The Second Book
How happy were it for this frail, and as it may be truly call'd, mortall life of man, since all earthly things which have the name of good and convenient in our daily use, are withall 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 heavie advantage overlay upon the spirit. For not to speak of that knowledge that rests in the contemplation of naturall causes and dimensions, which must needs be a lower wisdom, as the object is low, certain it is that he who hath obtain'd in more then the scantest measure to know any thing distinctly of God, and of his true worship, and what is infallibly good and happy in the state of mans life, what in it selfe evil and miserable, though vulgarly not so esteem'd, he that hath obtain'd to know this, the only high valuable wisdom indeed, remembring also that God even to a strictnesse requires the improvment of these his entrusted gifts, cannot but sustain a sorer burden of mind, and more pressing then any supportable toil, or waight, which the body can labour under; how and in what manner he shall dispose and employ those summes of knowledge and illumination, which God hath sent him into this world to trade with. And that which aggravats the burden more, is, that having receiv'd amongst his allotted parcels certain pretious truths of such an orient lustre as no Diamond can equall, which never the lesse he has in charge to put off at any cheap rate, yea for nothing to them that will, the great Marchants of this world fearing that this cours would soon discover, and disgrace the fals glitter of their deceitfull wares wherewith they abuse the people, like poor Indians with beads and glasses, practize by all means how they may suppresse the venting of such rarities and such a cheapnes as would undoe them, and turn their trash upon their hands. Therefore by gratifying the corrupt desires of men in fleshly doctrines, they stirre 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 excellence of that heavenly traffick which they bring against what opposition, or danger soever, yet needs must it sit heavily upon their spirits, that being in Gods prime intention and their own, selected heralds of peace, and dispensers of treasure inestimable without price to them that have no pence, they finde in the discharge of their commision 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 said Prophet Ieremiah laments, Wo is me my mother, that thou hast born me a man of strife, and contention. And although divine inspiration must certainly have been sweet to those ancient profets, yet the irksomnesse of that truth which they brought was so unpleasant to them that every where they call it a burden. Yea that mysterious book of Revelation which the great Evangelist was bid to eat, as it had been some eye-brightning 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 call'd to resolve K. Edipus in a matter which he knew would be grievous, brings him in bemoaning his lot, that he knew more then other men. For surely to every good and peaceable man it must in nature needs be a hatefull thing to be the displeaser, and molester of thousands; much better would it like him doubtlesse to be the messenger of gladnes and contentment, which is his chief intended busines, to all mankind, but that they resist and oppose their own true happinesse. But when God commands to take the trumpet and blow a dolorous or a jarring blast, it lies not in mans will what he shall say, or what he shall conceal. If he shall think to be silent, as Ieremiah did, because of the reproach and derision he met with daily, and all his familiar friends watcht for his halting to be reveng'd on him, for speaking the truth, he would be forc't to confesse as he confest, 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 Prelats have leav to say the worst that can be said, and doe the worst that can be don, 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 himselfe those sharp, but saving words which would be a terror, and a torment in him to keep back. For me I have determin'd to lay up as the best treasure, and solace of a good old age, if God voutsafe it me, the honest liberty of free speech from my youth, where I shall think it available in so dear a concernment as the Churches good. For if I be either by disposition, or what other cause too inquisitive, or suspitious of my self 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 faithfull men change this her distracted estate into better daies without the lest furtherance or contribution of those few talents which God at that present had lent me, I foresee what stories I should heare within my selfe, all my life after, of discourage and reproach. Timorous and ingratefull, the Church of God is now again at the foot of her insulting enemies: and thou bewails't, what matters it for thee or thy bewailing? when time was, thou couldst not find a syllable of all that thou hadst read, or studied, to utter in her behalfe. Yet ease and leasure was given thee for thy retired thoughts out of the sweat of other men. Thou hadst the diligence, the parts, the language of a man, if a vain subject were to be adorn'd or beautifi'd, 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 listen'd if he could heare thy voice among his zealous servants, but thou wert domb as a beast; from hence forward be that which thine own brutish silence hath made thee. Or else I should have heard on the other eare, slothfull, and