? We also reverence the martyrs, but rely only upon the Scriptures. And why we ought not to rely upon the martyrs, I shall be content with such reasons as my confuter himself affords me; who is, I must needs say for him, in that point as officious an adversary as I would wish to any man. For, “first,” saith he, “there may be a martyr in a wrong cause, and as courageous in suffering as the best; sometimes in a good cause with a forward ambition displeasing to God. Other whiles they that story of them out of blind zeal or malice, may write many things of them untruly.” If this be so, as ye hear his own confession, with what safety can the Remonstrant rely upon the martyrs as “patrons of his cause,” whenas any of those who are alleged for the approvers of our liturgy or prelaty, might have been, though not in a wrong cause, martyrs? Yet whether not vainly ambitious of that honour, or whether not misreported or misunderstood in those their opinions, God only knows. The testimony of what we believe in religion must be such as the conscience may rest on to be infallible and incorruptible, which is only the word of God.
His fifth section finds itself aggrieved that the Remonstrant should be taxed with the illegal proceeding of the high commission, and oath ex officio: and first, “whether they were illegal or no, it is more than he knows.” See this malevolent fox! that tyranny which the whole kingdom cried out against as stung with adders and scorpions, that tyranny which the parliament, in compassion of the church and commonwealth, hath dissolved and fetched up by the roots, for which it hath received the public thanks and blessings of thousands; this obscure thorn-eater of malice and detraction as well as of quodlibets and sophisms, knows not whether it were illegal or not. Evil, evil would be your reward, ye worthies of the parliament, if this sophister and his accomplices had the censuring or the sounding forth of your labours. And that the Remonstrant cannot wash his hands of all the cruelties exercised by the prelates, is past doubting. They scourged the confessors of the gospel, and he held the scourger’s garments. They executed their rage; and he, if he did nothing else, defended the government with the oath that did it, and the ceremonies which were the cause of it; does he think to be counted guiltless?
In the following section I must foretell ye, readers, the doings will be rough and dangerous, the baiting of a satire. And if the work seem more trivial or boisterous than for this discourse, let the Remonstrant thank the folly of this confuter, who could not let a private word pass, but he must make all this blaze of it. I had said, that because the Remonstrant was so much offended with those who were tart against the prelates, sure he loved toothless satires, which I took were as improper as a toothed sleekstone. This champion from behind the arras cries out, that those toothless satires were of the Remonstrant’s making; and arms himself here tooth and nail, and horn to boot, to supply the want of teeth, or rather of gums in the satires. And for an onset tells me, that the simile of a sleekstone “shows I can be as bold with a prelate as familiar with a laundress.” But does it not argue rather the lascivious promptness of his own fancy, who, from the harmless mention of a sleekstone, could neigh out the remembrance of his old conversation among the viraginian trollops? For me, if he move me, I shall claim his own oath, the oath ex officio against any priest or prelate in the kingdom, to have ever as much hated such pranks as the best and chastest of them all. That exception which I made against toothless satires, the confuter hopes I had from the satirist, but is far deceived; neither have I ever read the hobbling distich which he means. For this good hap I had from a careful education, to be inured and seasoned betimes with the best and elegantest authors of the learned tongues, and thereto brought an ear that could measure a just cadence, and scan without articulating: rather nice and humorous in what was tolerable, than patient to read every drawling versifier. Whence lighting upon this title of “toothless satires,” I will not conceal ye what I thought, readers, that sure this must be some sucking satire, who might have done better to have used his coral, and made an end of breeding, ere he took upon him to wield a satire’s whip. But when I heard him talk of “scowering the rusty swords of elvish knights,” do not blame me, if I changed my thought, and concluded him some desperate cutler. But why “his scornful muse could never abide with tragic shoes her ancles for to hide,” the pace of the verse told me that her mawkin knuckles were never shapen to that royal buskin. And turning by chance to the sixth satire of his second book, I was confirmed; where having begun loftily “in Heaven’s universal alphabet,” he falls down to that wretched poorness and frigidity, as to talk of “Bridge street in Heaven, and the Ostler of Heaven,” and there wanting other matter to catch him a heat, (for certain he was in the frozen zone miserably benummed,) with thoughts lower than any beadle betakes him to whip the signposts of Cambridge alehouses, the ordinary subject of freshmen’s tales, and in a strain as pitiful. Which for him who would be counted the first English satire, to abase himself to, who might have learned better among the Latin and Italian satirists, and in our own tongue form the “Vision and Creed of Pierce Plowman,” besides others before him, manifested a presumptuous undertaking with weak and unexamined shoulders. For a satire as it was born out of a tragedy, so ought to resemble his parentage, to strike high, and adventure dangerously at the most eminent vices among the greatest persons, and not to creep into every blind tap-house, that fears a constable more than a satire. But that such a poem should be toothless, I still affirm it to be a bull, taking away the essence of that which it calls itself. For if it bite neither the persons nor the vices, how is it a satire? And if it bite either, how is it toothless? So that toothles satires are as much as if he had said toothless teeth. What we should do therefore with this learned comment upon teeth and horns, which hath brought this confutant into his pedantic kingdom of Cornucopia, to reward him for glossing upon horns even to the Hebrew root, I know not; unless we should commend him to be lecturer in East-cheap upon St. Luke’s day, when they send their tribute to that famous haven by Deptford. But we are not like to escape him so. For now the worm of criticism works in him, he will tell us the derivation of “German rutters, of meat, and of ink,” which doubtless, rightly applied with some gall in it, may prove good to heal this tetter of pedagogism that bespreads him, with such a tenesmus of originating, that if he be an Arminian, and deny original sin, all the etymologies of his book shall witness, that his brain is not meanly tainted with that infection.
