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John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 1 [1847]

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John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton: With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 1. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1209

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Vol. 1 of a mid-19th century 2 volume of Milton’s most significant prose works. Vol. 1 contains Areopagitica, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates.

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THE PROSE WORKS OF JOHN MILTON:
WITH A BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION,
BY RUFUS WILMOT GRISWOLD.

he was in his style

naked and stern; and to effeminate ears

perchance even harsh; but who will dare dispute

his strength and grandeur?

SIR EGERTON BRYDGES.

milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour.

. . . . . . . . . return to us again,

and give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.

thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart

thou hadst a voice, whose sound was like the sea:

pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free;

so didst thou travel on life’s common way,

in cheerful godliness, and yet thy heart

the lowliest duties on herself did lay.

WORDSWORTH.
IN TWO VOLUMES I
PHILADELPHIA:
JOHN W. MOORE, No. 198 CHESNUT STREET.
1847.
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Printed by King & Baird.

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BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION.

On the ninth day of December, 1608, John Milton was born in London.

It was near the close of the golden age of England. Spenser had been dead ten years. Shakspeare was alive, but had ceased to write. Bacon was in the meridian of his power, but was known already to be one of the meanest of mankind, and neither his genius nor his station secured respect.

The father of Milton had been disinherited for becoming a Protestant; but not until the completion of his studies at Oxford, where he was distinguished for his scholarship, taste and accomplishments.* Deprived of his patrimony, he adopted the profession of a scrivener, in the practice of which he was so successful as to be able to give his son a liberal education, and at an early age to retire with a competence into the country.

The instruction of Milton was carefully attended to: his private tutor was Thomas Young, a Puritan minister, who remained with him until compelled on account of his religious opinions to leave the kingdom. In 1624, soon after entering upon his sixteenth year, he was sent to Cambridge, where he was committed to the tuition of Mr. Chappell, afterwards a bishop, and the reputed author of The Whole Duty of Man. He had already made astonishing progress in learning. He was familiar with several languages, and with the most abstruse books in philosophy. Before he was eighteen, he studied critically the best Greek and Roman authors, and wrote more elegant Latin verses than were ever before produced by an Englishman.

After remaining seven years at the university, where he took the degrees of bachelor and master of arts, he returned to his father’s house, at Horton, near Colebrook, whither, he says, he was accompanied by the regrets of most of the fellows of his college, who showed him no common marks of friendship and esteem. In the malignant and envious life of Milton by Dr. Johnson, there is an endeavour to prove that he was expelled from Cambridge for some misdemeanor, or that he went away in discontent because unable to obtain preferment, to spend his time in the company of lewd women, and in the play-houses of London. All this is false. It is evident from what has been written on the subject, that he committed no act deserving punishment or regret. He left Cambridge because his theological opinions, and his views of ecclesiastical independence, not permitting him to enter the church, a longer stay there was not required. He believed that he who would accept orders, “must subscribe himself slave, and take an oath withal, which unless he took with a conscience that would retch, he must either straight perjure himself, or split his faith;” and he deemed it “better to prefer a blameless silence, before the learned office of speaking, bought and begun with servitude and forswearing.”

On his father’s estate Milton passed happily five years of uninterrupted leisure, occasionally visiting London to enjoy the theatres and the conversation of his friends, or to learn something new in mathematics or music. He wrote here the Mask of Comus, and Lycidas, the Arcades, L’Allegro, and Il Penseroso, a series of poems alike extraordinary for the sublimity and beauty of their conception, and for the exquisite finish of their execution.

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On the death of his mother, in 1637, when he was about twenty-nine years of age, he became anxious to visit foreign parts, and particularly Italy. His reasons for wishing to travel, as quaintly expressed by his biographer Toland, were, that “he could not better discern the preëminence and defects of his own country, than by observing the customs and institutions of others; and that the study of never so many books, without the advantages of conversation, serves either to render a man a fool or a pedant.” Obtaining permission of his father, he left England in 1638, accompanied by a single servant, and bearing a letter of direction and advice from Sir Henry Wotton. He arrived in Paris, the most accomplished Englishman who had ever crossed the Channel, and was courteously received by the ambassador of King Charles, who introduced him to the celebrated Grotius, then representative of the queen of Sweden at the court of France. The best account of his travels is contained in the brief autobiography which opens his Second Defence of the People of England. He soon set out for Italy, and taking ship at Nice, visited Genoa, Leghorn, Pisa and Florence. “In the latter city,” he says, “which I have always more particularly esteemed for the elegance of its dialect, its genius, and its taste, I stopped about two months; when I contracted an intimacy with many persons of rank and learning; and was a constant attendant at the literary parties, which prevail there, and tend so much to the diffusion of knowledge and the preservation of friendship. No time will ever abolish the agreeable recollections which I cherish of Jacob Gaddi, Carolo Dati, Frescobaldo, Cultellero, Bonnomatthai, Clementillo, Francisco, and many others. From Florence I went to Siena, thence to Rome, where, after I had spent about two months in viewing the antiquities of that renowned city, where I experienced the most friendly attentions from Lucas Holstein, and other learned and ingenious men, I continued my route to Naples. There I was introduced by a certain recluse, with whom I had travelled from Rome, to John Baptista Manso, Marquis of Villa, a nobleman of distinguished rank and authority, to whom Torquato Tasso, the illustrious poet, inscribed his book on friendship. During my stay, he gave me singular proofs of his regard; he himself conducted me round the city, and to the palace of the viceroy; and more than once paid me a visit at my lodgings. On my departure he gravely apologized for not having shown me more civility, which he said he had been restrained from doing, because I had spoken with so little reserve on matters of religion. When I was preparing to pass over into Sicily and Greece, the melancholy intelligence which I received, of the civil commotions in England, made me alter my purpose; for I thought it base to be travelling for amusement abroad, while my fellow citizens were fighting for liberty at home. While I was on my way back to Rome, some merchants informed me that the English Jesuits had formed a plot against me if I returned to Rome, because I had spoken too freely on religion; for it was a rule which I laid down to myself in those places, never to be the first to begin any conversation on religion; but if any questions were put to me concerning my faith, to declare it without any reserve or fear. I nevertheless returned to Rome. I took no steps to conceal either my person or my character; and for about the space of two months, I again openly defended, as I had done before, the reformed religion in the very metropolis of popery. By the favour of God, I got safe back to Florence, where I was received with as much affection as if I had returned to my native country. There I stopped as many months as I had done before, except that I made an excursion for a few days to Lucca; and crossing the Apennines, passed through Bologna and Ferrara to Venice. After I had spent a month in surveying the curiosities of this city, and had put on board a ship the books which I had collected in Italy, I proceeded through Verona and Milan, and along the Leman lake to Geneva. The mention of this city brings to my recollection the slandering More, and makes me again call the Deity to witness, that in all those places, in which vice meets with so little discouragement, and is practised with so little shame, I never once deviated from the paths of integrity and virtue, and perpetually reflected that, though my conduct might Edition: current; Page: [v] escape the notice of men, it could not elude the inspection of God. At Geneva I held daily conferences with John Deodati, the learned professor of theology. Then pursuing my former route through France, I returned to my native country, after an absence of one year and about three months; at the time when Charles, having broken the peace, was renewing what is called the episcopal war with the Scots; in which the royalists being routed in the first encounter, and the English being universally and justly disaffected, the necessity of his affairs at last obliged him to convene a parliament.”

On his arrival in London, Milton could discover no way in which he might directly serve the state, and he therefore hired a spacious house for himself and his books, and resumed his literary pursuits; calmly awaiting the issue of the contest, which he “trusted to the wise conduct of Providence, and the courage of the people.”

He now undertook the education of his sister’s sons, John and Edward Phillips, and subsequently received a few other pupils, whom he instructed in the best learning of the ancients and moderns. Johnson sneers at Milton’s “great promise and small performance,” in returning from the continent because his country was in danger, and then opening a private school. But it was not from cowardice that he preferred the closet to the field, and he saw no absurdity in adding to his light income by teaching, while he wrote his immortal works on the nature and necessity of liberty. “I did not,” he says in his Defensio Secunda, “for any other reason decline the dangers of war, than that I might in another way, with much more efficacy, and with not less danger to myself, render assistance to my countrymen, and discover a mind neither shrinking from adverse fortune, nor actuated by any improper fear of calumny or death. Since from my childhood I had been devoted to the more liberal studies, and was always more powerful in my intellect than in my body, avoiding the labours of the camp, in which any robust soldier would have surpassed me, I betook myself to those weapons which I could wield with the most effect; and I conceived that I was acting wisely when I thus brought my better and more valuable faculties, those which constituted my principal strength and consequence, to the assistance of my country and her honourable cause.”

Milton was a silent and calm, but careful and far seeing spectator of the general agitation. The outrageous abuses of power by the weak minded and passionate king, and the despotism of the episcopal officers, caused the popular heart to beat as the sea heaves in a storm; and the restraints of established authority, made weaker every day by over exertion, were soon altogether to cease. The Long Parliament was in session; the bigoted and persecuting Primate had been impeached; and the Second Spirit of the Revolution stepped before the audience of the world, to be in all the great period which followed the most earnest and powerful champion of the cause of the people. “I saw,” he says, “that a way was opening for the establishment of real liberty; that the foundation was laying for the deliverance of man from the yoke of slavery and superstition; that the principles of religion, which were the first objects of our care, would exert a salutary influence on the manners and constitution of the republic; and as I had from my youth studied the distinctions between religious and civil rights, I perceived that if I ever wished to be of use, I ought at least not to be wanting to my country, to the church, and to so many of my fellow Christians, in a crisis of so much danger; I therefore determined to relinquish the other pursuits in which I was engaged, and to transfer the whole force of my talents and my industry to this one important object.”

He accordingly wrote and published in the year 1641 his first work in prose, under the title Of Reformation in England, and the Causes that hitherto have hindered it. In this he attempts to show that prelacy is incompatible with civil liberty, and to the support of this proposition he brings learning more various and profound, a power of reasoning, and an impassioned eloquence, unprecedented in English controversy. The treatise ends with the following prayer, “piously laying the sad condition of England before the footstool of Edition: current; Page: [vi] the Almighty;” than which, as Sir Edgerton Brydges well observes, “there is not a more sublime and patriotic ode in any language.”

“Thou, therefore, that sittest in light and glory unapproachable, Parent of angels and men! next, thee I implore, omnipotent King, Redeemer of that lost remnant whose nature thou didst assume, ineffable and everlasting Love! and thou, the third subsistence of divine infinitude, illumining Spirit, the joy and solace of created things! one Tripersonal Godhead! look upon this thy poor and almost spent and expiring church; leave her not thus a prey to these importunate wolves, that wait and think long, till they devour thy tender flock; these wild boars that have broken into thy vineyard, and left the print of their polluting hoofs on the souls of thy servants. O let them not bring about their damned designs, that stand now at the entrance of the bottomless pit, expecting the watchword to open and let out those dreadful locusts and scorpions, to reinvolve us in that pitchy cloud of infernal darkness, where we shall never more see the sun of thy truth again, never hope for the cheerful dawn, never more hear the bird of morning sing. Be moved with pity at the afflicted state of this our shaken monarchy, that now lies labouring under her throes, and struggling against the grudges of more dreadful calamities.

“O thou, that, after the impetuous rage of five bloody inundations, and the succeeding sword of intestine war, soaking the land in her own gore, didst pity the sad and ceaseless revolution of our swift and thick-coming sorrows; wher we were quite breathless, of thy free grace didst motion peace, and terms of covenant with us; and having first well-nigh freed us from antichristian thraldom, didst build up this Britannic empire to a glorious and enviable height, with all her daughter-islands about her; stay us in this felicity, let not the obstinacy of our half-obedience and will-worship bring forth that viper of sedition, that for these fourscore years has been breeding to eat through the entrails of our peace; but let her cast her abortive spawn without the danger of this travailing and throbbing kingdom: that we may still remember in our solemn thanksgivings, how for us, the northern ocean even to the frozen Thule, was scattered with the proud shipwrecks of the Spanish armada, and the very maw of hell ransacked, and made to give up her concealed destruction, ere she could vent it in that horrible and damned blast.

“O how much more glorious will those former deliverances appear, when we shall know them not only to have saved us from greatest miseries past, but have reserved us for greatest happiness to come! Hitherto thou hast but freed us, and that not fully, from the unjust and tyrannous claim of thy foes; now unite us entirely, and appropriate us to thyself, tie us everlastingly in willing homage to the prerogative of thy eternal throne.

“And now we know, O thou our most certain hope and defence, that thine enemies have been consulting all the sorceries of the great whore, and have joined their plots with that sad intellingencing tyrant that mischiefs the world with his mines of Ophir, and lies thirsting to revenge his naval ruins that have larded our seas: but let them all take counsel together, and let it come to nought; let them decree, and do thou cancel it; let them gather themselves, and be scattered; let them embattle themselves, and be broken; let them embattle, and be broken, for thou art with us.

“Then amidst the hymns and hallelujahs of saints, some one may perhaps be heard offering at high strains in new and lofty measures, to sing and celebrate thy divine mercies and marvellous judgments in this land throughout all ages; whereby this great and warlike nation, instructed and inured to the fervent and continual practice of truth and righteousness, and casting far from her the rangs of her old vices, may press on hard to that high and happy emulation to be found the soberest, wisest, and most Christian people at that day, when thou, the eternal and shortly-expected King, shalt open the clouds to judge the several kingdoms of this world, and distributing national honours and rewards to religious and just commonwealths, shalt put an end to all earthly tyrannies, proclaiming thy universal and mild monarchy through heaven and earth; where Edition: current; Page: [vii] they, undoubtedly, that by their labours, counsels, and prayers, have been earnest for the common good of religion and their country, shall receive above the inferior orders of the blessed, the regal addition of principalities, legions, and thrones into their glorious titles, and in supereminence of beatific vision, progressing the dateless and irrevoluble circle of eternity, shall clasp inseparable hands with joy and bliss, in overmeasure for ever.”

To this, and other attacks of the Puritan writers, Bishops Hall and Usher soon after replied; the first in An humble Remonstrance to the High Court of Parliament, and the last in The Apostolical Institution of Episcopacy. Milton had commenced the controversy, and he did not shrink from its prosecution. He thought that on subjects to the consideration of which he was early led solely by his love of truth and reverence for Christianity, he should not reason worse than they who were contending only for their emoluments and usurpations. He wrote, therefore, in answer to the bishops, the tract on Prelatical Episcopacy, and in the same year, The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelacy. In the preface to the second book of this last treatise, he discloses with a calm confidence the high opinion he held of his own powers, and gives promise of a work which his mind, in the spacious circuit of her musing, had proposed to herself, “not to be raised from the heat of youth or the vapours of wine, like that which flows at waste from the pen of some vulgar amorist or the trencher fury of a rhyming parasite, but by devout prayer to the eternal Spirit, who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his seraphim with the hallowed fire of his altar to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases.” This is the prophetic announcement of Paradise Lost, from which he turned for a while his thoughts, in obedience to “God’s secretary Conscience,” to “embark in a troubled sea of noises and hoarse disputes.”

Bishop Hall came out with a Defence of the Remonstrance, which was quickly succeeded by Milton’s Animadversions, in the form of a dialogue, and written in a lighter and more satirical vein than his previous works, though not without some passages of solemn and impressive eloquence.

In the beginning of the year 1642 an anonymous reply to the Animadversions appeared, under the title of A Modest Confutation of a Slanderous and Scurrilous Libel, in which Milton was assailed with every sort of rancorous abuse; and Christian men were called upon to “stone him to death,” lest they should smart from his impunity. In his Apology for Smectymnuus,* which followed soon after, he repulsed and overthrew his adversaries with their own weapons, and put an end by the unapproachable ability of his argument, to the prelatical controversy. In the beginning of the year 1642, the English hierarchy was abolished by act of parliament, with the royal assent: so rapid and so powerful was the influence of a mighty genius upon the opinion and action of the nation.

Milton was now but thirty-four years of age. Had he never written more than the works already finished, he would have been one of the greatest benefactors of the church and of mankind. He had surpassed all the masters of eloquence in his own country and language, and equalled the greatest of all the ages, in those voices for liberty which, though long silent, are destined to ring with a clear and sonorous sound through many centuries around the world. Shakspeare had shown the capacities of our tongue for harmony and beauty. Milton, rivalling his immortal predecessor in mastery of its melodies, developed all its vigour and grandeur, and by his words fought such battles as the genius of his elder brother alone might fittingly record.

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His form was cast in the finest mould of manly beauty; no one surpassed him in elegance of manners; and his carriage “bespoke undauntedness and courage.” His voice was variably musical, and his conversational abilities never were approached, perhaps, unless in those of one of the most illustrious Englishmen of this present age. In the mornings of winter he was “up and stirring ere the sound of any bell awoke men to labour or devotion; in summer as oft, with the bird that first rouses, to read good authors till the attention was weary or the memory had its fraught;” so possessed was he “with a fervent desire to know good things, and with the dearest charity to infuse a knowledge of them into others.” Yet he sometimes indulged his passion for the observation of external beauty, for in the fine days of spring, he thought, “in the vernal seasons of the year when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake of her rejoicing with heaven and earth.”

The marriage of Milton was unfortunate, and it gave a new direction to his literary labours. His susceptibility to impressions from loveliness is shown in the episode of his history which connects it with that of Leonora Baroni of Rome. He was now suddenly captivated by the person and manners of Mary, a daughter of Richard Powell of Oxfordshire, whom he married and brought to London. Of a royalist family, and accustomed to an affluent gayety, she soon grew weary of the frugality and quiet simplicity which reigned in the house of her husband, and in a few weeks requested permission to revisit her relatives, with whom she remained, in spite of his remonstrances, the whole summer, refusing even to answer his letters or to see his messengers. This so incensed him, that he resolved to repudiate her on the grounds of disobedience and desertion; and to justify himself he published in 1644, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, addressed to the parliament. He held it to be an absurdity that every union by priest or magistrate, of parties reeling from the bagnio or under the influence of any fraud or terror, was a joining by God, and that an unsuitable disposition of mind was a far better reason for divorce than such infirmities of body as were good grounds in law, provided there were a mutual consent for separation. The treatise was soon followed by The Judgment of Martin Bucer Concerning Divorce, and in the next year by Tetrachordon and Colasterion, the last being a reply to an anonymous assailant. He exhibited in no other works more accurate and extensive learning, or greater skill in argument; and if his assumptions are wrong, his reasoning is to this day unanswered. These treatises kindled against him the enmity of the Presbyterian divines, who, unmindful of his recent important services, now assailed him from the pulpit and the press with malignant bitterness, and even caused him to be summoned before the parliament, by which tribunal however he was promptly acquitted, so that his persecutors by their weak wickedness gained no advantage, and alienated forever the most powerful supporter of their cause. The battle of Naseby had now destroyed the hopes of the royalists, and the Powells perceiving that they might need Milton’s protection, and alarmed lest he should contract a second marriage, contrived an interview between him and his wife, in which she begged his pardon, and was generously restored to her home, where, in a few years, she died.

In the same year in which Milton wrote his works on divorce, he also produced his remarkable Tractate on Education, in which are embodied all the best ideas of the next two centuries on the subject; and that Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing, which in the splendour of its diction and the irresistible force of its reasoning, continues to be without a parallel in the literature of the world. He was the first to assert the unlimited right of discussion, and has left nothing to be said on this question by succeeding ages. “Who knows not,” he exclaims, “that truth is strong! Next to the Almighty, she needs no policies, no stratagems, no licensings, to make her victorious.” “Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we injure her to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood Edition: current; Page: [ix] grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?” The Presbyterians had been from the first hypocritical in their advocacy of freedom. They only preferred the Genevan gown to the cassock. They would permit the publication of no book which their illiterate or illiberal licensers could not understand, or which contained sentiments above the vulgar superstition. But under the Protectorate, when this Speech was read by Cromwell, whose genuine greatness triumphed over enslaving precedents, its lofty eloquence and faultless argument induced him to establish by law that perfect freedom of the intellect without which all other liberty is a mockery.

For a while Milton returned to those more elegant pursuits to which he was led by the genial power of nature, and in 1645 brought out a collection of his early poems. The execution of Charles in 1648, however, caused the direction of his attention once more to public affairs, and a few weeks after that event he published The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, wherein he maintained that it is lawful and had been held so through all ages for any who have the power to call to account a tyrant, and after due conviction to depose and put him to death. Sir Edgerton Brydges remarks of this proposition, that it is so objectionable as in these days to require no refutation; but in the United States, where the divine right of any man to oppress his fellows is not held, we think differently; and our admiration of Milton suffers no abatement, but rather is greater, for this and other works of like spirit which have been the prime causes of the unjust estimation in which he continues to be held in his own country. No one questions that Charles was a “traitor, a murderer, and a public enemy,” whose very existence was perilous to every sort of liberty in England; and though the constitution was defective in providing no way for convicting and punishing the first officer of the state, however flagrant might be his crimes, the right to call him to account remained with the people, forever possessing ultimate sovereignty over every authority but that of the Almighty.

Soon after the death of Charles, a book appeared under the title of Εἰϰον Βασιλιϰη, or a Portraiture of his Sacred Majesty in his Solitudes and Sufferings, purporting to be by the “royal martyr” himself, but since ascertained to be the production of Dr. Gauden, bishop of Exeter. In this he is represented in the constant exercise of prayer to God for the justice and mercy which were denied him by men. It was calculated to produce a strong reaction in the public mind in his favour, and the sale of fifty thousand copies in a few weeks showed the necessity of counteracting its influence. For this purpose the Council of State determined to avail itself of the abilities of its new secretary, who wrote with his customary rapidity the Ειϰονοϰλαστης, one of the most extraordinary of his works, of which his great learning, clear and energetic style and acute and close reasoning, lead the reader’s conviction with his admiration to the end.

Milton had scarcely finished this unanswerable work when he was called upon to do battle for the republican party on a wider field. Thus far his audience had been the English nation; he was now to address the family of civilized mankind. The son of the late king having found a refuge in the states of Holland, prevailed upon Claudius Salmasius, in the general estimation the first scholar of the age, to undertake the vindication of prelacy and monarchy in his Defensio Regia pro Carolo Primo ad Carolum Secundum, which was published near the close of the year 1649. Although this book disappointed the learned by its want of method and occasional feebleness, the arsenal whence Burke drew the artillery of his most powerful declamation cannot be so contemptible a performance as it has been the custom to represent it. Certainly, addressed as it was to the fraternity of kings, and with the weight it derived from the name of Salmasius, it was likely to produce an effect, and the Council of State saw at once that it must be answered. Milton was present at their sitting when they resolved that he should meet the champion of the Pretender. His sight was already greatly impaired, and he was warned by his physicians that total blindness would inevitably result from such labours; but he would listen to no voice opposed to that of the heavenly monitor within his breast. Edition: current; Page: [x] He finished early in 1651 the immortal Defensio pro Populo Anglicano contra Claudii Salmasii Defensionem Regem, the most masterly work in all written controversy; and while the darkness was stealing upon his eyes, overplied in the defence of liberty, he heard “all Europe ring from side to side” with his great triumph over the insolent and mercenary defender of despotism, who stole from amid a storm of hisses into obscurity and died.

Notwithstanding his blindness, Milton continued to discharge the duties of his office; and two years after his loss of sight he contracted a second marriage with Catherine, a daughter of Captain Woodcock, to whom he was bound by the fondest affection. Within a year after their union however she died, like his first wife, in giving birth to a child, who soon followed her to the grave.

Several replies to the Defence by Milton were published, but the only one which he condescended to notice was Regii Sanguinis Clamor ad Cælum adversus Parricidas Anglicanos, written by De Moulin, a Frenchman, but printed at the Hague, under the editorship of one Alexander More, who for a considerable time was reputed to be its author. It was full of the grossest abuse of the parliament as well as of Milton, who in his answer, entitled Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano contra Infamem Libellum anonymum cui titulus Regii Sanguinis Clamor, etc. treated More with merited severity, exploring the privacies of his licentiousness as well as the falsehood of his slanders. This Second Defence is not equal to the reply to Salmasius, though it has passages of unsurpassed power and beauty, and is valuable for the information it contains respecting Milton’s own history and the motives by which he regulated his actions, and for its striking portraitures of Cromwell and some other members of the republican party. With this and two subsequent answers to More, he closed his controversial labours, though he still continued to serve the state as foreign secretary. The greatness of his intellect and the purity of his heart are too conspicuous in all his works for any one to doubt the inherent grandeur of his character; and nearly the only ground upon which any one ventures now to assail him is that of his having continued in office under the Protector, whom it is a custom of English sophomores to denounce as a parricide and an usurper, but whom the intelligent and true hearted in all nations look upon as one of the noblest patriots and statesmen who ever guided the course of empire. His victories won, and an imperial crown within his grasp, with an unparelleled moderation he gave his countrymen the most free and perfect of constitutions, reserving to himself powers scarcely equal to those of a president of our own republic. The career of no ruler was ever marked by more justice, wisdom, or genuine love of country; and though Milton may have disapproved of some acts of his administration, it was not inconsistent with any of his professions or principles, or with anything that has been said in praise of him, that he continued to be his associate in office and his friend.

Until the close of the Protectorate, Milton’s leisure hours were principally devoted to the collection of materials for a Latin Thesaurus, the composition of two additional books of his History of England, and the laying of the foundation of his immortal epic poem. In the autumn of the year 1658 Oliver Cromwell died; and the extraordinary conflict of parties which followed, resulted in the restoration of the monarchy.

In the interval between the death of the great Englishman and the return of Charles the Second, Milton was not inactive. In the year 1659 he published a Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes, showing that it is not lawful for any authority to compel in matters of religion; Considerations touching the likeliest Means to remove Hirelings out of the Church, in which be contended for the voluntary system of supporting religion, which has since so successfully obtained in the United States but which was then everywhere regarded as impracticable or dangerous; a Letter to a Friend concerning the Ruptures of the State; and his Letter to General Monk. In 1660 appeared the Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth, and The Excellen Edition: current; Page: [xi] thereof compared with the Inconveniences and Dangers of readmitting Kingship into the Realm; and soon after, Brief Notes upon a late Sermon entitled The Fear of God and the King, preached and published by Matthew Griffith, Chaplain to Charles the First, in which, upon the very eve of the restoration, he continued to assert his republican principles.

Milton had acted too conspicuous a part to live openly with safety in the capital, and before Charles entered London, therefore, he concealed himself in the house of an acquaintance, where he remained until the passage of the act of oblivion, in the exceptions of which his name was happily omitted, through the intercessions of some of his friends. Soon after returning to society, he was a third time married, in consequence of the neglect and unkindness of his daughters, upon whom he had depended for the management of his domestic affairs. To this period he alludes in the passage of his Samson Agonistes in which he says,

  • Dark in light, exposed
  • To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
  • Within doors or without: still as a fool
  • In power of others, never in my own:
  • Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
  • Oh dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
  • Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse
  • Without all hope of day!

To this period has been generally referred Milton’s recently discovered Treatise on Christian Doctrine; but that work, which he would never have given to the press himself, and which is on every account less worthy of praise than any of his other productions, was probably composed during the first years after his return from Italy, and is the substance of familiar lectures on theology to his pupils. He had studied the nature of our Saviour before his mind attained the strength of its maturity, as some have looked upon the sun, until his sight for a while was darkened. In the end he was right. In none of his great works is there a passage from which it can be inferred that he was an Arian; and in the very last of his writings he declares that “the doctrine of the Trinity is a plain doctrine in Scripture.”

In earlier manhood Milton had excelled the greatest uninspired authors of all ages and nations as a theologian and political philosopher. Now, poor and old and blind, he erected the stateliest structure,

  • With pyramids and towers,
  • From diamond quarries hewn and rocks of gold,

in the regions of the imagination, in which, with “his garland and singing robes about him,” he celebrates the “throne and equipage of God’s almightiness” in strains which angels paused to hear; and which the wise and pure hearted in the world receive as echoes of the triumphant and glorious harmonies they will listen to in heaven; to enter which place of rest, not more than duly to understand a true poem, requires the simple credulity of childhood, blent with the most profound and expansive knowledge.

Paradise Lost was published in 1667; in 1671 appeared Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes; in 1672 his Artis Logicæ Plenior Institutio; and in 1673 the Treatise on True Religion, Heresy and Schism.

On Sunday, the eighth day of November, 1674, one month before completing his sixty-sixth year, John Milton died.

He was the greatest of all human beings: the noblest and the ennobler of mankind. He has steadily grown in the world’s reverence, and his fame will still increase with the lapse of ages.

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CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

  • Biographical Introduction............................................ v
  • Of Reformation touching Church Discipline in England, and the causes that hitherto have hindered it: in two Books, written to a Friend............. 1
  • Of Prelatical Episcopacy, and whether it may be deduced from the Apostolical Times, by virtue of those Testimonies which are alleged to that purpose in some late Treatises; one whereof goes under the Name of James Archbishop of Armagh........................................................ 34
  • The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. In two Books..... 45
  • Animadversions upon the Remonstrant’s Defence against Smectymnuus....... 88
  • An Apology for Smectymnuus........................................... 121
  • Of Education; to Master Samuel Hartlib.................................. 158
  • Areopagitica; a Speech for the liberty of unlicensed Printing, to the Parliament of England................................................... 166
  • The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, restored to the good of both Sexes, from the Bondage of Canon Law, and other Mistakes, to the true meaning of Scripture in the Law and Gospel compared, &c........................ 192
  • The Judgment of Martin Bucer concerning Divorce; written to Edward the Sixth, in his second Book of the Kingdom of Christ, &c.................. 256
  • Tetrachordon: Expositions upon the four chief Places in Scripture which treat of Marriage, or Nullities in Marriage, &c......................... 283
  • Colasterion: A Reply to a nameless Answer against the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce: wherein the trivial Author of that Answer is discovered, the Licenser conferred with, and the Opinion, which they traduce, defended........................................................... 356
  • The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates: proving, that it is lawful, and hath been held so through all Ages, for any, who have the Power, to call to account a Tyrant, or wicked King, and, after due Conviction, to depose, and put him to Death, if the ordinary Magistrate have neglected, or denied to do it, &c.... 374
  • Observations on the Articles of Peace between James Earl of Ormond, for King Charles the First, on the one hand, and the Irish Rebels and Papists on the other hand: and on a Letter sent by Ormond to Colonel Jones, Governor of Dublin: and a Representation of the Scots Presbytery at Belfast in Ireland. To which the said Articles, Letter, with Colonel Jones’s Answer to it, and Representation, &c., are prefixed...................................... 399
  • Eikonoclastes: in answer to a Book, entitled, Eikon Basilike, the Portraiture of his sacred Majesty in his Solitudes and Sufferings....................... 437
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OF REFORMATION IN ENGLAND,
AND THE CAUSES THAT HITHERTO HAVE HINDERED IT.
IN TWO BOOKS.

WRITTEN TO A FRIEND.

[FIRST PUBLISHED 1641.]

THE FIRST BOOK.

Sir,—Amidst those deep and retired thoughts, which, with every man Christianly instructed, ought to be most frequent, of God and of his miraculous ways and works amongst men, and of our religion and works, to be performed to him; after the story of our Saviour Christ, suffering to the lowest bent of weakness in the flesh, and presently triumphing to the highest pitch of glory in the spirit, which drew up his body also; till we in both be united to him in the revelation of his kingdom, I do not know of any thing more worthy to take up the whole passion of pity on the one side, and joy on the other, than to consider first the foul and sudden corruption, and then, after many a tedious age, the long deferred, but much more wonderful and happy reformation of the church in these latter days. Sad it is to think how that doctrine of the gospel, planted by teachers divinely inspired, and by them winnowed and sifted from the chaff of overdated ceremonies, and refined to such a spiritual height and temper of purity, and knowledge of the Creator, that the body, with all the circumstances of time and place, were purified by the affections of the regenerate soul, and nothing left impure but sin; faith needing not the weak and fallible office of the senses, to be either the ushers or interpreters of heavenly mysteries, save where our Lord himself in his sacraments ordained; that such a doctrine should, through the grossness and blindness of her professors, and the fraud of deceivable traditions, drag so downwards, as to backslide into the Jewish beggary of old cast rudiments, and stumble forward another way into the new-vomited paganism of sensual idolatry, attributing purity or impurity to things indifferent, that they might bring the inward acts of the spirit to the outward and customary eye-service of the body, as if they could make God earthly and fleshly, because they could not make themselves heavenly and spiritual; they began to draw down all the divine intercourse betwixt God and the soul, yea, the very shape of God himself, into an exterior and bodily form, urgently pretending a necessity and obligement of joining the body in a formal reverence, and worship circumscribed; they hallowed it, they fumed it, they sprinkled it, they bedecked it, not in robes of pure innocency, but of pure linen, with other deformed and fantastic dresses, in palls and mitres, gold and gewgaws fetched from Aaron’s old wardrobe, or the flamins vestry: then was the priest set to con his Edition: current; Page: [2] motions and his postures, his liturgies and his lurries, till the soul by this means of overbodying herself, given up justly to fleshly delights, bated her wing apace downward: and finding the ease she had from her visible and sensuous colleague the body, in performance of religious duties, her pinions now broken, and flagging, shifted off from herself the labour of high soaring any more, forgot her heavenly flight, and left the dull and droiling carcase to plod on in the old road, and drudging trade of outward conformity. And here, out of question, from her perverse conceiting of God and holy things, she had fallen to believe no God at all, had not custom and the worm of conscience nipped her incredulity: hence to all the duties of evangelical grace, instead of the adoptive and cheerful boldness which our new alliance with God requires, came servile and thrallike fear: for in very deed, the superstitious man by his good will is an atheist; but being scared from thence by the pangs and gripes of a boiling conscience, all in a pudder shuffles up to himself such a God and such a worship as is most agreeable to remedy his fear; which fear of his, as also is his hope, fixed only upon the flesh, renders likewise the whole faculty of his apprehension carnal; and all the inward acts of worship, issuing from the native strength of the soul, run out lavishly to the upper skin, and there harden into a crust of formality. Hence men came to scan the Scriptures by the letter, and in the covenant of our redemption, magnified the external signs more than the quickening power of the Spirit; and yet looking on them through their own guiltiness with a servile fear, and finding as little comfort, or rather terror from them again, they knew not how to hide their slavish approach to God’s behests, by them not understood, nor worthily received, but by cloaking their servile crouching to all religious presentments, sometimes lawful, sometimes idolatrous, under the name of humility, and terming the piebald frippery and ostentation of ceremonies, decency.

Then was baptism, changed into a kind of exorcism and water, sanctified by Christ’s institute, thought little enough to wash off the original spot, without the scratch or cross impression of a priest’s forefinger: and that feast of free grace and adoption to which Christ invited his disciples to sit as brethren, and coheirs of the happy covenant, which at that table was to be sealed to them, even that feast of love and heavenly-admitted fellowship, the seal of filial grace, became the subject of horror, and glouting adoration, pageanted about like a dreadful idol; which sometimes deceives well-meaning men, and beguiles them of their reward, by their voluntary humility; which indeed is fleshly pride preferring a foolish sacrifice, and the rudiments of the world, as Saint Paul to the Colossians explaineth, before a savoury obedience to Christ’s example. Such was Peter’s unseasonable humility, as then his knowledge was small, when Christ came to wash his feet; who at an impertinent time would needs strain courtesy with his master, and falling troublesomely upon the lowly, all-wise, and unexaminable intention of Christ, in what he went with resolution to do, so provoked by his interruption the meek Lord, that he threatened to exclude him from his heavenly portion, unless he could be content to be less arrogant and stiffnecked in his humility.

But to dwell no longer in characterizing the depravities of the church, and how they sprung, and how they took increase; when I recall to mind at last, after so many dark ages, wherein the huge overshadowing train of error had almost swept all the stars out of the firmament of the church; how the bright and blissful reformation (by divine power) struck through the black and settled night of ignorance and antichristian tyranny, methinks a sovereign and reviving joy must needs rush into the bosom of him that Edition: current; Page: [3] reads or hears; and the sweet odour of the returning gospel imbathe his soul with the fragrancy of heaven. Then was the sacred Bible sought out of the dusty corners where profane falsehood and neglect had thrown it, the schools opened, divine and human learning raked out of the embers of forgotten tongues, the princes and cities trooping apace to the new-erected banner of salvation; the martyrs, with the unresistible might of weakness shaking the powers of darkness, and scorning the fiery rage of the old red dragon.

The pleasing pursuit of these thoughts hath ofttimes led me into a serious question and debatement with myself, how it should come to pass that England (having had this grace and honour from God, to be the first that should set up a standard for the recovery of lost truth, and blow the first evangelic trumpet to the nations, holding up, as from a hill, the new lamp of saving light to all Christendom) should now be last, and most unsettled in the enjoyment of that peace, whereof she taught the way to others; although indeed our Wickliffe’s preaching, at which all the succeeding reformers more effectually lighted their tapers, was to his countrymen but a short blaze, soon damped and stifled by the pope and prelates for six or seven kings’ reigns; yet methinks the precedency which God gave this island, to be first restorer of buried truth, should have been followed with more happy success, and sooner attained perfection; in which as yet we are amongst the last: for, albeit in purity of doctrine we agree with our brethren; yet in discipline, which is the execution and applying of doctrine home, and laying the salve to the very orifice of the wound, yea, tenting and searching to the core, without which pulpit preaching is but shooting at rovers; in this we are no better than a schism from all the reformation, and a sore scandal to them; for while we hold ordination to belong only to bishops, as our prelates do, we must of necessity hold also their ministers to be no ministers, and shortly after, their church to be no church. Not to speak of those senseless ceremonies which we only retain, as a dangerous earnest of sliding back to Rome, and serving merely, either as a mist to cover nakedness where true grace is extinguished, or as an interlude to set out the pomp of prelatism. Certainly it would be worth the while therefore, and the pains, to inquire more particularly, what, and how many the chief causes have been, that have still hindered our uniform consent to the rest of the churches abroad, at this time especially when the kingdom is in a good propensity thereto, and all men in prayers, in hopes, or in disputes, either for or against it.

Yet I will not insist on that which may seem to be the cause on God’s part; as his judgment on our sins, the trial of his own, the unmasking of hypocrites: nor shall I stay to speak of the continual eagerness and extreme diligence of the pope and papists to stop the furtherance of reformation, which know they have no hold or hope of England their lost darling, longer than the government of bishops bolsters them out; and therefore plot all they can to uphold them, as may be seen by the book of Santa Clara, the popish priest, in defence of bishops, which came out piping hot much about the time that one of our own prelates, out of an ominous fear, had writ on the same argument; as if they had joined their forces, like good confederates, to support one falling Babel.

But I shall chiefly endeavour to declare those causes that hinder the forwarding of true discipline, which are among ourselves. Orderly proceeding will divide our inquiry into our forefathers’ days, and into our times. Henry VIII. was the first that rent this kingdom from the pope’s subjection totally; but his quarrel being more about supremacy, than other faultiness Edition: current; Page: [4] in religion that he regarded, it is no marvel if he stuck where he did. The next default was in the bishops, who though they had renounced the pope, they still hugged the popedom, and shared the authority among themselves, by their six bloody articles, persecuting the protestants no slacker than the pope would have done. And doubtless, whenever the pope shall fall, if his ruin be not like the sudden downcome of a tower, the bishops, when they see him tottering, will leave him, and fall to scrambling, catch who may, he a patriarchdom, and another what comes next hand; as the French cardinal of late and the see of Canterbury hath plainly affected.

In Edward the Sixth’s days, why a complete reformation was not effected, to any considerate man may appear. First, he no sooner entered into his kingdom, but into a war with Scotland; from whence the protector returning with victory, had but newly put his hand to repeal the six articles, and throw the images out of churches, but rebellions on all sides, stirred up by obdurate papists, and other tumults, with a plain war in Norfolk, holding tack against two of the king’s generals, made them of force content themselves with what they had already done. Hereupon followed ambitious contentions among the peers, which ceased not but with the protector’s death, who was the most zealous in this point: and then Northumberland was he that could do most in England; who, little minding religion, (as his apostacy well showed at his death,) bent all his wit how to bring the right of the crown into his own line. And for the bishops, they were so far from any such worthy attempts, as that they suffered themselves to be the common stales, to countenance with their prostitued gravities every politic fetch that was then on foot, as oft as the potent statists pleased to employ them. Never do we read that they made use of their authority and high place of access, to bring the jarring nobility to Christian peace, or to withstand their disloyal projects: but if a toleration for mass were to be begged of the king for his sister Mary, lest Charles the Fifth should be angry; who but the grave prelates, Cranmer and Ridley, must be sent to extort it from the young king? But out of the mouth of that godly and royal child, Christ himself returned such an awful repulse to those halting and time-serving prelates, that after much bold importunity, they went their way not without shame and tears.

Nor was this the first time that they discovered to be followers of this world; for when the protector’s brother, Lord Sudley, the admiral, through private malice and malengine was to lose his life, no man could be found fitter than bishop Latimer (like another Dr. Shaw) to divulge in his sermon the forged accusations laid to his charge, thereby to defame him with the people, who else it was thought would take ill the innocent man’s death, unless the reverend bishop could warrant them there was no foul play. What could be more impious than to debar the children of the king from their right to the crown? To comply with the ambitious usurpation of a traitor, and to make void the last will of Henry VIII., to which the breakers had sworn observance? Yet bishop Cranmer, one of the executors, and the other bishops, none refusing, (lest they should resist the duke of Northumberland,) could find in their consciences to set their hands to the disenabling and defeating not only of Princess Mary the papist, but of Elizabeth the protestant, and (by the bishops’ judgment) the lawful issue of King Henry.

Who then can think (though these prelates had sought a further reformation) that the least wry face of a politician would not have hushed them? But it will be said, these men were martyrs: what then? though every true Christian will be a martyr when he is called to it, not presently does it follow, Edition: current; Page: [5] that every one suffering for religion is, without exception. Saint Paul writes, that “a man may give his body to be burnt, (meaning for religion,) and yet not have charity:” he is not therefore above all possibility of erring, because he burns for some points of truth.

Witness the* Arians and Pelagians, which were slain by the heathen for Christ’s sake, yet we take both these for no true friends of Christ. If the martyrs (saith Cyprian in his 30th epistle) decree one thing, and the gospel another, either the martyrs must lose their crown by not observing the gospel for which they are martyrs, or the majesty of the gospel must be broken and lie flat, if it can be overtopped by the novelty of any other decree.

And here withal I invoke the Immortal Deity, revealer and judge of secrets, that wherever I have in this book plainly and roundly (though worthily and truly) laid open the faults and blemishes of fathers, martyrs, or Christian emperors, or have otherwise inveighed against error and superstition with vehement expressions; I have done it neither out of malice, nor list to speak evil, nor any vain glory, but, of mere necessity to vindicate the spotless truth from an ignominious bondage, whose native worth is now become of such a low esteem, that she is like to find small credit with us for what she can say, unless she can bring a ticket from Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley; or prove herself a retainer to Constantine, and wear his badge. More tolerable it were for the church of God, that all these names were utterly abolished like the brazen serpent, than that men’s fond opinion should thus idolize them, and the heavenly truth be thus captivated.

Now to proceed, whatsoever the bishops were, it seems they themselves were unsatisfied in matters of religion as they then stood, by that commission granted to eight bishops, eight other divines, eight civilians, eight common lawyers, to frame ecclesiastical constitutions; which no wonder if it came to nothing, for (as Hayward relates) both their professions and their ends were different. Lastly, we all know by example, that exact reformation is not perfected at the first push, and those unwieldy times of Edward VI. may hold some plea by his excuse. Now let any reasonable man judge whether that king’s reign be a fit time from whence to pattern out the constitution of a church discipline, much less that it should yield occasion from whence to foster and establish the continuance of imperfection, with the commendatory subscriptions of confessors and martyrs, to entitle and engage a glorious name to a gross corruption. It was not episcopacy that wrought in them the heavenly fortitude of martyrdom; as little is it that martyrdom can make good episcopacy; but it was episcopacy that led the good and holy men through the temptation of the enemy, and the snare of this present world, to many blameworthy and opprobrious actions. And it is still episcopacy that before all our eyes worsens and slugs the most learned and seeming religious of our ministers, who no sooner advanced to it, but like a seething pot set to cool, sensibly exhale and reek out the greatest part of that zeal, and those gifts which were formerly in them, settling in a skinny congealment of ease and sloth at the top: and if they keep their learning by some potent sway of nature, it is a rare chance; but their devotion most commonly comes to that queazy temper of lukewarmness, that gives a vomit to God himself.

But what do we suffer misshapen and enormous prelatism, as we do, thus to blanch and varnish her deformities with the fair colours, as before of Edition: current; Page: [6] martyrdom, so now of episcopacy? They are not bishops, God and all good men know they are not, that have filled this land with late confusion and violence; but a tyrannical crew and corporation of impostors, that have blinded and abused the world so long under that name. He that, enabled with gifts from God, and the lawful and primitive choice of the church assembled in convenient number, faithfully from that time forward feeds his parochial flock, has his coequal and compresbyterial power to ordain ministers and deacons by public prayer, and vote of Christ’s congregation in like sort as he himself was ordained, and is a true apostolic bishop. But when he steps up into the chair of pontifical pride, and changes a moderate and exemplary house for a misgoverned and haughty palace, spiritual dignity for carnal precedence, and secular high office and employment for the high negotiations of his heavenly embassage: then he degrades, then he unbishops himself; he that makes him bishop, makes him no bishop. No marvel therefore if St. Martin complained to Sulpitius Severus, that since he was a bishop, he felt inwardly a sensible decay of those virtues and graces that God had given him in great measure before; although the same Sulpitius writes that he was nothing tainted or altered in his habit, diet, or personal demeanour from that simple plainness to which he first betook himself. It was not therefore that thing alone which God took displeasure at in the bishops of those times, but rather an universal rottenness and gangrene in the whole function.

From hence then I pass to Queen Elizabeth, the next protestant princess, in whose days why religion attained not a perfect reducement in the beginning of her reign, I suppose the hindering causes will be found to be common with some formerly alleged for King Edward VI.; the greenness of the times, the weak estate which Queen Mary left the realm in, the great places and offices executed by papists, the judges, the lawyers, the justices of peace for the most part popish, the bishops firm to Rome; from whence was to be expected the furious flashing of excommunications, and absolving the people from their obedience. Next, her private counsellors, whoever they were, persuaded her (as Camden writes) that the altering of ecclesiastical policy would move sedition. Then was the liturgy given to a number of moderate divines, and Sir Thomas Smith, a statesman, to be purged and physicked: and surely they were moderate divines indeed, neither hot nor cold; and Grindal the best of them, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, lost favour in the court, and I think was discharged the government of his see, for favouring the ministers, though Camden seemed willing to find another cause: therefore about her second year, in a parliament, of men and minds some scarce well grounded, others belching the sour crudities of yesterday’s popery, those constitutions of Edward VI., which as you heard before, no way satisfied the men that made them, are now established for best, and not to be mended. From that time followed nothing but imprisonments, troubles, disgraces on all those that found fault with the decrees of the convocation, and straight were they branded with the name of puritans. As for the queen herself, she was made believe that by putting down bishops, her prerogative would be infringed, of which shall be spoken anon as the course of method brings it in: and why the prelates laboured it should be so thought, ask not them, but ask their bellies. They had found a good tabernacle, they sate under a spreading vine, their lot was fallen in a fair inheritance. And these, perhaps, were the chief impeachments of a more sound rectifying the church in the queen’s time.

From this period I count to begin our times, which because they concern us more nearly, and our own eyes and ears can give us the ampler scope Edition: current; Page: [7] to judge, will require a more exact search; and to effect this the speedier, I shall distinguish such as I esteem to be the hinderers of reformation into three sorts, Antiquitarians (for so I had rather call them than antiquaries, whose labours are useful and laudable). 2. Libertines. 3. Politicians.

To the votarists of antiquity, I shall think to have fully answered, if I shall be able to prove out of antiquity, First, that if they will conform our bishops to the purer times, they must mew their feathers, and their pounces, and make but curtailed bishops of them; and we know they hate to be docked and clipped, as much as to be put down outright. Secondly, that those purer times were corrupt, and their books corrupted soon after. Thirdly, that the best of those that then wrote, disclaim that any man should repose on them, and send all to the Scriptures.

First therefore, if those that overaffect antiquity will follow the square thereof, their bishops must be elected by the hands of the whole church. The ancientest of the extant fathers, Ignatius, writing to the Philadelphians, saith, “that it belongs to them as to the church of God to choose a bishop.” Let no man cavil, but take the church of God as meaning the whole consistence of orders and members, as St. Paul’s epistles express, and this likewise being read over: besides this, it is there to be marked, that those Philadelphians are exhorted to choose a bishop of Antioch. Whence it seems by the way that there was not that wary limitation of diocese in those times, which is confirmed even by a fast friend of episcopacy, Camden, who cannot but love bishops as well as old coins, and his much lamented monasteries, for antiquity’s sake. He writes in his description of Scotland, “That over all the world bishops had no certain diocese till pope Dionysius about the year 268 did cut them out; and that the bishops of Scotland executed their function in what place soever they came indifferently, and without distinction, till King Malcolm the Third, about the year 1070.” Whence may be guessed what their function was: was it to go about circled with a band of rooking officials, with cloakbags full of citations, and processes to be served by a corporality of griffonlike promoters and apparitors? Did he go about to pitch down his court, as an empiric does his bank, to inveigle in all the money of the country? No, certainly, it would not have been permitted him to exercise any such function indifferently wherever he came. And verily some such matter it was as want of a fat diocese that kept our Britain bishops so poor in the primitive times, that being called to the council of Ariminum in the year 359, they had not wherewithal to defray the charges of their journey, but were fed and lodged upon the emperor’s cost; which must needs be no accidental but usual poverty in them: for the author, Sulpitius Severus, in his 2d book of Church History, praises them, and avouches it praiseworthy in a bishop to be so poor as to have nothing of his own. But to return to the ancient election of bishops, that it could not lawfully be without the consent of the people is so express in Cyprian, and so often to be met with, that to cite each place at large, were to translate a good part of the volume; therefore touching the chief passages, I refer the rest to whom so list peruse the author himself: in the 24th epistle, “If a bishop,” saith he, “be once made and allowed by the testimony and judgment of his colleagues and the people, no other can be made.” In the 55th, “When a bishop is made by the suffrage of all the people in peace.” In the 68th mark but what he says; “The people chiefly hath power either of choosing worthy ones, or refusing unworthy: this he there proves by authorities out of the Old and New Testament, and with solid reasons: these were his an tiquities.

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This voice of the people, to be had ever in episcopal elections, was so well known before Cyprian’s time, even to those that were without the church, that the emperor Alexander Severus desired to have his governors of provinces chosen in the same manner, as Lampridius can tell; so little thought he it offensive to monarchy. And if single authorities persuade not, hearken what the whole general council of Nicæa, the first and famousest of all the rest, determines, writing a synodical epistle to the African churches, to warn them of Arianism; it exhorts them to choose orthodox bishops in the place of the dead, so they be worthy, and the people choose them; whereby they seem to make the people’s assent so necessary, that merit, without their free choice, were not sufficient to make a bishop. What would ye say now, grave fathers, if you should wake and see unworthy bishops, or rather no bishops, but Egyptian taskmasters of ceremonies thrust purposely upon the groaning church, to the affliction and vexation of God’s people? It was not of old that a conspiracy of bishops could frustrate and fob off the right of the people; for we may read how St. Martin, soon after Constantine, was made bishop of Turin in France, by the people’s consent from all places thereabout, maugre all the opposition that the bishops could make. Thus went matters of the church almost 400 years after Christ, and very probably far lower: for Nicephorus Phocas the Greek emperor, whose reign fell near the 1000 year of our Lord, having done many things tyrannically, is said by Cedrenus to have done nothing more grievous and displeasing to the people, than to have enacted that no bishop should be chosen without his will; so long did this right remain to the people in the midst of other palpable corruptions. Now for episcopal dignity, what it was, see out of Ignatius, who in his epistle to those of Trallis, confesseth, “That the presbyters are his fellow-counsellors and fellow-benchers.” And Cyprian in many places, as in the 6th, 41st, 52d epistle, speaking of presbyters, calls them his compresbyters, as if he deemed himself no other, whenas by the same place it appears he was a bishop; he calls them brethren, but that will be thought his meekness: yea, but the presbyters and deacons writing to him think they do him honour enough, when they phrase him no higher than brother Cyprian, and dear Cyprian in the 26th epistle. For their authority it is evident not to have been single, but depending on the counsel of the presbyters as from Ignatius was erewhile alleged; and the same Cyprian acknowledges as much in the 6th epistle, and adds thereto, that he had determined, from his entrance into the office of bishop, to do nothing without the consent of his people, and so in the 31st epistle, for it were tedious to course through all his writings, which are so full of the like assertions, insomuch that even in the womb and center of apostacy, Rome itself, there yet remains a glimpse of this truth; for the pope himself, as a learned English writer notes well, performeth all ecclesiastical jurisdiction as in consistory among his cardinals, which were originally but the parish priests of Rome. Thus then did the spirit of unity and meekness inspire and animate every joint and sinew of the mystical body; but now the gravest and worthiest minister, a true bishop of his fold, shall be reviled and ruffled by an insulting and only canon-wise prelate, as if he were some slight paltry companion: and the people of God, redeemed and washed with Christ’s blood, and dignified with so many glorious titles of saints and sons in the gospel, are now no better reputed than impure ethnics and lay dogs; stones, and pillars, and crucifixes, have now the honour and the alms due to Christ’s living members; the table of communion, now become a table of separation, stands like an exalted platform upon the brow of the quire, fortified with bulwark and barricado, to keep Edition: current; Page: [9] off the profane touch of the laics, whilst the obscene and surfeited priest scruples not to paw and mammoc the sacramental bread, as familarly as his tavern biscuit. And thus the people, vilified and rejected by them, give over the earnest study of virtue and godliness, as a thing of greater purity that they need, and the search of divine knowledge as a mystery too high for their capacities, and only for churchmen to meddle with; which is what the prelates desire, that when they have brought us back to popish blindness, we might commit to their dispose the whole managing of our salvation, for they think it was never fair world with them since that time. But he that will mould a modern bishop into a primitive, must yield him to be elected by the popular voice, undiocesed, unrevenued, unlorded, and leave him nothing but brotherly equality, matchless temperance, frequent fasting, incessant prayer and preaching, continual watchings and labours in his ministry; which what a rich booty it would be, what a plump endowment to the many-benefice-gaping-mouth of a prelate, what a relish it would give to his canary-sucking and swan-eating palate, let old bishop Mountain judge for me.

How little therefore those ancient times make for modern bishops, hath been plainly discoursed; but let them make for them as much as they will, yet why we ought not to stand to their arbitrement, shall now appear by a threefold corruption which will be found upon them. 1. The best times were spreadingly infected. 2. The best men of those times foully tainted. 3. The best writings of those men dangerously adulterated. These positions are to be made good out of those times witnessing of themselves. First, Ignatius in his early days testifies to the churches of Asia, that even then heresies were sprung up, and rise every where, as Eusebius relates in his 3d book, 35th chap. after the Greek number. And Hegesippus, a grave church writer of prime antiquity, affirms in the same book of Eusebius, c. 32: “That while the apostles were on earth, the depravers of doctrine did but lurk; but they once gone, with open forehead they durst preach down the truth with falsities.” Yea, those that are reckoned for orthodox, began to make sad and shameful rents in the church about the trivial celebration of feasts, not agreeing when to keep Easter-day; which controversy grew so hot, that Victor the bishop of Rome excommunicated all the churches of Asia for no other cause, and was worthily thereof reproved by Irenæus. For can any sound theologer think, that these great fathers understood what was gospel, or what was excommunication? Doubtless that which led the good men into fraud and error was, that they attended more to the near tradition of what they heard the appostles some times did, than to what they had left written, not considering that many things which they did were by the apostles themselves professed to be done only for the present, and of mere indulgence to some scrupulous converts of the circumcision; but what they writ was of firm decree to all future ages. Look but a century lower in the 1st cap. of Eusebius 8th book. What a universal tetter of impurity had envenomed every part, order, and degree of the church to omit the lay herd, which will be little regarded, “those that seem to be our pastors,” saith he, “overturning the law of God’s worship, burnt in contentions one towards another, and increasing in hatred and bitterness, outrageously sought to uphold lordship, and command as it were a tyranny.” Stay but a little, magnanimous bishops, suppress your aspiring thoughts, for there is nothing wanting but Constantine to reign, and then tyranny herself shall give up all her citadels into your hands, and count ye thence forward her trustiest agents. Such were these that must be called the ancientest and most virgin times between Christ and Constantine. Nor Edition: current; Page: [10] was this general contagion in their actions, and not in their writings: who is ignorant of the foul errors, the ridiculous wresting of Scripture, the heresies, the vanities thick sown through the volumes of Justin Martyr, Clemens, Origen, Tertullian, and others of eldest time? Who would think him fit to write an apology for Christian faith to the Roman senate, that would tell them “how of the angels,” which he must needs mean those in Genesis called the sons of God, “mixing with women were begotten the devils,” as good Justin Martyr in his Apology told them? But more indignation would it move to any Christian that shall read Tertullian, terming St. Paul a novice, and raw in grace, for reproving St. Peter at Antioch, worthy to be blamed if we believe the epistle to the Galatians: perhaps from this hint the blasphemous Jesuits presumed in Italy to give their judgment of St. Paul, as of a hotheaded person, as Sandys in his relations tells us.

Now besides all this, who knows not how many superstitious works are ingraffed into the legitimate writings of the fathers? And of those books that pass for authentic, who knows what hath been tampered withal, what hath been razed out, what hath been inserted? Besides the late legerdemain of the papists, that which Sulpitius writes concerning Origen’s books, gives us cause vehemently to suspect, there hath been packing of old. In the third chap. of his 1st Dialogue we may read what wrangling the bishops and monks had about the reading or not reading of Origen; some objecting that he was corrupted by heretics; others answering that all such books had been so dealt with. How then shall I trust these times to lead me, that testify so ill of leading themselves? Certainly of their defects their own witness may be best received, but of the rectitude and sincerity of their life and doctrine, to judge rightly, we must judge by that which was to be their rule.

But it will be objected, that this was an unsettled state of the church, wanting the temporal magistrate to suppress the licence of false brethern, and the extravagancy of still new opinions; a time not imitable for church government, where the temporal and spiritual power did not close in one belief, as under Constantine. I am not of opinion to think the church a vine in this respect, because, as they take it, she cannot subsist without clasping about the elm of worldly strength and felicity, as if the heavenly city could not support itself without the props and buttresses of secular authority. They extol Constantine because he extolled them; as our homebred monks in their histories blanch the kings their benefactors, and brand those that went about to be their correctors. If he had curbed the growing pride, avarice, and luxury of the clergy, then every page of his story should have swelled with his faults, and that which Zozimus the heathen writes of him should have come in to boot: we should have heard then in every declamation how he slew his nephew Commodus, a worthy man; his noble and eldest son Crispus, his wife Fausta, besides numbers of his friends; then his cruel exactions, his unsoundness in religion, favouring the Arians that had been condemned in a council, of which himself sat as it were president; his hard measure and banishment of the faithful and invincible Athanasius; his living unbaptised almost to his dying day; these blurs are too apparent in his life. But since he must needs be the loadstar of reformation, as some men clatter, it will be good to see further his knowledge of religion what it was, and by that we may likewise guess at the sincerity of his times in those that were not heretical, it being likely that he would converse with the famousest prelates (for so he had made them) that were to be found for learning.

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Of his Arianism we heard, and for the rest a pretty scantling of his knowledge may be taken by his deferring to be baptized so many years, a thing not usual, and repugnant to the tenor of Scripture; Philip knowing nothing that should hinder the eunuch to be baptized after profession of his belief. Next, by the excessive devotion, that I may not say superstition, both of him and his mother Helena, to find out the cross on which Christ suffered, that had long lain under the rubbish of old ruins; (a thing which the disciples and kindred of our Saviour might with more ease have done, if they had thought it a pious duty;) some of the nails whereof he put into his helmet, to bear off blows in battle, others he fastened among the studs of his bridle, to fulfil (as he thought, or his court bishops persuaded him) the prophecy of Zechariah; “And it shall be that which is in the bridle, shall be holy to the Lord.” Part of the cross, in which he thought such virtue to reside, as would prove a kind of Palladium to save the city wherever it remained, he caused to be laid up in a pillar of porphyry by his statue. How he or his teachers could trifle thus with half an eye open upon St. Paul’s principles, I know not how to imagine.

How should then the dim taper of this emperor’s age, that had such need of snuffing, extend any beam to our times, wherewith we might hope to be better lighted, than by those luminaries that God hath set up to shine to us far nearer hand. And what reformation he wrought for his own time, it will not be amiss to consider; he appointed certain times for fasts and feasts, built stately churches, gave large immunities to the clergy, great riches and promotions to bishops, gave and ministered occasion to bring in a deluge of ceremonies, thereby either to draw in the heathen by a resemblance of their rites, or to set a gloss upon the simplicity and plainness of Christianity; which, to the gorgeous solemnities of paganism, and the sense of the world’s children, seemed but a homely and yeomanly religion; for the beauty of inward sanctity was not within their prospect.

So that in this manner the prelates, both then and ever since, coming from a mean and plebeian life on a sudden to be lords of stately palaces, rich furniture, delicious fare, and princely attendance, thought the plain and homespun verity of Christ’s gospel unfit any longer to hold their lordships’ acquaintance, unless the poor threadbare matron were put into better clothes; her chaste and modest vail, surrounded with celestial beams, they overlaid with wanton tresses, and in a staring tire bespeckled her with all the gaudy allurements of a whore.

Thus flourished the church with Constantine’s wealth, and thereafter were the effects that followed; his son Constantius proved a flat Arian, and his nephew Julian an apostate, and there his race ended: the church that before by insensible degrees welked and impaired, now with large steps went down hill decaying: at this time Antichrist began first to put forth his horn, and that saying was common, that former times had wooden chalices and golden priests; but they, golden chalices and wooden priests. “Formerly,” saith Sulpitius, “martyrdom by glorious death was sought more greedily than now bishoprics by vile ambition are hunted after,” speaking of these times: and in another place, “they gape after possessions, they tend lands and livings, they cower over their gold, they buy and sell: and if there be any that neither possess nor traffic, that which is worse, they set still, and expect gifts, and prostitute every endowment of grace, every holy thing, to sale.” And in the end of his history thus he concludes. “All things went to wrack by the faction, wilfulness, and avarice of the bishops; and by this means God’s people, and every good man, was had in scorn and derision;” which St. Martin found truly to be said by his friend Sulpitius; for, being Edition: current; Page: [12] held in admiration of all men, he had only the bishops his enemies, found God less favourable to him after he was bishop than before, and for his last sixteen years would come at no bishop’s meeting. Thus you see sir, what Constantine’s doings in the church brought forth, either in his own or in his son’s reign.

Now, lest it should be thought that something else might ail this author thus to hamper the bishops of those days, I will bring you the opinion of three the famousest men for wit and learning that Italy at this day glories of, whereby it may be concluded for a received opinion, even among men professing the Romish faith, that Constantine marred all in the church. Dante, in his 19th Canto of Inferno, hath thus, as I will render it you in English blank verse:

  • Ah Constantine! of how much ill was cause
  • Not thy conversion, but those rich domains
  • That the first wealthy pope receiv’d of thee!

So, in his 20th Canto of Paradise, he makes the like complaint, and Petrarch seconds him in the same mind in his 108th sonnet, which is wiped out by the inquisitor in some editions; speaking of the Roman Antichrist as merely bred up by Constantine.

  • Founded in chaste and humble poverty,
  • ’Gainst them that rais’d thee dost thou lift thy horn,
  • Impudent whore, where hast thou plac’d thy hope?
  • In thy adulterers, or thy ill-got wealth?
  • Another Constantine comes not in haste.

Ariosto of Ferrara, after both these in time, but equal in fame, following the scope of his poem in a difficult knot how to restore Orlando his chief hero to his lost senses, brings Astolfo the English knight up into the moon, where St. John, as he feigns, met him. Cant. 34.

  • And to be short, at last his guide him brings
  • Into a goodly valley, where he sees
  • A mighty mass of things strangely confus’d,
  • Things that on earth were lost, or were abus’d.

And amongst these so abused things, listen what he met withal, under the conduct of the Evangelist.

  • Then past he to a flowery mountain green,
  • Which once smelt sweet, now stinks as odiously:
  • This was that gift (if you the truth will have)
  • That Constantine to good Sylvestro gave.

And this was a truth well known in England before this poet was born, as our Chaucer’s Ploughman shall tell you by and by upon another occasion. By all these circumstances laid together, I do not see how it can be disputed what good this emperor Constantine wrought to the church, but rather whether ever any, though perhaps not wittingly, set open a door to more mischief in Christendom. There is just cause therefore, that when the prelates cry out, Let the church be reformed according to Constantine, it should sound to a judicious ear no otherwise, than if they should say, Make us rich, make us lofty, make us lawless; for if any under him were not so, thanks to those ancient remains of integrity, which were not yet quite worn out, and not to his government.

Thus finally it appears, that those purer times were not such as they are cried up, and not to be followed without suspicion, doubt, and danger. The last point wherein the antiquary is to be dealt with at his own weapon, is, Edition: current; Page: [13] to make it manifest that the ancientest and best of the fathers have disclaimed all sufficiency in themselves that men should rely on, and sent all comers to the Scriptures, as all-sufficient: that this is true, will not be unduly gathered, by showing what esteem they had of antiquity themselves, and what validity they thought in it to prove doctrine or discipline. I must of necessity begin from the second rank of fathers, because till then antiquity could have no plea. Cyprian in his 63d Epistle: “If any,” saith he, “of our ancestors, either ignorantly or out of simplicity, hath not observed that which the Lord taught us by example,” speaking of the Lord’s supper, “his simplicity God may pardon of his mercy; but we cannot be excused for following him, being instructed by the Lord.” And have not we the same instructions; and will not this holy man, with all the whole consistory of saints and martyrs that lived of old, rise up and stop our mouths in judgment, when we shall go about to father our errors and opinions upon their authority? In the 73d Epist. he adds, “In vain do they oppose custom to us, if they be overcome by reason; as if custom were greater than truth, or that in spiritual things that were not to be followed, which is revealed for the better by the Holy Ghost.” In the 74th, “Neither ought custom to hinder that truth should not prevail; for custom without truth is but agedness of error.”

Next Lactantius, he that was preferred to have the bringing up of Constantine’s children, in his second book of Institutions, chap. 7 and 8, disputes against the vain trust in antiquity, as being the chiefest argument of the Heathen against the Christians: “They do not consider,” saith he, “what religion is, but they are confident it is true, because the ancients delivered it; they count it a trespass to examine it.” And in the eighth: “Not because they went before us in time, therefore in wisdom; which being given alike to all ages, cannot be prepossessed by the ancients wherefore, seeing that to seek the truth is inbred to all, they bereave themselves of wisdom, the gift of God, who without judgment follow the ancients, and are led by others like brute beasts.” St. Austin writes to Fortunatian, that “he counts it lawful, in the books of whomsoever, to reject that which he finds otherwise than true; and so he would have others deal by him.” He neither accounted, as it seems, those fathers that went before, nor himself, nor others of his rank, for men of more than ordinary spirit, that might equally deceive, and be deceived: and ofttimes setting our servile humours aside, yea, God so ordering we may find truth with one man, as soon as in a council, as Cyprian agrees, 71st Epist. “Many things,” saith he, “are better revealed to single persons.” At Nicæ, in the first and best-reputed council of all the world, there had gone out a canon to divorce married priests, had not one old man, Paphnutius, stood up and reasoned against it.

Now remains it to show clearly that the fathers refer all decision of controversy to the Scriptures, as all-sufficient to direct, to resolve, and to determine. Ignatius, taking his last leave of the Asian churches, as he went to martyrdom, exhorted them to adhere close to the written doctrine of the apostles, necessarily written for posterity: so far was he from unwritten traditions, as may be read in the 36th chap. of Eusebius, 3d b. In the 74th Epist. of Cyprian against Stefan, bishop of Rome, imposing upon him a tradition; “Whence,” quoth he, “is this tradition? Is it fetched from the authority of Christ in the gospel, or of the apostles in their epistles? for God testifies that those things are to be done which are written.” And then thus, “What obstinacy, what presumption is this, to prefer human tradition before divine ordinance?” And in the same epist. “if we shall Edition: current; Page: [14] return to the head, and beginning of divine tradition, (which we all know he means the Bible,) human error ceases; and the reason of heavenly mysteries unfolded, whatsoever was obscure becomes clear.” And in the 14th distinct of the same epist. directly against our modern fantasies of a still visible church, he teaches, “that succession of truth may fail; to renew which, we must have recourse to the fountains;” using this excellent similitude, “if a channel, or conduit-pipe which brought in water plentifully before, suddenly fail, do we not go to the fountain to know the cause, whether the spring affords no more, or whether the vein be stopped, or turned aside in the midcourse? Thus ought we to do, keeping God’s precepts, that if in aught the truth shall be changed, we may repair to the gospel and to the apostles, that thence may arise the reason of our doings, from whence our order and beginning arose.” In the 75th he inveighs bitterly against pope Stephanus, “for that he could boast his succession from Peter, and yet foist in traditions that were not apostolical.” And in his book of the unity of the church, he compares those that, neglecting God’s word, follow the doctrines of men, to Corah, Dathan, and Abiram. The very first page of Athanasius against the gentiles, avers the scriptures to be sufficient of themselves for the declaration of truth; and that if his friend Macarius read other religious writers, it was but φιλοϰάλος come un vertuoso, (as the Italians say,) as a lover of elegance: and in his second tome, the 39th page, after he hath reckoned up the canonical books, “in these only,” saith he, “is the doctrine of godliness taught; let no man add to these, or take from these.” And in his Synopsis, having again set down all the writers of the Old and New Testament, “these,” saith he, “be the anchors and props of our faith.” Besides these, millions of other books have been written by great and wise men according to rule, and agreement with these, of which I will not now speak, as being of infinite number, and mere dependence on the canonical books. Basil, in his 2d tome, writing of true faith, tells his auditors, he is bound to teach them that which he hath learned out of the Bible: and in the same treatise he saith, “that seeing the commandments of the Lord are faithful, and sure for ever, it is a plain falling from the faith, and a high pride, either to make void any thing therein, or to introduce any thing not there to be found:” and he gives the reason, “for Christ saith, My sheep hear my voice; they will not follow another, but fly from him, because they know not his voice.” But not to be endless in quotations, it may chance to be objected, that there be many opinions in the fathers which have no ground in Scripture; so much the less, may I say, should we follow them, for their own words shall condemn them, and acquit us that lean not on them; otherwise these their words will acquit them, and condemn us. But it will be replied, the Scriptures are difficult to be understood, and therefore require the explanation of the fathers. It is true, there be some books, and especially some places in those books, that remain clouded; yet ever that which is most necessary to be known is most easy; and that which is most difficult, so far expounds itself ever, as to tell us how little it imports our saving knowledge. Hence, to infer a general obscurity over all the text, is a mere suggestion of the devil to dissuade men from reading it, and casts an aspersion of dishonour both upon the mercy, truth, and wisdom of God. We count it no gentleness or fair dealing in a man of power amongst us, to require strict and punctual obedience, and yet give out all his commands ambiguous and obscure; we should think he had a plot upon us; certainly such commands were no commands, but snares. The very essence of truth is plainness and brightness; the darkness and crookedness is our own. The wisdom Edition: current; Page: [15] of God created understanding, fit and proportionable to truth, the object and end of it, as the eye to the thing visible. If our understanding have a film of ignorance over it, or be blear with gazing on other false glisterings, what is that to truth? If we will but purge with sovereign eyesalve that intellectual ray which God hath planted in us, then we would believe the Scriptures protesting their own plainness and perspicuity, calling to them to be instructed, not only the wise and the learned, but the simple, the poor, the babes; foretelling an extraordinary effusion of God’s Spirit upon every age and sex, attributing to all men, and requiring from them the ability of searching, trying, examining all things, and by the spirit discerning that which is good; and as the Scriptures themselves pronounce their own plainness, so do the fathers testify of them.

I will not run into a paroxysm of citations again in this point, only instance Athanasius in his forementioned first page: “The knowledge of truth,” saith he, “wants no human lore, as being evident in itself, and by the preaching of Christ now opens brighter than the sun.” If these doctors, who had scarce half the light that we enjoy, who all, except two or three, were ignorant of the Hebrew tongue, and many of the Greek, blundering upon the dangerous and suspectful translations of the apostate Aquila, the heretical Theodotian, the judaized Symmachus, the erroneous Origen; if these could yet find the Bible so easy, why should we doubt, that have all the helps of learning, and faithful industry, that man in this life can look for, and the assistance of God as near now to us as ever? But let the Scriptures be hard; are they more hard, more crabbed, more abtruse than the fathers? He that cannot understand the sober, plain, and unaffected style of the Scriptures, will be ten times more puzzled with the knotty Africanisms, the pampered metaphors, the intricate and involved sentences of the fathers, besides the fantastic and declamatory flashes, the cross-jingling periods which cannot but disturb, and come thwart a settled devotion, worse than the din of bells and rattles.