ever to be set light by, the Church hath now overcom 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 shew any word or deed of thine which might have hasten'd her peace; what ever thou dost now talke, or write, or look is the almes of other mens active prudence and zeale. Dare not now to say, or doe any thing better then thy former sloth and infancy, or if thou darst, thou dost impudently to make a thrifty purchase of boldnesse to thy selfe out of the painfull merits of other men: what before was thy sin, is now thy duty to be, abject, and worthlesse. These and such like lessons as these, I know would have been my Matins duly, and my Even-song. But now by this litle diligence, mark what a privilege I have gain'd; with good men and Saints to clame my right of lamenting the tribulations of the Church, if she should suffer, when others that have ventur'd 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 then wisht her welfare, I have my charter and freehold of rejoycing to me and my heires. Concerning therefore this wayward subject against prelaty, the touching whereof is so distastfull 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 enterd me upon this controversy, but the enforcement of conscience only, and a preventive fear least the omitting of this duty should be against me when I would store up to my self the good provision of peaceful hours, So lest it should be still imputed to me, as I have found it hath bin, that some self-pleasing humor of vain-glory hath incited me to contest with men of high estimation, now while green yeers are upon my head, from this needlesse surmisall I shall hope to disswade the intelligent and equal auditor, if I can but say succesfully that which in this exigent behoovs me, although I would be heard only, if it might be, by the elegant & learned reader, to whom principally for a while I shal beg leav I may addresse my selfe. 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 compleated to my minde 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 compos'd to the carelesse and interrupted listening of these tumultuous times. Next if I were wise only to mine own ends, I would certainly take such a subject as of it self might catch applause, whereas this hath all the disadvantages on the contrary, and such a subject as the publishing whereof might be delayd at pleasure, and time enough to pencill it over with all the curious touches of art, even to the perfection of a faultlesse picture, whenas in this argument the not deferring is of great moment to the good speeding, that if solidity have leisure to doe her office, art cannot have much. Lastly, I should not chuse this manner of writing wherin knowing my self inferior to my self, led by the genial power of nature to another task, I have the use, as I may account it, but of my left hand. And though I shall be foolish in saying more to this purpose, yet since it will be such a folly as wisest men going about to commit, have only confest 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 region of his fancies with his garland and singing robes about him might without apology speak more of himself then I mean to do, yet for me sitting here below in the cool element of prose, a mortall thing among many readers of no Empyreall conceit, to venture and divulge unusual things of my selfe, I shall petition to the gentler sort, it may not be envy to me. I must say therefore that after I had from my first yeeres by the ceaselesse diligence and care of my father, whom God recompence, bin exercis'd 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 ought was impos'd me by them that had the overlooking, or betak'n to of mine own choise in English, or other tongue, prosing or versing, but chiefly this latter, the stile by certain vital signes it had, was likely to live. But much latelier in the privat Academies of Italy, whither I was favor'd to resort, perceiving that some trifles which I had in memory, compos'd 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 lookt for, and other things which I had shifted in scarcity of books and conveniences to patch up amongst them, were receiv'd with written Encomiums, which the Italian is not forward to bestow on men of this side the Alps, I began this farre to assent both to them and divers of my friends here at home, and not lesse to an inward prompting which now grew daily upon me, that by labour and intent study (which I take to be my portion in this life) joyn'd 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 possest 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, then to Gods 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 Latines, I apply'd my selfe to that resolution which Ariosto follow'd against the perswasions 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 toylsom vanity, but to be an interpreter & relater of the best and sagest things among mine own Citizens throughout this Iland in the mother dialect. That what the greatest and choycest 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 doe for mine: not caring to be once nam'd abroad, though perhaps I could attaine to that, but content with these British Ilands as my world, whose fortune hath hitherto bin, that if the Athenians, as some say, made their small deeds great and renowned by their eloquent writers, England hath had her noble atchievments made small by the unskilfull handling of monks and mechanicks.
