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CHAPTER IV.: the ministers' positions examined. - John Robinson, The Works of John Robinson, vol. 2 
The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols (London: John Snow, 1851). Vol. 2.
Part of: The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols.
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the ministers' positions examined.
And to omit the bloody doom which these ministers pass upon us all, contrary I am persuaded to their own consciences, that we are cut off from Christ, for our separation from the Church of England, I will consider briefly of their reasons to prove it a true church.
The Ministers' Charges—Congregationalists separated from Christ.
The first is, because “they enjoy, and join together in the use of those outward means, which God in his Word hath ordained for the gathering of an invisible church, which are, preaching of the gospel, and administration of the sacraments:” which they will prove by the unfeigned conversion of many: and by the scriptures, Matt, xxviii. 18, 20; Eph. iv. 11, 14.
The greatest part of the parishes, as they have only the service-book for prayer, so have they only the homilies for preaching. And even in the parishes where the Word is best taught, and the sacraments most orderly administered, yet do not men join in the use, but in the abuse of these ordinances: considering the confused communion wherein, the usurped authority by which, and the book-service according to which, they are dispensed. If the ministers had only affirmed, that they had taught amongst them such truths of the gospel, as by which the Lord might, and did sanctify, and save his elect, or gather an invisible church, as they speak, I should not contend with them, but should further add, that I doubt not but such truths are even in many assemblies of papists, and anabaptists, and to hold otherwise is a foul and cruel error: but where they speak of enjoying the outward means, and by them understand the offices of ministry which Christ hath given unto his church, for the gathering and feeding of the same for which purpose they allege, Matt, xxviii.18, 20; Eph. iv. 11, 14; I deny they enjoy the outward means ordained for the gathering of the church; neither shall they ever be able to prove it, except they can prove themselves lawfully, and according to Christ's testament possessed of some of the offices there spoken of.
In the fourth place I would know the cause, why these ministers speak of the outward means of gathering an invisible church, and not of a visible, since both the question betwixt them and us, is about the visible, and not about the invisible church, and also that the scriptures they bring for the justification of these means amongst them, do speak of the means, and ministries given not to the invisible, but to the visible church; and if it be not, because they know, that if they had spoken of the means of gathering the visible church we would, and that justly, have excepted, that they do not enjoy, nor have not so much as taught amongst them, those doctrines of the gospel, and that part of Christ's testament, which teacheth the right, and orderly gathering of the visible church, by separation of the saints from the unsanctified world into the covenant, and fellowship of the gospel, by free, and personal profession of faith, and confession of sins.
Lastly, As the preaching of the gospel is the only outward means to gather a church, so, though this means be used never so fully, and men enjoy it, and join in it never so ordinarily, yet except withal they join in the understanding, faith, obedience of, and submission unto it, and that, in the order which Christ hath set, they are not made a church by it, according to the right use of it, but do make themselves, by abusing it, a conventicle of profane usurpers, Matt. xiii. 19; John x. 3—5; Acts ii. 41, 42; viii. 36, 37; x. 35; xi. 20, 21, 23, 24, 26; Col. ii. 5; howsoever Mr. B. and these ministers, and many others do indeed make the Word of God a very charm, in writing and teaching that the bare use, they might say, the abuse, of the Word, and sacraments by a company of people either altogether, or for the most part for fear, fashion, or with opinion of merit ex opere operato, and without all knowledge, or conscience, makes them a true church of Christ. The argument from the external efficient, except it work absolutely necessarily, to the effect, is unsound. It were senseless to affirm, that because physic is the means of recovering health, therefore, whosoever use physic are healed: much more to affirm, that because the Word is the means to gather a church, whosoever use it are a church; since physic is a natural agent, and worketh by a natural power given it of God; where the Word is a moral agent, having in itself no natural virtue, but working merely by the will of the author, and supernatural efficacy of the Spirit, which like the wind, bloweth where it listeth. John iii. 8.
The two next reasons, being indeed one in effect, which the ministers bring for the justification of their church are, 1, that their whole church maketh profession of the true faith; for proof of which they refer us to the confession of their church; the apology of it; and the articles of religion agreed upon in the convocation-house, A.D. 1562; 2, that they hold, teach, and maintain every part of God's holy truth, which is fundamental and such, as without the knowledge and believing whereof there is no salvation. All which afterwards they reduce to this one head, as the only fundamental truth of religion, that Jesus Christ the Son of God who took our nature by the Virgin Mary, is our only, and all-sufficient Saviour: which truth, say they, whosoever receive, are the people of God, and in the estate of salvation: they that receive it not, cannot possibly be saved. Matt. xvi. 18; Mark xvi. 16; 1 John iv. 2; Col. ii. 7.
These two arguments, for substance, have been handled in the former part of the book;* unto which also Mr. Ainsworth hath given answer in the particulars: of which I entreat the reader to take knowledge: and do thereunto annex these considerations.
First, It is a very presumptuous thing for these ministers, yea, or for any men or angels thus peremptorily to determine how much knowledge a man must have to be saved: that if he have just so much, then he may be, or is in the state of salvation: if he want any of that, he cannot be saved. Who knows by how little knowledge the Lord may, and doth save a man, that is faithful in the little he knows, and endeavours by all means to further knowledge, and so to further faithfulness? As on the contrary, the Lord rejects many with greater knowledge, for their unfaithfulness, both in not practising the things they know, and in neglecting to know more, lest they should learn that truth, which they have no mind to practise for fear, or in other corrupt regards.
And, howsoever, I do acknowledge a difference of truths, and that some are more, and some less principal, yet do I wish more conscience in the application of this distinction. For, whereas the ministers are by the laws and penalties, civil and ecclesiastical, limited in their doctrine; and both the ministers, and people in their obedience of, and to the truth of the gospel, and ordinances of the New Testament, this is made a salve for every sore, that they have the substance of the gospel; the doctrine of faith: all fundamental truths: and whatsoever is necessary to salvatian. In which defence (as it is made) there are these evils.
3. I deny that the whole Church of England hath received, and doth hold, and profess this fundamental truth; how boldly soever these ministers affirm it, page 166. They grant there are many atheists in the land, they might say in the church, for atheists are, and ever will be of the king's and state's religion, and many ignodrant and wicked men besides, who make not so clear and holy a profession of the true faith as they should. And do these atheists hold, and profess the true faith, and every article of God's holy truth, which is fundamental? Are there not many thousands in the national church ignorant of the very first rudiments, and foundations of religion, as the apostle noteth them down, Heb. vi. 1,2: and can they hold, and profess that whereof they are ignorant? Yea, how can any wicked men hold, that Christ is their Saviour, but they hold an apparent lie in the eyes of all men? for which, notwithstanding, these ministers will have them reputed true members of Christ's body. I add, that since the body of that church or nation, consists of mere natural men, and that natural men are papists, in the case of justification, and look to be saved by their good meaning, and well doings, it is most untruly affirmed by those ministers, that their church accounts none her members, but such as profess salvation by Christ only. They hold otherwise and so profess, if an account of their faith be demanded, as I have showed by the testimony of Mr. Nichols,* and could do by the testimony of others, if all men did not see it too evidently. And yet see what these men affirm and that confidently, and without fear, for their advantage: as that their whole church makes profession of the true faith; that it holds, and maintains every article fundamental of God's holy truth: and particularly that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, &c.,; and lastly, that they receive this truth, are the people of God, and in the state of salvation. Whereupon it must follow, that their whole national church is in the state of salvation. And surely so had it need be, in the judgment of men, having the promises and seals of the covenant of salvation applied, and ministered unto it, and to every member of it.