His seventh section labours to cavil out the flaws which were found in the Remonstrant’s logic; who having laid down for a general proposition, that “civil polity is variable and arbitrary,” from whence was inferred logically upon him, that he had concluded the polity of England to be arbitrary, for general includes particular; here his defendant is not ashamed to confess, that the Remonstrant’s proposition was sophistical by a fallacy called ad plures interrogationes: which sounds to me somewhat strange, that a Remonstrant of that pretended sincerity should bring deceitful and double-dealing propositions to the parliament. The truth is, he had let slip a shrewd passage ere he was aware, not thinking the conclusion would turn upon him with such a terrible edge, and not knowing how to wind out of the briars, he, or his substitute, seems more willing to lay the integrity of his logic to pawn, and grant a fallacy in his own major, where none is, than to be forced to uphold the inference. For that distinction of possible, and lawful, is ridiculous to be sought for in that proposition; no man doubting that it is possible to change the form of civil polity; and that it is held lawful by that major, the word “arbitrary” implies. Nor will this help him, to deny that it is arbitrary “at any time, or by any undertakers,” (which are the limitations invented by him since,) for when it stands as he will have it now by his second edition, “civil polity is variable, but not at any time, or by any undertakers,” it will result upon him, belike then at some time, and by some undertakers it may. And so he goes on mincing the matter, till he meets with something in Sir Francis Bacon; then he takes heart again, and holds his major at large. But by and by, as soon as the shadow of Sir Francis hath left him, he falls off again warping, and warping, till he come to contradict himself in diameter; and denies flatly that it is “either variable or arbitrary, being once settled.” Which third shift is no less a piece of laughter: for, before the polity was settled, how could it be variable, whenas it was no polity at all, but either an anarchy or a tyranny? That limitation therefore, of aftersettling, is a mere tautology. So that, in fine, his former assertion is now recanted, and “civil polity is neither variable nor arbitrary.”
Whatever else may persuade me, that this confutation was not made without some assistance or advice of the Remonstrant, yet in this eighth section that his hand was not greatly intermixed, I can easily believe. For it begins with this surmise, that “not having to accuse the Remonstrant to the king, I do it to the parliament;” which conceit of the man clearly shoves the king out of the parliament, and makes two bodies of one. Whereas the Remonstrant, in the epistle to his last “Short Answer,” gives his supposal, “that they cannot be severed in the rights of their several concernments.” Mark, readers, if they cannot be severed in what is several, (which casts a bull’s eye to go yoke with the toothless satires,) how should they be severed in their common concernments, the welfare of the land, by due accusation of such as are the common grievances, among which I took the Remonstrant to be one? And therefore if I accused him to the parliament, it was the same as to accuse him to the king? Next he casts it into the dish of I know not whom, “that they flatter some of the house, and libel others whose consciences made them vote contrary to some proceedings.” Those some proceedings can be understood of nothing else but the deputy’s execution. And can this private concoctor of malecontent, at the very instant when he pretends to extol the parliament, afford thus to blur over, rather than to mention, that public triumph of their justice and constancy, so high, so glorious, so reviving to the fainted commonwealth, with such a suspicious and murmuring expression as to call it some proceedings? And yet immediately he falls to glossing, as if he were the only man that rejoiced at these times. But I shall discover to ye, readers, that this his praising of them is as full of nonsense and scholastic foppery, as his meaning he himself discovers to be full of close malignity. His first encomium is, “that the sun looks not upon a braver, nobler convocation than is that of king, peers, and commons.” One thing I beg of ye, readers, as ye bear any zeal to learning, to elegance, and that which is called decorum in the writing of praise, especially on such a noble argument, ye would not be offended, though I rate this cloistered lubber according to his deserts. Where didst thou learn to be so aguish, so pusillanimous, thou losel bachelor of arts, as against all custom and use of speech to term the high and sovereign court of parliament, a convocation? Was this the flower of all the synonimas and voluminous papers, whose best folios are predestined to no better end than to make winding-sheets in Lent for pilchers? Couldst thou presume thus with one word’s speaking to clap as it were under hatches the king with all his peers and gentry into square caps and monkish hoods? How well dost thou now appear to be a chip of the old block, that could find “Bridge street and alehouses in heaven?” Why didst thou not, to be his perfect imitator, liken the king to the vicechancellor, and the lords, to the doctors? Neither is this an indignity only but a reproach, to call that inviolable residence of justice and liberty, by such an odious name as now a “convocation” is become, which would be nothing injured, though it were styled the house of bondage, whereout so many cruel tasks, so many unjust burdens have been laden upon the bruised consciences of so many Christians throughout the land. But which of those worthy deeds, whereof we and our posterity must confess this parliament to have done so many and so noble, which of those memorable acts comes first into his praises? None of all, not one. What will he then praise them for? Not for any thing doing, but for deferring to do, for deferring to chastise his lewd and insolent compriests: not that they have deferred all, but that he hopes they will remit what is yet behind. For the rest of his oratory that follows, so just is it in the language of stall epistle nonsense, that if he who made it can understand it, I deny not but that he may deserve for his pains a cast doublet. When a man would look he should vent something of his own, as ever in a set speech the manner is with him that knows any thing, he lest we should not take notice enough of his barren stupidity, declares it by alphabet, and refers us to odd remnants in his topics. Nor yet content with the wonted room of his margin, but he must cut out large docks and creeks into his text, to unlade the foolish frigate of his unseasonable authorities, not therewith to praise the parliament, but to tell them what he would have them do. What else there is, he jumbles together in such a lost construction, as no man, either lettered or unlettered, will be able to piece up. I shall spare to transcribe him, but if I do him wrong let me be so dealt with.