Now, sir, for the love of holy Reformation, what can be said more against these importunate clients of antiquity than she herself their patroness hath said? Whether, think ye, would she approve still to doat upon immeasurable, innumerable, and therefore unnecessary and unmerciful volumes, choosing rather to err with the specious name of the fathers, or to take a sound truth at the hand of a plain upright man, that all his days has been diligently reading the holy Scriptures, and thereto imploring God’s grace, while the admirers of antiquity have been beating their brains about their ambones, their dyptichs, and meniaias? Now, he that cannot tell of stations and indictions, nor has wasted his precious hours in the endless conferring of councils and conclaves that demolish one another, (although I know many of those that pretend to be great rabbies in these studies, have scarce saluted them from the strings, and the titlepage; or to give them more, have been but the ferrets and mousehunts of an index:) yet what pastor or minister, how learned, religious, or discreet soever, does not now bring both his cheeks full blown with œcumenical and synodical, shall be counted a lank, shallow, insufficient man, yea a dunce, and not worthy to speak about reformation of church discipline. But I trust they for whom God hath reserved the honour of reforming this church, will easily perceive their adversaries’ drift in thus calling for antiquity: they fear the plain field of the Scriptures; the chase is too hot; they seek the dark, the bushy, the tangled forest, they would imbosk: they feel themselves strook in the transparent streams of divine truth; they would plunge, and tumble, and think to lie hid in the foul weeds and muddy waters where Edition: current; Page: [16] no plummet can reach the bottom. But let them beat themselves like whales, and spend their oil till they be dragged ashore: though wherefore should the ministers give them so much line for shifts and delays? wherefore should they not urge only the gospel, and hold it ever in their faces like a mirror of diamond, till it dazzle and pierce their misty eyeballs? maintaining it the honour of its absolute sufficiency and supremacy inviolable: for if the Scriptures be for reformation, and antiquity to boot, it is but an advantage to the dozen, it is no winning cast: and though antiquity be against it, while the Scriptures be for it, the cause is as good as ought to be wished, antiquity itself sitting judge.

But to draw to an end; the second sort of those that may be justly numbered among the hinderers of reformation, are libertines; these suggest that the discipline sought would be intolerable: for one bishop now in a diocese, we should then have a pope in every parish. It will not be requisite to answer these men, but only to discover them; for reason they have none but lust and licentiousness, and therefore answer can have none. It is not any discipline that they could live under, it is the corruption and remissness of discipline that they seek. Episcopacy duly executed, yea, the Turkish and Jewish rigour against whoring and drinking; the dear and tender discipline of a father, the sociable and loving reproof of a brother, the bosom admonition of a friend, is a presbytery, and a consistory to them. It is only the merry friar in Chaucer can disple* them.

  • Full sweetly heard he confession,
  • And pleasant was his absolution,
  • He was an easy man to give penance.

And so I leave them; and refer the political discourse of episcopacy to a second book.

THE SECOND BOOK.

Sir,—It is a work good and prudent to be able to guide one man; of larger extended virtue to order well one house: but to govern a nation piously and justly, which only is to say happily, is for a spirit of the greatest size, and divinest mettle. And certainly of no less a mind, nor of less excellence in another way, were they who by writing laid the solid and true foundations of this science, which being of greatest importance to the life of man, yet there is no art that hath been more cankered in her principles, more soiled, and slubbered with aphorisming pedantry, than the art of policy: and that most, where a man would think should least be, in Christian commonwealths. They teach not, that to govern well, is to train up a nation in true wisdom and virtue, and that which springs from thence, magnanimity, (take heed of that,) and that which is our beginning, regeneration, and happiest end, likeness to God, which in one word we call godliness; and that this is the true flourishing of a land, other things follow Edition: current; Page: [17] as the shadow does the substance; to teach thus were mere pulpitry to them. This is the masterpiece of a modern politician, how to qualify and mould the sufferance and subjection of the people to the length of that foot that is to tread on their necks; how rapine may serve itself with the fair and honourable pretences of public good; how the puny law may be brought under the wardship and control of lust and will: in which attempt if they fall short, then must a superficial colour of reputation by all means, direct or indirect, be gotten to wash over the unsightly bruise of honour. To make men governable in this manner, their precepts mainly tend to break a national spirit and courage, by countenancing open riot, luxury, and ignorance, till having thus disfigured and made men beneath men, as Juno in the fable of Io, they deliver up the poor transformed heifer of the commonwealth to be stung and vexed with the breese and goad of oppression, under the custody of some Argus with a hundred eyes of jealousy. To be plainer, sir, how to sodder, how to stop a leak, how to keep up the floating carcase of a crazy and diseased monarchy or state, betwixt wind and water, swimming still upon her own dead lees, that now is the deep design of a politician. Alas, sir! a commonwealth ought to be but as one huge Christian personage, one mighty growth and stature of an honest man, as big and compact in virtue as in body; for look what the grounds and causes are of single happiness to one man, the same ye shall find them to a whole state, as Aristotle, both in his Ethics and Politics, from the principles of reason lays down: by consequence, therefore, that which is good and agreeable to monarchy, will appear soonest to be so, by being good and agreeable to the true welfare of every Christian; and that which can be justly proved hurtful and offensive to every true Christian, will be evinced to be alike hurtful to monarchy: for God forbid that we should separate and distinguish the end and good of a monarch, from the end and good of the monarchy, or of that from Christianity. How then this third and last sort that hinder reformation, will justify that it stands not with reason of state, I much muse; for certain I am, the Bible is shut against them, as certain that neither Plato nor Aristotle is for their turns. What they can bring us now from the schools of Loyola with his Jesuits, or their Malvezzi, that can cut Tacitus into slivers and steaks, we shall presently hear. They allege, 1. That the church government must be conformable to the civil polity; next, that no form of church-government is agreeable to monarchy, but that of bishops. Must church-government that is appointed in the gospel, and has chief respect to the soul, be conformable and pliant to civil, that is arbitrary, and chiefly conversant about the visible and external part of man? This is the very maxim that moulded the calves of Bethel and of Dan; this was the quintessence of Jeroboam’s policy, he made religion conform to his politic interests; and this was the sin that watched over the Israelites till their final captivity. If this state principle come from the prelates, as they affect to be counted statists, let them look back to Eleutherius bishop of Rome, and see what he thought of the policy of England; being required by Lucius, the first Christian king of this island, to give his counsel for the founding of religious laws, little thought he of this sage caution, but bids him betake himself to the Old and New Testament, and receive direction from them how to administer both church and commonwealth; that he was God’s vicar, and therefore to rule by God’s laws; that the edicts of Cæsar we may at all times disallow, but the statutes of God for no reason we may reject. Now certain, if church-government be taught in the gospel, as the bishops dare not deny, we may well conclude of what late standing this position is, newly calculated for Edition: current; Page: [18] the altitude of bishop-elevation, and lettuce for their lips. But by what example can they show, that the form of church-discipline must be minted and modelled out to secular pretences? The ancient republic of the Jews is evident to have run through all the changes of civil estate, if we survey the story from the giving of the law to the Herods; yet did one manner of priestly government serve without inconvenience to all these temporal mutations; it served the mild aristocracy of elective dukes, and heads of tribes joined with them; the dictatorship of the judges, the easy or hardhanded monarchies, the domestic or foreign tyrannies: lastly, the Roman senate from without, the Jewish senate at home, with the Galilean tetrarch; yet the Levites had some right to deal in civil affairs: but seeing the evangelical precept forbids churchmen to intermeddle with worldly employments, what interweavings or interworkings can knit the minister and the magistrate, in their several functions, to the regard of any precise correspondency? Seeing that the churchman’s office is only to teach men the Christian faith, to exhort all, to encourage the good, to admonish the bad, privately the less offender, publicly the scandalous and stubborn; to censure and separate, from the communion of Christ’s flock, the contagious and incorrigible, to receive with joy and fatherly compassion the penitent: all this must be done, and more than this is beyond any church-authority. What is all this either here or there, to the temporal regiment of weal public, whether it be popular, princely, or monarchical? Where doth it intrench upon the temporal governor? where does it come in his walk? where doth it make inroad upon his jurisdiction? Indeed if the minister’s part be rightly discharged, it renders him the people more conscionable, quiet, and easy to be governed; if otherwise, his life and doctrine will declare him. If, therefore, the constitution of the church be already set down by divine prescript, as all sides confess, then can she not be a handmaid to wait on civil commodities and respects; and if the nature and limits of church-discipline be such, as are either helpful to all political estates indifferently, or have no particular relation to any, then is there no necessity, nor indeed possibility, of linking the one with the other in a special conformation.

Now for their second conclusion, “That no form of church-government is agreeable to monarchy, but that of bishops,” although it fall to pieces of itself by that which hath been said; yet to give them play, front and rear, it shall be my task to prove that episcopacy, with that authority which it challenges in England, is not only not agreeable, but tending to the destruction of monarchy. While the primitive pastors of the church of God laboured faithfully in their ministry, tending only their sheep, and not seeking, but avoiding all worldly matters as clogs, and indeed derogations and debasements to their high calling; little needed the princes and potentates of the earth, which way soever the gospel was spread, to study ways out to make a coherence between the church’s polity and theirs: therefore, when Pilate heard once our Saviour Christ professing that “his kingdom was not of this world,” he thought the man could not stand much in Cæsar’s light, nor much endamage the Roman empire; for if the life of Christ be hid to this world, much more is his sceptre unoperative, but in spiritual things. And thus lived, for two or three ages, the successors of the apostles. But when, through Constantine’s lavish superstition, they forsook their first love, and set themselves up two gods instead, Mammon and their Belly; then taking advantage of the spiritual power which they had on men’s consciences, they began to cast a longing eye to get the body also, and bodily things into their command: upon which their carnal desires, the spirit daily quenching and dying in them, knew no way to keep Edition: current; Page: [19] themselves up from falling to nothing, but by bolstering and supporting their inward rottenness by a carnal and outward strength. For a while they rather privily sought opportunity, than hastily disclosed their project; but when Constantine was dead, and three or four emperors more, their drift became notorious, and offensive to the whole world; for while Theodosius the younger reigned, thus writes Socrates the historian, in his 7th book, chap. 11. “Now began an ill name to stick upon the bishops of Rome and Alexandria, who beyond their priestly bounds now long ago had stepped into principality:” and this was scarce eighty years since their raising from the meanest worldly condition. Of courtesy now let any man tell me, if they draw to themselves a temporal strength and power out of Cæsar’s dominion, is not Cæsar’s empire thereby diminished? But this was a stolen bit; hitherto he was but a caterpillar secretly knawing at monarchy; the next time you shall see him a wolf, a lion, lifting his paw against his raiser, as Petrarch expressed it, and finally an open enemy and subverter of the Greek empire. Philippicus and Leo, with divers other emperors after them, not without the advice of their patriarchs, and at length of a whole eastern council of three hundred and thirty-eight bishops, threw the images out of churches as being decreed idolatrous.

Upon this goodly occasion, the bishop of Rome not only seizes the city, and all the territory about, into his own hands, and makes himself lord thereof, which till then was governed by a Greek magistrate, but absolves all Italy of their tribute and obedience due to the emperor, because he obeyed God’s commandment in abolishing idolatry.

Mark, sir, here, how the pope came by St. Peter’s patrimony, as he feigns it; not the donation of Constantine, but idolatry and rebellion got it him. Ye need but read Sigonius, one of his own sect, to know the story at large. And now to shroud himself against a storm from the Greek continent, and provide a champion to bear him out in these practices, he takes upon him by papal sentence to unthrone Chilpericus the rightful king of France, and gives the kingdom to Pepin, for no other cause, but that he seemed to him the more active man. If he were a friend herein to monarchy, I know not; but to the monarch I need not ask what he was.

Having thus made Pepin his last friend, he calls him into Italy against Aistulphus the Lombard, that warred upon him for his late usurpation of Rome, as belonging to Ravenna which he had newly won. Pepin, not unobedient to the pope’s call, passing into Italy, frees him out of danger, and wins for him the whole exarchate of Ravenna; which though it had been almost immediately before the hereditary possession of that monarchy, which was his chief patron and benefactor, yet he takes and keeps it to himself as lawful prize, and given to St. Peter. What a dangerous fallacy is this, when a spiritual man may snatch to himself any temporal dignity or dominion, under pretence of receiving it for the church’s use? Thus he claims Naples, Sicily, England, and what not? To be short, under show of his zeal against the errors of the Greek church, he never ceased baiting and goring the successors of his best lord Constantine, what by his barking curses and excommunications, what by his hindering the western princes from aiding them against the Sarazens and Turks, unless when they humoured him; so that it may be truly affirmed, he was the subversion and fall of that monarchy, which was the hoisting of him. This, besides Petrarch, whom I have cited, our Chaucer also hath observed, and gives from hence a caution to England, to beware of her bishops in time, for that their ends and aims are no more friendly to monarchy, than the pope’s.

This he begins in the Ploughman speaking, Part ii., Stanz. 28.

Edition: current; Page: [20]
  • The emperor yafe the pope sometime
  • So high lordship him about,
  • That at last the silly kime,
  • The proud pope put him out;
  • So of this realm is no doubt,
  • But lords beware and them defend;
  • For now these folks be wonders stout,
  • The king and lords now this amend.

And in the next Stanza, which begins the third part of the tale, he argues that they ought not to be lords.

  • Moses law forbade it tho
  • That priests should no lordship welde,
  • Christ’s gospel biddeth also
  • That they should no lordships held:
  • Ne Christ’s apostles were never so bold
  • No such lordships to hem embrace,
  • But smeren her sheep and keep her fold.

And so forward. Whether the bishops of England have deserved thus to be feared by men so wise as our Chaucer is esteemed; and how agreeable to our monarchy and monarchs their demeanour has been, he that is but meanly read in our chronicles needs not be instructed. Have they not been as the Canaanites, and Philistines, to this kingdom? what treasons, what revolts to the pope? what rebellions, and those the basest and most pretenceless, have they not been chief in? What could monarchy think, when Becket durst challenge the custody of Rochester-castle, and the Tower of London, as appertaining to his signory? To omit his other insolencies and affronts to regal majesty, until the lashes inflicted on the anointed body of the king, washed off the holy unction with his blood drawn by the polluted hands of bishops, abbots, and monks.

What good upholders of royalty were the bishops, when by their rebellious opposition against King John, Normandy was lost, he himself deposed, and this kingdom made over to the pope? When the bishop of Winchester durst tell the nobles, the pillars of the realm, that there were no peers in England, as in France, but that the king might do what he pleased. What could tyranny say more? It would be pretty now if I should insist upon the rendering up of Tournay by Woolsey’s treason, the excommunications, cursings, and interdicts upon the whole land; for haply I shall be cut off short by a reply, that these were the faults of men and their popish errors, not of episcopacy, that hath now renounced the pope, and is a protestant. Yes, sure; as wise and famous men have suspected and feared the protestant episcopacy in England, as those that have feared the papal.

You know, sir, what was the judgment of Padre Paolo, the great Venetian antagonist of the pope, for it is extant in the hands of many men, whereby he declares his fear, that when the hierarchy of England shall light into the hands of busy and audacious men, or shall meet with princes tractable to the prelacy, then much mischief is like to ensue. And can it be nearer hand, than when bishops shall openly affirm that, no bishop no king? A trim paradox, and that ye may know where they have been a begging for it, I will fetch you the twin brother to it out of the Jesuits’ cell: they feeling the axe of God’s reformation, hewing at the old and hollow trunk of papacy, and finding the Spaniard their surest friend, and safest refuge, to sooth him up in his dream of a fifth monarchy, and withal to uphold the decrepit papalty, have invented this superpolitic aphorism, as one terms it, one pope and one king.

Surely, there is not any prince in Christendom, who, hearing this rare sophistry, can choose but smile; and if we be not blind at home, we may Edition: current; Page: [21] as well perceive that this worthy motto, no bishop no king, is of the same batch, and infanted out of the same fears, a mere ague-cake coagulated of a certain fever they have, presaging their time to be but short: and now like those that are sinking, they catch round of that which is likeliest to hold them up; and would persuade regal power, that if they dive, he must after. But what greater debasement can there be to royal dignity, whose towering and stedfast height rests upon the unmovable foundations of justice, and heroic virtue, than to chain it in a dependance of subsisting, or ruining, to the painted battlements and gaudy rottenness of prelatry, which want but one puff of the king’s to blow them down like a pasteboard house built of court-cards? Sir, the little ado which methinks I find in untacking these pleasant sophisms, puts me into the mood to tell you a tale ere I proceed further; and Meneinus Agrippa speed us.

Upon a time the body summoned all the members to meet in the guild for the common good (as Æsop’s chronicles aver many stranger accidents:) the head by right takes the first seat, and next to it a huge and monstrous wen, little less than the head itself, growing to it by a narrow excrescency. The members, amazed, began to ask one another what he was that took place next their chief? none could resolve. Whereat the wen, though unwieldy, with much ado gets up, and bespeaks the assembly to this purpose: that as in place he was second to the head, so by due of merit; that he was to it an ornament, and strength, and of special near relation; and that if the head should fail, none were fitter than himself to step into his place: therefore he thought it for the honour of the body, that such dignities and rich endowments should be decreed him, as did adorn, and set out the noblest members. To this was answered, that it should be consulted. Then was a wise and learned philosopher sent for, that knew all the charters, laws, and tenures of the body. On him it is imposed by all, as chief committee to examine and discuss the claim and petition of right put in by the wen; who soon perceiving the matter, and wondering at the boldness of such a swoln tumor; “Wilt thou (quoth he) that art but a bottle of vicious and hardened excrements, contend with the lawful and free-born members, whose certain number is set by ancient and unrepealable statute? head thou art none, though thou receive this huge substance from it: what office bearest thou? what good canst thou show by thee done to the commonweal?” The wen not easily dashed, replies, that his office was his glory; for so oft as the soul would retire out of the head from over the steaming vapours of the lower parts to divine contemplation, with him she found the purest and quietest retreat, as being most remote from soil and disturbance. Lourdan, quoth the philosopher, thy folly is as great as thy filth: know that all the faculties of the soul are confined of old to their several vessels and ventricles, from which they cannot part without dissolution of the whole body; and that thou containest no good thing in thee, but a heap of hard and loathsome uncleanness, and art to the head a foul disfigurement and burden; when I have cut thee off, and opened thee, as by the help of these implements I will do, all men shall see.

But to return whence was digressed: seeing that the throne of a king, as the wise king Solomon often remembers us, “is established in justice,” which is the universal justice that Aristotle so much praises, containing in it all other virtues, it may assure us that the fall of prelacy, whose actions are so far distant from justice, cannot shake the least fringe that borders the royal canopy; but that their standing doth continually oppose and lay battery to regal safety, shall by that which follows easily appear. Amongst many secondary and accessary causes that support monarchy, these are not Edition: current; Page: [22] of least reckoning, though common to all other states; the love of the subjects, the multitude and valour of the people, and store of treasure. In all these things hath the kingdom been of late sore weakened, and chiefly by the prelates. First, let any man consider, that if any prince shall suffer under him a commission of authority to be exercised, till all the land groan and cry out, as against a whip of scorpions, whether this be not likely to lessen, and keel the affections of the subject. Next, what numbers of faithful and freeborn Englishmen, and good Christians, have been constrained to forsake their dearest home, their friends and kindred, whom nothing but the wide ocean, and the savage deserts of America, could hide and shelter from the fury of the bishops? O sir, if we could but see the shape of our dear mother England, as poets are wont to give a personal form to what they please, how would she appear, think ye, but in a mourning weed, with ashes upon her head, and tears abundantly flowing from her eyes to behold so many of her children exposed at once, and thrust from things of dearest necessity, because their conscience could not assent to things which the bishops thought indifferent? What more binding than conscience? What more free than indifferency? Cruel then must that indifferency needs be, that shall violate the strict necessity of conscience; merciless and inhuman that free choice and liberty that shall break asunder the bonds of religion! Let the astrologer be dismayed at the portentous blaze of comets, and impressions in the air, as foretelling troubles and changes to states: I shall believe there cannot be a more ill-boding sign to a nation (God turn the omen from us!) than when the inhabitants, to avoid insufferable grievances at home, are enforced by heaps to forsake their native country. Now, whereas the only remedy and amends against the depopulation and thinness of a land within, is the borrowed strength of firm alliance from without, these priestly policies of theirs, having thus exhausted our domestic forces, have gone the way also to leave us as naked of our firmest and faithfullest neighbours abroad, by disparaging and alienating from us all protestant princes and commonwealths; who are not ignorant that our prelates, and as many as they can infect, account them no better than a sort of sacrilegious and puritanical rebels, preferring the Spaniard our deadly enemy before them, and set all orthodox writers at nought in comparison with the Jesuits, who are indeed the only corrupters of youth and good learning: and I have heard many wise and learned men in Italy say as much. It cannot be that the strongest knot of confederacy should not daily slacken, when religion, which is the chief engagement of our league, shall be turned to their reproach. Hence it is that the prosperous and prudent states of the United Provinces, (whom we ought to love, if not for themselves, yet for our own good work in them, they having been in a manner planted and erected by us, and having been since to us the faithful watchmen and discoverers of many a popish and Austrian complotted treason, and with us the partners of many a bloody and victorious battle,) whom the similitude of manners and language, the commodity of traffic, which founded the old Burgundian league betwixt us, but chiefly religion, should bind to us immortally; even such friends as these, out of some principles instilled into us by the prelates, have been often dismissed with distasteful answers, and sometimes unfriendly actions: nor is it to be considered to the breach of confederate nations, whose mutual interests is of such consequence, though their merchants bicker in the East Indies; neither is it safe, or wary, or indeed Christianly, that the French king, of a different faith, should afford our nearest allies as good protection as we. Sir, I persuade myself, if our zeal to true religion, and the brotherly usage of our truest friends, Edition: current; Page: [23] were as notorious to the world, as our prelatical schism, and captivity to rochet apophthegms, we had ere this seen our old conquerors, and afterwards liegemen the Normans, together with the Britons our proper colony, and all the Gascoins that are the rightful dowry of our ancient kings, come with cap and knee, desiring the shadow of the English sceptre to defend them from the hot persecutions and taxes of the French. But when they come hither, and see a tympany of Spaniolized bishops swaggering in the foretop of the state, and meddling to turn and dandle the royal ball with unskilful and pedantic palms, no marvel though they think it as unsafe to commit religion and liberty to their arbitrating as to a synagogue of Jesuits.

But what do I stand reckoning upon advantages and gains lost by the misrule and turbulency of the prelates? What do I pick up so thriftly their scatterings and diminishings of the meaner subject, whilst they by their seditious practices have endangered to lose the king one third of his main stock? What have they not done to banish him from his own native country? But to speak of this as it ought, would ask a volume by itself.

Thus as they have unpeopled the kingdom by expulsion of so many thousands, as they have endeavoured to lay the skirts of it bare by disheartening and dishonouring our loyalest confederates abroad, so have they hamstrung the valour of the subject by seeking to effeminate us all at home. Well knows every wise nation, that their liberty consists in manly and honest labours, in sobriety and rigorous honour to the marriage-bed, which in both sexes should be bred up from chaste hopes to loyal enjoyments; and when the people slacken, and fall to looseness and riot, then do they as much as if they laid down their necks for some wild tyrant to get up and ride. Thus learnt Cyrus to tame the Lydians, whom by arms he could not whilst they kept themselves from luxury; with one easy proclamation to set up stews, dancing, feasting, and dicing, he made them soon his slaves. I know not what drift the prelates had, whose brokers they were to prepare, and supple us either for a foreign invasion or domestic oppression: but this I am sure, they took the ready way to despoil us both of manhood and grace at once, and that in the shamefullest and ungodliest manner, upon that day which God’s law, and even our own reason hath consecrated, that we might have one day at least of seven set apart wherein to examine and increase our knowledge of God, to meditate and commune of our faith, our hope, our eternal city in heaven, and to quicken withal the study and exercise of charity; at such a time that men should be plucked from their soberest and saddest thoughts, and by bishops, the pretended fathers of the church, instigated by public edict, and with earnest endeavour pushed forward to gaming, jigging, wassailing, and mixed dancing, is a horror to think! Thus did the reprobate hireling priest Balaam seek to subdue the Israelites to Moab, if not by force, then by this devilish policy, to draw them from the sanctuary of God to the luxurious and ribald feasts of Baal-peor. Thus have they trespassed not only against the monarchy of England, but of heaven also, as others, I doubt not, can prosecute against them.

I proceed within my own bounds to show you next what good agents they are about the revenues and riches of the kingdom, which declare of what moment they are to monarchy, or what avail. Two leeches they have that still suck, and suck the kingdom, their ceremonies and their courts. If any man will contend that ceremonies be lawful under the gospel, he may be answered other where. This doubtless, that they ought to be many and overcostly, no true protestant will affirm. Now I appeal to all wise men, what an excessive waste of treasure hath been within these few years in this land, not in the expedient, but in the idolatrous erection of temples Edition: current; Page: [24] beautified exquisitely to outvie the papists, the costly and dear-bought scandals and snares of images, pictures, rich copes, gorgeous altar-cloths: and by the courses they took, and the opinions they held, it was not likely any stay would be, or any end of their madness, where a pious pretext is so ready at hand to cover their insatiate desires. What can we suppose this will come to? What other materials than these have built up the spiritual Babel to the height of her abominations? Believe it, sir, right truly it may be said, that Antichrist is Mammon’s son. The sour leaven of human traditions, mixed in one putrefied mass with the poisonous dregs of hypocrisy in the hearts of prelates, that lie basking in the sunny warmth of wealth and promotion, is the serpent’s egg that will hatch an Antichrist wheresoever, and engender the same monster as big, or little, as the lump is which breeds him. If the splendour of gold and silver begin to lord it once again in the church of England, we shall see Antichrist shortly wallow here, though his chief kennel be at Rome. If they had one thought upon God’s glory, and the advancement of Christian faith, they would be a means that with these expenses, thus profusely thrown away in trash, rather churches and schools might be built, where they cry out for want; and more added where too few are; a moderate maintenance distributed to every painful minister, that now scarce sustains his family with bread, while the prelates revel like Belshazzar with their full carouses in goblets, and vessels of gold snatched from God’s temple; which (I hope) the worthy men of our land will consider. Now then for their courts. What a mass of money is drawn from the veins into the ulcers of the kingdom this way; their extortions, their open corruptions, the multitude of hungry and ravenous harpies that swarm about their offices, declare sufficiently. And what though all this go not over sea? It were better it did: better a penurious kingdom, than where excessive wealth flows into the graceless and injurious hands of common spunges, to the impoverishing of good and loyal men, and that by such execrable, such irreligious courses.

If the sacred and dreadful works of holy discipline, censure, penance, excommunication, and absolution, where no profane thing ought to have access, nothing to be assistant but sage and Christianly admonition, brotherly love, flaming charity and zeal; and then, according to the effects, paternal sorrow, or paternal joy, mild severity, melting compassion: if such divine ministeries as these, wherein the angel of the church represents the person of Christ Jesus, must lie prostitute to sordid fees, and not pass to and fro between our Saviour, that of free grace redeemed us, and the submissive penitent, without the truckage of perishing coin, and the butcherly execution of tormentors, rooks, and rakeshames sold to lucre; then have the Babylonish merchants of souls just excuse. Hitherto, sir, you have heard how the prelates have weakened and withdrawn the external accomplishments of kingly prosperity, the love of the people, their multitude, their valour, their wealth; mining and sapping the outworks and redoubts of monarchy. Now hear how they strike at the very heart and vitals.

We know that monarchy is made up of two parts, the liberty of the subject, and the supremacy of the king. I begin at the root. See what gentle and benign fathers they have been to our liberty! Their trade being, by the same alchymy that the pope uses to extract heaps of gold and silver out of the drossy bullion of the people’s sins, and justly fearing that the quicksighted protestant eye, cleared in great part from the mist of superstition, may at one time or other look with a good judgment into these their deceitful pedlaries; to gain as many associates of guiltiness as they can, and to infect the temporal magistrate with the like lawless, though not sacrilegious Edition: current; Page: [25] extortion, see awhile what they do; they engage themselves to preach, and persuade an assertion for truth the most false, and to this monarchy the most pernicious and destructive that could be chosen. What more baneful to monarchy than a popular commotion, for the dissolution of monarchy slides aptest into a democracy; and what stirs the Englishmen, as our wisest writers have observed, sooner to rebellion, than violent and heavy hands upon their goods and purses? Yet these devout prelates, spite of our great charter, and the souls of our progenitors that wrested their liberties out of the Norman gripe with their dearest blood and highest prowess, for these many years have not ceased in their pulpits wrenching and spraining the text, to set at naught and trample under foot all the most sacred and lifeblood laws, statutes, and acts of parliament, that are the holy covenant of union and marriage between the king and his realm, by proscribing and confiscating from us all the right we have to our own bodies, goods, and liberties. What is this but to blow a trumpet, and proclaim a firecross to an hereditary and perpetual civil war? Thus much against the subjects’ liberty hath been assaulted by them. Now how they have spared supremacy, or are likely hereafter to submit to it, remains lastly to be considered.

The emulation that under the old law was in the king towards the priest, is now so come about in the gospel, that all the danger is to be feared from the priest to the king. Whilst the priest’s office in the law was set out with an exterior lustre of pomp and glory, kings were ambitious to be priests; now priests, not perceiving the heavenly brightness and inward splendour of their more glorious evangelic ministry, with as great ambition affect to be kings, as in all their courses is easy to be observed. Their eyes ever eminent upon worldly matters, their desires ever thirsting after worldly employments, instead of diligent and fervent study in the Bible, they covet to be expert in canons and decretals, which may enable them to judge and interpose in temporal causes, however pretended ecclesiastical. Do they not hoard up pelf, seek to be potent in secular strength, in state affairs, in lands, lordships, and domains; to sway and carry all before them in high courts and privy councils; to bring into their grasp the high and principal offices of the kingdom? Have they not been told of late to check the common law, to slight and brave the indiminishable majesty of our highest court, the lawgiving and sacred parliament? Do they not plainly labour to exempt churchmen from the magistrate? Yea, so presumptuously as to question and menace officers that represent the king’s person for using their authority against drunken priests? The cause of protecting murderous clergymen was the first heartburning that swelled up the audacious Becket to the pestilent and odious vexation of Henry the Second. Nay, more, have not some of their devoted scholars begun, I need not say to nibble, but openly to argue against the king’s supremacy? Is not the chief of them accused out of his own book, and his late canons, to affect a certain unquestionable patriarchate, independent, and unsubordinate to the crown? From whence having first brought us to a servile state of religion and manhood, and having predisposed his conditions with the pope, that lays claim to this land, or some Pepin of his own creating, it were all as likely for him to aspire to the monarchy among us, as that the pope could find means so on the sudden both to bereave the emperor of the Roman territory with the favour of Italy, and by an unexpected friend out of France, while he was in danger to lose his newgot purchase, beyond hope to leap into the fair exarchate of Ravenna.

A good while the pope subtly acted the lamb, writing to the emperor, “my lord Tiberius, my lord Mauritius;” but no sooner did this his lord Edition: current; Page: [26] pluck at the images and idols, but he threw off his sheep’s clothing, and started up a wolf, laying his paws upon the emperor’s right, as forfeited to Peter. Why may not we as well, having been forewarned at home by our renowned Chaucer, and from abroad by the great and learned Padre Paolo, from the like beginnings, as we see they are, fear the like events? Certainly a wise and provident king ought to suspect a hierarchy in his realm, being ever attended, as it is, with two such greedy purveyors, ambition and usurpation; I say, he ought to suspect a hierarchy to be as dangerous and derogatory from his crown as a tetrachy or a heptarchy. Yet now that the prelates had almost attained to what their insolent and unbridled minds had hurried them; to thrust the laity under the despotical rule of the monarch, that they themselves might confine the monarch to a kind of pupillage under their hierarchy, observe but how their own principles combat one another, and supplant each one his fellow.

Having fitted us only for peace, and that a servile peace, by lessening our numbers, draining our estates, enfeebling our bodies, cowing our free spirits by those ways as you have heard, their impotent actions cannot sustain themselves the least moment, unless they would rouse us up to a war fit for Cain to be the leader of; an abhorred, a cursed, a fraternal war. England and Scotland, dearest brothers both in nature and in Christ, must be set to wade in one another’s blood; and Ireland, our free denizen, upon the back of us both, as occasion should serve: a piece of service that the pope and all his factors have been compassing to do ever since the reformation.

But ever blessed be he, and ever glorified, that from his high watchtower in the heavens, discerning the crooked ways of perverse and cruel men, hath hitherto maimed and infatuated all their damnable inventions, and deluded their great wizards with a delusion fit for fools and children: had God been so minded, he could have sent a spirit of mutiny amongst us, as he did between Abimelech and the Shechemites, to have made our funerals, and slain heaps more in number than the miserable surviving remnant; but he, when we least deserved, sent out a gentle gale and message of peace from the wings of those his cherubims that fan his mercyseat. Nor shall the wisdom, the moderation, the Christian piety, the constancy of our nobility and commons of England, be ever forgotten, whose calm and temperate connivance could sit still and smile out the stormy bluster of men more audacious and precipitant than of solid and deep reach, until their own fury had run itself out of breath, assailing by rash and heady approaches the impregnable situation of our liberty and safety, that laughed such weak enginery to scorn, such poor drifts to make a national war of a surplice brabble, a tippet scuffle, and engage the untainted honour of English knighthood to unfurl the streaming red cross, or to rear the horrid standard of those fatal guly dragons, for so unworthy a purpose as to force upon their fellow-subjects that which themselves are weary of—the skeleton of a mass-book. Nor must the patience, the fortitude, the firm obedience of the nobles and people of Scotland, striving against manifold provocations; nor must their sincere and moderate proceedings hitherto be unremembered, to the shameful conviction of all their detractors.

Go on both hand in hand, O nations, never to be disunited; be the praise and the heroic song of all posterity; merit this, but seek only virtue, not to extend your limits; (for what needs to win a fading triumphant laurel out of the tears of wretched men?) but to settle the pure worship of God in his church, and justice in the state: then shall the hardest difficulties smooth out themselves before ye; envy shall sink to hell, craft and malice be confounded, Edition: current; Page: [27] whether it be homebred mischief or outlandish cunning; yea, other nations will then covet to serve ye, for lordship and victory are but the pages of justice and virtue. Commit securely to true wisdom the vanquishing and uncasing of craft and subtlety, which are but her two runagates: join your invincible might to do worthy and godlike deeds; and then he that seeks to break your union, a cleaving curse be his inheritance to all generations.

Sir, you have now at length this question for the time, and as my memory would best serve me in such a copious and vast theme, fully handled, and you yourself may judge whether prelacy be the only church-government agreeable to monarchy. Seeing therefore the perilous and confused state into which we are fallen, and that to the certain knowledge of all men, through the irreligious pride and hateful tyranny of prelates, (as the innumerable and grievous complaints of every shire cry out,) if we will now resolve to settle affairs either according to pure religion or sound policy, we must first of all begin roundly to cashier and cut away from the public body the noisome and diseased tumour of prelacy, and come from schism to unity with our neighbour reformed sister-churches, which with the blessing of peace and pure doctrine have now long time flourished; and doubtless with all hearty joy and gratulation will meet and welcome our Christian union with them, as they have been all this while grieved at our strangeness, and little better than separation from them. And for the discipline propounded, seeing that it hath been inevitably proved that the natural and fundamental causes of political happiness in all governments are the same, and that this church-discipline is taught in the word of God, and, as we see, agrees according to wish with all such states as have received it; we may infallibly assure ourselves that it will as well agree with monarchy, though all the tribe of Aphorismers and Politicasters would persuade us there be secret and mysterious reasons against it. For upon the settling hereof mark what nourishing and cordial restorements to the state will follow; the ministers of the gospel attending only to the work of salvation, every one within his limited charge, besides the diffusive blessings of God upon all our actions; the king shall sit without an old disturber, a daily incroacher and intruder; shall rid his kingdom of a strong, sequestered, and collateral power, a confronting mitre, whose potent wealth and wakeful ambition he had just cause to hold in jealousy: not to repeat the other present evils which only their removal will remove, and because things simply pure are inconsistent in the mass of nature, nor are the elements or humours in a man’s body exactly homogeneal; and hence the best-founded commonwealths and least barbarous have aimed at a certain mixture and temperament, partaking the several virtues of each other state, that each part drawing to itself may keep up a steady and even uprightness in common.

There is no civil government that hath been known, no not the Spartan, not the Roman, though both for this respect so much praised by the wise Polybius, more divinely and harmoniously tuned, more equally balanced as it were by the hand and scale of justice than is the commonwealth of England; where, under a free and untutored monarch, the noblest, worthiest, and most prudent men, with full approbation and suffrage of the people, have in their power the supreme and final determination of highest affairs. Now if conformity of church-discipline to the civil be so desired, there can be nothing more parallel, more uniform, than when under the sovereign prince, Christ’s vicegerent, using the sceptre of David, according to God’s law, the godliest, the wisest, the learnedest ministers in their several charges have the instructing and disciplining of God’s people, by whose full and Edition: current; Page: [28] free election they are consecrated to that holy and equal aristocracy. And why should not the piety and conscience of Englishmen, as members of the church, be trusted in the election of pastors to functions that nothing concern a monarch, as well as their worldly wisdoms are privileged as members of the state in suffraging their knights and burgesses to matters that concern him nearly? And if in weighing these several offices, their difference in time and quality be cast in, I know they will not turn the beam of equal judgment the moiety of a scruple. We therefore having already a kind of apostolical and ancient church election in our state, what a perverseness would it be in us of all others to retain forcibly a kind of imperious and stately election in our church! And what a blindness to think that what is already evangelical, as it were by a happy chance in our polity, should be repugnant to that which is the same by divine command in the ministry! Thus then we see that our ecclesiastical and political choices may consent and sort as well together without any rupture in the state, as Christians and freeholders. But as for honour, that ought indeed to be different and distinct, as either office looks a several way; the minister whose calling and end is spiritual, ought to be honoured as a father and physician to the soul, (if he be found to be so,) with a son-like and disciple-like reverence, which is indeed the dearest and most affectionate honour, most to be desired by a wise man, and such as will easily command a free and plentiful provision of outward necessaries, without his further care of this world.

The magistrate, whose charge is to see to our persons and estates, is to be honoured with a more elaborate and personal courtship, with large salaries and stipends, that he himself may abound in those things whereof his legal justice and watchful care gives us the quiet enjoyment. And this distinction of honour will bring forth a seemly and graceful uniformity over all the kingdom.

Then shall the nobles possess all the dignities and offices of temporal honour to themselves, sole lords without the improper mixture of scholastic and pusillanimous upstarts; the parliament shall void her upper house of the same annoyances; the common and civil laws shall both be set free, the former from the control, the other from the mere vassalage and copyhold of the clergy.

And whereas temporal laws rather punish men when they have transgressed, than form them to be such as should transgress seldomest, we may conceive great hopes, through the showers of divine benediction watering the unmolested and watchful pains of the ministry, that the whole inheritance of God will grow up so straight and blameless, that the civil magistrate may with far less toil and difficulty, and far more ease and delight, steer the tall and goodly vessel of the commonwealth through all the gusts and tides of the world’s mutability.

Here I might have ended, but that some objections, which I have heard commonly flying about, press me to the endeavour of an answer. We must not run, they say, into sudden extremes. This is a fallacious rule, unless understood only of the actions of virtue about things indifferent: for if it be found that those two extremes be vice and virtue, falsehood and truth, the creater extremity of virtue and superlative truth we run into, the more virtuous and the more wise we become; and he that, flying from degenerate and traditional corrupation, fears to shoot himself too far into the meeting embraces of a divinely warranted reformation, had better not have run at all. And for the suddenness, it cannot be feared. Who should oppose it? The papists? they dare not. The protestants otherwise affected? they were mad. There is nothing will be removed but what to them is professedly indifferent. Edition: current; Page: [29] The long affection which the people have borne to it, what for itself, what for the odiousness of prelates, is evident: from the first year of Queen Elizabeth it hath still been more and more propounded, desired, and beseeched, yea, sometimes favourably forwarded by the parliaments themselves. Yet if it were sudden and swift, provided still it be from worse to better, certainly we ought to hie us from evil like a torrent, and rid ourselves of corrupt discipline, as we would shake fire out of our bosoms.

Speedy and vehement were the reformations of all the good kings of Judah, though the people had been nuzzled in idolatry ever so long before; they feared not the bugbear danger, nor the lion in the way that the sluggish and timorous politician thinks he sees; no more did our brethren of the reformed churches abroad; they ventured (God being their guide) out of rigid popery, into that which we in mockery call precise puritanism, and yet we see no inconvenience befel them.

Let us not dally with God when he offers us a full blessing, to take as much of it as we think will serve our ends, and turn him back the rest upon his hands, lest in his anger he snatch all from us again. Next, they allege the antiquity of episcopacy through all ages. What it was in the apostles’ time, that, questionless, it must be still; and therein I trust the ministers will be able to satisfy the parliament. But if episcopacy be taken for prelacy, all the ages they can deduce it through, will make it no more venerable than papacy.

Most certain it is (as all our stories bear witness) that ever since their coming to the see of Canterbury, for near twelve hundred years, to speak of them in general, they have been in England to our souls a sad and doleful succession of illiterate and blind guides; to our purses and goods a wasteful band of robbers, a perpetual havoc and rapine; to our state a continual hydra of mischief and molestation, the forge of discord and rebellion: this is the trophy of their antiquity, and boasted succession through so many ages. And for those prelate-martyrs they glory of, they are to be judged what they were by the gospel, and not the gospel to be tried by them.

And it is to be noted, that if they were for bishoprics and ceremonies, it was in their prosperity and fulness of bread; but in their persecution, which purified them, and near their death, which was their garland, they plainly disliked and condemned the ceremonies, and threw away those episcopal ornaments wherein they were installed, as foolish and detestable; for so the words of Ridley at his degradement, and his letter to Hooper, expressly show. Neither doth the author of our church-history spare to record sadly the fall (for so he terms it) and infirmities of these martyrs, though we would deify them. And why should their martyrdom more countenance corrupt doctrine or discipline, than their subscriptions justify their treason to the royal blood of this realm, by diverting and entailing the right of the crown from the true heirs, to the houses of Northumberland and Suffolk? which had it took effect, this present king had in all likelihood never sat on this throne, and the happy union of this island had been frustrated.

Lastly, whereas they add that some, the learnedest of the reformed abroad admire our episcopacy; it had been more for the strength of the argument to tell us, that some of the wisest statesmen admire it, for thereby we might guess them weary of the present discipline, as offensive to their state, which is the bug we fear: but being they are churchmen, we may rather suspect them for some prelatizing spirits that admire our bishoprics, not episcopacy.

The next objection vanishes of itself, propounding a doubt, whether a greater inconvenience would not grow from the corruption of any other discipline than from that of episcopacy. This seems an unseasonable foresight, Edition: current; Page: [30] and out of order, to defer and put off the most needful constitution of one right discipline, while we stand balancing the discommodities of two corrupt ones. First constitute that which is right, and of itself it will discover and rectify that which swerves, and easily remedy the pretended fear of having a pope in every parish, unless we call the zealous and meek censure of the church a popedom, which whoso does, let him advise how he can reject the pastorly rod and sheephook of Christ, and those cords of love, and not fear to fall under the iron sceptre of his anger, that will dash him to pieces like a potsherd.

At another doubt of theirs I wonder—whether this discipline which we desire be such as can be put in practice within this kingdom; they say it cannot stand with the common law nor with the king’s safety, the government of episcopacy is now so weaved into the common law. In God’s name let it weave out again; let not human quillets keep back divine authority. It is not the common law, nor the civil, but piety and justice that are our foundresses; they stoop not, neither change colour for aristocracy, democracy, or monarchy, nor yet at all interrupt their just courses; but far above the taking notice of these inferior niceties, with perfect sympathy, wherever they meet, kiss each other. Lastly, they are fearful that the discipline which will succeed cannot stand with the king’s safety. Wherefore? it is but episcopacy reduced to what it should be: were it not that the tyranny of prelates under the name of bishops had made our ears tender and startling, we might call every good minister a bishop, as every bishop, yea, the apostles themselves, are called ministers, and the angels ministering spirits, and the ministers again angels. But wherein is this propounded government so shrewd? Because the government of assemblies will succeed. Did not the apostles govern the church by assemblies? How should it else be catholic? How should it have communion? We count it sacrilege to take from the rich prelates their lands and revenues, which is sacrilege in them to keep, using them as they do; and can we think it safe to defraud the living church of God of that right which God has given her in assemblies? O but the consequence! assemblies draw to them the supremacy of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. No, surely, they draw no supremacy, but that authority which Christ, and St. Paul in his name, confers upon them. The king may still retain the same supremacy in the assemblies, as in the parliament; here he can do nothing alone against the common law, and there neither alone, nor with consent, against the Scriptures. But is this all? No, this ecclesiastical supremacy draws to it the power to excommunicate kings; and then follows the worst that can be imagined. Do they hope to avoid this, by keeping prelates that have so often done it? Not to exemplify the malapert insolence of our own bishops in this kind towards our kings, I shall turn back to the primitive and pure times, which the objectors would have the rule of reformation to us.

Not an assembly, but one bishop alone, Saint Ambrose of Milan, held Theodosius, the most Christian emperor, under excommunication above eight months together, drove him from the church in the presence of his nobles; which the good emperor bore with heroic humility, and never ceased by prayers and tears, till he was absolved; for which coming to the bishop with supplication into the salutatory, some outporch of the church, he was charged by him with tyrannical madness against God, for coming into holy ground. At last, upon conditions absolved, and after great humiliation approaching to the altar to offer, (as those thrice pure times then thought meet,) he had scarce withdrawn his hand, and stood awhile, when a bold archdeacon comes in the bishop’s name, and chases him from within Edition: current; Page: [31] the rails, telling him peremptorily, that the place wherein he stood was for none but the priests to enter, or to touch; and this is another piece of pure primitive divinity! Think ye, then, our bishops will forego the power of excommunication on whomsoever? No, certainly, unless to compass sinister ends, and then revoke when they see their time. And yet this most mild, though withal dreadful and inviolable prerogative of Christ’s diadem, excommunication, serves for nothing with them, but to prog and pander for fees, or to display their pride, and sharpen their revenge, debarring men the protection of the law; and I remember not whether in some cases it bereave not men all right to their worldly goods and inheritances, besides the denial of Christian burial. But in the evangelical and reformed use of this sacred censure, no such prostitution, no such Iscariotical drifts are to be doubted, as that spiritual doom and sentence should invade worldly possession, which is the rightful lot and portion even of the wickedest men, as frankly bestowed upon them by the all-dispensing bounty as rain and sunshine. No, no, it seeks not to bereave or destroy the body; it seeks to save the soul by humbling the body, not by imprisonment, or pecuniary mulct, much less by stripes or bonds, or disinheritance, but by fatherly admonishment and Christian rebuke, to cast it into godly sorrow, whose end is joy and ingenuous bashfulness to sin: if that cannot be wrought, then as a tender mother takes her child and holds it over the pit with scaring words, that it may learn to fear where danger is; so doth excommunication as dearly and as freely, without money, use her wholesome and saving terrors: she is instant, she beseeches; by all the dear and sweet promises of salvation she entices and woos; by all the threatenings and thunders of the law, and rejected gospel, she charges, and adjures: this is all her armory, her munition, her artillery; then she awaits with long-sufferance, and yet ardent zeal. In brief, there is no act in all the errand of God’s ministers to mankind, wherein passes more loverlike contestation between Christ and the soul of a regenerate man lapsing, than before, and in, and after the sentence of excommunication. As for the fogging proctorage of money, with such an eye as struck Gehazi with leprosy, and Simon Magus with a curse; so does she look, and so threaten her fiery whip against that banking den of thieves that dare thus baffle, and buy and sell the awful and majestic wrinkles of her brow. He that is rightly and apostolically sped with her invisible arrow, if he can be at peace in his soul, and not smell within him the brimstone of hell, may have fair leave to tell all his bags over undiminished of the least farthing, may eat his dainties, drink his wine, use his delights, enjoy his lands and liberties, not the least skin raised, not the least hair misplaced, for all that excommunication has done: much more may a king enjoy his rights and prerogatives undeflowered, untouched, and be as absolute and complete a king, as all his royalties and revenues can make him. And therefore little did Theodosius fear a plot upon his empire, when he stood excommunicate by Saint Ambrose, though it were done either with much haughty pride, or ignorant zeal. But let us rather look upon the reformed churches beyond the seas, the Grizons, the Swisses, the Hollanders, the French, that have a supremacy to live under as well as we; where do the churches in all these places strive for supremacy? Where do they clash and justle supremacies with the civil magistrate? In France, a more severe monarchy than ours, the protestants, under this church-government, carry the name of the best subjects the king has; and yet presbytery, if it must be so called, does there all that it desires to do; how easy were it, if there be such great suspicion, to give no more scope to it in England! But let us not, for fear of a scarecrow, or else through hatred to be reformed, Edition: current; Page: [32] stand hankering and politizing, when God with spread hands testifies to us, and points us out the way to our peace.

Let us not be so overcredulous, unless God hath blinded us, as to trust our dear souls into the hands of men that beg so devoutly for the pride and gluttony of their own backs and bellies, that sue and solicit so eagerly, not for the saving of souls, the consideration of which can have here no place at all, but for their bishoprics, deaneries, prebends, and canonries. How can these men not be corrupt, whose very cause is the bribe of their own pleading, whose mouths cannot open without the strong breath and loud stench of avarice, simony, and sacrilege, embezzling the treasury of the church on painted and gilded walls of temples, wherein God hath testified to have no delight, warming their palace kitchens, and from thence their unctuous and epicurean paunches, with the alms of the blind, the lame, the impotent, the aged, the orphan, the widow? for with these the treasury of Christ ought to be—here must be his jewels bestowed, his rich cabinet must be emptied here; as the constant martyr Saint Lawrence taught the Roman prætor. Sir, would you know what the remonstrance of these men would have, what their petition implies? They intreat us that we would not be weary of those insupportable grievances that our shoulders have hitherto cracked under; they beseech us that we would think them fit to be our justices of peace, our lords, our highest offices of state, though they come furnished with no more experience than they learnt between the cook and the manciple, or more profoundly at the college audit, or the regent house, or to come to their deepest insight, at their patron’s table; they would request us to endure still the rustling of their silken cassocs, and that we would burst our midriffs, rather than laugh to see them under sail in all their lawn and sarcenet, their shrouds and tackle, with a geometrical rhomboides upon their heads: they would bear us in hand that we must of duty still appear before them once a year in Jerusalem, like good circumcised males and females, to be taxed by the poll, to be sconced our headmoney, our twopences, in their chandlerly shop-book of Easter. They pray us that it would please us to let them still hale us, and worry us with their bandogs and pursuivants; and that it would please the parliament that they may yet have the whipping, fleecing, and flaying of us in their diabolical courts, to tear the flesh from our bones, and into our wide wounds instead of balm, to pour in the oil of tartar, vitriol, and mercury: surely a right reasonable, innocent, and soft-hearted petition. O the relenting bowels of the fathers! Can this be granted them, unless God have smitten us with frenzy from above, and with a dazzling giddiness at noonday? Should not those men rather be heard that come to plead against their own preferments, their worldly advantages, their own abundance; for honour and obedience to God’s word, the conversion of souls, the Christian peace of the land, and union of the reformed Catholic church, the unappropriating and unmonopolizing the rewards of learning and industry, from the greasy clutch of ignorance and high feeding? We have tried already, and miserably felt what ambition, worldly glory, and immoderate wealth, can do; what the boisterous and contradictional hand of a temporal, earthly, and corporeal spirituality can avail to the edifying of Christ’s holy church; were it such a desperate hazard to put to the venture the universal votes of Christ’s congregation, and fellowly and friendly yoke of a teaching and laborious ministry, the pastorlike and apostolic imitation of meek and unlordly discipline, the gentle and benevolent mediocrity of church-maintenance, without the ignoble hucksterage of piddling tithes? Were it such an incurable mischief to make a little trial, what all this would do to the Edition: current; Page: [33] flourishing and growing up of Christ’s mystical body? as rather to use every poor shift, and if that serve not, to threaten uproar and combustion, and shake the brand of civil discord?

O, sir, I do now feel myself inwrapped on the sudden into those mazes and labyrinths of dreadful and hideous thoughts, that which way to get out, or which way to end, I know not, unless I turn mine eyes, and with your help lift up my hands to that eternal and propitious Throne, where nothing is readier than grace and refuge to the distresses of mortal suppliants: and it were a shame to leave these serious thoughts less piously than the heathen were wont to conclude their graver discourses.

Thou, therefore, that sittest in light and glory unapproachable, Parent of angels and men! next, thee I implore, omnipotent King, Redeemer of that lost remnant whose nature thou didst assume, ineffable and everlasting Love! and thou, the third subsistence of divine infinitude, illumining Spirit, the joy and solace of created things! one Tripersonal godhead! look upon this thy poor and almost spent and expiring church; leave her not thus a prey to these importunate wolves, that wait and think long till they devour thy tender flock; these wild boars that have broke into thy vineyard, and left the print of their polluting hoofs on the souls of thy servants. O let them not bring about their damned designs, that stand now at the entrance of the bottomless pit, expecting the watchword to open and let out those dreadful locusts and scorpions, to reinvolve us in that pitchy cloud of infernal darkness, where we shall never more see the sun of thy truth again, never hope for the cheerful dawn, never more hear the bird of morning sing. Be moved with pity at the afflicted state of this our shaken monarchy, that now lies labouring under her throes, and struggling against the grudges of more dreaded calamities.

O Thou, that, after the impetuous rage of five bloody inundations, and the succeeding sword of intestine war, soaking the land in her own gore, didst pity the sad and ceaseless revolution of our swift and thick-coming sorrows; when we were quite breathless, of thy free grace didst motion peace, and terms of covenant with us; and having first well nigh freed us from antichristian thraldom, didst build up this Britannic empire to a glorious and enviable height, with all her daughter-islands about her; stay us in this felicity, let not the obstinacy of our half-obedience and willworship bring forth that viper of sedition, that for these fourscore years hath been breeding to eat through the entrails of our peace; but let her cast her abortive spawn without the danger of this travailing and throbbing kingdom: that we may still remember in our solemn thanksgivings, how for us, the Northern ocean even to the frozen Thule was scattered with the proud shipwrecks of the Spanish armada, and the very maw of hell ransacked, and made to give up her concealed destruction, ere she could vent it in that horrible and damned blast.

O how much more glorious will those former deliverances appear, when we shall know them not only to have saved us from greatest miseries past, but to have reserved us for greatest happiness to come! Hitherto thou hast but freed us, and that not fully, from the unjust and tyrannous claim of thy foes; now unite us entirely, and appropriate us to thyself; tie us everlastingly in willing homage to the prerogative of thy eternal throne.

And now we know, O thou our most certain hope and defence, that thine enemies have been consulting all the sorceries of the great whore, and have joined their plots with that sad intelligencing tyrant that mischiefs the world with his mines of Ophir, and lies thirsting to revenge his naval ruins that have larded our seas: but let them all take counsel together, and Edition: current; Page: [34] let it come to nought; let them decree, and do thou cancel it; let them gather themselves, and be scattered; let them embattle themselves, and be broken; let them embattle and be broken, for thou art with us.

Then, amidst the hymns and hallelujahs of saints, some one may perhaps be heard offering at high strains in new and lofty measures, to sing and celebrate thy divine mercies and marvellous judgments in this land throughout all ages; whereby this great and warlike nation, instructed and inured to the fervent and continual practice of truth and righteousness, and casting far from her the rags of her old vices, may press on hard to that high and happy emulation to be found the soberest, wisest, and most Christian people at that day, when thou, the eternal and shortly-expected King, shalt open the clouds to judge the several kingdoms of the world, and distributing national honours and rewards to religious and just commonwealths, shalt put an end to all earthly tyrannies, proclaiming thy universal and mild monarchy through heaven and earth; where they undoubtedly, that by their labours, counsels, and prayers, have been earnest for the common good of religion and their country, shall receive above the inferior orders of the blessed, the regal addition of principalities, legions, and thrones into their glorious titles, and in supereminence of beatific vision, progressing the dateless and irrevoluble circle of eternity, shall clasp inseparable hands with joy and bliss, in overmeasure for ever.

But they contrary, that by the impairing and diminution of the true faith, the distresses and servitude of their country, aspire to high dignity, rule, and promotion here, after a shameful end in this life, (which God grant them,) shall be thrown down eternally into the darkest and deepest gulf of hell, where, under the despiteful control, the trample and spurn of all the other damned, that in the anguish of their torture, shall have no other ease than to exercise a raving and bestial tyranny over them as their slaves and negroes, they shall remain in that plight for ever, the basest, the lowermost, the most dejected, most underfoot, and downtrodden vassals of perdition.

OF PRELATICAL EPISCOPACY,

AND WHETHER IT MAY BE DEDUCED FROM THE APOSTOLICAL TIMES, BY VIRTUE OF THOSE TESTIMONIES WHICH ARE ALLEGED TO THAT PURPOSE IN SOME LATE TREATISES; ONE WHEREOF GOES UNDER THE NAME OF JAMES, ARCHIBISHOP OF ARMAGH.

[first published 1641.]

Episcopacy, as it is taken for an order in the church above a presbyter, or, as we commonly name him, the minister of a congregation, is either of divine constitution or of human. If only of human, we have the same human privilege that all men have ever had since Adam, being born free, and in the mistress island of all the British, to retain this episcopacy, or to remove it, consulting with our own occasions and conveniences, and for the prevention of our own dangers and disquiets, in what best manner we can devise, without running at a loss, as we must needs in those stale and Edition: current; Page: [35] useless records of either uncertain or unsound antiquity; which, if we hold fast to the grounds of the reformed church, can neither skill of us, nor we of it, so oft as it would lead us to the broken reed of tradition. If it be of divine constitution, to satisfy us fully in that, the Scripture only is able, it being the only book left us of divine authority, not in any thing more divine than in the all-sufficiency it hath to furnish us, as with all other spiritual knowledge, so with this in particular, setting out to us a perfect man of God, accomplished to all the good works of his charge: through all which book can be nowhere, either by plain text or solid reasoning, found any difference between a bishop and a presbyter, save that they be two names to signify the same order. Notwithstanding this clearness, and that by all evidence of argument, Timothy and Titus (whom our prelates claim to imitate only in the controlling part of their office) had rather the vicegerency of an apostleship committed to them, than the ordinary charge of a bishopric, as being men of an extraordinary calling; yet to verify that which St. Paul foretold of succeeding times, when men began to have itching ears, then not contented with the plentiful and wholesome fountains of the gospel, they began after their own lusts to heap to themselves teachers, and, as if the divine Scripture wanted a supplement, and were to be eked out, they cannot think any doubt resolved, and any doctrine confirmed, unless they run to that indigested heap and fry of authors which they call antiquity. Whatsoever time, or the heedless hand of blind chance, hath drawn down from of old to this present in her huge drag-net, whether fish or sea-weed, shells or shrubs, unpicked, unchosen, those are the fathers. Seeing, therefore, some men, deeply conversant in books, have had so little care of late to give the world a better account of their reading, than by divulging needless tractates stuffed with specious names of Ignatius and Polycarpus; with fragments of old martyrologies and legends, to distract and stagger the multitude of credulous readers, and mislead them from their strong guards and places of safety, under the tuition of holy writ; it came into my thoughts to persuade myself, setting all distances and nice respects aside, that I could do religion and my country no better service for the time, than doing my utmost endeavour to recall the people of God from this vain foraging after straw, and to reduce them to their firm stations under the standard of the gospel; by making appear to them, first the insufficiency, next the inconveniency, and lastly the impiety of these gay testimonies, that their great doctors would bring them to dote on. And in performing this, I shall not strive to be more exact in method, than as their citations lead me.

First, therefore, concerning Ignatius shall be treated fully, when the author shall come to insist upon some places in his epistles. Next, to prove a succession of twenty-seven bishops from Timothy, he cites one Leontius bishop of Magnesia, out of the 11th act of the Chalcedonian council: this is but an obscure and single witness, and for his faithful dealing who shall commend him to us, with this his catalogue of bishops? What know we further of him, but that he might be as factious and false a bishop as Leontius of Antioch, that was a hundred years his predecessor? For neither the praise of his wisdom, or his virtue, hath left him memorable to posterity, but only this doubtful relation, which we must take at his word: and how shall this testimony receive credit from his word, whose very name fiad scarce been thought on but for this bare testimony? But they will say, he was a member of the council, and that may deserve to gain him credit with us. I will not stand to argue, as yet with fair allowance I might, that we may as justly suspect there were some bad and slippery Edition: current; Page: [36] men in that council, as we know there are wont to be in our convocations: nor shall I need to plead at this time, that nothing hath been more attempted, nor with more subtlety brought about, both anciently by other heretics, and modernly by papists, than to falsify the editions of the councils, of which we have none, but from our adversaries’ hands, whence canons, acts, and whole spurious councils are thrust upon us; and hard it would be to prove in all, which are legitimate, against the lawful rejection of an urgent and free disputer. But this I purpose not to take advantage of; for what avails it to wrangle about the corrupt editions of councils, whenas we know that many years ere this time, which was almost five hundred years after Christ, the councils themselves were foully corrupted with ungodly prelatism, and so far plunged into worldly ambition, as that it stood them upon long ere this to uphold their now well tasted hierarchy by what fair pretext soever they could, in like manner as they had now learned to defend many other gross corruptions by as ancient, and supposed authentic tradition as episcopacy? And what hope can we have of this whole council to warrant us a matter, four hundred years at least above their time, concerning the distinction of bishop and presbyter, whenas we find them such blind judges of things before their eyes, in their decrees of precedency between bishop and bishop, acknowledging Rome for the apostolic throne, and Peter, in that see, for the rock, the basis, and the foundation of the catholic church and faith, contrary to the interpretation of more ancient fathers? And therefore from a mistaken text, did they give to Leo, as Peter’s successor, a kind of pre-eminence above the whole council as Euagrius expresses; (for now the pope was come to that height, as to arrogate to himself by his vicars incompatible honours;) and yet having thus yielded to Rome the universal primacy, for spiritual reasons as they thought, they conclude their sitting with a carnal and ambitious decree, to give the second place of dignity to Constantinople from reason of state, because it was new Rome; and by like consequence doubtless of earthly privileges annexed to each other city, was the bishop thereof to take his place.

I may say again therefore, what hope can we have of such a council, as, beginning in the spirit, ended thus in the flesh? Much rather should we attend to what Eusebius, the ancientest writer extant of church-history, notwithstanding all the helps he had above these, confesses in the 4th chapter of his third book, That it was no easy matter to tell who were those that were left bishops of the churches by the apostles, more than by what a man might gather from the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles of St. Paul, in which number he reckons Timothy for bishop of Ephesus. So as may plainly appear, that this tradition of bishoping Timothy over Ephesus was but taken for granted out of that place in St. Paul, which was only an intreating him to tarry at Ephesus to do something left him in charge. Now, if Eusebius, a famous writer, thought it so difficult to tell who were appointed bishops by the apostles, much more may we think it difficult to Leontius, an obscure bishop, speaking beyond his own diocese: and certainly much more hard was it for either of them to determine what kind of bishops these were, if they had so little means to know who they were; and much less reason have we to stand to their definitive sentence, seeing they have been so rash to raise up such lofty bishops and bishoprics out of places in Scripture merely misunderstood. Thus while we leave the Bible to gad after the traditions of the ancients, we hear the ancients themselves confessing, that what knowledge they had in this point was such as they had gathered from the Bible.

Since therefore antiquity itself hath turned over the controversy to that Edition: current; Page: [37] sovereign book which we had fondly straggled from, we shall do better not to detain this venerable apparition of Leontius any longer, but dismiss him with his list of seven and twenty, to sleep unmolested in his former obscurity.

Now for the word πϱοεστὼς, it is more likely that Timothy never knew the word in that sense: it was the vanity of those next succeeding times not to content themselves with the simplicity of scripture-phrase, but must make a new lexicon to name themselves by; one will be called πϱοεστὼς, or antistes, a word of precedence; another would be termed a gnostic, as Clemens; a third sacerdos, or priest, and talks of altars; which was a plain sign that their doctrine began to change, for which they must change their expressions. But that place of Justin Martyr serves rather to convince the author, than to make for him, where the name πϱοεστὼς τῶν ἀδελφῶν, the president or pastor of the brethren, (for to what end is he their president, but to teach them?) cannot be limited to signify a prelatical bishop, but rather communicates that Greek appellation to every ordinary presbyter: for there he tells what the Christians had wont to do in their several congregations, to read and expound, to pray and administer, all which he says the πϱοεστὼς, or antistes, did. Are these the offices only of a bishop, or shall we think that every congregation where these things were done, which he attributes to this antistes, had a bishop present among them? Unless they had as many antistites as presbyters, which this place rather seems to imply; and so we may infer even from their own alleged authority, “that antistes was nothing else but presbyter.”

As for that nameless treatise of Timothy’s martyrdom, only cited by Photius that lived almost nine hundred years after Christ, it handsomely follows in that author the martyrdom of the seven sleepers, that slept (I tell you but what mine author says) three hundred and seventy and two years; for so long they had been shut up in a cave without meat, and were found living. This story of Timothy’s Ephesian bishopric, as it follows in order, so may it for truth, if it only subsist upon its own authority, as it doth; for Photius only saith he read it, he does not aver it. That other legendary piece found among the lives of the saints, and sent us from the shop of the Jesuits at Louvain, does but bear the name of Polycrates; how truly, who can tell? and shall have some more weight with us, when Polycrates can persuade us of that which he affirms in the same place of Eusebius’s fifth book, that St. John was a priest, and wore the golden breastplate: and why should he convince us more with his traditions of Timothy’s episcopacy, than he could convince Victor bishop of Rome with his traditions concerning the feast of Easter, who, not regarding his irrefragable instances of examples taken from Philip and his daughters that were prophetesses, or from Polycarpus, no nor from St. John himself, excommunicated both him, and all the Asian churches, for celebrating their Easter judaically? He may therefore go back to the seven bishops his kinsmen, and make his moan to them, that we esteem his traditional ware as lightly as Victor did.

Those of Theodoret, Felix, and John of Antioch, are authorities of later times, and therefore not to be received for their antiquity’s sake to give in evidence concerning an allegation, wherein writers, so much their elders, we see so easily miscarry. What if they had told us that Peter, who, as they say, left Ignatius bishop of Antioch, went afterwards to Rome, and was bishop there, as this Ignatius, and Irenæus and all antiquity with one mouth deliver? there be nevertheless a number of learned and wise protestants, who have written, and will maintain, that Peter’s being at Rome as bishop cannot stand with concordance of Scripture.

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Now come the epistles of Ignatius to show us, first, that Onesimus was bishop of Ephesus; next, to assert the difference of bishop and presbyter: wherein I wonder that men, teachers of the protestant religion, make no more difficulty of imposing upon our belief a supposititious offspring of some dozen epistles, whereof five are rejected as spurious, containing in them heresies and trifles; which cannot agree in chronology with Ignatius, entitling him archbishop of Antioch Theopolis, which name of Theopolis that city had not till Justinian’s time, long after, as Cedrenus mentions; which argues both the barbarous time, and the unskilful fraud of him that foisted this epistle upon Ignatius. In the epistle to those of Tarsus, he condemns them for ministers of Satan, that say, “Christ is God above all.” To the Philippians, them that kept their Easter as the Asian churches, as Polycarpus did, and them that fasted upon any Saturday or Sunday, except one, he counts as those that had slain the Lord. To those of Antioch, he salutes the subdeacons, chanters, porters, and exorcists, as if these had been orders of the church in his time: those other epistles less questioned, are yet so interlarded with corruptions, as may justly endue us with a wholesome suspicion of the rest. As to the Trallians, he writes, that “a bishop hath power over all beyond all government and authority whatsoever.” Surely then no pope can desire more than Ignatius attributes to every bishop; but what will become then of the archbishops and primates, if every bishop in Ignatius’s judgment be as supreme as a pope? To the Ephesians, near the very place from whence they fetch their proof for episcopacy, there stands a line that casts an ill hue upon all the epistle; “Let no man err,” saith he; “unless a man be within the rays or enclosure of the altar, he is deprived of the bread of life.” I say not but this may be stretched to a figurative construction; but yet it has an ill look, especially being followed beneath with the mention of I know not what sacrifices. In the other epistle to Smyrna, wherein is written that “they should follow their bishop as Christ did his Father, and the presbytery as the apostles;” not to speak of the insulse, and ill laid comparison, this cited place lies upon the very brim of a noted corruption, which, had they that quote this passage ventured to let us read, all men would have readily seen what grain the testimony had been of, where it is said, “that it is not lawful without a bishop to baptize, nor to offer, nor to do sacrifice.” What can our church make of these phrases but scandalous? And but a little further he plainly falls to contradict the spirit of God in Solomon, judged by the words themselves; “My son,” saith he, “honour God and the king; but I say, honour God, and the bishop as high-priest bearing the image of God according to his ruling, and of Christ according to his priesting, and after him honour the king.” Excellent Ignatius! can ye blame the prelates for making much of this epistle? Certainly if this epistle can serve you to set a bishop above a presbyter, it may serve you next to set him above a king. These, and other like places in abundance through all those short epistles, must either be adulterate, or else Ignatius was not Ignatius, nor a martyr, but most adulterate, and corrupt himself. In the midst, therefore, of so many forgeries, where shall we fix to dare say this is Ignatius? As for his style, who knows it, so disfigured and interrupted as it is? except they think that where they meet with any thing sound, and orthodoxal, there they find Ignatius. And then they believe him not for his own authority, but for a truth’s sake, which they derive from elsewhere: to what end then should they cite him as authentic for episcopacy, when they cannot know what is authentic in him, but by the judgment which they brought with them, and not by any judgment which they might safely learn from him? How can they bring satisfaction Edition: current; Page: [39] from such an author, to whose very essence the reader must be fain to contribute his own understanding? Had God ever intended that we should have sought any part of useful instruction from Ignatius, doubtless he would not have so ill provided for our knowledge, as to send him to our hands in this broken and disjointed plight; and if he intended no such thing we do injuriously in thinking to taste better the pure evangelic manna, by seasoning our mouths with the tainted scraps and fragments of an unknown table; and searching among the verminous and polluted rags dropped overworn from the toiling shoulders of time, with these deformedly to quilt and interlace the entire, the spotless, and undecaying robe of truth, the daughter not of time, but of Heaven, only bred up here below in Christian hearts, between two grave and holy nurses, the doctrine and discipline of the gospel.

Next follows Irenæus bishop of Lyons, who is cited to affirm, that Polycarpus “was made bishop of Smyrna by the apostles;” and this, it may seem, none could better tell than he who had both seen and heard Polycarpus: but when did he hear him? Himself confesses to Florinus, when he was a boy. Whether that age in Irenæus may not be liable to many mistakings; and whether a boy may be trusted to take an exact account of the manner of a church constitution, and upon what terms, and within what limits, and with what kind of commission Polycarpus received his charge, let a man consider, ere he be credulous. It will not be denied that he might have seen Polycarpus in his youth, a man of great eminence in the church, to whom the other presbyters might give way for his virtue, wisdom, and the reverence of his age; and so did Anicetus, bishop of Rome, even in his own city, give him a kind of priority in administering the sacrament, as may be read in Eusebius: but that we should hence conclude a distinct and superior order from the young observation of Irenæus, nothing yet alleged can warrant us; unless we shall believe such as would face us down, that Calvin and, after him, Beza were bishops of Geneva, because that in the unsettled state of the church, while things were not fully composed, their worth and learning cast a greater share of business upon them, and directed men’s eyes principally towards them: and yet these men were the dissolvers of episcopacy. We see the same necessity in state affairs; Brutus, that expelled the kings out of Rome, was for the time forced to be as it were a king himself, till matters were set in order, as in a free commonwealth. He that had seen Pericles lead the Athenians which way he listed, haply would have said he had been their prince: and yet he was but a powerful and eloquent man in a democracy, and had no more at any time than a temporary and elective sway, which was in the will of the people when to abrogate. And it is most likely that in the church, they which came after these apostolic men, being less in merit, but bigger in ambition, strove to invade those privileges by intrusion and plea of right, which Polycarpus, and others like him possessed, from the voluntary surrender of men subdued by the excellency of their heavenly gifts; which because their successors had not, and so could neither have that authority, it was their policy to divulge that the eminence which Polycarpus and his equals enjoyed, was by right of constitution, not by free will of condescending. And yet thus far Irenæus makes against them, as in that very place to call Polycarpus an apostolical presbyter. But what fidelity his relations had in general, we cannot sooner learn than by Eusebius, who, near the end of his third book, speaking of Papias, a very ancient writer, one that had heard St. John, and was known to many that had seen and been acquainted with others of the apostles, but being of a shallow wit, and not understanding those traditions which he received, filled his writings Edition: current; Page: [40] with many new doctrines, and fabulous conceits: he tells us there, that “divers ecclesiastical men, and Irenæus among the rest, while they looked at his antiquity, became infected with his errors.” Now, if Irenæus was so rash as to take unexamined opinions from an author of so small capacity, when he was a man, we should be more rash ourselves to rely upon those observations which he made when he was a boy. And this may be a sufficient reason to us why we need no longer muse at the spreading of many idle traditions so soon after the apostles, while such as this Papias had the throwing them about, and the inconsiderate zeal of the next age, that heeded more the person than the doctrine, had the gathering them up. Wherever a man, who had been any way conversant with the apostles, was to be found, thither flew all the inquisitive ears, although the exercise of right instructing was changed into the curiosity of impertinent fabling: where the mind was to be edified with solid doctrine, there the fancy was soothed with solemn stories: with less fervency was studied what St. Paul or St. John had written, than was listened to one that could say, Here he taught, here he stood, this was his stature; and thus he went habited; and, O happy this house that harboured him, and that cold stone whereon he rested, this village wherein he wrought such a miracle, and that pavement bedewed with the warm effusion of his last blood, that sprouted up into eternal roses to crown his martyrdom. Thus, while all their thoughts were poured out upon circumstances, and the gazing after such men as had sat at table with the apostles, (many of which Christ hath professed, yea, though they had cast out devils in his name, he will not know at the last day,) by this means they lost their time, and truanted in the fundamental grounds of saving knowledge, as was seen shortly by their writings. Lastly, for Irenæus, we have cause to think him less judicious in his reports from hand to hand of what the apostles did, when we find him so negligent in keeping the faith which they wrote, as to say in his third book against heresies, that “the obedience of Mary was the cause of salvation to herself and all mankind;” and in his fifth book, that “as Eve was seduced to fly God, so the virgin Mary was persuaded to obey God, that the virgin Mary might be made the advocate of the virgin Eve.” Thus if Irenæus, for his nearness to the apostles, must be the patron of episcopacy to us, it is no marvel though he be the patron of idolatry to the papist, for the same cause. To the epistle of those brethren of Smyrna, that write the martyrdom of Polycarpus, and style him an apostolical and prophetical doctor, and bishop of the church of Smyrna, I could be content to give some credit for the great honour and affection which I see those brethren bear him; and not undeservedly, if it be true, which they there say, that he was a prophet, and had a voice from heaven to comfort him at his death, which they could hear, but the rest could not for the noise and tumult that was in the place; and besides, if his body were so precious to the Christians, that he was never wont to pull off his shoes for one or other that still strove to have the office, that they might come in to touch his feet; yet a light scruple or two I would gladly be resolved in: if Polycarpus (who as they say, was a prophet that never failed in what he foretold) had declared to his friends, that he knew, by vision, he should die no other death than burning, how it came to pass that the fire, when it came to proof, would not do his work, but starting off like a full sail from the mast, did but reflect a golden light upon his unviolated limbs, exhaling such a sweet odour, as if all the incense of Arabia had been burning; insomuch that when the billmen saw that the fire was overawed, and could not do the deed, one of them steps to him and stabs him with a sword, at which wound such abundance of Edition: current; Page: [41] blood gushed forth as quenched the fire. By all this relation it appears not how the fire was guilty of his death, and then how can his prophecy be fulfilled? Next, how the standers-by could be so soon weary of such a glorious sight, and such a fragrant smell, as to hasten the executioner to put out the fire with the martyr’s blood; unless perhaps they thought, as in all perfumes, that the smoke would be more odorous than the flame: yet these good brethren say he was bishop of Smyrna. No man questions it, if bishop and presbyter were anciently all one, and how does it appear by any thing in this testimony that they were not? If among his other high titles of prophetical, apostolical, and most admired of those times, he be also styled bishop of the church of Smyrna in a kind of speech, which the rhetoricans call ϰατ’ ἐξοχὴν, for his excellence sake, as being the most famous of all the Smyrnian presbyters; it cannot be proved neither from this nor that other place of Irenæus, that he was therefore in distinct and monarchical order above the other presbyters; it is more probable, that if the whole presbytery had been as renowned as he, they would have termed every one of them severally bishop of Smyrna. Hence it is, that we read sometimes of two bishops in one place; and had all the presbyters there been of like worth, we might perhaps have read of twenty.