Lastly, Though the whole Church of England, and every member in it, did personally profess the true faith in holiness, as all the true members of the church do, which are therefore called both saints and faithful, Eph. i. 1, and that we had no just exception against that profane and implicit profession for which both Mr. B. and the ministers plead, yet could not this make it or them a true church. The bare profession of faith makes not a true church, except the persons so professing be united in the covenant and fellowship of the gospel into particular congregations, having the entire power of Christ within themselves. As hewed stones are fit for an house, but not an house, nor any part of it, till they be orderly laid, and couched together: so are men professing faith and holiness fit for the church, but not a church, nor of it, before their orderly combination into a particular assembly having in it the power of Christ for the ministry, government, censures, and other ordinances. A company of excommunicates put out of the church's order, may profess the same faith they did formerly; so may a sect of schismatics putting themselves causelessly out of the church's order: so may many particular persons, never joining themselves into any church at all. You yourselves define a church to be a company of faithful people, &c., so is not your national church, but many companies: not distinct and entire in themselves, and so only one in nature, as all the true churches of God are: but one by monstrous composition, in a preposterous and absurd imitation of the Jewish national church and government.
Thus much of the arguments; in the handling of which the ministers insinuate, pages 167,168, against Mr. Barrowe sundry unjust accusations, which I will briefly clear. As first, that he will account none members of the visible church such as are truly faithful, not only in outward profession and appearance, but even in the Lord's eye and judgment: because a church is described a company of faithful people, that truly worship God and readily obey him.
But, wherefore should the ministers thus interpret him; doth he not speak of the visible or external church, and so, by consequence, of visible and external faith and obedience, which are seen of men. In their articles of religion a church is made a company of faithful people: and if they must not be truly faithful, then they must be falsely faithful. And for true worship and ready obedience, 1 John iv. 23; Rom. xv. 18; xvi. 19, the Lord requires them in his Word, according to which we must define churches, and not according to casual corruptions and aberrations brought in by man's fault.
2. They charge, pages 170, 171, Mr. Barrowe to hold that every member of our assemblies is led by the Spirit into all truth, and that it is evident he would have none to be accounted the people and church of God, who either know not, or profess not every truth contained in the Scriptures: because he affirms in his “Discovery,” that “to the people of God, and every one of them, God hath given his holy sanctifying Spirit, to open unto them and to lead them into all truth.”
It follows not that because he affirms they have received the Spirit to lead them into all truth, that he therefore affirms, they are led into all truth by the Spirit. May not the Papists as truly avouch, that Paul teacheth that the church is without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, because he teacheth that Christ hath given himself for it, that he might make it unto himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing? Eph. v. 25, 27. Jt is then an ill collection, that because one thing is done, that another might follow upon it, that therefore the latter which is to follow, is also done. And for the point: as it is the work of the Spirit to lead men into all truth, and as all that are Christ's, Rom. viii. 9, or members of his body, have his Spirit, so doth it follow that all the members of the church have the Spirit given them of God, to lead them into all truth, though it have not his full work, by reason of the contrary work of the flesh in this life, where all men know but in part. Gal. v. 17; 1 Cor. xii. 12.
3. That Mr. Barrowe holds every truth in the Scriptures fundamental, that is, as they expound it, page 174, such as if it be not known, and obeyed, the whole religion and faith of the church must needs fall to the ground.
Mr. Ainsworth hath set down his words: from which no such collection can be made: he directs them, and that worthily, against these deceivers which knowing and acknowledging, that they want many special ordinances of Christ, and are burdened instead of them, with the inventions of Antichrist, do notwithstanding encourage themselves, and others, by these distinctions that they have the fundamental truths of the gospel, and whatsoever is necessary to salvation, and the like, in a purpose to go on all their life long in disobedience. For which men how much better were it to consider, how it is written that, “Whosoever shall break one of the least commandments and teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. v. 19; than thus to turn upon them which reprove them for their unfaithfulness; and misinterpreting their sayings most injuriously, to spend thus many words, as these ministers do, in confuting their own corrupt glosses.
All Foreign Churches acknowledge the English Church.
Their fourth, and last argument, is, for that “all the known churches in the world acknowledge their church for their sister: and give her the right hand of fellowship.”
This argument hath been sundry times urged by Mr. Bernard, and so answered sundry times both by Mr. Ainsworth, and myself in the former part of my book,* whither I must refer the reader, contenting myself with a brief observation of such untruths, and errors, as these ministers are driven unto in the prosecuting of this argument: in pages 178—181, as—
First, that, “all the known churches in the world are well acquainted with their doctrine, and liturgy:” to which they should also add their book of ordination, and canons ecclesiastical, for their ministry, and government: than, which nothing is more untrue. Beza, who was specially interested in these matters, will hardly be persuaded of the true state of things: touching dispensations, pluralities, the power of excommunication in one man, and the like.
2. It is most untrue, that “God hath sanctified the testimony of churches for a principal help in the deciding of controversies in this kind.” It is, though some help, yet less principal, yea, the least of many.
3. That “Paul feared that without the approbation of James, and Cephas, and John he should have run in vain.”
Paul feared no such thing; for he was both assured of his calling from the Lord, and had also taken, long before that time, good experience of the Lord's blessing upon his ministry both amongst the Jews, and Gentiles; and knew right assuredly, that his preaching was not in vain. His care was to take away from the weak all scruple of mind, or jealousy of contention amongst the apostles; he went up to Jerusalem to confer with them.
4. That “Paul sought to win commendation and credit to the orders which he by his apostolical authority might have established, by the judgment of other churches.” Whereas the apostle Paul did by his apostolical authority appoint those orders in all those churches he speaks of, as the scriptures quoted testify, 1 Cor. iv. 7, 17; xvi. 1. Besides, the Church of England can win no great credit to her orders by the orders of other churches, considering how contrary she is in them to all other churches departed from Rome, whom alone in very many she resembleth.
5. “The testimony which John Baptist gave of Christ,” John i. 6, 7, 15—23, is unfitly brought for the testimony of one church of another. For it was the proper, and principal work of John's calling to give witness of Christ: wherein also he could not err. It is not so with, or between any churches in the world.