Now although it be a digression from the ensuing matter, yet because it shall not be said I am apter to blame others than to make trial myself, and that I may after this harsh discord touch upon a smoother string awhile to entertain myself and him that list, with some more pleasing fit, and not the least to testify the gratitude which I owe to those public benefactors of their country, for the share I enjoy in the common peace and good by their incessant labours; I shall be so troublesome to this declaimer for once, as to show him what he might have better said in their praise; wherein I must mention only some few things of many, for more than that to a digression may not be granted. Although certainly their actions are worthy not thus to be spoken of by the way, yet if hereafter it befall me to attempt something more answerable to their great merits, I perceive how hopeless it will be to reach the height of their praises at the accomplishment of that expectation that waits upon their noble deeds, the unfinishing whereof already surpasses what others before them have left enacted with their utmost performance through many ages. And to the end we may be confident that what they do, proceeds neither from uncertain opinion, nor sudden counsels, but from mature wisdom, deliberate virtue, and dear affection to the public good; I shall begin at that which made them likeliest in the eyes of good men to effect those things for the recovery of decayed religion and the commonwealth, which they who were best minded had long wished for, but few, as the times then were desperate, had the courage to hope for. First, therefore, the most of them being either of ancient and high nobility, or at least of known and well reputed ancestry, which is a great advantage towards virtue one way, but in respect of wealth, ease, and flattery, which accompany a nice and tender education, is as much a hinderance another way: the good which lay before them they took, in imitating the worthiest of their progenitors; and the evil which assaulted their younger years by the temptation of riches, high birth, and that usual bringing up, perhaps too favourable and too remiss, through the strength of an inbred goodness, and with the help of divine grace, that had marked them out for no mean purposes, they nobly overcame. Yet had they a greater danger to cope with; for being trained up in the knowledge of learning, and sent to those places which were intended to be the seed plots of piety and the liberal arts, but were become the nurseries of superstition and empty speculation, as they were prosperous against those vices which grow upon youth out of idleness and superfluity, so were they happy in working off the harms of their abused studies and labours; correcting by the clearness of their own judgment the errors of their misinstruction, and were, as David was, wiser than their teachers. And although their lot fell into such times, and to be bred in such places, where if they chanced to be taught any thing good, or of their own accord had learnt it, they might see that presently untaught them by the custom and ill example of their elders; so far in all probability was their youth from being misled by the single power of example, as their riper years were known to be unmoved with the baits of preferment, and undaunted for any discouragement and terror which appeared often to those that loved religion and their native liberty; which two things God hath inseparably knit together, and hath disclosed to us, that they who seek to corrupt our religion, are the same that would enthral our civil liberty. Thus in the midst of all disadvantages and disrespects, (some also at last not without imprisonment and open disgraces in the cause of their country,) having given proof of themselves to be better made and framed by nature to the love and practice of virtue, than others under the holiest precepts and best examples have been headstrong and prone to vice; and having in all the trials of a firm ingrafted honesty not oftener buckled in the conflict than given every opposition the foil; this moreover was added by favour from heaven, as an ornament and happiness to their virtue, that it should be neither obscure in the opinion of men, nor eclipsed for want of matter equal to illustrate itself; God and man consenting in joint approbation to choose them out as worthiest above others to be both the great reformers of the church, and the restorers of the commonwealth. Nor did they deceive that expectation which with the eyes and desires of their country was fixed upon them; for no sooner did the force of so much united excellence meet in one globe of brightness and efficacy, but encountering the dazzled resistance of tyranny, they gave not over, though their enemies were strong and subtle, till they had laid her groveling upon the fatal block; with one stroke winning again our lost liberties and charters, which our forefathers after so many battles could scarce maintain. And meeting next, as I may so resemble, with the second life of tyranny (for she was grown an ambiguous monster, and to be slain in two shapes) guarded with superstition, which hath no small power to captivate the minds of men otherwise most wise, they neither were taken with her mitred hypocrisy, nor terrified with the push of her bestial horns, but breaking them, immediately forced her to unbend the pontifical brow, and recoil; which repulse only given to the prelates (that we may imagine how happy their removal would be) was the producement of such glorious effects and consequences in the church, that if I should compare them with those exploits of highest fame in poems and panegyrics of old, I am certain it would but diminish and impair their worth, who are now my argument; for those ancient worthies delivered men from such tyrants as were content to inforce only an outward obedience, letting the mind be as free as it could; but these have freed us from a doctrine of tyranny, that offered violence and corruption even to the inward persuasion. They set at liberty nations and cities of men good and bad mixed together; but these opening the prisons and dungeons, called out of darkness and bonds the elect martyrs and witnesses of their Redeemer. They restored the body to ease and wealth; but these, the oppressed conscience to that freedom which is the chief prerogative of the gospel; taking off those cruel burdens imposed not by necessity, as other tyrants are wont for a safeguard of their lives, but laid upon our necks by the strange wilfulness and wantonness of a needless and jolly persecutor called Indifference. Lastly, some of those ancient deliverers have had immortal praises for preserving their citizens from a famine of corn. But these, by this only repulse of an unholy hierarchy, almost in a moment replenished with saving knowledge their country nigh famished for want of that which should feed their souls. All this being done while two armies in the field stood gazing on, the one in reverence of such nobleness quietly gave back and dislodged; the other, spite of the unruliness, and doubted fidelity in some regiments, was either persuaded or compelled to disband and retire home. With such a majesty had their wisdom begirt itself, that whereas others had levied war to subdue a nation that sought for peace, they sitting here in peace could so many miles extend the force of their single words, as to overawe the dissolute stoutness of an armed power secretly stirred up and almost hired against them. And having by a solemn protestation vowed themselves and the kingdom anew to God and his service, and by a prudent foresight above what their fathers thought on, prevented the dissolution and frustrating of their designs by an untimely breaking up; notwithstanding all the treasonous plots against them, all the rumours either of rebellion or invasion, they have not been yet brought to change their constant resolution, ever to think fearlessly of their own safeties, and hopefully of the commonwealth: which hath gained them such an admiration from all good men, that now they hear it as their ordinary surname, to be saluted the fathers of their country, and sit as gods among daily petitions and public thanks flowing in upon them. Which doth so little yet exalt them in their own thoughts, that, with all gentle affability and courteous acceptance, they both receive and return that tribute of thanks which is tendered them; testifying their zeal and desire to spend themselves as it were piece-meal upon the grievances and wrongs of their distressed nation; insomuch that the meanest artizans and labourers, at other times also women, and often the younger sort of servants assembling with their complaints, and that sometimes in a less humble guise than for petitioners, have gone with confidence, that neither their meanness would be rejected, nor their simplicity contemned; nor yet their urgency distasted either by the dignity, wisdom, or moderation of that supreme senate; nor did they depart unsatisfied. And indeed, if we consider the general concourse of suppliants, the free and ready admittance, the willing and speedy redress in what is possible, it will not seem much otherwise, than as if some divine commission from heaven were descended to take into hearing and commiseration the long remediless afflictions of this kingdom; were it not that none more than themselves labour to remove and divert such thoughts, lest men should place too much confidence in their persons, still referring us and our prayers to him that can grant all, and appointing the monthly return of public fasts and supplications. Therefore the more they seek to humble themselves, the more does God, by manifest signs and testimonies, visibly honour their proceedings; and sets them as the mediators of this his covenant, which he offers us to renew. Wicked men daily conspire their hurt, and it comes to nothing; rebellion rages in our Irish province, but, with miraculous and lossless victories of few against many, is daily discomfited and broken; if we neglect not this early pledge of God’s inclining towards us, by the slackness of our needful aids. And whereas at other times we count it ample honour when God vouchsafes to make man the instrument and subordinate worker of his gracious will, such acceptation have their prayers found with him, that to them he hath been pleased to make himself the agent, and immediate performer of their desires; dissolving their difficulties when they are thought inexplicable, cutting out ways for them where no passage could be seen; as who is there so regardless of divine Providence, that from late occurrences will not confess? If therefore it be so high a grace when men are preferred to be but the inferior officers of good things from God, what is it when God himself condescends, and works with his own hands to fulfil the requests of men? Which I leave with them as the greatest praise that can belong to human nature: not that we should think they are at the end of their glorious progress, but that they will go on to follow his Almighty leading, who seems to have thus covenanted with them; that if the will and the endeavour shall be theirs the performance and the perfecting shall his. Whence only it is that I have not feared, though many wise men have miscarried in praising great designs before the utmost event, because I see who is their assistant, who is their confederate, who hath engaged his omnipotent arm to support and crown with success their faith, their fortitude, their just and magnanimous actions, till he have brought to pass all that expected good which, his servants trust, is in his thoughts to bring upon this land in the full and perfect reformation of his church.