Time servs 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 her self, though of highest hope, and hardest attempting, whether that Epick 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 follow'd, which in them that know art, and use judgement is no transgression, but an inriching of art. And lastly what K. or Knight before the conquest might be chosen in whom to lay the pattern of a Christian Heroe. And as Tasso gave to a Prince of Italy his chois whether he would command him to write of Godfreys expedition against the infidels, or Belisarius against the Gothes, or Charlemain against the Lombards; if to the instinct of nature and the imboldning of art ought may be trusted, and that there be nothing advers in our climat, or the fate of this age, it haply would be no rashnesse from an equal diligence and inclination to present the like offer in our own ancient stories. Or whether those Dramatick constitutions, wherein Sophocles and Euripides raigne shall be found more doctrinal and exemplary to a Nation, the Scripture also affords us a divine pastoral Drama in the Song of Salomon consisting of two persons and a double Chorus, as Origen rightly judges. And the Apocalyps of Saint Iohn is the majestick image of a high and stately Tragedy, shutting up and intermingling her solemn Scenes and Acts with a sevenfold Chorus of halleluja's and harping symphonies: and this my opinion the grave autority of Pareus commenting that booke is sufficient to confirm. Or if occasion shall lead to imitat those magnifick 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 Lyrick poesy, to be incomparable. These abilities, wheresoever they be found, are the inspired guift of God rarely bestow'd, but yet to some (though most abuse) in every Nation: and are of power beside the office of a pulpit, to inbreed and cherish in a great people the seeds of vertu, and publick 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 Gods Almightinesse, and what he works, and what he suffers to be wrought with high providence in his Church, to sing the 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 Gods true worship. Lastly, whatsoever in religion is holy and sublime, in vertu amiable, or grave, whatsoever hath passion or admiration in all the changes of that which is call'd fortune from without, or the wily suttleties and refluxes of mans thoughts from within, all these things with a solid and treatable smoothnesse to paint out and describe. Teaching over the whole book of sanctity and vertu 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 herselfe, unlesse they see her elegantly drest, that whereas the paths of honesty and good life appear now rugged and difficult, though they be indeed easy and pleasant, they would then appeare 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 guest by what we know of the corruption and bane which they suck in dayly from the writings and interludes of libidinous and ignorant Poetasters, who having scars ever heard of that which is the main consistence of a true poem, the choys of such persons as they ought to introduce, and what is morall and decent to each one, doe for the most part lap up vitious principles in sweet pils to be swallow'd down, and make the tast of vertuous documents harsh and sowr. But because the spirit of man cannot demean it selfe lively in this body without some recreating intermission of labour, and serious things, it were happy for the Common wealth, if our Magistrates, as in those famous governments of old, would take into their care, not only the deciding of our contentious Law cases and brauls, but the managing of our publick sports, and festival pastimes, that they might be, not such as were autoriz'd a while since, the provocations of drunkennesse and lust, but such as may inure and harden our bodies by martial exercises to all warlike skil 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 artfull recitations sweetned with eloquent and gracefull 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 vertu may be heard every where, as Salomon saith, She crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets, in the top of high places, in the chief concours, 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 Theaters, porches, or what other place, or way may win most upon the people to receiv at once both recreation, & instruction, let them in autority consult. The thing which I had to say, and those intentions which have liv'd within me ever since I could conceiv my self any thing worth to my Countrie, I return to crave excuse that urgent reason hath pluckt from me by an abortive and foredated discovery. And the accomplishment of them lies not but in a power above mans to promise; but that none hath by more studious ways endeavour'd, and with more unwearied spirit that none shall, that I dare almost averre of my self, as farre as life and free leasure will extend, and that the Land had once infranchis'd her self from this impertinent yoke of prelaty, under whose inquisitorious and tyrannical duncery no free and splendid wit can flourish. Neither doe I think it shame to Parlaments covnant with any knowing reader, that for some few yeers yet I may go on trust with him toward the payment of what I am now indebted, as being a work not to be rays'd from the heat of youth, or the vapours of wine, like that which flows at wast from the pen of some vulgar Amorist, or the trencher fury of a riming parasite, nor to be obtain'd by the invocation of Dame Memory and her Siren daughters, but by devout prayer to that eternall Spirit who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his Seraphim with the hallow'd fire of his Altar to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases: to this must be added industrious and select reading, steddy observation, insight into all seemly and generous arts and affaires, till which in some measure be compast, at mine own peril and cost I refuse not to sustain this expectation from as many as are not loath to hazard so much credulity from the best pledges that I can give them. Although it nothing content me to have disclos'd thus much before hand, but that I trust hereby to make it manifest with what small willingnesse I endure to interrupt the pursuit of no lesse hopes then these, and leave a calme and pleasing solitarynes fed with cherful and confident thoughts, to imbark in a troubl'd sea of noises and hoars disputes, put from beholding the bright countenance of truth in the quiet and still air of delightfull studies to come into the dim reflexion of hollow antiquities sold by the seeming bulk, and there be fain to club quotations with men whose learning and beleif lies in marginal stuffings, who when they have like good sumpters laid ye down their hors load of citations and fathers at your dore, with a rapsody of who and who were Bishops here or there, ye may take off their packsaddles, their days work is don, and episcopacy, as they think, stoutly vindicated. Let any gentle apprehension that can distinguish learned pains from unlearned drudgery, imagin what pleasure or profoundnesse can be in this, or what honour to deal against such adversaries. But were it the meanest under-service, if God by his Secretary conscience injoyn 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 destin'd of a child, and in mine own resolutions, till comming to some maturity of yeers and perceaving what tyranny had invaded the Church, that he who would take Orders must subscribe slave, and take an oath withall, which unlesse he took with a conscience that would retch, he must either strait perjure, or split his faith, I thought it better to preferre a blameless silence before the sacred office of speaking bought, and begun with servitude and forswearing. Howsoever thus Church-outed by the Prelats, hence may appear the right I have to meddle in these matters, as before, the necessity and constraint appear'd.