6. Where it is further affirmed, that “there are cases wherein one church is commanded to seek the judgment of other churches, and to account it as the judgment of God;” for which Acts xv. 2, is alleged: as it is true, that one church is, in cases, to seek the judgment, and help of another, so is it untrue, that the judgment of that other church, or of all the churches in the world, is to be accounted as the judgment of God. Indeed the decrees of the apostles at Jerusalem, being by immediate, infallible direction of the Holy Ghost, ver. 28, were to be accounted as the judgment of God: but for any ordinary, either churches or persons. to challenge the like unto their determinations were pope-like presumption.
7. To the ministers' demand in the next place, “Saith Christ to any particular congregation of the faithful in our land, Whatsoever they bind in earth, is bound in heaven, Matt, xviii. 18, and saith he it not also to the churches of other nations?”
I do answer that, if Christ have so said to the particular congregations, who hath said it to the prelates and their substitutes, or to any officer, or officers, excluding the body of the congregation? Even none but he, whose work it is to gainsay Christ, and to subvert his order. Secondly, If any of your parishes be such congregations, why do not you as faithful ministers exhort them to, and guide them in the use of this power of binding and loosing, which Christ hath given them? Or are not you content to suffer them to go on, and yourselves to go before them in the loss of this liberty, yea, in a most vile subjection to their and your spiritual lords, which have usurped it? And for the argument it is of no force: for neither hath any one church in the world that power over another, nor all the churches in the world over any one, which the meanest church hath over any her member, or members whomsoever. One church may forsake another, but judiciously to censure, or excommunicate it, may it not. The same answer, for substance, may serve for that which is objected from 1 Cor. xiv. 32. Besides, no church can so fully discern of the estate of another church, as it can of the proper members appertaining unto it. Yea I add, that in this respect we are better able to judge of the Church of England than are any foreign churches, notwithstanding our weakness, because they do not in any measure know the estate of it, as we do.
Lastly, As that saying of the ministers must have a very favourable interpretation, viz., “that the church hath power to judge of a man infallibly, that he is in the estate of salvation,” so is their other affirmation, that “the discerning of the spirits, and doctrine of such teachers, as arise in the church, is such a gift, as the true church never wanted,” page 181, as popish an error, as ever was broached in Rome. For who then can the church err? or how can it be deceived by false teachers? or how could Rome come to that estate of apostacy wherein she now standeth? Or may not a Papist plead thus with these men? Rome was a true church of God. Now the true church never wants the gift of discerning spirits and doctrines, therefore Rome neither hath wanted, nor doth, nor ever shall want this gift: and so by consequence cannot be fallen from the truth, as is pretended against her.
To conclude, it is not truly said of these men, that this judging of one church by another is a matter of salvation. The church of Jerusalem was ignorant of the calling of the churches of the Gentiles, as the Scriptures testify. Acts x. 14, 15, 34, 35; xi. 2—5. And I would know what the Church of England judgeth of the Lutheran churches, as they are called. It accounteth of them, as of true churches. So do not they of their churches, whom they call Calvinists, but, on the contrary, repute them as heretical. Whereupon it followeth, that either a true church may err in judging of another church, or else that either the Church of England, or the Lutheran churches, or both, are not true churches. Howsoever therefore we do not make light account of the testimony, and judgment of other churches, as these ministers accuse us, yet dare we not make idols of them as they seem to do, who wanting both the Word of God, and practice of other churches for their warrant, seek commendation by the testimony which some have given of them in respect of certain general heads of doctrine, in which we ourselves also do for the most part concur with them.
The Ministers' Replies to Objections of Separatists.
Thus much of the ministers' arguments. Now follow their answers to two main objections made by us against the whole body of their church, and their parish assemblies.
I. That the Church of England was not gathered in a Scriptural Manner.
The first is, that it was not gathered by such means, as God in his Word hath ordained, and sanctified for the gathering of his church. The second, that they communicate together in a false and idolatrous outward worship of God, which is polluted with the writings of men, viz., with read stinted prayers, homilies, catechisms, and such like.
These objections have been elsewhere prosecuted, and the exceptions taken by the ministers against them, particularly answered by Mr. Ainsworth; and, therein their both corrupt, and weak dealing manifested. I will briefly add a few things.
Against the former objection they take five exceptions.
First, “That they might lawfully be accounted a true church, though it could not appear that they were at the first rightly gathered: as the disciples might be assured of Christ's bodily presence amongst them, when they saw, and felt him, John xx. 19, 28, though they could not have discerned which way, or how he could possibly hare come in. Pages 182, 183.
Belike then, we must believe that the Church of England was gathered miraculously, as Christ came by miracle into the place where his disciples were assembled. But the answer is, that these men take the main question for granted, which is that their national church is, for the present, a true, orderly gathered church of Christ; and that, so sensibly, as it may be seen and felt.
Secondly, That they “might be rightly gathered to the fellowship of the visible church, by other means than by the preaching of the gospel,” that is, as they expound it, by “public, and ministerial preaching; for which they allege our opinion though unsound, yet having force enough to stop our mouths.”
And do these men deal soundly, who to prove a point in controversy, bring the opinion of their adversaries, which they condemn, as unsound? The opinion is most sound, that men out of office, for so we speak, may convert men to God, and that ordinarily; otherwise they may not prophesy ordinarily; nay, to what end should they ordinarily instruct, reprove, and exhort privately such as are out of the way? And where further they make it one thing for men to be soundly converted, and another thing for them to be lawfully made a visible church, they use craft to cover error. They use craft in speaking of sound conversion, to conceal that profane and hateful error, that a visible church may be lawfully gathered of unconverted persons. For as our question is about the external, or visible church, so do we require for it only external, and visible conversion, or that which is seen and discerned of men, leaving unto God the judging and discerning of that which is sound or inward: according to the difference which themselves truly put from the scriptures, 1 Sam. xvi. 7; Acts xv. 7, 8, in another place.*
Now that it is a vile, and profane error to hold that men unconverted, and wicked, viz: so far as men can judge by outward appearance, may lawfully be admitted into the visible church, I have showed at large in the former part of the book,* and could, if need were, show the whole course of the Scriptures against it. Matt, xxviii. 19, 20; Acts ii. 40, 41, 46, 47; h. 32; viii. 5, 6, 8, 37; ix. 15; with xiii. 42, 43; xiv. 15; xvi. 14, 15, 31—33.
Of like nature with the former, is that which followeth, namely, that“men may by other means be lawfully made a visible church, than by the preaching,” that is by the opening, or publishing, of the gospel. For which they instance in those which followed Christ, and professed themselves his disciples, who yet were not all drawn by his Word, but some by miracles, John ii. 33, 25, some, by the report they heard of him, John iv. 39, some, by the desire they had to be fed by him, John vi. 24, 36: and that Christian kings have, by their laws, been means to bring men to the outward society of the church, unto which men may be compelled. Luke xiv. 33.