Thus far I have digressed, readers, from my former subject; but into such a path, as I doubt not ye will agree with me, to be much fairer and more delightful than the roadway I was in. And how to break off suddenly into those jarring notes which this confuter hath set me, I must be wary, unless I can provide against offending the ear, as some musicians are wont skilfully to fall out of one key into another, without breach of harmony. By good luck therefore, his ninth section is spent in mournful elegy, certain passionate soliloquies, and two whole pages of interrogatories that praise the Remonstrant even to the sonneting of “his fresh cheek, quick eyes, round tongue, agile hand, and nimble invention.”
In his tenth section he will needs erect figures, and tell fortunes; “I am no bishop,” he says, “I was never born to it.” Let me tell therefore this wizard, since he calculates so right, that he may know there be in the world, and I among those, who nothing admire his idol a bishopric; and hold that it wants so much to be a blessing, as that I rather deem it the merest, the falsest, the most unfortunate gift of fortune. And were the punishment and misery of being a prelate bishop terminated only in the person, and did not extend to the affliction of the whole diocese, if I would wish any thing in the bitterness of soul to mine enemy, I would wish him the biggest and fattest bishopric. But he proceeds; and the familiar belike informs him, that “a rich widow, or a lecture, or both would content me:” whereby I perceive him to be more ignorant in his art of divining than any gipsy. For this I cannot omit without ingratitude to that Providence above, who hath ever bred me up in plenty, although my life hath not been unexpensive in learning, and voyaging about; so long as it shall please him to lend me what he hath hitherto thought good, which is enough to serve me in all honest and liberal occasions, and something over besides, I were unthankful to that highest bounty, if I should make myself so poor, as to solicit needily any such kind of rich hopes as this fortune-teller dreams of. And that he may further learn how his astrology is wide all the houses of heaven in spelling marriages, I care not if I tell him thus much professedly, though it be the losing of my rich hopes, as he calls them, that I think with them who, both in prudence and elegance of spirit, would choose a virgin of mean fortunes honestly bred, before the wealthiest widow. The fiend therefore, that told our Chaldean the contrary, was a lying fiend. His next venom he utters against a prayer, which he found in the Animadversions, angry it seems to find any prayers but in the service book; he dislikes it, and I therefore like it the better. “It was theatrical,” he says; and yet it consisted most of Scripture language; it had no rubric to be sung in an antic cope upon the stage of a high altar. “It was bigmouthed,” he says; no marvel, if it were framed as the voice of three kingdoms; neither was it a prayer so much as a hymn in prose, frequent both in the prophets, and in human authors; therefore the style was greater than for an ordinary prayer. “It was an astonishing prayer.” I thank him for that confession, so it was intended to astound and to astonish the guilty prelates; and this confuter confesses, that with him it wrought that effect. But in that which follows, he does not play the soothsayer, but the diabolic slanderer of prayers. “It was made,” he says, “not so much to please God, or to benefit the weal public,” (how dares the viper judge that?) “but to intimate,” saith he, “your good abilities to her that is your rich hopes, your Maronilla.” How hard is it when a man meets with a fool, to keep his tongue from folly! That were miserable indeed to be a courtier of Maronilla, and withal of such a hapless invention, as that no way should be left me to present my meaning but to make myself a canting probationer of orisons. The Remonstrant, when he was as young as I, could
And so he well might, and all his auditory besides with his “teach each.”
Delicious! he had that whole bevy at command whether in morrice or at maypole; whilst I by this figure-caster must be imagined in such distress as to sue to Maronilla, and yet left so impoverished of what to say, as to turn my liturgy into my lady’s psalter. Believe it, graduate, I am not altogether so rustic, and nothing so irreligious, but as far distant from a lecturer, as the merest laic, for any consecrating hand of a prelate that shall ever touch me. Yet I shall not decline the more for that, to speak my opinion in the controversy next moved, “whether the people may be allowed for competent judges of a minister’s ability.” For how else can be fulfilled that which God hath promised, to pour out such abundance of knowledge upon all sorts of men in the times of the gospel? How should the people examine the doctrine which is taught them, as Christ and his apostles continually bid them do? How should they “discern and beware of false prophets, and try every spirit,” if they must be thought unfit to judge of the minister’s abilities? The apostles ever laboured to persuade the Christian flock, that they “were called in Christ to all perfectness of spiritual knowledge, and full assurance of understanding in the mystery of God.” But the non-resident and plurality-gaping prelates, the gulfs and whirlpools of benefices, but the dry pits of all sound doctrine, that they may the better preach what they list to their sheep, are still possessing them that they are sheep indeed, without judgment, without understanding, “the very beasts of mount Sinai,” as this confuter calls them; which words of theirs may serve to condemn them out of their own mouths, and to show the gross contrarieties that are in their opinions: for while none think the people so void of knowledge as the prelates think them, none are so backward and malignant as they to bestow knowledge upon them; both by suppressing the frequency of sermons, and the printed explanations of the English Bible. No marvel if the people turn beasts, when their teachers themselves, as Isaiah calls them, “are dumb and greedy dogs, that can never have enough, ignorant, blind, and cannot understand; who, while they all look their own way, every one for his gain from his quarter,” how many parts of the land are fed with windy ceremonies instead of sincere milk; and while one prelate enjoys the nourishment and right of twenty ministers, how many waste places are left as dark as “Galilee of the Gentiles, sitting in the region and shadow of death,” without preaching minister, without light. So little care they of beasts to make them men, that by their sorcerous doctrine of formalities, they take the way to transform them out of Christian men into judaizing beasts. Had they but taught the land, or suffered it to be taught, as Christ would it should have been in all plenteous dispensation of the word, then the poor mechanic might have so accustomed his ear to good teaching, as to have discerned between faithful teachers and false. But now, with a most inhuman cruelty, they who have put out the people’s eyes, reproach them of their blindness; just as the Pharisees their true fathers were wont, who could not endure that the people should be thought competent judges of Christ’s doctrine, although we know they judged far better than those great rabbies: yet “this people,” said they, “that know not the law is accursed.” We need not the authority of Pliny brought to tell us, the people cannot judge of a minister: yet that hurts not. For as none can judge of a painter, or statuary, but he who is an artist, that is, either in the practice or theory, which is often separated from the practice, and judges learnedly without it; so none can judge of a Christian