Tertullian accosts us next, (for Polycrates hath had his answer,) whose testimony, state but the question right, is of no more force to deduce episcopacy, than the two former. He says that the church of Smyrna had Polycarpus placed there by John, and the church of Rome, Clement ordained by Peter; and so the rest of the churches did show what bishops they had received by the appointment of the apostles. None of this will be contradicted, for we have it out of the Scripture that bishops or presbyters, which were the same, were left by the apostles in every church, and they might perhaps give some special charge to Clement, or Polycarpus, or Linus, and put some special trust in them for the experience they had of their faith and constancy; it remains yet to be evinced out of this and the like places, which will never be, that the word bishop is otherwise taken, than in the language of St. Paul and The Acts, for an order above presbyters. We grant them bishops, we grant them worthy men, we grant them placed in several churches by the apostles; we grant that Irenæus and Tertullian affirm this; but that they were placed in a superior order above the presbytery, show from all these words why we should grant. It is not enough to say the apostle left this man bishop in Rome, and that other in Ephesus, but to show when they altered their own decree set down by St. Paul, and made all the presbyters underlings to one bishop. But suppose Tertullian had made an imparity where none was originally, should he move us, that goes about to prove an imparity between God the Father, and God the Son, as these words import in his book against Praxeas? “The Father is the whole substance, but the Son a derivation, and portion of the whole as he himself professes, because the Father is greater than me.” Believe him now for a faithful relater of tradition, whom you see such an unfaithful expounder of the Scripture: besides, in his time, all allowable tradition was now lost. For this same author, whom you bring to testify the ordination of Clement to the bishopric of Rome by Peter, testifies also, in the beginning of his treatise concerning chastity, that the bishop of Rome did then use to send forth his edicts by the name of Pontifex Maximus, and Episcopus Episcoporum, chief priest, and bishop of bishops: for shame then do not urge that authority to keep up a bishop, that will necessarily engage you to set up a pope. As little can your advantage be from Hegesippus, an historian of the same time, not Edition: current; Page: [42] extant but cited by Eusebius: his words are, that “in every city all things so stood in his time as the law, and the prophets, and our Lord did preach.” If they stood so, then stood not bishops above presbyters; for what our Lord and his disciples taught, God be thanked, we have no need to go learn of him: and you may as well hope to persuade us out of the same author, that James the brother of our Lord was a Nazarite, and that to him only it was lawful to enter into the holy of holies; that his food was not upon any thing that had life, fish or flesh; that he used no woollen garments, but only linen, and so as he trifles on.

If therefore the tradition of the church were now grown so ridiculous, and disconsenting from the doctrine of the apostles, even in those points which were of least moment to men’s particular ends, how well may we be assured it was much more degenerated in point of episcopacy and precedency, things which could afford such plausible pretences, such commodious traverses for ambition and avarice to lurk behind!

As for those Britain bishops which you cite, take heed, what you do; for our Britain bishops, less ancient than these, were remarkable for nothing more than their poverty, as Sulpitius Severus and Beda can remember you of examples good store.

Lastly, (for the fabulous Metaphrastes is not worth an answer,) that authority of Clemens Alexandrinus is not to be found in all his works; and wherever it be extant, it is in controversy whether it be Clement’s or no; or if it were, it says only that St. John in some places constituted bishops: questionless he did, but where does Clemens say he set them above presbyters? No man will gainsay the constitution of bishops: but the raising them to a superior and distinct order above presbyters, seeing the gospel makes them one and the same thing, a thousand such allegations as these will not give prelatical episcopacy one chapel of ease above a parish church. And thus much for this cloud I cannot say rather than petty fog of witnesses, with which episcopal men would cast a mist before us, to deduce their exalted episcopacy from apostolic times. Now, although, as all men well know, it be the wonted shift of error, and fond opinion, when they find themselves outlawed by the Bible, and forsaken of sound reason, to betake them with all speed to their old startinghole of tradition, and that wild and overgrown covert of antiquity, thinking to farm there at large room, and find good stabling, yet thus much their own deified antiquity betrays them to inform us, that tradition hath had very seldom or never the gift of persuasion; as that which church-histories report of those east and western paschalists, formerly spoken of, will declare. Who would have thought that Polycarpus on the one side could have erred in what he saw St. John do, or Anicetus bishop of Rome on the other side, in what he or some of his friends might pretend to have seen St. Peter or St. Paul do; and yet neither of these could persuade either when to keep Easter? The like frivolous contention troubled the primitive English churches, while Colmanus and Wilfride on either side deducing their opinions, the one from the undeniable example of Saint John, and the learned bishop Anatolius, and lastly the miraculous Columba, the other from Saint Peter and the Nicene council; could gain no ground each of other, till King Oswy, perceiving no likelihood of ending the controversy that way, was fain to decide it himself, good king, with that small knowledge wherewith those times had furnished him. So when those pious Greek emperors began, as Cedrenus relates, to put down monks, and abolish images, the old idolaters, finding themselves blasted, and driven back by the prevailing light of the Scripture, sent out their sturdy monks Edition: current; Page: [43] called the Abramites, to allege for images the ancient fathers Dionysius, and this our objected Irenæus: nay, they were so highflown in their antiquity, that they undertook to bring the apostles, and Luke the evangelist, yea Christ himself, from certain records that were then current, to patronize their idolatry: yet for all this the worthy emperor Theophilus, even in those dark times, chose rather to nourish himself and his people with the sincere milk of the gospel, than to drink from the mixed confluence of so many corrupt and poisonous waters, as tradition would have persuaded him to, by most ancient seeming authorities. In like manner all the reformed churches abroad, unthroning episcopacy, doubtless were not ignorant of these testimonies alleged to draw it in a line from the apostles’ days: for surely the author will not think he hath brought us now any new authorities or considerations into the world, which the reformers in other places were not advised of: and yet we see, the intercession of all these apostolic fathers could not prevail with them to alter their resolved decree of reducing into order their usurping and over-provendered episcopants; and God hath blessed their work this hundred years with a prosperous and steadfast, and still happy success. And this may serve to prove the insufficiency of these present episcopal testimonies, not only in themselves but in the account of those that ever have been the followers of truth. It will next behove us to consider the inconvenience we fall into, by using ourselves to be guided by these kind of testimonies. He that thinks it the part of a well-learned man to have read diligently the ancient stories of the church, and to be no stranger in the volumes of the fathers, shall have all judicious men consenting with him; not hereby to control, and new fangle the Scripture, God forbid! but to mark how corruption and apostasy crept in by degrees, and to gather up wherever we find the remaining sparks of original truth, wherewith to stop the mouths of our adversaries, and to bridle them with their own curb, who willingly pass by that which is orthodoxal in them, and studiously cull out that which is commentitious, and best for their turns, not weighing the fathers in the balance of Scripture, but Scripture in the balance of the fathers. If we, therefore, making first the gospel our rule and oracle, shall take the good which we light on in the fathers, and set it to oppose the evil which other men seek from them, in this way of skirmish we shall easily master all superstition and false doctrine; but if we turn this our discreet and wary usage of them into a blind devotion towards them, and whatsoever we find written by them; we both forsake our own grounds and reasons which led us at first to part from Rome, that is, to hold the Scriptures against all antiquity; we remove our cause into our adversaries’ own court, and take up there those cast principles, which will soon cause us to soder up with them again; inasmuch, as believing antiquity for itself in any one point, we bring an engagement upon ourselves of assenting to all that it charges upon us. For suppose we should now, neglecting that which is clear in Scripture, that a bishop and presbyter is all one both in name and office, and that what was done by Timothy and Titus, executing an extraordinary place, as fellow-labourers with the apostles, and of a universal charge in planting Christianity through divers regions, cannot be drawn into particular and daily example; suppose that neglecting this clearness of the text, we should, by the uncertain and corrupted writings of succeeding times, determine that bishop and presbyter are different, because we dare not deny what Ignatius, or rather the Perkin Warbeck of Ignatius, says; then must we be constrained to take upon ourselves a thousand superstitions and falsities, which the papists will prove us down in, from as good authorities, and as ancient as these Edition: current; Page: [44] that set a bishop above a presbyter. And the plain truth is, that when any of our men, of those that are wedded to antiquity, come to dispute with a papist, and leaving the Scriptures put themselves, without appeal, to the sentence of synods and councils, using in the cause of Sion the hired soldiery of revolted Israel, where they give the Romanists one buff, they receive two counterbuffs. Were it therefore but in this regard, every true bishop should be afraid to conquer in his cause by such authorities as these, which if we admit for the authority’s sake, we open a broad passage for a multitude of doctrines, that have no ground in Scripture, to break in upon us.

Lastly, I do not know, it being undeniable that there are but two ecclesiastical orders, bishops and deacons, mentioned in the gospel, how it can be less than impiety to make a demur at that, which is there so perspicuous, confronting and paralleling the sacred verity of St. Paul with the offals and sweepings of antiquity, that met as accidentally and absurdly, as Epicurus’s atoms, to patch up a Leucippean Ignatius, inclining rather to make this phantasm an expounder, or indeed a depraver of St. Paul, than St. Paul an examiner, and discoverer of this impostorship; nor caring how slightly they put off the verdict of holy text unsalved, that says plainly there be but two orders, so they maintain the reputation of their imaginary doctor that proclaims three. Certainly if Christ’s apostle have set down but two, then according to his own words, though he himself should unsay it, and not only the angel of Smyrna, but an angel from heaven, should bear us down that there be three, Saint Paul has doomed him twice, “Let him be accursed;” for Christ hath pronounced that no tittle of his word shall fall to the ground; and if one jot be alterable, it as possible that all should perish: and this shall be our righteousness, our ample warrant, and strong assurance, both now and at the last day, never to be ashamed of, against all the heaped names of angels and martyrs, councils and fathers, urged upon us, if we have given ourselves up to be taught by the pure and living precept of God’s word only; which, without more additions, nay, with a forbidding of them, hath within itself the promise of eternal life, the end of all our wearisome labours, and all our sustaining hopes. But if any shall strive to set up his ephod and teraphim of antiquity against the brightness and perfection of the gospel; let him fear lest he and his Baal be turned into Bosheth. And thus much may suffice to show, that the pretended episcopacy cannot be deduced from the apostolical times.

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THE REASON OF CHURCH-GOVERNMENT URGED AGAINST PRELATY.
IN TWO BOOKS.

THE FIRST BOOK.

[FIRST PUBLISHED 1641.]

THE PREFACE.

In the publishing of human laws, which for the most part aim not beyond the good of civil society, to set them barely forth to the people without reason or preface, like a physical prescript, or only with threatenings, as it were a lordly command, in the judgment of Plato was thought to be done neither generously nor wisely. His advice was, seeing that persuasion certainly is a more winning and more manlike way to keep men in obedience than fear, that to such laws as were of principal moment, there should be used as an induction some well-tempered discourse, showing how good, how gainful, how happy it must needs be to live according to honesty and justice; which being uttered with those native colours and graces of speech, as true eloquence, the daughter of virtue, can best bestow upon her mother’s praises, would so incite, and in a manner charm, the multitude into the love of that which is really good, as to embrace it ever after, not of custom and awe, which most men do, but of choice and purpose, with true and constant delight. But this practice we may learn from a better and more ancient authority than any heathen writer hath to give us; and indeed being a point of so high wisdom and worth, how could it be but we should find it in that book, within whose sacred context all wisdom is unfolded? Moses, therefore, the only lawgiver that we can believe to have been visibly taught of God, knowing how vain it was to write laws to men whose hearts were not first seasoned with the knowledge of God and of his works, began from the book of Genesis, as a prologue to his laws; which Josephus right well hath noted: that the nation of the Jews, reading therein the universal goodness of God to all creatures in the creation, and his peculiar favour to them in his election of Abraham their ancestor from whom they could derive so many blessings upon themselves, might he moved to obey sincerely, by knowing so good a reason of their obedience. If then, in the administration of civil justice, and under the obscurity of ceremonial rights, such care was had by the wisest of the heathen, and by Moses among the Jews, to instruct them at least in a general reason of that government to which their subjection was required; how much more ought the members of the church, under the gospel, seek to inform their understanding in the reason of that government, which the church claims to have over them! Especially for that church hath in her immediate cure those inner parts and affections of the mind, where the seat of reason is having power to examine our spiritual knowledge, and to demand from us, in God’s behalf, a service entirely reasonable. But because about the manner and order of this government, whether it ought to Edition: current; Page: [46] be presbyterial or prelatical, such endless question, or rather uproar, is arisen in this land, as may be justly termed what the fever is to the physicians, the eternal reproach of our divines, whilst other profound clerks of late, greatly, as they conceive, to the advancement of prelaty, are so earnestly meting out the Lydian proconsular Asia, to make good the prime metropolis of Ephesus, as if some of our prelates in all haste meant to change their soil, and become neighbours to the English bishop of Chalcedon; and whilst good Breerwood as busily bestirs himself in our vulgar tongue, to divide precisely the three patriarchates of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch; and whether to any of these England doth belong: I shall in the mean while not cease to hope, through the mercy and grace of Christ, the head and husband of his church, that England shortly is to belong, neither to see patriarchal nor see prelatical, but to the faithful feeding and disciplining of that ministerial order, which the blessed apostles constituted throughout the churches; and this I shall assay to prove, can be no other than presbyters and deacons. And if any man incline to think I undertake a task too difficult for my years, I trust through the supreme enlightening assistance far otherwise; for my years, be they few or many, what imports it? So they bring reason, let that be looked on: and for the task, from hence that the question in hand is so needful to be known at this time, chiefly by every meaner capacity, and contains in it the explication of many admirable and heavenly privileges reached out to us by the gospel, I conclude the task must be easy: God having to this end ordained his gospel, to be the revelation of his power and wisdom in Christ Jesus. And this is one depth of his wisdom, that he could so plainly reveal so great a measure of it to the gross distorted apprehension of decayed mankind. Let others, therefore, dread and shun the Scriptures for their darkness; I shall wish I may deserve to be reckoned among those who admire and dwell upon them for their clearness. And this seems to be the cause why in those places of holy writ, wherein is treated of church-government, the reasons thereof are not formally and professedly set down, because to him that heeds attentively the drift and scope of Christian profession, they easily imply themselves; which thing further to explain, having now prefaced enough, I shall no longer defer.

CHAPTER I.

That church-government is prescribed in the gospel, and that to say otherwise is unsound.

The first and greatest reason of church government we may securely, with the assent of many on the adverse part, affirm to be, because we find it so ordained and set out to us by the appointment of God in the Scriptures; but whether this be presbyterial, or prelatical, it cannot be brought to the scanning, until I have said what is meet to some who do not think it for the ease of their inconsequent opinions, to grant that church-discipline is platformed in the Bible, but that it is left to the discretion of men. To this conceit of theirs I answer, that it is both unsound and untrue; for there is not that thing in the world of more grave and urgent importance throughout the whole life of man, than is discipline. What need I instance? He that hath read with judgment, of nations and commonwealths, of cities and camps, of peace and war, sea and land, will readily Edition: current; Page: [47] agree that the flourishing and decaying of all civil societies, all the moments and turnings of human occasions, are moved to and fro as upon the axle of discipline. So that whatsoever power or sway in mortal things, weaker men have attributed to fortune, I durst with more confidence (the honour of Divine Providence ever saved) ascribe either to the vigour or the slackness of discipline. Nor is there any sociable perfection in this life, civil or sacred, that can be above discipline; but she is that which with her musical cords preserves and holds all the parts thereof together. Hence in those perfect armies of Cyrus in Xenophon, and Scipio in the Roman stories, the excellence of military skill was esteemed, not by the not needing, but by the readiest submitting to the edicts of their commander. And certainly discipline is not only the removal of disorder; but if any visible shape can be given to divine things, the very visible shape and image of virtue, whereby she is not only seen in the regular gestures and motions of her heavenly paces as she walks, but also makes the harmony of her voice audible to mortal ears. Yea, the angels themselves, in whom no disorder is feared, as the apostle that saw them in his rapture describes, are distinguished and quaternioned into the celestial princedoms and satrapies, according as God himself has writ his imperial decrees through the great provinces of heaven. The state also of the blessed in paradise, though never so perfect, is not therefore left without discipline, whose golden surveying reed, marks out and measures every quarter and circuit of New Jerusalem. Yet is it not to be conceived, that those eternal effluences of sanctity and love in the glorified saints should by this means be confined and cloyed with repetition of that which is prescribed, but that our happiness may orb itself into a thousand vagancies of glory and delight, and with a kind of eccentrical equation be, as it were, an invariable planet of joy and felicity; how much less can we believe that God would leave his frail and feeble, though not less beloved, church here below to the perpetual stumble of conjecture and disturbance in this our dark voyage, without the card and compass of discipline! Which is so hard to be of man’s making, that we may see even in the guidance of a civil state to worldly happiness, it is not for every learned, or every wise man, though many of them consult in common, to invent or frame a discipline: but if it be at all the work of man, it must be of such a one as is a true knower of himself, and in whom contemplation and practice, wit, prudence, fortitude, and eloquence, must be rarely met, both to comprehend the hidden causes of things, and span in his thoughts all the various effects that passion or complexion can work in man’s nature; and hereto must his hand be at defiance with gain, and his heart in all virtues heroic; so far is it from the ken of these wretched projectors of ours, that bescrawl their pamphlets every day with new forms of government for our church. And therefore all the ancient lawgivers were either truly inspired, as Moses, or were such men as with authority enough might give it out to be so, as Minos, Lycurgus, Numa, because they wisely forethought that men would never quietly submit to such a discipline as had not more of God’s hand in it than man’s. To come within the narrowness of household government, observation will show us many deep counsellors of state and judges to demean themselves incorruptly in the settled course of affairs, and many worthy preachers upright in their lives, powerful in their audience: but look upon either of these men where they are left to their own disciplining at home, and you shall soon perceive, for all their single knowledge and uprightness, how deficient they are in the regulating of their own family; not only in what may concern the virtuous and decent composure of their minds in their several places, but that Edition: current; Page: [48] which is of a lower and easier performance, the right possessing of the outward vessel, their body, in health or sickness, rest or labour, diet or abstinence, whereby to render it more pliant to the soul, and useful to the commonwealth: which if men were but as good to discipline themselves, as some are to tutor their horses and hawks, it could not be so gross in most households. If then it appear so hard, and so little known how to govern a house well, which is thought of so easily discharge, and for every man’s undertaking; what skill of man, what wisdom, what parts can be sufficient to give laws and ordinances to the elect household of God? If we could imagine that he had left it at random without his provident and gracious ordering, who is he so arrogant, so presumptuous, that durst dispose and guide the living ark of the Holy Ghost, though he should find it wandering in the field of Bethshemesh, without the conscious warrant of some high calling? But no profane insolence can parallel that which our prelates dare avouch, to drive outrageously, and shatter the holy ark of the church, not borne upon their shoulders with pains and labour in the word, but drawn with rude oxen their officials, and their own brute inventions. Let them make shows of reforming while they will, so long as the church is mounted upon the prelatical cart, and not as it ought, between the hands of the ministers, it will but shake and totter; and he that sets to his hand, though with a good intent to hinder the shogging of it, in this unlawful wagonry wherein it rides, let him beware it be not fatal to him as it was to Uzza. Certainly if God be the father of his family the church, wherein could he express that name more, than in training it up under his own allwise and dear economy, not turning it loose to the havoc of strangers and wolves, that would ask no better plea than this, to do in the church of Christ whatever humour, faction, policy, or licentious will, would prompt them to? Again, if Christ be the Church’s husband, expecting her to be presented before him a pure unspotted virgin, in what could he show his tender love to her more, than in prescribing his own ways, which he best knew would be to the improvement of her health and beauty, with much greater care, doubtless, than the Persian king could appoint for his queen Esther those maiden dietings and set prescriptions of baths and odours, which may render her at last more amiable to his eye? For of any age or sex, most unfitly may a virgin be left to an uncertain and arbitrary education. Yea, though she be well instructed, yet is she still under a more strait tuition, especially if betrothed. In like manner the church bearing the same resemblance, it were not reason to think she should be left destitute of that care, which is as necessary and proper to her as instruction. For public preaching indeed is the gift of the Spirit, working as best seems to his secret will; but discipline is the practice work of preaching directed and applied, as is most requisite, to particular duty; without which it were all one to the benefit of souls, as it would be to the cure of bodies, if all the physicians in London should get into the several pulpits of the city, and, assembling all the diseased in every parish, should begin a learned lecture of pleurisies, palsies, lethargies, to which perhaps none there present were inclined; and so, without so much as feeling one pulse, or giving the least order to any skilful apothecary, should dismiss them from time to time, some groaning, some languishing, some expiring, with this only charge, to look well to themselves, and do as they hear. Of what excellence and necessity then church-discipline is, how beyond the faculty of man to frame, and how dangerous to be left to man’s invention, who would be every foot turning it to sinister ends; how properly also it is the work of God as father, and of Christ as husband of the church, we have by thus much heard.

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CHAPTER II.

That church-government is set down in Holy Scripture, and that to say otherwise is untrue.

As therefore it is unsound to say, that God hath not appointed any set government in his church, so it is untrue. Of the time of the law there can be no doubt; for to let pass the first institution of priests and Levites, which is too clear to be insisted upon, when the temple came to be built, which in plain judgment could breed no essential change, either in religion, or in the priestly government; yet God, to show how little he could endure that men should be tampering and contriving in his worship, though in things of less regard, gave to David for Solomon, not only a pattern and model of the temple, but a direction for the courses of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of their service. At the return from the captivity, things were only restored after the ordinance of Moses and David; or if the least alteration be to be found, they had with them inspired men, prophets; and it were not sober to say they did aught of moment without divine intimation. In the prophecy of Ezekiel, from the 40th chapter onward, after the destruction of the temple, God, by his prophet, seeking to wean the hearts of the Jews from their old law, to expect a new and more perfect reformation under Christ, sets out before their eyes the stately fabric and constitution of his Church, with all the ecclesiastical functions appertaining; indeed the description is as sorted best to the apprehension of those times, typical and shadowy, but in such manner as never yet came to pass, nor ever must literally, unless we mean to annihilate the gospel. But so exquisite and lively the description is in pourtraying the new state of the church, and especially in those points where government seems to be most active, that both Jews and Gentiles might have good cause to be assured, that God, whenever he meant to reform his church, never intended to leave the government thereof, delineated here in such curious architecture, to be patched afterwards, and varnished over with the devices and embellishings of man’s imagination. Did God take such delight in measuring out the pillars, arches, and doors of a material temple? Was he so punctual and circumspect in lavers, altars, and sacrifices soon after to be abrogated, lest any of these should have been made contrary to his mind? Is not a far more perfect work, more agreeable to his perfections, in the most perfect state of the church militant, the new alliance of God to man? Should not he rather now by his own prescribed discipline have cast his line and level upon the soul of man, which is his rational temple, and, by the divine square and compass thereof, form and regenerate in us the lovely shapes of virtues and graces, the sooner to edify and accomplish that immortal stature of Christ’s body, which is his church, in all her glorious lineaments and proportions? And that this indeed God hath done for us in the gospel we shall see with open eyes, not under a veil. We may pass over the history of the Acts and other places, turning only to those epistles of St. Paul to Timothy and Titus where the spiritual eye may discern more goodly and gracefully erected, than all the magnificence of temple or tabernacle, such a heavenly structure of evangelical discipline, so diffusive of knowledge and charity to the prosperous increase and growth of the church, that it cannot be wondered if that elegant and artful symmetry of the promised new temple in Ezekiel, and all those sumptuous things under the law, were Edition: current; Page: [50] made to signify the inward beauty and splendour of the Christian church thus governed. And whether this be commanded, let it now be judged. St. Paul after his preface to the first of Timothy, which he concludes in the 17th verse with Amen, enters upon the subject of this epistle, which is to establish the church-government, with a command: “This charge I commit to thee, son Timothy: according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare.” Which is plain enough thus expounded: This charge I commit to thee, wherein I now go about to instruct thee how thou shalt set up church-discipline, that thou mightest war a good warfare, bearing thyself constantly and faithfully in the ministry, which, in the first to the Corinthians, is also called a warfare; and so after a kind of parenthesis concerning Hymenæus, he returns to his command, though under the mild word of exhorting, chap. ii. ver. 1, “I exhort therefore;” as if he had interrupted his former command by the occasional mention of Hymenæus. More beneath in the 14th verse of the third chapter, when he had delivered the duties of bishops or presbyters, and deacons, not once naming any other order in the church, he thus adds; “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; (such necessity it seems there was;) but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God.” From this place it may be justly asked, whether Timothy by this here written, might know what was to be known concerning the orders of church governors or no? If he might, then, in such a clear text as this, may we know too without further jangle; if he might not, then did St. Paul write insufficiently, and moreover said not true, for he saith here he might know; and I persuade myself he did know ere this was written, but that the apostle had more regard to the instruction of us, than to the informing of him. In the fifth chapter, after some other church-precepts concerning discipline, mark what a dreadful command follows, ver. 21: “I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things.” And as if all were not yet sure enough, he closes up the epistle with an adjuring charge thus; “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, that thou keep this commandment:” that is, the whole commandment concerning discipline, being the main purpose of the epistle: although Hooker would fain have this denouncement referred to the particular precept going before, because the word commandment is in the singular number, not remembering that even in the first chapter of this epistle, the word commandment is used in a plural sense, ver. 5: “Now the end of the commandment is charity;” and what more frequent than in like manner to say the law of Moses? So that either to restrain the significance too much, or too much to enlarge it, would make the adjuration either not so weighty or not so pertinent. And thus we find here that the rules of church-discipline are not only commanded, but hedged about with such a terrible impalement of commands, as he that will break through wilfully to violate the least of them, must hazard the wounding of his conscience even unto death. Yet all this notwithstanding, we shall find them broken well nigh all by the fair pretenders even of the next ages. No less to the contempt of him whom they feign to be the archfounder of prelaty, St. Peter, who, by what he writes in the fifth chapter of his first epistle, should seem to be for another man than tradition reports him: there he commits to the presbyters only full authority, both of feeding the flock and episcopating; and commands that obedience be given to them as to the mighty hand of God, which is his mighty ordinance. Yet all this was as nothing to repel the venturous boldness of innovation Edition: current; Page: [51] that ensued, changing the decrees of God that are immutable, as if they had been breathed by man. Nevertheless when Christ, by those visions of St. John, foreshows the reformation of his church, he bids him take his reed, and mete it out again after the first pattern, for he prescribes no other. “Arise, said the angel, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” What is there in the world can measure men but discipline? Our word ruling imports no less. Doctrine indeed is the measure, or at least the reason of the measure, it is true; but unless the measure be applied to that which it is to measure, how can it actually do its proper work? Whether therefore discipline be all one with doctrine, or the particular application thereof to this or that person, we all agree that doctrine must be such only as is commanded; or whether it be something really differing from doctrine, yet was it only of God’s appointment, as being the most adequate measure of the church and her children, which is here the office of a great evangelist, and the reed given him from heaven. But that part of the temple which is not thus measured, so far is it from being in God’s tuition or delight, that in the following verse he rejects it; however in show and visibility it may seem a part of his church, yet inasmuch as it lies thus unmeasured, he leaves it to be trampled by the Gentiles; that is, to be polluted with idolatrous and gentilish rites and ceremonies. And that the principal reformation here foretold is already come to pass, as well in discipline as in doctrine, the state of our neighbour churches afford us to behold. Thus, through all the periods and changes of the church, it hath been proved, that God hath still reserved to himself the right of enacting church-government.

CHAPTER III.

That it is dangerous and unworthy the gospel, to hold that church-government is to be patterned by the law, as bishop Andrews and the primate of Armagh maintain.

We may return now from this interposing difficulty thus removed, to affirm, that since church-government is so strictly commanded in God’s word, the first and greatest reason why we should submit thereto is because God hath so commanded. But whether of these two, prelaty or presbytery, can prove itself to be supported by this first and greatest reason, must be the next dispute: wherein this position is to be first laid down, as granted; that I may not follow a chase rather than an argument, that one of these two, and none other, is of God’s ordaining; and if it be, that ordinance must be evident in the gospel. For the imperfect and obscure institution of the law, which the apostles themselves doubt not ofttimes to vilify, cannot give rules to the complete and glorious ministration of the gospel, which looks on the law as on a child, not as on a tutor. And that the prelates have no sure foundation in the gospel, their own guiltiness doth manifest; they would not else run questing up as high as Adam to fetch their original, as it is said one of them lately did in public. To which assertion, had I heard it, because I see they are so insatiable of antiquity, I should have gladly assented, and confessed them yet more ancient: for Lucifer, before Adam, was the first prelate angel; and both he, as is commonly thought, and our forefather Adam, as we all know, for aspiring above their orders, were miserably degraded. But others, better Edition: current; Page: [52] advised, are content to receive their beginning from Aaron and his sons, among whom bishop Andrews of late years, and in these times the primate of Armagh, for their learning are reputed the best able to say what may be said in this opinion. The primate, in his discourse about the original of episcopacy newly revised, begins thus: “The ground of episcopacy is fetched partly from the pattern prescribed by God in the Old Testament, and partly from the imitation thereof brought in by the apostles.” Herein I must entreat to be excused of the desire I have to be satisfied, how, for example, the ground of episcopacy is fetched partly from the example of the Old Testament, by whom next, and by whose authority. Secondly, how the church-government under the gospel can be rightly called an imitation of that in the Old Testament; for that the gospel is the end and fulfilling of the law, our liberty also from the bondage of the law, I plainly read. How then the ripe age of the gospel should be put to school again, and learn to govern herself from the infancy of the law, the stronger to imitate the weaker, the freeman to follow the captive, the learned to be lessoned by the rude, will be a hard undertaking to evince from any of those principles, which either art or inspiration hath written. If any thing done by the apostles may be drawn howsoever to a likeness of something mosaical, if it cannot be proved that it was done of purpose in imitation, as having the right thereof grounded in nature, and not in ceremony or type, it will little avail the matter. The whole judaic law is either political, (and to take pattern by that, no Christian nation ever thought itself obliged in conscience,) or moral, which contains in it the observation of whatsoever is substantially and perpetually true and good, either in religion or course of life. That which is thus moral, besides what we fetch from those unwritten laws and ideas which nature hath engraven in us, the gospel, as stands with her dignity most, lectures to her from her own authentic handwriting and command, not copies out from the borrowed manuscript of a subservient scroll, by way of imitating: as well might she be said in her sacrament of water, to imitate the baptism of John. What though she retain excommunication used in the synagogue, retain the morality of the sabbath? She does not therefore imitate the law her underling, but perfect her. All that was morally delivered from the law to the gospel, in the office of the priests and Levites, was, that there should be a ministry set apart to teach and discipline the church; both which duties the apostles thought good to commit to the presbyters. And if any distinction of honour were to be made among them, they directed it should be to those that not only rule well, but especially to those that labour in the word and doctrine. By which we are told that laborious teaching is the most honourable prelaty that one minister can have above another in the gospel; if therefore the superiority of bishopship be grounded on the priesthood as a part of the moral law, it cannot be said to be an imitation; for it were ridiculous that morality should imitate morality, which ever was the same thing. This very word of patterning or imitating, excludes episcopacy from the solid and grave ethical law, and betrays it to be a mere child of ceremony, or likelier some misbegotten thing, that having plucked the gay feathers of her obsolete bravery, to hide her own deformed barrenness, now vaunts and glories in her stolen plumes. In the mean while, what danger there is against the very life of the gospel, to make in any thing the typical law her pattern, and how impossible in that which touches the priestly government, I shall use such light as I have received, to lay open. It cannot be unknown by what expressions the holy apostle St. Paul spares not to explain to us the nature and condition of the law, calling those ordinances, which were the chief Edition: current; Page: [53] and essential offices of the priests, the elements and rudiments of the world, both weak and beggarly. Now to breed, and bring up the children of the promise, the heirs of liberty and grace, under such a kind of government as is professed to be but an imitation of that ministry, which engendered to bondage the sons of Agar; how can this be but a foul injury and derogation, if not a cancelleng of that birthright and immunity, which Christ hath purchased for us with his blood? For the ministration of the law, consisting of carnal things, drew to it such a ministry as consisted of carnal respects, dignity, precedence, and the like. And such a ministry established in the gospel, as is founded upon the points and terms of superiority, and nests itself in worldly honours, will draw to it, and we see it doth, such a religion as runs back again to the old pomp and glory of the flesh: for doubtless there is a certain attraction and magnetic force betwixt the religion and the ministerial form thereof. If the religion be pure, spiritual, simple, and lowly, as the gospel most truly is, such must the face of the ministry be. And in like manner, if the form of the ministry be grounded in the worldly degrees of authority, honour, temporal jurisdiction, we see with our eyes it will turn the inward power and purity of the gospel into the outward carnality of the law; evaporating and exhaling the internal worship into empty conformities, and gay shows. And what remains then, but that we should run into as dangerous and deadly apostacy as our lamentable neighbours the papists, who, by this very snare and pitfall of imitating the ceremonial law, fell into that irrecoverable superstition, as must needs make void the covenant of salvation to them that persist in this blindness.

CHAPTER IV.

That it is impossible to make the priesthood of Aaron a pattern whereon to ground episcopacy.

That which was promised next is, to declare the impossibility of grounding evangelic government in the imitation of the Jewish priesthood; which will be done by considering both the quality of the persons, and the office itself. Aaron and his sons were the princes of their tribe, before they were sanctified to the priesthood: that personal eminence, which they held above the other Levites, they received not only from their office, but partly brought it into their office; and so from that time forward the priests were not chosen out of the whole number of the Levites, as our bishops, but were born inheritors of the dignity. Therefore, unless we shall choose our prelates only out of the nobility, and let them run in a blood, there can be no possible imitation of lording over their brethren in regard of their persons altogether unlike. As for the office, which was a representation of Christ’s own person more immediately in the high-priest, and of his whole priestly office in all the other, to the performance of which the Levites were but servitors and deacons, it was necessary there should be a distinction of dignity between two functions of so great odds. But there being no such difference among our ministers, unless it be in reference to the deacons, it is impossible to found a prelaty upon the imitation of this priesthood: for wherein, or in what work, is the office of a prelate excellent above that of a pastor? In ordination you will say; but flatly against Scripture: for there we know Timothy received ordination by the hands of the presbytery, notwithstanding all the vain delusions Edition: current; Page: [54] that are used to evade that testimony, and maintain an unwarrantable usurpation. But wherefore should ordination be a cause of setting up a superior degree in the church? Is not that whereby Christ became our Saviour a higher and greater work, than that whereby he did ordain messengers to preach and publish him our Saviour? Every minister sustains the person of Christ in his highest work of communicating to us the mysteries of our salvation, and hath the power of binding and absolving; how should he need a higher dignity, to represent or execute that which is an inferior work in Christ? Why should the performance of ordination, which is a lower office, exalt a prelate, and not the seldom discharge of a higher and more noble office, which is preaching and administering, much rather depress him? Verily, neither the nature nor the example of ordination doth any way require an imparity between the ordainer and the ordained; for what more natural than every like to produce his like, man to beget man, fire to propagate fire? And in examples of highest opinion, the ordainer is inferior to the ordained; for the pope is not made by the precedent pope, but by cardinals, who ordain and consecrate to a higher and greater office than their own.

CHAPTER V.

To the arguments of bishop Andrews and the Primate.

It follows here to attend to certain objections in a little treatise lately printed among others of like sort at Oxford, and in the title said to be out of the rude draughts of bishop Andrews: and surely they be rude draughts indeed, insomuch that it is marvel to think what his friends meant, to let come abroad such shallow reasonings with the name of a man so much bruited for learning. In the twelfth and twenty-third pages he seems most notoriously inconstant to himself; for in the former place he tells us he forbears to take any argument of prelaty from Aaron, as being the type of Christ. In the latter he can forbear no longer, but repents him of his rash gratuity, affirming, that to say, Christ being come in the flesh, his figure in the high priest ceaseth, is the shift of an anabaptist; and stiffly argues, that Christ being as well king as priest, was as well fore-resembled by the kings then, as by the high priest: so that if his coming take away the one type, it must also the other. Marvellous piece of divinity! and well worth that the land should pay six thousand pounds a year for in a bishopric; although I read of no sophister among the Greeks that was so dear, neither Hippias nor Protagoras, nor any whom the Socratic school famously refuted without hire. Here we have the type of the king sewed to the tippet of the bishop, subtilely to cast a jealousy upon the crown, as if the right of kings, like Meleager in the Metamorphosis, were no longer-lived than the firebrand of prelaty. But more likely the prelates fearing (for their own guilty carriage protests they do fear) that their fair days cannot long hold, practise by possessing the king with this most false doctrine, to engage his power for them, as in his own quarrel, that when they fall they may fall in a general ruin; just as cruel Tiberius would wish:

“When I die let the earth be rolled in flames.”

But where, O bishop, doth the purpose of the law set forth Christ to us as a king? That which never was intended in the law, can never be abolished as a part thereof. When the law was made, there was no king: Edition: current; Page: [55] if before the law, or under the law, God by a special type in any king would foresignify the future kingdom of Christ, which is not yet visibly come; what was that to the law? The whole ceremonial law (and types can be in no law else) comprehends nothing but the propitiatory office of Christ’s priesthood, which being in substance accomplished, both law and priesthood fades away of itself, and passes into air like a transitory vision, and the right of kings neither stands by any type nor falls. We acknowledge that the civil magistrate wears an authority of God’s giving, and ought to be obeyed as his vicegerent. But to make a king a type, we say is an abusive and unskilful speech, and of a moral solidity makes it seem a ceremonial shadow: therefore your typical chain of king and priest must unlink. But is not the type of priest taken away by Christ’s coming? No, saith this famous protestant bishop of Winchester, it is not; and he that saith it is, is an anabaptist. What think ye, readers, do ye not understand him? What can be gathered hence, but that the prelate would still sacrifice? Conceive him, readers, he would missificate. Their altars, indeed, were in a fair forwardness; and by such arguments as these they were setting up the molten calf of their mass again, and of their great hierarch the pope. For if the type of priest be not taken away, then neither of the high priest, it were a strange beheading; and high priest more than one there cannot be, and that one can be no less than a pope. And this doubtless was the bent of his career, though never so covertly. Yea, but there was something else in the high priest, besides the figure as is plain by St. Paul’s acknowledging him. It is true, that in the 17th of Deut., whence this authority arises to the priest in matters too hard for the secular judges, as must needs be many in the occasions of those times, involved with ceremonial niceties, no wonder though it be commanded to inquire at the mouth of the priests, who besides the magistrates their colleagues, had the oracle of urim to consult with. And whether the high priest Ananias had not encroached beyond the limits of his priestly authority, or whether he used it rightly, was no time then for St. Paul to contest about. But if this instance be able to assert any right of jurisdiction to the clergy, it must impart it in common to all ministers, since it were a great folly to seek for counsel in a hard intricate scruple from a dunce prelate, when there might be found a speedier solution from a grave and learned minister, whom God hath gifted with the judgment of urim, more amply ofttimes than all the prelates together; and now in the gospel hath granted the privilege of this oraculous ephod alike to all his ministers. The reason therefore of imparity in the priests, being now, as is aforesaid, really annulled both in their person and in their representative office, what right of jurisdiction soever can be from this place levitically bequeathed, must descend upon the ministers of the gospel equally, as it finds them in all other points equal. Well, then, he is finally content to let Aaron go; Eleazar will serve his turn, as being a superior of superiors, and yet no type of Christ in Aaron’s lifetime. O thou that wouldest wind into any figment, or phantasm, to save thy mite! yet all this will not fadge, though it be cunningly interpolished by some second hand with crooks and emendations: hear then, the type of Christ in some one particular, as of entering yearly into the holy of holies, and such like, rested upon the high priest only as more immediately personating our Saviour: but to resemble his whole satisfactory office, all the lineage of Aaron was no more than sufficient. And all or any of the priests, considered separately without relation to the highest, are but as a lifeless trunk, and signify nothing. And this shows the excellence of Christ’s sacrifice, who at once and in one person fulfilled that which many hundreds of priests many times repeating had Edition: current; Page: [56] enough to foreshow. What other imparity there was among themselves, we may safely suppose it depended on the dignity of their birth and family, together with the circumstances of a carnal service, which might afford many priorities. And this I take to be the sum of what the bishop hath laid together to make plea for prelaty by imitation of the law: though indeed, if it may stand, it will infer popedom all as well. Many other courses he tries, enforcing himself with much ostentation of endless genealogies, as if he were the man that St. Paul forewarns us of in Timothy, but so unvigorously, that I do not fear his winning of many to his cause, but such as doting upon great names are either over-weak, or over-sudden of faith. I shall not refuse, therefore, to learn so much prudence as I find in the Roman soldier that attended the cross, not to stand breaking of legs, when the breath is quite out of the body, but pass to that which follows. The primate of Armagh at the beginning of his tractate seeks to avail himself of that place in the sixty-sixth of Isaiah, “I will take of them for priests and Levites, saith the Lord,” to uphold hereby such a form of superiority among the ministers of the gospel, succeeding those in the law, as the Lord’s-day did the sabbath. But certain if this method may be admitted of interpreting those prophetical passages concerning Christian times and a punctual correspondence, it may with equal probability be urged upon us, that we are bound to observe some monthly solemnity answerable to the new moons, as well as the Lord’s-day which we keep in lieu of the sabbath: for in the 23d verse the prophet joins them in the same manner together, as before he did the priests and Levites, thus: “And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Undoubtedly, with as good consequence may it be alleged from hence, that we are to solemnize some religious monthly meeting different from the sabbath, as from the other any distinct formality of ecclesiastical orders may be inferred. This rather will appear to be the lawful and unconstrained sense of the text, that God, in taking of them for priests and Levites, will not esteem them unworthy, though Gentiles, to undergo any function in the church, but will make of them a full and perfect ministry, as was that of the priests and Levites in their kind. And bishop Andrews himself, to end the controversy, sends us a candid exposition of this quoted verse from the 24th page of his said book, plainly deciding that God, by those legal names there of priests and Levites, means our presbyters and deacons; for which either ingenuous confession, or slip of his pen, we give him thanks, and withal to him that brought these treatises into one volume, who, setting the contradictions of two learned men so near together, did not foresee. What other deducements or analogies are cited out of St. Paul, to prove a likeness between the ministers of the Old and New Testament, having tried their sinews, I judge they may pass without harm-doing to our cause. We may remember, then, that prelaty neither hath nor can have foundation in the law, nor yet in the gospel; which assertion, as being for the plainness thereof a matter of eyesight rather than of disquisition, I voluntarily omit; not forgetting to specify this note again, that the earnest desire which the prelates have to build their hierarchy upon the sandy bottom of the law, gives us to see abundantly the little assurance, which they find to rear up their high roofs by the authority of the gospel, repulsed as it were from the writings of the apostles, and driven to take sanctuary among the Jews. Hence that open confession of the primate before mentioned: “Episcopacy is fetched partly from the pattern of the Old Testament, and partly from the New as an imitation of the Old;” though nothing can be more rotten in divinity than such Edition: current; Page: [57] a position as this, and is all one as to say, episcopacy is partly of divine institution, and partly of man’s own carving. For who gave the authority to fetch more from the pattern of the law, than what the apostles had already fetched, if they fetched any thing at all, as hath been proved they did not? So was Jeroboam’s episcopacy partly from the pattern of the law, and partly from the pattern of his own carnality; a party-coloured and a party-membered episcopacy: and what can this be else than a monstrous? Others therefore among the prelates, perhaps not so well able to brook, or rather to justify, this foul relapsing to the old law, have condescended at last to a plain confessing, that both the names and offices of bishops and presbyters at first were the same, and in the Scriptures nowhere distinguished. This grants the remonstrant in the fifth section of his defence, and in the preface to his last short answer. But what need respect be had, whether he grant or grant it not, when as through all antiquity, and even in the loftiest times of prelaty, we find it granted? Jerome, the learnedest of the fathers, hides not his opinion, that custom only, which the proverb calls a tyrant, was the maker of prelaty; before his audacious workmanship the churches were ruled in common by the presbyters: and such a certain truth this was esteemed, that it became a decree among the papal canons compiled by Gratian. Anselm also of Canterbury, who, to uphold the points of his prelatism, made himself a traitor to his country, yet, commenting the epistles to Titus and the Philippians, acknowledges, from the clearness of the text, what Jerome and the church rubric hath before acknowledged. He little dreamed then, that the weeding-hook of reformation would after two ages pluck up his glorious poppy from insulting over the good corn. Though since some of our British prelates, seeing themselves pressed to produce Scripture, try all their cunning, if the New Testament will not help them, to frame of their own heads, as it were with wax, a kind of mimic bishop limned out to the life of a dead priesthood: or else they would strain us out a certain figurative prelate, by wringing the collective allegory of those seven angels into seven single rochets. Howsoever, since it thus appears that custom was the creator of prelaty, being less ancient than the government of presbyters, it is an extreme folly to give them the hearing that tell us of bishops through so many ages: and if against their tedious muster of citations, sees, and successions, it be replied that wagers and church-antiquities, such as are repugnant to the plain dictate of Scripture, are both alike the arguments of fools, they have their answer. We rather are to cite all those ages to an arraignment before the word of God, wherefore, and what pretending, how presuming they durst alter that divine institution of presbyters, which the apostles, who were no various and inconstant men, surely had set up in the churches; and why they choose to live by custom and catalogue, or, as St. Paul saith, by sight and visibility, rather than by faith? But, first, I conclude, from their own mouths, that God’s command in Scripture, which doubtless ought to be the first and greatest reason of church-government, is wanting to prelaty. And certainly we have plenteous warrant in the doctrine of Christ, to determine that the want of this reason is of itself sufficient to confute all other pretences, that may be brought in favour of it.

Edition: current; Page: [58]

CHAPTER VI.

That prelaty was not set up for prevention of schism, as is pretended; or if it were, that it performs not what it was first set up for, but quite the contrary.

Yet because it hath the outside of a specious reason, and specious things we know are aptest to work with human lightness and frailty, even against the solidest truth that sounds not plausibly, let us think it worth the examining for the love of infirmer Christians, of what importance this their second reason may be. Tradition they say hath taught them, that, for the prevention of growing schism, the bishop was heaved above the presbyter. And must tradition then ever thus to the world’s end be the perpetual cankerworm to eat out God’s commandments? Are his decrees so inconsiderate and so fickle, that when the statutes of Solon or Lycurgus shall prove durably good to many ages, his, in forty years, shall be found defective, ill-contrived, and for needful causes to be altered? Our Saviour and his apostles did not only foresee, but foretell and forewarn us to look for schism. Is it a thing to be imagined of God’s wisdom, or at least of apostolic prudence, to set up such a government in the tenderness of the church as should incline, or not be more able than any others to oppose itself to schism? It was well known what a bold lurker schism was, even in the household of Christ, between his own disciples and those of John the Baptist about fasting; and early in the Acts of the Apostles the noise of schism had almost drowned the proclaiming of the gospel; yet we read not in Scripture, that any thought was had of making prelates, no not in those places where dissension was most rife. If prelaty had been then esteemed a remedy against schism, where was it more needful than in that great variance among the Corinthians, which St. Paul so laboured to reconcile? and whose eye could have found the fittest remedy sooner than his? And what could have made the remedy more available, than to have used it speedily? And lastly, what could have been more necessary, than to have written it for our instruction? Yet we see he neither commended it to us, nor used it himself. For the same division remaining there, or else bursting forth again more than twenty years after St. Paul’s death, we find in Clement’s epistle, of venerable authority, written to the yet factious Corinthians, that they were still governed by presbyters. And the same of other churches out of Hermas, and divers other the scholars of the apostles, by the late industry of the learned Salmasius appears. Neither yet did this worthy Clement, St. Paul’s disciple, though writing to them to lay aside schism, in the least word advise them to change the presbyterian government into prelaty. And therefore if God afterward gave or permitted this insurrection of episcopacy, it is to be feared he did it in his wrath, as he gave the Israelites a king. With so good a will doth he use to alter his own chosen government once established. For mark whether this rare device of man’s brain, thus preferred before the ordinance of God, had better success than fleshly wisdom, not counselling with God, is wont to have. So far was it from removing schism, that if schism parted the congregations before, now it rent and mangled, now it raged. Heresy begat heresy with a certain monstrous haste of pregnancy in her birth, at once born and bringing forth. Contentions, before brotherly, were now hostile. Men went to choose their bishop as they went to a pitched field, and the day of his election was like the sacking of a city, sometimes Edition: current; Page: [59] ended with the blood of thousands. Nor this among heretics only, but men of the same belief, yea, confessors; and that with such odious ambition, that Eusebius, in his eighth book, testifies he abhorred to write. And the reason is not obscure, for the poor dignity, or rather burden, of a parochial presbyter could not engage any great party, nor that to any deadly feud: but prelaty was a power of that extent and sway, that if her election were popular, it was seldom not the cause of some faction or broil in the church. But if her dignity came by favour of some prince, she was from that time his creature, and obnoxious to comply with his ends in state, were they right or wrong. So that, instead of finding prelaty an impeacher of schism or faction, the more I search, the more I grow into all persuasion to think rather that faction and she, as with a spousal ring, are wedded together, never to be divorced. But here let every one behold the just and dreadful judgment of God meeting with the audacious pride of man, that durst offer to mend the ordinances of heaven. God, out of the strife of men, brought forth by his apostles to the church that beneficent and ever-distributing office of deacons, the stewards and ministers of holy alms: man, out of the pretended care of peace and unity, being caught in the snare of his impious boldness to correct the will of Christ, brought forth to himself upon the church that irreconcilable schism of perdition and apostasy, the Roman antichrist; for that the exaltation of the pope arose out of the reason of prelaty, it cannot be denied. And as I noted before, that the pattern of the high priest pleaded for in the gospel, (for take away the head priest, the rest are but a carcase,) sets up with better reason a pope than an archbishop; for if prelaty must still rise and rise till it come to a primate, why should it stay there? when as the catholic government is not to follow the division of kingdoms, the temple best representing the universal church, and the high priest the universal head: so I observe here, that if to quiet schism there must be one head of prelaty in a land, or monarchy, rising from a provincial to a national primacy, there may, upon better grounds of repressing schism, be set up one catholic head over the catholic church. For the peace and good of the church is not terminated in the schismless estate of one or two kingdoms, but should be provided for by the joint consultation of all reformed Christendom: that all controversy may end in the final pronounce or canon of one archprimate or protestant pope. Although by this means, for aught I see, all the diameters of schism may as well meet and be knit up in the centre of one grand falsehood. Now let all impartial men arbitrate what goodly inference these two main reasons of the prelates have, that by a natural league of consequence make more for the pope than for themselves; yea, to say more home, are the very womb for a new subantichrist to breed in, if it be not rather the old force and power of the same man of sin counterfeiting protestant. It was not the prevention of schism but it was schism itself, and the hateful thirst of lording in the church, that first bestowed a being upon prelaty; this was the true cause, but the pretence is still the same. The prelates, as they would have it thought, are the only mauls of schism. Forsooth if they be put down, a deluge of innumerable sects will follow; we shall be all Brownists, Familists, Anabaptists. For the word Puritan seems to be quashed, and all that heretofore were counted such, are now Brownists. And thus do they raise an evil report upon the expected reforming grace that God hath bid us hope for; like those faithless spies, whose carcases shall perish in the wilderness of their own confused ignorance, and never taste the good of reformation. Do they keep away schism? If to bring a numb and chill stupidity of soul, an unactive blindness of mind, upon the people by their leaden doctrine, or no Edition: current; Page: [60] doctrine at all; if to persecute all knowing and zealous Christians by the violence of their courts, be to keep away schism, they keep schism away indeed: and by this kind of discipline all Italy and Spain is as purely and politically kept from schism as England hath been by them. With as good a plea might the dead-palsy boast to a man, It is I that free you from stitches and pains, and the troublesome feeling of cold and heat, of wounds and strokes; if I were gone, all these would molest you. The winter might as well vaunt itself against the spring, I destroy all noisome and rank weeds, I keep down all pestilent vapours; yes, and all wholesome herbs, and all fresh dews, by your violent and hidebound frost: but when the gentle west winds shall open the fruitful bosom of the earth, thus over-girded by your imprisonment, then the flowers put forth and spring, and then the sun shall scatter the mists, and the manuring hand of the tiller shall root up all that burdens the soil without thank to your bondage. But far worse than any frozen captivity is the bondage of prelates; for that other, if it keep down any thing which is good within the earth, so doth it likewise that which is ill; but these let out freely the ill, and keep down the good, or else keep down the lesser ill, and let out the greatest. Be ashamed at last to tell the parliament, ye curb schismatics, whenas they know ye cherish and side with papists, and are now as it were one party with them; and it is said they help to petition for ye. Can we believe that your government strains in good earnest at the petty gnats of schism, whenas we see it makes nothing to swallow the camel heresy of Rome, but that indeed your thoats are of the right pharisaical strain? where are those schismatics, with whom the prelates hold such hot skirmish? show us your acts, those glorious annals which your courts of loathed memory lately deceased have left us? Those schismatics I doubt me will be found the most of them such as whose only schism was to have spoken the truth against your high abominations and cruelties in the church; this is the schism ye hate most, the removal of your criminous hierarchy. A politic government of yours, and of a pleasant conceit, set up to remove those as a pretended schism, that would remove you as a palpable heresy in government. If the schism would pardon ye that, she might go jagged in as many cuts and slashes as she pleased for you. As for the rending of the church, we have many reasons to think it is not that which ye labour to prevent, so much as the rending of your pontifical sleeves: that schism would be the sorest schism to you; that would be Brownism and Anabaptism indeed. If we go down, say you, (as if Adrian’s wall were broken,) a flood of sects will rush in. What sects? What are their opinions? Give us the inventory: it will appear both by your former prosecutions and your present instances, that they are only such to speak of, as are offended with your lawless government, your ceremonies, your liturgy, an extract of the mass-book translated. But that they should be contemners of public prayer, and churches used without superstition, I trust God will manifest it ere it long to be as false a slander, as your former slanders against the Scots. Noise it till ye be hoarse, that a rabble of sects will come in; it will be answered ye, no rabble, sir priest, but an unanimous multitude of good protestants will then join to the church, which now, because of you, stand separated. This will be the dreadful consequence of your removal. As for those terrible names of sectaries and schismatics, which ye have got together, we know your manner of fight, when the quiver of your arguments, which is ever thin, and weakly stored, after the first brunt is quite empty, your course is to betake ye to your other quiver of slander, wherein lies your best archery. And whom you could not move by sophistical arguing, them you think to confute by scandalous misnaming; thereby inciting the Edition: current; Page: [61] blinder sort of people to mislike and deride sound doctrine and good Christianity, under two or three vile and hateful terms. But if we could easily endure and dissolve your doughtiest reasons in argument, we shall more easily bear the worst of your unreasonableness in calumny and false report: especially being foretold by Christ, that if he our master were by your predecessors called Samaritan and Beelzebub, we must not think it strange if his best disciples in the reformation as at first by those of your tribe they were called Lollards and Hussites, so now by you be termed Puritans and Brownists. But my hope is, that the people of England will not suffer themselves to be juggled thus out of their faith and religion by a mist of names cast before their eyes, but will search wisely by the Scriptures, and look quite through this fraudulent aspersion of a disgraceful name into the things themselves: knowing that the primitive Christians in their times were accounted such as are now called Familists and Adamites, or worse. And many on the prelatic side, like the church of Sardis, have a name to live, and yet are dead; to be protestants, and are indeed papists in most of their principles. Thus persuaded, this your old fallacy we shall soon unmask, and quickly apprehend how you prevent schism, and who are your schismatics. But what if ye prevent and hinder all goods means of preventing schism? That way which the apostles used, was to call a council; from which, by any thing that can be learned from the fifteenth of the Acts, no faithful Christian was debarred, to whom knowledge and piety might give entrance. Of such a council as this every parochial consistory is a right homogeneous and constituting part, being in itself, as it were, a little synod, and towards a general assembly moving upon her own basis in an even and firm progression, as those smaller squares in battle unite in one great cube, the main phalanx, an emblem of truth and steadfastness. Whereas, on the other side, prelaty ascending by a gradual monarchy from bishop to archbishop, from thence to primate, and from thence, for there can be no reason yielded neither in nature nor in religion, wherefore, if it have lawfully mounted thus high, it should not be a lordly ascendant in the horoscope of the church, from primate to patriarch, and so to pope: I say prelaty thus ascending in a continual pyramid upon pretence to perfect the church’s unity, if notwithstanding it be found most needful, yea the utmost help to darn up the rents of schism by calling a council, what does it but teach us that prelaty is of no force to effect this work, which she boasts to be her masterpiece; and that her pyramid aspires and sharpens to ambition, not to perfection or unity? This we know, that as often as any great schism disparts the church, and synods be proclaimed, the presbyters have as great right there, and as free vote of old, as the bishops, which the canon law conceals not. So that prelaty, if she will seek to close up divisions in the church, must be forced to dissolve and unmake her own pyramidal figure, which she affirms to be of such uniting power, whenas indeed it is the most dividing and schismatical form that geometricians know of, and must be fain to inglobe or incube herself among the presbyters; which she hating to do, sends her haughty prelates from all parts with their forked mitres, the badge of schism, or the stamp of his cloven foot whom they serve I think, who, according to their hierarchies acuminating still higher and higher in a cone of prelaty, instead of healing up the gashes of the church, as it happens in such pointed bodies meeting, fall to gore one another with their sharp spires for upper place and precedence, till the council itself proves the greatest schism of all. And thus they are so far from hindering dissension, that they have made unprofitable, and even noisome, the chiefest remedy we have to keep Christendom at one, which is by councils: and these, if we rightly consider apostolic example, Edition: current; Page: [62] are nothing else but general presbyteries. This seemed so far from the apostles to think much of, as if hereby their dignity were impaired, that, as we may gather by those epistles of Peter and John, which are likely to be latest written, when the church grew to a settling, like those heroic patricians of Rome (if we may use such comparison) hastening to lay down their dictatorship, they rejoiced to call themselves, and to be as fellow-elders among their brethren; knowing that their high office was but as the scaffolding of the church yet unbuilt, and would be but a troublesome disfigurement, so soon as the building was finished. But the lofty minds of an age or two after, such was their small discerning, thought it a poor indignity, that the high-reared government of the church should so on a sudden, as it seemed to them, squat into a presbytery. Next, or rather, before councils, the timeliest prevention of schism is to preach the gospel abundantly and powerfully throughout all the land, to instruct the youth religiously, to endeavour how the Scriptures may be easiest understood by all men; to all which the proceedings of these men have been on set purpose contrary.

But how, O prelates, should you remove schism? and how should you not remove and oppose all the means of removing schism? when prelaty is a schism itself from the most reformed and most flourishing of our neighbour churches abroad, and a sad subject of discord and offence to the whole nation at home. The remedy which you allege, is the very disease we groan under; and never can be to us a remedy but by removing itself. Your predecessors were believed to assume this pre-eminence above their brethren, only that they might appease dissension. Now God and the church call upon you, for the same reason, to lay it down, as being to thousands of good men offensive, burdensome, intolerable. Surrender that pledge, which, unless you foully usurped it; the church gave you, and now claims it again, for the reason she first lent it. Discharge the trust committed to you, prevent schism; and that ye can never do, but by discharging yourselves. That government which ye hold, we confess, prevents much, hinders much, removes much; but what? the schisms and grievances of the church? no, but all the peace and unity, all the welfare not of the church alone, but of the whole kingdom. And if it be still permitted ye to hold, will cause the most sad, I know not whether separation be enough to say, but such a wide gulf of distraction in this land, as will never close her dismal gap until ye be forced, (for of yourselves you will never do as that Roman, Curtius, nobly did,) for the church’s peace and your country’s, to leap into the midst, and be no more seen. By this we shall know whether yours be that ancient prelaty, which you say was first constituted for the reducement of quiet and unanimity into the church, for then you will not delay to prefer that above your own preferment. If otherwise, we must be confident that your prelaty is nothing else but your ambition, an insolent preferring of yourselves above your brethren; and all your learned scraping in antiquity, even to disturb the bones of old Aaron and his sons in their graves, is but to maintain and set upon our necks a stately and severe dignity, which you called sacred, and is nothing in very deed but a grave and reverend gluttony, a sanctimonious avarice; in comparison of which, all the duties and dearnesses which ye owe to God or to his church, to law, custom, or nature, ye have resolved to set at nought. I could put you in mind what counsel Clement, a fellow-labourer with the apostles, gave to the presbyters of Corinth, whom the people, though unjustly, sought to remove. “Who among you,” saith he, “is noble-minded, who is pitiful, who is charitable? let him say thus, If for me this sedition, this enmity, Edition: current; Page: [63] these differences be, I willingly depart, I go my ways; only let the flock of Christ be at peace with the presbyters that are set over it. He that shall do this,” saith he, “shall get him great honour in the Lord, and all places will receive him.” This was Clement’s counsel to good and holy men, that they should depart rather from their just office, than by their stay to ravel out the seamless garment of concord in the church. But I have better counsel to give the prelates, and far more acceptable to their ears; this advice in my opinion is fitter for them: cling fast to your pontificial sees, bate not, quit yourselves like barons, stand to the utmost for your haughty courts and votes in parliament. Still tell us, that you prevent schism, though schism and combustion be the very issue of your bodies, your first-born; and set your country a bleeding in a prelatical mutiny, to fight for your pomp, and that ill-favoured weed of temporal honour, that sits dishonourably upon your laic shoulders; that ye may be fat and fleshy, swoln with high thoughts and big with mischievous designs, when God comes to visit upon you all this fourscore years’ vexation of his church under your Egyptian tyranny. For certainly of all those blessed souls which you have persecuted, and those miserable ones which you have lost, the just vengeance does not sleep.

CHAPTER VII.

That those many sects and schisms by some supposed to be among us, and that rebellion in Ireland, ought not to be a hinderance, but a hastening of reformation.

As for those many sects and divisions rumoured abroad to be amongst us, it is not hard to perceive, that they are partly the mere fictions and false alarms of the prelates, thereby to cast amazements and panic terrors into the hearts of weaker Christians, that they should not venture to change the present deformity of the church, for fear of I know not what worse inconveniences. With the same objected fears and suspicions, we know that subtle prelate Gardner sought to divert the reformation. It may suffice us to be taught by St. Paul, that there must be sects for the manifesting of those that are sound-hearted. These are but winds and flaws to try the floating vessel of our faith, whether it be stanch and sail well, whether our ballast be just, our anchorage and cable strong. By this is seen who lives by faith and certain knowledge, and who by credulity and the prevailing opinion of the age; whose virtue is of an unchangeable grain, and whose of a slight wash. If God come to try our constancy, we ought not to shrink or stand the less firmly for that, but pass on with more steadfast resolution to establish the truth, though it were through a lane of sects and heresies on each side. Other things men do to the glory of God; but sects and errors, it seems, God suffers to be for the glory of good men, that the world may know and reverence their true fortitude and undaunted constancy in the truth. Let us not therefore make these things an incumbrance, or an excuse of our delay in reforming, which God sends us as an incitement to proceed with more honour and alacrity: for if there were no opposition, where were the trial of an unfeigned goodness and magnanimity? Virtue that wavers is not virtue, but vice revolted from itself, and after a while returning. The actions of just and pious men do not darken in their middle Edition: current; Page: [64] course; but Solomon tells us, they are as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. But if we shall suffer the trifling doubts and jealousies of future sects to overcloud the fair beginnings of purposed reformation, let us rather fear that another proverb of the same wise man be not upbraided to us, that “the way of the wicked is as darkness, they stumble at they know not what.” If sects and schisms be turbulent in the unsettled estate of a church, while it lies under the amending hand, it best beseems our Christian courage to think they are but as the throes and pangs that go before the birth of reformation, and that the work itself is now in doing. For if we look but on the nature of elemental and mixed things, we know they cannot suffer any change of one kind or quality into another, without the struggle of contrarieties. And in things artificial, seldom any elegance is wrought without a superfluous waste and refuse in the transaction. No marble statue can be politely carved, no fair edifice built, without almost as much rubbish and sweeping. Insomuch that even in the spiritual conflict of St. Paul’s conversion, there fell scales from his eyes, that were not perceived before. No wonder then in the reforming of a church, which is never brought to effect without the fierce encounter of truth and falsehood together, if, as it were, the splinters and shards of so violent a jousting, there fall from between the shock many fond errors and fanatic opinions, which, when truth has the upper hand, and the reformation shall be perfected, will easily be rid out of the way, or kept so low, as that they shall be only the exercise of our knowledge, not the disturbance or interruption of our faith. As for that which Barclay, in his “Image of Minds,” writes concerning the horrible and barbarous conceits of Englishmen in their religion, I deem it spoken like what he was, a fugitive papist traducing the island whence he sprung. It may be more judiciously gathered from hence, that the Englishman of many other nations is least atheistical, and bears a natural disposition of much reverence and awe towards the Deity; but in his weakness and want of better instruction, which among us too frequently is neglected, especially by the meaner sort, turning the bent of his own wits, with a scrupulous and ceaseless care, what he might do to inform himself aright of God and his worship, he may fall not unlikely sometimes, as any other landman, into an uncouth opinion. And verily if we look at his native towardliness in the roughcast without breeding, some nation or other may haply be better composed to a natural civility and right judgment than he. But if he get the benefit once of a wise and well rectified nurture, which must first come in general from the godly vigilance of the church, I suppose that wherever mention is made of countries, manners, or men, the English people, among the first that shall be praised, may deserve to be accounted a right pious, right honest, and right hardy nation. But thus while some stand dallying and deferring to reform for fear of that which should mainly hasten them forward, lest schism and error should increase, we may now thank ourselves and our delays, if instead of schism a bloody and inhuman rebellion be strook in between our slow movings. Indeed against violent and powerful opposition there can be no just blame of a lingering dispatch. But this I urge against those that discourse it for a maxim, as if the swift opportunities of establishing or reforming religion were to attend upon the phlegm of state business. In state many things at first are crude and hard to digest, which only time and deliberation can supple and concoct. But in religion, wherein is no immaturity, nothing out of season, it goes far otherwise. The door of grace turns upon smooth hinges, wide opening to send out, but soon shutting to recall the precious offers of mercy to a nation: which, unless watchfulness and zeal, Edition: current; Page: [65] two quicksighted and ready-handed virgins, be there in our behalf to receive, we lose: and still the oftener we lose, the straiter the door opens, and the less is offered. This is all we get by demurring in God’s service. It is not rebellion that ought to be the hinderance of reformation, but it is the want of this which is the cause of that. The prelates which boast themselves the only bridlers of schism, God knows have been so cold and backward both there and with us to repress heresy and idolatry, that either through their carelessness or their craft, all this mischief is befallen. What can the Irish subjects do less in God’s just displeasure against us, than revenge upon English bodies the little care that our prelates have had of their souls? Nor hath their negligence been new in that island, but ever notorious in Queen Elizabeth’s days, as Camden their known friend forbears not to complain. Yet so little are they touched with remorse of these their cruelties, (for these cruelties are theirs, the bloody revenge of those souls which they have famished,) that when as against our brethren the Scots, who, by their upright and loyal deeds, have now brought themselves an honourable name to posterity, whatsoever malice by slander could invent, rage in hostility attempt, they greedily attempted; toward these murderous Irish, the enemies of God and mankind, a cursed offspring of their own connivance, no man takes notice but that they seem to be very calmly and indifferently affected. Where then should we begin to extinguish a rebellion, that hath its cause from the misgovernment of the church? where, but at the church’s reformation, and the removal of that government, which pursues and wars with all good Christians under the name of schismatics, but maintains and fosters all papists and idolaters as tolerable Christians? And if the sacred Bible may be our light, we are neither without example, nor the witness of God himself, that the corrupted state of the church is both the cause of tumult and civil wars, and that to stint them, the peace of the church must first be settled. “Now, for a long season,” saith Azariah to King Asa, “Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law: and in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries. A nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city, for God did vex them with all adversity. Be ye strong therefore,” saith he to the reformers of that age, “and let not your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” And in those prophets that lived in the times of reformation after the captivity, often doth God stir up the people to consider, that while establishment of church-matters was neglected, and put off, there “was no peace to him that went out or came in; for I,” saith God, “had set all men every one against his neighbour.” But from the very day forward that they went seriously and effectually about the welfare of the church, he tells them, that they themselves might perceive the sudden change of things into a prosperous and peaceful condition. But it will here be said, that the reformation is a long work, and the miseries of Ireland are urgent of a speedy redress. They be indeed; and how speedy we are, the poor afflicted remnant of our martyred countrymen that sit there on the seashore, counting the hours of our delay with their sighs, and the minutes with their falling tears, perhaps with the distilling of their bloody wounds, if they have not quite by this time cast off, and almost cursed the vain hope of our foundered ships and aids, can best judge how speedy we are to their relief. But let their succours be hasted, as all need and reason is; and let not therefore the reformation, which is the chiefest cause of success and victory, be still procrastinated. They of the captivity in their greatest extremities could find both counsel and hands enough at Edition: current; Page: [66] once to build, and to expect the enemy’s assault. And we, for our parts, a populous and mighty nation, must needs be fallen into a strange plight either of effeminacy or confusion, if Ireland, that was once the conquest of one single earl with his private forces, and the small assistance of a petty Kernish prince, should now take up all the wisdom and prowess of this potent monarchy, to quell a barbarous crew of rebels, whom, if we take but the right course to subdue, that is, beginning at the reformation of our church, their own horrid murders and rapes will so fight against them, that the very sutlers and horse-boys of the camp will be able to rout and chase them, without the staining of any noble sword. To proceed by other method in this enterprise, be our captains and commanders never so expert, will be as great an error in the art of war, as any novice in soldiership ever committed. And thus I leave it as a declared truth, that neither the fear of sects, no, nor rebellion, can be a fit plea to stay reformation, but rather to push it forward with all possible diligence and speed.

THE SECOND BOOK.