It is not true that Christ, in his life, gathered any visible churches. These persons indeed, which followed Christ, were members of the visible church, but it was of the church of the Jews, which Christ gathered not. He lived and died the minister of circumcision, Rom. xv. 8, and gathered no distinct churches at all from the Jewish church. Secondly, neither any of the things named, nor all of them together, without or besides the gospel, are means sufficient lawfully to gather a visible church. Some of them, as miracles, may be means to confirm the gospel, Mark xvi. 30, and the rest of them to draw men to the hearing of, and outward submission unto it: but it alone is the hand of God, as Mr. Bernard truly writeth, stretched out to subdue people unto him: it is the seed of the Lord's husbandry: the Word of his kingdom. 1 Cor. iii. 9; Matt, xiii. 19.
When the Lord Jesus sent out his apostles to gather churches, the only means which came into his heart was the teaching, Matt, xxviii. 19, 20, or making of men disciples: and the apostle to the Ephesians, eh. ii. 20, witnessed, that the church, or temple of God, is built upon the foundation of the apostles, and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: but these men, it seems, will have the church of God built upon the laws of magistrates, yea, upon the reports, yea, upon the bellies of men. They would be counted ministers of the gospel, and yet they make no conscience of ascribing the honour which is peculiar unto the gospel, unto so many other, and so mean things. And for Christian kings and queens, as I acknowledge them for nursing fathers and mothers, so may I not for procreant parents of the church. It is unreasonable to affirm, that civil causes, as are their compulsive laws, should bring forth spiritual effects, as is the church or kingdom of Christ. By this argument the Turk may make all his dominions a church in a week or two. It may as truly be affirmed, that magistrates may by their laws compel men to receive the Word gladly: to stand in the estate of salvation: to be saints, and sanctified in Jesus Christ: to be in him, and in God the Father, through him, Acts ii. 41, 47; 1 Cor. i. 2; 1 Thess. i. 1; 2 Thess. i. 1; viz.: externally, and in appearance, and so far as men can judge: for such is the church, and of such persons doth it consist, as the scriptures cited testify. And for the parable in Luke xiv. 23, which they bring to prove that the church may be gathered by bodily compulsion, as Mr. Ainsworth hath justly reproved their folly from Prov. xxvi. 9, and sufficiently confuted their erroneous exposition, showing that Luke speaketh of a spiritual violence and compulsion, which the Word of God offereth unto the consciences of men; so do I add for the conclusion of this point, that even the blind Pharisees did see, and discern, that Christ meant by the former servants, the prophets, which the Lord the king sent to the Jews; as he did by the last, the apostles, whom, when the Jews refused the gospel, he sent to the Gentiles, to compel them by the efficacy of the Word, which is mighty-in operation, to the obedience of faith. Matt. xxii. 15; Heb. iv. 12.
Lastly, What compulsive laws soever the magistrates may make, or execute, it is a vile error to think, and a sinful flattery to bear them in hand, that they have power from God to compel an apparently flagitious person to enter into the, church of God, and the church so to receive and continue him.*
The, ministers'third exception is, that “their church was gathered by the'preaching of the Word: and that the first conversion of their land to the faith of Christ was by the preaching of the gospel, as appears by the best histories. And so they go on and tell us of many from age to age, called by the same means: who in the time of persecution sealed the truth with their blood, and in the time of freedom did openly profess the same.” Page 184.
In the page immediately before-going, a church might be gathered without conversion: and now their church was lawfully gathered, for it was converted to the faith of Christ, by the preaching of the gospel. Secondly, It is both untruly and unadvisedly affirmed of these ministers, that their land was converted to the faith of Christ. The defence of their national church, and of the compulsion of all the flagitious persons in the nation to join, and continue members of it, drives them to this absurd assertion, that the whole nation, or land was at the first converted to the faith of Christ.
And where they speak of many, in all ages since, called by the gospel which also they have sealed with their blood, as I confess this with Mr. Ainsworth, and rejoice for the mercy of God towards them this way, so I doubt not but the truths taught in Rome have been effectual to the saving of many; for which also, there have many of them, and no doubt, would many more, if there were occasion, lay down their lives against pagans and infidels.
But these men should prove first, that the body of the land have been converted to the faith of Christ, and orderly joined into particular congregations: and second, that it hath so continued ever since, even in the times when the blood of those martyrs now spoken of, was shed by the laws civil and ecclesiastical, made by the body of it, through the seduction of Antichrist, for that purpose: and so that there needed no new gathering after the Romish apostacy, by the preaching of the gospel on the one side, and by willing subjection in free, and personal profession, on the other.
That which they add, of sundry secret congregations in Queen Mary's days in many parts of the land, is but a boast; there were very few of them in any. But, where they say, that these did upon Queen Elizabeth's entrance openly profess the gospel, it is untrue; there was not one congregation separated in Queen Mary's days, that so remained in Queen Elizabeth's. The congregations were dissolved, and the persons in them bestowed themselves in their several parishes, where their livings and estates lay. The circumcised were mingled with the uncircumcised, whence came that monstrous confusion, against which we witness. And show me one of your ministers continuing his charge in Queen Elizabeth's days, over the flock to which he ministered in Queen Mary's days, the persecuted gospel. It is certain the congregations, whether many, or few, were all dispersed, and that, the members of them joined themselves to the profane apostate Papists, where their outward occasions lay. As then an handful, or bundle of corn shuffled into a field of weeds, though in itself it retain the same nature, yet cannot make the field a corn-field: so neither could this small handful of separated people in Queen Mary's days sanctify the whole field of idolatrous, and profane multitude in the land, by their seating themselves amongst them.
As then it is not true, that the body of the land, in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign, did join unto the secret congregations, so remaining, in Queen Mary's days: but on the contrary, these congregations did dissolve, and join themselves with the unhallowed rout in the popish and profane parishes under their late mass, and their dumb priests for the most part: so neither matters it, which joined unto which, since the unhallowed, and graceless multitude, neither could by the Word of God join unto others, nor be joined to by them in the covenant of grace and of the gospel, with the seals and other the ordinances thereof, to which they had, or have no right. Upon the same ground also I infer, that it is not material, though the people were not compelled to the profession of the gospel before the midsummer after the queen came to the crown; if they were compelled to profess the gospel, of, and unto which, they were apparently, and notoriously ignorant, and disobedient, as they were. They knew what they were to look for: and so being, for the most part, of no religion, they set themselves to conform, as the times were, to that, which they discerned the queen to be of.
And for the preachers, and commissioners, which were sent before this set day, for the Catholic faith of all the queen's subjects, as I think it was well, so was it not sufficient to make the whole land, or to prepare them to be a true church: besides that the people were of the church all this while: the same national, provincial, diocesan, and parochial church, and churches consisting of the same persons generally, still continuing under the same government, and ministry, and in the same will-worship, though in a measure reformed, as before in Queen Mary's days.
Now for the preachers you name, as Mr. Knox, Lever, &c., which exercised their ministry in some of the best reformed churches, during Queen Mary's reign, as the good they did to some few, in comparison, by the truths they taught, could not make all the queen's subjects a true national church, so do we all know, how hardly they were suffered in the beginning of the queen's reign, and that contrary to the public church government, and ministry: as also that neither they, nor any others, could or can be admitted to any church by any ministry received in the reformed churches, but only by the ordination of a popish prelate whether English, or Romish, it matters not: by which also it is apparent to all men upon what string the English ministry hangeth.