teacher, but he who hath either the practice, or the knowledge of Christian religion, though not so artfully digested in him. And who almost of the meanest Christians hath not heard the Scriptures often read from his childhood, besides so many sermons and lectures more in number than any student hath heard in philosophy, whereby he may easily attain to know when he is wisely taught, and when weakly? whereof three ways I remember are set down in Scripture; the one is to read often the best of books written to this purpose, that not the wise only, but the simple and ignorant, may learn by them; the other way to know of a minister is, by the life he leads, whereof the meanest understanding may be apprehensive. The last way to judge aright in this point is, when he who judges, lives a Christian life himself. Which of these three will the confuter affirm to exceed the capacity of a plain artizan? And what reason then is there left, wherefore he should be denied his voice in the election of his minister, as not thought a competent discerner? It is but arrogance therefore, and the pride of a metaphysical fume, to think that “the mutinous rabble” (for so he calls the Christian congregation) “would be so mistaken in a clerk of the university,” that were to be their minister. I doubt me those clerks, that think so, are more mistaken in themselves; and what with truanting and debauchery, what with false grounds and the weakness of natural faculties in many of them, (it being a maxim in some men to send the simplest of their sons thither,) perhaps there would be found among them as many unsolid and corrupted judgments both in doctrine and life, as in any other two corporations of like bigness. This is undoubted, that if any carpenter, smith, or weaver, were such a bungler in his trade, as the greater number of them are in their profession, he would starve for any custom. And should he exercise his manufacture as little as they do their talents, he would forget his art; and should he mistake his tools as they do theirs, he would mar all the work he took in hand. How few among them that know to write or speak in a pure style; much less to distinguish the ideas, and various kinds of style; in Latin barbarous, and oft not without solecisms, declaiming in rugged and miscellaneous gear blown together by the four winds, and in their choice preferring the gay rankness of Apuleius, Arnobius, or any modern fustianist, before the native Latinisms of Cicero. In the Greek tongue most of them unlettered, or “unentered to any sound proficiency in those attic masters of moral wisdom and eloquence.” In the Hebrew text, which is so necessary to be understood, except it be some few of them, their lips are utterly uncircumcised. No less are they out of the way in philosophy, pestering their heads with the sapless dotages of old Paris and Salamanca. And that which is the main point, in their sermons affecting the comments and postils of friars and Jesuits, but scorning and slighting the reformed writers; insomuch that the better sort among them will confess it a rare matter to hear a true edifying sermon in either of their great churches; and that such as are most hummed and applauded there, would scarcely be suffered the second hearing in a grave congregation of pious Christians. Is there cause why these men should overwean, and be so queasy of the rude multitude, lest their deep worth should be undervalued for want of fit umpires? No, my matriculated confutant, there will not want in any congregation of this island, that hath not been altogether famished or wholly perverted with prelatish leaven; there will not want divers plain and solid men, that have learned by the experience of a good conscience, what it is to be well taught, who will soon look through and through both the lofty nakedness of your latinizing barbarian, and the finical goosery of your neat sermon actor. And so I leave you and your fellow “stars,” as you term them, “of either horizon,” meaning I suppose either hemisphere, unless you will be ridiculous in your astronomy: for the rational horizon in heaven is but one, and the sensible horizons in earth are innumerable; so that your allusion was as erroneous as your stars. But that you did well to prognosticate them all at lowest in the horizon; that is, either seeming bigger than they are through the mist and vapour which they raise, or else sinking and wasted to the snuff in their western socket.
His eleventh section intends I know not what, unless to clog us with the residue of his phlegmatic sloth, discussing with a heavy pulse the “expedience of set forms;” which no question but to some, and for some time may be permitted, and perhaps there may be usefully set forth by the church a common directory of public prayer, especially in the administration of the sacraments. But that it should therefore be enforced where both minister and people profess to have no need, but to be scandalized by it, that, I hope, every sensible Christian will deny: and the reasons of such denial the confuter himself, as his bounty still is to his adversary, will give us out of his affirmation. First saith he, “God in his providence hath chosen some to teach others, and pray for others, as ministers and pastors.” Whence I gather, that however the faculty of others may be, yet that they whom God hath set apart to his ministry, are by him endued with an ability of prayer; because their office is to pray for others, and not to be the lip-working deacons of other men’s appointed words. Nor is it easily credible, that he who can preach well, should be unable to pray well; whereas it is indeed the same ability to speak affirmatively, or doctrinally, and only by changing the mood, to speak prayingly. In vain therefore do they pretend to want utterance in prayer, who can find utterance to preach. And if prayer be the gift of the Spirit, why do they admit those to the ministry, who want a main gift of their function, and prescribe gifted men to use that which is the remedy of another man’s want; setting them their tasks to read, whom the Spirit of God stands ready to assist in his ordinance with the gift of free conceptions? What if it be granted to the infirmity of some ministers (though such seem rather to be half ministers) to help themselves with a set form, shall it therefore be urged upon the plenteous graces of others? And let it be granted to some people while they are babes in Christian gifts, were it not better to take it away soon after, as we do loitering books and interlineary translations from children; to stir up and exercise that portion of the Spirit which is in them, and not impose it upon congregations who not only deny to need it, but as a thing troublesome and offensive, refuse it? Another reason which he brings for liturgy, is “the preserving of order, unity, and piety;” and the same shall be my reason against liturgy. For I, readers, shall always be of this opinion, that obedience to the Spirit of God, rather than to the fair seeming pretences of men, is the best and most dutiful order that a Christian can observe. If the Spirit of God manifest the gift of prayer in his minister, what more seemly order in the congregation, than to go along with that man in our devoutest affections? For him to abridge himself by reading, and to forestall himself in those petitions, which he must either omit, or vainly repeat, when he comes into the pulpit under a show of order, is the greatest disorder. Nor is unity less broken, especially by our liturgy, though this author would almost bring the communion of saints to a communion of liturgical words. For what other reformed church holds communion with us by our liturgy, and does not rather dislike it? And among ourselves, who knows it not to have been a perpetual cause of disunion?