How happy were it for this frail, and as it may be called mortal life of man, since all earthly things which have the name of good and convenient in our daily use, are withal so cumbersome and full of trouble, if knowledge, yet which is the best and lightsomest possession of the mind, were, as the common saying is, no burden; and that what it wanted of being a load to any part of the body, it did not with a heavy advantage overlay upon the spirit! For not to speak of that knowledge that rests in the contemplation of natural causes and dimensions, which must needs be a lower wisdom, as the object is low, certain it is, that he who hath obtained in more than the scantiest measure to know any thing distinctly of God, and of his true worship, and what is infallibly good and happy in the state of man’s life, what in itself evil and miserable, though vulgarly not so esteemed; he that hath obtained to know this, the only high valuable wisdom indeed, remembering also that God, even to a strictness, requires the improvement of these his entrusted gifts, cannot but sustain a sorer burden of mind, and more pressing, than any supportable toil or weight which the body can labour under, how and in what manner he shall dispose and employ those sums of knowledge and illumination, which God hath sent him into this world to trade with. And that which aggravates the burden more, is, that having received amongst his allotted parcels, certain precious truths, of such an orient lustre as no diamond can equal; which nevertheless he has in charge to put off at any cheap rate, yea, for nothing to them that will; the great merchants of this world, fearing that this course would soon discover and disgrace the false glitter of their deceitful wares, wherewith they abuse the people, like poor Indians with beads and glasses, practise by all means how they may suppress the vending of such rarities, and at such a cheapness as would undo them, and turn their trash upon their hands. Therefore by gratifying the corrupt desires of men in fleshly doctrines, they stir them up to persecute with hatred and contempt all those that seek to bear themselves uprightly in this their spiritual factory: which they foreseeing, though they cannot but testify of truth, and the excellency of that heavenly traffic which they bring, against what opposition or danger soever, Edition: current; Page: [67] yet needs must it sit heavily upon their spirits, that, being in God’s prime intention, and their own, selected heralds of peace, and dispensers of treasure inestimable, without price to them that have no peace, they find in the discharge of their commission, that they are made the greatest variance and offence, a very sword and fire both in house and city over the whole earth. This is that which the sad prophet Jeremiah laments: “Wo is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me, a man of strife and contention!” And although divine inspiration must certainly have been sweet to those ancient prophets, yet the irksomeness of that truth which they brought was so unpleasant unto them, that everywhere they call it a burden. Yea, that misterious book of revelation, which the great evangelist was bid to eat, as it had been some eyebrightening electuary of knowledge and foresight, though it were sweet in his mouth, and in the learning, it was bitter in his belly, bitter in the denouncing. Nor was this hid from the wise poet Sophocles, who in that place of his tragedy, where Tiresias is called to resolve king Œdipus in a matter which he knew would be grievous, brings him in bemoaning his lot that he knew more than other men. For surely to every good and peaceable man, it must in nature needs be a hateful thing to be the displeaser and molester of thousands; much better would it like him doubtless to be the messenger of gladness and contentment, which is his chief intended business to all mankind, but that they resist and oppose their own true happiness. But when God commands to take the trumpet, and blow a dolorous or jarring blast, it lies not in man’s will what he shall say, or what he shall conceal. If he shall think to be silent as Jeremiah did, because of the reproach and derision he met with daily, “and all his familiar friends watched for his halting,” to be revenged on him for speaking the truth, he would be forced to confess as he confessed; “his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary with forbearing and could not stay.” Which might teach these times not suddenly to condemn all things that are sharply spoken or vehemently written as proceeding out of stomach, virulence, and ill nature; but to consider rather, that if the prelates have leave to say the worst that can be said, or do the worst that can be done, while they strive to keep to themselves, to their great pleasure and commodity, those things which they ought to render up, no man can be justly offended with him that shall endeavour to impart and bestow, without any gain to himself, those sharp and saving words which would be a terror and a torment in him to keep back. For me, I have determined to lay up as the best treasure and solace of a good old age, if God vouchsafe it me, the honest liberty of free speech from my youth, where I shall think it available in so dear a concernment as the church’s good. For if I be, either by disposition or what other cause, too inquisitive, or suspicious of myself and mine own doings, who can help it? But this I foresee, that should the church be brought under heavy oppression, and God have given me ability the while to reason against that man that should be the author of so foul a deed; or should she, by blessing from above on the industry and courage of faithful men, change this her distracted estate into better days, without the least furtherance or contribution of those few talents, which God at that present had lent me; I foresee what stories I should hear within myself, all my life after, of discourage and reproach. Timorous and ungrateful, the church of God is now again at the foot of her insulting enemies, and thou bewailest; what matters it for thee, or thy bewailing? When time was, thou couldst not find a syllable of all that thou hast read, or studied, to utter in her behalf. Yet ease and leisure was given thee for thy retired thoughts, out of the sweat of other men. Edition: current; Page: [68] Thou hast the diligence, the parts, the language of a man, if a vain subject were to be adorned or beautified; but when the cause of God and his church was to be pleaded, for which purpose that tongue was given thee which thou hast, God listened if he could hear thy voice among his zealous servants, but thou wert dumb as a beast; from henceforward be that which thine own brutish silence hath made thee. Or else I should have heard on the other ear; slothful, and ever to be set light by, the church hath now overcome her late distresses after the unwearied labours of many her true servants that stood up in her defence; thou also wouldst take upon thee to share amongst them of their joy: but wherefore thou? Where canst thou show any word or deed of thine which might have hastened her peace? Whatever thou dost now talk, or write, or look, is the alms of other men’s active prudence and zeal. Dare not now to say or do any thing better than thy former sloth and infancy; or if thou darest, thou dost impudently to make a thrifty purchase of boldness to thyself, out of the painful merits of other men; what before was thy sin is now thy duty, to be abject and worthless. These, and such like lessons as these, I know would have been my matins duly, and my even-song. But now by this little diligence, mark what a privilege I have gained with good men and saints, to claim my right of lamenting the tribulations of the church, if she should suffer, when others, that have ventured nothing for her sake, have not the honour to be admitted mourners. But if she lift up her drooping head and prosper, among those that have something more than wished her welfare, I have my charter and freehold of rejoicing to me and my heirs. Concerning therefore this wayward subject against prelaty, the touching whereof is so distasteful and disquietous to a number of men, as by what hath been said I may deserve of charitable readers to be credited, that neither envy nor gall hath entered me upon this controversy, but the enforcement of conscience only, and a preventive fear lest the omitting of this duty should be against me, when I would store up to myself the good provision of peaceful hours: so, lest it should be still imputed to me, as I have found it hath been, that some self-pleasing humour of vain-glory hath incited me to contest with men of high estimation, now while green years are upon my head; from this needless surmisal I shall hope to dissuade the intelligent and equal auditor, if I can but say successfully that which in this exigent behoves me; although I would be heard only, if it might be, by the elegant and learned reader, to whom principally for a while I shall beg leave I may address myself. To him it will be no new thing, though I tell him that if I hunted after praise, by the ostentation of wit and learning, I should not write thus out of mine own season when I have neither yet completed to my mind the full circle of my private studies, although I complain not of any insufficiency to the matter in hand; or were I ready to my wishes, it were a folly to commit any thing elaborately composed to the careless and interrupted listening of these tumultuous times. Next, if I were wise only to my own ends, I would certainly take such a subject as of itself might catch applause, whereas this hath all the disadvantages on the contrary, and such a subject as the publishing whereof might be delayed at pleasure, and time enough to pencil it over with all the curious touches of art, even to the perfection of a faultless picture; whenas in this argument the not deferring is of great moment to the good speeding, that if solidity have leisure to do her office, art cannot have much. Lastly, I should not choose this manner of writing, wherein knowing myself inferior to myself, led by the genial power of nature to another task, I have the use, as I may account, but of my left hand. And though I shall be foolish in saying Edition: current; Page: [69] more to this purpose, yet, since it will be such a folly, as wisest men go about to commit, having only confessed and so committed, I may trust with more reason, because with more folly, to have courteous pardon. For although a poet, soaring in the high reason of his fancies, with his garland and singing robes about him, might, without apology, speak more of himself than I mean to do; yet for me sitting here below in the cool element of prose, a mortal thing among many readers of no empyreal conceit, to venture and divulge unusual things of myself, I shall petition to the gentler sort, it may not be envy to me. I must say therefore, that after I had for my first years, by the ceaseless diligence and care of my father, (whom God recompense!) been exercised to the tongues, and some sciences, as my age would suffer, by sundry masters and teachers both at home and at the schools, it was found, that whether aught was imposed me by them that had the overlooking, or betaken to of mine own choice in English, or other tongue, prosing or versing, but chiefly this latter, the style, by certain vital signs it had, was likely to live. But much latelier in the private academies of Italy, whither I was favoured to resort, perceiving that some trifles which I had in memory, composed at under twenty or thereabout, (for the manner is, that every one must give some proof of his wit and reading there,) met with acceptance above what was looked for; and other things, which I had shifted in scarcity of books and conveniences to patch up amongst them, were received with written encomiums, which the Italian is not forward to bestow on men of this side the Alps; I began thus far to assent both to them and divers of my friends here at home, and not less to an inward prompting which now grew daily upon me, that by labour and intense study, (which I take to be my portion in this life,) joined with the strong propensity of nature, I might perhaps leave something so written to aftertimes, as they should not willingly let it die. These thoughts at once possessed me, and these other; that if I were certain to write as men buy leases, for three lives and downward, there ought no regard be sooner had than to God’s glory, by the honour and instruction of my country. For which cause, and not only for that I knew it would be hard to arrive at the second rank among the Latins, I applied myself to that resolution, which Ariosto followed against the persuasions of Bembo, to fix all the industry and art I could unite to the adorning of my native tongue; not to make verbal curiosities the end, (that were a toilsome vanity,) but to be an interpreter and relater of the best and sagest things, among mine own citizens throughout this island in the mother dialect. That what the greatest and choicest wits of Athens, Rome, or modern Italy, and those Hebrews of old did for their country, I, in my proportion, with this over and above, of being a Christian, might do for mine; not caring to be once named abroad, though perhaps I could attain to that, but content with these British islands as my world; whose fortune hath hitherto been, that if the Athenians, as some say, made their small deeds great and renowned by their eloquent writers, England hath had her noble achievements made small by the unskilful handling of monks and mechanics.

Time serves not now, and perhaps I might seem too profuse to give any certain account of what the mind at home, in the spacious circuits of her musing, hath liberty to propose to herself, though of highest hope and hardest attempting; whether that epic form whereof the two poems of Homer, and those other two of Virgil and Tasso, are a diffuse, and the book of Job a brief model: or whether the rules of Aristotle herein are strictly to be kept, or nature to be followed, which in them that know art, and use judgment, is no transgression, but an enriching of art: and lastly, what Edition: current; Page: [70] king or knight, before the conquest, might be chosen in whom to lay the pattern of a Christian hero. And as Tasso gave to a prince of Italy his choice whether he would command him to write of Godfrey’s expedition against the Infidels, or Belisarius against the Goths, or Charlemagne against the Lombards; if to the instinct of nature and the emboldening of art aught may be trusted, and that there be nothing adverse in our climate, or the fate of this age, it haply would be no rashness, from an equal diligence and inclination, to present the like offer in our own ancient stories; or whether those dramatic constitutions, wherein Sophocles and Euripides reign, shall be found more doctrinal and exemplary to a nation. The Scripture also affords us a divine pastoral drama in the Song of Solomon, consisting of two persons, and a double chorus, as Origen rightly judges. And the Apocalypse of St. John is the majestic image of a high and stately tragedy, shutting up and intermingling her solemn scenes and acts with a sevenfold chorus of hallelujahs and harping symphonies: and this my opinion the grave authority of Pareus, commenting that book, is sufficient to confirm. Or if occasion shall lead, to imitate those magnific odes and hymns, wherein Pindarus and Callimachus are in most things worthy, some others in their frame judicious, in their matter most an end faulty. But those frequent songs throughout the law and prophets beyond all these, not in their divine argument alone, but in the very critical art of composition, may be easily made appear over all the kinds of lyric poesy to be incomparable. These abilities, wheresoever they be found, are the inspired gift of God rarely bestowed, but yet to some (though most abuse) in every nation: and are of power, beside the office of a pulpit, to imbreed and cherish in a great people the seeds of virtue and public civility, to allay the perturbations of the mind, and set the affections in right tune; to celebrate in glorious and lofty hymns the throne and equipage of God’s almightiness, and what he works, and what he suffers to be wrought with high providence in his church; to sing victorious agonies of martyrs and saints, the deeds and triumphs of just and pious nations, doing valiantly through faith against the enemies of Christ; to deplore the general relapses of kingdoms and states from justice and God’s true worship. Lastly, whatsoever in religion is holy and sublime, in virtue amiable or grave, whatsoever hath passion or admiration in all the changes of that which is called fortune from without, or the wily subtleties and refluxes of man’s thoughts from within; all these things with a solid and treatable smoothness to paint out and describe. Teaching over the whole book of sanctity and virtue, through all the instances of example, with such delight to those especially of soft and delicious temper, who will not so much as look upon truth herself, unless they see her elegantly dressed; that whereas the paths of honesty and good life appear now rugged and difficult, though they be indeed easy and pleasant, they will then appear to all men both easy and pleasant, though they were rugged and difficult indeed. And what a benefit this would be to our youth and gentry, may be soon guessed by what we know of the corruption and bane, which they suck in daily from the writings and interludes of libidinous and ignorant poetasters, who having scarce ever heard of that which is the main consistence of a true poem, the choice of such persons as they ought to introduce, and what is moral and decent to each one; do for the most part lay up vicious principles in sweet pills to be swallowed down, and make the taste of virtuous documents harsh and sour. But because the spirit of man cannot demean itself lively in this body, without some recreating intermission of labour and serious things, it were happy for the commonwealth, if our magistrates, as in those famous governments of old, would take into Edition: current; Page: [71] their care, not only the deciding of our contentious law cases and brawls, but the managing of our public sports and festival pastimes; that they might be, not such as were authorized a while since, the provocations of drunkenness and lust, but such as may inure and harden our bodies by martial exercises to all warlike skill and performance; and may civilize, adorn, and make discreet our minds by the learned and affable meeting of frequent academies, and the procurement of wise and artful recitations, sweetened with eloquent and graceful inticements to the love and practice of justice, temperance, and fortitude, instructing and bettering the nation at all opportunities, that the call of wisdom and virtue may be heard every where, as Solomon saith; “She crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets, in the top of high places, in the chief concourse, and in the openings of the gates.” Whether this may not be, not only in pulpits, but after another persuasive method, at set and solemn paneguries, in theatres, porches, or what other place or way, may win most upon the people to receive at once both recreation and instruction; let them in authority consult. The thing which I had to say, and those intentions which have lived within me ever since I could conceive myself any thing worth to my country, I return to crave excuse that urgent reason hath plucked from me, by an abortive and foredated discovery. And the accomplishment of them lies not but in a power above man’s to promise; but that none hath by more studious ways endeavoured, and with more unwearied spirit that none shall, that I dare almost aver of myself, as far as life and free leisure will extend; and that the land had once enfranchised herself from this impertinent yoke of prelaty, under whose inquisitorious and tyrannical duncery, no free and splendid wit can flourish. Neither do I think it shame to covenant with any knowing reader, that for some few years yet I may go on trust with him toward the payment of what I am now indebted, as being a work not to be raised from the heat of youth, or the vapours of wine; like that which flows at waste from the pen of some vulgar amourist, or the trencher fury of a rhyming parasite; nor to be obtained by the invocation of dame memory and her siren daughters, but by devout prayer to that eternal Spirit, who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his seraphim, with the hallowed fire of his altar, to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases: to this must be added industrious and select reading, steady observation, insight into all seemly and generous arts and affairs; till which in some measure be compassed, at mine own peril and cost, I refuse not to sustain this expectation from as many as are not loth to hazard so much credulity upon the best pledges that I can give them. Although it nothing content me to have disclosed thus much before-hand, but that I trust hereby to make it manifest with what small willingness I endure to interrupt the pursuit of no less hopes than these, and leave a calm and pleasing solitariness, fed with cheerful and confident thoughts, to embark in a troubled sea of noises and hoarse disputes, put from beholding the bright countenance of truth in the quiet and still air of delightful studies, to come into the dim reflection of hollow antiquities sold by the seeming bulk, and there be fain to club quotations with men whose learning and belief lies in marginal stuffings, who, when they have, like good sumpters, laid ye down their horse-loads of citations and fathers at your door, with a rhapsody of who and who were bishops here or there, ye may take off their packsaddles, their day’s work is done, and episcopacy, as they think, stoutly vindicated. Let any gentle apprehension, that can distinguish learned pains from unlearned drudgery, imagine what pleasure or profoundness can be in this, or what honour to deal against such adversaries. But were it the meanest under-service, if Edition: current; Page: [72] God by his secretary conscience enjoin it, it were sad for me if I should draw back; for me especially, now when all men offer their aid to help, ease, and lighten the difficult labours of the church, to whose service, by the intentions of my parents and friends, I was destined of a child, and in mine own resolutions: till coming to some maturity of years, and perceiving what tyranny had invaded the church, that he who would take orders must subscribe slave, and take an oath withal, which, unless he took with a conscience that would retch, he must either straight perjure, or split his faith; I thought it better to prefer a blameless silence before the sacred office of speaking, bought and begun with servitude and forswearing. Howsoever thus church-outed by the prelates, hence may appear the right I have to meddle in these matters, as before the necessity and constraint appeared.

CHAPTER I.

That prelaty opposeth the reason and end of the gospel three ways; and first, in her outward form.

After this digression, it would remain that I should single out some other reason, which might undertake for prelaty to be a fit and lawful church-government; but finding none of like validity with these that have already sped according to their fortune, I shall add one reason why it is not to be thought a church-government at all, but a church-tyranny, and is at hostile terms with the end and reason of Christ’s evangelic ministry. Albeit I must confess to be half in doubt whether I should bring it forth or no, it being so contrary to the eye of the world, and the world so potent in most men’s hearts, that I shall endanger either not to be regarded, or not to be understood; for who is there almost that measures wisdom by simplicity, strength by suffering, dignity by lowliness? Who is there that counts it first to be last, something to be nothing, and reckons himself of great command in that he is a servant? Yet God, when he meant to subdue the world and hell at once, part of that to salvation, and this wholly to perdition, made choice of no other weapons or auxiliaries than these, whether to save or to destroy. It had been a small mastery for him to have drawn out his legions into array, and flanked them with his thunder; therefore he sent foolishness to confute wisdom, weakness to bind strength, despisedness to vanquish pride: and this is the great mystery of the gospel made good in Christ himself, who, as he testifies, came not to be ministered to, but to minister; and must be fulfilled in all his ministers till his second coming. To go against these principles St. Paul so feared, that if he should but affect the wisdom of words in his preaching, he thought it would be laid to his charge that he had made the cross of Christ to be of none effect. Whether, then, prelaty do not make of none effect the cross of Christ, by the principles it hath so contrary to these, nullifying the power and end of the gospel, it shall not want due proof, if it want not due belief. Neither shall I stand to trifle with one that would tell me of quiddities and formalities, whether prelaty or prelateity, in abstract notion be this or that; it suffices me that I find it in his skin, so I find it inseparable, or not oftener otherwise than a phœnix hath been seen; although I persuade me, that whatever faultiness was but superficial to prelaty at the beginning, is now, by the just judgment of God, long since branded and inworn into the very essence thereof. First, therefore, if to do the work of Edition: current; Page: [73] the gospel, Christ our Lord took upon him the form of a servant; how can his servant in this ministry take upon him the form of a lord? I know Bilson hath deciphered us all the gallantries of signore and monsignore, and monsieur, as circumstantially as any punctualist of Castile, Naples, or Fountain-Bleau, could have done: but this must not so compliment us out of our right minds, as to be to learn that the form of a servant was a mean, laborious, and vulgar life, aptest to teach; which form Christ thought fittest, that he might bring about his will according to his own principles, choosing the meaner things of this world, that he might put under the high. Now, whether the pompous garb, the lordly life, the wealth, the haughty distance of prelaty, be those meaner things of the world, whereby God in them would manage the mystery of his gospel, be it the verdict of common sense. For Christ saith in St. John, “The servant is not greater than his lord, nor he that is sent, greater than he that sent him;” and adds, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” Then let the prelates well advise, if they neither know, nor do these things, or if they know, and yet do them not, wherein their happiness consists. And thus is the gospel frustrated by the lordly form of prelaty.

CHAPTER II.

That the ceremonious doctrine of prelaty opposeth the reason and end of the gospel.

That which next declares the heavenly power, and reveals the deep mystery of the gospel, is the pure simplicity of doctrine, accounted the foolishness of this world, yet crossing and confounding the pride and wisdom of the flesh. And wherein consists this fleshly wisdom and pride? In being altogether ignorant of God and his worship? No surely, for men are naturally ashamed of that. Where then? It consists in a bold presumption of ordering the worship and service of God after man’s own will in traditions and ceremonies. Now if the pride and wisdom of the flesh were to be defeated and confounded, no doubt but in that very point wherein it was proudest, and thought itself wisest, that so the victory of the gospel might be the more illustrious. But our prelates, instead of expressing the spiritual power of their ministry, by warring against this chief bulwark and strong hold of the flesh, have entered into fast league with the principal enemy against whom they were sent, and turned the strength of fleshly pride and wisdom against the pure simplicity of saving truth. First, mistrusting to find the authority of their order in the immediate institution of Christ, or his apostles, by the clear evidence of Scripture, they fly to the carnal supportment of tradition; when we appeal to the Bible, they to the unwieldly volumes of tradition: and do not shame to reject the ordinance of him that is eternal, for the perverse iniquity of sixteen hundred years; choosing rather to think truth itself a liar, than that sixteen ages should be taxed with an error; not considering the general apostasy that was foretold, and the church’s flight into the wilderness. Nor is this enough; instead of showing the reason of their lowly condition from divine example and command, they seek to prove their high pre-eminence from human consent and authority. But let them chant while they will of prerogatives, we shall tell them of Scripture; of custom, we of Scripture; of acts and statutes, still of Scripture; till the quick and piercing word enter to the dividing of Edition: current; Page: [74] their souls, and the mighty weakness of the gospel throw down the weak mightiness of man’s reasoning. Now for their demeanour within the church, how have they disfigured and defaced that more than angelic brightness, the unclouded serenity of Christian religion, with the dark overcasting of superstitious copes and flaminical vestures, wearing on their backs, and I abhor to think, perhaps in some worse place, the inexpressible image of God the Father? Tell me, ye priests, wherefore this gold, wherefore these robes and surplices over the gospel? Is our religion guilty of the first trespass, and hath need of clothing to cover her nakedness? What does this else but cast an ignominy upon the perfection of Christ’s ministry, by seeking to adorn it with that which was the poor remedy of our shame? Believe it, wondrous doctors, all corporeal resemblances of inward holiness and beauty are now past; he that will clothe the gospel now, intimates plainly that the gospel is naked, uncomely, that I may not say reproachful. Do not, ye church-maskers, while Christ is clothing upon our barrenness with his righteous garment to make us acceptable in his Father’s sight; do not, as ye do, cover and hide his righteous verity with the polluted clothing of your ceremonies, to make it seem more decent in your own eyes. “How beautiful,” saith Isaiah, “are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth salvation!” Are the feet so beautiful, and is the very bringing of these tidings so decent of itself? What new decency can then be added to this by your spinstry? Ye think by these gaudy glisterings to stir up the devotion of the rude multitude; ye think so, because ye forsake the heavenly teaching of St. Paul for the hellish sophistry of papism. If the multitude be rude, the lips of the preacher must give knowledge, and not ceremonies. And although some Christians be new-born babes comparatively to some that are stronger, yet in respect of ceremony, which is but a rudiment of the law, the weakest Christian hath thrown off the robes of his minority, and is a perfect man, as to legal rites. What children’s food there is in the gospel, we know to be no other than the “sincerity of the word, that they may grow thereby.” But is here the utmost of your outbraving the service of God? No. Ye have been bold, not to set your threshold by his threshold, or your posts by his posts; but your sacrament, your sign, call it what you will, by his sacrament, baptizing the Christian infant with a solemn sprinkle, and unbaptizing for your own part with a profane and impious forefinger; as if when ye had laid the purifying element upon his forehead, ye meant to cancel and cross it out again with a character not of God’s bidding. O but the innocence of these ceremonies! O rather the sottish absurdity of this excuse. What could be more innocent than the washing of a cup, a glass, or hands, before meat, and that under the law, when so many washings were commanded, and by long tradition? yet our Saviour detested their customs, though never so seeming harmless, and charges them severely, that they had transgressed the commandments of God by their traditions, and worshipped him in vain. How much more then must these, and much grosser ceremonies now in force, delude the end of Christ’s coming in the flesh against the flesh, and stifle the sincerity of our new covenant, which hath bound us to forsake all carnal pride and wisdom, especially in matters of religion? Thus we see again how prelaty, failing in opposition to the main end and power of the gospel, doth not join in that mysterious work of Christ, by lowliness to confound height, by simplicity of doctrine the wisdom of the world, but contrariwise hath made itself high in the world and the flesh, to vanquish things by the world accounted low, and made itself wise in tradition and fleshly ceremony, to confound the purity of doctrine which is the wisdom of God.

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CHAPTER III.

That prelatical jurisdiction opposeth the reason and end of the gospel and of state.

The third and last consideration remains, whether the prelates in their function do work according to the gospel, practising to subdue the mighty things of this world by things weak, which St. Paul hath set forth to be the power and excellence of the gospel; or whether in more likelihood they band themselves with the prevalent things of this world, to overrun the weak things which Christ hath made choice to work by: and this will soonest be discerned by the course of their jurisdiction. But here again I find my thoughts almost in suspense betwixt yea and no, and am nigh turning mine eye which way I may best retire, and not proceed in this subject, blaming the ardency of my mind that fixed me too attentively to come thus far. For truth, I know not how, hath this unhappiness fatal to her, ere she can come to the trial and inspection of the understanding; being to pass through many little wards and limits of the several affections and desires, she cannot shift it, but must put on such colours and attire, as those pathetic handmaids of the soul please to lead her in to their queen: and if she find so much favour with them, they let her pass in her own likeness; if not, they bring her into the presence habited and coloured like a notorious falsehood. And contrary, when any falsehood comes that way, if they like the errand she brings, they are so artful to counterfeit the very shape and visage of truth, that the understanding not being able to discern the fucus which these inchantresses with such cunning have laid upon the feature sometimes of truth, sometimes of falsehood interchangeably, sentences for the most part one for the other at the first blush, according to the subtle imposture of these sensual mistresses, that keep the ports and passages between her and the object. So that were it not for leaving imperfect that which is already said, I should go near to relinquish that which is to follow. And because I see that most men, as it happens in this world, either weakly or falsely principled, what through ignorance, and what through custom of licence, both in discourse and writing, by what hath been of late written in vulgar, have not seemed to attain the decision of this point: I shall likewise assay those wily arbitresses who in most men have, as was heard, the sole ushering of truth and falsehood between the sense and the soul, with what loyalty they will use me in convoying this truth to my understanding; the rather for that by as much acquaintance as I can obtain with them, I do not find them engaged either one way or other. Concerning therefore ecclesiastical jurisdiction, I find still more controversy, who should administer it, than diligent inquiry made to learn what it is: for had the pains been taken to search out that, it had been long ago enrolled to be nothing else but a pure tyrannical forgery of the prelates; and that jurisdictive power in the church there ought to be none at all. It cannot be conceived that what men now call jurisdiction in the church, should be other thing than a Christian censorship; and therefore it is most commonly and truly named ecclesiastical censure. Now if the Roman censor, a civil function, to that severe assize of surveying and controlling the privatest and slyest manners of all men and all degrees, had no jurisdiction, no courts of plea or inditement, no punitive force annexed; whether it were that to this manner of correction the intanglement of suits was improper, or that the notice of those upright inquisitors extended to such the most covert and spirituous vices Edition: current; Page: [76] as would slip easily between the wider and more material grasp of the law; or that it stood more with the majesty of that office to have no other sergeants or maces about them but those invisible ones of terror and shame; or, lastly, were it their fear, lest the greatness of this authority and honour, armed with jurisdiction, might step with ease into a tyranny: in all these respects, with much more reason undoubtedly ought the censure of the church be quite divested and disentailed of all jurisdiction whatsoever. For if the course of judicature to a political censorship seem either too tedious, or too contentious, much more may it to the discipline of the church, whose definitive decrees are to be speedy, but the execution of rigour slow, contrary to what in legal proceedings is most usual; and by how much the less contentious it is, by so much will it be the more Christian. And if the censor, in his moral episcopacy, being to judge most in matters not answerable by writ or action, could not use an instrument so gross and bodily as jurisdiction is, how can the minister of the gospel manage the corpulent and secular trial of bill and process in things merely spiritual? Or could that Roman office, without this juridical sword or saw, strike such a reverence of itself into the most undaunted hearts, as with one single dash of ignominy to put all the senate and knighthood of Rome into a tremble? Surely much rather might the heavenly ministry of the evangel bind herself about with far more piercing beams of majesty and awe, by wanting the beggarly help of halings and amercements in the use of her powerful keys. For when the church without temporal support is able to do her great works upon the unforced obedience of men, it argues a divinity about her. But when she thinks to credit and better her spiritual efficacy, and to win herself respect and dread by strutting in the false vizard of worldly authority, it is evident that God is not there, but that her apostolic virtue is departed from her, and hath left her key-cold; which she perceiving as in a decayed nature, seeks to the outward fomentations and chafings of worldly help, and external flourishes, to fetch, if it be possible, some motion into her extreme parts, or to hatch a counterfeit life with the crafty and artificial heat of jurisdiction. But it is observable, that so long as the church, in true imitation of Christ, can be content to ride upon an ass, carrying herself and her government along in a mean and simple guise, she may be, as he is, a lion of the tribe of Judah; and in her humility all men with loud hosannas will confess her greatness. But when despising the mighty operation of the Spirit by the weak things of this world, she thinks to make herself bigger and more considerable, by using the way of civil force and jurisdiction, as she sits upon this lion, she changes into an ass, and instead of hosannas, every man pelts her with stones and dirt. Lastly, if the wisdom of the Romans feared to commit jurisdiction to an office of so high esteem and dread as was the censor’s, we may see what a solecism in the art of policy it hath been, all this while through Christendom to give jurisdiction to ecclesiastical censure. For that strength, joined with religion, abused and pretended to ambitious ends, must of necessity breed the heaviest and most quelling tyranny not only upon the necks, but even to the souls of men: which if Christian Rome had been so cautelous to prevent in her church, as pagan Rome was in her state, we had not had such a lamentable experience thereof as now we have from thence upon all Christendom. For although I said before, that the church coveting to ride upon the lionly form of jurisdiction, makes a transformation of herself into an ass, and becomes despicable, that is, to those whom God hath enlightened with true knowledge; but where they remain yet in the relics of superstition, this is the extremity of their bondage and blindness, that while they think they do obeisance to the lordly vision of a Edition: current; Page: [77] lion, they do it to an ass, that through the just judgment of God is permitted to play the dragon among them because of their wilful stupidity. And let England here well rub her eyes, lest by leaving jurisdiction and church-censure to the same persons, now that God hath been so long medicining her eyesight, she do not with her over-politic fetches mar all, and bring herself back again to worship this ass bestriding a lion. Having hitherto explained, that to ecclesiastical censure no jurisdictive power can be added, without a childish and dangerous oversight in policy, and a pernicious contradiction in evangelical discipline, as anon more fully; it will be next to declare wherein the true reason and force of church-censure consists, which by then it shall be laid open to the root; so little is it that I fear lest any crookedness, any wrinkle or spot should be found in presbyterian government, that if Bodin the famous French writer, though a papist, yet affirms that the commonwealth which maintains this discipline will certainly flourish in virtue and piety; I dare assure myself, that every true protestant will admire the integrity, the uprightness, the divine and gracious purposes thereof, and even for the reason of it so coherent with the doctrine of the gospel, beside the evidence of command in Scripture, will confess it to be the only true church-government; and that contrary to the whole end and mystery of Christ’s coming in the flesh, a false appearance of the same is exercised by prelaty. But because some count it rigorous, and that hereby men shall be liable to a double punishment, I will begin somewhat higher, and speak of punishment; which, as it is an evil, I esteem to be of two sorts, or rather two degrees only, a reprobate conscience in this life, and hell in the other world. Whatever else men call punishment or censure, is not properly an evil, so it be not an illegal violence, but a saving medicine ordained of God both for the public and private good of man; who consisting of two parts, the inward and the outward, was by the eternal Providence left under two sorts of cure, the church and the magistrate. The magistrate hath only to deal with the outward part, I mean not of the body alone, but of the mind in all her outward acts, which in Scripture is called the outward man. So that it would be helpful to us if we might borrow such authority as the rhetoricians by patent may give us, with a kind of promethean skill to shape and fashion this outward man into the similitude of a body, and set him visible before us; imagining the inner man only as the soul. Thus then the civil magistrate looking only upon the outward man, (I say as a magistrate, for what he doth further, he doth it as a member of the church,) if he find in his complexion, skin, or outward temperature, the signs and marks, or in his doings the effects of injustice, rapine, lust, cruelty, or the like, sometimes he shuts up as in frenetic or infectious diseases; or confines within doors as in every sickly estate. Sometimes he shaves by penalty or mulct, or else to cool and take down those luxuriant humours which wealth and excess have caused to abound. Otherwhiles he sears, he cauterizes, he scarifies, lets blood; and finally, for utmost remedy cuts off. The patients, which most an end are brought into his hospital, are such as are far gone, and beside themselves, (unless they be falsely accused,) so that force is necessary to tame and quiet them in their unruly fits, before they can be made capable of a more humane cure. His general end is the outward peace and welfare of the commonwealth, and civil happiness in this life. His particular end in every man is, by the infliction of pain, damage, and disgrace, that the senses and common perceivance might carry this message to the soul within, that it is neither easeful, profitable, nor praiseworthy in this life to do evil. Which must needs tend to the good of man, whether he be to live or die; and be undoubtedly the first means Edition: current; Page: [78] to a natural man, especially an offender, which might open his eyes to a higher consideration of good and evil, as it is taught in religion. This is seen in the often penitence of those that suffer, who, had they escaped, had gone on sinning to an immeasurable heap, which is one of the extremest punishments. And this is all that the civil magistrate, as so being, confers to the healing of man’s mind, working only by terrifying plasters upon the rind and orifice of the sore; and by all outward appliances, as the logicians say, a posteriori, at the effect, and not from the cause; not once touching the inward bed of corruption, and that hectic disposition to evil, the source of all vice and obliquity against the rule of law. Which how insufficient it is to cure the soul of man, we cannot better guess than by the art of bodily physic. Therefore God, to the intent of further healing man’s depraved mind, to this power of the magistrate, which contents itself with the restraint of evil-doing in the external man, added that which we call censure, to purge it, and remove it clean out of the inmost soul.

In the beginning this authority seems to have been placed, as all both civil and religious rites once were, only in each father of a family; afterwards among the heathen, in the wise men and philosophers of the age; but so as it was a thing voluntary, and no set government. More distinctly among the Jews, as being God’s peculiar people, where the priests, Levites, prophets, and at last the scribes and pharisees, took charge of instructing and overseeing the lives of the people. But in the gospel, which is the straightest and the dearest covenant can be made between God and man, we being now his adopted sons, and nothing fitter for us to think on than to be like him, united to him, and, as he pleases to express it, to have fellowship with him; it is all necessity that we should expect this blessed efficacy of healing our inward man to be ministered to us in a more familiar and effectual method than ever before. God being now no more a judge after the sentence of the law, nor, as it were, a schoolmaster of perishable rites, but a most indulgent father, governing his church as a family of sons in their discreet age: and therefore, in the sweetest and mildest manner of paternal discipline, he hath committed his other office of preserving in healthful constitution the inner man, which may be termed the spirit of the soul, to his spiritual deputy the minister of each congregation; who being best acquainted with his own flock, hath best reason to know all the secretest diseases likely to be there. And look by how much the internal man is more excellent and noble than the external, by so much is his cure more exactly, and more thoroughly, and more particularly to be performed. For which cause the Holy Ghost by the apostles joined to the minister, as assistant in this great office, sometimes a certain number of grave and faithful brethren, (for neither doth the physician do all in restoring his patient, he prescribes, another prepares the medicine, some tend, some watch, some visit,) much more may a minister partly not see all, partly err as a man: besides, that nothing can be more for the mutual honour and love of the people to their pastor, and his to them, than when in select numbers and courses they are seen partaking and doing reverence to the holy duties of discipline by their serviceable and solemn presence, and receiving honour again from their employment, not now any more to be separated in the church by veils and partitions as laics and unclean, but admitted to wait upon the tabernacle as the rightful clergy of Christ, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifice in that meet place, to which God and the congregation shall call and assign them. And this all Christians ought to know, that the title of clergy St. Peter gave to all God’s people, till pope Higinus and the succeeding prelates took it from them, Edition: current; Page: [79] appropriating that name to themselves and their priests only; and condemning the rest of God’s inheritance to an injurious and alienate condition of laity, they separated from them by local partitions in churches, through their gross ignorance and pride imitating the old temple, and excluding the members of Christ from the property of being members, the bearing of orderly and fit offices in the ecclesiastical body; as if they had meant to sew up that Jewish veil, which Christ by his death on the cross rent in sunder. Although these usurpers could not so presently overmaster the liberties and lawful titles of God’s freeborn church; but that Origen, being yet a layman, expounded the Scriptures publicly, and was therein defended by Alexander of Jerusalem, and Theoctistus of Cæsarea, producing in his behalf divers examples, that the privilege of teaching was anciently permitted to many worthy laymen: and Cyprian in his epistles professes he will do nothing without the advice and assent of his assistant laics. Neither did the first Nicene council, as great and learned as it was, think it any robbery to receive in, and require the help and presence of many learned lay brethren, as they were then called. Many other authorities to confirm this assertion, both out of Scripture and the writings of next antiquity, Golartius hath collected in his notes upon Cyprian; whereby it will be evident, that the laity, not only by apostolic permission, but by consent of many of the ancientest prelates, did participate in church-offices as much as is desired any lay elder should now do. Sometimes also not the elders alone, but the whole body of the church is interested in the work of discipline, as oft as public satisfaction is given by those that have given public scandal. Not to speak now of her right in elections. But another reason there is in it, which though religion did not commend to us, yet moral and civil prudence could not but extol. It was thought of old in philosophy, that shame, or to call it better, the reverence of our elders, our brethren, and friends, was the greatest incitement to virtuous deeds, and the greatest dissuasion from unworthy attempts that might be. Hence we may read in the Iliad, where Hector being wished to retire from the battle, many of his forces being routed, makes answer, that he durst not for shame, lest the Trojan knights and dames should think he did ignobly. And certain it is, that whereas terror is thought such a great stickler in a commonwealth, honourable shame is a far greater, and has more reason: for where shame is, there is fear; but where fear is, there is not presently shame. And if any thing may be done to inbreed in us this generous and Christianly reverence one of another, the very nurse and guardian of piety and virtue, it cannot sooner be than by such a discipline in the church, as may use us to have in awe the assemblies of the faithful, and to count it a thing most grievous, next to the grieving of God’s Spirit, to offend those whom he hath put in authority, as a healing superintendence over our lives and behaviours, both to our own happiness, and that we may not give offence to good men, who, without amends by us made, dare not, against God’s command, hold communion with us in holy things. And this will be accompanied with a religious dread of being outcast from the company of saints, and from the fatherly protection of God in his church, to consort with the devil and his angels. But there is yet a more ingenuous and noble degree of honest shame, or, call it, if you will, an esteem, whereby men bear an inward reverence toward their own persons. And if the love of God, as a fire sent from heaven to be ever kept alive upon the altars of our hearts, be the first principle of all godly and virtuous actions in men, this pious and just honouring of ourselves is the second, and may be thought as the radical moisture and fountain-head, whence every laudable and worthy enterprise issues forth. And Edition: current; Page: [80] although I have given it the name of a liquid thing, yet it is not incontinent to bound itself, as humid things are, but hath in it a most restraining and powerful abstinence to start back, and glob itself upward from the mixture of any ungenerous and unbeseeming motion, or any soil wherewith it may peril to stain itself. Something I confess it is to be ashamed of evil-doing in the presence of any; and to reverence the opinion and the countenance of a good man rather than a bad, fearing most in his sight to offend, goes so far as almost to be virtuous; yet this is but still the fear of infamy, and many such, when they find themselves alone, saving their reputation, will compound with other scruples, and come to a close treaty with their dearer vices in secret. But he that holds himself in reverence and due esteem, both for the dignity of God’s image upon him, and for the price of his redemption, which he thinks is visibly marked upon his forehead, accounts himself both a fit person to do the noblest and godliest deeds, and much better worth than to deject and defile, with such a debasement, and such a pollution as sin is, himself so highly ransomed and ennobled to a new friendship and filial relation with God. Nor can he fear so much the offence and reproach of others, as he dreads and would blush at the reflection of his own severe and modest eye upon himself, if it should see him doing or imagining that which is sinful, though in the deepest secrecy. How shall a man know to do himself this right, how to perform his honourable duty of estimation and respect towards his own soul and body? which way will lead him best to this hill-top of sanctity and goodness, above which there is no higher ascent but to the love of God, which from this self-pious regard cannot be asunder? No better way doubtless, than to let him duly understand, that as he is called by the high calling of God, to be holy and pure, so is he by the same appointment ordained, and by the church’s call admitted, to such offices of discipline in the church, to which his own spiritual gifts, by the example of apostolic institution, have authorized him. For we have learned that the scornful term of laic, the consecrating of temples, carpets, and table-cloths, the railing in of a repugnant and contradictive mount Sinai in the gospel, as if the touch of a lay Christian, who is nevertheless God’s living temple, could profane dead judaisms, the exclusion of Christ’s people from the offices of holy discipline through the pride of a usurping clergy, causes the rest to have an unworthy an abject opinion of themselves, to approach to holy duties with a slavish fear, and to unholy doings with a familiar boldness. For seeing such a wide and terrible distance between religious things and themselves, and that in respect of a wooden table, and the perimeter of holy ground about it, a flaggon pot, and a linen corporal, the priest esteems their layships unhallowed and unclean, they fear religion with such a fear as loves not, and think the purity of the gospel too pure for them, and that any uncleanness is more suitable to their unconsecrated estate. But when every good Christian, thoroughly acquainted with all those glorious privileges of sanctification and adoption, which render him more sacred than any dedicated altar or element, shall be restored to his right in the church, and not excluded from such place of spiritual government, as his Christian abilities, and his approved good life in the eye and testimony of the church shall prefer him to, this and nothing sooner will open his eyes to a wise and true valuation of himself, (which is so requisite and high a point of Christianity,) and will stir him up to walk worthy the honourable and grave employment wherewith God and the church hath dignified him; not fearing lest he should meet with some outward holy thing in religion, which his lay-touch or presence might profane; but lest something unholy from within his own heart should dishonour and Edition: current; Page: [81] profane in himself that priestly unction and clergy-right whereto Christ hath entitled him. Then would the congregation of the Lord soon recover the true likeness and visage of what she is indeed, a holy generation, a royal priesthood, a saintly communion, the household and city of God. And this I hold to be another considerable reason why the functions of church-government ought to be free and open to any Christian man, though never so laic, if his capacity, his faith, and prudent demeanour, commend him. And this the apostles warrant us to do. But the prelates object, that this will bring profaneness into the church: to whom may be replied, that none have brought that in more than their own irreligious courses, nor more driven holiness out of living into lifeless things. For whereas God, who hath cleansed every beast and creeping worm, would not suffer St. Peter to call them common or unclean, the prelate bishops, in their printed orders hung up in churches, have proclaimed the best of creatures, mankind, so unpurified and contagious, that for him to lay his hat or his garment upon the chancel-table, they have defined it no less heinous, in express words, than to profane the table of the Lord. And thus have they by their Canaanitish doctrine, (for that which was to the Jew but Jewish, is to the Christian no better than Canaanitish,) thus have they made common and unclean, thus have they made profane, that nature which God hath not only cleansed, but Christ also hath assumed. And now that the equity and just reason is so perspicuous, why in ecclesiastic censure the assistance should be added of such as whom not the vile odour of gain and fees, (forbid it, God, and blow it with a whirlwind out of our land!) but charity, neighbourhood, and duty to church-government hath called together, where could a wise man wish a more equal, gratuitous, and meek examination of any offence, that he might happen to commit against Christianity, than here? Would he prefer those proud simoniacal courts? Thus therefore the minister assisted attends his heavenly and spiritual cure: where we shall see him both in the course of his proceeding, and first in the excellency of his end, from the magistrate far different, and not more different than excelling. His end is to recover all that is of man, both soul and body, to an everlasting health; and yet as for worldly happiness, which is the proper sphere wherein the magistrate cannot but confine his motion without a hideous exorbitancy from law, so little aims the minister, as his intended scope, to procure the much prosperity of this life, that ofttimes he may have cause to wish much of it away, as a diet puffing up the soul with a slimy fleshiness, and weakening her principal organic parts. Two heads of evil he has to cope with, ignorance and malice. Against the former he provides the daily manna of incorruptible doctrine, not at those set meals only in public, but as oft as he shall know that each infirmity or constitution requires. Against the latter with all the branches thereof, not meddling with that restraining and styptic surgery, which the law uses, not indeed against the malady, but against the eruptions, and outermost effects thereof; he on the contrary, beginning at the prime causes and roots of the disease, sends in those two divine ingredients of most cleansing power to the soul, admonition and reproof; besides which two there is no drug or antidote that can reach to purge the mind, and without which all other experiments are but vain, unless by accident. And he that will not let these pass into him, though he be the greatest king, as Plato affirms, must be thought to remain impure within, and unknowing of those things wherein his pureness and his knowledge should most appear. As soon therefore as it may be discerned that the Christian patient, by feeding otherwhere on meats not allowable, but of evil juice, hath disordered his diet, and spread Edition: current; Page: [82] an ill humour through his veins, immediately disposing to a sickness; the minister, as being much nearer both in eye and duty than the magistrate, speeds him betimes to overtake that diffused malignance with some gentle potion of admonishment; or if aught be obstructed, puts in his opening and discussive confections. This not succeeding after once or twice, or oftener, in the presence of two or three his faithful brethren appointed thereto, he advises him to be more careful of his dearest health, and what it is that he so rashly hath let down into the divine vessel of his soul, God’s temple. If this obtain not, he then, with the counsel of more assistants, who are informed of what diligence hath been already used, with more speedy remedies lays nearer siege to the entrenched causes of his distemper, not sparing such fervent and well aimed reproofs as may best give him to see the dangerous estate wherein he is. To this also his brethren and friends intreat, exhort, adjure; and all these endeavours, as there is hope left, are more or less repeated. But if neither the regard of himself, nor the reverence of his elders and friends prevail with him to leave his vicious appetite; then as the time urges, such engines of terror God hath given into the hand of his minister, as to search the tenderest angles of the heart: one while he shakes his stubbornness with racking convulsions nigh despair, otherwhiles with deadly corrosives he gripes the very roots of his faulty liver to bring him to life through the entry of death. Hereto the whole church beseech him, beg of him, deplore him, pray for him. After all this performed with what patience and attendance is possible, and no relenting on his part, having done the utmost of their cure, in the name of God and of the church they dissolve their fellowship with him, and holding forth the dreadful sponge of excommunion, pronounce him wiped out of the list of God’s inheritance, and in the custody of Satan till he repent. Which horrid sentence, though it touch neither life nor limb, nor any worldly possession, yet has it such a penetrating force, that swifter than any chemical sulphur, or that lightning which harms not the skin, and rifles the entrails, it scorches the inmost soul. Yet even this terrible denouncement is left to the church for no other cause but to be as a rough and vehement cleansing medicine, where the malady is obdurate, a mortifying to life, a kind of saving by undoing. And it may be truly said that as the mercies of wicked men are cruelties, so the cruelties of the church are mercies. For if repentance sent from Heaven meet this lost wanderer, and draw him out of that steep journey wherein he was hasting towards destruction, to come and reconcile to the church, if he bring with him his bill of health, and that he is now clear of infection, and of no danger to the other sheep; then with incredible expressions of joy all his brethren receive him, and set before him those perfumed banquets of Christian consolation; with precious ointments bathing and fomenting the old, and now to be forgotten stripes, which terror and shame had inflicted; and thus with heavenly solaces they cheer up his humble remorse, till he regain his first health and felicity. This is the approved way, which the gospel prescribes; these are the “spiritual weapons of holy censure, and ministerial warfare, not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” What could be done more for the healing and reclaiming that divine particle of God’s breathing, the soul, and what could be done less? he that would hide his faults from such a wholesome curing as this, and count it a twofold punishment, as some do, is like a man, that having foul diseases about him, perishes for shame, and the fear he has of a rigorous incision to come upon his flesh. We shall be Edition: current; Page: [83] able by this time to discern whether prelatical jurisdiction be contrary to the gospel or no. First, therefore, the government of the gospel being economical and paternal, that is, of such a family where there be no servants, but all sons in obedience, not in servility, as cannot be denied by him that lives but within the sound of Scripture; how can the prelates justify to have turned the fatherly orders of Christ’s household, the blessed meekness of his lowly roof, those ever-open and inviting doors of his dwelling house, which delight to be frequented with only filial accesses; how can they justify to have turned these domestic privileges into the bar of a proud judicial court, where fees and clamours keep shop and drive a trade, where bribery and corruption solicits, paltering the free and moneyless power of discipline with a carnal satisfaction by the purse? Contrition, humiliation, confession, the very sighs of a repentant spirit, are there sold by the penny. That undeflowered and unblemishable simplicity of the gospel, not she herself, for that could never be, but a false-whited, a lawny resemblance of her, like that air-born Helena in the fables, made by the sorcery of prelates, instead of calling her disciples from the receipt of custom, is now turned publican herself; and gives up her body to a mercenary whoredom under those fornicated arches, which she calls God’s house, and in the sight of those her altars, which she hath set up to be adored, makes merchandise of the bodies and souls of men. Rejecting purgatory for no other reason, as it seems, than because her greediness cannot defer, but had rather use the utmost extortion of redeemed penances in this life. But because these matters could not be thus carried without a begged and borrowed force from worldly authority, therefore prelaty, slighting the deliberate and chosen council of Christ in his spiritual government, whose glory is in the weakness of fleshly things, to tread upon the crest of the world’s pride and violence by the power of spiritual ordinances, hath on the contrary made these her friends and champions, which are Christ’s enemies in this his high design, smothering and extinguishing the spiritual force of his bodily weakness in the discipline of his church with the boisterous and carnal tyranny of an undue, unlawful, and ungospel-like jurisdiction. And thus prelaty, both in her fleshly supportments, in her carnal doctrine of ceremony and tradition, in her violent and secular power, going quite counter to the prime end of Christ’s coming in the flesh, that is, to reveal his truth, his glory, and his might, in a clean contrary manner than prelaty seeks to do, thwarting and defeating the great mystery of God; I do not conclude that prelaty is antichristian, for what need I? the things themselves conclude it. Yet if such like practices, and not many worse than these of our prelates, in that great darkness of the Roman church, have not exempted both her and her present members from being judged to be antichristian in all orthodoxal esteem; I cannot think but that it is the absolute voice of truth and all her children to pronounce this prelaty, and these her dark deeds in the midst of this great light wherein we live, to be more antichristian than antichrist himself.

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THE CONCLUSION.
The mischief that prelaty does in the state.

I add one thing more to those great ones that are so fond of prelaty: this is certain, that the gospel being the hidden might of Christ, as hath been heard, that ever a victorious power joined with it, like him in the Revelation that went forth on the white horse with his bow and his crown conquering and to conquer. If we let the angel of the gospel ride on his own way, he does his proper business, conquering the high thoughts, and the proud reasonings of the flesh, and brings them under to give obedience to Christ with the salvation of many souls. But if ye turn him out of his road, and in a manner force him to express his irresistible power by a doctrine of carnal might, as prelaty is, he will use that fleshly strength, which ye put into his hands, to subdue your spirits by a servile and blind superstition; and that again shall hold such dominion over your captive minds, as returning with an insatiate greediness and force upon your worldly wealth and power, wherewith to deck and magnify herself, and her false worships, he shall spoil and havoc your estates, disturb your ease, diminish your honour, enthral your liberty under the swelling mood of a proud clergy, who will not serve or feed your souls with spiritual food; look not for it, they have not wherewithal, or if they had, it is not in their purpose. But when they have glutted their ungrateful bodies, at least, if it be possible that those open sepulchres should ever be glutted, and when they have stuffed their idolish temples with the wasteful pillage of your estates, will they yet have any compassion upon you, and that poor pittance which they have left you; will they be but so good to you as that ravisher was to his sister, when he had used her at his pleasure; will they but only hate ye, and so turn ye loose? No, they will not, lords and commons, they will not favour ye so much. What will they do then, in the name of God and saints, what will these manhaters yet with more despite and mischief do? I will tell ye, or at least remember ye, (for most of ye know it already,) that they may want nothing to make them true merchants of Babylon, as they have done to your souls, they will sell your bodies, your wives, your children, your liberties, your parliaments, all these things; and if there be aught else dearer than these, they will sell at an outcry in their pulpits to the arbitrary and illegal dispose of any one that may hereafter be called a king, whose mind shall serve him to listen to their bargain. And by their corrupt and servile doctrines boring our ears to an everlasting slavery, as they have done hitherto, so will they yet do their best to repeal and erase every line and clause of both our great charters. Nor is this only what they will do, but what they hold as the main reason and mystery of their advancement that they must do; be the prince never so just and equal to his subjects, yet such are their malicious and depraved eyes, that they so look on him, and so understand him, as if he required no other gratitude or piece of service from them than this. And indeed they stand so opportunely for the disturbing or the destroying of a state, being a knot of creatures, whose dignities, means, and preferments have no foundation in the gospel as they themselves acknowledge, but only in the prince’s favour, and to continue so long to them, as by pleasing him they shall deserve: whence it must needs be they should bend all their intentions and services to no other ends but to his, that if it should happen that a tyrant (God Edition: current; Page: [85] turn such a scourge from us to our enemies) should come to grasp the sceptre, here were his spearmen and his lances, here were his firelocks ready, he should need no other pretorian band nor pensionary than these, if they could once with their perfidious preachments awe the people. For although the prelates in time of popery were sometimes friendly enough to Magna Charta, it was because they stood upon their own bottom, without their main dependence on the royal nod: but now being well acquainted that the protestant religion, if she will reform herself rightly by the Scriptures, must undress them of all their gilded vanities, and reduce them as they were at first, to the lowly and equal order of presbyters, they know it concerns them nearly to study the times more than the text, and to lift up their eyes to the hills of the court, from whence only comes their help; but if their pride grow weary of this crouching and observance, as ere long it would, and that yet their minds climb still to a higher ascent of worldly honour, this only refuge can remain to them, that they must of necessity contrive to bring themselves and us back again to the pope’s supremacy; and this we see they had by fair degrees of late been doing. These be the two fair supporters between which the strength of prelaty is borne up, either of inducing tyranny, or of reducing popery. Hence also we may judge that prelaty is mere falsehood. For the property of truth, is, where she is publicly taught to unyoke and set free the minds and spirits of a nation first from the thraldom of sin and superstition, after which all honest and legal freedom of civil life cannot be long absent; but prelaty, whom the tyrant custom begot, a natural tyrant in religion, and in state the agent and minister of tyranny, seems to have had this fatal gift in her nativity, like another Midas, that whatsoever she should touch, or come near either in ecclesial or political government, it should turn, not to gold, though she for her part could wish it, but to the dross and scum of slavery, breeding and settling both in the bodies and the souls of all such as do not in time, with the sovereign treacle of sound doctrine, provide to fortify their hearts against her hierarchy. The service of God who is truth, her liturgy confesses to be perfect freedom; but her works and her opinions declare, that the service of prelaty is perfect slavery, and by consequence perfect falsehood. Which makes me wonder much that many of the gentry, studious men as I hear, should engage themselves to write and speak publicly in her defence; but that I believe their honest and ingenuous natures coming to the universities to store themselves with good and solid learning, and there unfortunately fed with nothing else but the scragged and thorny lectures of monkish and miserable sophistry, were sent home again with such a scholastical bur in their throats, as hath stopped and hindered all true and generous philosophy from entering, cracked their voices for ever with metaphysical gargarisms, and hath made them admire a sort of formal outside men prelatically addicted, whose unchastened and unwrought minds were never yet initiated or subdued under the true lore of religion or moral virtue, which two are the best and greatest points of learning; but either slightly trained up in a kind of hypocritical and hackney course of literature to get their living by, and dazzle the ignorant, or else fondly over-studied in useless controversies, except those which they use with all the specious and delusive subtlety they are able, to defend their prelatical Sparta; having a gospel and church-government set before their eyes, as a fair field wherein they might exercise the greatest virtues and the greatest deeds of Christian authority, in mean fortunes and little furniture of this world; (which even the sage heathen writers, and those old Fabritii and Curii well knew to be a manner of working, than which nothing could Edition: current; Page: [86] liken a mortal man more to God, who delights most to work from within himself, and not by the heavy luggage of corporeal instruments;) they understand it not, and think no such matter, but admire and dote upon worldly riches and honours, with an easy and intemperate life, to the bane of Christianity: yea, they and their seminaries shame not to profess, to petition, and never leave pealing our ears, that unless we fat them like boars, and cram them as they list with wealth, with deaneries and pluralities, with baronies and stately preferments, all learning and religion will go underfoot. Which is such a shameless, such a bestial plea, and of that odious impudence in churchmen, who should be to us a pattern of temperance and frugal mediocrity, who should teach us to contemn this world and the gaudy things thereof, according to the promise which they themselves require from us in baptism, that should the Scripture stand by and be mute, there is not that sect of philosophers among the heathen so dissolute, no not Epicurus, nor Aristippus with all his Cyrenaic rout, but would shut his school-doors against such greasy sophisters; not any college of mountebanks, but would think scorn to discover in themselves with such a brazen forehead the outrageous desire of filthy lucre. Which the prelates make so little conscience of, that they are ready to fight, and if it lay in their power, to massacre all good Christians under the names of horrible schismatics, for only finding fault with their temporal dignities, their unconscionable wealth and revenues, their cruel authority over their brethren that labour in the word, while they snore in their luxurious excess: openly proclaiming themselves now in the sight of all men, to be those which for awhile they sought to cover under sheep’s clothing, ravenous and savage wolves, threatening inroads and bloody incursions upon the flock of Christ, which they took upon them to feed, but now claim to devour as their prey. More like that huge dragon of Egypt, breathing out waste and desolation to the land, unless he were daily fattened with virgin’s blood. Him our old patron St. George, by his matchless valour slew, as the prelate of the garter that reads his collect can tell. And if our princes and knights will imitate the fame of that old champion, as by their order of knighthood solemnly taken they vow, far be it that they should uphold and side with this English dragon; but rather to do as indeed their oaths bind them, they should make it their knightly adventure to pursue and vanquish this mighty sail-winged monster, that menaces to swallow up the land, unless her bottomless gorge may be satisfied with the blood of the king’s daughter the church; and may, as she was wont, fill her dark and infamous den with the bones of the saints. Nor will any one have reason to think this as too incredible or too tragical to be spoken of prelaty, if he consider well from what a mass of slime and mud the slothful, the covetous, and ambitious hopes of church-promotions and fat bishoprics, she is bred up and nuzzled in, like a great Python, from her youth, to prove the general poison both of doctrine and good discipline in the land. For certainly such hopes and such principles of earth as these wherein she welters from a young one, are the immediate generation both of a slavish and tyrannous life to follow, and a pestiferous contagion to the whole kingdom, till like that fenborn serpent she be shot to death with the darts of the sun, the pure and powerful beams of God’s word. And this may serve to describe to us in part, what prelaty hath been, and what, if she stand, she is like to be towards the whole body of people in England. Now that it may appear how she is not such a kind of evil, as hath any good or use in it, which many evils have, but a distilled quintessence, a pure elixir of mischief, peslilent alike to all; I shall show briefly, ere I conclude, that the prelates, as Edition: current; Page: [87] they are to the subjects a calamity, so are they the greatest underminers and betrayers of the monarch, to whom they seem to be most favourable. I cannot better liken the state and person of a king than to that mighty Nazarite Samson; who being disciplined from his birth in the precepts and the practice of temperance and sobriety, without the strong drink of injurious and excessive desires, grows up to a noble strength and perfection with those his illustrious and sunny locks, the laws, waving and curling about his godlike shoulders. And while he keeps them about him undiminished and unshorn, he may with the jawbone of an ass, that is, with the word of his meanest officer, suppress and put to confusion thousands of those that rise against his just power. But laying down his head among the strumpet flatteries of prelates, while he sleeps and thinks no harm, they wickedly shaving off all those bright and weighty tresses of his laws, and just prerogatives, which were his ornament and strength, deliver him over to indirect and violent counsels, which, as those Philistines, put out the fair and far-sighted eyes of his natural discerning, and make him grind in the prison-house of their sinister ends and practices upon him: till he, knowing this prelatical razor to have bereft him of his wonted might nourish again his puissant hair, the golden beams of law and right: and they sternly shook, thunder with ruin upon the heads of those his evil counsellors, but not without great affliction to himself. This is the sum of their loyal service to kings; yet these are the men that still cry, The king, the king, the Lord’s anointed. We grant it, and wonder how they came to light upon any thing so true; and wonder more, if kings be the Lord’s anointed, how they dare thus oil over and besmear so holy an unction with the corrupt and putrid ointment of their base flatteries; which, while they smooth the skin, strike inward and envenom the lifeblood. What fidelity kings can expect from prelates, both examples past, and our present experience of their doings at this day, whereon is grounded all that hath been said, may suffice to inform us. And if they be such clippers of regal power, and shavers of the laws, how they stand affected to the law-giving parliament, yourselves, worthy peers and commons, can best testify; the current of whose glorious and immortal actions hath been only opposed by the obscure and pernicious designs of the prelates, until their insolence broke out to such a bold affront, as hath justly immured their haughty looks within strong walls. Nor have they done any thing of late with more diligence, than to hinder or break the happy assembling of parliaments, however needful to repair the shattered and disjointed frame of the commonwealth; or if they cannot do this, to cross, to disenable, and traduce all parliamentary proceedings. And this, if nothing else, plainly accuses them to be no lawful members of the house, if they thus perpetually mutiny against their own body. And though they pretend, like Solomon’s harlot, that they have right thereto, by the same judgment that Solomon gave, it cannot belong to them, whenas it is not only their assent, but their endeavour continually to divide parliaments in twain; and not only by dividing, but by all other means to abolish and destroy the free use of them to all posterity. For the which, and for all their former misdeeds, whereof this book and many volumes more cannot contain the moiety, I shall move ye, lords, in the behalf I dare say of many thousand good Christians, to let your justice and speedy sentence pass against this great malefactor prelaty. And yet in the midst of rigour I would beseech ye to think of mercy; and such a mercy, (I fear I shall overshoot with a desire to save this falling prelaty,) such a mercy (if I may venture to say it) as may exceed that which for only ten righteous persons would have saved Sodom. Not that Edition: current; Page: [88] I shall advise ye to contend with God, whether he or you shall be more merciful, but in your wise esteems to balance the offences of those peccant cities with these enormous riots of ungodly misrule, that prelaty hath wrought both in the church of Christ, and in the state of this kingdom. And if ye think ye may with a pious presumption strive to go beyond God in mercy, I shall not be one now that would dissuade ye. Though God for less than ten just persons would not spare Sodom, yet if you can find, after due search, but only one good thing in prelaty, either to religion or civil government, to king or parliament, to prince or people, to law, liberty, wealth, or learning, spare her, let her live, let her spread among ye, till with her shadow all your dignities and honours, and all the glory of the land be darkened and obscured. But on the contrary, if she be found to be malignant, hostile, destructive to all these, as nothing can be surer, then let your severe and impartial doom imitate the divine vengeance; rain down your punishing force upon this godless and oppressing government, and bring such a Dead sea of subversion upon her, that she may never in this land rise more to afflict the holy reformed church, and the elect people of God.

ANIMADVERSIONS OPON THE REMONSTRANT’S DEFENCE AGAINST SMECTYMNUUS.

[first published 1641.]

THE PREFACE.

Although it be a certain truth, that they who undertake a religious cause need not care to be men pleasers; yet because the satisfaction of tender and mild consciences is far different from that which is called men pleasing; to satisfy such, I shall address myself in few words to give notice beforehand of something in this book, which to some men perhaps may seem offensive, that when I have rendered a lawful reason of what is done, I may trust to have saved the labour of defending or excusing hereafter. We all know that in private or personal injuries, yea, in public sufferings for the cause of Christ, his rule and example teaches us to be so far from a readiness to speak evil, as not to answer the reviler in his language, though never so much provoked: yet in the detecting and convincing of any notorious enemy to truth and his country’s peace, especially that is conceited to have a voluble and smart fluence of tongue, and in the vain confidence of that, and out of a more tenacious cling to worldly respects, stands up for all the rest to justify a long usurpation and convicted pseudepiscopy of prelates, with all their ceremonies, liturgies, and tyrannies, which God and man are now ready to explode and hiss out of the land; I suppose, and more than suppose, it will be nothing disagreeing from Christian meekness to handle such a one in a rougher accent, and to send home his haughtiness well bespurted with his own holy water. Nor to do thus are we unauthorized either Edition: current; Page: [89] from the moral precept of Solomon, to answer him thereafter that prides him in his folly; nor from the example of Christ, and all his followers in all ages, who, in the refuting of those that resisted sound doctrine, and by subtile dissimulations corrupted the minds of men, have wrought up their sealous souls into such vehemencies, as nothing could be more killingly spoken: for who can be a greater enemy to mankind, who a more dangerous deceiver, than he who, defending a traditional corruption, uses no common arts, but with a wily stratagem of yielding to the time a greater part of his cause, seeming to forego all that man’s invention hath done therein, and driven from much of his hold in Scripture; yet leaving it hanging by a twined thread, not from divine command, but from apostolical prudence or assent; as if he had the surety of some rolling trench, creeps up by this mean to his relinquished fortress of divine authority again, and still hovering between the confines of that which he dares not be openly, and that which he will not be sincerely, trains on the easy Christian insensibly within the close ambushment of worst errors, and with a sly shuffle of counterfeit principles, chopping and changing till he have gleaned all the good ones out of their minds, leaves them at last, after a slight resemblance of sweeping and garnishing, under the seven-fold possession of a desperate stupidity? And therefore they that love the souls of men, which is the dearest love, and stirs up the noblest jealousy, when they meet with such collusion, cannot be blamed though they be transported with the zeal of truth to a well-heated fervency; especially, seeing they which thus offend against the souls of their brethren, do it with delight to their great gain, ease and advancement in this world; but they that seek to discover and oppose their false trade of deceiving, do it not without a sad and unwilling anger, not without many hazards; but without all private and personal spleen, and without any thought of earthly reward, whenas this very course they take stops their hopes of ascending above a lowly and unenviable pitch in this life. And although in the serious uncasing of a grand imposture, (for to deal plainly with you, readers, prelaty is no better,) there be mixed here and there such a grim laughter, as may appear at the same time in an austere visage, it cannot be taxed of levity or insolence: for even this vein of laughing (as I could produce out of grave authors) hath ofttimes a strong and sinewy force in teaching and confuting, nor can there be a more proper object of indignation and scorn together; than a false prophet taken in the greatest, dearest, and most dangerous cheat, the cheat of souls: in the disclosing whereof, if it be harmful to be angry, and withal to cast a lowering smile, when the properest object calls for both, it will be long enough ere any be able to say why those two most rational faculties of human intellect, anger and laughter, were first seated in the breast of man. Thus much, readers, in favour of the softer spirited Christian; for other exceptioners there was no thought taken. Only if it be asked why this close and succinct manner of coping with the adversary was rather chosen, this was the reason chiefly, that the ingenuous reader, without further amusing himself in the labyrinth of controversial antiquity, may come to the speediest way to see the truth vindicated, and sophistry taken short at the first false bound. Next that the Remonstrant himself, as oft as he pleases to be frolic, and brave it with others, may find no gain of money, and may learn not to insult in so bad a cause. But now he begins.

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SECTION I.

Remonstrant.

My single remonstrance is encountered with a plural adversary.

Answer.

Did not your single remonstrance bring along with it a hot scent of your more than singular affection to spiritual pluralities, your singleness would be less suspected with all good Christians than it is.

Remonst.

Their names, persons, qualities, numbers, I care not to know.

Answ.

Their names are known to the all-knowing Power above; and in the mean while, doubtless, they reck not whether you or your nomenclator know them or not.

Remonst.

But could they say my name is Legion, for we are many.

Answ.

Wherefore should ye begin with the devil’s name, descanting upon the number of your opponents? Wherefore that conceit of Legion with a by-wipe? Was it because you would have men take notice how you esteem them, whom through all your book so bountifully you call your brethren? We had not thought that Legion could have furnished the Remonstrant with so many brethren.

Remonst.

My cause, ye gods would bid me meet them undismayed, &c.

Answ.

Ere a foot further we must be content to hear a preambling boast of your valour, what a St. Dunstan you are to encounter Legions, either infernal or human.

Remonst.

My cause, ye gods.

Answ.

What gods? Unless your belly, or the god of this world be he? Show us any one point of your remonstrance that does not more concern superiority, pride, ease, and the belly, than the truth and glory of God, or the salvation of souls.

Remonst.

My cause, ye gods, would bid me meet them undismayed, and to say with holy David, “though a host, &c.”

Answ.

Do not think to persuade us of your undaunted courage, by misapplying to yourself the words of holy David; we know you fear, and are in an agony at this present, lest you should lose that superfluity of riches and honour, which your party usurp. And whosoever covets, and so earnestly labours to keep such an incumbering surcharge of earthly things, cannot but have an earthquake still in his bones. You are not armed, Remonstrant, nor any of your band; you are not dieted nor your loins girt for spiritual valour, and Christian warfare; the luggage is too great that follows your camp; your hearts are there, you march heavily: how shall we think you have not carnal fear, while we see you so subject to carnal desires?

Remonst.

I do gladly fly to the bar.

Answ.

To the bar with him then. Gladly, you say. We believe you as gladly as your whole faction wished and longed for the assembling of this parliament, as gladly as your beneficiaries the priests came up to answer the complaints and outcries of all the shires.

Remonst.

The Areopagi! who were those? Truly, my masters, I had thought this had been the name of the place, not of the men.

Answ.

A soar-eagle would not stoop at a fly; but sure some pedagogue stood at your elbow, and made it itch with this parlous criticism; they urged you with a decree of the sage and severe judges of Athens, and you cite them to appear for certain paragogical contempts, before a capacious pedanty of hot-livered grammarians. Mistake not the matter, courteous Remonstrant; they were not making Latin: if in dealing with an outlandish name, they thought it best not to screw the English mouth to a harsh foreign termination, Edition: current; Page: [91] so they kept the radical word, they did no more than the elegantest authors among the Greeks, Romans, and at this day the Italians, in scorn of such a servility use to do. Remember how they mangle our British names abroad; what trespass were it, if we in requital should as much neglect theirs? And our learned Chaucer did not stick to do so, writing Semyramis for Semiramis, Amphiorax for Amphiaraus, K. Sejes for K. Ceyx the husband of Alcyone, with many other names strangely metamorphosed from the true orthography, if he had made any account of that in these kind of words.

Remonst.

Lest the world should think the press had of late forgot to speak any language other than libellous, this honest paper hath broken through the throng.

Answ.

Mince the matter while you will, it showed but green practice in the laws of discreet rhetoric to blurt upon the ears of a judicious parliament with such a presumptuous and overweening proem: but you do well to be the fewer of your own mess.

Remonst.

That which you miscall the preface, was a too just complaint of the shameful number of libels.

Answ.

How long is it that you and the prelatical troop have been in such distaste with libels? Ask your Lysimachus Nicanor what defaming invectives have lately flown abroad against the subjects of Scotland, and our poor expulsed brethren of New England, the prelates rather applauding than showing any dislike: and this hath been ever so, insomuch that Sir Francis Bacon in one of his discourses complains of the bishops, uneven hand over these pamphlets, confining those against bishops to darkness, but licensing those against puritans to be uttered openly, though with the greater mischief of leading into contempt the exercise of religion in the persons of sundry preachers, and disgracing the higher matter in the meaner person.

Remonst.

A point no less essential to that proposed remonstrance.

Answ.

We know where the shoe wrings you; you fret and are galled at the quick; and O what a death it is to the prelates to be thus unvisarded, thus uncased, to have the periwigs plucked off that cover your baldness, your inside nakedness thrown open to public view! The Romans had a time once every year, when their slaves might freely speak their minds; it were hard if the freeborn people of England, with whom the voice of truth for these many years, even against the proverb, hath not been heard but in corners, after all your monkish prohibitions, and expurgatorious indexes, your gags and snaffles, your proud Imprimaturs not to be obtained without the shallow surview, but not shallow hand of some mercenary, narrow-souled, and illiterate chaplain; when liberty of speaking, than which nothing is more sweet to man, was girded and strait-laced almost to a broken-winded phthisic, if now at a good time, our time of parliament, the very jubilee and resurrection of the state, if now the concealed, the aggrieved, and long persecuted truth, could not be suffered to speak; and though she burst out with some efficacy of words, could not be excused after such an injurious strangle of silence, nor avoid the censure of libelling, it were hard, it were something pinching in a kingdom of free spirit. Some princes, and great statists, have thought it a prime piece of necessary policy, to thrust themselves under disguise into a popular throng, to stand the night long under eaves of houses, and low windows, that they might hear every where the utterances of private breasts, and amongst them find out the precious gem of truth, as amongst the numberless pebbles of the shore; whereby they might be the abler to discover, and avoid, that deceitful and close-couched Edition: current; Page: [92] evil of flattery that ever attends them, and misleads them, and might skilfully know how to apply the several redresses to each malady of state, without trusting the disloyal information of parasites and sycophants: whereas now this permission of free writing, were there no good else in it, yet at some times thus licensed, is such an unripping, such an anatomy of the shyest and tenderest particular truths, as makes not only the whole nation in many points the wiser, but also presents and carries home to princes, men most remote from vulgar concourse, such a full insight of every lurking evil, or restrained good among the commons, as that they shall not need hereafter, in old cloaks and false beards, to stand to the courtesy of a nightwalking cudgeller for eaves-dropping, nor to accept quietly as a perfume, the overhead emptying of some salt lotion. Who could be angry, therefore, but those that are guilty, with these free-spoken and plain-hearted men, that are the eyes of their country, and the prospective-glasses of their prince? But these are the nettlers, these are the blabbing books that tell, though not half your fellows’ feats. You love toothless satires; let me inform you, a toothless satire is as improper as a toothed sleek-stone, and as bullish.

Remonst.

I beseech you, brethren, spend your logic upon your own works.

Answ.

The peremptory analysis that you call it, I believe will be so hardy as once more to unpin your spruce fastidious oratory, to rumple her laces, her frizzles, and her bobbins, though she wince and fling never so peevishly.

Remonst.

Those verbal exceptions are but light froth and will sink alone.

Answ.

O rare subtlety, beyond all that Cardan ever dreamed of! when, I beseech you, will light things sink? when will light froth sink alone? Here in your phrase, the same day that heavy plummets will swim alone. Trust this man, readers, if you please, whose divinity would reconcile England with Rome, and his philosophy make friends nature with the chaos, sine pondere habentia pondus.

Remonst.

That scum may be worth taking off which follows.

Answ.

Spare your ladle, sir; it will be as the bishop’s foot in the broth; the scum will be found upon your own remonstrance.

Remonst.

I shall desire all indifferent eyes to judge, whether these men do not endeavour to cast unjust envy upon me.

Answ.

Agreed.

Remonst.

I had said that the civil polity, as in general notion, hath sometimes varied, and that the civil came from arbitrary imposers; these gracious interpreters would needs draw my words to the present and particular government of our monarchy.