Lastly, Where these men say that many are daily added to the church by the ministry of the Word preached, I marvel how this can be, and from whence they are added. Addition is a motion, and in every motion, there must be the terms, or bounds, from and to which it is made. All they to whom they preach, are of the church already: for recusant Papists come not to their church; and besides the number of them increaseth daily. It seems, then, they are added from the church to the same church. Because this practice of adding men to the church by the preaching of the gospel was in use in the primitive churches, and this phrase used in the Scriptures; therefore, these ministers think they may abuse the phrase, without the thing: and so feed their simple readers with words of the wind.
Of the ministers' fourth exception, page 188, viz.: “of the uniting of the queen's subjects unto those professors, whose fellowship in Popery they had forsaken,” and of the course taken for that purpose by the example of the godly kings of Judah, I have formerly spoken: of the former part eyen now: and of the latter elsewhere, declaring, first that the English nation, and all the people of the kingdom never were admitted into the Lord's covenant, by the rules of the New Testament, to become a national church, under national government, as was Judah, and all the people in it under the Old. If this can be proved I acknowledge myself in many great errors: if not, it is vanity and error, thus to instance in Judah, and indeed to revive Judaism, and the Old Testament.
2. That though England had been sometimes a true national church, as was Judah, yet that it did not so remain in the deep apostacy of Antichrist but was divorced in Rome, her mother: whereas Judah on the other side, into what transgression soever she fell, was never divorced by the Lord, but still remained his, though unfaithful, wife: the Lord ever and anon, stirring up some extraordinary instrument or other, for her reformation, and the renovation of her covenant: with which also the Lord so effectually wrought, as the things are wonderful which are “written of all the people, and such, as never shall be found in any whole kingdom to the world's end.
3. That the reformation by King Edward, and Queen Elizabeth, though great in itself, and they, in it, under God, greatly to be honoured, was nothing comparable to that which was made in Judah, by Jehoshaphat, Josiah, Asa, Hezekiah, and Nehemiah.
These points I have proved at large elsewhere* and do refer the reader thither for answer, only I will note some particular oversights of the ministers in this fourth exception: as first, where they say they have proved there was a true church in the land before Queen Elizabeth's reign; they should have proved, that the land was a true church: for so was Judah. Second, where they say, that the noblemen were sent by Jehoshaphat only to accompany, and assist the Levites, and to countenance their ministry, where the Scriptures affirm they were sent even to teach. 3 Chron. xvii. 7. You will have no teaching but by church officers: therefore you so put the Scripture off. Third, that they say, Josiah compelled his subjects to the service of the true God: taking compulsion as they do; where it is evident the people did it freely: though I acknowledge he made compulsive laws.* Fourth, speaking of the authority of magistrates over their subjects they bring in Hezekiah's proclamation, as they call it, sent to Israel: whereas the ten tribes were not his subjects, nor he their king. And lastly, that the Ishmaelites were separated from the church of God: therein acknowledging that Judah was always the true church of God: which I suppose they will not say of England always, or of Rome: if they do, it is their sin to separate from the true church.
The fifth, and last exception of the ministers is, “that Mr. Barrowe and Mr. Greenwood required that the people in the beginning of the queen's reign should by solemn oath and covenant have renounced idolatry, and have professed faith, and obedience to the gospel, after the example of Asa's reformation.” To which their answer is, first, that “such a covenanting by oath is not absolutely necessary, as appears in Jehoshaphat's, and Josiah's reformation. Second, that the people was before that oath and covenant, God's true church: which their people also may be. Third, that sundry congregations as in Coventry, and Northampton did publicly profess repentance for their idolatry, and promised to obey the truth established. Fourth, they doubt not to affirm that the whole land in the first parliament did enter a solemn covenant with the Lord for renouncing of Popery, and receiving the gospel.” Page 189.
That Mr. Barrowe and Mr. Greenwood should require, that the covenant into which the church entereth, should be by oath, necessarily, is more than I know: or than we practise. But that they required, that the people, that is the whole nation, should so have passed a solemn oath, and covenant, I know is most untrue. All men know, they thought the ignorant, profane, popish multitude incapable of the Lord's covenant, and the seals of it: and to have required of them an oath for such a purpose had been to have required of them the taking of God's name in vain. Where it is said in the second place that the people of Judah were God's true church, before the time of that oath and covenant, it is true, and against you. And I would demand of you whether your people were God's true church, when Popery reigned. Your answer is, so may our people be. You dare not say they were; for then you should acknowledge the Romish synagogue the true church of God, and that you had sinfully schismed from it, as Mr. Bernard proves against you and himself: you will not say, they were not: for that would make against you in the point in hand: and would manifest, as indeed it doth, that the course taken with Judah, being the true church, for her reformation, cannot agree with Rome, or England, as a member of the Romish church for her reformation.
To that which is added, in the 3rd place, of Coventry, Northampton, and some other congregations, my reply is, first, that this is not likely to have been the deed of the congregations, but of some two or three forward ministers, a few of the people it may he approving of it, which their successors were as like to reverse. Second, they did not repent of their public idolatry, nor purpose to obey the truth in sincerity: of their profane mixture, Romish hierarchy, and ministry, popish liturgy, and constitutions, according to which all things are administered amongst them, they repented not: and besides they knew right well many truths, which they purposed not to embrace. Third, grant it were, as they pretend, with these few parishes, what must be said of the rest which did not so practise? with whom they make, and always have done, one entire national church, or what is this to the public, and formal state of the Church of England against which we deal? The truth is, these men thus practising, were reputed, and truly, schismatics in the formal constitution of the church: and by which this their dealing hath no warrant at all. If we should object unto you the popish doctrines and practices, of two or three ministers amongst you, not warrantable by law, you would not admit of our exception against the formal, established estate of your church: so neither may we admit of yours, for the practice of two or three, disliking the present state of tilings, and seeking for reformation of them.
Lastly, We see indeed that those ministers doubt not to affirm, “that the whole land, Papists, and Atheists and all, did in the first parliament of the queen enter a solemn covenant for renouncing of Popery, and receiving the gospel: but we would see first, how all these swarms of wicked Atheists, and most flagitious persons were hy the revealed will of God capable of the covenant of the new testament, and the seals, and other rites, and privileges of it. Otherwise this haling them into covenant with the Lord, against his express will, was a profane and presumptuous enterprise in itself, though I doubt not arising from a godly intent in the queen, and her chief councillors being misled hy them, whom they too much trusted. Second, we would see what warrant there is in the New Testament for this national covenant, or that all the people in a land, since the land of Canaan was profaned, should unite into a national church, under a national government, and ministry. Third, that which we answered in the second place to the former branch of this exception, must here again be remembered. Fourth, this undoubted affirmation of the ministers touching the whole land's covenanting in the parliament, first, inferreth that the enacting of civil laws, and penal statutes by kings, and states, doth gather churches: for none other covenant was there in the parliament:* secondly, it confirmeth the popish doctrine of implicit faith: and that men may receive, and profess a faith whereof they are ignorant, yea, which they dislike and hate, so far as they know it: for so was it with the body of your nation, the greatest part by far being mere natural men, and so not knowing the gospel: yea “evil doers, which hate the light.” 1 Cor. ii. 14; John iii. 20.