Lastly, it hinders piety rather than sets it forward, being more apt to weaken the spiritual faculties, if the people be not weaned from it in due time; as the daily pouring in of hot waters quenches the natural heat. For not only the body and the mind, but also the improvement of God’s Spirit, is quickened by using. Whereas they who will ever adhere to liturgy, bring themselves in the end to such a pass by over much leaning, as to lose even the legs of their devotion. These inconveniences and dangers follow the compelling of set forms: but that the toleration of the English liturgy now in use is more dangerous than the compelling of any other, which the reformed churches use, these reasons following may evince. To contend that it is fantastical, if not senseless in some places, were a copious argument, especially in the Responsories. For such alterations as are there used must be by several persons; but the minister and the people cannot so sever their interests, as to sustain several persons; he being the only mouth of the whole body which he presents. And if the people pray, he being silent, or they ask any one thing, and he another, it either changes the property, making the priest the people, and the people the priest, by turns, or else makes two persons and two bodies representative where there should be but one. Which, if it be nought else, must needs be a strange quaintness in ordinary prayer. The like, or worse, may be said of the litany, wherein neither priest nor people speak any entire sense of themselves throughout the whole, I know not what to name it; only by the timely contribution of their parted stakes, closing up as it were the schism of a sliced prayer, they pray not in vain, for by this means they keep life between them in a piece of gasping sense, and keep down the sauciness of a continual rebounding nonsense. And hence it is, that as it hath been far from the imitation of any warranted prayer, so we all know it hath been obvious to be the pattern of many a jig. And he who hath but read in good books of devotion and no more, cannot be so either of ear or judgment unpractised to distinguish what is grave, pathetical, devout, and what not, but will presently perceive this liturgy all over in conception lean and dry, of affections empty and unmoving, of passion, or any height whereto the soul might soar upon the wings of zeal, destitute and barren; besides errors, tautologies, impertinences, as those thanks in the woman’s churching for her delivery from sunburning and moonblasting, as if she had been travailing not in her bed, but in the deserts of Arabia. So that while some men cease not to admire the incomparable frame of our liturgy, I cannot but admire as fast what they think is become of judgment and taste in other men, that they can hope to be heard without laughter. And if this were all, perhaps it were a compliable matter. But when we remember this our liturgy where we found it, whence we had it, and yet where we left it, still serving to all the abominations of the antichristian temple, it may be wondered now we can demur whether it should be done away or no, and not rather fear we have highly offended in using it so long. It hath indeed been pretended to be more ancient than the mass, but so little proved, that whereas other corrupt liturgies have had withal such a seeming antiquity, as that their publishers have ventured to ascribe them with their worst corruptions either to St. Peter, St. James, St. Mark, or at least to Chrysostom or Basil, ours hath been never able to find either age or author allowable, on whom to father those things therein which are least offensive, except the two creeds, for Te Deum has a smatch in it of Limbus Patrum: as if Christ had not “opened the kingdom of heaven” before he had “overcome the sharpness of death.” So that having received it from the papal church as an original creature, for aught can be shown to the contrary, formed and fashioned by workmasters ill to be trusted, we may be assured that if God loathe the best of an idolater’s prayer, much more the conceited fangle of his prayer. This confuter himself confesses that a community of the same set from in prayers, is that which “makes church and church truly one;” we then using a liturgy far more like to the mass book than to any protestant set form, by his own words must have more communion with the Romish church, than with any of the reformed. How can we then not partake with them the curse and vengeance of their superstition, to whom we come so near in the same set form and dress of our devotion? Do we think to sift the matter finer than we are sure God in his jealousy will, who detested both the gold and the spoil of idolatrous cities, and forbad the eating of things offered to idols? Are we stronger than he, to brook that which his heart cannot brook? It is not surely because we think that prayers are no where to be had but at Rome? That were a foul scorn and indignity cast upon all the reformed churches, and our own: if we imagine that all the godly ministers of England are not able to newmould a better and more pious liturgy than this which was conceived and infanted by an idolatrous mother, how basely were that to esteem of God’s Spirit, and all the holy blessings and privileges of a true church above a false! Hark ye, prelates, is this your glorious mother of England, who, whenas Christ hath taught her to pray, thinks it not enough unless she add thereto the teaching of Antichrist? How can we believe ye would refuse to take the stipend of Rome, when ye shame not to live upon the almsbasket of her prayers? Will ye persuade us, that ye can curse Rome from your hearts, when none but Rome must teach ye to pray? Abraham disdained to take so much as a thread or a shoelatchet from the king of Sodom, though no foe of his, but a wicked king; and shall we receive our prayers at the bounty of our more wicked enemies, whose gifts are no gifts, but the instruments of our bane? Alas! that the Spirit of God should blow as an uncertain wind, should so mistake his inspiring, so misbestow his gifts promised only to the elect, that the idolatrous should find words acceptable to present God with, and abound to their neighbours, while the true professors of the gospel can find nothing of their own worth the constituting, wherewith to worship God in public! Consider if this be to magnify the church of England, and not rather to display her nakedness to all the world. Like therefore as the retaining of this Romish liturgy is a provocation to God, and a dishonour to our church, so is it by those ceremonies, those purifyings and offerings at the altar, a pollution and disturbance to the gospel itself; and a kind of driving us with the foolish Galatians to another gospel. For that which the apostles taught hath freed us in religion from the ordinances of men, and commands that “burdens be not laid” upon the redeemed of Christ; though the formalist will say, What, no decency in God’s worship? Certainly, readers, the worship of God singly in itself, the very act of prayer and thanksgiving, with those free and unimposed expressions which from a sincere heart unbidden come into the outward gesture, is the greatest decency that can be imagined. Which to dress up and garnish with a devised bravery abolished in the law, and disclaimed by the gospel, adds nothing but a deformed ugliness; and hath ever afforded a colourable pretence to bring in all those traditions and carnalities that are so killing to the power and virtue of the gospel. What was that which made the Jews, figured under the names of Aholah and Aholibah, go a whoring after all the heathen’s inventions, but that they saw a religion gorgeously attired and desirable to the eye? What was all that the false doctors of the primitive church and ever since have done, but “to make a fair show in the flesh,” as St. Paul’s words are? If we have indeed given a bill of divorce to popery and superstition, why do we not say as to a divorced wife, Those things which are yours take them all with you, and they shall sweep after you? Why were not we thus wise at our parting from Rome? Ah! like a crafty adulteress she forgot not all her smooth looks and enticing words at her parting; yet keep these letters, these tokens, and these few ornaments; I am not all so greedy of what is mine, let them preserve with you the memory of what I am? No, but of what I was, once fair and lovely in your eyes. Thus did those tender-hearted reformers dotingly suffer themselves to be overcome with harlot’s language. And she like a witch, but with a contrary policy, did not take something of theirs, that she still might have power to bewitch them, but for the same intent left something of her own behind her. And that her whorish cunning should prevail to work upon us her deceitful ends, though it be sad to speak, yet such is our blindness, that we deserve. For we are deep in dotage. We cry out sacrilege and misdevotion against those who in zeal have demolished the dens and cages of her unclean wallowings. We stand for a popish liturgy as for the ark of our covenant. And so little does it appear our prayers are from the heart, that multitudes of us declare, they know not how to pray but by rote. Yet they can learnedly invent a prayer of their own to the parliament, that they may still ignorantly read the prayers of other men to God. They object, that if we must forsake all that is Rome’s, we must bid adieu to our creed; and I had thought our creed had been of the Apostles, for so it bears title. But if it be hers, let her take it. We can want no creed, so long as we want not the Scriptures. We magnify those who, in reforming our church, have inconsiderately and blamefully permitted the old leaven to remain and sour our whole lump. But they were martyrs; true, and he that looks well into the book of God’s providence, if he read there that God for this their negligence and halting brought all that following persecution upon this church, and on themselves, perhaps will be found at the last day not to have read amiss.