Answ.

And deservedly have they done so; take up your logic else and see: civil polity, say you, hath sometimes varied, and come from arbitrary imposers; what proposition is this? Bishop Downam in his dialectics will tell you it is a general axiom, though the universal particle be not expressed, and you yourself in your defence so explain in these words as in general notion. Hence is justly inferred, he that says civil polity is arbitrary, says that the civil polity of England is arbitrary. The inference is undeniable, a thesi ad hypothesin, or from the general to the particular, an evincing argument in logic.

Remonst.

Brethren, whiles ye desire to seem godly, learn to be less malicious.

Answ.

Remonstrant, till you have better learnt your principles of logic, take not upon you to be a doctor to others.

Edition: current; Page: [93]
Remonst.

God bless all good men from such charity.

Answ.

I never found that logical maxims were uncharitable before; yet should a jury of logicians pass upon you, you would never be saved by the book.

Remonst.

And our sacred monarchy from such friends.

Answ.

Add, as the prelates.

Remonst.

If episcopacy have yoked monarchy, it is the insolence of the persons, not the fault of the calling.

Answ.

It was the fault of the persons, and of no calling; we do not count prelaty a calling.

Remonst.

The testimony of a pope (whom these men honour highly).

Answ.

That slanderous insertion was doubtless a pang of your incredible charity, the want whereof you lay so often to their charge; a kind token of your favour lapped up in a parenthesis; a piece of the clergy benevolence laid by to maintain the episcopal broil, whether the 1000 horse or no, time will discover: for certainly had those cavaliers come on to play their parts, such a ticket as this of highly honouring the pope, from the hand of a prelate, might have been of special use and safety to them that had cared for such a ransom.

Remonst.

And what says Antichrist?

Answ.

Ask your brethren the prelates, that hold intelligence with him: ask not us. But is the pope Antichrist now? Good news! take heed you be not shent for this; for it is verily thought, that had this bill been put in against him in your last convocation, he would have been cleared by most voices.

Remonst.

Any thing serves against episcopacy.

Answ.

See the frowardness of this man; he would persuade us, that the succession and divine right of bishopdom hath been unquestionable through all ages; yet when they bring against him kings, they were irreligious; popes, they are Antichrist. By what era of computation, through what fairy land, would the man deduce this perpetual beadroll of uncontradicted episcopacy? The pope may as well boast his ungainsaid authority to them that will believe, that all his contradicters were either irreligious or heretical.

Remonst.

If the bishops, saith the pope, be declared to be of divine right, they would be exempted from regal power; and if there might be this danger in those kingdoms, why is this enviously upbraided to those of ours? who do gladly profess, &c.

Answ.

Because your dissevered principles were but like the mangled pieces of a gashed serpent, that now begun to close, and grow together popish again. Whatsoever you now gladly profess out of fear, we know what your drifts were when you thought yourselves secure.

Remonst.

It is a foul slander to charge the name of episcopacy with a faction, for the fact imputed to some few.

Answ.

The more foul your faction that hath brought a harmless name into obloquy, and the fact may justly be imputed to all of ye that ought to have withstood it, and did not.

Remonst.

Fie, brethren! are ye the presbyters of the church of England, and dare challenge episcopacy of faction?

Answ.

Yes, as oft as episcopacy dares be factious.

Remonst.

Had you spoken such a word in the time of holy Cyprian, what had become of you?

Answ.

They had neither been haled into your Gehenna at Lambeth, nor strapadoed with an oath ex officio by your bowmen of the arches: and as for Cyprian’s time the cause was far unlike; he indeed succeeded into Edition: current; Page: [94] an episcopacy that began then to prelatize; but his personal excellence like an antidote overcame the malignity of that breeding corruption, which was then a disease that lay hid for a while under show of a full and healthy constitution, as those hydropic humours not discernible at first from a fair and juicy fleshiness of body, or that unwonted ruddy colour, which seems graceful to a cheek otherwise pale; and yet arises from evil causes, either of some inward obstruction or inflammation, and might deceive the first physicians till they had learned the sequel, which Cyprian’s days did not bring forth; and the prelatism of episcopacy, which began then to burgeon and spread, had as yet, especially in famous men, a fair, though a false imitation of flourishing.

Remonst.

Neither is the wrong less to make application of that which was most justly charged upon the practices and combinations of libelling separatists, whom I deservedly censured, &c.

Answ.

To conclude this section, our Remonstrant we see is resolved to make good that which was formerly said of his book, that it was neither humble nor a remonstrance, and this his defence is of the same complexion. When he is constrained to mention the notorious violence of his clergy attempted on the church of Scotland, he slightly terms it a fact imputed to some few; but when he speaks of that which the parliament vouchsafes to name the city petition, “which I,” saith he, (as if the state had made him public censor,) “deservedly censured.” And how? As before for a tumultuary and underhand way of procured subscriptions, so now in his defence more bitterly, as the practices and combinations of libelling separatists, and the miszealous advocates thereof, justly to be branded for incendiaries. Whether this be for the honour of our chief city to be noted with such an infamy for a petition, which not without some of the magistrates, and great numbers of sober and considerable men, was orderly and meekly presented, although our great clerks think that these men, because they have a trade, (as Christ himself and St. Paul had,) cannot therefore attain to some good measure of knowledge, and to a reason of their actions, as well as they that spend their youth in loitering, bezzling, and harlotting, their studies in unprofitable questions and barbarous sophistry, their middle age in ambition and idleness, their old age in avarice, dotage, and diseases. And whether this reflect not with a contumely upon the parliament itself, which thought this petition worthy, not only of receiving, but of voting to a commitment, after it had been advocated, and moved for by some honourable and learned gentleman of the house, to be called a combination of libelling separatists, and the advocates thereof to be branded for incendiaries; whether this appeach not the judgment and approbation of the parliament I leave to equal arbiters.

SECTION II.

Remonst.

After the overflowing of your gall, you descend to liturgy and episcopacy.

Answ.

The overflow being past, you cannot now in your own judgment impute any bitterness to their following discourses.

Remonst.

Dr. Hall, whom you name I dare say for honour’s sake.

Answ.

You are a merry man, sir, and dare say much.

Remonst.

And why should not I speak of martyrs, as the authors and users of this holy liturgy?

Edition: current; Page: [95]
Answ.

As the authors! the translators, you might perhaps have said: for Edward the Sixth, as Hayward hath written in his story, will tell you upon the word of a king, that the order of the service, and the use thereof in the English tongue, is no other than the old service was, and the same words in English which were in Latin, except a few things omitted, so fond, that it had been a shame to have heard them in English; these are his words: whereby we are left uncertain who the author was, but certain that part of the work was esteemed so absurd by the translators thereof, as was to be ashamed of in English. O but the martyrs were the refiners of it, for that only is left you to say. Admit they were, they could not refine a scorpion into a fish, though they had drawn it, and rinsed it with never so cleanly cookery, which made them fall at variance among themselves about the use either of it, or the ceremonies belonging to it.

Remonst.

Slight you them as you please, we bless God for such patrons of our good cause.

Answ.

O Benedicite! Qui color ater erat, nunc est contrarius atro. Are not these they which one of your bishops in print scornfully terms the Foxian confessors? Are not these they whose acts and monuments are not only so contemptible, but so hateful to the prelates, that their story was almost come to be a prohibited book, which for these two or three editions hath crept into the world by stealth, and at times of advantage, not without the open regret and vexation of the bishops, as many honest men that had to do in setting forth the book will justify? And now at a dead lift for your liturgies you bless God for them: out upon such hypocrisy!

Remonst.

As if we were bound to make good every word that falls from the mouth of every bishop.

Answ.

Your faction then belike is a subtile Janus, and hath two faces: your bolder face to set forward any innovations or scandals in the church, your cautious and wary face to disavow them if they succeed not, that so the fault may not light upon the function, lest it should spoil the whole plot by giving it an irrecoverable wound. Wherefore else did you not long ago, as a good bishop should have done, disclaim and protest against them? Wherefore have you sat still, and complied and hood-winked, till the general complaints of the land have squeezed you to a wretched, cold, and hollow-hearted confession of some prelatical riots both in this and other places of your book? Nay, what if you still defend them as follows?

Remonst.

If a bishop have said that our liturgy hath been so wisely and charitably framed, as that the devotion of it yieldeth no cause of offence to a very pope’s ear.

Answ.

O new and never heard of supererogative height of wisdom and charity in our liturgy! Is the wisdom of God or the charitable framing of God’s word otherwise inoffensive to the pope’s ear, than as he may turn it to the working of his mysterious iniquity? A little pulley would have stretched your wise and charitable frame it may be three inches further, that the devotion of it might have yielded no cause of offence to the very devil’s ear, and that had been the same wisdom and charity surmounting to the highest degree. For Antichrist we know is but the devil’s vicar, and therefore please him with your liturgy, and you please his master.

Remonst.

Would you think it requisite, that we should chide and quarrel when we speak to the God of peace?

Answ.

Fie, no sir; but forecast our prayers so, that Satan and his instruments may take as little exception against them as may be, lest they should chide and quarrel with us.

Edition: current; Page: [96]
Remonst.

It is no little advantage to our cause and piety, that our liturgy is taught to speak several languages for use and example.

Answ.

The language of Ashdod is one of them, and that makes so many Englishmen have such a smattering of their Philistian mother. And indeed our liturgy hath run up and down the world like an English galloping nun proffering herself, but we hear of none yet that bids money for her.

Remonst.

As for that sharp censure of learned Mr. Calvin, it might well have been forborn by him in aliena republica.

Answ.

Thus this untheological remonstrant would divide the individual catholic church into several republics: know, therefore, that every worthy pastor of the church of Christ hath universal right to admonish over all the world within the church; nor can that care be aliened from him by any distance or distinction of nation, so long as in Christ all nations and languages are as one household.

Remonst.

Neither would you think it could become any of our greatest divines, to meddle with his charge.

Answ.

It hath ill become them indeed, to meddle so maliciously, as many of them have done, though that patient and Christian city hath borne hitherto all their profane scoffs with silence.

Remonst.

Our liturgy passed the judgment of no less reverend heads than his own.

Answ.

It bribed their judgments with worldly engagements, and so passed it.

Remonst.

As for that unparalleled discourse concerning the antiquity of liturgies, I cannot help your wonder, but shall justify mine own assertion.

Answ.

Your justification is but a miserable shifting off those testimonies of the ancientest fathers alleged against you, and the authority of some synodal canons which are now arrant to us. We profess to decide our controversies only by the Scriptures; but yet to repress your vain-glory, there will be voluntarily bestowed upon you a sufficient conviction of your novelties out of succeeding antiquity.

Remonst.

I cannot see how you will avoid your own contradiction, for I demand, is this order of praying and administration set, or no? If it be not set, how is it an order? And if it be a set order both for matter and form—

Answ.

Remove that form, lest you tumble over it, while you make such haste to clap a contradiction upon others.

Remonst.

If the forms were merely arbitrary, to what use was the prescription of an order.

Answ.

Nothing will cure this man’s understanding but some familiar and kitchen physic, which, with pardon, must for plainness’ sake be administered to him. Call hither your cook. The order of breakfast, dinner, and supper, answer me, is it set or no? Set. Is a man therefore bound in the morning to poached eggs and vinegar, or at noon to brawn or beef, or at night to fresh salmon, and French kickshose? May he not make his meals in order, though he be not bound to this or that viand? Doubtless the neat-fingered artist will answer yes, and help us out of this great controversy without more trouble. Can we not understand an order in church-assemblies of praying, reading, expounding, and administering, unless our prayers be still the same crambe of words?

Remonst.

What a poor exception is this, that liturgies were composed by some particular men?

Answ.

It is a greater presumption in any particular men to arrogate to themselves, that which God universally gives to all his ministers. A minister Edition: current; Page: [97] that cannot be trusted to pray in his own words without being chewed to, and fescued to a formal injunction of his rote lesson, should as little be trusted to preach, besides the vain babble of praying over the same things immediately again; for there is a large difference in the repetition of some pathetical ejaculation raised out of the sudden earnestness and vigour of the inflamed soul, (such as was that of Christ in the garden,) from the continual rehearsal of our daily orisons; which if a man shall kneel down in a morning, and say over, and presently in another part of the room kneel down again, and in other words ask but still for the same things as it were out of one inventory, I cannot see how he will escape that heathenish battology of multiplying words, which Christ himself, that has the putting up of our prayers, told us would not be acceptable in heaven. Well may men of eminent gifts set forth as many forms and helps to prayer as they please; but to impose them on ministers lawfully called, and sufficiently tried, as all ought to be ere they be admitted, is a supercilious tyranny, impropriating the Spirit of God to themselves.

Remonst.

Do we abridge this liberty by ordaining a public form?

Answ.

Your bishops have set as fair to do it as they durst for that old pharisaical fear that still dogs them, the fear of the people; though you will say you are none of those, still you would seem not to have joined with the worst, and yet keep aloof off from that which is best. I would you would either mingle, or part: most true it is what Savanarola complains, that while he endeavoured to reform the church, his greatest enemies were still these lukewarm ones.

Remonst.

And if the Lord’s prayer be an ordinary and stinted form, why not others?

Answ.

Because there be no other Lords, that can stint with like authority.

Remonst.

If Justin Martyr said, that the instructor of the people prayed (as they falsely term it) “according to his ability.”

Answ.

“Οση δύναμις ἀυτῷ will be so rendered to the world’s end by those that are not to learn Greek of the Remonstrant; and so Langus renders it to his face, if he could see; and this ancient father mentions no antiphonies or responsories of the people here, but the only plain acclamation of Amen.

Remonst.

The instructor of the people prayed according to his ability, it is true; so do ours: and yet we have a liturgy, and so had they.

Answ.

A quick come-off. The ancients used pikes and targets, and therefore guns and great ordnance, because we use both.

Remonst.

Neither is this liberty of pouring out ourselves in our prayers ever the more impeached by a public form.

Answ.

Yes, the time is taken up with a tedious number of liturgical tautologies, and impertinences.

Remonst.

The words of the council are full and affirmative.

Answ.

Set the grave councils up upon their shelves again, and string them hard, lest their various and jangling opinions put their leaves into a flutter. I shall not intend this hot season to bid you the base through the wide and dusty champaign of the councils, but shall take counsel of that which counselled them, reason: and although I know there is an obsolete reprehension now at your tongue’s end, yet I shall be bold to say, that reason is the gift of God in one man as well as in a thousand: by that which we have tasted already of their cisterns, we may find that reason was the only thing, and not any divine command that moved them to enjoin set forms of liturgy. First, lest any thing in general might be missaid in their public prayers through ignorance, or want of care, contrary to the faith: and next, Edition: current; Page: [98] lest the Arians, and Pelagians in particular, should infect the people by their hymns, and forms of prayer. By the leave of these ancient fathers, this was no solid prevention of spreading heresy, to debar the ministers of God the use of their noblest talent, prayer in the congregation; unless they had forbid the use of sermons, and lectures too, but such as were ready made to their hands, as our homilies: or else he that was heretically disposed, had as fair an opportunity of infecting in his discourse as in his prayer or hymn. As insufficiently, and to say truth, as imprudently, did they provide by their contrived liturgies, lest any thing should be erroneously prayed through ignorance, or want of care in the ministers. For if they were careless and ignorant in their prayers, certainly they would be more careless in their preaching, and yet more careless in watching over their flock; and what prescription could reach to bound them both in these? What if reason, now illustrated by the word of God, shall be able to produce a better prevention than these councils have left us against heresy, ignorance, or want of care in the ministry, that such wisdom and diligence be used in the education of those that would be ministers, and such strict and serious examination to be undergone, ere their admission, as St. Paul to Timothy sets down at large, and then they need not carry such an unworthy suspicion over the preachers of God’s word, as to tutor their unsoundness with the *Abcie of a liturgy or to diet their ignorance, and want of care, with the limited draught of a matin, and even-song drench. All this may suffice after all their laboursome scrutiny of the councils.

Remonst.

Our Saviour was pleased to make use in the celebration of his last and heavenly banquet both of the fashions and words which were usual in the Jewish feasts.

Answ.

What he pleased to make use of does not justify what you please to force.

Remonst.

The set forms of prayer at the Mincha.

Answ.

We will not buy your rabbinical fumes; we have one that calls us to buy of him pure gold tried in the fire.

Remonst.

In the Samaritan chronicle.

Answ.

As little do we esteem your Samaritan trumpery, of which people Christ himself testifies, Ye worship ye know not what.

Remonst.

They had their several songs.

Answ.

And so have we our several psalms for several occasions without gramercy to your liturgy.

Remonst.

Those forms which we have under the names of Saint James, &c., though they have some insertions which are plainly spurious, yet the substance of them cannot be taxed for other than holy and ancient.

Answ.

Setting aside the odd coinage of your phrase, which no mint-master of language would allow for sterling, that a thing should be taxed for no other than holy and ancient, let it be supposed the substance of them may savour of something holy or ancient, this is but the matter; the form, and the end of the thing, may yet render it either superstitious, fruitless, or impious, and so worthy to be rejected. The garments of a strumpet are often the same, materially, that clothe a chaste matron, and yet ignominious for her to wear: the substance of the tempter’s words to our Saviour were holy, but his drift nothing less.

Remonst.

In what sense we hold the Roman a true church, is so cleared that the iron is too hot for their fingers.

Answ.

Have a care it be not the iron to sear your own conscience.

Edition: current; Page: [99]
Remonst.

You need not doubt but that the alteration of the liturgy will be considered by wiser heads than your own.

Answ.

We doubt it not, because we know your head looks to be one.

Remonst.

Our liturgy symbolizeth not with popish mass, neither as mass nor as popish.

Answ.

A pretty slipskin conveyance to sift mass into no mass, and popish into not popish; yet saving this passing fine sophistical boulting hutch, so long as she symbolizes in form, and pranks herself in the weeds of popish mass, it may be justly feared she provokes the jealousy of God, no otherwise than a wife affecting whorish attire kindles a disturbance in the eye of her discerning husband.

Remonst.

If I find gold in the channel, shall I throw it away because it was ill laid?

Answ.

You have forgot that gold hath been anathematized for the idolatrous use; and to eat the good creatures of God once offered to idols, is in St. Paul’s account to have fellowship with devils, and to partake of the devil’s table. And thus you throttle yourself with your own similes.

Remonst.

If the devils confessed the Son of God, shall I disclaim that truth?

Answ.

You sifted not so clean before, but you shuffle as foully now; as if there were the like necessity of confessing Christ, and using the liturgy: we do not disclaim that truth, because we never believed it for their testimony; but we may well reject a liturgy which had no being that we can know of, but from the corruptest times: if therefore the devil should be given never so much to prayer, I should not therefore cease from that duty, because I learned it not from him; but if he would commend to me a new Pater-noster, though never so seemingly holy, he should excuse me the form which was his; but the matter, which was none of his, he could not give me, nor I be said to take it from him. It is not the goodness of matter therefore which is not, nor can be owed to the liturgy, that will bear it out, if the form, which is the essence of it, be fantastic and superstitious, the end sinister, and the imposition violent.

Remonst.

Had it been composed into this frame on purpose to bring papists to our churches.

Answ.

To bring them to our churches? alas, what was that? unless they had been first fitted by repentance, and right instruction. You will say, the word was there preached, which is the means of conversion; you should have given so much honour then to the word preached, as to have left it to God’s working without the interloping of a liturgy baited for them to bite at.

Remonst.

The project had been charitable and gracious.

Answ.

It was pharisaical, and vain-glorious, a greedy desire to win proselytes by conforming to them unlawfully; like the desire of Tamar, who, to raise up seed to her husband, sate in the common road drest like a courtezan, and he that came to her committed incest with her. This was that which made the old Christians paganize, while by their scandalous and base conforming to heathenism they did no more, when they had done their utmost, but bring some pagans to Christianize; for true Christians they neither were themselves, nor could make other such in this fashion.

Remonst.

If there be found aught in liturgy that may endanger a scandal, it is under careful hands to remove it.

Answ.

Such careful hands as have shown themselves sooner bent to remove and expel the men from the scandals, than the scandals from the men, and to lose a soul rather than a syllable or a surplice.

Edition: current; Page: [100]
Remonst.

It is idolized they say in England, they mean at Amsterdam.

Answ.

Be it idolized therefore where it will, it is only idolatrized in England.

Remonst.

Multitudes of people they say distaste it; more shame for those that have so mistaught them.

Answ.

More shame for those that regard not the troubling God’s church with things by themselves confessed to be indifferent, since true charity is afflicted, and burns at the offence of every little one. As for the Christian multitude which you affirm to be so mistaught, it is evident enough, though you would declaim never so long to the contrary, that God hath now taught them to detest your liturgy and prelacy; God who hath promised to teach all his children, and to deliver them out of your hands that hunt and worry their souls: hence is it that a man shall commonly find more savoury knowledge in one layman, than in a dozen of cathedral prelates; as we read in our Saviour’s time that the common people had a reverend esteem of him, and held him a great prophet, whilst the gowned rabbies, the incomparable and invincible doctors, were of opinion that he was a friend of Beelzebub.

Remonst.

If the multitude distaste wholesome doctrine, shall we, to humour them, abandon it?

Answ.

Yet again! as if they were like necessity of saving doctrine, and arbitrary, if not unlawful, or inconvenient liturgy: who would have thought a man could have thwacked together so many incongruous similitudes, had it not been to defend the motley incoherence of a patched missal?

Remonst.

Why did not other churches conform to us? I may boldly say ours was, and is, the more noble church.

Answ.

O Laodicean, how vainly and how carnally dost thou boast of nobleness and precedency! more lordly you have made our church indeed, but not more noble.

Remonst.

The second quære is so weak, that I wonder it could fall from the pens of wise men.

Answ.

You but are a bad fencer, for you never make a proffer against another man’s weakness; but you leave your own side always open: mark what follows.

Remonst.

Brethren, can ye think that our reformers had any other intentions than all the other founders of liturgies, the least part of whose care was the help of the minister’s weakness?

Answ.

Do you not perceive the noose you have brought yourself into, whilst you were so brief to taunt other men with weakness? Is it clean out of your mind what you cited from among the councils; that the principal scope of those liturgy-founders was to prevent either the malice or the weakness of the ministers; their malice, of infusing heresy in their forms of prayer; their weakness, lest something might be composed by them through ignorance or want of care contrary to the faith? Is it not now rather to be wondered, that such a weakness could fall from the pen of such a wise remonstrant man?

Remonst.

Their main drift was the help of the people’s devotion, that they knowing before the matter that should be sued for,—

Answ.

A solicitous care, as if the people could be ignorant of the matter to be prayed for; seeing the heads of public prayer are either ever constant, or very frequently the same.

Remonst.

And the words wherewith it should be clothed, might be the more prepared, and be so much the more intent and less distracted.

Answ.

As for the words, it is more to be feared lest the same continually Edition: current; Page: [101] should make them careless or sleepy, than that variety on the same known subject should distract; variety (as both music and rhetoric teacheth us) erects and rouses an auditory, like the masterful running over many chords and divisions; whereas if men should ever be thumbing the drone of one plain song, it would be a dull opiate to the most wakeful attention.

Remonst.

Tell me, is this liturgy good or evil?

Answ.

It is evil; repair the acheloian horn of your dilemma how you can, against the next push.

Remonst.

If it be evil, it is unlawful to be used.

Answ.

We grant you, and we find you have not your salve about you.

Remonst.

Were the imposition amiss, what is that to the people?

Answ.

Not a little, because they bear an equal part with the priest in many places, and have their cues and verses as well as he.

Remonst.

The ears and hearts of our people look for a settled liturgy.

Answ.

You deceive yourself in their ears and hearts; they look for no such matter.

Remonst.

The like answer serves for homilies, surely they were enjoined to all, &c.

Answ.

Let it serve for them that will be ignorant; we know that Hayward their own creature writes, that for defect of preachers, homilies were appointed to be read in churches, while Edward VI. reigned.

Remonst.

Away then with the book, whilst it may be supplied with a more profitable nonsense.

Answ.

Away with it rather, because it will be hardly supplied with a more unprofitable nonsense, than is in some passages of it to be seen.

SECTION III.

Remonst.

Thus their cavils concerning liturgy are vanished.

Answ.

You wanted but hey pass, to have made your transition like a mystical man of Sturbridge. But for all your sleight of hand, our just exceptions against liturgy are not vanished; they stare you still in the face.

Remonst.

Certainly had I done so, I had been no less worthy to be spitten upon for my saucy uncharitableness, than they are now for their uncharitable falsehood.

Answ.

We see you are in a choler, therefore, till you cool awhile we turn us to the ingenuous reader. See how this Remonstrant would invest himself conditionally with all the rheum of the town, that he might have sufficient to bespaul his brethren. They are accused by him of uncharitable falsehood, whereas their only crime hath been, that they have too credulously thought him, if not an over-logical, yet a well-meaning man; but now we find him either grossly deficient in his principles of logic, or else purposely bent to delude the parliament with equivocal sophistry, scattering among his periods ambiguous words, whose interpretation he will afterwards dispense according to his pleasure, laying before us universal propositions, and then thinks when he will to pinion them with a limitation: for say, Remonstrant,

Remonst.

Episcopal government is cried down abroad by either weak or factious persons.

Answ.

Choose you whether you will have this proposition proved to you to be ridiculous or sophistical; for one of the two it must be. Step again to bishop Downam your patron, and let him gently catechise you in Edition: current; Page: [102] the grounds of logic; he will show you that this axiom, “episcopal government is cried down abroad by either weak or factious persons,” is as much as to say, they that cry down episcopacy abroad, are either weak or factious persons. He will tell you that this axiom contains a distribution, and that all such axioms are general; and lastly, that the distribution in which any part is wanting, or abundant, is faulty, and fallacious. If therefore distributing by the adjuncts of faction and weakness, the persons that decry episcopacy, and you made your distribution imperfect for the nonce, you cannot but be guilty of fraud intended toward the honourable court to whom you wrote. If you had rather vindicate your honesty, and suffer in your want of art you cannot condemn them of uncharitable falsehood, that attributed to you more skill than you had, thinking you had been able to have made a distribution, as it ought to be, general and full; and so any man would take it, the rather as being accompanied with that large word, (abroad,) and so take again either your manifest leasing, or manifest ignorance.

Remonst.

Now come these brotherly slanderers.

Answ.

Go on, dissembling Joab, as still your use is, call brother and smite; call brother and smite, till it be said of you, as the like was of Herod, a man had better be your hog than your brother.

Remonst.

Which never came within the verge of my thoughts.

Answ.

Take a metaphor or two more as good, the precinct, or the diocese of your thoughts.

Remonst.

Brethren, if you have any remainders of modesty or truth, cry God mercy.

Answ.

Remonstrant, if you have no groundwork of logic, or plain dealing in you, learn both as fast as you can.

Remonst.

Of the same strain is their witty descant of my confoundedness.

Answ.

Speak no more of it, it was a fatal word that God put into your mouth when you began to speak for episcopacy, as boding confusion to it.

Remonst.

I am still, and shall ever be thus self-confounded, as confidently to say, that he is no peaceable and right-affected son of the church of England, that doth not wish well to liturgy and episcopacy.

Answ.

If this be not that saucy uncharitableness, with which, in the foregoing page, you voluntarily invested yourself, with thought to have shifted it off, let the parliament judge, who now themselves are deliberating whether liturgy and episcopacy be to be well wished to, or no.

Remonst.

This they say they cannot but rank amongst my notorious—speak out, masters; I would not have that word stick in your teeth or in your throat.

Answ.

Take your spectacles, sir, it sticks in the paper, and was a pectoral roule we prepared for you to swallow down to your heart.

Remonst.

Wanton wits must have leave to play with their own stern.

Answ.

A meditation of yours doubtless observed at Lambeth from one of the archiepiscopal kittens.

Remonst.

As for that form of episcopal government, surely could those look with my eyes, they would see cause to be ashamed of this their injurious misconceit.

Answ.

We must call the barber for this wise sentence; one Mr. Ley the other day wrote a treatise of the sabbath, and his preface puts the wisdom of Balaam’s ass upon one of our bishops, bold man for his labour; but we shall have more respect to our Remonstrant, and liken him to the ass’s master, though the story say he was not so quick-sighted as his beast. Is Edition: current; Page: [103] not this Balaam the son of Beor, the man whose eyes are open, that said to the parliament, Surely, could those look with my eyes? Boast not of your eyes; it is feared you have Balaam’s disease, a pearl in your eye, Mammon’s prestriction.

Remonst.

Alas, we could tell you of China, Japan, Peru, Brazil, New England, Virginia, and a thousand others, that never had any bishops to this day.

Answ.

O do not foil your cause thus, and trouble Ortelius; we can help you, and tell you where they have been ever since Constantine’s time at least, in a place called Mundus alter et idem, in the spacious and rich countries of Crapulia, Pamphagonia, Yuronia, and in the dukedom of Orgilia, and Variana, and their metropolis of Ucalegonium. It was an oversight that none of your prime antiquaries could think of these venerable monuments to deduce episcopacy by; knowing that Mercurius Britannicus had them forthcoming.

SECTION IV.

Remonst.

Hitherto they have flourished, now I hope they will strike.

Answ.

His former transition was in the fair about the jugglers, now he is at the pageants among the whifflers.

Remonst.

As if arguments were almanacks.

Answ.

You will find some such as will prognosticate your date, and tell you that, after your long summer solstice, the equator calls for you, to reduce you to the ancient and equal house of Libra.

Remonst.

Truly, brethren, you have not well taken the height of the pole.

Answ.

No marvel; there be many more that do not take well the height of your pole; but will take better the declination of your altitude.

Remonst.

He that said I am the way, said that the old way was the good way.

Answ.

He bids ask of the old paths, or for the old ways, where or which is the good way; which implies that all old ways are not good, but that the good way is to be searched with diligence among the old ways, which is a thing that we do in the oldest records we have, the gospel. And if others may chance to spend more time with you in canvassing later antiquity, I suppose it is not for that they ground themselves thereon; but that they endeavour by showing the corruptions, uncertainties, and disagreements of those volumes, and the easiness of erring, or overslipping in such a boundless and vast search, if they may not convince those that are so strongly persuaded thereof; yet to free ingenuous minds from an overawful esteem of those more ancient than trusty fathers, whom custom and fond opinion, weak principles, and the neglect of sounder and superior knowledge hath exalted so high as to have gained them a blind reverence; whose books in bigness and number so endless and immeasurable, I cannot think that either God or nature, either divine or human wisdom, did ever mean should be a rule or reliance to us in the decision of any weighty and positive doctrine: for certainly every rule and instrument of necessary knowledge that God hath given us, ought to be so in proportion, as may be wielded and managed by the life of man, without penning him up from the duties of human society; and such a rule and instrument of knowledge perfectly is the holy Bible. But he that shall bind himself to make antiquity Edition: current; Page: [104] his rule, if he read but part, besides the difficulty of choice, his rule is deficient, and utterly unsatisfying; for there may be other writers of another mind, which he hath not seen; and if he undertake all, the length of man’s life cannot extend to give him a full and requisite knowledge of what was done in antiquity. Why do we therefore stand worshipping and admiring this unactive and lifeless Colossus, that, like a carved giant terribly menacing to children and weaklings, lifts up his club, but strikes not, and is subject to the muting of every sparrow? If you let him rest upon his basis, he may perhaps delight the eyes of some with his huge and mountainous bulk, and the quaint workmanship of his massy limbs; but if ye go about to take him in pieces, ye mar him; and if you think, like pigmies, to turn and wind him whole as he is, besides your vain toil and sweat, he may chance to fall upon your own heads. Go, therefore, and use all your art, apply your sledges, your levers, and your iron crows, to heave and hale your mighty Polypheme of antiquity to the delusion of novices and unexperienced Christians. We shall adhere close to the Scriptures of God, which he hath left us as the just and adequate measure of truth, fitted and proportioned to the diligent study, memory, and use of every faithful man, whose every part consenting, and making up the harmonious symmetry of complete instruction, is able to set out to us a perfect man of God, or bishop thoroughly furnished to all the good works of his charge: and with this weapon, without stepping a foot further, we shall not doubt to batter and throw down your Nebuchadnezzar’s image, and crumble it like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors, as well the gold of those apostolic successors that you boast of, as your Constantinian silver, together with the iron, the brass, and the clay of those muddy and strawy ages that follow.

Remonst.

Let the boldest forehead of them all deny that episcopacy hath continued thus long in our island, or that any till this age contradicted it.

Answ.

That bold forehead you have cleanly put upon yourself, it is you who deny that any till this age contradicted it; no forehead of ours dares do so much: you have vowed yourself fairly between the Scylla and Charybdis, either of impudence or nonsense, and now betake you to whither you please.

Remonst.

As for that supply of accessory strength, which I not beg.

Answ.

Your whole remonstrance does nothing else but beg it, and your fellow-prelates do as good as whine to the parliament for their fleshpots of Egypt, making sad orations at the funeral of your dear prelacy, like that doughty centurion Afranius in Lucian; who, to imitate the noble Pericles in his epitaphian speech, stepping up after the battle to bewail the slain Severianus, falls into a pitiful condolement, to think of those costly suppers and drinking banquets, which he must now taste of no more; and by then he had done, lacked but little to lament the dear-loved memory and calamitous loss of his capon and white broth.

Remonst.

But raise and evince from the light of nature, and the rules of just policy, for the continuance of those things which long use and many laws have firmly established as necessary and beneficial.

Answ.

Open your eyes to the light of grace, a better guide than nature. Look upon the mean condition of Christ and his apostles, without that accessory strength you take such pains to raise from the light of nature and policy: take divine council, “Labour not for the things that perish:” you would be the salt of the earth; if that savour be not found in you, do not think much that the time is now come to throw you out, and tread you Edition: current; Page: [105] under-foot. Hark how St. Paul, writing to Timothy, informs a true bishop; “Bishops (saith he) must not be greedy of filthy lucre; and having food and raiment, let us be therewith content: but they (saith he, meaning, more especially in that place, bishops) that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition: for the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith.” How can we therefore expect sound doctrine, and the solution of this our controversy from any covetous and honour-hunting bishop, that shall plead so stiffly for these things, while St. Paul thus exhorts every bishop; “But thou, O man of God, flee these things?” As for the just policy, that long use and custom, and those many laws which you say have conferred these benefits upon you; it hath been nothing else but the superstitious devotion of princes and great men that knew no better, or the base importunity of begging friars, haunting and harassing the deathbeds of men departing this life, in a blind and wretched condition of hope to merit heaven for the building of churches, cloisters, and convents. The most of your vaunted possessions, and those proud endowments that ye as sinfully waste, what are they but the black revenues of purgatory, the price of abused and murdered souls, the damned simony of Trentals, and indulgences to mortal sin? How can ye choose but inherit the curse that goes along with such a patrimony? Alas! if there be any releasement, any mitigation, or more tolerable being for the souls of our misguided ancestors; could we imagine there might be any recovery to some degree of ease left for as many of them as are lost, there cannot be a better way than to take the misbestowed wealth which they were cheated of, from these our prelates, who are the true successors of those that popped them into the other world with this conceit of meriting by their goods, which was their final undoing; and to bestow their beneficent gifts upon places and means of Christian education, and the faithful labourers in God’s harvest, that may incessantly warn the posterity of Dives, lest they come where their miserable forefather was sent by the cozenage and misleading of avaricious and worldly prelates.

Remonst.

It will stand long enough against the battery of their paper pellets.

Answ.

That must be tried without a square cap in the council; and if pellets will not do, your own canons shall be turned against you.

Remonst.

They cannot name any man in this nation, that ever contradicted episcopacy, till this present age.

Answ.

What an overworn and bedridden argument is this! the last refuge ever of old falsehood, and therefore a good sign, I trust, that your castle cannot hold out long. This was the plea of Judaism and idolatry against Christ and his apostles; of papacy against reformation; and perhaps to the frailty of flesh and blood in a man destitute of better enlightening may for some while be pardonable: for what has fleshly apprehension other to subsist by than succession, custom, and visibility; which only hold, if in his weakness and blindness he be loth to lose, who can blame? But in a protestant nation, that should have thrown off these tattered rudiments long ago, after the many strivings of God’s Spirit, and our fourscore years’ vexation of him in this our wilderness since reformation began, to urge these rotten principles, and twit us with the present age, which is to us an age of ages wherein God is manifestly come down among us, to do some remarkable good to our church or state; is, as if a man should tax the renovating and reingendering Spirit of God with innovation, and that new creature for an upstart novelty; yea, the new Jerusalem, which, without Edition: current; Page: [106] your admired link of succession, descends from heaven, could not escape some such like censure. If you require a further answer, it will not misbecome a Christian to be either more magnanimous or more devout than Scipio was; who, instead of other answer to the frivolous accusations of Petilius the tribune, “This day, Romans, (saith he,) I fought with Hannibal prosperously; let us all go and thank the gods, that gave us so great a victory:” in like manner will we now say, not caring otherwise to answer this unprotestantlike objection; In this age, Britons, God hath reformed his church after many hundred years of popish corruption; in this age he hath freed us from the intolerable yoke of prelates and papal discipline; in this age he hath renewed our protestation against all those yet remaining dregs of superstition. Let us all go, every true protested Briton, throughout the three kingdoms, and render thanks to God the Father of light, and Fountain of heavenly grace, and to his Son Christ our Lord, leaving this Remonstrant and his adherents to their own designs; and let us recount even here without delay, the patience and long-suffering that God hath used towards our blindness and hardness time after time. For he being equally near to his whole creation of mankind, and of free power to turn his beneficent and fatherly regard to what region or kingdom he pleases, hath yet ever had this island under the special indulgent eye of his providence; and pitying us the first of all other nations, after he had decreed to purify and renew his church that lay wallowing in idolatrous pollutions, sent first to us a healing messenger to touch softly our sores, and carry a gentle hand over our wounds: he knocked once and twice, and came again, opening our drowsy eyelids leisurely by that glimmering light, which Wickliff and his followers dispersed; and still taking off by degrees the inveterate scales from our nigh perished sight, purged also our deaf ears, and prepared them to attend his second warning trumpet in our grandsires’ days. How else could they have been able to have received the sudden assault of his reforming Spirit, warring against human principles, and carnal sense, the pride of flesh, that still cried up antiquity, custom, canons, councils, and laws; and cried down the truth for novelty, schism, profaneness, and sacrilege? whenas we that have lived so long in abundant light, besides the sunny reflection of all the neighbouring churches, have yet our hearts rivetted with these old opinions, and so obstructed and benumbed with the same fleshly reasonings, which in our forefathers soon melted and gave way, against the morning beam of reformation. If God had left undone this whole work, so contrary to flesh and blood, till these times; how should we have yielded to his heavenly call, had we been taken, as they were, in the starkness of our ignorance; that yet, after all these spiritual preparatives and purgations, have our earthly apprehensions so clammed and furred with the old leaven? O if we freeze at noon after their early thaw, let us fear lest the sun for ever hide himself, and turn his orient steps from our ingrateful horizon, justly condemned to be eternally benighted. Which dreadful judgment, O thou the ever-begotten Light and perfect image of the Father! intercede, may never come upon us, as we trust thou hast; for thou hast opened our difficult and sad times, and given us an unexpected breathing after our long oppressions: thou hast done justice upon those that tyrannized over us, while some men wavered and admired a vain shadow of wisdom in a tongue nothing slow to utter guile, though thou hast taught us to admire only that which is good, and to count that only praiseworthy, which is grounded upon thy divine precepts. Thou hast discovered the plots, and frustrated the hopes, of all the wicked in the land, and put to shame the persecutors of thy church: thou hast made our false prophets to be found a Edition: current; Page: [107] lie in the sight of all the people, and chased them with sudden confusion and amazement before the redoubled brightness of thy descending cloud, that now covers they tabernacle. Who is there that cannot trace thee now in thy beamy walk through the midst of thy sanctuary, amidst those golden candlesticks, which have long suffered a dimness amongst us through the violence of those that had seized them, and were more taken with the mention of their gold than of their starry light; teaching the doctrine of Balaam, to cast a stumbling-block before thy servants, commanding them to eat things sacrificed to idols, and forcing them to fornication? Come, therefore, O thou that hast the seven stars in thy right hand, appoint thy chosen priests according to their orders and courses of old, to minister before thee, and duly to press and pour out the consecrated oil into thy holy and everburning lamps. Thou hast sent out the spirit of prayer upon thy servants over all the land to this effect, and stirred up their vows as the sound of many waters about thy throne. Every one can say, that now certainly thou hast visited this land, and hast not forgotten the utmost corners of the earth, in a time when men had thought that thou wast gone up from us to the farthest end of the heavens, and hadst left to do marvellously among the sons of these last ages. O perfect and accomplish thy glorious acts! for men may leave their works unfinished, but thou art a God, thy nature is perfection: shouldst thou bring us thus far onward from Egypt to destroy us in this wilderness, though we deserve; yet thy great name would suffer in the rejoicing of thine enemies, and the deluded hope of all thy servants. When thou hast settled peace in the church, and righteous judgment in the kingdom, then shall all thy saints address their voices of joy and triumph to thee, standing on the shore of that Red sea into which our enemies had almost driven us. And he that now for haste snatches up a plain ungarnished present as a thank-offering to thee, which could not be deferred in regard of thy so many late deliverances wrought for us one upon another, may then perhaps take up a harp, and sing thee an elaborate song to generations. In that day it shall no more be said as in scorn, this or that was never held so till this present age, when men have better learnt that the times and seasons pass along under thy feet to go and come at thy bidding: and as thou didst dignify our fathers’ days with many revelations above all the foregoing ages, since thou tookest the flesh; so thou canst vouchsafe to us (though unworthy) as large a portion of thy Spirit as thou pleasest: for who shall prejudice thy all-governing will? seeing the power of thy grace is not passed away with the primitive times, as fond and faithless men imagine, but thy kingdom is now at hand, and thou standing at the door. Come forth out of thy royal chambers, O Prince of all the kings of the earth! put on the visible robes of thy imperial majesty, take up that unlimited sceptre which thy almighty Father hath bequeathed thee; for now the voice of thy bride calls thee, and all creatures sigh to be renewed.

SECTION V.

Remonst.

Neglect not the gift which was given thee by prophecy, and by laying on the hands of presbytery.

Answ.

The English translation expresses the article (the,) and renders it the presbytery, which you do injury to omit.

Remonst.

Which I wonder ye can so press, when Calvin himself takes it of the office, and not of the men.

Edition: current; Page: [108]
Answ.

You think then you are fairly quit of this proof, because Calvin interprets it for you, as if we could be put off with Calvin’s name, unless we be convinced with Calvin’s reason! the word πϱισβυτίϱιον is a collective noun, signifying a certain number of men in one order, as the word privy-council with us; and so Beza interprets, that knew Calvin’s mind doubtless, with whom he lived. If any amongst us should say the privy-council ordained it, and thereby constrain us to understand one man’s authority, should we not laugh at him? And therefore when you have used all your cramping-irons to the text, and done your utmost to cram a presbytery into the skin of one person, it will be but a piece of frugal nonsense. But if your meaning be with a violent hyperbaton to transpose the text, as if the words lay thus in order, “neglect not the gift of presbytery:” this were a construction like a harquebuss shot over a file of words twelve deep, without authority to bid them stoop; or to make the word gift, like the river Mole in Surry, to run under the bottom of a long line, and so start up to govern the word presbytery, as in immediate syntaxis; a device ridiculous enough to make good that old wife’s tale of a certain queen of England that sunk at Charing-cross, and rose up at Queenhithe. No marvel though the prelates be a troublesome generation, and, which way soever they turn them, put all things into a foul discomposure, when to maintain their domineering, they seek thus to rout and disarray the wise and well-couched order of Saint Paul’s own words, using either a certain textual riot to chop off the hands of the word presbytery, or else a like kind of simony to clap the word gift between them. Besides, if the verse must be read according to this transposition, μή ἀμέλει τ[Editor: illegible character] ἐν σοὶ χαϱίσματος τ[Editor: illegible character] πϱεσβυτεϱί[Editor: illegible character], it would be improper to call ordination χάϱισμα, whenas it is rather only χείϱιασμα, an outward testimony of approbation; unless they will make it a sacrament as the papists do: but surely the prelates would have Saint Paul’s words ramp one over another, as they use to climb into their livings and bishoprics.

Remonst.

Neither need we give any other satisfaction to the point, than from St. Paul himself, 2 Timothy, i. 6, “Stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands;” mine, and not others.

Answ.

Ye are too quick; this last place is to be understood by the former; as the law of method, which bears chief sway in the art of teaching, requires, that clearest and plainest expressions be set foremost, to the end they may enlighten any following obscurity; and wherefore we should not attribute a right method to the teachableness of Scripture, there can be no reason given: to which method, if we shall now go contrary, besides the breaking of a logical rule, which the Remonstrant hitherto we see hath made little account of, we shall also put a manifest violence and impropriety upon a known word against his common signification, in binding a collective to a singular person. But if we shall, as logic (or indeed reason) instructs us, expound the latter place by the former cited, and understand “by the imposition of my hands,” that is, of mine chiefly as an apostle, with the joint authority and assistance of the presbytery, there is nothing more ordinary or kindly in speech, than such a phrase as expresses only the chief in any action, and understands the rest. So that the imposition of Saint Paul’s hands, without more expression in this place, cannot exclude the joint act of the presbytery affirmed by the former text.

Remonst.

In the meanwhile see, brethren, how you have with Simon fished all night, and caught nothing.

Answ.

If we fishing with Simon the apostle can catch nothing, see what you can catch with Simon Magus; for all his hooks and fishing implements he bequeathed among you.

Edition: current; Page: [109]

SECTION XIII.

Remonst.

We do again profess, that if our bishops challenge any other power than was delegated to and required of Timothy and Titus, we shall yield them usurpers.

Answ.

Ye cannot compare an ordinary bishop with Timothy, who was an extraordinary man, foretold and promised to the church by many prophecies, and his name joined as collateral with Saint Paul, in most of his apostolic epistles, even where he writes to the bishops of other churches, as those in Philippi. Nor can you prove out of the Scripture that Timothy was bishop of any particular place; for that wherein it is said in the third verse of the first epistle, “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus,” will be such a gloss to prove the constitution of a bishop by, as would not only be not so good as a Bourdeaux gloss, but scarce be received to varnish a vizard of Modona. All that can be gathered out of holy writ concerning Timothy is, that he was either an apostle, or an apostle’s extraordinary vice-gerent, not confined to the charge of any place. The like may be said of Titus, (as those words import in the 5th verse,) that he was for that cause left in Crete, that he might supply or proceed to set in order that which St. Paul in apostolic manner had begun, for which he had his particular commission, as those words sound “as I had appointed thee.” So that what he did in Crete, cannot so much be thought the exercise of an ordinary function, as the direction of an inspired mouth. No less may be gathered from the 2 Cor. viii. 23.

Remonst.

You descend to the angels of the seven Asian churches; your shift is, that the word angel is here taken collectively, not individually.

Answ.

That the word is collective, appears plainly, Revel. ii.

First, Because the text itself expounds it so; for having spoken all the while as to the angel, the seventh verse concludes, that this was spoken to the churches. Now if the Spirit conclude collectively, and kept the same tenor all the way, for we see not where he particularizes; then certainly he must begin collectively, else the construction can be neither grammatical nor logical.

Secondly, If the word angel be individual, then are the faults attributed to him individual: but they are such as for which God threatens to remove the candlestick out of its place, which is as much as to take away from that church the light of his truth; and we cannot think he will do so for one bishop’s fault. Therefore those faults must be understood collective, and by consequence the subject of them collective.

Thirdly, An individual cannot branch itself into sub-individuals; but this word angel doth in the tenth verse. “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer; behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison.” And the like from other places of this and the following chapter may be observed. Therefore it is no individual word, but a collective.

Fourthly, in the 24th verse this word angel is made capable of a pronoun plural, which could not be, unless it were a collective. As for the supposed manuscript of Tecla, and two or three other copies that have expunged the copulative, we cannot prefer them before the more received reading, and we hope you will not, against the translation of your mother the church of England, that passed the revise of your chiefest prelates: besides this, you will lay an unjust censure upon the much-praised bishop of Thyatira, and reckon him among those that had the doctrine of Jezebel Edition: current; Page: [110] when the text says, he only suffered her. Whereas, if you will but let in a charitable conjunction, as we know your so much called for charity will not deny, then you plainly acquit the bishop, if you comprehend him in the name of angel, otherwise you leave his case very doubtful.

Remonst.

“Thou sufferest thy wife Jezebel:” was she wife to the whole company, or to one bishop alone?

Answ.

Not to the whole company doubtless, for that had been worse than to have been the Levite’s wife in Gibeah: but here among all those that constantly read it otherwise, whom you trample upon, your good mother of England is down again in the throng, who with the rest reads it, ‘that woman Jezebel:’ but suppose it were wife, a man might as well interpret that word figuratively, as her name Jezebel no man doubts to be a borrowed name.

Remonst.

Yet what makes this for a diocesan bishop? Much every way.

Answ.

No more than a special endorsement could make to puff up the foreman of a jury. If we deny you more precedence, than as the senior of any society, or deny you this priority to be longer than annual; prove you the contrary from hence, if you can. That you think to do from the title of eminence, Angel: alas, your wings are too short. It is not ordination nor jurisdiction that is angelical, but the heavenly message of the gospel, which is the office of all ministers alike; in which sense John the Baptist is called an Angel, which in Greek signifies a messenger, as oft as it is meant by a man, and might be so rendered here without treason to the hierarchy; but that the whole book soars to a prophetic pitch in types and allegories. Seeing then the reason of this borrowed name is merely to signify the preaching of the gospel, and that this preaching equally appertains to the whole ministry; hence may be drawn a fifth argument, that if the reason of this borrowed name Angel be equally collective and communicative to the whole preaching ministry of the place, then must the name be collectively and communicatively taken; but the reason, that is to say, the office, of preaching and watching over the flock, is equally collective and communicative: therefore the borrowed name itself is to be understood as equally collective and communicative to the whole preaching ministry of the place. And if you will contend still for a superiority in one person, you must ground it better than from this metaphor, which you may now deplore as the axehead that fell into the water, and say, “Alas, master for it was borrowed;” unless you have as good a faculty to make iron swim, as you had to make light froth sink.

Remonst.

What is, if this be not, ordination and jurisdiction?

Answ.

Indeed in the constitution and founding of a church, that some men inspired from God should have an extraordinary calling to appoint, to order, and dispose, must needs be. So Moses, though himself no priest, sanctified and ordained Aaron and his sons; but when all needful things be set, and regulated by the writings of the apostles, whether it be not a mere folly to keep up a superior degree in the church only for ordination and jurisdiction, it will be no hurt to debate awhile. The apostles were the builders, and, as it were, the architects of the Christian church; wherein consisted their excellence above ordinary ministers? A prelate would say in commanding, in controlling, in appointing, in calling to them, and sending from about them, to all countries, their bishops and archbishops as their deputies, with a kind of legantine power. No, no, vain prelates; this was but as the scaffolding of a new edifice, which for the time must board and overlook the highest battlements; but if the structure once finished, Edition: current; Page: [111] any passenger should fall in love with them, and pray that they might still stand, as being a singular grace and strengthening to the house, who would otherwise think, but that the man was presently to be laid hold on, and sent to his friends and kindred? The eminence of the apostles consisted in their powerful preaching, their unwearied labouring in the word, their unquenchable charity, which, above all earthly respects, like a working flame, had spun up to such a height of pure desire, as might be thought next to that love which dwells in God to save souls; which, while they did, they were contented to be the offscouring of the world, and to expose themselves willingly to all afflictions, perfecting thereby their hope through patience to a joy unspeakable. As for ordination, what is it, but the laying on of hands, an outward sign or symbol of admission? It creates nothing, it confers nothing; it is the inward calling of God that makes a minister, and his own painful study and diligence that manures and improves his ministerial gifts. In the primitive times, many, before ever they had received ordination from the apostles, had done the church noble service, as Apollos and others. It is but an orderly form of receiving a man already fitted, and committing to him a particular charge; the employment of preaching is as holy, and far more excellent; the care also and judgment to be used in the winning of souls, which is thought to be sufficient in every worthy minister, is an ability above that which is required in ordination: for many may be able to judge who is fit to be made a minister, that would not be found fit to be made ministers themselves; as it will not be denied that he may be the competent judge of a neat picture, or elegant poem, that cannot limn the like. Why therefore we should constitute a superior order in the church to perform an office which is not only every minister’s function, but inferior also to that which he has a confessed right to; and why this superiority should remain thus usurped, some wise Epimenides tell us. Now for jurisdiction, this dear saint of the prelates, it will be best to consider, first, what it is: that sovereign Lord, who in the discharge of his holy anointment from God the Father, which made him supreme bishop of our souls, was so humble as to say, “Who made me a judge, or a divider over ye?” hath taught us that a churchman’s jurisdiction is no more but to watch over his flock in season, and out of season, to deal by sweet and efficacious instructions, gentle admonitions, and sometimes rounder reproofs: against negligence or obstinacy, will be required a rousing volley of pastorly threatenings; against a persisting stubbornness, or the fear of a reprobate sense, a timely separation from the flock by that interdictive sentence, lest his conversation unprohibited, or unbranded, might breathe a pestilential murrain into the other sheep. In sum, his jurisdiction is to see the thriving and prospering of that which he hath planted: what other work the prelates have found for chancellors and suffragans, delegates and officials, with all the hell-pestering rabble of summers and apparitors, is but an invasion upon the temporal magistrate, and affected by them as men that are not ashamed of the ensign and banner of antichrist. But true evangelical jurisdiction or discipline is no more, as was said, than for a minister to see to the thriving and prospering of that which he hath planted. And which is the worthiest work of these two, to plant as every minister’s office is equally with the bishops, or to tend that which is planted, which the blind and undiscerning prelates call jurisdiction, and would appropriate to themselves as a business of higher dignity? Have patience therefore a little, and hear a law case. A certain man of large possessions had a fair garden, and kept therein an honest and laborious servant, whose skill and profession was to set or sow all wholesome herbs and delightful flowers, according to every season, and Edition: current; Page: [112] whatever else was to be done in a well-husbanded nursery of plants and fruits. Now, when the time was come that he should cut his hedges, prune his trees, look to his tender slips, and pluck up the weeds that hindered their growth, he gets him up by break of day, and makes account to do what was needful in his garden; and who would think that any other should know better than he how the day’s work was to be spent? Yet for all this there comes another strange gardener that never knew the soil, never handled a dibble or spade to set the least potherb that grew there, much less had endured an hour’s sweat or chillness, and yet challenges as his right the binding or unbinding of every flower, the clipping of every bush, the weeding and worming of every bed, both in that and all other gardens thereabout. The honest gardener, that ever since the day-peep, till now the sun was grown somewhat rank, had wrought painfully about his banks and seedplots, at his commanding voice turns suddenly about with some wonder; and although he could have well beteemed to have thanked him of the ease he proffered, yet loving his own handywork, modestly refused him, telling him withal, that, for his part, if he had thought much of his own pains, he could for once have committed the work to one of his fellow-labourers, for as much as it is well-known to be a matter of less skill and less labour to keep a garden handsome, than it is to plant it, or contrive it, and that he had already performed himself. No, said the stranger, this is neither for you nor your fellows to meddle with, but for me only that am for this purpose in dignity far above you; and the provision which the lord of the soil allows me in this office is, and that with good reason, tenfold your wages. The gardener smiled and shook his head; but what was determined, I cannot tell you till the end of this parliament.

Remonst.

If in time you shall see wooden chalices, and wooden priests, thank yourselves.

Answ.

It had been happy for this land, if your priests had been but only wooden; all England knows they have been to this island not wood, but wormwood, that have infected the third part of our waters, like that apostate star in the Revelation, that many souls have died of their bitterness; and if you mean by wooden, illiterate or contemptible, there was no want of that sort among you; and their number increasing daily, as their laziness, their tavern-hunting, their neglect of all sound literature, and their liking of doltish and monastical schoolmen daily increased. What, should I tell you how the universities, that men look should be fountains of learning and knowledge, have been poisoned and choked under your governance? And if to be wooden be to be base, where could there be found among all the reformed churches, nay in the church of Rome itself, a baser brood of flattering and time-serving priests? according as God pronounces by Isaiah, the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. As for your young scholars, that petition for bishoprics and deaneries, to encourage them in their studies, and that many gentlemen else will not put their sons to learning; away with such young mercenary striplings, and their simoniacal fathers; God has no need of such, they have no part or lot in his vineyard: they may as well sue for nunneries, that they may have some convenient stowage for their withered daughters, because they cannot give them portions answerable to the pride and vanity they have bred them in. This is the root of all our mischief, that which they allege for the encouragement of their studies, should be cut away forewith as the very bait of pride and ambition, the very garbage that draws together all the fowls of prey and ravin in the land to come and gorge upon the church. How can it be but ever unhappy to the church of England, while she shall think to entice men to the pure Edition: current; Page: [113] service of God by the same means that were used to tempt our Saviour to the service of the devil, by laying before him honour and preferment? Fit professors indeed are they like to be, to teach others that godliness with content is great gain, whenas their godliness of teaching had not been but for worldly gain. The heathen philosophers thought that virtue was for its own sake inestimable, and the greatest gain of a teacher to make a soul virtuous; so Xenophon writes to Socrates, who never bargained with any for teaching them; he feared not lest those who had received so high a benefit from him, would not of their own free will return him all possible thanks. Was moral virtue so lovely, and so alluring, and heathen men so enamoured of her, as to teach and study her with greatest neglect and contempt of worldly profit and advancement? And is Christian piety so homely and so unpleasant, and Christian men so cloyed with her, as that none will study and teach her, but for lucre and preferment? O stale-grown piety! O gospel rated as cheap as thy Master, at thirty pence, and not worth the study, unless thou canst buy those that will sell thee! O race of Capernaïtans, senseless of divine doctrine, and capable only of loaves and bellycheer! But they will grant, perhaps, piety may thrive, but learning will decay: I would fain ask these men at whose hands they seek inferior things, as wealth, honour, their dainty fare, their lofty houses? No doubt but they will soon answer, that all these things they seek at God’s hands. Do they think then, that all these meaner and superfluous things come from God, and the divine gift of learning from the den of Plutus, or the cave of Mammon? Certainly never any clear spirit nursed up from brighter influences, with a soul enlarged to the dimensions of spacious art and high knowledge, ever entered there but with scorn, and thought it ever foul disdain to make pelf or ambition the reward of his studies; it being the greatest honour, the greatest fruit and proficiency of learned studies to despise these things. Not liberal science, but illiberal must that needs be, that mounts in contemplation merely for money. And what would it avail us to have a hireling clergy, though never so learned? For such can have neither true wisdom nor grace; and then in vain do men trust in learning, where these be wanting. If in less noble and almost mechanic arts, according to the definitions of those authors, he is not esteemed to deserve the name of a complete architect, an excellent painter, or the like, that bears not a generous mind above the peasantly regard of wages and hire; much more must we think him a most imperfect and incomplete divine, who is so far from being a contemner of filthy lucre, that his whole divinity is moulded and bred up in the beggarly and brutish hopes of a fat prebendary, deanery, or bishopric; which poor and low-pitched desires, if they do but mix with those other heavenly intentions that draw a man to this study, it is justly expected that they should bring forth a baseborn issue of divinity, like that of those imperfect and putrid creatures that receive a crawling life from two most unlike procreants, the sun and mud. And in matters of religion, there is not any thing more intolerable than a learned fool, or a learned hypocrite; the one is ever cooped up at his empty speculations, a sot, an idiot for any use that mankind can make of him, or else sowing the world with nice and idle questions, and with much toil and difficulty wading to his auditors up to the eyebrows in deep shallows that wet not the instep: a plain unlearned man that lives well by that light which he has, is better and wiser, and edifies others more towards a godly and happy life than he. The other is still using his sophisticated arts, and bending all his studies how to make his insatiate avarice and ambition seem pious and orthodoxal, by painting his lewd and deceitful principles with a smooth and glossy varnish in a Edition: current; Page: [114] doctrinal way, to bring about his wickedest purposes. Instead of the great harm therefore that these men fear upon the dissolving of prelates, what an ease and happiness will it be to us, when tempting rewards are taken away, that the cunningest and most dangerous mercenaries will cease of themselves to frequent the fold, whom otherwise scarce all the prayers of the faithful could have kept back from devouring the flock! But a true pastor of Christ’s sending hath this especial mark, that for greatest labours and greatest merits in the church, he requires either nothing, if he could so subsist, or a very common and reasonable supply of human necessaries: we cannot therefore do better than to leave this care of ours to God; he can easily send labourers into his harvest, that shall not cry, Give, give, but be contented with a moderate and beseeming allowance; nor will he suffer true learning to be wanting, where true grace and our obedience to him abounds; for if he give us to know him aright, and to practise this our knowledge in right established discipline, how much more will he replenish us with all abilities in tongues and arts, that may conduce to his glory and our good! He can stir up rich fathers to bestow exquisite education upon their children, and so dedicate them to the service of the gospel; he can make the sons of nobles his ministers, and princes to be his Nazarites; for certainly there is no employment more honourable, more worthy to take up a great spirit, more requiring a generous and free nurture, than to be the messenger and herald of heavenly truth from God to man, and, by the faithful work of holy doctrine, to procreate a number of faithful men, making a kind of creation like to God’s, by infusing his spirit and likeness into them, to their salvation, as God did into him; arising to what climate soever he turn him, like that Sun of righteousness that sent him, with healing in his wings, and new light to break in upon the chill and gloomy hearts of his hearers, raising out of darksome barrenness a delicious and fragrant spring of saving knowledge, and good works. Can a man, thus employed, find himself discontented, or dishonoured for want of admittance to have a pragmatical voice at sessions and jail deliveries? Or because he may not as a judge, sit out the wrangling noise of litigious courts to shrive the purses of unconfessing and unmortified sinners, and not their souls, or be discouraged though men call him not lord, whenas the due performance of his office would gain him, even from lords and princes, the voluntary title of father? Would he tug for a barony to sit and vote in parliament, knowing that no man can take from him the gift of wisdom and sound doctrine, which leaves him free, though not to be a member, yet a teacher and persuader of the parliament? And in all wise apprehensions, the persuasive power in man to win others to goodness by instruction is greater, and more divine, than the compulsive power to restrain men from being evil by terror of the law; and therefore Christ left Moses to be the lawgiver, but himself came down amongst us to be a teacher, with which office his heavenly wisdom was so well pleased, as that he was angry with those that would have put a piece of temporal judicature into his hands, disclaiming that he had any commission from above for such matters.

Such a high calling therefore as this, sends not for those drossy spirits that need the lure and whistle of earthly preferment, like those animals that fetch and carry for a morsel; no. She can find such as therefore study her precepts, because she teaches to despise preferment. And let not those wretched fathers think they shall impoverish the church of willing and able supply, though they keep back their sordid sperm, begotten in the lustiness of their avarice, and turn them to their malting kilns; rather let them take heed what lessons they instil into that lump of flesh which Edition: current; Page: [115] they are the cause of; lest, thinking to offer him as a present to God, they dish him out for the devil. Let the novice learn first to renounce the world, and so give himself to God, and not therefore give himself to God, that he may close the better with the world, like that false shepherd Palinode in the eclogue of May, under whom the poet lively personates our prelates, whose whole life is a recantation of their pastoral vow, and whose profession to forsake the world, as they use the matter, bogs them deeper into the world. Those our admired Spenser inveighs against, not without some presage of these reforming times:

  • The time was once and may again return,
  • (For oft may happen that hath been beforn,)
  • When shepherds had none inheritance,
  • Ne of land nor fee in sufferance,
  • But what might arise of the bare sheep,
  • (Were it more or less,) which they did keep.
  • Well ywis was it with shepherds tho,
  • Nought having, nought feared they to forego:
  • For Pan himself was their inheritance,
  • And little them served for their maintenance:
  • The shepherds God so well them guided,
  • That of nought they were unprovided.
  • Butter enough, honey, milk and whey,
  • And their flock fleeces them to array.
  • But tract of time, and long prosperity
  • (That nurse of vice, this of insolency)
  • Lulled the shepherds in such security,
  • That not content with loyal obeysance,
  • Some gan to gape for greedy governance,
  • And match themselves with mighty potentates,
  • Lovers of lordships and troublers of states.
  • Tho gan shepherds swains to looke aloft,
  • And leave to live hard, and learne to lig soft.
  • Tho under colour of shepherds some while
  • There crept in wolves full of fraud and guile,
  • That often devoured their own sheep,
  • And often the shepherd that did them keep.
  • This was the first source of shepherds sorrow,
  • That now nill be quit with bale nor borrow.

By all this we may conjecture, how little we need fear that the ungilding of our prelates will prove the woodening of our priests. In the mean while let no man carry in his head either such narrow or such evil eyes, as not to look upon the churches of Belgia and Helvetia, and that envied city Geneva: where in the Christian world doth learning more flourish than in these places? Not among your beloved Jesuits, nor their favourers, though you take all the prelates into the number, and instance in what kind of learning you please. And how in England all noble sciences attending upon the train of Christian doctrine may flourish more than ever; and how the able professors of every art may with ample stipends be honestly provided; and finally, how there may be better care had that their hearers may benefit by them, and all this without the prelates; the courses are so many and so easy, that I shall pass them over.

Remonst.

It is God that makes the bishop, the king that gives the bishopric; what can you say to this?

Answ.

What you shall not long stay for: we say it is God that makes a bishop, and the devil that makes him take a prelatical bishopric; as for the king’s gift, regal bounty may be excusable in giving, where the bishop’s covetousness is damnable in taking.

Remonst.

Many eminent divines of the churches abroad have earnestly wished themselves in our condition.

Answ.

I cannot blame them, they were not only eminent but supereminent Edition: current; Page: [116] divines, and for stomach much like to Pompey the Great, that could endure no equal.

Remonst.

The Babylonian note sounds well in your ears, “Down with it, down with it, even to the ground.”

Answ.

You mistake the matter, it was the Edomitish note; but change it, and if you be an angel, cry with the angel, “It is fallen, it is fallen.”

Remonst.

But the God of heaven will, we hope, vindicate his own ordinance so long perpetuated to his church.

Answ.

Go rather to your god of this world, and see if he can vindicate your lordships, your temporal and spiritual tyrannies, and all your pelf; for the God of heaven is already come down to vindicate his ordinance from your so long perpetuated usurpation.

Remonst.

If yet you can blush.

Answ.

This is a more Edomitish conceit than the former, and must be silenced with a counter quip of the same country. So often and so unsavourily has it been repeated, that the reader may well cry, Down with it, down with it, for shame. A man would think you had eaten over-liberally of Esau’s red porridge, and from thence dream continually of blushing; or perhaps, to heighten your fancy in writing, are wont to sit in your doctor’s scarlet, which through your eyes infecting your pregnant imaginative with a red suffusion, begets a continual thought of blushing; that you thus persecute ingenuous men over all your book, with this one overtired rubrical conceit still of blushing: but if you have no mercy upon them, yet spare yourself, lest you bejade the good galloway, your own opiniatre wit, and make the very conceit itself blush with spurgalling.

Remonst.

The scandals of our inferior ministers I desired to have had less public.

Answ.

And what your superior archbishop or bishops! O forbid to have it told in Gath! say you. O dauber! and therefore remove not impieties from Israel. Constantine might have done more justly to have punished those clergical faults which he could not conceal, than to leave them unpunished, that they might remain concealed: better had it been for him, that the heathen had heard the fame of his justice, than of his wilful connivance and partiality; and so the name of God and his truth had been less blasphemed among his enemies, and the clergy amended, which daily, by this impunity, grew worse and worse. But, O to publish in the streets of Ascalon! sure some colony of puritans have taken Ascalon from the Turk lately, that the Remonstrant is so afraid of Ascalon. The papists we know condole you, and neither Constantinople nor your neighbours of Morocco trouble you. What other Ascalon can you allude to?

Remonst.

What a death it is to think of the sport and advantage these watchful enemies, these opposite spectators, will be sure to make of our sin and shame!

Answ.

This is but to fling and struggle under the inevitable net of God, that now begins to environ you round.

Remonst.

No one clergy in the whole Christian world yields so many eminent scholars, learned preachers, grave, holy, and accomplished divines, as this church of England doth at this day.

Answ.

Ha, ha, ha!

Remonst.

And long, and ever may it thus flourish.

Answ.

O pestilent imprecation! flourish as it does at this day in the prelates?

Remonst.

But O forbid to have it told in Gath!

Answ.

Forbid him rather, sacred parliament, to violate the sense of Edition: current; Page: [117] Scripture, and turn that which is spoken of the afflictions of the church under her pagan enemies, to a pargetted concealment of those prelatical crying sins: for from these is profaneness gone forth into all the land; they have hid their eyes from the sabbaths of the Lord; they have fed themselves, and not their flocks; with force and cruelty have they ruled over God’s people: they have fed his sheep (contrary to that which St. Peter writes) not of a ready mind, but for filthy lucre; not as examples to the flock, but as being lords over God’s heritage: and yet this dauber would daub still with his untempered mortar. But hearken what God says by the prophet Ezekiel, “Say unto them that daub this wall with untempered mortar, that it shall fall; there shall be an overflowing shower, and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall, and a stormy wind shall rend it, and I will say unto you, the wall is no more, neither they that daubed it.”

Remonst.

Whether of us shall give a better account of our charity to the God of peace, I appeal.

Answ.

Your charity is much to your fellow-offenders, but nothing to the numberless souls that have been lost by their false feeding: use not therefore so sillily the name of charity, as most commonly you do, and the peaceful attribute of God to a preposterous end.

Remonst.

In the next section, like illbred sons, you spit in the face of your mother the church of England.

Answ.

What should we do or say to this Remonstrant, that, by his idle and shallow reasonings, seems to have been conversant in no divinity, but that which is colourable to uphold bishopries? we acknowledge, and believe, the catholic reformed church; and if any man be disposed to use a trope or figure, as St. Paul did in calling her the common mother of us all, let him do as his own rhetoric shall persuade him. If, therefore, we must needs have a mother, and if the catholic church only be, and must be she, let all genealogy tell us, if it can, what we must call the church of England, unless we shall make every English protestant a kind of poetical Bacchus, to have two mothers: but mark, readers, the crafty scope of these prelates; they endeavour to impress deeply into weak and superstitious fancies, the awful notion of a mother, that hereby they might cheat them into a blind and implicit obedience to whatsoever they shall decree or think fit. And if we come to ask a reason of aught from our dear mother, she is invisible, under the lock and key of the prelates her spiritual adulterers; they only are the internuncios, or the go-betweens, of this trim-devised mummery: whatsoever they say, she says must be a deadly sin of disobedience not to believe. So that we, who by God’s special grace have shaken off the servitude of a great male tyrant, our pretended father the pope, should now, if we be not betimes aware of these wily teachers, sink under the slavery of a female notion, the cloudy conception of a demy-island mother; and, while we think to be obedient sons, should make ourselves rather the bastards, or the centaurs of their spiritual fornications.

Remonst.

Take heed of the ravens of the valley.

Answ.

The ravens we are to take heed of are yourselves, that would peck out the eyes of all knowing Christians.

Remonst.

Sit you, merry brethren.

Answ.

So we shall when the furies of prelatical consciences will not give them leave to do so.

Queries.

Whether they would not jeopard their ears rather, &c.

Answ.

A punishment that awaits the merits of your bold accomplices, for the lopping and stigmatizing of so many freeborn Christians.

Remonst.

Whether the professed slovenliness in God’s service, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [118]
Answ.

We have heard of Aaron and his linen amice, but those days are past; and for your priest under the gospel, that thinks himself the purer or the cleanlier in his office for his new-washed surplice, we esteem him for sanctity little better than Apollonius Thyanæus in his white frock, or the priest of Isis in his lawn sleeves; and they may all for holiness lie together in the suds.

Remonst.

Whether it were not most lawful and just to punish your presumption and disobedience.

Answ.

The punishing of that which you call our presumption and disobedience, lies not now within the execution of your fangs; the merciful God above, and our just parliament, will deliver us from your Ephesian beasts, your cruel Nimrods, with whom we shall be ever fearless to encounter.

Remonst.

God give you wisdom to see the truth, and grace to follow it.

Answ.

I wish the like to all those that resist not the Holy Ghost; for of such God commands Jeremiah, saying, “Pray not thou for them, neither lift up cry or prayer for them, neither make intercession to me, for I will not hear thee;” and of such St. John saith, “He that bids them God speed, is partaker of their evil deeds.”

TO THE POSTSCRIPT.

Remonst.

A goodly pasquin borrowed for a great part out of Sion’s plea, or the breviate consisting of a rhapsody of histories.

Answ.

How wittily you tell us what your wonted course is upon the like occasion: the collection was taken, be it known to you, from as authentic authors in this kind, as any in a bishop’s library; and the collector of it says, moreover, that if the like occasion come again, he shall less need the help of breviates, or historical rhapsodies, than your reverence to eke out your sermonings shall need repair to postils or poliantheas.

Remonst.

They were bishops, you say; true, but they were popish bishops.

Answ.

Since you would bind us to your jurisdiction by their canon law; since you would enforce upon us the old riffraff of Sarum, and other monastical relics; since you live upon their unjust purchases, allege their authorities, boast of their succession, walk in their steps, their pride, their titles, their covetousness, their persecuting of God’s people; since you disclaim their actions, and build their sepulchres, it is most just that all their faults should be imputed to you, and their iniquities visited upon you.

Remonst.

Could you see no colleges, no hospitals built?

Answ.

At that primero of piety, the pope and cardinals are the better gamesters, and will cog a die into heaven before you.

Remonst.

No churches re-edified?

Answ.

Yes, more churches that souls.

Remonst.

No learned volumes writ?

Answ.

So did the miscreant bishop of Spalato write learned volumes against the pope, and run to Rome when he had done: ye write them in your closets, and unwrite them in your courts; hot volumists and cold bishops; a swashbuckler against the pope, and a dormouse against the devil, while the whole diocese be sown with tares, and none to resist the enemy but such as let him in at the postern; a rare superintendent at Rome, and a cipher at home. Hypocrites! the gospel faithfully preached to the Edition: current; Page: [119] poor, the desolate parishes visited and duly fed, loiterers thrown out, wolves driven from the fold, had been a better confutation of the pope and mass, than whole hecatontomes of controversies; and all this careering with spear in rest, and thundering upon the steel cap of Baronius or Bellarmine.