II.—That the Forms of Worship in the Church of England are not Scriptural or Serviceable.
Our second objection touching the outward worship wherein the Church of England communicateth, comes now to be enforced. In the clearing of which the ministers do, to speak on, insist only upon their “stinted and set forms of prayer:” for the justification of which they bring sundry scriptures, as Numb. vi. 23, 24; Deut. xxvi. 3, 15; Psa. xxii. 1; Luke xi. 2. Now for our more orderly proceeding, I will reduce the things they say to three general heads, under which I will consider of the particulars, showing how in all, and every of them they are mistaken.
First, In that they do confound, and make all one ordinance, blessings, psalms, and prayers.
Second, In misinterpreting the scriptures they bring to prove a set and stinted form of words to be imposed in prayer.
Third, In concluding, as they do, that if Moses, and Christ might appoint, and impose a certain form of words to be used for prayer, that then the bishops in England or others, may use the same power, and appoint another form of words so to be used. Of these three in order:
And first, it is evident, that, howsoever some kind of blessing and prayer be all one, and so may he confounded, yet that solemn kind of blessing spoken of, Numb, vi., and which the patriarchs, and priests did use in their places, was clean of another nature. In prayer the minister stands in place of the people, and in their name offers up petitions, and thanksgiving to God: but in blessing, the minister stands in the place of God, and in his name pro-nounceth a blessing, or mercy upon the people. Second, whereas this duty of prayer may be performed by one equal to another, by an inferior to a superior, yea, by a man to himself; that other, of blessing, is always from the greater to the lesser: and therefore the apostle to the Hebrews, to show that the priesthood of Melchisedec was more excellent than that of Levi proves it by this, that Melchisedec blessed Abraham; taking this for granted without all contradiction, that the less is blessed of the greater. Heb. vii. 17. Third, Mr. Bernard himself in this book, page 148, makes prayer one thing, and the blessing pronounced upon the people, when they departed, another thing: as he also makes singing of psalms a third distinct thing from them both: as there is cause he should.
For first, the apostle writing to the Corinthians of the divers gifts, and administrations in the church, speaketh thus, “I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the understanding also:” I will sing with the spirit, but I will sing with the understanding also.“1 Cor. xiv. 15. Answerable unto which is that, in James, ch. v. 13:”Is any among you afflicted? let him pray; is any merry? let him sing:” both the one and other apostle making singing and praying distinct exercises. Add unto this, that whereas in praying we are to speak only unto God, it is otherwise insinging, where we are taught to speak unto ourselves in psalms, and to teach, and admonish ourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, Eph. v. 19; Col. iii. 16. What greater difference? In prayers we speak only to God: in psalms to ourselves mutually, or one to another. Neither had Mr. Giffard any advantage in the words following, where we are taught to sing with a grace in our hearts to the Lord: for hy singing with a grace is meant such singing as ministereth grace unto the hearers, contrary to that corrupt, or rotten communication, Eph. iv. 29. And in this, as in all other things, we must propound the glory and honour of God unto ourselves.
3. There are very many both of David's, and other psalms, wherein there is no title of prayer: but they are merely to be sung for doctrine, instruction, and meditation, as Psa. i. 3; and many more. The ministers write, pp. 192, 193, that the most psalms that David made, were sung not only as meditations, and doctrines, for the instructions of the church, but as prayers to God, because they are said to be sung unto the Lord: for which purpose they instance in one only, which is Psa. lxvi. 2, 3.
Well, not to fall to reckoning with them, wherein they and I should not agree: for I would except against their picked instance, Psa. lxvi. 2, 3, which all men may see was not sung for prayer, nor unto the Lord, as they mean, but for instruction, and provocation of the church to praise God, if they consider it, they should have proved, not that some, but that all psalms are prayers; otherwise they may not be confounded, and made one ordinance, as by them they are. But to come to that which is, specially, to be observed: even those psalms, whose matter is prayer, are not prayers; neither is the singing of them, the outward ordinance, and exercise of praying. And this is the very state of the controversy. Which that it may be understood the better, it must be considered, that the very same matter of prayer may be used diversely, and so formed into divers external ordinances. It may be read, preached, heard, written, sung, or prayed. Now who is so simple, as to say hereupon that reading, preaching, hearing, writing, singing, praying, are all one? If a man read David's prayer, that the Lord would turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness, 2 Sam. xv. 31; or either read, or sing the Psalm vi. 6, where in his prayer, he professeth, that he causeth his bed every night to swim, and waters his couch with tears: or Psalm xlii. 6, that he remembers God from the land of Jordan, &c., doth that man therefore pray to God, that he would turn into foolishness the counsel of Ahithophel? or doth he profess, that he waters his couch with tears every night, and remembers God from the land of Jordan? or is it not evident he reads, and sings those prayers only for instruction of himself, and others? And so we read in the inscription of the last named psalm that it was committed to the sons of Korah, not to pray it, which they could not do without folly, but for instruction. And as truly may it be said, that the reading of Noah's curse, Gen. ix. 25, or Shimei's, 2 Sam. xvi. 5, is cursing, as that the reading, or singing, for singing is but a reading in tune, of David's prayers, is praying.
But it will here be asked, Is it not then lawful for a man in the singing of David's psalms, consisting of prayer, to lift up his heart, and to have it affected accordingly, as he can apply the matter in them to his present state, and occasions? Yes certainly, it is both lawful, and godly: but withal it must be remembered, that the question here is not about the inward affection of the heart, but about the outward ordinance: and second, that a man may so lift up his heart, and have the affection of prayer, and thanksgiving, in preaching, hearing, writing, reading: and yet not perform the outward exercise, and outward ordinance of prayer, of which our question is.
Lastly, In psalms there is of necessity required a certain known form of words, that two or more may sing together: according to the nature of the ordinance, wherein many joining vocally, do make a consent or harmony. But who will say there is such simple necessity of a set form of words for prayer? wherein one is to utter a voice, according to the suggestions of the Spirit in his heart, and the rest to consent by silence, with saying, Amen, By which it appeareth how unadvisedly these ministers and others do thus again and again urge set forms of psalms to prove set forms of prayer.
Thus much of the first head; the second followeth, in which such scriptures are to be considered of, as are brought to prove a set and stinted form of words to be imposed for prayer. The principal scriptures for this purpose, and unto which the rest may be reduced, are Numb. vi. 23, 24; Matt. vi. 9; Luke xi. 2.
It is a troublesome thing that these ministers thus urge the letter of the scriptures: as if the question were not about their sense, and interpretation: which they should prove to be for their stinted service: as they should also disprove our reasons to the contrary. But herein they are utterly silent, and think it sufficient to inculcate the words, “Thus shall ye bless the children of Israel, and say unto them,”&c.: and, “When you pray, say thus, Our father,” &c., even as the Papists urge these words, “This is my body.” Numb. vi. 23; Matt. vi. 9; Luke xi. 2.