But now, readers, we have the port within sight; his last section, which is no deep one, remains only to be forded, and then the wished shore. And here first it pleases him much, that he had descried me, as he conceives, to be unread in the councils. Concerning which matter it will not be unnecessary to shape him this answer; that some years I had spent in the stories of those Greek and Roman exploits, wherein I found many things both nobly done, and worthily spoken; when coming in the method of time to that age wherein the church had obtained a Christian emperor, I so prepared myself, as being now to read examples of wisdom and goodness among those who were foremost in the church, not elsewhere to be paralleled; but, to the amazement of what I expected, I found it all quite contrary; excepting in some very few, nothing but ambition, corruption, contention, combustion; insomuch that I could not but love the historian Socrates, who, in the proem to his fifth book professes, “he was fain to intermix affairs of state, for that it would be else an extreme annoyance to hear in a continued discourse the endless brabbles and counter-plottings of the bishops.” Finding, therefore, the most of their actions in single to be weak, and yet turbulent; full of strife, and yet flat of spirit; and the sum of their best councils there collected, to be most commonly in questions either trivial and vain, or else of short and easy decision, without that great bustle which they made; I concluded that if their single ambition and ignorance was such, then certainly united in a council it would be much more; and if the compendious recital of what they there did was so tedious and unprofitable, then surely to set out the whole extent of their tattle in a dozen volumes would be a loss of time irrecoverable. Besides that which I had read of St. Martin, who for his last sixteen years could never be persuaded to be at any council of the bishops. And Gregory Nazianzen betook him to the same resolution, affirming to Procopius, “that of any council or meeting of bishops he never saw good end; nor any remedy thereby of evil in the church, but rather an increase. For,” saith he, “their contentions and desire of lording no tongue is able to express.” I have not, therefore, I confess, read more of the councils save here and there; I should be sorry to have been such a prodigal of my time: but that which is better, I can assure this confuter, I have read into them all. And if I want any thing yet, I shall reply something toward that which in the defence of Muræna was answered by Cicero to Sulpitius the lawyer. If ye provoke me (for at no hand else will I undertake such a frivolous labour) I will in three months be an expert councilist. For, be not deceived, readers, by men that would overawe your ears with big names and huge tomes that contradict and repeal one another, because they can cram a margin with citations. Do but winnow their chaff from their wheat, ye shall see their great heap shrink and wax thin past belief. From hence he passes to inquire wherefore I should blame the vices of the prelates only, seeing the inferior clergy is known to be as faulty. To which let him hear in brief; that those priests whose vices have been notorious, are all prelatical, which argues both the impiety of that opinion, and the wicked remissness of that government. We hear not of any which are called nonconformists, that have been accused of scandalous living; but are known to be pious or at least sober men. Which is a great good argument that they are in the truth and prelates in the error. He would be resolved next, “What the corruption of the universities concern the prelates?” And to that let him take this, that the Remonstrant having spoken as if learning would decay with the removal of prelates, I showed him that while books were extant and in print, learning could not readily be at a worse pass in the universities than it was now under their government. Then he seeks to justify the pernicious sermons of the clergy, as if they upheld sovereignty; whenas all Christian sovereignty is by law, and to no other end but to the maintenance of the common good. But their doctrine was plainly the dissolution of law, which only sets up sovereignty, and the erecting of an arbitrary sway according to private will, to which they would enjoin a slavish obedience without law; which is the known definition of a tyrant, and a tyrannised people. A little beneath he denies that great riches in the church are the baits of pride and ambition; of which error to undeceive him, I shall allege a reputed divine authority, as ancient as Constantine, which his love to antiquity must not except against; and to add the more weight, he shall learn it rather in the words of our old poet Gower than in mine, that he may see it is no new opinion, but a truth delivered of old by a voice from Heaven, and ratified by long experience.