Remonst.

No seduced persons reclaimed?

Answ.

More reclaimed persons seduced.

Remonst.

No hospitality kept?

Answ.

Bacchanalias good store in every bishop’s family, and good gleeking.

Remonst.

No great offenders punished?

Answ.

The trophies of your high commission are renowned.

Remonst.

No good offices done for the public?

Answ.

Yes, the good office of reducing monarchy to tyranny, of breaking pacifications, and calumniating the people to the king.

Remonst.

No care of the peace of the church?

Answ.

No, nor of the land; witness the two armies in the North, that now lie plundered and overrun by a liturgy.

Remonst.

No diligence in preaching?

Answ.

Scarce any preaching at all.

Remonst.

No holiness in living?

Answ.

No.

Remonst.

Truly, brethren, I can say no more, but that the fault is in your eyes.

Answ.

If you can say no more than this, you were a proper Remonstrant to stand up for the whole tribe!

Remonst.

Wipe them and look better.

Answ.

Wipe your fat corpulencies out of our light.

Remonst.

Yea, I beseech God to open them rather that they may see good.

Answ.

If you mean good prelates, let be your prayer. Ask not impossibilities.

Remonst.

As for that proverb, “the bishop’s foot hath been in it,” it were more fit for a Scurra in Trivio, or some ribald upon an alebench.

Answ.

The fitter for them then of whom it was meant.

Remonst.

I doubt not but they will say, the bishop’s foot hath been in your book, for I am sure it is quite spoiled by this just confutation; for your proverb, Sapit ollam.

Answ.

Spoiled, quoth ye? Indeed it is so spoiled, as a good song is spoiled by a lewd singer; or as the saying is, “God sends meat, but the cooks work their wills:” in that sense we grant your bishop’s foot may have spoiled it, and made it “Sapere ollam,” if not “Sapere aulam;” which is the same in old Latin, and perhaps in plain English. For certain your confutation hath achieved nothing against it, and left nothing upon it but a foul taste of your skillet foot, and a more perfect and distinguishable odour of your socks, than of your nightcap. And how the bishop should confute a book with his foot, unless his brains were dropped into his great toe, I cannot meet with any man that can resolve me; only they tell me that certainly such a confutation must needs be gouty. So much for the bishop’s foot.

Remonst.

You tell us of Bonner’s broth; it is the fashion in some countries to send in their keal in the last service; and this it seems is the manner among our Smectymnuans.

Answ.

Your latter service at the high altar you mean: but soft, sir; the feast was but begun; the broth was your own; you have been inviting the Edition: current; Page: [120] land to it this fourscore years; and so long we have been your slaves to serve it up for you, much against our wills: we know you have the beef to it ready in your kitchens, we are sure it was almost sod before this parliament begun; what direction you have given since to your cooks, to set it by in the pantry till some fitter time, we know not, and therefore your dear jest is lost: this broth was but your first service: Alas, sir, why do you delude your guests? Why do not those goodly flanks and briskets march up in your stately charges? Doubtless if need be, the pope, that owes you for mollifying the matter so well with him, and making him a true church, will furnish you with all the fat oxen of Italy.

Remonst.

Learned and worthy Doctor Moulin shall tell them.

Answ.

Moulin says in his book of the calling of pastors, that because bishops were the reformers of the English church, therefore they were left remaining: this argument is but of small force to keep you in your cathedrals. For first, it may be denied that bishops were our first reformers; for Wickliff was before them; and his egregious labours are not to be neglected: besides, our bishops were in this work but the disciples of priests, and began the reformation before they were bishops. But what though Luther and other monks were the reformers of other places? Does it follow therefore that monks ought to continue? No; though Luther had taught so. And lastly, Moulin’s argument directly makes against you; for if there be nothing in it but this, bishops were left remaining because they were reformers of the church; by as good a consequence therefore they are now to be removed, because they have been the most certain deformers and ruiners of the church. Thus you see how little it avails you to take sanctuary among those churches which in the general scope of your actions formerly you have disregarded and despised; however, your fair words would now smooth it over otherwise.

Remonst.

Our bishops, some whereof being crowned with martyrdom, subscribed the gospel with their blood.

Answ.

You boast much of martyrs to uphold your episcopacy; but if you would call to mind what Eusebius in his fifth book recites from Apollinarius of Hieropolis, you should then hear it esteemed no other than an old heretical argument, to prove a position true, because some that held it were martyrs; this was that which gave boldness to the Marcionists and Cataphryges to avouch their impious heresies for pious doctrine, because they could reckon many martyrs of their sect; and when they were confuted in other points, this was ever their last and stoutest plea.

Remonst.

In the mean time I beseech the God of heaven to humble you.

Answ.

We shall beseech the same God to give you a more profitable and pertinent humiliation than yet you know, and a less mistaken charitableness, with that peace which you have hitherto so perversely misaffected.

Edition: current; Page: [121]

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 Edition: current; Page: [122] 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 Edition: current; Page: [123] 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, Edition: current; Page: [124] 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 Edition: current; Page: [125] 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 Edition: current; Page: [126] 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, Edition: current; Page: [127] 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 Edition: current; Page: [128] 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, Edition: current; Page: [129] 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 Edition: current; Page: [130] 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 Edition: current; Page: [131] 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 Edition: current; Page: [132] 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 Edition: current; Page: [133] 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.

SECTION I.

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 Edition: current; Page: [134] 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, Edition: current; Page: [135] 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 Edition: current; Page: [136] 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:

  • “—laughing to teach the truth
  • What hinders? as some teachers give to boys
  • Junkets and knacks that they may learn apace.”

Thus Flaccus in his first satire, and his tenth:

  • “—Jesting decides great things
  • Stronglier and better oft than earnest can.”

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 Edition: current; Page: [137] 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:

  • ’Tis you that say it, not I; you do the deeds,
  • And your ungodly deeds find me the words.

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 Edition: current; Page: [138] 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.

SECTION III.

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 Edition: current; Page: [139] 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.

SECTION IV.

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 Edition: current; Page: [140] 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.

SECTION V.

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 Edition: current; Page: [141] 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?

SECTION VI.

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,) Edition: current; Page: [142] 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.

SECTION VII.

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 Edition: current; Page: [143] 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.”

SECTION VIII.

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 Edition: current; Page: [144] 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 Edition: current; Page: [145] 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 Edition: current; Page: [146] 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 Edition: current; Page: [147] 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 Edition: current; Page: [148] 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

  • “Teach each hollow grove to sound his love,
  • Wearying echo with one changeless word.”
  • Toothless Satires.

And so he well might, and all his auditory besides with his “teach each.”

  • “Whether so me list my lovely thoughts to sing,
  • Come dance ye nimble dryads by my side,
  • Whiles I report my fortunes or my loves.”
  • Toothless Satires.

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 Edition: current; Page: [149] 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 Edition: current; Page: [150] 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.

SECTION XI.

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 Edition: current; Page: [151] 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 Edition: current; Page: [152] 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 Edition: current; Page: [153] 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 Edition: current; Page: [154] 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.

SECTION XII.

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 Edition: current; Page: [155] 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.

  • “This Constantine which heal hath found,
  • Within Rome anon let found
  • Two churches which he did make
  • For Peter and for Paul’s sake:
  • Of whom he had a vision,
  • And yafe thereto possession
  • Of lordship and of world’s good,
  • But how so that his will was good
  • Toward the pope and his franchise,
  • Yet hath it proved otherwise
  • To see the working of the deed
  • For in chronick thus I read,
  • Anon as he hath made the yeft,
  • A voice was heard on high the left,
  • Of which all Rome was adrad,
  • And said, this day venim is shad
  • In holy Church, of temporal
  • That meddleth with the spiritual;
  • And how it stant in that degree,
  • Yet may a man the sooth see.
  • God amend it when he will,
  • I can thereto none other skill.”

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 Edition: current; Page: [156] 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 Edition: current; Page: [157] 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 Edition: current; Page: [158] 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.

OF EDUCATION.

TO MASTER SAMUEL HARTLIB.

Master Hartlib,—I am long since persuaded, that to say or do aught worth memory and imitation, no purpose or respect should sooner move us than simply the love of God, and of mankind. Nevertheless, to write now the reforming of education, though it be one of the greatest and noblest designs that can be thought on, and for the want whereof this nation perishes; I had not yet at this time been induced, but by your earnest entreaties and serious conjurements; as having my mind for the present half diverted in the pursuance of some other assertions, the knowledge and the use of which cannot but be a great furtherance both to the enlargement of truth, and honest living with much more peace. Nor should the laws of any private friendship have prevailed with me to divide thus, or transpose my former thoughts, but that I see those aims, those actions, which have won you with me the esteem of a person sent hither by some good providence from a far country to be the occasion and incitement of great good to this island. And, as I hear, you have obtained the same repute with men of most approved wisdom, and some of the highest authority among us; not to mention the learned correspondence which you hold in foreign parts, and the extraordinary pains and diligence, which you have used in this matter both here and beyond the seas; either by the definite will of God so ruling, or the peculiar sway of nature, which also is God’s working. Neither can I think that so reputed and so valued as you are, you would to the forfeit Edition: current; Page: [159] of your own discerning ability, impose upon me an unfit and overponderous argument; but that the satisfaction, which you profess to have received from those incidental discourses which we have wandered into, hath pressed and almost constrained you into a persuasion, that what you require from me in this point, I neither ought nor can in conscience defer beyond this time both of so much need at once, and so much opportunity to try what God hath determined. I will not resist therefore whatever it is, either of divine or human obligement, that you lay upon me; but will forthwith set down in writing, as you request me, that voluntary idea, which hath long in silence presented itself to me, of a better education, in extent and comprehension far more large, and yet of time far shorter, and of attainment far more certain, than hath been yet in practice. Brief I shall endeavour to be; for that which I have to say, assuredly this nation hath extreme need should be done sooner than spoken. To tell you therefore what I have benefited herein among old renowned authors, I shall spare; and to search what many modern Januas and Didactics, more than ever I shall read, have projected, my inclination leads me not. But if you can accept of these few observations which have flowered off, and are as it were the burnishing of many studious and contemplative years altogether spent in the search of religious and civil knowledge, and such as pleased you so well in the relating, I here give you them to dispose of.

The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith, makes up the highest perfection. But because our understanding cannot in this body found itself but on sensible things, nor arrive so clearly to the knowledge of God and things invisible, as by orderly conning over the visible and inferior creature, the same method is necessarily to be followed in all discreet teaching. And seeing every nation affords not experience and tradition enough for all kind of learning, therefore we are chiefly taught the languages of those people who have at any time been most industrious after wisdom; so that language is but the instrument conveying to us things useful to be known. And though a linguist should pride himself to have all the tongues that Babel cleft the world into, yet if he have not studied the solid things in them as well as the words and lexicons, he were nothing so much to be esteemed a learned man, as any yeoman or tradesman competently wise in his mother dialect only. Hence appear the many mistakes which have made learning generally so unpleasing and so unsuccessful; first, we do amiss to spend seven or eight years merely in scraping together so much miserable Latin and Greek, as might be learned otherwise easily and delightfully in one year. And that which casts our proficiency therein so much behind, is our time lost partly in too oft idle vacancies given both to schools and universities; partly in a preposterous exaction, forcing the empty wits of children to compose themes, verses, and orations, which are the acts of ripest judgment, and the final work of a head filled by long reading and observing, with elegant maxims and copious invention. These are not matters to be wrung from poor striplings, like blood out of the nose, or the plucking of untimely fruit; besides the ill habit which they get of wretched barbarizing against the Latin and Greek idiom, with their untutored Anglicisms, odious to be read, yet not to be avoided without a well-continued and judicious conversing among pure authors digested, which they scarce taste: whereas, if after some preparatory grounds of speech by their certain forms got into memory, they were led to the praxis thereof in Edition: current; Page: [160] some chosen short book lessoned thoroughly to them, they might then forthwith proceed to learn the substance of good things, and arts in due order, which would bring the whole language quickly into their power. This I take to be the most rational and most profitable way of learning languages, and whereby we may best hope to give account to God of our youth spent herein. And for the usual method of teaching arts, I deem it to be an old error of universities, not yet well recovered from the scholastic grossness of barbarous ages, that instead of beginning with arts most easy, (and those be such as are most obvious to the sense,) they present their young unmatriculated novices at first coming with the most intellective abstractions of logic and metaphysics; so that they having but newly left those grammatic flats and shallows where they stuck unreasonably to learn a few words with lamentable construction, and now on the sudden transported under another climate to be tossed and turmoiled with their unballasted wits in fathomless and unquiet deeps of controversy, do for the most part grow into hatred and contempt of learning, mocked and deluded all this while with ragged notions and babblements, while they expected worthy and delightful knowledge; till poverty or youthful years call them importunately their several ways, and hasten them with the sway of friends either to an ambitious and mercenary, or ignorantly zealous divinity; some allured to the trade of law, grounding their purposes not on the prudent and heavenly contemplation of justice and equity, which was never taught them, but on the promising and pleasing thoughts of litigious terms, fat contentions, and flowing fees; others betake them to state affairs, with souls so unprincipled in virtue and true generous breeding, that flattery and courtshifts and tyrannous aphorisms appear to them the highest points of wisdom; instilling their barren hearts with a conscientious slavery; if, as I rather think, it be not feigned. Others, lastly, of a more delicious and airy spirit, retire themselves (knowing no better) to the enjoyments of ease and luxury, living out their days in feast and jollity; which indeed is the wisest and the safest course of all these, unless they were with more integrity undertaken. *And these are the errors, and these are the fruits of mispending our prime youth at the schools and universities as we do, either in learning mere words, or such things chiefly as were better unlearned.

I shall detain you now no longer in the demonstration of what we should not do, but straight conduct you to a hill-side, where I will point you out the right path of a virtuous and noble education; laborious indeed at the first ascent, but else so smooth, so green, so full of goodly prospect, and melodious sounds on every side, that the harp of Orpheus was not more charming. I doubt not but ye shall have more ado to drive our dullest and laziest youth, our stocks and stubs, from the infinite desire of such a happy nurture, than we have now to hale and drag our choicest and hopefullest wits to that asinine feast of sowthistles and brambles, which is commonly set before them as all the food and entertainment of their tenderest and most docible age. I call therefore a complete and generous education, that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war. And how all this may be done between twelve and one-and-twenty, less time than is now bestowed in pure trifling at grammar and sophistry, is to be thus ordered.

First, to find out a spacious house and ground about it fit for an academy, and big enough to lodge a hundred and fifty persons, whereof twenty or thereabout may be attendants, all under the government of one, who shall Edition: current; Page: [161] be thought of desert sufficient, and ability either to do all, or wisely to direct and oversee it done. This place should be at once both school and university, not needing a remove to any other house of scholarship, except it be some peculiar college of law, or physic, where they mean to be practitioners; but as for those general studies which take up all our time from Lilly to commencing, as they term it, master of art, it should be absolute. After this pattern, as many edifices may be converted to this use as shall be needful in every city throughout this land, which would tend much to the increase of learning and civility every where. This number, less or more thus collected, to the convenience of a foot company, or interchangeably two troops of cavalry, should divide their day’s work into three parts as it lies orderly; their studies, their exercise, and their diet.

For their studies; first, they should begin with the chief and necessary rules of some good grammar, either that now used, or any better; and while this is doing, their speech is to be fashioned to a distinct and clear pronunciation, as near as may be to the Italian, especially in the vowels. For we Englishmen being far northerly, do not open our mouths in the cold air wide enough to grace a southern tongue; but are observed by all other nations to speak exceeding close and inward; so that to smatter Latin with an English mouth, is as ill a hearing as law French. Next, to make them expert in the usefullest points of grammar; and withal to season them and win them early to the love of virtue and true labour, ere any flattering seducement or vain principle seize them wandering, some easy and delightful book of education would be read to them; whereof the Greeks have store, as Cebes, Plutarch, and other Socratic discourses. But in Latin we have none of classic authority extant, except the two or three first books of Quintilian, and some select pieces elsewhere. But here the main skill and groundwork will be, to temper them such lectures and explanations upon every opportunity, as may lead and draw them in willing obedience, enflamed with the study of learning, and the admiration of virtue; stirred up with high hopes of living to be brave men, and worthy patriots, dear to God, and famous to all ages. That they may despise and scorn all their childish and ill-taught qualities, to delight in manly and liberal exercises; which he who hath the art and proper eloquence to catch them with, what with mild and effectual persuasions, and what with the intimation of some fear, if need be, but chiefly by his own example, might in a short space gain them to an incredible diligence and courage; infusing into their young breasts such an ingenuous and noble ardor, as would not fail to make many of them renowned and matchless men. At the same time, some other hour of the day, might be taught them the rules of arithmetic, and soon after the elements of geometry, even playing, as the old manner was. After evening repast, till bedtime, their thoughts would be best taken up in the easy grounds of religion, and the story of Scripture. The next step would be to the authors of agriculture, Cato, Varro, and Columella, for the matter is most easy; and if the language be difficult, so much the better, it is not a difficulty above their years. And here will be an occasion of inciting, and enabling them hereafter to improve the tillage of their country, to recover the bad soil, and to remedy the waste that is made of good; for this was one of Hercules’s praises. Ere half these authors be read (which will soon be with plying hard and daily) they cannot choose but be masters of any ordinary prose. So that it will be then seasonable for them to learn in any modern author the use of the globes, and all the maps; first with the old names, and then with the new; or they might be then capable to read any compendious method of natural philosophy. And at the same time might Edition: current; Page: [162] be entering into the Greek tongue, after the same manner as was before prescribed in the Latin; whereby the difficulties of grammar being soon overcome, all the historical physiology of Aristotle and Theophrastus are open before them, and, as I may say, under contribution. The like access will be to Vitruvius, to Seneca’s natural questions, to Mela, Celsus, Pliny, or Solinus. And having thus passed the principles of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and geography, with a general compact of physics, they may descend in mathematics to the instrumental science of trigonometry, and from thence to fortification, architecture, enginery, or navigation. And in natural philosophy they may proceed leisurely from the history of meteors, minerals, plants, and living creatures, as far as anatomy. Then also in course might be read to them out of some not tedious writer the institution of physic; that they may know the tempers, the humours, the seasons, and how to manage a crudity; which he who can wisely and timely do, is not only a great physician to himself and to his friends, but also may at some time or other save an army by this frugal and expenseless means only; and not let the healthy and stout bodies of young men rot away under him for want of this discipline; which is a great pity, and no less a shame to the commander. To set forward all these proceedings in nature and mathematics, what hinders but that they may procure, as oft as shall be needful, the helpful experiences of hunters, fowlers, fishermen, shepherds, gardeners, apothecaries; and in the other sciences, architects, engineers, mariners, anatomists; who doubtless would be ready, some for reward, and some to favour such a hopeful seminary. And this will give them such a real tincture of natural knowledge, as they shall never forget, but daily augment with delight. Then also those poets which are now counted most hard, will be both facile and pleasant, Orpheus, Hesiod, Theocritus, Aratus, Nicander, Oppian, Dionysius, and in Latin, Lucretius, Manilius, and the rural part of Virgil.

By this time, years, and good general precepts, will have furnished them more distinctly with that act of reason which in ethics is called Proairesis; that they may with some judgment contemplate upon moral good and evil. Then will be required a special reinforcement of constant and sound indoctrinating to set them right and firm, instructing them more amply in the knowledge of virtue and the hatred of vice; while their young and pliant affections are led through all the moral works of Plato, Xenophon, Cicero, Plutarch, Laertius, and those Locrian remnants; but still to be reduced in their nightward studies wherewith they close the day’s work, under the determinate sentence of David or Solomon, or the evangels and apostolic Scriptures. Being perfect in the knowledge of personal duty, they may then begin the study of œconomics. And either now or before this, they may have easily learned at any odd hour the Italian tongue. And soon after, but with wariness and good antidote, it would be wholesome enough to let them taste some choice comedies, Greek, Latin or Italian; those tragedies also, that treat of household matters, as Trachiniæ, Alcestis, and the like. The next removal must be to the study of politics; to know the beginning, end, and reasons of political societies; that they may not in a dangerous fit of the commonwealth be such poor, shaken, uncertain reeds, of such a tottering conscience, as many of our great counsellors have lately shown themselves, but stedfast pillars of the state. After this, they are to dive into the grounds of law, and legal justice; delivered first and with best warrant by Moses; and as far as human prudence can be trusted, in those extolled remains of Grecian law-givers, Lycurgus, Solon, Zaleucus, Charondas, and thence to all the Roman edicts and tables with their Justinian; and so down to the Saxon and common Edition: current; Page: [163] laws of England, and the statutes. Sundays also and every evening may be now understandingly spent in the highest matters of theology, and church-history ancient and modern; and ere this time the Hebrew tongue at a set hour might have been gained, that the Scriptures may be now read in their own original; whereto it would be no impossibility to add the Chaldee, and the Syrian dialect. When all these employments are well conquered, then will the choice histories, heroic poems, and attic tragedies of stateliest and most regal argument, with all the famous political orations, offer themselves; which if they were not only read, but some of them got by memory, and solemnly pronounced with right accent and grace, as might be taught, would endue them even with the spirit and vigour of Demosthenes or Cicero, Euripides or Sophocles. And now lastly will be the time to read them with those organic arts, which enable men to discourse and write perspicuously, elegantly, and according to the fitted style of lofty, mean, or lowly. Logic, therefore, so much as is useful, is to be referred to this due place with all her well-couched heads and topics, until it be time to open her contracted palm into a graceful and ornate rhetoric taught out of the rule of Plato, Aristotle, Phalereus, Cicero, Hermogenes, Longinus. To which poetry would be made subsequent, or indeed rather precedent, as being less subtile and fine, but more simple, sensuous, and passionate. I mean not here the prosody of a verse, which they could not but have hit on before among the rudiments of grammar; but that sublime art which in Aristotle’s poetics, in Horace, and the Italian commentaries of Castlevetro, Tasso, Mazzoni, and others, teaches what the laws are of a true epic poem, what of a dramatic, what of a lyric, what decorum is, which is the grand masterpiece to observe. This would make them soon perceive what despicable creatures our common rhymers and play-writers be; and show them what religious, what glorious and magnificent use might be made of poetry, both in divine and human things. From hence, and not till now, will be the right season of forming them to be able writers and composers in every excellent matter, when they shall be thus fraught with an universal insight into things. Or whether they be to speak in parliament or council, honour and attention would be waiting on their lips. There would then also appear in pulpits other visages, other gestures, and stuff otherwise wrought than what we now sit under, ofttimes to as great a trial of our patience as any other that they preach to us. These are the studies wherein our noble and our gentle youth ought to bestow their time in a disciplinary way from twelve to one-and-twenty; unless they rely more upon their ancestors dead than upon themselves living. In which methodical course it is so supposed they must proceed by the steady pace of learning onward, as at convenient times, for memory’s sake, to retire back into the middle ward, and sometimes into the rear of what they have been taught, until they have confirmed and solidly united the whole body of their perfected knowledge, like the last embattling of a Roman legion. Now will be worth the seeing, what exercises and recreations may best agree, and become these studies.

THEIR EXERCISE.

The course of study hitherto briefly described is, what I can guess by reading, likest to those ancient and famous schools of Pythagoras, Plato, Isocrates, Aristotle, and such others, out of which were bred such a number of renowned philosophers, orators, historians, poets, and princes all Edition: current; Page: [164] over Greece, Italy, and Asia, besides the flourishing studies of Cyrene and Alexandria. But herein it shall exceed them, and supply a defect as great as that which Plato noted in the commonwealth of Sparta; whereas that city trained up their youth most for war, and these in their academies and Lycæum all for the gown, this institution of breeding which I here delineate shall be equally good both for peace and war. Therefore about an hour and a half ere they eat at noon should be allowed them for exercise, and due rest afterwards; but the time for this may be enlarged at pleasure, according as their rising in the morning shall be early. The exercise which I commend first, is the exact use of their weapon, to guard, and to strike safely with edge or point; this will keep them healthy, nimble, strong, and well in breath, is also the likeliest means to make them grow large and tall, and to inspire them with a gallant and fearless courage, which being tempered with seasonable lectures and precepts to them of true fortitude and patience, will turn into a native and heroic valour, and make them hate the cowardice of doing wrong. They must be also practised in all the locks and gripes of wrestling, wherein Englishmen were wont to excel, as need may often be in fight to tug, to grapple, and to close. And this perhaps will be enough, wherein to prove and heat their single strength. The interim of unsweating themselves regularly, and convenient rest before meat, may both with profit and delight be taken up in recreating and composing their travailed spirits with the solemn and divine harmonies of music heard or learned; either whilst the skilful organist plies his grave and fancied descant in lofty fugues, or the whole symphony with artful and unimaginable touches adorn and grace the well-studied chords of some choice composer; sometimes the lute or soft organ stop waiting on elegant voices, either to religious, martial, or civil ditties; which, if wise men and prophets be not extremely out, have a great power over dispositions and manners, to smooth and make them gentle from rustic harshness and distempered passions. The like also would not be unexpedient after meat, to assist and cherish nature in her first concoction, and send their minds back to study in good tune and satisfaction. Where having followed it close under vigilant eyes, till about two hours before supper, they are by a sudden alarum or watchword, to be called out to their military motions, under sky or covert, according to the season, as was the Roman wont; first on foot, then as their age permits, on horseback, to all the art of cavalry; that having in sport, but with much exactness and daily muster, served out the rudiments of their soldiership, in all the skill of embattling, marching, encamping, fortifying, besieging, and battering with all the helps of ancient and modern stratagems, tactics, and warlike maxims, they may as it were out of a long war come forth renowned and perfect commanders in the service of their country. They would not then, if they were trusted with fair and hopeful armies, suffer them for want of just and wise discipline to shed away from about them like sick feathers, though they be never so oft supplied; they would not suffer their empty and unrecruitable colonels of twenty men in a company, to quaff out, or convey into secret hoards, the wages of a delusive list, and a miserable remnant; yet in the mean while to be overmastered with a score or two of drunkards, the only soldiery left about them, or else to comply with all rapines and violences. No certainly, if they knew aught of that knowledge that belongs to good men or good governors, they would not suffer these things. But to return to our own institute; besides these constant exercises at home, there is another opportunity of gaining experience to be won from pleasure itself abroad; in those vernal seasons of the year when the air is calm and pleasant, Edition: current; Page: [165] it were an injury and sullenness against nature, not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth. I should not therefore be a persuader to them of studying much then, after two or three years that they have well laid their grounds, but to ride out in companies with prudent and staid guides to all the quarters of the land; learning and observing all places of strength, all commodities of building and of soil, for towns and tillage, harbours and ports for trade. Sometimes taking sea as far as to our navy, to learn there also what they can in the practical knowledge of sailing and of sea-fight. These ways would try all their peculiar gifts of nature, and if there were any secret excellence among them would fetch it out, and give it fair opportunities to advance itself by, which could not but mightily redound to the good of this nation, and bring into fashion again those old admired virtues and excellencies with far more advantage now in this purity of Christian knowledge. Nor shall we then need the monsieurs of Paris to take our hopeful youth into their slight and prodigal custodies, and send them over back again transformed into mimics, apes, and kickshows. But if they desire to see other countries at three or four and twenty years of age, not to learn principles, but to enlarge experience, and make wise observation, they will by that time be such as shall deserve the regard and honour of all men where they pass, and the society and friendship of those in all places who are best and most eminent. And perhaps, then other nations will be glad to visit us for their breeding, or else to imitate us in their own country.

Now lastly for their diet there cannot be much to say, save only that it would be best in the same house; for much time else would be lost abroad, and many ill habits got; and that it should be plain, healthful, and moderate, I suppose is out of controversy. Thus, Mr. Hartlib, you have a general view in writing, as your desire was, of that, which at several times I had discoursed with you concerning the best and noblest way of education; not beginning as some have done from the cradle, which yet might be worth many considerations, if brevity had not been my scope; many other circumstances also I could have mentioned, but this, to such as have the worth in them to make trial, for light and direction may be enough. Only I believe that this is not a bow for every man to shoot in, that counts himself a teacher; but will require sinews almost equal to those which Homer gave Ulysses; yet I am withal persuaded that it may prove much more easy in the assay, than it now seems at distance, and much more illustrious; howbeit, not more difficult than I imagine, and that imagination presents me with nothing but very happy, and very possible according to best wishes; if God have so decreed, and this age have spirit and capacity enough to apprehend.

Edition: current; Page: [166]

AREOPAGITICA:
A SPEECH FOR THE LIBERTY OF UNLICENSED PRINTING.

TO THE PARLIAMENT OF ENGLAND.
  • Τοὐλέυθερον δ’ ἐϰε[Editor: illegible character]νο, ἔι τις θελει πόλει
  • Χρηςόν τι βοὐλευμ’ ε[Editor: illegible character]ς μέσον Φέρειν, ἔχων.
  • Καὶ ταῦθ’, ὁ χρήζων, λαμπρὸς ἔσθ’, ὁ μὴ θέλων,
  • Σιγᾷ, τί τȣτων ἐςιν ὶσαίτερον πόλει;
  • Euripid. Hicetid.
  • This is true Liberty, when freeborn men,
  • Having to advise the public, may speak free;
  • Which he who can, and will, deserves high praise:
  • Who neither can, nor will, may hold his peace:
  • What can be juster in a state than this?
  • Euripid. Hicetia.

They, who to states and governors of the commonwealth direct their speech, high court of parliament! or wanting such access in a private condition, write that which they foresee may advance the public good; I suppose them, as at the beginning of no mean endeavour, not a little altered and moved inwardly in their minds; some with doubt of what will be the success, others with fear of what will be the censure; some with hope, others with confidence of what they have to speak. And me perhaps each of these dispositions, as the subject was whereon I entered, may have at other times variously affected; and likely might in these foremost expressions now also disclose which of them swayed most, but that the very attempt of this address thus made, and the thought of whom it hath recourse to, hath got the power within me to a passion, far more welcome than incidental to a preface. Which though I stay not to confess ere any ask, I shall be blameless, if it be no other, than the joy and gratulation which it brings to all who wish and promote their country’s liberty; whereof this whole discourse proposed will be a certain testimony, if not a trophy. For this is not the liberty which we can hope, that no grievance ever should arise in the commonwealth, that let no man in this world expect; but when complaints are freely heard, deeply considered, and speedily reformed, then is the utmost bound of civil liberty obtained that wise men look for. To which if I now manifest, by the very sound of this which I shall utter, that we are already in good part arrived, and yet from such a steep disadvantage of tyranny and superstition grounded into our principles, as was beyond the manhood of a Roman recovery, it will be attributed first, as is most due, to the strong assistance of God, our deliverer; next to your faithful guidance and undaunted wisdom, lords and commons of England! Neither is it in God’s esteem, the diminution of his glory, when honourable things are spoken of good men, and worthy magistrates; which if I now first should begin to do after so fair a progress of your laudable deeds, and such a long obligement upon the whole realm to your indefatigable virtues, I might be justly reckoned among the tardiest and the unwillingest of them that praise ye. Nevertheless there Edition: current; Page: [167] being three principal things, without which all praising is but courtship and flattery; first, when that only is praised which is solidly worth praise; next, when greatest likelihoods are brought, that such things are truly and really in those persons, to whom they are ascribed; the other, when he who praises, by showing that such his actual persuasion is of whom he writes, can demonstrate that he flatters not, the former two of these I have heretofore endeavoured, rescuing the employment from him who went about to impair your merits with a trivial and malignant encomium; the latter as belonging chiefly to mine own acquittal, that whom I so extolled I did not flatter hath been reserved opportunely to this occasion. For he who freely magnifies what hath been nobly done, and fears not to declare as freely what might be done better, gives ye the best covenant of his fidelity; and that his loyalest affection and his hope waits on your proceedings. His highest praising is not flattery, and his plainest advice is a kind of praising; for though I should affirm and hold by argument, that it would fare better with truth, with learning, and the commonwealth, if one of your published orders, which I should name, were called in; yet at the same time it could not but much redound to the lustre of your mild and equal government, whenas private persons are hereby animated to think ye better pleased with public advice, than other statists have been delighted heretofore with public flattery. And men will then see what difference there is between the magnanimity of a triennial parliament, and that jealous haughtiness of prelates and cabin counsellors that usurped of late, whenas they shall observe ye in the midst of your victories and successes more gently brooking written exceptions against a voted order, than other courts, which had produced nothing worth memory but the weak ostentation of wealth, would have endured the least signified dislike at any sudden proclamation. If I should thus far presume upon the meek demeanour of your civil and gentle greatness, lords and commons! as what your published order hath directly said, that to gainsay, I might defend myself with ease, if any should accuse me of being new or insolent, did they but know how much better I find ye esteem it to imitate the old and elegant humanity of Greece, than the barbaric pride of a Hunnish and Norwegian stateliness. And out of those ages, to whose polite wisdom and letters we owe that we are not yet Goths and Jutlanders, I could name him who from his private house wrote that discourse to the parliament of Athens, that persuades them to change the form of democraty which was then established. Such honour was done in those days to men who professed the study of wisdom and eloquence, not only in their own country, but in other lands, that cities and signiories heard them gladly, and with great respect, if they had aught in public to admonish the state. Thus did Dion Prusæus, a stranger and a private orator, counsel the Rhodians against a former edict; and I abound with other like examples, which to set here would be superfluous. But if from the industry of a life wholly dedicated to studious labours, and those natural endowments haply not the worst for two and fifty degrees of northern latitude, so much must be derogated, as to count me not equal to any of those who had this privilege, I would obtain to be thought not so inferior, as yourselves are superior to the most of them who received their counsel; and how far you excel them, be assured, lords and commons! there can no greater testimony appear, than, when your prudent spirit ackowledges and obeys the voice of reason, from what quarter soever it be heard speaking; and renders ye as willing to repeal any act of your own setting forth, as any set forth by your predecessors.

If ye be thus resolved, as it were injury to think ye were not, I know not what should withhold me from presenting ye with a fit instance wherein Edition: current; Page: [168] to show both that love of truth which ye eminently profess, and that uprightness of your judgment which is not wont to be partial to yourselves; by judging over again that order which ye have ordained “to regulate printing; that no book, pamphlet, or paper, shall be henceforth printed, unless the same be first approved and licensed by such, or at least one of such, as shall be thereto appointed.” For that part which preserves justly every man’s copy to himself, or provides for the poor, I touch not; only wish they be not made pretences to abuse and persecute honest, and painful men, who offend not in either of these particulars. But that other clause of licensing books, which we thought had died with his brother quadragesimal and matrimonial when the prelates expired, I shall now attend with such a homily, as shall lay before ye, first, the inventors of it, to be those whom ye will be loth to own; next, what is to be thought in general of reading whatever sort the books be; and that this order avails nothing to the suppressing of scandalous, seditious, and libellous books, which were mainly intended to be suppressed. Last, that it will be primely to the discouragement of all learning, and the stop of truth, not only by disexercising and blunting our abilities, in what we know already, but by hindering and cropping the discovery that might be yet further made, both in religious and civil wisdom.

I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the church and commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books demean themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors; for books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a progeny of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon’s teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, imbalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. It is true, no age can restore a life whereof perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the worse. We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labours of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man preserved and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom; and if it extend to the whole impression, a kind of massacre, whereof the execution ends not in the slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at the æthereal and fifth essence, the breath of reason itself; slays an immortality rather than a life. But lest I should be condemned of introducting licence, while I oppose licensing, I refuse not the pains to be so much historical, as will serve to show what hath been done by ancient and famous commonwealths, against this disorder, till the very time that this project of licensing crept out of the inquisition, was catched up by our prelates, and hath caught some of our presbyters.

In Athens, where books and wits were ever busier that in any other part of Greece, I find but only two sorts of writings which the magistrate cared to take notice of; those either blasphemous and atheistical, or libellous. Thus the books of Protagoras were by the judges of Areopagus commanded to be burnt, and himself banished the territory for a discourse, begun with his confessing not to know, “whether there were gods, or whether not.” Edition: current; Page: [169] And against defaming, it was agreed that none should be traduced by name, as was the manner of Vetus Comœdia, whereby we may guess how they censured libelling; and this course was quick enough, as Cicero writes, to quell both the desperate wits of other atheists, and the open way of defaming, as the event showed. Of other sects and opinions, though tending to voluptuousness, and the denying of divine Providence, they took no heed. Therefore we do not read that either Epicurus, or that libertine school of Cyrene, or what the Cynic impudence uttered, was ever questioned by the laws. Neither is it recorded, that the writings of those old comedians were suppressed, though the acting of them were forbid; and that Plato commended the reading of Aristophanes, the loosest of them all, to his royal scholar Dionysius, is commonly known, and may be excused, if holy Chrysostom, as is reported, nightly studied so much the same author, and had the art to cleanse a scurrilous vehemence into the style of a rousing sermon. That other leading city of Greece, Lacedæmon, considering that Lycurgus their lawgiver was so addicted to elegant learning, as to have been the first that brought out of Ionia the scatterred works of Homer, and sent the poet Thales from Crete to prepare and mollify the Spartan surliness with his smooth songs and odes, the better to plant among them law and civility; it is to be wondered how museless and unbookish they were, minding nought but the feats of war. There needed no licensing of books among them, for they disliked all but their own laconic apophthegms, and took a slight occasion to chase Archilocus out of their city, perhaps for composing in a higher strain than their own soldiery, ballads, and roundels, could reach to; or if it were for his broad verses, they were not therein so cautious, but they were as dissolute in their promiscuous conversing; whence Euripides affirms in Andromache, that their women were all unchaste. This much may give us light after what sort of books were prohibited among the Greeks. The Romans also for many ages trained up only to a military roughness, resembling most the Lacedæmonian guise, knew of learning little but what their twelve tables and the pontific college with their augurs and flamins taught them in religion and law; so unacquainted with other learning, that when Carneades and Critolaus, with the stoic Diogenes, coming embassadors to Rome, took thereby occasion to give the city a taste of their philosophy, they were suspected for seducers by no less a man than Cato the censor, who moved it in the senate to dismiss them speedily, and to banish all such Attic babblers out of Italy. But Scipio and others of the noblest senators withstood him and his old Sabin austerity; honoured and admired the men; and the censor himself at last, in his old age, fell to the study of that whereof before he was so scrupulous. And yet at the same time, Nævius and Plautus, the first Latin comedians, had filled the city with all the borrowed scenes of Menander and Philemon. Then began to be considered there also what was to be done to libellous books and authors; for Nævius was quickly cast into prison for his unbridled pen, and released by the tribunes upon his recantation; we read also that libels were burnt, and the makers punished, by Augustus. The like severity, no doubt, was used, if aught were impiously written against their esteemed gods. Except in these two points, how the world went in books, the magistrate kept no reckoning. And therefore Lucretius, without impeachment, versifies his Epicurism, to Memmius, and had the honour to be set forth the second time by Cicero, so great a father of the commonwealth; although himself disputes against that opinion in his own writings. Nor was the satirical sharpness or naked plainness of Lucilius, or Catullus, or Flaccus, by any order prohibited. And for Edition: current; Page: [170] matters of state, the story of Titus Livius, though it extolled that part which Pompey held, was not therefore suppressed by Octavius Cæsar, of the other faction. But that Naso was by him banished in his old age, for the wanton poems of his youth, was but a mere covert of state over some secret cause; and besides, the books were neither banished nor called in. From hence we shall meet with little else but tyranny in the Roman empire, that we may not marvel, if not so often bad as good books were silenced. I shall therefore deem to have been large enough, in producing what among the ancients was punishable to write, save only which, all other arguments were free to treat on.

By this time the emperors were become Christians whose discipline in this point I do not find to have been more severe than what was formerly in practice. The books of those whom they took to be grand heretics were examined, refuted, and condemned in the general councils; and not till then were prohibited, or burnt, by authority of the emperor. As for the writings of heathen authors, unless, they were plain invectives against Christianity, as those of Porphyrius and Proclus, they met with no interdict that can be cited, till about the year 400, in a Carthaginian council, wherein bishops themselves were forbid to read the books of gentiles, but heresies they might read; while others long before them on the contrary scrupled more the books of heretics than of gentiles. And that the primitive councils and bishops were wont only to declare what books were not commendable, passing no further, but leaving it to each one’s conscience to read or to lay by, till after the year 800, is observed already by Padre Paolo the great unmasker of the Trentine council. After which time the popes of Rome, engrossing what they pleased of political rule into their own hands, extended their dominion over men’s eyes, as they had before over their judgments, burning and prohibiting to be read what they fancied not; yet sparing in their censures, and the books not many which they so dealt with; till Martin the fifth, by his bull, not only prohibited, but was the first that excommunicated the reading of heretical books; for about that time Wickliffe and Husse growing terrible, were they who first drove the papal court to a stricter policy of prohibiting. Which course Leo the tenth and his successors followed, until the council of Trent and the Spanish inquisition engendering together brought forth or perfected those catalogues and expurging indexes, that rake through the entrails of many an old good author, with a violation worse than any could be offered to his tomb. Nor did they stay in matters heretical, but any subject that was not to their palate, they either condemned in a prohibition, or had it straight into the new Purgatory of an index. To fill up the measure of encroachment, their last invention was to ordain that no book, pamphlet, or paper, should be printed (as if St. Peter had bequeathed them the keys of the press also as well as of Paradise) unless it were approved and licensed under the hands of two or three gluttonous friars. For example:

Let the chancellor Cini be pleased to see if in this present work be contained aught that may withstand the printing.—Vincent Rabbata, vicar of Florence.

I have seen this present work, and find nothing athwart the catholic faith and good manners; in witness whereof I have given, &c.—Nicolo Cini, chancellor of Florence.

Attending the precedent relation, it is allowed that this present work of Davanzati may be printed.—Vincent Rabatta, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [171]

It may be printed, July 15.—Friar Simon Mompei d’Ametia, chancellor of the holy office in Florence.

Sure they have a conceit, if he of the bottomless pit had not long since broke prison, that this quadruple exorcism would bar him down. I fear their next design will be to get into their custody the licensing of that which they say Claudius intended,* but went not through with. Vouchsafe to see another of their forms, the Roman stamp;

Imprimatur, If it seem good to the reverend master of the holy palace.—Belcastro, vicegerent.

Imprimatur.—Friar Nicholo Rodolphi, master of the holy palace.

Sometimes five imprimaturs are seen together dialogue wise in the piatza of one titlepage, complimenting and ducking each to other with their shaven reverences, whether the author, who stands by in perplexity at the foot of his epistle, shall to the press or to the spunge. These are the pretty responsories, these are the dear antiphonies, that so bewitched of late our prelates and their chaplains, with the goodly echo they made; and besotted us to the gay imitation of a lordly imprimatur, one from Lambeth-house, another from the west end of Paul’s; so apishly romanizing, that the word of command still was set down in Latin; as if the learned grammatical pen that wrote it would cast no ink without Latin; or perhaps, as they thought, because no vulgar tongue was worthy to express the pure conceit of an imprimatur; but rather, as I hope, for that our English, the language of men ever famous and foremost in the achievements of liberty, will not easily find servile letters enow to spell such a dictatory presumption Englished. And thus ye have the inventors and the original of book licensing ripped up and drawn as lineally as any pedigree. We have it not, that can be heard of, from any ancient state, or polity, or church, nor by any statute left us by our ancestors elder or later; nor from the modern custom of any reformed city or church abroad; but from the most antichristian council, and the most tyrannous inquisition, that ever inquired. Till then, books were ever as freely admitted into the world as any other birth; the issue of the brain was no more stifled than the issue of the womb; no envious Juno sat crosslegged over the nativity of any man’s intellectual offspring; but if it proved a monster, who denies but that it was justly burnt, or sunk into the sea? But that a book, in worse condition than a peccant soul, should be to stand before a jury ere it be born to the world, and undergo yet in darkness the judgment of Radamanth and his colleagues, ere it can pass the ferry backward into light, was never heard before, till that mysterious iniquity, provoked and troubled at the first entrance of reformation, sought out new limboes and new hells wherein they might include our books also within the number of their damned. And this was the rare morsel so officiously snatched up, and so illfavouredly imitated by our inquisiturient bishops, and the attendant minorites their chaplains. That ye like not now these most certain authors of this licensing order, and that all sinister intention was far distant from your thoughts, when ye were importuned the passing it, all men who know the integrity of your actions, and how ye honour truth, will clear ye readily.

But some will say, what though the inventors were bad, the thing for all that may be good. It may so; yet if that thing be no such deep invention, but obvious and easy for any man to light on, and yet best and wisest commonwealths Edition: current; Page: [172] through all ages and occasions have forborn to use it, and falsest seducers and oppressors of men were the first who took it up, and to no other purpose but to obstruct and hinder the first approach of reformation; I am of those who believe, it will be a harder alchemy than Lullius ever knew, to sublimate any good use out of such an invention. Yet this only is what I request to gain from this reason, that it may be held a dangerous and suspicious fruit, as certainly it deserves, for the tree that bore it, until I can dissect one by one the properties it has. But I have first to finish, as was propounded, what is to be thought in general of reading books, whatever sort they be, and whether be more the benefit or the harm that thence proceeds.

Not to insist upon the examples of Moses, Daniel, and Paul, who were skilful in all the learning of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Greeks, which could not probably be without reading their books of all sorts, in Paul especially, who thought it no defilement to insert into holy Scripture the sentences of three Greek poets, and one of them a tragedian; the question was notwithstanding sometimes controverted among the primitive doctors, but with great odds on that side which affirmed it both lawful and profitable, as was then evidently perceived, when Julian the Apostate, and subtlest enemy to our faith, made a decree forbidding Christians the study of heathen learning; for said he, they wound us with our own weapons, and with our own arts and sciences they overcome us. And indeed the Christians were put so to their shifts by this crafty means, and so much in danger to decline into all ignorance, that the two Apollinarii were fain, as a man may say, to coin all the seven liberal sciences out of the Bible, reducing it into divers forms of orations, poems, dialogues, even to the calculating of a new Christian grammar. But, saith the historian Socrates, the providence of God provided better than the industry of Apollinarius and his son, by taking away that illiterate law with the life of him who devised it. So great an injury they then held it to be deprived of Hellenic learning; and thought it a persecution more undermining, and secretly decaying the church, than the open cruelty of Decius or Dioclesian. And perhaps it was the same politic drift that the devil whipped St. Jerome in a lenten dream, for reading Cicero; or else it was a phantasm, bred by the fever which had then seized him. For had an angel been his discipliner, unless it were for dwelling too much on Ciceronianisms, and had chastised the reading, not the vanity, it had been plainly partial; first to correct him for grave Cicero, and not for scurrile Plautus, whom he confesses to have been reading not long before; next to correct him only, and let so many more ancient fathers wax old in those pleasant and florid studies without the lash of such a tutoring apparition; insomuch that Basil teaches how some good use may be made of Margites, a sportful poem, not now extant, writ by Homer; and why not then of Morgante, an Italian romance much to the same purpose? But if it be agreed we shall be tried by visions, there is a vision recorded by Eusebius, far ancienter than this tale of Jerom, to the nun Eustochium, and besides, has nothing of a fever in it. Dionysius Alexandrinus was, about the year 240, a person of great name in the church, for piety and learning, who had wont to avail himself much against heretics, by being conversant in their books; until a certain presbyter laid it scrupulously to his conscience, how he durst venture himself among those defiling volumes. The worthy man, loth to give offence, fell into a new debate with himself, what was to be thought; when suddenly a vision sent from God (it is his own epistle that so avers it) confirmed him in these words: “Read any books whatever come to thy hands, for thou art sufficient both to judge aright, and to examine each Edition: current; Page: [173] matter.” To this revelation he assented the sooner, as he confesses, because it was answerable to that of the apostle to the Thessalonians; “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” And he might have added another remarkable saying of the same author: “To the pure, all things are pure;” not only meats and drinks, but all kind of knowledge, whether of good or evil; the knowledge cannot defile, nor consequently the books, if the will and conscience be not defiled. For books are as meats and viands are; some of good, some of evil substance; and yet God in that unapocryphal vision said without exception, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat;” leaving the choice to each man’s discretion. Wholesome meats to a vitiated stomach differ little or nothing from unwholesome; and best books to a naughty mind are not unapplicable to occasions of evil. Bad meats will scarce breed good nourishment in the healthiest concoction; but herein the difference is of bad books, that they to a discreet and judicious reader serve in many respects to discover, to confute, to forewarn, and to illustrate. Whereof what better witness can ye expect I should produce, than one of your own now sitting in parliament, the chief of learned men reputed in this land, Mr. Selden; whose volume of natural and national laws proves, not only by great authorities brought together, but by exquisite reasons and theorems almost mathematically demonstrative, that all opinions, yea errors, known, read, and collated, are of main service and assistance toward the speedy attainment of what is truest. I conceive therefore, that when God did enlarge the universal diet of man’s body, (saving ever the rules of temperance,) he then also, as before, left arbitrary the dieting and repasting of our minds; as wherein every mature man might have to exercise his own leading capacity. How great a virtue is temperance, how much of moment through the whole life of man! Yet God commits the managing so great a trust without particular law or prescription, wholly to the demeanour of every grown man. And therefore when he himself tabled the Jews from heaven, that omer, which was every man’s daily portion of manna, is computed to have been more than might have well sufficed the heartiest feeder thrice as many meals. For those actions which enter into a man, rather than issue out of him, and therefore defile not, God uses not to captivate under a perpetual childhood of prescription, but trusts him with the gift of reason to be his own chooser; there were but little work left for preaching, if law and compulsion should grow so fast upon those things which heretofore were governed only by exhortation. Solomon informs us, that much reading is a weariness to the flesh; but neither he, nor other inspired author, tells us that such or such reading is unlawful; yet certainly had God thought good to limit us herein, it had been much more expedient to have told us what was unlawful, than what was wearisome. As for the burning of those Ephesian books by St. Paul’s converts; it is replied, the books were magic, the Syriac so renders them. It was a private act, a voluntary act, and leaves us to a voluntary imitation: the men in remorse burnt those books which were their own; the magistrate by this example is not appointed; these men practised the books, another might perhaps have read them in some sort usefully. Good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed upon Psyche as an incessant labour to cull out, and sort asunder, were not more intermixed. It was from out the rind of one apple tasted, that the knowledge of good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth into the world. And perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into Edition: current; Page: [174] of knowing good and evil, that is to say, of knowing good by evil. As therefore the state of man now is, what wisdom can there be to choose, what continence to forbear, without the knowledge of evil? He that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the true warfaring Christian. I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue unexercised, and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary. That virtue therefore which is but a youngling in the contemplation of evil, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her followers, and rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure; her whiteness is but an excremental whiteness; which was the reason why our sage and serious poet Spenser, (whom I dare be known to think a better teacher than Scotus or Aquinas,) describing true temperance under the person of Guion, brings him in with his palmer through the cave of Mammon, and the bower of earthly bliss, that he might see and know, and yet abstain. Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and faisity, than by reading all manner of tractates, and hearing all manner of reason? And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read. But of the harm that may result hence, three kinds are usually reckoned. First, is feared the infection that may spread; but then, all human learning and controversy in religious points must remove out of the world, yea, the Bible itself; for that ofttimes relates blasphemy not nicely; it describes the carnal sense of wicked men not unelegantly; it brings in holiest men passionately murmuring against providence through all the arguments of Epicurus; in other great disputes it answers dubiously and darkly to the common reader; and ask a Talmudist what ails the modesty of his marginal Keri, that Moses and all the prophets cannot persuade him to pronounce the textual Chetiv. For these causes we all know the Bible itself put by the papist into the first rank of prohibited books. The ancientest fathers must be next removed, as Clement of Alexandria, and that Eusebian book of evangelic preparation, transmitting our ears through a hoard of heathenish obscenities to receive the gospel. Who finds not that Irenæus, Epiphanius, Jerom, and others discover more heresies than they well confute, and that oft for heresy which is the truer opinion? Nor boots it to say for these, and all the heathen writers of greatest infection if it must be thought so, with whom is bound up the life of human learning, that they writ in an unknown tongue, so long as we are sure those languages are known as well to the worst of men, who are both most able, and most diligent to instil the poison they suck, first into the courts of princes, acquainting them with the choicest delights, and criticisms of sin. As perhaps did that Petronius, whom Nero called his arbiter, the master of his revels; and that notorious ribald of Arezzo, dreaded and yet dear to the Italian courtiers. I name not him for posterity’s sake, whom Henry the Eighth named in merriment his vicar of hell. By which compendious way all the contagion that foreign books can infuse, will find a passage to the people far easier and shorter than an Indian voyage, though it could be sailed either by the north of Cataio eastward, or of Canada westward, while our Spanish licensing gags the English press never so severely. But on the other side, that infection which is from books of controversy Edition: current; Page: [175] in religion, is more doubtful and dangerous to the learned, than to the ignorant; and yet those books must be permitted untouched by the licenser. It will be hard to instance where any ignorant man hath been ever seduced by any papistical book in English, unless it were commended and expounded to him by some of that clergy; and indeed all such tractates, whether false or true, are as the prophecy of Isaiah was to the eunuch, not to be “understood without a guide.” But of our priests and doctors how many have been corrupted by studying the comments of Jesuits and Sorbonists, and how fast they could transfuse that corruption into the people, our experience is both late and sad. It is not forgot, since the acute and distinct Arminius was perverted merely by the perusing of a nameless discourse written at Delft, which at first he took in hand to confute. Seeing therefore that those books, and those in great abundance which are likeliest to taint both life and doctrine, cannot be suppressed without the fall of learning, and of all ability in disputation, and that these books of either sort are most and soonest catching to the learned, (from whom to the common people whatever is heretical or dissolute may quickly be conveyed,) and that evil manners are as perfectly learnt without books a thousand other ways which cannot be stopped, and evil doctrine not with books can propagate, except a teacher guide, which he might also do without writing, and so beyond prohibiting; I am not unable to unfold, how this cautelous enterprise of licensing can be exempted from the number of vain and impossible attempts. And he who were pleasantly disposed, could not well avoid to liken it to the exploit of that gallant man, who thought to pound up the crows by shutting his park gate. Besides another inconvenience, if learned men be the first receivers out of books, and dispreaders both of vice and error, how shall the licensers themselves be confided in, unless we can confer upon them, or they assume to themselves above all others in the land, the grace of infallibility and uncorruptedness? And again, if it be true, that a wise man, like a good refiner, can gather gold out of the drossiest volume, and that a fool will be a fool with the best book, yea, or without book; there is no reason that we should deprive a wise man of any advantage to his wisdom, while we seek to restrain from a fool that which being restrained will be no hinderance to his folly. For if there should be so much exactness always used to keep that from him which is unfit for his reading, we should in the judgment of Aristotle not only, but of Solomon, and of our Saviour, not vouchsafe him good precepts, and by consequence not willingly admit him to good books; as being certain that a wise man will make better use of an idle pamphlet, than a fool will do of sacred Scripture.

It is next alleged, we must not expose ourselves to temptations without necessity, and next to that, not employ our time in vain things. To both these objections one answer will serve, out of the grounds already laid, that to all men such books are not temptations, nor vanities; but useful drugs and materials wherewith to temper and compose effective and strong medicines, which man’s life cannot want. The rest, as children and childish men, who have not the art to qualify and prepare these working minerals, well may be exhorted to forbear, but hindered forcibly they cannot be, by all the licensing that sainted inquisition could ever yet contrive; which is what I promised to deliver next: that this order of licensing conduces nothing to the end for which it was framed; and hath almost prevented me by being clear already while thus much hath been explaining. See the ingenuity of truth, who, when she gets a free and willing hand, opens herself faster than the pace of method and discourse can overtake her. It was the task which I began with, to show that no nation, or well instituted state, if they Edition: current; Page: [176] valued books at all, did ever use this way of licensing; and it might be answered, that this is a piece of prudence lately discovered. To which I return, that as it was a thing slight and obvious to think on, so if it had been difficult to find out, there wanted not among them long since, who suggested such a course; which they not following, leave us a pattern of their judgment that it was not the not knowing, but the not approving, which was the cause of their not using it. Plato, a man of high authority indeed, but least of all for his Commonwealth, in the book of his laws, which no city ever yet received, fed his fancy with making many edicts to his airy burgomasters, which they who otherwise admire him wish had been rather buried and excused in the genial cups of an academic night sitting. By which laws he seems to tolerate no kind of learning, but by unalterable decree, consisting most of practical traditions, to the attainment whereof a library of smaller bulk than his own dialogues would be abundant. And there also enacts, that no poet should so much as read to any private man what he had written, until the judges and law keepers had seen it, and allowed it; but that Plato meant this law peculiarly to that commonwealth which he had imagined, and to no other, is evident. Why was he not else a lawgiver to himself, but a transgressor, and to be expelled by his own magistrates, both for the wanton epigrams and dialogues which he made, and his perpetual reading of Sophron, Mimus and Aristophanes, books of grossest infamy; and also for commending the latter of them, though he were the malicious libeller of his chief friends, to be read by the tyrant Dionysius, who had little need of such trash to spend his time on? But that he knew this licensing of poems had reference and dependance to many other provisoes there set down in his fancied republic, which in this world could have no place; and so neither he himself, nor any magistrate or city ever imitated that course, which taken apart from those other collateral injunctions must needs be vain and fruitless. For if they fell upon one kind of strictness, unless their care were equal to regulate all other things of like aptness to corrupt the mind, that single endeavour they knew would be but a fond labour; to shut and fortify one gate against corruption, and be necessitated to leave others round about wide open. If we think to regulate printing, thereby to rectify manners, we must regulate all recreations and pastimes, all that is delightful to man. No music must be heard, no song be set or sung, but what is grave and doric. There must be licensing dancers, that no gesture, motion or deportment be taught our youth, but what by their allowance shall be thought honest; for such Plato was provided of. It will ask more than the work of twenty licensers to examine all the lutes, the violins, and the guitars in every house; they must not be suffered to prattle as they do, but must be licensed what they may say. And who shall silence all the airs and madrigals that whisper softness in chambers? The windows also, and the balconies must be thought on; there are shrewd books, with dangerous frontispieces, set to sale; who shall prohibit them, shall twenty licensers? The villages also must have their visiters to inquire what lectures the bagpipe and the rebec reads, even to the ballatry and the gamut of every municipal fiddler; for these are the countryman’s Arcadias, and his Monte Mayors. Next, what more national corruption, for which England hears ill abroad, than household gluttony; who shall be the rectors of our daily rioting? And what shall be done to inhibit the multitudes, that frequent those houses where drunkenness is sold and harboured? Our garments also should be referred to the licensing of some more sober workmasters, to see them cut into a less wanton garb. Who shall regulate all the mixed conversation of our youth, male and female together, as is the Edition: current; Page: [177] fashion of this country? Who shall still appoint what shall be discoursed, what presumed, and no further? Lastly, who shall forbid and separate all idle resort, all evil company? These things will be, and must be; but how they shall be least hurtful, how least enticing, herein consists the grave and governing wisdom of a state. To sequester out of the world into Atlantic and Eutopian politics which never can be drawn into use, will not mend our condition; but to ordain wisely as in this world of evil, in the midst whereof God hath placed us unavoidably. Nor is it Plato’s licensing of books will do this, which necessarily pulls along with it so many other kinds of licensing, as will make us all both ridiculous and weary and yet frustrate; but those unwritten, or at least unconstraining laws of virtuous education, religious and civil nurture, which Plato there mentions, as the bonds and ligaments of the commonwealth, the pillars and the sustainers of every written statute; these they be, which will bear chief sway in such matters as these, when all licensing will be easily eluded. Impunity and remissness for certain are the bane of a commonwealth; but here the great art lies, to discern in what the law is to bid restraint and punishment, and in what things persuasion only is to work. If every action which is good or evil in man at ripe years were to be under pittance, prescription, and compulsion, what were virtue but a name, what praise could be then due to well doing, what gramercy to be sober, just, or continent? Many there be that complain of divine Providence for suffering Adam to transgress. Foolish tongues! when God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing; he had been else a mere artificial Adam, such an Adam as he is in the motions. We ourselves esteem not of that obedience, or love, or gift, which is of force; God therefore left him free, set before him a provoking object, ever almost in his eyes; herein consisted his merit, herein the right of his reward, the praise of his abstinence. Wherefore did he create passions within us, pleasures round about us, but that these rightly tempered are the very ingredients of virtue? They are not skilful considerers of human things, who imagine to remove sin, by removing the matter of sin; for, besides that it is a huge heap increasing under the very act of diminishing, though some part of it may for a time be withdrawn from some persons, it cannot from all, in such a universal things as books are; and when this is done, yet the sin remains entire. Though ye take from a covetous man all his treasure, he has yet one jewel left, ye cannot bereave him of his covetousness. Banish all objects of lust, shut up all youth into the severest discipline that can be exercised in any hermitage, ye cannot make them chaste, that came not thither so: such great care and wisdom is required to the right managing of this point. Suppose we could expel sin by this means; look how much we thus expel of sin, so much we expel of virtue: for the matter of them both is the same: remove that and ye remove them both alike. This justifies the high providence of God, who though he commands us temperance, justice, continence, yet pours out before us even to a profuseness all desirable things, and gives us minds that can wander beyond all limit and satiety. Why should we then affect a rigour contrary to the manner of God and of nature, by abridging or scanting those means which books, freely permitted, are both to the trial of virtue, and the exercise of truth? It would be better done, to learn that the law must needs be frivolous, which goes to restrain things, uncertainly and yet equally working to good and to evil. And were I the chooser, a dram of well doing should be preferred before many times as much the forcible hinderance of evil doing. For God sure esteems the growth and completing of one virtuous person, more than the restraint of ten vicious. And albeit, whatever Edition: current; Page: [178] thing we hear or see, sitting, walking, travelling, or conversing, may be fitly called our book, and is of the same effect that writings are; yet grant the thing to be prohibited were only books, it appears that this order hitherto is far insufficient to the end which it intends. Do we not see, not once or oftener, but weekly, that continued court-libel against the parliament and city, printed, as the wet sheets can witness, and dispersed among us for all that licensing can do? Yet this is the prime service a man would think wherein this order should give proof of itself. If it were executed, you will say. But certain, if execution be remiss or blindfold now, and in this particular, what will it be hereafter, and in other books? If then the order shall not be vain and frustrate, behold a new labour, lords and commons, ye must repeal and proscribe all scandalous and unlicensed books already printed and divulged; after ye have drawn them up into a list, that all may know which are condemned, and which not; and ordain that no foreign books be delivered out of custody, till they have been read over. This office will require the whole time of not a few overseers, and those no vulgar men. There be also books which are partly useful and excellent, partly culpable and pernicious; this work will ask as many more officials, to make expurgations and expunctions, that the commonwealth of learning be not damnified. In fine, when the multitude of books increase upon their hands, ye must be fain to catalogue all those printers who are found frequently offending, and forbid the importation of their whole suspected typography. In a word, that this your order may be exact, and not deficient, ye must reform it perfectly according to the model of Trent and Sevil, which I know ye abhor to do. Yet though ye should condescend to this, which God forbid, the order still would be but fruitless and defective to that end whereto ye meant it. If to prevent sects and schisms, who is so unread or uncatechised in story, that hath not heard of many sects refusing books as a hinderance, and preserving their doctrine unmixed for many ages, only by unwritten traditions? The Christian faith, (for that was once a schism!) is not unknown to have spread all over Asia, ere any gospel or epistle was seen in writing. If the amendment of manners be aimed at, look into Italy and Spain, whether those places be one scruple the better the honester, the wiser, the chaster, since all the inquisitional rigour that hath been executed upon books.

Another reason, whereby to make it plain that this order will miss the end it seeks, consider by the quality which ought to be in every licenser. It cannot be denied, but that he who is made judge to sit upon the birth or death of books, whether they may be wafted into this world or not, had need to be a man above the common measure, both studious, learned, and judicious; there may be else no mean mistakes in the censure of what is passable or not; which is also no mean injury. If he be of such worth as behoves him, there cannot be a more tedious and unpleasing journeywork, a greater loss of time levied upon his head than to be made the perpetual reader of unchosen books and pamphlets, ofttimes huge volumes. There is no book that is acceptable, unless at certain seasons; but to be enjoined the reading of that at all times, and in a hand scarce legible, whereof three pages would not down at any time in the fairest print, is an imposition which I cannot believe how he that values time, and his own studies, or is but of a sensible nostril, should be able to endure. In this one thing I crave leave of the present licensers to be pardoned for so thinking; who doubtless took this office up, looking on it through their obedience to the parliament, whose command perhaps made all things seem easy and unlaborious to them; but that this short trial hath wearied them out already, their own expressions and excuses to them, who make so many journeys to solicit their license, Edition: current; Page: [179] are testimony enough. Seeing therefore those who now possess the employment, by all evident signs wish themselves well rid of it, and that no man of worth, none that is not a plain unthrift of his own hours, is ever likely to succeed them except he mean to put himself to the salary of a press corrector, we may easily foresee what kind of licensers we are to expect hereafter, either ignorant, imperious, and remiss, or basely pecuniary. This is what I had to show wherein this order cannot conduce to that end, whereof it bears the intention.

I lastly proceed from the no good it can do, to the manifest hurt it causes, in being first the greatest discouragement and affront that can be offered to learning, and to learned men. It was the complaint and lamentation of prelates, upon every least breath of a motion to remove pluralties, and distribute more equally church revenues, that then all learning would be for ever dashed and discouraged. But as for that opinion, I never found cause to think, that the tenth part of learning stood or fell with the clergy: nor could I ever but hold it for a sordid and unworthy speech of any churchman, who had a competency left him. If therefore ye be loth to dishearten utterly and discontent, not the mercenary crew of false pretenders to learning, but the free and ingenuous sort of such as evidently were born to study and love learning for itself, not for lucre, or any other end, but the service of God and of truth, and perhaps that lasting fame and perpetuity of praise, which God and good men have consented shall be the reward of those, whose published labours advance the good of mankind: then know, that so far to distrust the judgment and the honesty of one who hath but a common repute in learning, and never yet offended, as not to count him fit to print his mind without a tutor and examiner, lest he should drop a schism, or something of corruption, is the greatest displeasure and indignity to a free and knowing spirit, that can be put upon him. What advantage is it to be a man, over it is to be a boy at school, if we have only escaped the ferula, to come under the fescue of an Imprimatur? If serious and elaborate writings, as if they were no more than the theme of a grammar-lad under his pedagogue, must not be uttered without the cursory eyes of a temporizing and extemporizing licenser? He who is not trusted with his own actions, his drift not being known to be evil, and standing to the hazard of law and penalty, has no great argument to think himself reputed in the commonwealth wherein he was born for other than a fool or a foreigner. When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditates, is industrious, and likely consults and confers with his judicious friends; after all which done, he takes himself to be informed in what he writes, as well as any that writ before him; if in this the most consummate act of his fidelity and ripeness, no years, no industry, no former proof of his abilities can bring him to that state of maturity, as not to be still mistrusted and suspected, unless he carry all his considerate diligence, all his midnight watchings, and expense of Palladian oil, to the hasty view of an unleisured licenser, perhaps much his younger, perhaps far his inferior in judgment, perhaps one who never knew the labour of bookwriting; and if he be not repulsed, or slighted, must appear in print like a puny with his guardian, and his censor’s hand on the back of his title to be his bail and surety, that he is no idiot or seducer; it cannot be but a dishonour and derogation to the author, to the book, to the privilege and dignity of learning. And what if the author shall be one so copious of fancy, as to have many things well worth the adding, come into his mind after licensing, while the book is yet under the press, which not seldom happens to the Edition: current; Page: [180] best and diligentest writers; and that perhaps a dozen times in one book. The printer dares not go beyond his licensed copy; so often then must the author trudge to his leave-giver, that those his new insertions may be viewed; and many a jaunt will be made, ere that licenser, for it must be the same man, can either be found, or found at leisure; meanwhile either the press must stand still, which is no small damage, or the author lose his accuratest thoughts, and send the book forth worse than he had made it, which to a diligent writer is the greatest melancholy and vexation that can befal. And how can a man teach with authority, which is the life of teaching; how can he be a doctor in his book as he ought to be, or else had better be silent, whenas all he teaches, all he delivers, is but under the tuition, under the correction of his patriarchal licenser, to blot or alter what precisely accords not with the hidebound humour which he calls his judgment? When every acute reader upon the first sight of a pedantic license, will be ready with these like words to ding the book a coit’s distance from him, I hate a pupil teacher, I endure not an instructor that comes to me under the wardship of an overseeing fist. I know nothing of the licenser, but that I have his own hand here for his arrogance; who shall warrant me his judgment? The state, sir, replies the stationer: but has a quick return, the state shall be my governors, but not my critics; they may be mistaken in the choice of a licenser, as easily as this licenser may be mistaken in an author. This is some common stuff; and he might add from Sir Francis Bacon, that “such authorized books are but the language of the times.” For though a licenser should happen to be judicious more than ordinary, which will be a great jeopardy of the next succession, yet his very office and his commission enjoins him to let pass nothing but what is vulgarly received already. Nay, which is more lamentable, if the work of any deceased author, though never so famous in his lifetime, and even to this day, comes to their hands for license to be printed, or reprinted, if there be found in his book one sentence of a venturous edge, uttered in the height of zeal, (and who knows whether it might not be the dictate of a divine spirit?) yet not suiting with every low decrepit humour of their own, though it were Knox himself, the reformer of a kingdom, that spake it, they will not pardon him their dash; the sense of that great man shall to all posterity be lost, for the fearfulness, or the presumptuous rashness of a perfunctory licenser. And to what an author this violence hath been lately done, and in what book of greatest consequence to be faithfully published, I could now instance, but shall forbear till a more convenient season. Yet if these things be not resented seriously and timely by them who have the remedy in their power, but that such iron-moulds as these shall have authority to gnaw out the choicest periods of exquisitest books, and to commit such a treacherous fraud against the orphan remainders of worthiest men after death, the more sorrow will belong to that hapless race of men, whose misfortune it is to have understanding. Henceforth let no man care to learn, or care to be more than worldly wise; for certainly in higher matters to be ignorant and slothful, to be a common stedfast dunce, will be the only pleasant life, and only in request.

And as it is a particular disesteem of every knowing person alive, and most injurious to the written labours and monuments of the dead, so to me it seems an undervaluing and vilifying of the whole nation. I cannot set so light by all the invention, the art, the wit, the grave and solid judgment which is in England, as that it can be comprehended in any twenty capacities how good soever; much less that it should not pass except their superintendence be over it, except it be sifted and strained with their Edition: current; Page: [181] strainers, that it should be uncurrent without their manual stamp. Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded in by tickets, and statutes, and standards. We must not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the land, to mark and license it like our broadcloth and our woolpacks. What is it but a servitude like that imposed by the Philistines, not to be allowed the sharpening of our own axes and coulters, but we must repair from all quarters to twenty licensing forges? Had any one written and divulged erroneous things and scandalous to honest life, misusing and forfeiting the esteem had of his reason among men; if after conviction this only censure were adjudged him, that he should never henceforth write, but what were first examined by an appointed officer, whose hand should be annexed to pass his credit for him, that now he might be safely read; it could not be apprehended less than a disgraceful punishment. Whence to include the whole nation, and those that never yet thus offended, under such a diffident and suspectful prohibition, may plainly be understood what a disparagement it is. So much the more whenas debtors and delinquents may walk abroad without a keeper, but unoffensive books must not stir forth without a visible jailor in their title. Nor is it to the common people less than a reproach; for if we be so jealous over them, as that we dare not trust them with an English pamphlet, what do we but censure them for a giddy, vicious, and ungrounded people; in such a sick and weak state of faith and discretion, as to be able to take nothing down but through the pipe of a licenser? That this is care or love of them, we cannot pretend, whenas in those popish places, where the laity are most hated and despised, the same strictness is used over them. Wisdom we cannot call it, because it stops but one breach of license, nor that neither: whenas those corruptions, which it seeks to prevent, break in faster at other doors, which cannot be shut.

And in conclusion it reflects to the disrepute of our ministers, also, of whose labours we should hope better, and of their proficiency which their flock reaps by them, than that after all this light of the gospel which is, and is to be, and all this continual preaching, they should be still frequented with such an unprincipled, unedified, and laic rabble, as that the whiff of every new pamphlet should stagger them out of their catechism and Christian walking. This may have much reason to discourage the ministers, when such a low conceit is had of all their exhortations, and the benefiting of their hearers, as that they are not thought fit to be turned loose to three sheets of paper without a licenser; that all the sermons, all the lectures preached, printed, vended in such numbers, and such volumes, as have now well-nigh made all other books unsaleable, should not be armour enough against one single Enchiridion, without the castle of St. Angelo of an Imprimatur.