First, then, we do acknowledge these words to be in the scriptures by them cited. Second, we hold it lawful to use those very words in our prayers, all, or any part of them, if we be thereunto guided by the Holy Ghost in whom we must always pray, and by whose help we must make our requests unto God, Jude 20; Rom. viii. 26, 27. But the question is, whether Moses tied and stinted the priests to that form of words in blessing the people: and whether Christ tied and stinted his disciples to that very form of words for prayer, so to be used by the one, and other, without alteration, addition, or diminution.
And that this is not the meaning of the Holy Ghost, I do manifest by these reasons.
First, These particles “thus, or on this manner,” and “say,” do not usually in the Scriptures design or note out the form of words, but the substance of the thing spoken of. Take an instance or two. When the Lord sent Moses unto Pharaoh, King of Egypt, it was under these terms: “Thou shalt say to Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my first-born: wherefore I say to thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me.” Exod iv. 22, 23, &e. But when Moses came to deliver his message in the next chapter, ver. 1, 2, he doth not tie himself to the self-same words, nor useth them. He did not understand, Thou shalt say to Pharaoh, and Thus saith the Lord, of the form of words, but of the substance of the thing. The same in effect may be said of Abraham's servant going about a wife for Isaac, who, relating to Laban the prayer he made for direction in the business, doth not use the same words, when he tells him what he said in his prayer. Gen. xxiv. 12, 42. It seems in his understanding, a man might say thus, and thus, in prayer, though he used not the same words if he spake to the same purpose.
Many more scriptures might I bring, as others have done before me, to prove, that these words, and particles, upon which these men would reckon the words of their prayers, do no way enjoin any such stint of words and syllables, but only a similitude of matter, and are for direction therein.
It is evident in the Scriptures, that neither Moses, nor the priests, or other holy men stinted themselves to these words. 1 Sam. i. 17; ii. 20; Deut. xxxiii. 1, 2; 2 Chron. vi. 3, 4.
Thirdly, Why do not the ministers now tie themselves to this form of words in blessing the people: they being the Lord's priests, and Levites, and the church, the Israel of God. Isa. lxvi. 21; Gal. vi. 16. This blessing was no ceremony, or shadow to be abolished, but moral, and perpetual.
Fourthly, If the Lord Jesus in directing his disciples to pray, prescribe them a certain form of words, to be used, when he bids them Pray thus, or after this manner: and when they pray, say, then either Matthew, or Luke miss in Christ's intendment: for they, as all may see, record not the same certain form of words. If defence be made, that they speak of two several times, wherein Christ gave this direction, I answer such a man, that if that be granted, it makes against him; for Christ intended the same thing in both places, and at both times: whereupon it follows that the use of a certain form of words, was no part of Christ's intendment.
It is evident that these words of Christ, Pray thus, and When you pray, say, are a commandment, binding bis church to the world's end, in all places, and at all times: and that When you pray, say, is as much as, whensoever, or at what time soever, you pray, say: as, when they deliver you up, Matt. x. 19, when one saith I am Paul's, &e. 1 Cor. iii. 4, when ye come together, &c. ch. xiv. 26, is as much as, when or at what time soever, they deliver you; whensoever one saith, I am Paul's: whensoever ye come together. And to let pass all other scriptures, in the sixth of Matthew where Christ delivers this form, and speaks of this, and the like matters, when thou givest thine alms, ver. 8, when thou prayest, ver. 5, when ye fast, ver. 16, that is, whensoever thou givest alms, fastest, or prayest. Whereupon it followeth necessarily, that, if Christ the Lord intended a set form of words, when he directed his disciples to pray, and bade them, When ye pray, say, then whensoever we pray, we must use that very form of words, and none other. For the words of Christ are not a permission, as the ministers insinuate, hut an absolute commandment: neither is the question, as they untruly lay it down, whether it be lawful to use these very words in prayer, but whether it be necessary, and that when, or whensoever we pray: for that which Christ intends, he commands; and what he commands, he commands to be done, when, or whensoever we pray. Arid these things considered* it is no absurd objection, as these ministers make it, that we never read the apostles did use this prescript form of words in prayer. For reading of many forms of prayer they used, and never of this, we are assured that Christ did not stint them to this form of words, nor command them when they prayed to use them: for then they had sinned, when they prayed, and used them not.
Christ Jesus in the same place teacheth his disciples as well touching alms, and fasting, as prayer: and in particular., that when they fast, they should anoint their head, and wash their face. Matt. vi. 17. Now who is so ignorant as to affirm, that Christ's purpose herein is to bind them to these ceremonies? and why not as well, as to tie them to these very words? He saith as well, When thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, as When thou prayest say, Our Father, &c. yea, touching prayer itself, he as well directs, and teacheth his disciples what, or how to do as what, or how to speak. He saith as well, When thou prayest, enter into the chamber, and shut the door, as When thou prayest, say, Our Father, ver. 6: as then the purpose of Christ in teaching his disciples, when they fast to anoint their head, and wash their face; and when they pray, to enter into their chamber, and to shut the door, is not to tie them to that very form of ceremony, but to advertise them to beware of all hypocrisy, and vain-glory in these things: so when he teacheth them to pray on this manner, his purpose is not to tie them to the very form of words, but to admonish them to beware of all vain babblings, and superstitious repetitions: and to ask in faith of God the Father, who knows their wants beforehand, ver. 7, 8.
Lastly, As we are commanded to pray the Lord's prayer, as it is called, so are we to preach the Word of God. 2 Tim. iv. 2. But as if a man take the Scriptures, and read them, or some part of them unto the people, or commit the same to memory, and so utter it, this is not preaching: so neither is the reading of this prescript, or repeating it by memory, praying. Indeed in preaching we must ever make the Scriptures our text, and groundwork, and must speak according unto them: and may take a verse, two, or more, and use them, even word for word, as they fit our occasion, and may be applied to our purpose: so in praying we must make this prescript ever, as it were, the text, and groundwork of our prayer, and must pray according unto it: and may use a petition, two, or more, or all in, or of it, even word for word, if so the Holy Ghost, by whose immediate teachings and suggestions all our requests must be put up, do direct us, and that we can apply the same words to our present occasions and needs. The same which I have said touching the preaching of the Word, may be added in respect of the administration of the sacraments.
The apostle writing to the Corinthians about the Lord's Supper, advertiseth them, that he received of the Lord, that which he delivered unto them. 1 Cor. xi. 23. Now he that looks into the three evangelists, that mention this institution, and compares either one of them with another, or Paul with any of them, he shall find, that the ordinance stands not at all in the prescript form of words, wherein they all differ each from others, Matt, xxvii. 26; Mark xiv. 22; Luke xxiii. 19. It is evident that the Lord administered this supper but once: and that in a certain form of words. And that which the Lord delivered unto his disciples, these four penmen of the Holy Ghost delivered to the churches. Now the great liberty, which they use in respect of forms of words, wherein they differ each from others, shows how little this institution and ordinance stands upon such stints: as also how far it is from the meaning of Christ, that the churches should be thus short-tied in the use of them. The same may be said of the ordinance of prayer, by Christ given to his church: wherein, the two evangelists, that mention it, do use the same liberty: as most likely would the other two also have done, in respect of forms of words, had they made mention of it.