But there were beasts of prey, saith he, before wealth was bestowed on the church. What, though, because the vultures had then but small pickings, shall we therefore go and fling them a full gorge? If they for lucre use to creep into the church undiscernibly, the more wisdom will it be so to provide that no revenue there may exceed the golden mean; for so, good pastors will be content, as having need of no more, and knowing withal the precept and example of Christ and his apostles, and also will be less tempted to ambition. The bad will have but small matter whereon to set their mischief awork; and the worst and subtlest heads will not come at all, when they shall see the crop nothing answerable to their capacious greediness; for small temptations allure but dribbling offenders; but a great purchase will call such as both are most able of themselves, and will be most enabled hereby to compass dangerous projects. But, saith he, “a widow’s house will tempt as well as a bishop’s palace.” Acutely spoken! because neither we nor the prelates can abolish widows’ houses, which are but an occasion taken of evil without the church, therefore we shall set up within the church a lottery of such prizes as are the direct inviting causes of avarice and ambition, both unnecessary and harmful to be proposed, and most easy, most convenient, and needful to be removed. “Yea, but they are in a wise dispenser’s hand.” Let them be in whose hand they will, they are most apt to blind, to puff up, and pervert, the most seeming good. And how they have been kept from vultures, whatever the dispenser’s care hath been, we have learned by our miseries. But this which comes next in view, I know not what good vein or humour took him when he let drop into his paper; I that was ere while the ignorant, the loiterer, on the sudden by his permission am now granted “to know something.” And that “such a volley of expressions” he hath met withal, “as he would never desire to have them better clothed.” For me, readers, although I cannot say that I am utterly untrained in those rules which best rhetoricians have given, or unacquainted with those examples which the prime authors of eloquence have written in any learned tongue; yet true eloquence I find to be none, but the serious and hearty love of truth: and that whose mind soever is fully possessed with a fervent desire to know good things, and with the dearest charity to infuse the knowledge of them into others, when such a man would speak, his words (by what I can express) like so many nimble and airy servitors trip about him at command, and in well-ordered files, as he would wish, fall aptly into their own places. But now to the remainder of our discourse. Christ refused great riches and large honours at the devil’s hand. But why, saith he, “as they were tendered by him from whom it was a sin to receive them.” Timely remembered: why is it not therefore as much a sin to receive a liturgy of the masses’ giving, were it for nothing else but for the giver? “But he could make no use of such a high estate,” quoth the confuter, opportunely. For why then should the servant take upon him to use those things which his master had unfitted himself to use that he might teach his ministers to follow his steps in the same ministry? But “they were offered him to a bad end.” So they prove to the prelates, who, after their preferment, most usually change the teaching labour of the word, into the unteaching ease of lordship over consciences and purses. But he proceeds, “God enticed the Israelites with the promise of Canaan;” did not the prelates bring as slavish minds with them, as the Jews brought out of Egypt? they had left out that instance. Besides that it was then the time, whenas the best of them, as St. Paul saith, “was shut up unto the faith under the law their schoolmaster,” who was forced to entice them as children with childish enticements. But the gospel is our manhood, and the ministry should be the manhood of the gospel, not to look after, much less so basely to plead for earthly rewards. “But God incited the wisest man, Solomon with these means.” Ah, confuter of thyself, this example hath undone thee; Solomon asked an understanding heart, which the prelates have little care to ask. He asked no riches, which is their chief care; therefore was the prayer of Solomon pleasing to God; he gave him wisdom at his request, and riches without asking, as now he gives the prelates riches at their seeking, and no wisdom because of their perverse asking. But he gives not over yet, “Moses had an eye to the reward.” To what reward, thou man that lookest with Balaam’s eyes? To what reward had the faith of Moses an eye? He that had forsaken all the greatness of Egypt, and chose a troublesome journey in his old age through the wilderness, and yet arrived not at his journey’s end. His faithful eyes were fixed upon that incorruptible reward, promised to Abraham and his seed in the Messiah; he sought a heavenly reward, which could make him happy, and never hurt him, and to such a reward every good man may have a respect; but the prelates are eager of such rewards as cannot make them happy, but can only make them worse. Jacob, a prince born, vowed that if God would “but give him bread to eat and raiment to put on, then the Lord should be his God.” But the prelates of mean birth, and ofttimes of lowest, making show as if they were called to the spiritual and humble ministry of the gospel, yet murmur, and think it a hard service, unless, contrary to the tenor of their profession, they may eat the bread and wear the honours of princes’ so much more covetous and base they are than Simon Magus, for he proffered a reward to be admitted to that work, which they will not be meanly hired to. But, saith he, “Are not the clergy members of Christ? why should not each member thrive alike?” Carnal textman! as if worldly thriving were one of the privileges we have by being in Christ, and were not a providence ofttimes extended more liberally to the Infidel than to the Christian. Therefore must the ministers of Christ not be over rich or great in the world, because their calling is spiritual, not secular; because they have a special warfare, which is not to be entangled with many impediments; because their master Christ gave them this precept, and set them this example, told them this was the mystery of his coming, by mean things and persons to subdue mighty ones; and lastly, because a middle estate is most proper to the office of teaching, whereas higher dignity teaches far less, and blinds the teacher. Nay, saith the confuter, fetching his last endeavour, “the prelates will be very loth to let go their baronies, and votes in parliament,” and calls it “God’s cause,” with an insufferable impudence. “Not that they love the honours and the means,” good men and generous! “but that they would not have their country made guilty of such a sacrilege and injustice!” A worthy patriot for his own corrupt ends. That which he imputes as sacrilege to his country, is the only way left them to purge that abominable sacrilege out of the land, which none but the prelates are guilty of; who for the discharge of one single duty, receive and keep that which might be enough to satisfy the labours of many painful ministers better deserving than themselves; who possess huge benefices for lazy performances, great promotions only for the execution of a cruel disgospelling jurisdiction; who engross many pluralities under a nonresident and slubbering dispatch of souls; who let hundreds of parishes famish in one diocese, while they the prelates are mute, and yet enjoy that wealth that would furnish all those dark places with able supply: and yet they eat, and yet they live at the rate of earls, and yet hoard up; they who chase away all the faithful shepherds of the flock, and bring in a dearth of spiritual food, robbing thereby the church of her dearest treasure, and sending herds of souls starveling to hell, while they feast and riot upon the labours of hireling curates, consuming and purloining even that which by their foundation is allowed, and left to the poor, and to reparations of the church. These are they who have bound the land with the sin of sacrilege, from which mortal engagement we shall never be free, till we have totally removed with one labour, as one individual thing, prelaty and sacrilege. And herein will the king be a true defender of the faith, not by paring or lessening, but by distributing in due proportion the maintenance of the church, that all parts of the land may equally partake the plentiful and diligent preaching of the faith, the scandal of ceremonies thrown out that delude and circumvent the faith; and the usurpation of prelates laid level, who are in words the fathers, but in their deeds, the oppugners of the faith. This is that which will best confirm him in that glorious title. Thus ye have heard, readers, how many shifts and wiles the prelates have invented to save their ill-got booty. And if it be true, as in Scripture it is foretold, that pride and covetousness are the sure marks of those false prophets which are to come; then boldly conclude these to be as great seducers as any of the latter times. For between this and the judgment day do not look for any arch deceivers, who in spite of reformation will use more craft, or less shame to defend their love of the world and their ambition, than these prelates have done. And if ye think that soundness of reason, or what force of argument soever, will bring them to an ingenuous silence, ye think that which will never be. But if ye take that course which Erasmus was wont to say Luther took against the pope and monks; if ye denounce war against their mitres and their bellies, ye shall soon discern that turban of pride, which they wear upon their heads, to be no helmet of salvation, but the mere metal and hornwork of papal jurisdiction; and that they have also this gift, like a certain kind of some that are possessed, to have their voice in their bellies, which, being well drained and taken down, their great oracle, which is only there, will soon be dumb; and the divine right of episcopacy, forthwith expiring, will put us no more to trouble with tedious antiquities and disputes.