And lest some should persuade ye, lords and commons, that these arguments of other learned men’s discouragement at this your order are mere flourishes, and not real, I could recount what I have seen and heard in other countries, where this kind of inquisition tyrannizes; when I have sat among their learned men, (for that honour I had,) and been counted happy to be born in such a place of philosophic freedom, as they supposed England was, while themselves did nothing but bemoan the servile condition into which learning amongst them was brought; that this was it which had damped the glory of Italian wits; that nothing had been there written now these many years but flattery and fustian. There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo, grown old, a prisoner to the inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers Edition: current; Page: [182] thought. And though I knew that England then was groaning loudest under the prelatical yoke, nevertheless I took it as a pledge of future happiness, that other nations were so persuaded of her liberty. Yet was it beyond my hope, that those worthies were then breathing in her air, who should be her leaders to such a deliverance, as shall never be forgotten by any revolution of time that this world hath to finish. When that was once begun, it was as little in my fear, that what words of complaint I heard among learned men of other parts uttered against the inquisition, the same I should hear by as learned men at home uttered in time of parliament against an order of licensing; and that so generally, that when I had disclosed myself a companion of their discontent, I might say, if without envy, that he whom an honest quæstorship had endeared to the Sicilians, was not more by them importuned against Verres, than the favourable opinion which I had among many who honour ye, and are known and respected by ye, loaded me with entreaties and persuasions, that I would not despair to lay together that which just reason should bring into my mind, toward the removal of an undeserved thraldom upon learning. That this is not therefore the disburdening of a particular fancy, but the common grievance of all those who had prepared their minds and studies above the vulgar pitch to advance truth in others, and from others to entertain it, thus much may satisfy. And in their name I shall for neither friend nor foe conceal what the general murmur is; that if it come to inquisitioning again, and licensing, and that we are so timorous of ourselves, and suspicious of all men, as to fear each book, and the shaking of every leaf, before we know what the contents are; if some who but of late were little better than silenced from preaching, shall come now to silence us from reading, except what they please, it cannot be guessed what is intended by some but a second tyranny over learning: and will soon put it out of controversy, that bishops and presbyters are the same to us both name and thing. That those evils of prelaty which before from five or six and twenty sees were distributively charged upon the whole people, will now light wholly upon learning, is not obscure to us: whenas now the pastor of a small unlearned parish, on the sudden shall be exalted archbishop over a large diocese of books, and yet not remove, but keep his other cure too, a mystical pluralist. He who but of late cried down the sole ordination of every novice bachelor of art, and denied sole jurisdiction over the simplest parishioner, shall now at home in his private chair assume both these over worthiest and excellentest books, and ablest authors that write them. This is not, ye covenants and protestations that we have made! this is not to put down prelaty; this is but to chop an episcopacy; this is but to translate the palace metropolitan from one kind of dominion into another; this is but an old canonical sleight of commuting our penance. To startle thus betimes at a mere unlicensed pamphlet, will, after a while, be afraid of every conventicle, and a while after will make a conventicle of every Christian meeting. But I am certain, that a state governed by the rules of justice and fortitude, or a church built and founded upon the rock of faith and true knowledge, cannot be so pusillanimous. While things are yet not constituted in religion, that freedom of writing should be restrained by a discipline imitated from the prelates, and learned by them from the inquisition to shut us up all again into the breast of a licenser, must needs give cause of doubt and discouragement to all learned and religious men: who cannot but discern the fineness of this politic drift, and who are the contrivers; that while bishops were to be baited down, then all presses might be open; it was the people’s birthright and privilege in time of parliament, it was Edition: current; Page: [183] the breaking forth of light. But now the bishops abrogated and voided out of the church, as if our reformation sought no more, but to make room for others into their seats under another name; the episcopal arts begin to bud again; the cruise of truth must run no more oil; liberty of printing must be enthralled again under a prelatical commission of twenty; the privilege of the people nullified; and which is worse, the freedom of learning must groan again, and to her old fetters, all this the parliament yet sitting. Although their own late arguments and defences against the prelates might remember them, that this obstructing violence meets for the most part with an event utterly opposite to the end which it drives at: instead of suppressing sects and schisms, it raises them and invests them with a reputation: “the punishing of wits enhances their authority,” saith the Viscount St. Albans; “and a forbidding writing is thought to be a certain spark of truth, that flies up in the faces of them who seek to tread it out.” This order therefore may prove a nursing mother to sects, but I shall easily show how it will be a stepdame to truth: and first by disenabling us to the maintenance of what is known already.

Well knows he who uses to consider, that our faith and knowledge thrives by exercise, as well as our limbs and complexion. Truth is compared in Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition. A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy. There is not any burden, that some would gladlier post off to another, than the charge and care of their religion. There be, who knows not that there be of protestants and professors, who live and die in as errant and implicit faith, as any lay papist of Loretto. A wealthy man, addicted to his pleasure and to his profits, finds religion to be a traffic so entangled, and of so many piddling accounts, that of all mysteries he cannot skill to keep a stock going upon that trade. What should he do? Fain he would have the name to be religious, fain he would bear up with his neighbours in that. What does he therefore, but resolves to give over toiling, and to find himself out some factor, to whose care and credit he may commit the whole managing of his religious affairs; some divine of note and estimation that must be. To him he adheres, resigns the whole warehouse of his religion, with all the locks and keys, into his custody; and indeed makes the very person of that man his religion; esteems his associating with him a sufficient evidence and commendatory of his own piety. So that a man may say his religion is now no more within himself, but is become a dividual movable, and goes and comes near him, according as that good man frequents the house. He entertains him, gives him gifts, feasts him, lodges him; his religion comes home at night, prays, is liberally supped, and sumptuously laid to sleep; rises, is saluted, and after the malmsey, or some well-spiced bruage, and better breakfasted, than he whose morning appetite would have gladly fed on green figs between Bethany and Jerusalem, his religion walks abroad at eight, and leaves his kind entertainer in the shop trading all day without his religion.

Another sort there be, who, when they hear that all things shall be ordered, all things regulated and settled; nothing written but what passes through the customhouse of certain publicans that have the tonnaging and poundaging of all free spoken truth; will straight give themselves up into your hands, make them and cut them out what religion ye please: there be delights, there be recreations and jolly pastimes, that will fetch the day Edition: current; Page: [184] about from sun to sun, and rock the tedious year as in a delightful dream. What need they torture their heads with that which others have taken so strictly, and so unalterably into their own purveying? These are the fruits, which a dull ease and cessation of our knowledge will bring forth among the people. How goodly, and how to be wished were such an obedient unanimity as this! What a fine conformity would it starch us all into! Doubtless a staunch and solid piece of framework, as any January could freeze together.

Nor much better will be the consequence even among the clergy themselves: it is no new thing never heard of before, for a parochial minister, who has his reward, and is at his Hercules pillars in a warm benefice, to be easily inclinable, if he have nothing else that may rouse up his studies, to finish his circuit in an English Concordance and a topic folio, the gatherings and savings of a sober graduateship, a Harmony and a Catena, treading the constant round of certain common doctrinal heads, attended with their uses, motives, marks and means; out of which, as out of an alphabet or sol fa, by forming and transforming, joining and disjoining variously, a little bookcraft, and two hours’ meditation, might furnish him unspeakably to the performance of more than a weekly charge of sermoning: not to reckon up the infinite helps of interliniaries, breviaries, synopses, and other loitering gear. But as for the multitude of sermons ready printed and piled up, on every text that is not difficult, our London trading St. Thomas in his vestry, and add to boot St. Martin and St. Hugh, have not within their hallowed limits more vendible ware of all sorts ready made: so that penury he never need fear of pulpit provision, having wherewith so plenteously to refresh his magazine. But if his rear and flanks be not impaled, if his back door be not secured by the rigid licenser, but that a bold book may now and then issue forth, and give the assault to some of his old collections in their trenches, it will concern him then to keep waking, to stand in watch, to set good guards and sentinels about his received opinions, to walk the round and counter-round with his fellow inspectors, fearing lest any of his flock be seduced, who also then would be better instructed, better exercised and disciplined. And God send that the fear of this diligence, which must then be used, do not make us affect the laziness of a licensing church!

For if we be sure we are in the right, and do not hold the truth guiltily, which becomes not, if we ourselves condemn not our own weak and frivolous teaching, and the people for an untaught and irreligious gadding rout; what can be more fair, than when a man, judicious, learned, and of a conscience, for aught we know as good as theirs that taught us what we know, shall not privily from house to house, which is more dangerous, but openly by writing, publish to the world what his opinion is, what his reasons, and wherefore that which is now thought cannot be sound? Christ urged it as wherewith to justify himself that he preached in public; yet writing is more public than preaching; and more easy to refutation if need be, there being so many whose business and profession merely it is to be the champions of truth; which if they neglect, what can be imputed but their sloth or unability?

Thus much we are hindered and disinured by this course of licensing toward the true knowledge of what we seem to know. For how much it hurts and hinders the licensers themselves in the calling of their ministry, more than any secular employment, if they will discharge that office as they ought, so that of necessity they must neglect either the one duty or the Edition: current; Page: [185] other; I insist not, because it is a particular, but leave it to their own conscience, how they will decide it there.

There is yet behind of what I purposed to lay open, the incredible loss and detriment that this plot of licensing puts us to, more than if some enemy at sea should stop up all our havens, and ports, and creeks; it hinders and retards the importation of our richest merchandise, truth: nay, it was first established and put in practice by anti-christian malice and mystery on set purpose to extinguish, if it were possible, the light of reformation, and to settle falsehood; little differing from that policy wherewith the Turk upholds his Alcoran, by the prohibiting of printing. It is not denied, but gladly confessed, we are to send our thanks and vows to Heaven, louder than most of nations, for that great measure of truth which we enjoy, especially in those main points between us and the pope, with his appurtenances the prelates: but he who thinks we are to pitch our tent here, and have attained the utmost prospect of reformation, that the mortal glass wherein we contemplate can show us, till we come to beatific vision; that man by this very opinion declares, that he is yet far short of truth.

Truth indeed came once into the world with her divine master, and was a perfect shape most glorious to look on: but when he ascended, and his apostles after him were laid asleep, then straight arose a wicked race of deceivers, who, as that story goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the good Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time ever since, the sad friends of Truth, such as durst appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down gathering up limb by limb still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, lords and commons, nor ever shall do, till her master’s second coming; he shall bring together every joint and member, and shall mould them into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection. Suffer not these licensing prohibitions to stand at every place of opportunity forbidding and disturbing them that continue seeking, that continue to do our obsequies to the torn body of our martyred saint. We boast our light; but if we look not wisely on the sun itself, it smites us into darkness. Who can discern those planets that are oft combust, and those stars of brightest magnitude, that rise and set with the sun, until the opposite motion of their orbs bring them to such a place in the firmament, where they may be seen evening or morning? The light which we have gained, was given us, not to be ever staring on, but by it to discover onward things more remote from our knowledge. It is not the unfrocking of a priest, the unmitring of a bishop, and the removing him from off the presbyterian shoulders, that will make us a happy nation; no, if other things as great in the church, and in the rule of life both œconomical and political, be not looked into and reformed, we have looked so long upon the blaze that Zuinglius and Calvin have beaconed up to us, that we are stark blind. There be who perpetually complain of schisms and sects, and make it such a calamity that any man dissents from their maxims. It is their own pride and ignorance which causes the disturbing, who neither will hear with meekness, nor can convince, yet all must be suppressed which is not found in their Syntagma. They are the troublers, they are the dividers of unity, who neglect and permit not others to unite those dissevered pieces, which are yet wanting to the body of truth. To be still searching what we know not, by what we know, still closing up truth to truth as we find it, (for all her body is homogeneal, and proportional,) this is the golden rule in theology as well as in arithmetic, and makes up the Edition: current; Page: [186] best harmony in a church; not the forced and outward union, of cold, and neutral, and inwardly divided minds.

Lords and commons of England! consider what nation it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governors; a nation not slow and dull, but of a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit; acute to invent, subtile and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that human capacity can soar to. Therefore the studies of learning in her deepest sciences have been so ancient, and so eminent among us, that writers of good antiquity and able judgment have been persuaded, that even the school of Pythagoras, and the Persian wisdom, took beginning from the old philosophy of this island. And that wise and civil Roman, Julius Agricola, who governed once here for Cæsar, preferred the natural wits of Britain, before the laboured studies of the French. Nor is it for nothing that the grave and frugal Transilvanian sends out yearly from as far as the mountainous borders of Russia, and beyond the Hercynian wilderness, not their youth, but their staid men, to learn our language and our theologic arts. Yet that which is above all this, the favour and the love of Heaven, we have great argument to think in a peculiar manner propitious and propending towards us. Why else was this nation chosen before any other, that out of her, as out of Sion, should be proclaimed and sounded forth the first tidings and trumpet of reformation to all Europe? And had it not been the obstinate perverseness of our prelates against the divine and admirable spirit of Wickliff, to suppress him as a schismatic and innovator, perhaps neither the Bohemian Husse and Jerom, no nor the name of Luther or of Calvin, had been ever known: the glory of reforming all our neighbours had been completely ours. But now, as our obdurate clergy have with violence demeaned the matter, we are become hitherto the latest and the backwardest scholars, of whom God offered to have made us the teachers. Now once again by all concurrence of signs, and by the general instinct of holy and devout men, as they daily and solemnly express their thoughts, God is decreeing to begin some new and great period in his church, even to the reforming of reformation itself; what does he then but reveal himself to his servants, and as his manner is, first to his Englishmen? I say as his manner is, first to us, though we mark not the method of his counsels, and are unworthy. Behold now this vast city: a city of refuge, the mansion-house of liberty, encompassed and surrounded with his protection; the shop of war hath not there more anvils and hammers waking, to fashion out the plates and instruments of armed justice in defence of beleaguered truth, than there be pens and heads there, sitting by their studious lamps, musing, searching, revolving new notions and ideas wherewith to present, as with their homage and their fealty, the approaching reformation: others as fast reading, trying all things, assenting to the force of reason and convincement. What could a man require more from a nation so pliant and so prone to seek after knowledge? What wants there to such a towardly and pregnant soil, but wise and faithful labourers, to make a knowing people, a nation of prophets, of sages, and of worthies? We reckon more than five months yet to harvest; there need not be five weeks, had we but eyes to lift up; the fields white are already. Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making. Under these fantastic terrors of sect and schism, we wrong the earnest and zealous thirst after knowledge and understanding, which God hath stirred up in this city. What some lament of, we rather should rejoice at, should rather praise this pious forwardness among men, to reassume the ill-deputed care of their religion into their own hands again. A little generous Edition: current; Page: [187] prudence, a little forbearance of one another, and some grain of charity might win all these diligences to join and unite into one general and brotherly search after truth; could we but forego this prelatical tradition of crowding free consciences and Christian liberties into canons and precepts of men. I doubt not, if some great and worthy stranger should come among us, wise to discern the mould and temper of a people, and how to govern it, observing the high hopes and aims, the diligent alacrity of our extended thoughts and reasonings in the pursuance of truth and freedom, but that he would cry out as Pyrrhus did, admiring the Roman docility and courage; if such were my Epirots, I would not despair the greatest design that could be attempted to make a church or kingdom happy. Yet these are the men cried out against for schismatics and sectaries, as if, while the temple of the Lord was building, some cutting, some squaring the marble, others hewing the cedars, there should be a sort of irrational men, who could not consider there must be many schisms and many dissections made in the quarry and in the timber, ere the house of God can be built. And when every stone is laid artfully together, it cannot be united into a continuity, it can but be contiguous in this world: neither can every piece of the building be of one form; nay rather the perfection consists in this, that out of many moderate varieties and brotherly dissimilitudes that are not vastly disproportional, arises the goodly and the graceful symmetry that commends the whole pile and structure. Let us therefore be more considerate builders, more wise in spiritual architecture, when great reformation is expected. For now the time seems come, wherein Moses the great prophet may sit in heaven rejoicing to see that memorable and glorious wish of his fulfilled, when not only our seventy elders, but all the Lord’s people, are become prophets. No marvel then though some men, and some good men too, perhaps, but young in goodness, as Joshua then was, envy them. They fret, and out of their own weakness are in agony, lest these divisions and subdivisions will undo us. The adversary again applauds, and waits the hour; when they have branched themselves out, saith he, small enough into parties and partitions, then will be our time. Fool! he sees not the firm root, out of which we all grow, though into branches; nor will beware until he see our small divided maniples cutting through at every angle of his ill-united and unwieldy brigade. And that we are to hope better of all these supposed sects and schisms, and that we shall not need that solicitude, honest perhaps, though overtimorous, of them that vex in this behalf, but shall laugh in the end at those malicious applauders of our differences, I have these reasons to persuade me.

First, when a city shall be as it were besieged and blocked about, her navigable river infested, inroads and incursions round, defiance and battle oft rumored to be marching up, even to her walls and suburb trenches; that then the people, or the greater part, more than at other times, wholly taken up with the study of highest and most important matters to be reformed, should be disputing, reasoning, reading, inventing, discoursing, even to a rarity and admiration, things not before discoursed or written of, argues first a singular good will, contentedness, and confidence in your prudent foresight, and safe government, lords and commons; and from thence derives itself to a gallant bravery and well grounded contempt of their enemies, as if there were no small number of as great spirits among us, as his was who, when Rome was nigh besieged by Hannibal, being in the city, bought that piece of ground at no cheap rate, whereon Hannibal himself encamped his own regiment. Next, it is a lively and cheerful presage of our happy success and victory. For as in a body when the blood is fresh, the spirits Edition: current; Page: [188] pure and vigorous, not only to vital, but to rational faculties, and those in the acutest and the pertest operations of wit and subtlety, it argues in what good plight and constitution the body is; so when the cheerfulness of the people is so sprightly up, as that it has not only wherewith to guard well its own freedom and safety, but to spare, and to bestow upon the solidest and sublimest points of controversy and new invention, it betokens us not degenerated, nor drooping to a fatal decay, by casting off the old and wrinkled skin of corruption to outlive these pangs, and wax young again, entering the glorious ways of truth and prosperous virtue, destined to become great and honourable in these latter ages. Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleeep, and shaking her invincible locks: methinks I see her as an eagle muing her mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full midday beam; purging and unscaling her long abused sight at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance; while the whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love the twilight, flutter about, amazed at what she means, and in their envious gabble would prognosticate a year of sects and schisms.

What should ye do then, should ye suppress all this flowery crop of knowledge and new light sprung up and yet springing daily in this city? Should ye set an oligarchy of twenty engrossers over it, to bring a famine upon our minds again, when we shall know nothing but what is measured to us by their bushel? Believe it, lords and commons! they who counsel ye to such a suppressing, do as good as bid ye suppress yourselves; and I will soon show how. If it be desired to know the immediate cause of all this free writing and free speaking, there cannot be assigned a truer than your own mild, and free, and humane government; it is the liberty, lords and commons, which your own valorous and happy counsels have purchased us; liberty which is the nurse of all great wits: this is that which hath rarified and enlightened our spirits like the influence of heaven; this is that which hath enfranchised, enlarged, and lifted up our apprehensions degrees above themselves. Ye cannot make us now less capable, less knowing, less eagerly pursuing of the truth, unless ye first make yourselves, that made us so, less the lovers, less the founders of our true liberty. We can grow ignorant again, brutish, formal, and slavish, as ye found us; but you then must first become that which ye cannot be, oppressive, arbitrary, and tyrannous, as they were from whom ye have freed us. That our hearts are now more capacious, our thoughts more erected to the search and expectation of greatest and exactest things, is the issue of your own virtue propagated in us; ye cannot suppress that, unless ye reinforce an abrogated and merciless law, that fathers may dispatch at will their own children. And who shall then stick closest to ye and excite others? Not he who takes up arms for coat and conduct, and his four nobles of Danegelt. Although I dispraise not the defence of just immunities, yet love my peace better, if that were all. Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.

What would be best advised then, if it be found so hurtful and so unequal to suppress opinions for the newness or the unsuitableness to a customary acceptance, will not be my task to say; I shall only repeat what I have learned from one of your own honourable number, a right noble and pious lord, who had he not sacrificed his life and fortunes to the church and commonwealth, we had not now missed and bewailed a worthy and undoubted patron of this argument. Ye know him, I am sure; yet I for honour’s sake, and may it be eternal to him, shall name him, the Lord Brook. He writing of episcopacy, and by the way treating of sects and schisms, left ye his vote, Edition: current; Page: [189] or rather now the last words of his dying charge, which I know will ever be of dear and honoured regard with ye, so full of meekness and breathing charity, that next to his last testament, who bequeathed love and peace to his disciples, I cannot call to mind where I have read or heard words more mild and peaceful. He there exhorts us to hear with patience and humility those, however they be miscalled, that desire to live purely, in such a use of God’s ordinances as the best guidance of their conscience gives them, and to tolerate them, though in some disconformity to ourselves. The book itself will tell us more at large, being published to the world, and dedicated to the parliament by him, who both for his life and for his death deserves, that what advice he left be not laid by without perusal.

And now the time in special is, by privilege to write and speak what may help to the further discussing of matters in agitation. The temple of Janus with his two controversal faces might now not unsignificantly be set open. And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing. He who hears what praying there is for light and clear knowledge to be sent down among us, would think of other matters to be constituted beyond the discipline of Geneva, framed and fabriced already to our hands. Yet when the new light which we beg for shines in upon us, there be who envy and oppose, if it come not first in at their casements. What a collusion is this, whenas we are exhorted by the wise man to use diligence, “to seek for wisdom as for hidden treasures” early and late, that another order shall enjoin us, to know nothing but by statute? When a man hath been labouring the hardest labour in the deep mines of knowledge, hath furnished out his findings in all their equipage, drawn forth his reasons as it were a battle ranged, scattered and defeated all objections in his way, calls out his adversary into the plain, offers him the advantage of wind and sun, if he please, only that he may try the matter by dint of argument; for his opponents then to skulk, to lay ambushments, to keep a narrow bridge of licensing where the challenger should pass, though it be valour enough in soldiership, is but weakness and cowardice in the wars of truth. For who knows not that truth is strong, next to the Almighty; she needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious; those are the shifts and the defences that error uses against her power: give her but room, and do not bind her when she sleeps, for then she speaks not true, as the old Proteus did, who spake oracles only when he was caught and bound, but then rather she turns herself into all shapes, except her own, and perhaps tunes her voice according to the time, as Micaiah did before Ahab, until she be adjured into her own likeness. Yet is it not impossible that she may have more shapes than one? What else is all that rank of things indifferent, wherein truth may be on this side, or on the other, without being unlike herself? What but a vain shadow else is the abolition of “those ordinances, that hand-writing nailed to the cross?” What great purchase is this Christian liberty which Paul so often boasts of? His doctrine is, that he who eats or eats not, regards a day or regards it not, may do either to the Lord. How many other things might be tolerated in peace, and left to conscience, had we but charity, and were it not the chief strong hold of our hypocrisy to be ever judging one another? I fear yet this iron yoke of outward conformity hath left a slavish print upon our necks; the ghost of a linen decency yet haunts us. We stumble, and are impatient at the least dividing of one visible congregation from another, though it be not Edition: current; Page: [190] in fundamentals; and through our forwardness to suppress, and our backwardness to recover, any enthralled piece of truth out of the gripe of custom, we care not to keep truth separated from truth, which is the fiercest rent and disunion of all. We do not see that while we still affect by all means a rigid external formality, we may as soon fall again into a gross conforming stupidity, a stark and dead congealment of “wood and hay and stubble” forced and frozen together, which is more to the sudden degenerating of a church than many subdichotomies of petty schisms. Not that I can think well of every light separation; or that all in a church is to be expected “gold and silver and precious stones:” it is not possible for man to sever the wheat from the tares, the good fish from the other fry; that must be the angels’ ministry at the end of mortal things. Yet if all cannot be of one mind, as who looks they should be? this doubtless is more wholesome, more prudent, and more Christian, that many be tolerated rather than all compelled. I mean not tolerated popery, and open superstition, which as it extirpates all religions and civil supremacies, so itself should be extirpate, provided first that all charitable and compassionate means be used to win and regain the weak and the misled: that also which is impious or evil absolutely either against faith or manners, no law can possibly permit, that intends not to unlaw itself: but those neighbouring differences, or rather indifferences, are what I speak of, whether in some point of doctrine or of discipline, which though they may be many, yet need not interrupt the unity of spirit, if we could but find among us the bond of peace. In the mean while, if any one would write, and bring his helpful hand to the slow-moving reformation which we labour under, if truth have spoken to him before others, or but seemed at least to speak, who hath so bejesuited us, that we should trouble that man with asking license to do so worthy a deed; and not consider this, that if it come to prohibiting, there is not aught more likely to be prohibited than truth itself: whose first appearance to our eyes, bleared and dimmed with prejudice and custom, is more unsightly and unplausible than many errors; even as the person is of many a great man slight and contemptible to see to. And what do they tell us vainly of new opinions, when this very opinion of theirs, that none must be heard but whom they like, is the worst and newest opinion of all others; and is the chief cause why sects and schisms do so much abound, and true knowledge is kept at distance from us; besides yet a greater danger which is in it. For when God shakes a kingdom, with strong and healthful commotions, to a general reforming, it is not untrue that many sectaries and false teachers are then busiest in seducing. But yet more true it is, that God then raises to his own work men of rare abilities, and more than common industry, not only to look back and revise what hath been taught heretofore, but to gain further, and to go on some new enlightened steps in the discovery of truth. For such is the order of God’s enlightening his church, to dispense and deal out by degrees his beam, so as our earthly eyes may best sustain it. Neither is God appointed and confined, where and out of what place these his chosen shall be first heard to speak; for he sees not as man sees, chooses not as man chooses, lest we should devote ourselves again to set places and assemblies, and outward callings of men; planting our faith one while in the old convocation house, and another while in the chapel at Westminster; when all the faith and religion that shall be there canonized, is not sufficient without plain convincement, and the charity of patient instruction, to supple the least bruise of conscience, to edify the meanest Christian, who desires to walk in the spirit, and not in the letter of human trust, for all the number of voices that can be there made; no, though Harry the Seventh himself Edition: current; Page: [191] there, with all his liege tombs about him, should lend them voices from the dead to swell their number. And if the men be erroneous who appear to be the leading schismatics, what withholds us but our sloth, our self-will, and distrust in the right cause, that we do not give them gentle meetings and gentle dismissions, that we debate not and examine the matter thoroughly with liberal and frequent audience; if not for their sakes yet for our own? Seeing no man who hath tasted learning, but will confess the many ways of profiting by those who, not contented with stale receipts, are able to manage and set forth new positions to the world. And were they but as the dust and cinders of our feet, so long as in that notion they may yet serve to polish and brighten the armory of truth, even for that respect they were not utterly to be cast away. But if they be of those whom God hath fitted for the special use of these times with eminent and ample gifts, and those perhaps, neither among the priests, nor among the Pharisees, and we in the haste of a precipitant zeal shall make no distinction, but resolve to stop their mouths, because we fear they come with new and dangerous opinions, as we commonly forejudge them ere we understand them; no less than woe to us, while, thinking thus to defend the gospel, we are found the persecutors!

There have been not a few since the beginning of this parliament, both of the presbytery and others, who by their unlicensed books to the contempt of an imprimatur first broke that triple ice clung about our hearts, and taught the people to see day: I hope that none of those were the persuaders to renew upon us this bondage, which they themselves have wrought so much good by contemning. But if neither the check that Moses gave to young Joshua, nor the countermand which our Saviour gave to young John, who was so ready to prohibit those whom he thought unlicensed, be not enough to admonish our elders how unacceptable to God their testy mood of prohibiting is; if neither their own remembrance what evil hath abounded in the church by this lett of licensing, and what good they themselves have begun by transgressing it, be not enough, but that they will persuade and execute the most Dominican part of the inquisition over us, and are already with one foot in the stirrup so active at suppressing, it would be no unequal distribution in the first place to suppress the suppressors themselves; whom the change of their condition hath puffed up, more than their late experience of harder times hath made wise.

And as for regulating the press, let no man think to have the honour of advising ye better than yourselves have done in that order published next before this, “That no book be printed, unless the printer’s and the author’s name, or at least the printer’s, be registered.” Those which otherwise come forth, if they be found mischievous and libellous, the fire and the executioner will be the timeliest and the most effectual remedy, that man’s prevention can use. For this authentic Spanish policy of licensing books, if I have said aught, will prove the most unlicensed book itself within a short while; and was the immediate image of a star-chamber decree to that purpose made in those very times when that court did the rest of those her pious works, for which she is now fallen from the stars with Lucifer. Whereby ye may guess what kind of state prudence, what love of the people, what care of religion or good manners there was at the contriving, although with singular hypocrisy it pretended to bind books to their good behaviour. And how it got the upper hand of your precedent order so well constituted before, if we may believe those men whose profession gives them cause to inquire most, it may be doubted there was in it the fraud of some old patentees and monopolizers in the trade of bookselling; who under pretence of the poor in their company not to be defrauded, and the just retaining of each man Edition: current; Page: [192] his several copy, (which God forbid should be gainsaid,) brought divers glossing colours to the house, which were indeed but colours, and serving to no end except it be to exercise a superiority over their neighbours; men who do not therefore labour in an honest profession, to which learning is indebted, that they should be made other men’s vassals. Another end is thought was aimed at by some of them in procuring by petition this order, that having power in their hands malignant books might the easier escape abroad, as the event shows. But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not: This I know, that errors in a good government and in a bad are equally almost incident; for what magistrate may not be misinformed, and much the sooner, if liberty of printing be reduced into the power of a few? But to redress willingly and speedily what hath been erred, and in highest authority to esteem a plain advertisement more than others have done a sumptuous bride, is a virtue (honoured lords and commons!) answerable to your highest actions, and whereof none can participate but greatest and wisest men.

THE DOCTRINE AND DISCIPLINE OF DIVORCE;

RESTORED TO THE GOOD OF BOTH SEXES, FROM THE BONDAGE OF CANON LAW, AND OTHER MISTAKES, TO THE TRUE MEANING OF SCRIPTURE IN THE LAW AND GOSPEL COMPARED. WHEREIN ALSO ARE SET DOWN THE BAD CONSEQUENCES OF ABOLISHING, OR CONDEMNING AS SIN, THAT WHICH THE LAW OF GOD ALLOWS, AND CHRIST ABOLISHED NOT.

Matth. xiii. 52. “Every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a house, which bringeth out of his treasury things new and old.”

Prov. xviii. 13. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

[FIRST PUBLISHED 1643, 1644.]

John Milton
Milton, John

TO THE PARLIAMENT OF ENGLAND, WITH THE ASSEMBLY.

If it were seriously asked, (and it would be no untimely question,) renowned parliament, select assembly! who of all teachers and masters, that have ever taught, hath drawn the most disciples after him, both in religion and in manners? it might be not untruly answered, Custom. Though virtue be commended for the most persuasive in her theory, and conscience in the plain demonstration of the spirit finds most evincing; yet whether it be the secret of divine will, or the original blindness we are born in, so it happens for the most part, that custom still is silently received for the best instructor. Except it be, because her method is so glib and easy, in some Edition: current; Page: [193] manner like to that vision of Ezekiel rolling up her sudden book of implicit knowledge, for him that will to take and swallow down at pleasure; which proving but of bad nourishment in the concoction, as it was heedless in the devouring, puffs up unhealthily a certain big face of pretended learning, mistaken among credulous men for the wholesome habit of soundness and good constitution, but is indeed no other than that swoln visage of counterfeit knowledge and literature, which not only in private mars our education, but also in public is the common climber into every chair, where either religion is preached, or law reported: filling each estate of life and profession with abject and servile principles, depressing the high and heaven-born spirit of man, far beneath the condition wherein either God created him, or sin hath sunk him. To pursue the allegory, custom being but a mere face, as echo is a mere voice, rests not in her unaccomplishment, until by secret inclination she accorporate herself with error, who being a blind and serpentine body without a head, willingly accepts what he wants, and supplies what her incompleteness went seeking. Hence it is, that error supports custom, custom countenances error: and these two between them would persecute and chase away all truth and solid wisdom out of human life, were it not that God, rather than man, once in many ages calls together the prudent and religious counsels of men, deputed to repress the encroachments, and to work off the inveterate blots and obscurities wrought upon our minds by the subtle insinuating of error and custom; who, with the numerous and vulgar train of their followers, make it their chief design to envy and cry down the industry of free reasoning, under the terms of humour and innovation; as if the womb of teeming truth were to be closed up, if she presume to bring forth aught that sorts not with their unchewed notions and suppositions. Against which notorious injury and abuse of man’s free soul, to testify and oppose the utmost that study and true labour can attain, heretofore the incitement of men reputed grave hath led me among others; and now the duty and the right of an instructed Christian calls me through the chance of good or evil report, to be the sole advocate of a discountenanced truth: a high enterprise, lords and commons! a high enterprise and a hard, and such as every seventh son of a seventh son does not venture on. Nor have I amidst the clamour of so much envy and impertinence whither to appeal, but to the concourse of so much piety and wisdom here assembled. Bringing in my hands an ancient and most necessary, most charitable, and yet most injured statute of Moses; not repealed ever by him who only had the authority, but thrown aside with much inconsiderate neglect, under the rubbish of canonical ignorance; as once the whole law was by some such like conveyance in Josiah’s time. And he who shall endeavour the amendment of any old neglected grievance in church or state, or in the daily course of life, if he be gifted with abilities of mind, that may raise him to so high an undertaking, I grant he hath already much whereof not to repent him; yet let me aread him, not to be the foreman of any misjudged opinion, unless his resolutions be firmly seated in a square and constant mind, not conscious to itself of any deserved blame, and regardless of ungrounded suspicions. For this let him be sure, he shall be boarded presently by the ruder sort, but not by discreet and well-nurtured men, with a thousand idle descants and surmises. Who when they cannot confute the least joint or sinew of any passage in the book; yet God forbid that truth should be truth, because they have a boisterous conceit of some pretences in the writer.

But were they not more busy and inquisitive than the apostle commends, they would hear him at least, “rejoicing so the truth be preached, whether Edition: current; Page: [194] of envy or other pretence whatsoever:” for truth is as impossible to be soiled by any outward touch, as the sunbeam; though this ill hap wait on her nativity, that she never comes into the world, but like a bastard, to the ignominy of him that brought her forth; till time, the midwife rather than the mother of truth, have washed and salted the infant, declared her legitimate, and churched the father of his young Minerva, from the needless causes of his purgation. Yourselves can best witness this, worthy patriots! and better will, no doubt, hereafter: for who among ye of the foremost that have travailed in her behalf to the good of church or state, hath not been often traduced to be the agent of his own by-ends, under pretext of reformation? So much the more I shall not be unjust to hope, that however infamy or envy may work in other men to do her fretful will against this discourse, yet that the experience of your own uprightness misinterpreted will put ye in mind, to give it free audience and generous construction. What though the brood of Belial the draff of men, to whom no liberty is pleasing, but unbridled and vagabond lust without pale or partition, will laugh broad perhaps, to see so great a strength of Scripture mustering up in favour, as they suppose, of their debaucheries; they will know better when the shall hence learn, that honest liberty is the greatest foe to dishonest license. And what though others, out of a waterish and queasy conscience, because ever crazy and never yet sound, will rail and fancy to themselves that injury and license is the best of this book? Did not the distemper of their own stomachs affect them with a dizzy megrim, they would soon tie up their tongues and discern themselves like that Assyrian blasphemer, all this while reproaching not man, but the Almighty, the Holy One of Israel, whom they do not deny to have belawgiven his own sacred people with this very allowance, which they now call injury and license, and dare cry shame on, and will do yet a while, till they get a little cordial sobriety to settle their qualming zeal. But this question concerns not us perhaps: indeed man’s disposition, though prone to search after vain curiosities, yet when points of difficulty are to be discussed, appertaining to the removal of unreasonable wrong and burden from the perplexed life of our brother, it is incredible how cold, how dull, and far from all fellow-feeling we are, without the spur of self-concernment. Yet if the wisdom, the justice, the purity of God be to be cleared from foulest imputations, which are not yet avoided; if charity be not to be degraded and trodden down under a civil ordinance; if matrimony be not to be advanced like that exalted perdition written of to the Thessalonians, “above all that is called God,” or goodness, nay against them both; then I dare affirm, there will be found in the contents of this book that which may concern us all. You it concerns chiefly, worthies in parliament! on whom, as on our deliverers, all our grievances and cares, by the merit of your eminence and fortitude, are devolved. Me it concerns next, having with much labour and faithful diligence first found out, or at least with a fearless and communicative candour first published to the manifest good of Christendom, that which, calling to witness every thing mortal and immortal, I believe unfeignedly to be true. Let not other men think their conscience bound to search continually after truth, to pray for enlightening from above, to publish what they think they have so obtained, and debar me from conceiving myself tied by the same duties. Ye have now, doubtless, by the favour and appointment of God, ye have now in your hands a great and populous nation to reform; from what corruption, what blindness in religion, ye know well; in what a degenerate and fallen spirit from the apprehension of native liberty, and true manliness, I am sure ye find; with what unbounded license rushing to whoredoms and Edition: current; Page: [195] adulteries, needs not long inquiry: insomuch that the fears, which men have of too strict a discipline, perhaps exceed the hopes that can be in others, of ever introducing it with any great success. What if I should tell ye now of dispensations and indulgences, to give a little the reins, to let them play and nibble with the bait a while; a people as hard of heart as that Egyptian colony that went to Canaan. This is the common doctrine that adulterous and injurious divorces were not connived only, but with eye open allowed of old for hardness of heart. But that opinion, I trust, by then this following argument hath been well read, will be left for one of the mysteries of an indulgent Antichrist, to farm out incest by, and those his other tributary pollutions. What middle way can be taken then, may some interrupt, if we must neither turn to the right, nor to the left, and that the people hate to be reformed? Mark then, judges and lawgivers, and ye whose office it is to be our teachers, for I will utter now a doctrine, if ever any other, though neglected or not understood, yet of great and powerful importance to the governing of mankind. He who wisely would restrain the reasonable soul of man within due bounds, must first himself know perfectly, how far the territory and dominion extends of just and honest liberty. As little must he offer to bind that which God hath loosened, as to loosen that which he hath bound. The ignorance and mistake of this high point hath heaped up one huge half of all the misery that hath been since Adam. In the gospel we shall read a supercilious crew of masters, whose holiness, or rather whose evil eye, grieving that God should be so facile to man, was to set straiter limits to obedience, than God hath set, to enslave the dignity of man, to put a garrison upon his neck of empty and over-dignified precepts: and we shall read our Saviour never more grieved and troubled, than to meet with such a peevish madness among men against their own freedom. How can we expect him to be less offended with us, when much of the same folly shall be found yet remaining where it least ought, to the perishing of thousands? The greatest burden in the world is superstition, not only of ceremonies in the church, but of imaginary and scarecrow sins at home. What greater weakening, what more subtle stratagem against our Christian warfare, when besides the gross body of real transgressions to encounter, we shall be terrified by a vain and shadowy menacing of faults that are not? When things indifferent shall be set to overfront us under the banners of sin, what wonder if we be routed, and by this art of our adversary, fall into the subjection of worst and deadliest offences? The superstition of the papist is, “touch not, taste not,” when God bids both; and ours is, “part not, separate not,” when God and charity both permits and commands. “Let all your things be done with charity,” saith St. Paul; and his master saith, “She is the fulfilling of the law.” Yet now a civil, an indifferent, a sometime dissuaded law of marriage, must be forced upon us to fulfil, not only without charity but against her. No place in heaven or earth, except hell, where charity may not enter: yet marriage, the ordinance of our solace and contentment, the remedy of our loneliness, will not admit now either of charity or mercy, to come in and mediate, or pacify the fierceness of this gentle ordinance, the unremedied loneliness of this remedy. Advise ye well, supreme senate, if charity be thus excluded and expulsed, how ye will defend the untainted honour of your own actions and proceedings. He who marries, intends as little to conspire his own ruin, as he that swears allegiance: and as a whole people is in proportion to an ill government, so is one man to an ill marriage. If they, against any authority, covenant, or statute, may by the sovereign edict of charity, save not only their lives but honest liberties from unworthy bondage, as well may he against any private Edition: current; Page: [196] covenant, which he never entered to his mischief, redeem himself from unsupportable disturbances to honest peace, and just contentment. And much the rather, for that to resist the highest magistrate though tyrannizing, God never gave us express allowance, only he gave us reason, charity, nature, and good example to bear us out; but in this economical misfortune thus to demean ourselves, besides the warrant of those four great directors, which doth as justly belong hither, we have an express law of God, and such a law, as whereof our Saviour with a solemn threat forbid the abrogating. For no effect of tyranny can sit more heavy on the commonwealth, than this household unhappiness on the family. And farewell all hope of true reformation in the state, while such an evil as this lies undiscerned or unregarded in the house: on the redress whereof depends not only the spiritful and orderly life of our own grown men, but the willing and careful education of our children. Let this therefore be now examined, this tenure and freehold of mankind, this native and domestic charter given us by a greater lord than that Saxon king the confessor. Let the statutes of God be turned over, be scanned anew, and considered not altogether by the narrow intellectuals of quotationists and common places, but (as was the ancient right of councils) by men of what liberal profession soever, of eminent spirit and breeding, joined with a diffuse and various knowledge of divine and human things; able to balance and define good and evil, right and wrong, throughout every state of life; able to show us the ways of the Lord straight and faithful as they are, not full of cranks and contradictions, and pitfalling dispenses, but with divine insight and benignity measured out to the proportion of each mind and spirit, each temper and disposition created so different each from other, and yet by the skill of wise conducting, all to become uniform in virtue. To expedite these knots, were worthy a learned and memorable synod; while our enemies expect to see the expectation of the church tired out with dependencies, and independencies, how they will compound, and in what calends. Doubt not, worthy senators! to vindicate the sacred honour and judgment of Moses your predecessor, from the shallow commenting of scholastics and canonists. Doubt not after him to reach out your steady hands to the misinformed and wearied life of man; to restore this his lost heritage, into the household state; wherewith be sure that peace and love, the best subsistence of a Christian family, will return home from whence they are now banished; places of prostitution will be less haunted, the neighbour’s bed less attempted, the yoke of prudent and manly discipline will be generally submitted to; sober and well ordered living will soon spring up in the commonwealth. Yet have an author great beyond exception, Moses; and one yet greater, he who hedged in from abolishing every smallest jot and title of precious equity contained in that law, with a more accurate and lasting Masoreth, than either the synagogue of Ezra or the Galilæan school at Tiberias hath left us. Whatever else ye can enact, will scarce concern a third part of the British name: but the benefit and good of this your magnanimous example, will easily spread far beyond the banks of Tweed and the Norman isles. It would not be the first or second time, since our ancient druids, by whom this island was the cathedral of philosophy to France, left off their pagan rites, that England hath had this honour vouchsafed from heaven, to give out reformation to the world. Who was it but our English Constantine that baptized the Roman empire? Who but the Northumbrian Willibrode, and Winifride of Devon, with their followers, were the first apostles of Germany? Who but Alcuin and Wickliff our countrymen opened the eyes of Europe, the one in arts, the other in religion? Let not England forget her precedence of teaching nations how to live.

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Know, worthies; and exercise the privilege of your honoured country. A greater title I here bring ye, than is either in the power or in the policy of Rome to give her monarchs; this glorious act will style ye the defenders of charity. Nor is this yet the highest inscription that will adorn so religious and so holy a defence as this: behold here the pure and sacred law of God, and his yet purer and more sacred name, offering themselves to you, first of all Christian reformers to be acquitted from the long-suffered ungodly attribute of patronizing adultery. Defer not to wipe off instantly these imputative blurs and stains cast by rude fancies upon the throne and beauty itself of inviolable holiness: lest some other people more devout and wise than we bereave us this offered immortal glory, our wonted prerogative, of being the first asserters in every great vindication. For me, as far as my part leads me, I have already my greatest gain, assurance and inward satisfaction to have done in this nothing unworthy of an honest life, and studies well employed. With what event, among the wise and right understanding handful of men, I am secure. But how among the drove of custom and prejudiced this will be relished by such whose capacity, since their youth run ahead into the easy creek of a system or a medulla, sails there at will under the blown physiognomy of their unlaboured rudiments; for them, what their taste will be, I have also surety sufficient, from the entire league that hath ever been between formal ignorance and grave obstinacy. Yet when I remember the little that our Saviour could prevail about this doctrine of charity against the crabbed textuists of his time, I make no wonder, but rest confident, that whoso prefers either matrimony or other ordinance before the good of man and the plain exigence of charity, let him profess papist, or protestant, or what he will, he is no better than a Pharisee, and understands not the gospel: whom as a misinterpreter of Christ I openly protest against; and provoke him to the trial of this truth before all the world: and let him bethink him withal how he will sodder up the shifting flaws of his ungirt permissions, his venial and unvenial dispenses, wherewith the law of God pardoning and unpardoning hath been shamefully branded for want of heed in glossing, to have eluded and baffled out all faith and chastity from the marriage-bed of that holy seed, with politic and judicial adulteries. I seek not to seduce the simple and illiterate: my errand is to find out the choicest and the learnedest, who have this high gift of wisdom to answer solidly, or to be convinced. I crave it from the piety, the learning, and the prudence which is housed in this place. It might perhaps more fitly have been written in another tongue: and I had done so, but that the esteem I have of my country’s judgment, and the love I bear to my native language to serve it first with what I endeavour, made me speak it thus, ere I assay the verdict of outlandish readers. And perhaps also here I might have ended nameless, but that the address of these lines chiefly to the parliament of England might have seemed ingrateful not to acknowledge by whose religious care, unwearied watchfulness, courageous and heroic resolutions, I enjoy the peace and studious leisure to remain,

The Honourer and Attendant of their noble Worth and Virtues,

John Milton.
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BOOK I.

THE PREFACE.

That man is the occasion of his own miseries in most of those evils which he imputes to God’s inflicting. The absurdity of our canonists in their decrees about divorce. The Christian imperial laws framed with more equity. The opinion of Hugo Grotius and Paulus Fagius: And the purpose in general of this discourse.

Many men, whether it be their fate or fond opinion, easily persuade themselves, if God would but be pleased a while to withdraw his just punishments from us, and to restrain what power either the devil or any earthly enemy hath to work us wo, that then man’s nature would find immediate rest and releasement from all evils. But verily they who think so, if they be such as have a mind large enough to take into their thoughts a general survey of human things, would soon prove themselves in that opinion far deceived. For though it were granted us by divine indulgence to be exempt from all that can be harmful to us from without, yet the perverseness of our folly is so bent, that we should never lin hammering out of our own hearts, as it were out of a flint, the seeds and sparkles of new misery to ourselves, till all were in a blaze again. And no marvel if out of our own hearts, for they are evil; but even out of those things which God meant us, either for a principal good, or a pure contentment, we are still hatching and contriving upon ourselves matter of continual sorrow and perplexity. What greater good to man than that revealed rule, whereby God vouchsafes to show us how he would be worshipped? And yet that not rightly understood became the cause, that once a famous man in Israel could not but oblige his conscience to be the sacrificer; or if not, the jailer of his innocent and only daughter: and was the cause ofttimes that armies of valiant men have given up their throats to a heathenish enemy on the sabbath day; fondly thinking their defensive resistance to be as then a work unlawful. What thing more instituted to the solace and delight of man than marriage? And yet the misinterpreting of some scripture, directed mainly against the abusers of the law for divorce given by Moses, hath changed the blessing of matrimony not seldom into a familiar and coinhabiting mischief; at least into a drooping and disconsolate household captivity, without refuge or redemption. So ungoverned and so wild a race doth superstition run us, from one extreme of abused liberty into the other of unmerciful restraint. For although God in the first ordaining of marriage taught us to what end he did it, in words expressly implying the apt and cheerful conversation of man with woman, to comfort and refresh him Edition: current; Page: [199] against the evil of solitary life, not mentioning the purpose of generation till afterwards, as being but a secondary end in dignity, though not in necessity: yet now, if any two be but once handed in the church, and have tasted in any sort the nuptial bed, let them find themselves never so mistaken in their dispositions through any error, concealment, or misadventure, that through their different tempers, thoughts, and constitutions, they can neither be to one another a remedy against loneliness, nor live in any union or contentment all their days; yet they shall, so they be but found suitably weaponed to the least possibility of sensual enjoyment, be made, spite of antipathy, to fadge together, and combine as they may to their unspeakable wearisomeness, and despair of all sociable delight in the ordinance which God established to that very end. What a calamity is this, and as the wise man, if he were alive, would sigh out in his own phrase, what a “sore evil is this under the sun!” All which we can refer justly to no other author than the canon law and her adherents, not consulting with charity, the interpreter and guide of our faith, but resting in the mere element of the text; doubtless by the policy of the devil to make that gracious ordinance become unsupportable, that what with men not daring to venture upon wedlock, and what with men wearied out of it, all inordinate license might abound. It was for many ages that marriage lay in disgrace with most of the ancient doctors, as a work of the flesh, almost a defilement, wholly denied to priests, and the second time dissuaded to all, as he that reads Tertullian or Jerom may see at large. Afterwards it was thought so sacramental, that no adultery or desertion could dissolve it; and this is the sense of our canon courts in England to this day, but in no other reformed church else: yet there remains in them also a burden on it as heavy as the other two were disgraceful or superstitious, and of as much iniquity, crossing a law not only written by Moses, but charactered in us by nature, of more antiquity and deeper ground than marriage itself; which law is to force nothing against the faultless proprieties of nature, yet that this may be colourably done, our Saviour’s words touching divorce are as it were congealed into a stony rigour, inconsistent both with his doctrine and his office; and that which he preached only to the conscience is by canonical tyranny snatched into the compulsive censure of a judicial court; where laws are imposed even against the venerable and secret power of nature’s impression, to love, whatever cause be found to loath: which is a heinous barbarism both against the honour of marriage, the dignity of man and his soul, the goodness of Christianity, and all the human respects of civility. Notwithstanding that some the wisest and gravest among the Christian emperors, who had about them, to consult with, those of the fathers then living, who for their learning and holiness of life are still with us in great renown, have made their statutes and edicts concerning this debate far more easy and relenting in many necessary cases, wherein the canon is inflexible. And Hugo Grotius, a man of these times, one of the best learned, seems not obscurely to adhere in his persuasion to the equity of those imperial decrees, in his notes upon the Evangelist; much allaying the outward roughness of the text, which hath for the most part been too immoderately expounded; and excites the diligence of others to inquire further into this question, as containing many points that have not yet been explained. Which ever likely to remain intricate and hopeless upon the suppositions commonly stuck to, the authority of Paulus Fagius, one so learned and so eminent in England once, if it might persuade, would straight acquaint us with a solution of these differences no less prudent than compendious. He, in his comment on the Pentateuch, doubted not to maintain that divorces Edition: current; Page: [200] might be as lawfully permitted by the magistrate to Christians, as they were to the Jews. But because he is but brief, and these things of great consequence not to be kept obscure, I shall conceive it nothing above my duty, either for the difficulty or the censure that may pass thereon, to communicate such thoughts as I also have had, and do offer them now in this general labour of reformation to the candid view both of church and magistrate: especially because I see it the hope of good men, that those irregular and unspiritual courts have spun their utmost date in this land, and some better course must now be constituted. This therefore shall be the task and period of this discourse to prove, first, that other reasons of divorce, besides adultery, were by the law of Moses, and are yet to be allowed by the Christian magistrate as a piece of justice, and that the words of Christ are not hereby contraried. Next, that to prohibit absolutely any divorce whatsoever, except those which Moses excepted, is against the reason of law, as in due place I shall show out of Fagius with many additions. He therefore who by adventuring, shall be so happy as with success to light the way of such an expedient liberty and truth as this, shall restore the much-wronged and over-sorrowed state of matrimony, not only to those merciful and life-giving remedies of Moses, but as much as may be, to that serene and blissful condition it was in at the beginning, and shall deserve of all apprehensive men, (considering the troubles and distempers, which, for want of this insight have been so oft in kingdoms, in states, and families,) shall deserve to be reckoned among the public benefactors of civil and human life, above the inventors of wine and oil; for this is a far dearer, far nobler, and more desirable cherishing to man’s life, unworthily exposed to sadness and mistake, which he shall vindicate. Not that license, and levity, and unconsented breach of faith should herein be countenanced, but that some conscionable and tender pity might be had of those who have unwarily, in a thing they never practised before, made themselves the bondmen of a luckless and helpless matrimony. In which argument, he whose courage can serve him to give the first onset must look for two several oppositions; the one from those who having sworn themselves to long custom, and the letter of the text, will not out of the road; the other from those whose gross and vulgar apprehensions conceit but low of matrimonial purposes, and in the work of male and female think they have all. Nevertheless, it shall be here sought by due ways to be made appear, that those words of God in the institution, promising a meet help against loneliness, and those words of Christ, “that his yoke is easy, and his burden light,” were not spoken in vain: for if the knot of marriage may in no case be dissolved but for adultery, all the burdens and services of the law are not so intolerable. This only is desired of them who are minded to judge hardly of thus maintaining, that they would be still, and hear all out, nor think it equal to answer deliberate reason with sudden heat and noise; remembering this, that many truths now of reverend esteem and credit, had their birth and beginning once from singular and private thoughts, while the most of men were otherwise possessed; and had the fate at first to be generally exploded and exclaimed on by many violent opposers: yet I may err perhaps in soothing myself that this present truth revived will deserve on all hands to be not sinisterly received, in that it undertakes the cure of an inveterate disease crept into the best part of human society; and to do this with no smarting corrosive, but with a smooth and pleasing lesson, which received hath the virtue to soften and dispel rooted and knotty sorrows, and without enchantment, if that he feared, or spell used, hath regard at once both to serious pity and upright honesty; Edition: current; Page: [201] that tends to the redeeming and restoring of none but such as are the object of compassion, having in an ill hour hampered themselves, to the utter dispatch of all their most beloved comforts and repose for this life’s term. But if we shall obstinately dislike this new overture of unexpected ease and recovery, what remains but to deplore the frowardness of our hopeless condition, which neither can endure the estate we are in, nor admit of remedy either sharp or sweet. Sharp we ourselves distaste; and sweet, under whose hands we are, is scrupled and suspected as too luscious. In such a posture Christ found the Jews, who were neither won with the austerity of John the Baptist, and thought it too much license to follow freely the charming pipe of him who sounded and proclaimed liberty and relief to all distresses: yet truth in some age or other will find her witness, and shall be justified at last by her own children.

CHAPTER I.

The position proved by the law of Moses. That law expounded and asserted to a moral and charitable use, first by Paulus Fagius, next with other additions.

To remove therefore, if it be possible, this great and sad oppression, which through the strictness of a literal interpreting hath invaded and disturbed the dearest and most peaceable estate of household society, to the overburdening, if not the overwhelming of many Christians better worth than to be so deserted of the church’s considerate care, this position shall be laid down, first proving, then answering what may be objected either from Scripture or light of reason.

“That indisposition, unfitness, or contrariety of mind, arising from a cause in nature unchangeable, hindering, and ever likely to hinder, the main benefits of conjugal society, which are solace and peace; is a greater reason of divorce than natural frigidity, especially if there be no children, and that there be mutual consent.”

This I gather from the law in Deut. xxiv. 1. “When a man hath taken a wife and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her, let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house,” &c. This law, if the words of Christ may be admitted into our belief, shall never while the world stands, for him be abrogated. First therefore I here set down what learned Fagius hath observed on this law; “the law of God,” saith he, “permitted divorce for the help of human weakness. For every one that of necessity separates, cannot live single. That Christ denied divorce to his own, hinders not; for what is that to the unregenerate, who hath not attained such perfection? Let not the remedy be despised, which was given to weakness. And when Christ saith, who marries the divorced commits adultery, it is to be understood if he had any plot in the divorce.” The rest I reserve until it be disputed, how the magistrate is to do herein. From hence we may plainly discern a twofold consideration in this law: first, the end of the lawgiver, and the proper act of the law, to command or to allow something just and honest, or indifferent. Secondly, his sufferance from some accidental result of evil by this allowance, which the law cannot remedy. For if this law have no other end or act but only the allowance of sin, though never to so good intention, that law is no law, but Edition: current; Page: [202] sin muffled in the robe of law, or law disguised in the loose garment of sin. Both which are too foul hypotheses, to save the phænomenon of our Saviour’s answer to the Pharisees about this matter. And I trust anon by the help of an infallible guide, to perfect such Prutenic tables, as shall mend the astronomy of our wide expositors.

The cause of divorce mentioned in the law is translated “some uncleanness,” but in the Hebrew it sounds “nakedness of aught, or any real nakedness:” which by all the learned interpreters is referred to the mind as well as to the body. And what greater nakedness or unfitness of mind than that which hinders ever the solace and peaceful society of the married couple; and what hinders that more than the unfitness and defectiveness of an unconjugal mind? The cause therefore of divorce expressed in the position cannot but agree with that described in the best and equallest sense of Moses’ law. Which being a matter of pure charity, is plainly moral, and more now in force than ever; therefore surely lawful. For if under the law such was God’s gracious indulgence, as not to suffer the ordinance of his goodness and favour through any error to be seared and stigmatised upon his servants to their misery and thraldom; much less will he suffer it now under the covenant of grace, by abrogating his former grant of remedy and relief. But the first institution will be objected to have ordained marriage inseparable. To that a little patience until this first part have amply discoursed the grave and pious reasons of this divorcive law; and then I doubt not but with one gentle stroking to wipe away ten thousand tears out of the life of man. Yet thus much I shall now insist on, that whatever the institution were, it could not be so enormous, nor so rebellious against both nature and reason, as to exalt itself above the end and person for whom it was instituted.

CHAPTER II.

The first reason of this law grounded on the prime reason of matrimony. That no covenant whatsoever obliges against the main end both of itself, and of the parties covenanting.

For all sense and equity reclaims, that any law or covenant, how solemn or strait soever, either between God and man, or man and man, though of God’s joining, should bind against a prime and principal scope of its own institution, and of both or either party covenanting: neither can it be of force to engage a blameless creature to his own perpetual sorrow, mistaken for his expected solace, without suffering charity to step in and do a confessed good work of parting those, whom nothing holds together but this of God’s joining, falsely supposed against the express end of his own ordinance. And what his chief end was of creating woman to be joined with man, his own instituting words declare, and are infallible to inform us what is marriage, and what is no marriage; unless we can think them set there to no purpose; “it is not good,” saith he, “that man should be alone, I will make him a help meet for him.” From which words, so plain, less cannot be concluded, nor is by any learned interpreter, than that in God’s intention a meet and happy conversation is the chiefest and the noblest end of marriage: for we find here no expression so necessarily implying carnal knowledge, as this prevention of loneliness to the mind and spirit of man. To this, Fagius, Calvin, Pareus, Rivetus, as willingly and largely assent as can be wished. Edition: current; Page: [203] And indeed it is a greater blessing from God, more worthy so excellent a creature as man is, and a higher end to honour and sanctify the league of marriage, whenas the solace and satisfaction of the mind is regarded and provided for before the sensitive pleasing of the body. And with all generous persons married thus it is, that where the mind and person pleases aptly, there some unaccomplishment of the body’s delight may be better borne with, than when the mind hangs off in an unclosing disproportion, though the body be as it ought; for there all corporal delight will soon become unsavoury and contemptible. And the solitariness of man, which God had namely and principally ordered to prevent by marriage, hath no remedy, but lies under a worse condition than the loneliest single life: for in single life the absence and remoteness of a helper might inure him to expect his own comforts out of himself, or to seek with hope; but here the continual sight of his deluded thoughts, without cure, must needs be to him, if especially his complexion incline him to melancholy, a daily trouble and pain of loss, in some degree like that which reprobates feel. Lest therefore so noble a creature as man should be shut up incurably under a worse evil by an easy mistake in that ordinance which God gave him to remedy a less evil, reaping to himself sorrow while he went to rid away solitariness, it cannot avoid to be concluded, that if the woman be naturally so of disposition, as will not help to remove, but help to increase that same God-for-bidden loneliness, which will in time draw on with it a general discomfort and dejection of mind, not beseeming either Christian profession or moral conversation, unprofitable and dangerous to the commonwealth, when the household estate, out of which must flourish forth the vigour and spirit of all public enterprises, is so illcontented and procured at home, and cannot be supported; such a marriage can be no marriage, whereto the most honest end is wanting: and the aggrieved person shall do more manly, to be extraordinary and singular in claiming the due right whereof he is frustrated, than to piece up his lost contentment by visiting the stews, or stepping to his neighbour’s bed; which is the common shift in this misfortune: or else by suffering his useful life to waste away, and be lost under a secret affliction of an unconscionable size to human strength. Against all which evils the mercy of this Mosaic law was graciously exhibited.

CHAPTER III.

The ignorance and iniquity of canon law, providing for the right of the body in marriage, but nothing for the wrongs and grievances of the mind. An objection, that the mind should be better looked to before contract, answered.

How vain therefore is it, and how preposterous in the canon law, to have made such careful provision against the impediment of carnal performance, and to have had no care about the unconversing inability of mind so defective to the purest and most sacred end of matrimony; and that the vessel of voluptuous enjoyment must be made good to him that has taken it upon trust, without any caution; whenas the mind, from whence must flow the acts of peace and love, a far more precious mixture than the quintescence of an excrement, though it be found never so deficient and unable to perform the best duty of marriage in a cheerful and agreeable conversation, shall be thought good enough, however flat and melancholius it be, and must serve, though to the eternal disturbance and languishing of him that Edition: current; Page: [204] complains! Yet wisdom and charity, weighing God’s own institution, would think that the pining of a sad spirit wedded to loneliness should deserve to be freed, as well the impatience of a sensual desire so providently relieved. It is read to us in the liturgy, that “we must not marry to satisfy the fleshly appetite, like brute beasts, that have no understanding;” but the canon so runs, as if it dreamed of no other matter than such an appetite to be satisfied; for if it happen that nature hath stopped or extinguished the veins of sensuality, that marriage is annulled. But though all the faculties of the understanding and conversing part after trial appear to be so ill and so aversely met through nature’s unalterable working, as that neither peace, nor any sociable contentment can follow, it is as nothing; the contract shall stand as firm as ever, betide what will. What is this but secretly to instruct us, that however many grave reasons are pretended to the married life, yet that nothing indeed is thought worth regard therein, but the prescribed satisfaction of an irrational heat? Which cannot be but ignominious to the state of marriage, dishonourable to the undervalued soul of man, and even to Christian doctrine itself: while it seems more moved at the disappointing of an impetuous nerve, than at the ingenuous grievance of a mind unreasonably yoked; and to place more of marriage in the channel of concupiscence, than in the pure influence of peace and love, whereof the soul’s lawful contentment is the only fountain.

But some are ready to object, that the disposition ought seriously to be considered before. But let them know again, that for all the wariness can be used, it may yet befall a discreet man to be mistaken in his choice, and we have plenty of examples. The soberest and best governed men are least practised in these affairs; and who knows not that the bashful muteness of a virgin may ofttimes hide all the unliveliness and natural sloth which is really unfit for conversation; nor is there that freedom of access granted or presumed, as may suffice to a perfect discerning till too late; and where any indisposition is suspected, what more usual than the persuasion of friends, that acquaintance, as it increases, will amend all? And lastly, it is not strange though many, who have spent their youth chastely, are in some things not so quick-sighted, while they haste too eagerly to light the nuptial torch; nor is it therefore that for a modest error a man should forfeit so great a happiness, and no charitable means to release him: since they who have lived most loosely, by reason of their bold accustoming, prove most successful in their matches, because their wild affections unsettling at will, have been as so many divorces to teach them experience. Whenas the sober man honouring the appearance of modesty, and hoping well of every social virtue under that veil, may easily chance to meet, if not with a body impenetrable, yet often with a mind to all other due conversation inaccessible, and to all the more estimable and superior purposes of matrimony useless and almost lifeless: and what a solace, what a fit help such a consort would be through the whole life of man, is less pain to conjecture than to have experience.

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CHAPTER IV.

The second reason of this law, because without it, marriage as it happens oft is not a remedy of that which it promises, as any rational creature would expect. That marriage, if we pattern from the beginning, as our Saviour bids, was not properly the remedy of lust, but the fulfilling of conjugal love and helpfulness.

And that we may further see what a violent cruel thing it is to force the continuing of those together, whom God and nature in the gentlest end of marriage never joined; divers evils and extremities, that follow upon such a compulsion, shall here be set in view. Of evils, the first and greatest is, that hereby a most absurd and rash imputation is fixed upon God and his holy laws, of conniving and dispensing with open and common adultery among his chosen people; a thing which the rankest politician would think it shame and disworship that his laws should countenance: how and in what manner that comes to pass I shall reserve till the course of method brings on the unfolding of many scriptures. Next, the law and gospel are hereby made liable to more than one contradiction, which I refer also thither. Lastly, the supreme dictate of charity is hereby many ways neglected and violated; which I shall forthwith address to prove. First, we know St. Paul saith, It is better to marry than to burn. Marriage therefore was given as a remedy of that trouble; but what might this burning mean? Certainly not the mere motion of carnal lust, not the mere goad of a sensitive desire: God does not principally take care for such cattle. What is it then but that desire which God put into Adam in Paradise, before he knew the sin of incontinence; that desire which God saw it was not good that man should be left alone to burn in, the desire and longing to put off an unkindly solitariness by uniting another body, but not without a fit soul to his, in the cheerful society of wedlock? Which if it were so needful before the fall, when man was much more perfect in himself, how much more is it needful now against all the sorrows and casualties of this life, to have an intimate and speaking help, a ready and reviving associate in marriage? Whereof who misses, by chancing on a mute and spiritless mate, remains more alone than before, and in a burning less to be contained than that which is fleshly, and more to be considered; as being more deeply rooted even in the faultless innocence of nature. As for that other burning which is but as it were the venom of a lusty and over-abounding concoction, strict life and labour, with the abatement of a full diet, may keep that low and obedient enough: but this pure and more inbred desire of joining to itself in conjugal fellowship a fit conversing soul (which desire is properly called love) “is stronger than death,” as the spouse of Christ thought; “many waters cannot quench it, neither can the floods drown it.” This is that rational burning that marriage is to remedy, not to be allayed with fasting, nor with any penance to be subdued: which how can he assuage who by mishap hath met the most unmeet and unsuitable mind? Who hath the power to struggle with an intelligible flame, not in Paradise to be resisted, become now more ardent by being failed of what in reason it looked for; and even then most unquenched, when the importunity of a provender burning is well enough appeased; and yet the soul hath obtained nothing of what it justly desires. Certainly such a one forbidden to divorce, is in effect forbidden to marry, and compelled to greater difficulties than in a single life: for if there be not a more humane burning which marriage must satisfy, or else may be dissolved, Edition: current; Page: [206] than that of copulation, marriage cannot be honourable for the meet reducing and terminating lust between two; seeing many beasts in voluntary and chosen couples live together as unadulterously, and are as truly married in that respect. But all ingenuous men will see that the dignity and blessing of marriage is placed rather in the mutual enjoyment of that which the wanting soul needfully seeks, than of that which the plenteous body would joyfully give away. Hence it is that Plato, in his festival discourse, brings in Socrates relating what he feigned to have learned from the prophetess Diotima, how Love was the son of Penury, begot of Plenty in the garden of Jupiter. Which divinely sorts with that which in effect Moses tells us, that Love was the son of Loneliness, begot in Paradise by that sociable and helpful aptitude which God implanted between man and woman toward each other. The same also is that burning mentioned by St. Paul, whereof marriage ought to be the remedy: the flesh hath other mutual and easy curbs which are in the power of any temperate man. When therefore this original and sinless penury or loneliness of the soul cannot lay itself down by the side of such a meet and acceptable union as God ordained in marriage, at least in some proportion, it cannot conceive and bring forth love, but remains utterly unmarried under a former wedlock, and still burns in the proper meaning of St. Paul. Then enters Hate, not that hate that sins, but that which only is natural dissatisfaction, and the turning aside from a mistaken object: if that mistake have done injury, it fails not to dismiss with recompense; for to retain still, and not be able to love, is to heap up more injury. Thence this wise and pious law of dismission now defended, took beginning: he therefore who lacking of his due in the most native and humane end of marriage, thinks it better to part than to live sadly and injuriously to that cheerful covenant, (for not to be beloved, and yet retained, is the greatest injury to a gentle spirit,) he, I say, who therefore seeks to part, is one who highly honours the married life and would not stain it: and the reasons which now move him to divorce, are equal to the best of those that could first warrant him to marry; for, as was plainly shown, both the hate which now diverts him, and the loneliness which leads him still powerfully to seek a fit help, hath not the least grain of a sin in it, if he be worthy to understand himself.

CHAPTER V.

The third reason of this law, because without it, he who has happened where he finds nothing but remediless offences and discontents, is in more and greater temptations than ever before.

Thirdly, Yet it is next to be feared, if he must be still bound without reason by a deaf rigour, that when he perceives the just expectance of his mind defeated, he will begin even against law to cast about where he may find his satisfaction more complete, unless he be a thing heroically virtuous; and that are not the common lump of men, for whom chiefly the laws ought to be made; though not to their sins, yet to their unsinning weaknesses, it being above their strength to endure the lonely estate, which while they shunned they are fallen into. And yet there follows upon this a worse temptation: for if he be such as hath spent his youth unblameably, and laid up his chiefest earthly comforts in the enjoyments of a contented marriage, nor did neglect that furtherance which was to be obtained therein by constant prayers; when he shall find himself bound fast to an uncomplying discord Edition: current; Page: [207] of nature, or, as it oft happens, to an image of earth and phlegm, with whom he looked to be the copartner of a sweet and gladsome society, and sees withal that his bondage is now inevitable; though he be almost the strongest Christian, he will be ready to despair in virtue, and mutiny against Divine Providence: and this doubtless is the reason of those lapses, and that melancholy despair, which we see in many wedded persons, though they understand it not, or pretend other causes, because they know no remedy; and is of extreme danger: therefore when human frailty surcharged is at such a loss, charity ought to venture much, and use bold physic, lest an overtossed faith endanger to shipwreck.

CHAPTER VI.

The fourth reason of this law, that God regards love and peace in the family, more than a compulsive performance of marriage, which is more broke by a grievous continuance, than by a needful divorce.

Fourthly, Marriage is a covenant, the very being whereof consists not in a forced cohabitation, and counterfeit performance of duties, but in unfeigned love and peace: and of matrimonial love, no doubt but that was chiefly meant, which by the ancient sages was thus parabled; that Love, if he be not twin born, yet hath a brother wondrous like him, called Anteros; whom while he seeks all about, his chance is to meet with many false and feigning desires, that wander singly up and down in his likeness: by them in their borrowed garb, Love though not wholly blind, as poets wrong him, yet having but one eye, as being born an archer aiming and that eye not the quickest in this dark region here below, which is not love’s proper sphere, partly out of the simplicity and credulity which is native to him, often deceived, embraces and consorts him with these obvious and suborned striplings, as if they were his mother’s own sons; for so he thinks them, while they subtilly keep themselves most on his blind side. But after a while, as his manner is when soaring up into the high tower of his Apogæum, above the shadow of the earth, he darts out the direct rays of his then most piercing eyesight upon the impostures and trim disguises that were used with him, and discerns that this is not his genuine brother as he imagined; he has no longer the power to hold fellowship with such a personated mate: for straight his arrrows lose their golden heads, and shed their purple feathers, his silken braids untwine, and slip their knots, and that original and fiery virtue given him by fate all on a sudden goes out, and leaves him undeified and despoiled of all his force; till finding Anteros at last he kindles and repairs the almost faded ammunition of his deity by the reflection of a coequal and homogeneal fire. Thus mine author sung it to me: and by the leave of those who would be counted the only grave ones, this is no mere amatorious novel (though to be wise and skilful in these matters, men heretofore of greatest name in virtue have esteemed it one of the highest arcs, that human contemplation circling upwards can make from the globy sea whereon she stands): but this a deep and serious verity, showing us that love in marriage cannot live nor subsist unless it be mutual; and where love cannot be, there can be left of wedlock nothing but the empty husk of an outside matrimony, as undelightful and unpleasing to God as any other kind of hypocrisy. So far is his command from tying men to the observance of duties which there is no help for, but they must be dissembled. If Solomon’s Edition: current; Page: [208] advice be not over-frolic, “live joyfully,” saith he, “with the wife whom thou lovest, all thy days, for that is thy portion.” How then, where we find it impossible to rejoice or to love, can we obey this precept? How miserably do we defraud ourselves of that comfortable portion, which God gives us, by striving vainly to glue an error together, which God and nature will not join, adding but more vexation and violence to that blissful society by our importunate superstition, that will not hearken to St. Paul, 1 Cor. vii. who, speaking of marriage and divorce, determines plain enough in general, that God therein “hath called us to peace, and not to bondage.” Yea God himself commands in his law more than once, and by his prophet Malachi, as Calvin and the best translations read, that “he who hates, let him divorce,” that is, he who cannot love. Hence it is that the rabbins, and Maimonides, famous among the rest, in a book of his set forth by Buxtorfius, tells us, that “divorce was permitted by Moses to preserve peace in marriage, and quiet in the family.” Surely the Jews had their saving peace about them as well as we, yet care was taken that this wholesome provision for household peace should also be allowed them: and must this be denied to Christians? O perverseness! that the law should be made more provident of peace-making than the gospel! that the gospel should be put to beg a most necessary help of mercy from the law, but must not have it; and that to grind in the mill of an undelighted and servile copulation, must be the only forced work of a Christian marriage, ofttimes with such a yokefellow, from whom both love and peace, both nature and religion mourns to be separated. I cannot therefore be so diffident, as not securely to conclude, that he who can receive nothing of the most important helps in marriage, being thereby disenabled to return that duty which is his, with a clear and hearty countenance, and thus continues to grieve whom he would not, and is no less grieved; that man ought even for love’s sake and peace to move divorce upon good and liberal conditions to the divorced. And it is a less breach of wedlock to part with wise and quiet consent betimes, than still to foil and profane that mystery of joy and union with a polluting sadness and perpetual distemper: for it is not the outward continuing of marriage that keeps whole that covenant, but whatsoever does most according to peace and love, whether in marriage or in divorce, he it is that breaks marriage least; it being so often written, that “Love only is the fulfilling of every commandment.”

CHAPTER VII.

The fifth reason, that nothing more hinders and disturbs the whole life of a Christian, than a matrimony found to be incurably unfit, and doth the same in effect that doth an idolatrous match.