But grant that the words of Christ, Pray after this man-mer, and When you pray, say, are to be interpreted as these men would have it, yet do I except against their service-book in a double respect. The first is, that the reading of prayers upon a book hath no justification from them. If it be said, that to commit a certain form of words to the memory, and from it to utter them, and to read them upon a book, are all one, I deny the consequence: and though I approve not of the former, yet is the latter far the worse. For, besides that he that read-eth, hath another speaking to him, as it were, even he whose writing he reads, and himself speaks not to God, but to the people, to whom he reads in the former, there is a kind of use, though not lawful, of the gift of memory: where in the other book-praying there is no use of that, or any other gift.
Secondly, It follows not, that because the Lord Jesus might impose a set form of words to be used for prayer, that therefore the lord bishops of England may impose another set form so to be used. The consequence is, notably, both erroneous and presumptuous. So bold, indeed, are they, and so high do they advance themselves in their ordinances and impositions! Because the Lord hath separated one day from the rest, and made it holy, therefore they will also make other holy days: because Christ hath set down canons, and constitutions for the government of his church, therefore they also will hare their canons, and constitutions: because he hath appointed a form of administering the sacraments, therefore they may appoint another form, yea, and that such a one as altereth, and innovateth the very nature of the words of institution. For where Christ would have the words of institution published, and preached, “This is my body which ' is given for you,” Luke xxii. 19;] Cor. xi. 24, they turn this preaching into a prayer, “The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto eternal life,” &c., repeating the same also to every several communicant: which Christ would have pronounced once for all, according to the nature of the ordinance. And thus they will set their thresholds by the Lord's thresholds, and their posts by his posts, Ezek. xliii. 8: and rather than they will want room for their own, they will pare off part of his, yea, wholly demolish them. If the Lord Jesus appoint one ordinance for his church, they will appoint another: and surely, so they may lawfully: if they be, as they are reputed, and pretend themselves, lord bishops, and archbishops of the church, and spiritual lords, over God's heritage.
To these things I will add a few reasons against this read stinted service, and so conclude both the matter, and the book.
And first, It cannot be an ordinance of Christ, because the church may perfectly, and entirely worship God, without it, with all the parts of holy and spiritual worship; as did the apostolic churches for many years before any such liturgy was devised and imposed: and as do many churches now: and as appears by that which is done before and after sermons, where no such stint is read of, what may be done at all times, and in all places, where able and lawful ministers of the New Testament are.
Secondly, As the administrations of the public prayers of the church is a principal duty of the minister, for which a special gift and qualification is required, so cannot the reading of a service-book be that administration, because no special or ministerial gift is required for it. Isa. v. 6, 7; Matt. xxi. 13; Acts vi. 4.
Thirdly, The two feet upon which the dumb ministry stands, like Nebuchadnezzar's image upon the feet of iron and clay, Dan. ii. 33, are the Book of Common Prayer, and of Homilies: the reading of the former, which is the right foot, serving them for prayer, and of the other for preaching: which feet, if they were smitten as were the other, with the stone cut without hands, the whole idol priesthood would fall, and be broken in pieces, as that other image was. And here I would intreat them, that have written, and are persuaded so much against the reading of the Apocryphal books of the Maccabees, and those which follow them, in the congregation, especially them, which have so sufficiently dealt against Mr. Hutton* and his fellows, to turn the face of their arguments generally against the apocryphal service-book; and they will silence that book, as well, and as much, as the rest, like women in the church, as they speak.
Fourthly, As it were a ridiculous thing for a child, when he would ask of his father bread, fish, or any other thing he wanted, to read it to him out of a paper: so is it for the children of God, especially for the ministers of the gospel in their public ministrations, to read unto God their requests, for their own, and the church's wants, out of a service-book, wherein they are also stinted to words and syllables: by which also they, and the people with them, are under a greater dearth, than if they eat bread by weight, and drank water by measure. Ezek. iv. 16.
Lastly, If this use of the service-book be sanctified of God, for the public and solemn prayers of the church, and so deemed by these ministers and others, the forward people in the kingdom, what is the reason why they so seldom, yea or rather never, use the same, or any other of the like nature in their families, but do on the contrary lay aside all books save that of the Spirit, by whose alone and immediate direction they are taught, and according to whose suggestions they do put up their supplications unto God? Do we not' all know, that the more forward sort of professors would be ashamed of any such book-prayers in their families. And hath the Lord sanctified that for his house, which is not holy and good enough for their houses? Will they worship God with that worship publicly, whereof they are ashamed privately? Can private men bring forth the conceptions of the Spirit without the help of any such service-book, and do the lawful ministers of the gospel stand in need of it for the manifestation of the spirit of prayer given them, for the use and comfort of the church? “Cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing.” Mal. i. 14. If these ministers then, and others, have a better sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving, than their service-book, as their- own practice both private and public, when they have liberty, shows they have, and that so themselves judge, let them learn to fear Him, that is a great King, and whose name is terrible, even the Lord of hosts. To him through Christ, the only Master and Teacher of his church, be praise for ever. He, even God the Father, for his Son Christ's sake, show his mercy in all our aberrations, and discover them unto us more and more; keep us in, and lead us into his truth: giving us to be faithful in that we have received, whether it be less or more; and preserving us against all those scandals, wherewith the whole world is filled. Amen.
Christian reader, whilst I was printing my defence against Mr. Bernard's invective, his reply came forth in a second treatise; to which I have also given answer in all the particulars which are of weight. And for that I have been occasioned by the one, and other book, to handle all the points in difference, I intreat thee to compare with this, my defence, such other oppositions especially as respect myself, whether in print or writing,-till more particular answer be given.
END OF VOL. II.
London: Reed and Pardon, Printers, Paternoster Row.
[*.]Vide pp. 273, 4, 284, 5, 6, supra.
[*.]Vide page 288, supra.
[*.]Vide pages 42—44, 49, 50, supra.
[*.]Vide pages 176, 177, supra*
[*.]Vide pages 282—288, 318—327, supra.
[*.]Vide pages 315, 316, supra.
[*.]Vide pages 309—320, supra.
[*.]Vide pages 289—320, supra.
[*.]Vide pages 318—320, supra.
[*.]“An Answer to the Reasons for Refusal of Subscription to the Book of Common Prayer,” &c., by Thomas Hutton, 4to., 1605 and 1606. “A Defence of the Ministers' Reasons for Refusal of Subscription,” &c. &c., against the several answers of Thomas Hutton, Dr. Covell, Dr. Spark, “o., 1607.