Fifthly, As those priests of old were not to be long in sorrow, or if they were, they could not rightly execute their function; so every true Christian in a higher order of priesthood, is a person dedicate to joy and peace, offering himself a lively sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and there is no Christian duty that is not to be seasoned and set off with cheerishness; which in a thousand outward and intermitting crosses may yet be done well, as in this vale of tears: but in such a bosom affiction as this, crushing the very foundation of his inmost nature, when he shall be forced to love against a possibility, and to use a dissimulation against his soul in the perpetual and Edition: current; Page: [209] ceaseless duties of a husband; doubtless his whole duty of serving God must needs be blurred and tainted with a sad unpreparedness and dejection of spirit wherein God has no delight. Who sees not therefore how much more Christianity it would be to break by divorce, that which is more broken by undue and forcible keeping, rather than “to cover the altar of the Lord with continual tears, so that he regardeth not the offering any more,” rather than that the whole worship of a Christian man’s life should languish and fade away beneath the weight of an immeasurable grief and discouragement? And because some think the children of a second matrimony succeeding a divorce would not be a holy seed, it hindered not the Jews from being so; and why should we not think them more holy than the offspring of a former ill-twisted wedlock, begotten only out of a bestial necessity, without any true love or contentment, or joy to their parents? So that in some sense we may call them the “children of wrath” and anguish, which will as little conduce to their sanctifying, as if they had been bastards: for nothing more than disturbance of mind suspends us from approaching to God; such a disturbance especially, as both assaults our faith and trust in God’s providence, and ends, if there be not a miracle of virtue on either side, not only in bitterness and wrath, the canker of devotion, but in a desperate and vicious carelessness, when he sees himself, without fault of his, trained by a deceitful bait into a snare of misery, betrayed by an alluring ordinance, and then made the thrall of heaviness and discomfort by an undivorcing law of God, as he erroneously thinks, but of man’s iniquity, as the truth is: for that God prefers the free and cheerful worship of a Christian, before the grievance and exacted observance of an unhappy marriage, besides that the general maxims of religion assure us, will be more manifest by drawing a parallel argument from the ground of divorcing an idolatress, which was, lest she should alienate his heart from the true worship of God: and what difference is there whether she pervert him to supersition by her enticing sorcery, or disenable him in the whole service of God through the disturbance of her unhelpful and unfit society; and so drive him at last, through murmuring and despair, to thoughts of atheism? Neither doth it lessen the cause of separating, in that the one willingly allures him from the faith, the other perhaps unwillingly drives him; for in the account of God it comes all to one, that the wife loses him a servant: and therefore by all the united force of the Decalogue she ought to be disbanded, unless we must set marriage above God and charity, which is the doctrine of devils, no less than forbidding to marry.

CHAPTER VIII.

That an idolatrous heretic ought to be divorced, after a convenient space given to hope of conversion. That place of 1 Cor. vii. restored from a two-fold erroneous exposition; and that the common expositors flatly contradict the moral law.

And here by the way, to illustrate the whole question of divorce, ere this treatise end, I shall not be loth to spend a few lines in hope to give a full resolve of that which is yet so much controverted; whether an idolatrous heretic ought to be divorced. To the resolving whereof we must first know, that the Jews were commanded to divorce an unbelieving Gentile for two causes: First, because all other nations, especially the Canaanites, were to Edition: current; Page: [210] them unclean. Secondly, to avoid seducement. That other nations were to the Jews impure, even to the separating in marriage, will appear out of Exod. xxxiv. 16, Deut. vii. 3, 6, compared with Ezra ix. 2, also chap. x. 10, 11, Neh. xiii. 30. This was the ground of that doubt raised among the Corinthians by some of the circumcision; whether an unbeliever were not still to be counted an unclean thing, so as that they ought to divorce from such a person. This doubt of theirs St. Paul removes by an evangelical reason, having respect to that vision of St. Peter, wherein the distinction of clean and unclean being abolished, all living creatures were sanctified to a pure and Christian use, and mankind especially, now invited by a general call to the covenant of grace. Therefore saith St. Paul, “the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband;” that is made pure and lawful to his use, so that he need not put her away for fear lest her unbelief should defile him; but that if he found her love still towards him he might rather hope to win her. The second reason of that divorce was to avoid seducement, as is proved by comparing those two places of the law to that which Ezra and Nehemiah did by divine warrant in compelling the Jews to forego their wives. And this reason is moral and perpetual in the rule of Christian faith without evasion; therefore saith the apostle, 2 Cor. vi., “Misyoke not together with infidels,” which is interpreted of marriage in the first place. And although the former legal pollution be now done off, yet there is a spiritual contagion in idolatry as much to be shunned; and though seducement were not to be feared, yet where there is no hope of converting, there always ought to be a certain religious aversion and abhorring, which can no way sort with marriage: Therefore saith St. Paul, “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness? What concord hath Christ with Belial? What part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” And in the next verse but one he moralizes, and makes us liable to that command of Isaiah; “Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, saith the Lord; touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive ye.” And this command thus gospelized to us, hath the same force with that whereon Ezra grounded the pious necessity of divorcing. Neither had he other commission for what he did, than such a general command in Deut. as this, nay not so direct; for he is bid there not to marry, but not bid to divorce, and yet we see with what a zeal and confidence he was the author of a general divorce between the faithful and the unfaithful seed. The gospel is more plainly on his side, according to three of the evangelists, than the words of the law; for where the case of divorce is handled with such severity, as was fittest to aggravate the fault of unbounded license; yet still in the same chapter, when it comes into question afterwards, whether any civil respect, or natural relation which is dearest, may be our plea to divide, or hinder, or but delay, our duty to religion, we hear it determined that father, and mother, and wife also, is not only to be hated, but forsaken, if we mean to inherit the great reward there promised. Nor will it suffice to be put off by saying we must forsake them only by not consenting or not complying with them, for that were to be done, and roundly too, though being of the same faith, they should but seek out of a fleshly tenderness to weaken our Christian fortitude with worldly persuasions, or but to unsettle our constancy with timorous and softening suggestions; as we may read with what a vehemence Job, the patientest of men, rejected the desperate counsels of his wife; and Moses, the meekest, being thoroughly offended with the profane speeches of Zippora, sent her back to her father. But if they shall perpetually, at our elbow, seduce us from the true worship of God, or defile and daily scandalize our conscience by their hopeless continuance in misbelief; Edition: current; Page: [211] than even in the due progress of reason, and that ever equal proportion which justice proceeds by, it cannot be imagined that his cited place commands less than a total and final separation from such an adherent; at least that no force should be used to keep them together; while we remember that God commanded Abraham to send away his irreligious wife and her son for the offences which they gave in a pious family. And it may be guessed that David, for the like cause, disposed of Michal in such a sort as little differed from a dismission. Therefore against reiterated scandals and seducements, which never cease, much more can no other remedy or retirement be found but absolute departure. For what kind of matrimony can that remain to be, what one duty between such can be performed as it should be from the heart, when their thoughts and spirits fly asunder as far as heaven and hell; especially if the time that hope should send forth her expected blossoms, be past in vain? It will easily be true, that a father or a brother may be hated zealously, and loved civilly, or naturally; for those duties may be performed at distance, and do admit of any long absence: but how the peace and perpetual cohabitation of marriage can be kept, how that benevolent and intimate communion of body can be held, with one that must be hated with a most operative hatred, must be forsaken and yet continually dwelt with and accompanied; he who can distinguish, hath the gift of an affection very oddly divided and contrived: while others both just and wise, and Solomon among the rest, if they may not hate and forsake as Moses enjoins, and the gospel imports, will find it impossible not to love otherwise than will sort with the love of God, whose jealousy brooks no co-rival. And whether is more likely, that Christ bidding to forsake wife for religion, meant it by divorce as Moses meant it, whose law, grounded on moral reason, was both his office and his essence to maintain; or that he should bring a new morality into religion, not only new, but contrary to an unchangeable command, and dangerously derogating from our love and worship of God? As if when Moses had bid divorce absolutely, and Christ had said, hate and forsake, and his apostle had said no communication with Christ and Belial; yet that Christ after all this could be understood to say, divorce not, no not for religion, seduce or seduce not. What mighty and invisible remora is this in matrimony able to demur and to contemn all the divorcive engines in heaven or earth! both which may now pass away, if this be true, for more than many jots or tittles, a whole moral law is abolished. But if we dare believe it is not, then in the method of religion, and to save the honour and dignity of our faith, we are to retreat and gather up ourselves from the observance of an inferior and civil ordinance, to the strict maintaining of a general and religious command, which is written, “Thou shalt make no covenant with them,” Deut. vii. 2. 3: and that covenant which cannot be lawfully made, we have directions and examples lawfully to dissolve. Also 2 Chron. ii. 19, “Shouldest thou love them that hate the Lord?” No doubtless; for there is a certain scale of duties, there is a certain hierarchy of upper and lower commands, which for want of studying in right order, all the world is in confusion.

Upon these principles I answer, that a right believer ought to divorce an idolatrous heretic, unless upon better hopes: however, that it is in the believer’s choice to divorce or not.

The former part will be manifest thus first, that an apostate idolater, whether husband or wife seducing, was to die by the decree of God, Deut. xiii. 6, 9; that marriage therefore God himself disjoins: for others born idolaters, the moral reason of their dangerous keeping, and the incommunicable antagony that is between Christ and Belial will be sufficient to Edition: current; Page: [212] enforce the commandment of those two inspired reformers Ezra and Nehemiah, to put an idolater away as well under the gospel.

The latter part, that although there be no seducement feared, yet if there be no hope given, the divorce is lawful, will appear by this; that idolatrous marriage is still hateful to God, therefore still it may be divorced by the pattern of that warrant that Ezra had, and by the same everlasting reason: neither can any man give an account wherefore, if those whom God joins no man can separate, it should not follow, that whom he joins not, but hates to join, those men ought to separate. But saith the lawyer, “That which ought not to have been done, once done, avails.” I answer, “this is but a crotchet of the law; but that brought against it is plain Scripture.” As for what Christ spake concerning divorce, it is confessed by all knowing men, he meant only between them of the same faith. But what shall we say then to St. Paul, who seems to bid us not divorce an infidel willing to stay? We may safely say thus, that wrong collections have been hitherto made out of those words by modern divines. His drift, as was heard before, is plain; not to command our stay in marriage with an infidel, that had been a flat renouncing of the religious and moral law; but to inform the Corinthians, that the body of an unbeliever was not defiling, if his desire to live in Christian wedlock showed any likelihood that his heart was opening to the faith; and therefore advises to forbear departure so long till nothing have been neglected to set forward a conversion: this I say he advises, and that with certain cautions, not commands, if we can take up so much credit for him, as to get him believed upon his own word: for what is this else but his counsel in a thing indifferent, “to the rest speak I, not the Lord?” for though it be true, that the Lord never spake it, yet from St. Paul’s mouth we should have took it as a command, had not himself forewarned us, and disclaimed; which notwithstanding if we shall still avouch to be a command, he palpably denying it, this is not to expound St. Paul, but to outface him. Neither doth it follow, that the apostle may interpose his judgment in a case of Christian liberty, without the guilt of adding to God’s word. How do we know marriage or single life to be of choice, but by such like words as these, “I speak this by permission, not of commandment; I have no command of the Lord, yet I give my judgment.” Why shall not the like words have leave to signify a freedom in this our present question, though Beza deny? Neither is the Scripture hereby less inspired, because St. Paul confesses to have written therein what he had not of command: for we grant that the Spirit of God led him thus to express himself to Christian prudence, in a matter which God thought best to leave uncommanded. Beza therefore must be warily read, when he taxes St. Austin of blasphemy, for holding that St. Paul spake here as of a thing indifferent. But if it must be a command, I shall yet the more evince it to be a command that we should herein be left free; and that out of the Greek word used in the 12th ver., which instructs us plainly, there must be a joint assent and good liking on both sides: he that will not deprave the text must thus render it; “If a brother have an unbelieving wife, and she join in consent to dwell with him,” (which cannot utter less to us than a mutual agreement,) let him not put her away from the mere surmise of judaical uncleanness: and the reason follows, for the body of an infidel is not polluted, neither to benevolence, nor to procreation. Moreover, this note of mutual complacency forbids all offer of seducement, which to a person of zeal cannot be attempted without great offence: if therefore seducement be feared, this place hinders not divorce. Another caution was put in this supposed command, of not Edition: current; Page: [213] oringing the believer into “bondage” hereby, which doubtless might prove extreme, if Christian liberty and conscience were left to the humour of a pagan staying at pleasure to play with, and to vex and wound with a thousand scandals and burdens, above strength to bear. If therefore the conceived hope of gaining a soul come to nothing, then charity commands that the believer be not wearied out with endless waiting under many grievances sore to his spirit; but that respect be had rather to the present suffering of a true Christian, than the uncertain winning of an obdurate heretic. The counsel we have from St. Paul to hope, cannot countermand, the moral and evangelic charge we have from God to fear seducement, to separate from the misbeliever, the unclean, the obdurate. The apostle wisheth us to hope; but does not send us a wool-gathering after vain hope; he saith, “How knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” that is, till he try all due means, and set some reasonable time to himself, after which he may give over washing an Ethiop, if he will hear the advice of the gospel; “Cast not pearls before swine,” saith Christ himself. “Let him be to thee as a heathen. Shake the dust off thy feet.” If this be not enough, “hate and forsake” what relation soever. And this also that follows must appertain to the precept, “Let every man wherein he is called, therein abide with God,” v. 24, that is, so walking in his inferior calling of marriage, as not by dangerous subjection to that ordinance, to hinder and disturb the higher calling of his Christianity. Last, and never too oft remembered, whether this be a command, or an advice, we must look that it be so understood as not to contradict the least point of moral religion that God hath formerly commanded; otherwise what do we but set the moral law and the gospel at civil war together? and who then shall be able to serve these two masters?

CHAPTER IX.

That adultery is not the greatest breach of matrimony: that there may be other violations as great.

Now whether idolatry or adultery be the greatest violation of marriage, if any demand let him thus consider; that among Christian writers touching matrimony, there be three chief ends thereof agreed on: godly society, next civil, and thirdly, that of the marriage-bed. Of these the first in name to be the highest and most excellent, no baptized man can deny, nor that idolatry smites directly against this prime end; nor that such as the violated end is, such is the violation: but he who affirms adultery to be the highest breach, affirms the bed to be the highest of marriage, which is in truth a gross and boorish opinion, how common soever: as far from the countenance of Scripture, as from the light of all clean philosophy or civil nature. And out of the question the cheerful help that may be in marriage towards sanctity of life, is the purest, and so the noblest end of that contract: but if the particular of each person be considered, then of those three ends which God appointed, that to him is greatest which is most necessary; and marriage is then most broken to him when he utterly wants the fruition of that which he most sought therein, whether it were religious, civil, or corporal society. Of which wants to do him right by divorce only for the last and meanest is a perverse injury, and the pretended reason of it as frigid as frigidity itself, which the code and canon are only sensible of. Edition: current; Page: [214] Thus much of this controversy. I now return to the former argument. And having shown that disproportion, contrariety, or numbness of mind may justly be divorced, by proving already the prohibition thereof opposes the express end of God’s institution, suffers not marriage to satisfy that intellectual and innocent desire which God himself kindled in man to be the bond of wedlock, but only to remedy a sublunary and bestial burning, which frugal diet, without marriage, would easily chasten. Next, that it drives many to transgress the conjugal bed, while the soul wanders after that satisfaction which it had hope to find at home, but hath missed; or else it sits repining, even to atheism, finding itself hardly dealt with, but misdeeming the cause to be in God’s law, which is in man’s unrighteous ignorance. I have shown also how it unties the inward knot of marriage, which is peace and love, (if that can be untied which was never knit,) while it aims to keep fast the outward formality: how it lets perish the Christian man, to compel impossibly the married man.

CHAPTER X.

The sixth reason of this law; that to prohibit divorce sought for natural cases is against nature.

The sixth place declares this prohibition to be as respectless of human nature, as it is of religion, and therefore is not of God. He teaches, that an unlawful marriage may be lawfully divorced: and that those who have thoroughly discerned each other’s disposition, which ofttimes cannot be till after matrimony, shall then find a powerful reluctance and recoil of nature on either side, blasting all the content of their mutual society, that such persons are not lawfully married, (to use the apostle’s words,) “Say I these things as a man or saith not the law also the same? For it is written, [Deut. xxii.] Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with different seeds, lest thou defile both. Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together;” and the like. I follow the pattern of St. Paul’s reasoning; “Doth God care for asses and oxen,” how ill they yoke together, “or is it not said altogether for our sakes? for our sakes no doubt this is written.” Yea the apostle himself, in the forecited 2 Cor. vi. 14, alludes from that place of Deut. to forbid misyoking marriage, as by the Greek word is evident; though he instance but in one example of mismatching with an infidel, yet next to that, what can be a fouler incongruity, a greater violence to the reverend secret of nature, than to force a mixture of minds that cannot unite, and to sow the sorrow of man’s nativity with seed of two incoherent and incombining dispositions? which act being kindly and voluntary, as it ought, the apostle in the language he wrote called eunoia, and the Latins, benevolence, intimating the original thereof to be in the understanding, and the will; if not, surely there is nothing which might more properly be called a male-volence rather; and is the most injurious and unnatural tribute that can be extorted from a person endued with reason, to be made pay out the best substance of his body, and of his soul too, as some think, when either for just and powerful causes he cannot like, or from unequal causes finds not recompense. And that there is a hidden efficacy of love and hatred in man as well as in other kinds, not moral but natural, which though not always in the choice, yet in the success of marriage will ever be most predominant, besides daily experience, the author of Ecclesiasticus, whose Edition: current; Page: [215] wisdom hath set him next the Bible, acknowledges, xiii. 16, “A man, saith he, will cleave to his like.” But what might be the cause, whether each one’s allotted Genius or proper star, or whether the supernal* influence of schemes and angular aspects, or this elemental crasis here below; whether all these jointly or singly meeting friendly, or unfriendly in either party, I dare not, with the men I am like to clash, appear so much a philosopher as to conjecture. The ancient proverb in Homer less abstruse, entitles this work of leading each like person to his like, peculiarly to God himself: which is plain enough also by his naming of a meet or like help in the first espousal instituted; and that every woman is meet for every man, none so absurd as to affirm. Seeing then there is a twofold seminary, or stock in nature, from whence are derived the issues of love and hatred, distinctly flowing through the whole mass of created things, and that God’s doing ever is to to bring the due likenesses and harmonies of his works together, except when out of two contraries met to their own destruction, he moulds a third existence; and that it is error, or some evil angel which either blindly or maliciously hath drawn together, in two persons ill embarked in wedlock, the sleeping discords and enmities of nature, lulled on purpose with some false bait, that they may wake to agony and strife, later than prevention could have wished, if from the bent of just and honest intentions beginning what was begun and so continuing, all that is equal, all that is fair and possible hath been tried, and no accommodation likely to succeed; what folly is it still to stand combating and battering against invincible causes and effects, with evil upon evil, till either the best of our days be lingered out, or ended with some speeding sorrow! The wise Ecclesiasticus advises rather, xxxvii. 27, “My son, prove thy soul in thy life, see what is evil for it, and give not that unto it.” Reason he had to say so; for if the noisomeness or disfigurement of body can soon destroy the sympathy of mind to wedlock duties, much more will the annoyance and trouble of mind infuse itself into all the faculties and acts of the body, to render them invalid, unkindly, and even unholy against the fundamental law book of nature, which Moses never thwarts, but reverences: therefore he commands us to force nothing against sympathy or natural order, no not upon the most abject creatures; to show that such an indignity cannot be offered to man without an impious crime. And certainly those divine meditating words of finding out a meet and like help to man, have in them a consideration of more than the indefinite likeness of womanhood; nor are they to be made waste paper on, for the dulness of canon divinity: no, nor those other allegoric precepts of beneficence fetched out of the closet of nature, to teach us goodness and compassion in not compelling together unmatchable societies; or if they meet through mischance, by all consequence to disjoin them, as God and nature signifies, and lectures to us not only by those recited decrees, but even by the first and last of all his visible works; when by his divorcing command the world first rose out of chaos, nor can be renewed again out of confusion, but by the separating of unmeet consorts.

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CHAPTER XI.

The seventh reason, that sometimes continuance in marriage may be evidently the shortening or endangering of life to either party; both law and divinity concluding, that life is to be preferred before marriage, the intended solace of life.

Seventhly, The canon law and divines consent, that if either party be found contriving against another’s life, they may be served by divorce: for a sin against the life of marriage is greater than a sin against the bed; the one destroys, the other but defiles. The same may be said touching those persons who being of a pensive nature and course of life, have summed up all their solace in that free and lightsome conversation which God and man intends in marriage; whereof when they see themselves deprived by meeting an unsociable consort, they ofttimes resent one another’s mistake so deeply, that long it is not ere grief end one of them. When therefore this danger is foreseen, that the life is in peril by living together, what matter is it whether helpless grief or wilful practice be the cause? This is certain, that the preservation of life is more worth than the compulsory keeping of marriage; and it is no less than cruelty to force a man to remain in that state as the solace of his life, which he and his friends know will be either the undoing or the disheartening of his life. And what is life without the vigour and spiritual exercise of life? How can it be useful either to private or public employment? Shall it therefore be quite dejected, though never so valuable, and left to moulder away in heaviness, for the superstitious and impossible performance of an ill-driven bargain? Nothing more inviolable than vows made to God; yet we read in Numbers, that if a wife had made such a vow, the mere will and authority of her husband might break it: how much more then may he break the error of his own bonds with an unfit and mistaken wife, to the saving of his welfare, his life, yea his faith and virtue, from the hazard of overstrong temptations? For if man be lord of the sabbath, to the curing of a fever, can he be less than lord of marriage in such important causes as these?

CHAPTER XII.

The eighth reason, It is probable, or rather certain, that every one who happens to marry, hath not the calling; and therefore upon unfitness found and considered, force ought not to be used.

Eighthly, It is most sure that some even of those who are not plainly defective in body, yet are destitute of all other marriageable gifts, and consequently have not the calling to marry, unless nothing be requisite thereto but a mere instrumental body; which to affirm, is to that unanimous covenant a reproach: yet it is as sure that many such, not of their own desire, but by the persuasion of friends, or not knowing themselves, do often enter into wedlock; where finding the difference at length between the duties of a married life, and the gifts of a single life, what unfitness of mind, what wearisomeness, scruples, and doubts, to an incredible offence and displeasure, are like to follow between, may be soon imagined; whom thus to shut up, and immure, and shut up together, the one with a mischosen Edition: current; Page: [217] mate, the other in a mistaken calling, is not a course that Christian wisdom and tenderness ought to use. As for the custom that some parents and guardians have of forcing marriages, it will be better to say nothing of such a savage inhumanity, but only thus; that the law which gives not all freedom of divorce to any creature endued with reason so assassinated, is next in cruelty.

CHAPTER XIII.

The ninth reason; because marriage is not a mere carnal coition, but a human society: where that cannot reasonably be had, there can be no true matrimony. Marriage compared with all other covenants and vows warrantably broken for the good of man. Marriage the Papists’ sacrament, and unfit marriage the Protestants’ idol.

Ninthly, I suppose it will be allowed us that marriage is a human society, and that all human society must proceed from the mind rather than the body, else it would be but a kind of animal or beastish meeting: if the mind therefore cannot have that due company by marriage that it may reasonably and humanly desire, that marriage can be no human society, but a certain formality; or gilding over of little better than a brutish congress, and so in very wisdom and pureness to be dissolved.

But marriage is more than human, “the covenant of God,” Prov. ii. 17, therefore man cannot dissolve it. I answer, if it be more than human, so much the more it argues the chief society thereof to be in the soul rather than in the body, and the greatest breach thereof to be unfitness of mind rather than defect of body: for the body can have least affinity in a covenant more than human, so that the reason of dissolving holds good the rather. Again, I answer, that the sabbath is a higher institution, a command of the first table, for the breach whereof God hath far more and oftener testified his anger than for divorces, which from Moses to Malachi he never took displeasure at, nor then neither if we mark the text; and yet as oft as the good of man is concerned, he not only permits, but commands to break the sabbath. What covenant more contracted with God and less in man’s power, than the vow which hath once passed his lips? yet if it be found rash, if offensive, if unfruitful either to God’s glory or the good of man, our doctrine forces not error and unwillingness irksomely to keep it, but counsels wisdom and better thoughts boldly to break it; therefore to enjoin the indissoluble keeping of a marriage found unfit against the good of man both soul and body, as hath been evidenced, is to make an idol of marriage, to advance it above the worship of God and the good of man, to make it a transcendent command, above both the second and first table; which is a most prodigious doctrine.

Next, whereas they cite out of the Proverbs, that it is the covenant of God, and therefore more than human, that consequence is manifestly false: for so the covenant which Zedekiah made with the infidel king of Babel, is called the Covenant of God, Ezek. xvii. 19, which would be strange to hear counted more than a human covenant. So every covenant between man and man, bound by oath, may be called the covenant of God, because God therein is attested. So of marriage he is the author and the witness; yet hence will not follow any divine astriction more than what is subordinate to the glory of God, and the main good of either party: for as Edition: current; Page: [218] the glory of God and their esteemed fitness one for the other, was the motive which led them both at first to think without other revelation that God had joined them together; so when it shall be found by their apparent unfitness, that their continuing to be man and wife is against the glory of God and their mutual happiness, it may assure them that God never joined them; who hath revealed his gracious will not to set the ordinance above the man for whom it was ordained; not to canonize marriage either as a tyranness or a goddess over the enfranchised life and soul of man; for wherein can God delight, wherein be worshipped, wherein be glorified by the forcible continuing of an improper and ill-yoking couple? He that loved not to see the disparity of several cattle at the plough, cannot be pleased with vast unmeetness in marriage. Where can be the peace and love which must invite God to such a house? May it not be feared that the not divorcing of such a helpless disagreement will be the divorcing of God finally from such a place? But it is a trial of our patience, say they: I grant it; but which of Job’s afflictions were sent him with that law, that he might not use means to remove any of them if he could? And what if it subvert our patience and our faith too? Who shall answer for the perishing of all those souls, perishing by stubborn expositions of particular and inferior precepts against the general and supreme rule of charity? They dare not affirm that marriage is either a sacrament or a mystery, though all those sacred things give place to man; and yet they invest it with such an awful sanctity, and give it such adamantine chains to bind with, as if it were to be worshipped like some Indian deity, when it can confer no blessing upon us, but works more and more to our misery. To such teachers the saying of St. Peter at the council of Jerusalem will do well to be applied: “Why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon the necks of” Christian men, which neither the Jews, God’s ancient people, “nor we are able to bear;” and nothing but unwary expounding hath brought upon us?

CHAPTER XIV.

Considerations concerning Familism, Antinomianism; and why it may be thought that such opinions may proceed from the undue restraint of some just liberty, than which no greater cause to contemn discipline.

To these considerations this also may be added as no improbable conjecture, seeing that sort of men who follow Anabaptism, Familism, Anti-nomianism, and other fanatic dreams, (if we understand them not amiss,) be such most commonly as are by nature addicted to religion, of life also not debauched, and that their opinions having full swing, do end in satisfaction of the flesh; it may be come with reason into the thoughts of a wise man, whether all this proceed not partly, if not chiefly, from the restraint of some lawful liberty, which ought to be given men, and is denied them? As by physic we learn in menstruous bodies, where nature’s current hath been stopped, that the suffocation and upward forcing of some lower part affects the head and inward sense with dotage and idle fancies. And on the other hand, whether the rest of vulgar men not so religiously professing, do not give themselves much the more to whoredom and adulteries, loving the corrupt and venial discipline of clergy-courts, but hating to hear of perfect reformation; whenas they foresee that then fornication Edition: current; Page: [219] shall be austerely censured, adultery punished, and marriage, the appointed refuge of nature though it hap to be never so incongruous and displeasing, must yet of force be worn out, when it can be to no other purpose but of strife and hatred, a thing odious to God? This may be worth the study of skilful men in theology, and the reason of things. And lastly, to examine whether some undue and ill-grounded strictness upon the blameless nature of man, be not the cause in those places where already reformation is, that the discipline of the church, so often, and so unavoidably broken, is brought into contempt and derision? And if it be thus, let those who are still bent to hold this obstinate literality, so prepare themselves, as to share in the account for all these transgressions, when it shall be demanded at the last day, by one who will scan and sift things with more than a literal wisdom of equity: for if these reasons be duly pondered, and that the gospel is more jealous of laying on excessive burdens than ever the law was, lest the soul of a Christian, which is inestimable, should be over-tempted and cast away; considering also that many properties of nature, which the power of regeneration itself never alters, may cause dislike of conversing, even between the most sanctified; which continually grating in harsh tune together, may breed some jar and discord, and that end in rancour and strife, a thing so opposite both to marriage and to Christianity, it would perhaps be less scandal to divorce a natural disparity, than to link violently together, an unchristian dissension, committing two insnared souls inevitably to kindle one another, not with the fire of love, but with a hatred irreconcileable; who, were they dissevered, would be straight friends in any other relation. But if an alphabetical servility must be still urged, it may so fall out, that the true church may unwittingly use as much cruelty in forbidding to divorce, as the church of Antichrist doth wilfully in forbidding to marry.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER I.

The ordinance of sabbath and marriage compared. Hyperbole no unfrequent figure in the gospel. Excess cured by contrary excess. Christ neither did nor could abrogate the law of divorce, but only reprieve the abuse thereof.

Hitherto the position undertaken has been declared, and proved by a law of God, that law proved to be moral, and unabolishable, for many reasons equal, honest, charitable, just, annexed thereto. It follows now, that those places of Scripture, which have a seeming to revoke the prudence of Moses, or rather that merciful decree of God, be forthwith explained and reconciled. For what are all these reasonings worth, will some reply, whenas the words of Christ are plainly against all divorce, “except in case of fornication?” to whom he whose mind were to answer no more but this, “except also in case of charity,” might safely appeal to the more plain words of Christ in defence of so excepting. “Thou shalt do no manner of work,” saith the commandment of the sabbath. Yes, saith Christ, works of charity. And shall we be more severe in paraphrasing the considerate and tender gospel, than he was in expounding the rigid Edition: current; Page: [220] and peremptory law? What was ever in all appearance less made for man, and more for God alone, than the sabbath? yet when the good of man comes into the scales, we hear that voice of infinite goodness and benignity, that “sabbath was made for man, and not man for sabbath.” What thing ever was more made for man alone, and less for God, than marriage? And shall we load it with a cruel and senseless bondage utterly against both the good of man, and the glory of God? Let whoso will now listen; I want neither pall nor mitre, I stay neither for ordination nor induction; but in the firm faith of a knowing Christian, which is the best and truest endowment of the keys, I pronounce the man, who shall bind so cruelly a good and gracious ordinance of God, hath not in that the spirit of Christ. Yet that every text of Scripture seeming opposite may be attended with a due exposition, this other part ensues, and makes account to find no slender arguments for this assertion, out of those very scriptures, which are commonly urged against it.

First, therefore, let us remember, as a thing not to be denied, that all places of Scripture, wherein just reason of doubt arises from the letter, are to be expounded by considering upon what occasion every thing is set down, and by comparing other texts. The occasion which induced our Saviour to speak of divorce, was either to convince the extravagance of the Pharisees in that point, or to give a sharp and vehement answer to a tempting question. And in such cases, that we are not to repose all upon the literal terms of so many words, many instances will teach us: wherein we may plainly discover how Christ meant not to be taken word for word, but like a wise physician, administering one excess against another, to reduce us to a permiss; where they were too remiss, he saw it needful to seem most severe: in one place he censures an unchaste look to be adultery already committed; another time he passes over actual adultery with less reproof than for an unchaste look; not so heavily condemning secret weakness, as open malice: so here he may be justly thought to have given this rigid sentence against divorce not to cut off all remedy from a good man, who finds himself consuming away in a disconsolate and unenjoined matrimony, but to lay a bridle upon the bold abuses of those overweening rabbies; which he could not more effectually do, than by a countersway of restraint curbing their wild exorbitance almost in the other extreme; as when we bow things the contrary way, to make them come to their natural straightness. And that this was the only intention of Christ is most evident, if we attend but to his own words and protestation made in the same sermon, not many verses before he treats of divorcing, that he came not to abrogate from the law “one jot or tittle,” and denounces against them that shall so teach.

But St. Luke, the verse immediately foregoing that of divorce, inserts the same caveat, as if the latter could not be understood without the former; and as a witness to produce against this our wilful mistake of abrogating, which must needs confirm us, that whatever else in the political law of more special relation to the Jews might cease to us; yet that of those precepts concerning divorce, not one of them was repealed by the doctrine of Christ, unless we have vowed not to believe his own cautious and immediate profession; for if these our Saviour’s words inveigh against all divorce, and condemn it as adultery, except it be for adultery, and be not rather understood against the abuse of those divorces permitted in the law, then is that law of Moses, Deut. xxiv. 1, not only repealed and wholly annulled against the promise of Christ, and his known profession not to meddle in matters judicial; but that which is more strange, the very substance Edition: current; Page: [221] and purpose of that law is contradicted, and convinced both of injustice and impurity, as having authorized and maintained legal adultery by statute. Moses also cannot scape to be guilty of unequal and unwise decrees punishing one act of secret adultery by death, and permitting a whole life of open adultery by law. And albeit lawyers write, that some political edicts, though not approved, are yet allowed to the scum of the people, and the necessity of the times; these excuses have but a weak pulse: for first, we read, not that the scoundrel people, but the choicest, the wisest, the holiest of that nation have frequently used these laws, or such as these, in the best and holiest times. Secondly, be it yielded, that in matters not very bad or impure, a human lawgiver may slacken something of that which is exactly good, to the disposition of the people and the times: but if the perfect, the pure, the righteous law of God, (for so are all his statutes and his judgments,) be found to have allowed smoothly, without any certain reprehension, that which Christ afterward declares to be adultery, how can we free this law from the horrible indictment of being both impure, unjust, and fallacious?

CHAPTER II.

How divorce was permitted for hardness of heart, cannot be understood by the common exposition. That the law cannot permit, much less enact a permission of sin.

Neither, will it serve to say this was permitted for the hardness of their hearts, in that sense as it is usually explained: for the law were then but a corrupt and erroneous schoolmaster, teaching us to dash against a vital maxim of religion, by doing foul evil in hope of some certain good.

This only text is not to be matched again throughout the whole Scripture, whereby God in his perfect law should seem to have granted to the hard hearts of his holy people, under his own hand, a civil immunity and free charter to live and die in a long successive adultery, under a covenant of works, till the Messiah, and then that indulgent permission to be strictly denied by a covenant of grace; besides, the incoherence of such a doctrine cannot, must not be thus interpreted, to the raising of a paradox never known till then, only hanging by the twined thread of one doubtful scripture, against so many other rules and leading principles of religion, of justice, and purity of life. For what could be granted more either to the fear, or to the lust of any tyrant or politician, than this authority of Moses thus expounded; which opens him a way at will to dam up justice, and not only to admit of any Romish or Austrian dispenses, but to enact a statute of that which he dares not seem to approve, even to legitimate vice, to make sin itself, the ever alien and vassal sin, a free citizen of the commonwealth, pretending only these or these plausible reasons? And well he might, all the while that Moses shall be alleged to have done as much without showing any reason at all. Yet this could not enter into the heart of David, Psal. xciv. 20, how any such authority, as endeavours to “fashion wickedness by a law,” should derive itself from God. And Isaiah says, “Woe upon them that decree unrighteous decrees,” chap. x. 1. Now which of these two is the better lawgiver, and which deserves most a woe, he that gives out an edict singly unjust, or he that confirms to generations a fixed and unmolested impunity of that which is not only held to be unjust, Edition: current; Page: [222] but also unclean, and both in a high degree; not only as they themselves affirm, an injurious expulsion of one wife, but also an unclean freedom by more than a patent to wed another adulterously? How can we therefore with safety thus dangerously confine the free simplicity of our Saviour’s meaning to that which merely amounts from so many letters, whenas it can consist neither with its former and cautionary words, nor with other more pure and holy principles, nor finally with a scope of charity, commanding by his express commission in a higher strain? But all rather of necessity must be understood as only against the abuse of that wise and ingenuous liberty, which Moses gave, and to terrify a roving conscience from sinning under that pretext.

CHAPTER III.

That to allow sin by law is against the nature of law, the end of the lawgiver, and the good of the people. Impossible therefore in the law of God. That it makes God the author of sin more than any thing objected by the Jesuits or Arminians against predestination.

But let us yet further examine upon what consideration a law of license could be thus given to a holy people for their hardness of heart. I suppose all will answer, that for some good end or other. But here the contrary shall be proved. First, that many ill effects, but no good end of such a sufferance can be shown; next, that a thing unlawful can, for no good end whatever, be either done or allowed by a positive law. If there were any good end aimed at, that end was then good either to the law or to the lawgiver licensing; or as to the person licensed. That it could not be the end of the law, whether moral or judicial, to license a sin, I prove easily out of Rom. v. 20, “The law entered, that the offence might abound,” that is, that sin might be made abundantly manifest to be heinous and displeasing to God, that so his offered grace might be the more esteemed. Now if the law, instead of aggravating and terrifying sin, shall give out license, it foils itself and turns recreant from its own end: it forestalls the pure grace of Christ, which is through righteousness, with impure indulgences, which are through sin. And instead of discovering sin, for “by the law is the knowledge thereof,” saith St. Paul; and that by certain and true light for men to walk in safety, it holds out false and dazzling fires to stumble men; or, like those miserable flies, to run into with delight and be burnt: for how many souls might easily think that to be lawful which the law and magistrate allowed them? Again, we read, 1 Tim. i. 5, “The end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” But never could that be charity, to allow a people what they could not use with a pure heart, but with conscience and faith both deceived, or else despised. The more particular end of the judicial law is set forth to us clearly, Rom. xiii. That God hath given to that “law a sword not in vain, but to be a terror to evil works, a revenge to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.” If this terrible commission should but forbear to punish wickedness, were it other to be accounted than partial and unjust? but if it begin to write indulgence to vulgar uncleanness, can it do more to corrupt and shame the end of its own being? Lastly, if the law allow sin, it enters into a kind of covenant with sin; and if it do, there is not a greater sinner in the world than the Edition: current; Page: [223] law itself. The law, to use an allegory something different from that in Philo-Judæus concerning Amalek, though haply more significant, the law is the Israelite, and hath this absolute charge given it, Deut. xxv. “To blot out the memory of sin, the Amalekite, from under heaven, not to forget it.” Again, the law is the Israelite, and hath this express repeated command, “to make no covenant with sin, the Canaanite,” but to expel him lest he prove a snare. And to say truth, it were too rigid and reasonless to proclaim such an enmity between man and man, were it not the type of a greater enmity between law and sin. I speak even now, as if sin were condemned in a perpetual villanage never to be free by law, never to be manumitted: but sure sin can have no tenure by law at all, but is rather an eternal outlaw, and in hostility with law past all atonement: both diagonal contraries, as much allowing one another, as day and night together in one hemisphere. Or if it be possible, that sin with his darkness may come to composition, it cannot be without a foul eclipse and twilight to the law, whose brightness ought to surpass the noon. Thus we see how this unclean permittance defeats the sacred and glorious end both of the moral and judicial law.

As little good can the lawgiver propose to equity by such a lavish remissness as this: if to remedy hardness of heart, Paræus and other divines confess it more increases by this liberty, than is lessened: and how is it probable, that their hearts were more hard in this, that it should be yielded to, than in any other crime? Their hearts were set upon usury, and are to this day, no nation more; yet that which was the endamaging only of their estates was narrowly forbid; this which is thought the extreme injury and dishonour of their wives and daughters, with the defilement also of themselves, is bounteously allowed. Their hearts were as hard under their best kings to offer in high places, though to the true God: yet that, but a small thing, it strictly forewarned; this, accounted a high offence against one of the greatest moral duties, is calmly permitted and established. How can it be evaded, but that the heavy censure of Christ should fall worse upon this lawgiver of theirs, than upon all the scribes and Pharisees? For they did but omit judgment and mercy to trifle in mint and cummin, yet all according to law; but this their lawgiver, altogether as punctual in such niceties, goes marching on to adulteries, through the violence of divorce by law against law. If it were such a cursed act of Pilate a subordinate judge to Cæsar, overswayed by those hard hearts, with much ado to suffer one transgression of law but once, what is it then with less ado to publish a law of transgression for many ages? Did God for this come down and cover the mount of Sinai with his glory, uttering in thunder those his sacred ordinances out of the bottomless treasures of his wisdom and infinite pureness, to patch up an ulcerous and rotten commonwealth with strict and stern injunctions, to wash the skin and garments for every unclean touch; and such easy permission given to pollute the soul with adulteries by public authority, without disgrace or question? No, it had been better that man had never known law or matrimony, than that such foul iniquity should be fastened upon the Holy One of Israel, the Judge of all the earth; and such a piece of folly as Belzebub would not commit, to divide against himself, and prevent his own ends: or if he, to compass more certain mischief, might yield perhaps to feign some good deed, yet that God should enact a license of certain evil for uncertain good against his own glory and pureness, is abominable to conceive. And as it is destructive to the end of law, and blasphemous to the honour of the lawgiver licensing, so is it as pernicious to the person licensed. If a private friend admonish not, the Edition: current; Page: [224] Scripture saith, “he hates his brother, and lets him perish;” but if he soothe him and allow his faults, the Proverbs teach us “he spreads a net for his neighbour’s feet, and worketh ruin.” If the magistrate or prince forget to administer due justice, and restrain not sin, Eli himself could say, “it made the Lord’s people to transgress.” But if he countenance them against law by his own example, what havoc it makes both in religion and virtue among the people may be guessed, by the anger it brought upon Hophni and Phineas not to be appeased “with sacrifice nor offering for ever.” If the law be silent to declare sin, the people must needs generally go astray, for the apostle himself saith, “he had not known lust but by the law:” and surely such a nation seems not to be under the illuminating guidance of God’s law, but under the horrible doom rather of such as despise the gospel; “he that is filthy, let him be filthy still.” But where the law itself gives a warrant for sin, I know not what condition of misery to imagine miserable enough for such a people, unless that portion of the wicked, or rather of the damned, on whom God threatens, in Psal. xi. “to rain snares;” but that questionless cannot be by any law, which the apostle saith is “a ministry ordained of God for our good,” and not so many ways and in so high a degree to our destruction, as we have now been graduating. And this is all the good can come to the person licensed in his hardness of heart.

I am next to mention that, which because it is a ground in divinity, Rom. iii. will save the labour of demonstrating, unless her given axioms be more doubted than in other hearts, (although it be no less firm in precepts of philosophy,) that a thing unlawful can for no good whatsoever be done, much less allowed by a positive law. And this is the matter why interpreters upon that passage in Hosea will not consent it to be a true story, that the prophet took a harlot to wife: because God, being a pure spirit, could not command a thing repugnant to his own nature, no not for so good an end as to exhibit more to the life a wholesome and perhaps a converting parable to many an Israelite. Yet that he commanded the allowance of adulterous and injurious divorces for hardness of heart, a reason obscure and in a wrong sense, they can very favourably persuade themselves; so tenacious is the leaven of an old conceit. But they shift it; he permitted only. Yet silence in the law is consent, and consent is accessory: why then is not the law being silent, or not active against a crime, accessory to its own conviction, itself judging? For though we should grant, that it approves not, yet it wills: and the lawyers’ maxim is, that “the will compelled is yet the will.” And though Aristotle in his ethics calls this “mixed action,” yet he concludes it to be voluntary and inexcusable, if it be evil. How justly then might human law and philosophy rise up against the righteousness of Moses, if this be true which our vulgar divinity fathers upon him, yea upon God himself, not silently, and only negatively to permit, but in his law to divulge a written and general privilege to commit and persist in unlawful divorces with a high hand, with security and no ill fame? for this is more than permitting and contriving, this is maintaining: this is warranting, this is protecting, yea this is doing evil, and such an evil as that reprobate lawgiver did, whose lasting infamy is engraven upon him like a surname, “he who made Israel to sin.” This is the lowest pitch contrary to God that public fraud and injustice can descend.

If it be affirmed, that God, as being Lord, may do what he will, ye we must know, that God hath not two wills, but one will, much less two contrary. If he once willed adultery should be sinful, and to be punished with death, all his omnipotence will not allow him, to will the allowance that his Edition: current; Page: [225] holiest people might as it were by his own antinomy, or counter-statute, live unreproved in the same fact as he himself esteemed it, according to our common explainers. The hidden ways of his providence we adore and search not, but the law is his revealed will, his complete, his evident and certain will: herein he appears to us as it were in human shape, enters into covenant with us, swears to keep it, binds himself like a just lawgiver to his own prescriptions, gives himself to be understood by men, judges and is judged, measures and is commensurate to right reason; cannot require less of us in one cantle of his law than in another, his legal justice cannot be so fickle and so variable, sometimes like a devouring fire, and by and by connivent in the embers, or, if I may so say, oscitant and supine. The vigour of his law could no more remit, than the hallowed fire upon his altar could be let go out. The lamps that burned before him might need snuffing, but the light of his law never. Of this also more beneath, in discussing a solution of Rivetus.

The Jesuits, and that sect among us which is named of Arminius, are wont to charge us of making God the author of sin, in two degrees especially, not to speak of his permission: 1. Because we hold, that he hath decreed some to damnation, and consequently to sin, say they: next, because those means, which are of saving knowledge to others, he makes to them an occasion of greater sin. Yet considering the perfection wherein man was created and might have stood, no degree necessitating his freewill, but subsequent, though not in time, yet in order to causes which were in his own power; they might methinks be persuaded to absolve both God and us. Whenas the doctrine of Plato and Chrysippus, with their followers, the Academics and the Stoics, who knew not what a consummate and most adorned Pandora was bestowed upon Adam, to be the nurse and guide of his arbitrary happiness and perseverance, I mean his native innocence and perfection, which might have kept him from being our true Epimetheus; and though they taught of virtue and vice to be both the gift of divine destiny, they could yet give reasons not invalid, to justify the councils of God and fate from the insulsity of mortal tongues: that man’s own freewill self-corrupted, is the adequate and sufficient cause of his disobedience besides fate; as Homer also wanted not to express, both in his Iliad and Odyssee. And Manilius the poet, although in his fourth book he tells of some “created both to sin and punishment;” yet without murmuring, and with an industrious cheerfulness, he acquits the Deity. They were not ignorant in their heathen lore, that it is most godlike to punish those who of his creatures became his enemies with the greatest punishment; and they could attain also to think, that the greatest, when God himself throws a man furthest from him; which then they held he did, when he blinded, hardened, and stirred up his offenders, to finish and pile up their desperate work since they had undertaken it. To banish for ever into a local hell, whether in the air, or in the centre, or in that uttermost and bottomless gulf of chaos, deeper from holy bliss than the world’s diameter multiplied; they thought not a punishing so proper and proportionate for God to inflict, as to punish sin with sin. Thus were the common sort of Gentiles wont to think, without any wry thoughts cast upon divine governance. And therefore Cicero, not in his Tusculan or Campanian retirements among the learned wits of that age, but even in the senate to a mixed auditory, (though he were sparing otherwise to broach his philosophy among statists and lawyers,) yet as to this point, both in his oration against Piso, and in that which is about the answers of the soothsayers against Clodius, he declares it publicly as no paradox to common ears, that God cannot punish man more, nor make him more miserable, than still Edition: current; Page: [226] by making him more sinful. Thus we see how in this controversy the justice of God stood upright even among heathen disputers. But if any one be truly, and not pretendedly zealous for God’s honour, here I call him forth before men and angels, to use his best and most advised skill, lest God more unavoidably than ever yet, and in the guiltiest manner, be made the author of sin: if he shall not only deliver over and incite his enemies by rebuke to sin as a punishment, but shall by patent under his own broad seal allow his friends whom he would sanctify and save, whom he would unite to himself and not disjoin, whom he would correct by wholesome chastening, and not punish as he doth the damned by lewd sinning; if he shall allow these in his law, the perfect rule of his own purest will, and our most edified conscience, the perpetrating of an odious and manifold sin without the least contesting. It is wondered how there can be in God a secret and revealed will; and yet what wonder, if there be in man two answerable causes. But here there must be two revealed wills grappling in a fraternal war with one another without any reasonable cause apprehended. This cannot be less, than to ingraft sin into the substance of the law, which law is to provoke sin by crossing and forbidding, not by complying with it. Nay this is, which I tremble in uttering, to incarnate sin into the unpunishing and well-pleased will of God. To avoid these dreadful consequences, that tread upon the heels of those allowances to sin, will be a task of far more difficulty, than to appease those minds, which perhaps out of a vigilant and wary conscience except against predestination. Thus finally we may conclude, that a law wholly giving license cannot upon any good consideration be given to a holy people, for hardness of heart in the vulgar sense.

CHAPTER IV.

That if divorce be no command, no more is marriage. That divorce could be no dispensation, if it were sinful. The solution of Rivetus, that Goa dispensed by some unknown way, ought not to satisfy a Christian mind.

Others think to evade the matter by not granting any law of divorce, but only a dispensation, which is contrary to the words of Christ, who himself calls it a “Law,” Mark x. 5: or if we speak of a command in the strictest definition, then marriage itself is no more a command than divorce, but only a free permission to him who cannot contain. But as to dispensation, I affirm, the same as before of the law, that it can never be given to the allowance of sin: God cannot give it, neither in respect of himself, nor in respect of man; not in respect of himself, being a most pure essence, the just avenger of sin; neither can he make that cease to be a sin, which is in itself unjust and impure, as all divorces they say were, which were not for adultery. Not in respect of man, for then it must be either to his good, or to his evil. Not to his good; for how can that be imagined any good to a sinner, whom nothing but rebuke and due correction can save, to hear the determinate oracle of divine law louder than any reproof dispensing and providing for the impunity and convenience of sin; to make that doubtful, or rather lawful, which the end of the law was to make most evidently hateful? Nor to the evil of man can a dispense be given; for if “the law were ordained unto life,” Rom. vii. 10, how can the same God publish dispenses against that law, which must needs be unto death? Absurd and monstrous would that dispense be, if any judge or law should give it a man to cut his Edition: current; Page: [227] own throat, or to damn himself. Dispense therefore presupposes full pardon, or else it is not a dispense, but a most baneful and bloody snare. And why should God enter covenant with a people to be holy, as “the command is holy, and just, and good,” Rom. vii. 12, and yet suffer an impure and treacherous dispense, to mislead and betray them under the vizard of law to a legitimate practice of uncleanness? God is no covenant-breaker; he cannot do this.

Rivetus, a diligent and learned writer, having well weighed what hath been written by those founders of dispense, and finding the small agreement among them, would fain work himself aloof these rocks and quicksands, and thinks it best to conclude, that God certainly did dispense, but by some way to us unknown, and so to leave it. But to this I oppose, that a Christian by no means ought to rest himself in such an ignorance; whereby so many absurdities will straight reflect both against the purity, justice, and wisdom of God, the end also both of law and gospel, and the comparison of them both together. God indeed in some ways of his providence is high and secret, past finding out: but in the delivery and execution of his law, especially in the managing of a duty so daily and so familiar as this is whereof we reason, hath plain enough revealed himself, and requires the observance thereof not otherwise, than to the law of nature and equity imprinted in us seems correspondent. And he hath taught us to love and extol his laws, not only as they are his, but as they are just and good to every wise and sober understanding. Therefore Abraham, even to the face of God himself, seemed to doubt of divine justice, if it should swerve from the irradiation wherewith it had enlightened the mind of man, and bound itself to observe its own rule; “wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked? that be far from thee; shall not the judge of the earth do right?” Thereby declaring, that God hath created a righteousness in right itself, against which he cannot do. So David, Psalm cxix., “the testimonies which thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful; thy word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth it.” Not only then for the author’s sake, but for its own purity. “He is faithful,” saith St. Paul, “he cannot deny himself;” that is, cannot deny his own promises, cannot but be true to his own rules. He often pleads with men the uprightness of his ways by their own principles. How should we imitate him else, to “be perfect as he is perfect?” If at pleasure he can dispense with golden poetic ages of such pleasing license, as in the fabled reign of old Saturn, and this perhaps before the law might have some covert; but under such an undispensing covenant as Moses made with them, and not to tell us why and wherefore, indulgence cannot give quiet to the breast of an intelligent man? We must be resolved how the law can be pure and perspicuous, and yet throw a polluted skirt over these Eleusinian mysteries, that no man can utter what they mean: worse in this than the worst obscenities of heathen superstition; for their filthiness was hid, but the mystic reason thereof known to their sages. But this Jewish imputed filthiness was daily and open, but the reason of it is not known to our divines. We know of no design the gospel can have to impose new righteousness upon works, but to remit the old by faith without works, if we mean justifying works: we know no mystery our Saviour could have to lay new bonds upon marriage in the covenant of grace which himself had loosened to the severity of law. So that Rivetus may pardon us, if we cannot be contented with his nonsolution, to remain in such a peck of uncertainties and doubts, so dangerous and ghastly to the fundamentals of our faith.

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CHAPTER V.

What a Dispensation is.

Therefore to get some better satisfaction, we must proceed to inquire as diligently as we can what a dispensation is, which I find to be either properly so called, or improperly. Improperly so called, is rather a particular and exceptive law, absolving and disobliging from a more general command for some just and reasonable cause. As Numb. ix. they who were unclean, or in a journey, had leave to keep the passover in the second month, but otherwise ever in the first. As for that in Leviticus of marrying the brother’s wife, it was a penal statute rather than a dispense; and commands nothing injurious or in itself unclean, only prefers a special reason of charity before an institutive decency, and perhaps is meant for lifetime only, as is expressed beneath in the prohibition of taking two sisters. What other edict of Moses, carrying but the semblance of a law in any other kind, may bear the name of a dispense, I have not readily to instance. But a dispensation most properly is some particular accident rarely happening, and therefore not specified in the law, but left to the decision of charity, even under the bondage of Jewish rites, much more under the liberty of the gospel. Thus did “David enter into the house of God and did eat the shewbread, he and his followers, which was” ceremonially “unlawful.” Of such dispenses as these it was that Verdune the French divine so gravely disputed in the council of Trent against friar Adrian, who held that the pope might dispense with any thing. “It is a fond persuasion,” saith Verdune, “that dispensing is a favour; nay, it is as good distributive justice as what is most, and the priest sins if he gives it not, for it is nothing else but a right interpretation of law.” Thus far that I can learn touching this matter wholesomely decreed. But that God, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift, Jam. i., should give out a rule and directory to sin by, should enact a dispensation as long-lived as a law, whereby to live in privileged adultery for hardness of heart, (and this obdurate disease cannot be conceived how it was the more amended by this unclean remedy,) is the most deadly and scorpion-like gift, that the enemy of mankind could have given to any miserable sinner, and is rather such a dispense as that was, which the serpent gave to our first parents. God gave quails in his wrath, and kings in his wrath, yet neither of these things evil in themselves: but that he whose eyes cannot behold impurity, should in the book of his holy covenant, his most unpassionate law, give license and statute for uncontrolled adultery, although it go for the received opinion, I shall ever dissuade my soul from such a creed, such an indulgence as the shop of Antichrist never forged a baser.

CHAPTER VI.

That the Jew had no more right to this supposed dispense than the Christian hath, and rather not so much.

But if we must needs dispense, let us for a while so far dispense with truth, as to grant that sin may be dispensed; yet there will be copious reason found to prove, that the Jew had no more right to such a supposed indulgence Edition: current; Page: [229] than the Christian; whether we look at the clear knowledge wherein he lived, or the strict performance of works whereto he was bound. Besides visions and prophecies, they had the law of God, which in the Psalms and Proverbs is chiefly praised for sureness and certainty, both easy and perfect to the enlightening of the simple. How could it be so obscure then, or they so sottishly blind in this plain, moral, and household duty? They had the same precepts about marriage; Christ added nothing to their clearness, for that had argued them imperfect; he opens not the law, but removes the pharisaic mists raised between the law and the people’s eyes: the only sentence which he adds, “What God hath joined, let no man put asunder,” is as obscure as any clause fetched out of Genesis, and hath increased a yet undecided controversy of clandestine marriages. If we examine over all his sayings, we shall find him not so much interpreting the law with his words, as referring his own words to be interpreted by the law, and oftener obscures his mind in short, and vehement, and compact sentences, to blind and puzzle them the more, who would not understand the law. The Jews therefore, were as little to be dispensed with for lack of moral knowledge as we.

Next, none I think will deny, but that they were as much bound to perform the law as any Christian. That severe and rigorous knife not sparing the tender foreskin of any male infant, to carve upon his flesh the mark of that strict and pure covenant whereinto he entered, might give us to understand enough against the fancy of dispensing. St. Paul testifies, that every “circumcised man is a debtor to the whole law,” Gal. v., or else “circumcision is in vain,” Rom. ii. 25. How vain then, and how preposterous must it needs be to exact a circumcision of the flesh from an infant into an outward sign of purity, and to dispense an uncircumcision in the soul of a grown man to an inward and real impurity! How vain again was that law, to impose tedious expiations for every slight sin of ignorance and error, and to privilege without penance or disturbance an odious crime whether of ignorance or obstinacy! How unjust also inflicting death and extirpation for the mark of circumstantial pureness omitted, and proclaiming all honest and liberal indemnity to the act of a substantial impureness committed, making void the covenant that was made against it! Thus if we consider the tenor of the law, to be circumcised and to perform all, not pardoning so much as the scapes of error and ignorance, and compare this with the condition of the gospel, “believe and be baptized,” I suppose it cannot be long ere we grant, that the Jew was bound as strictly to the performance of every duty, as was possible; and therefore could not be dispensed with more than the Christian, perhaps not so much.

CHAPTER VII.

That the Gospel is apter to dispense than the Law.—Parœus answered.

If then the law will afford no reason why the Jew should be more gently dealt with than the Christian, then surely the gospel can afford as little why the Christian should be less gently dealt with than the Jew. The gospel indeed exhorts to highest perfection, but bears with weakest infirmity more than the law. Hence those indulgences, “all cannot receive this saying, every man hath his proper gift,” with express charges not “to lay on yokes, which our fathers could not bear.” The nature of man still is as Edition: current; Page: [230] weak, and yet as hard; and that weakness and hardness as unfit and as unteachable to be harshly used as ever. Ay but, saith Paræus, there is a greater portion of spirit poured upon the gospel, which requires from us perfecter obedience. I answer, this does not prove, that the law might give allowance to sin more than the gospel; and if it were no sin, we know it were the work of the spirit to “mortify our corrupt desires and evil concupiscence;” but not to root up our natural affections and disaffections, moving to and fro even in wisest men upon just and necessary reasons, which were the true ground of that Mosaic dispense, and is the utmost extent of our pleading. What is more or less perfect we dispute not, but what is sin or no sin. And in that I still affirm the law required as perfect obedience as the gospel: besides that the prime end of the gospel is not so much to exact our obedience, as to reveal grace, and the satisfaction of our disobedience. What is now exacted from us, it is the accusing law that does it, even yet under the gospel; but cannot be more extreme to us now than to the Jews of old; for the law ever was of works, and the gospel ever was of grace.

Either then the law by harmless and needful dispenses, which the gospel is now made to deny, must have anticipated and exceeded the grace of the gospel, or else must be found to have given politic and superficial graces without real pardon, saying in general, “do this and live,” and yet deceiving and damning underhand with unsound and hollow permissions; which is utterly abhorring from the end of all law, as hath been showed. But if those indulgences were safe and sinless, out of tenderness and compassion, as indeed they were, and yet shall be abrogated by the gospel; then the law, whose end is by rigour to magnify grace, shall itself give grace, and pluck a fair plume from the gospel; instead of hastening us thither, alluring us from it. And whereas the terror of the law was a servant to amplify and illustrate the mildness of grace; now the unmildness of evangelic grace shall turn servant to declare the grace and mildness of the rigorous law. The law was harsh to extol the grace of the gospel, and now the gospel by a new affected strictness of her own shall extenuate the grace which herself offers. For by exacting a duty which the law dispensed, if we perform it, then is grace diminished, by how much performance advance, unless the apostle argue wrong: if we perform it not, and perish for not performing, then are the conditions of grace harder than those of rigour. If through faith and repentance we perish not, yet grace still remains the less, by requiring that which rigour did not require, or at least not so strictly. Thus much therefore to Paræus; that if the gospel require perfecter obedience than the law as a duty, it exalts the law and debases itself, which is dishonourable to the work of our redemption. Seeing therefore that all the causes of any allowance, that the Jews might have, remain as well to the Christians; this is a certain rule, that so long as the causes remain, the allowance ought. And having thus at length inquired the truth concerning law and dispense, their ends, their uses, their limits, and in what manner both Jew and Christian stand liable to the one or capable of the other; we may safely conclude, that to affirm the giving of any law or law-like dispense to sin for hardness of heart, is a doctrine of that extravagance from the sage principles of piety, that whoso considers thoroughly cannot but admire how this hath been digested all this while.

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CHAPTER VIII.

The true sense how Moses suffered divorce for hardness of heart.

What may we do then to salve this seeming inconsistence? I must not dissemble, that I am confident it can be done no other way than this:

Moses, Deut. xxiv. 1, established a grave and prudent law, full of moral equity, full of due consideration towards nature, that cannot be resisted, a law consenting with the wisest men and civilest nations; that when a man hath married a wife, if it come to pass, that he cannot love her by reason of some displeasing natural quality or unfitness in her, let him write her a bill of divorce. The intent of which law undoubtedly was this, that if any good and peaceable man should discover some helpless disagreement or dislike either of mind or body, whereby he could not cheerfully perform the duty of a husband without the perpetual dissembling of offence and disturbance to his spirit; rather than to live uncomfortably and unhappily both to himself and to his wife; rather than to continue undertaking a duty, which he could not possibly discharge, he might dismiss her whom he could not tolerably and so not conscionably retain. And this law the Spirit of God by the mouth of Solomon, Prov. xxx. 21, 23, testifies to be a good and a necessary law, by granting it that “a hated woman,” (for so the Hebrew word signifies, rather than “odious,” though it come all to one,) that “a hated woman, when she is married, is a thing that the earth cannot bear.” What follows then, but that the charitable law must remedy what nature cannot undergo? Now that many licentious and hardhearted men took hold of this law to cloak their bad purposes, is nothing strange to believe. And these were they, not for whom Moses made the law, (God forbid!) but whose hardness of heart taking ill-advantage by this law he held it better to suffer as by accident, where it could not be detected, rather than good men should lose their just and lawful privilege of remedy: Christ therefore having to answer these tempting Pharisees, according as his custom was, not meaning to inform their proud ignorance what Moses did in the true intent of the law, which they had ill cited, suppressing the true cause for which Moses gave it, and extending it to every slight matter, tells them their own, what Moses was forced to suffer by their abuse of his law. Which is yet more plain, if we mark that out Saviour, in Matt. v. cites not the law of Moses, but the pharisaical tradition falsely grounded upon that law. And in those other places, chap. xix. and Mark x. the Pharisees cite the law, but conceal the wise and humane reason there expressed; which our Saviour corrects not in them, whose pride deserved not his instruction, only returns them what is proper to them: “Moses for the hardness of your heart suffered you,” that is, such as you, “to put away your wives; and to you he wrote this precept for that cause,” which (“to you”) must be read with an impression, and understood limitedly of such as covered ill purposes under that law; for it was seasonable, that they should hear their own unbounded license rebuked, but not seasonable for them to hear a good man’s requisite liberty explained. But us he hath taught better, if we have ears to hear. He himself acknowledged it to be a law, Mark x., and being a law of God, it must have an undoubted “end of charity, which may be used with a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned,” as was heard: it cannot allow sin, but is purposely to resist sin, as by the same chapter to Timothy appears. There we learn also, “that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” Out of doubt then Edition: current; Page: [232] there must be a certain good in this law, which Moses willingly allowed, and there might be an unlawful use made thereof by hypocrites; and that was it which was unwillingly suffered, foreseeing it in general, but not able to discern it in particulars. Christ therefore mentions not here what Moses and the law intended; for good men might know that by many other rules; and the scornful Pharisees were not fit to be told, until they could employ that knowledge they had less abusively. Only he acquaints them with what Moses by them was put to suffer.

CHAPTER IX.

The Words of the institution how to be understood; and of our Saviour’s Answer to his Disciples.

And to entertain a little their overweening arrogance as best befitted, and to amaze them yet further, because they thought it no hard matter to fulfil the law, he draws them up to that unseparable institution, which God ordained in the beginning before the fall, when man and woman were both perfect, and could have no cause to separate: just as in the same chapter he stands not to contend with the arrogant young man, who boasted his observance of the whole law, whether he had indeed kept it or not, but screws him up higher to a task of that perfection, which no man is bound to imitate. And in like manner, that pattern of the first institution he set before the opinionative Pharisees, to dazzle them, and not to bind us. For this is a solid rule, that every command, given with a reason, binds our obedience no otherwise than that reason holds. Of this sort was that command in Eden; “therefore shall a man cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh;” which we see is no absolute command, but with an inference “therefore:” the reason then must be first considered, that our obedience be not misobedience. The first is, for it is not single, because the wife is to the husband, “flesh of his flesh,” as in the verse going before. But this reason cannot be sufficient of itself: for why then should he for his wife leave his father and mother, with whom he is far more “flesh of flesh, and bone of bone,” as being made of their substance? and besides, it can be but a sorry and ignoble society of life, whose inseparable injunction depends merely upon flesh and bones. Therefore we must look higher, since Christ himself recalls us to the beginning, and we shall find, that the primitive reason of never divorcing was that sacred and not vain promise of God to remedy man’s loneliness by “making him a meet help for him,” though not now in perfection, as at first; yet still in proportion as things now are. And this is repeated, verse 20, when all other creatures were fitly associated and brought to Adam, as if the Divine Power had been in some care and deep thought, because “there was not yet found any help meet for man.” And can we so slightly depress the all-wise purpose of a deliberating God, as if his consultation had produced no other good for man, but to join him with an accidental companion of propagation, which his sudden word had already made for every beast? nay a far less good to man it will be fouud, if she must at all adventures be fastened upon him individually. And therefore even plain sense and equity, and, which is above them both, the all-interpreting voice of charity herself cries aloud, that this primitive reason, this consulted promise of God, “to make a meet help,” is the only cause that gives authority to this command of not divorcing, Edition: current; Page: [233] to be a command. And it might be further added, that if the true definition of a wife were asked at good earnest, this clause of being “a meet help” would show itself so necessary and so essential, in that demonstrative argument, that it might be logically concluded: therefore she who naturally and perpetually is no “meet help,” can be no wife; which clearly takes away the difficulty of dismissing such a one. If this be not thought enough, I answer yet further, that marriage, unless it mean a fit and tolerable marriage, is not inseparable neither by nature nor institution. Not by nature, for then Mosaic divorces had been against nature, if separable and inseparable be contraries, as who doubts they be? and what is against nature is against law, if soundest philosophy abuse us not: by this reckoning Moses should be most unmosaic, that is, most illegal, not to say most unnatural. Nor is it inseparable by the first institution; for then no second institution of the same law for so many causes could dissolve it; it being most unworthy a human, (as Plato’s judgment is in the fourth book of his laws,) much more a divine lawgiver, to write two several decrees upon the same thing. But what would Plato have deemed, if one of these were good, and the other evil to be done? Lastly, suppose it to be inseparable by institution, yet in competition with higher things, as religion and charity in mainest matters, and when the chief end is frustrate for which it was ordained, as hath been shown; if still it must remain inseparable, it holds a strange and lawless propriety from all other works of God under heaven. From these many considerations, we may safely gather, that so much of the first institution as our Saviour mentions, for he mentions not all, was but to quell and put to nonplus the tempting Pharisees, and to lay open their ignorance and shallow understanding of the Scriptures. For, saith he, “have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning, made them male and female, and said, for this cause shall a man cleave to his wife?” which these blind usurpers of Moses’s chair could not gainsay: as if this single respect of male and female were sufficient against a thousand inconveniences and mischiefs, to clog a rational creature to his endless sorrow unrelinquishably, under the guileful superscription of his intended solace and comfort. What if they had thus answered? Master, if thou mean to make wedlock as inseparable as it was from the beginning, let it be made also a fit society, as God meant it, which we shall soon understand it ought to be, if thou recite the whole reason of the law. Doubtless our Saviour had applauded their just answer. For then they had expounded his command of Paradise, even as Moses himself expounds it by the laws of divorce, that is, with due and wise regard to the premises and reasons of the first command; according to which, without unclean and temporizing permissions, he instructs us in this imperfect state what we may lawfully do about divorce.

But if it be thought, that the disciples, offended at the rigour of Christ’s answer, could yet obtain no mitigation of the former sentence pronounced to the Pharisees, it may be fully answered, that our Saviour continues the same reply to his disciples, as men leavened with the same customary license which the Pharisees maintained, and displeased at the removing of a traditional abuse, whereto they had so long not unwillingly been used: it was no time then to contend with their slow and prejudicial belief, in a thing wherein an ordinary measure of light in Scripture, with some attention, might afterwards inform them well enough. And yet ere Christ had finished this argument, they might have picked out of his own concluding words an answer more to their minds, and in effect the same with that which hath been all this while intreating audience: “All men,” saith he, “cannot Edition: current; Page: [234] receive this saying, save they to whom it is given; he that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” What saying is this which is left to a man’s choice to receive, or not receive? what but the married life? Was our Saviour so mild and so favourable to the weakness of a single man, and is he turned on the sudden so rigorous and inexorable, to the distresses and extremities of an ill-wedded man? Did he so graciously give leave to change the better single life for the worse married life? Did he open so to us this hazardous and accidental door of marriage, to shut upon us like the gate of death, without retracting or returning, without permitting to change the worst, most insupportable, most unchristian mischance of marriage, for all the mischiefs and sorrows that can ensue, being an ordinance which was especially given as a cordial and exhilarating cup of solace, the better to bear our other crosses and afflictions? Questionless this was a hard-heartedness of divorcing, worse than that in the Jews, which they say extorted the allowance from Moses, and is utterly dissonant from all the doctrine of our Saviour. After these considerations therefore, to take a law out of Paradise given in time of original perfection, and to take it barely without those just and equal inferences and reasons which mainly establish it, nor so much as admitting those needful and safe allowances, wherewith Moses himself interprets it to the fallen condition of man; argues nothing in us but rashness and contempt of those means that God left us in his pure and chaste law, without which it will not be possible for us to perform the strict imposition of this command: or if we strive beyond our strength, we shall strive to obey it otherwise than God commands it. And lamented experience daily teaches the bitter and vain fruits of this our presumption, forcing men in a thing wherein we are not able to judge either of their strength or their sufferance. Whom neither one voice nor other by natural addiction but only marriage ruins, which doubtless is not the fault of that ordinance, for God gave it as a blessing, nor always of man’s mischoosing, it being an error above wisdom to prevent, as examples of wisest men so mistaken manifest: it is the fault, therefore, of a perverse opinion, that will have it continued in despite of nature and reason, when indeed it was never so truly joined. All those expositors upon the fifth Matthew confess the law of Moses to be the law of the Lord, wherein no addition or diminution hath place; yet coming to the point of divorce, as if they feared not to be called least in the kingdom of heaven, any slight evasion will content them, to reconcile those contradictions, which they make between Christ and Moses, between Christ and Christ.

CHAPTER X.

The vain shift of those who make the law of divorce to be only the premises of a succeeding law.

Some will have it no law, but the granted premises of another law following, contrary to the words of Christ, Mark x. 5, and all other translations of gravest authority, who render it in form of a law, agreeably to Mal. ii. 16, as it is most anciently and modernly expounded. Besides, the bill of divorce, and the particular occasion therein mentioned, declares it to be orderly and legal. And what avails this to make the matter more righteous, if such an adulterous condition shall be mentioned to build a law upon without either punishment or so much as forbidding? They pretend it is implicitly Edition: current; Page: [235] reproved in these words, Deut. xxiv. 4, “after she is defiled;” but who sees not that this defilement is only in respect of returning to her former husband after an intermixed marriage? else why was not the defiling condition first forbidden, which would have saved the labour of this after-law? Nor is it seemly or piously attributed to the justice of God and his known hatred of sin, that such a heinous fault as this through all the law should be only wiped with an implicit and oblique touch, (which yet is falsely supposed,) and that his peculiar people should be let wallow in adulterous marriages almost two thousand years, for want of a direct law to prohibit them: it is rather to be confidently assumed, that this was granted to apparent necessities, as being of unquestionable right and reason in the law of nature, in that it still passes without inhibition, even when the greatest cause is given to us to expect it should be directly forbidden.

CHAPTER XI.

The other shift of saying divorce was permitted by law, but not approved. More of the institution.

But it was not approved. So much the worse that it was allowed; as if sin had over-mastered the word of God, to conform her steady and straight rule to sin’s crookedness, which is impossible. Besides, what needed a positive grant of that which was not approved? It restrained no liberty to him that could but use a little fraud; it had been better silenced, unless it were approved in some case or other. But still it was not approved. Miserable excusers! he who doth evil, that good may come thereby, approves not what he doth; and yet the grand rule forbids him, and counts his damnation just if he do it. The sorceress Medea did not approve her own evil doings, yet looked not to be excused for that: and it is the constant opinion of Plato in Protagoras, and other of his dialogues, agreeing with that proverbial sentence among the Greeks, that “no man is wicked willingly.” Which also the Peripatetics do rather distinguish than deny. What great thank then, if any man, reputed wise and constant, will neither do, nor permit others under his charge to do, that which he approves not, especially in matter of sin? but for a judge, but for a magistrate the shepherd of his people, to surrender up his approbation against law, and his own judgment, to the obstinacy of his herd; what more unjudgelike, unmagistratelike, and in war more uncommanderlike? Twice in a short time it was the undoing of the Roman state, first when Pompey, next when Marcus Brutus, had not magnanimity enough but to make so poor a resignation of what they approved, to what the boisterous tribunes and soldiers bawled for. Twice it was the saving of two of the greatest commonwealths in the world, of Athens by Themistocles at the sea-fight of Salamis, of Rome by Fabius Maximus in the Punic war; for that these two matchless generals had the fortitude at home against the rashness and the clamours of their own captains and confederates, to withstand the doing or permitting of what they could not approve in their duty of their great command. Thus far of civil prudence. But when we speak of sin, let us look again upon the old reverend Eli; who in his heavy punishment found no difference between the doing and permitting of what he did not approve. If hardness of heart in the people may be an excuse, why then is Pilate branded through all memory? He approved not what he did, he openly Edition: current; Page: [236] protested, he washed his hands, and laboured not a little ere he would yield to the hard hearts of a whole people, both princes and plebeians, importuning and tumulting even to the fear of a revolt. Yet is there any will undertake his cause? If therefore Pilate for suffering but one act of cruelty against law, though with much unwillingness testified, at the violent demand of a whole nation, shall stand so black upon record to all posterity; alas for Mo