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 lawfull Church-government; but finding none of like validity with these that have already sped according to their fortune, I shall adde 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 Christs Evangelick ministery. Albeit I Must confesse 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 mens hearts, that I shall endanger either not to be regarded, or not to be understood. For who is ther almost that measures wisdom by simplicity, strength by suffering, dignity by lowlinesse, who is there that counts it first to be last, somthing 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 wholy to perdition, made chois of no other weapons, or auxiliaries then these whether to save, or to destroy. It had bin a small maistery for him, to have drawn out his Legions into array and flankt them with his thunder; therefore he sent Foolishnes to confute Wisdom, Weaknes to bind Strength, Despisednes to vanquish Pride. And this is the great mistery of the Gospel made good in Christ himself, who as he testifies came not to be minister'd to but to minister; and must be fulfil'd in all his ministers till his second comming. To goe against these principles S. Paul so fear'd, 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 crosse of Christ to be of none effect. Whether then Prelaty do not make of none effect the crosse 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 shal I stand to trifle with one that will 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 oftner otherwise then a Phenix hath bin seen; although I perswade me that whatever faultines 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 therof. First therefore, if to doe the work of the Gospel Christ our Lord took upon him the form of a servant, how can his servant in this ministery take upon him the form of a Lord? I know Bilson hath decipher'd us all the galanteries of Signore and Monsignore, and Monsieur as circumstantially as any punctualist of Casteel, Naples, or Fountain Bleau could have don, but this must not so complement 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, wherby God in them would manage the mystery of his Gospel, be it the verdit of common sense. For Christ saith in S. John, The servant is not greater then his Lord, nor he that is sent greater then he that sent him. And addes, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye doe them. Then let the prelates well advise, if they neither know, nor do these things, or if they know, and yet doe them not, wherin their happines consists. And thus is the Gospel frustrated by the Lordly form of Prelaty.
That the ceremonius doctrin of Prelaty opposeth the reason and end of the Gospel.
That which next declares the heavenly power, and reveales the deep mistery of the Gospel, is the pure simplicity of doctrine, accounted the foolishnes 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 asham'd of that. Where then? it consists in a bold presumption of ordering the worship and service of God after mans 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 wherin it was proudest and thought it self wisest, that so the victory of the Gospel might be the more illustrious. But our Prelats instead of expressing the spirituall power of their ministery by warring against this chief bulwark and strong hold of the flesh, have enter'd into fast league with the principall enemy against whom they were sent, and turn'd the strength of fleshly pride and wisdom against the pure simplicity of saving truth. First, mistrusting to find the autority of their order in the immediat institution of Christ, or his Apostles by the cleer evidence of Scripture, they fly to the carnal supportment of tradition: when we appeal to the Bible, they to the unweildy volumes of tradition. And doe not shame to reject the ordinance of him that is eternal for the pervers iniquity of sixteen hunderd yeers; choosing rather to think truth it self a lyar, then that sixteen ages should be taxt with an error; not considering the general apostasy that was foretold, and the Churches flight into the wildernes. Nor is this anough, instead of shewing the reason of their lowly condition from divine example and command, they seek to prove their high pre-eminence from humane consent and autority. But let them chaunt while they will of prerogatives, we shall tell them of Scripture; of custom, we of Scripture; of Acts and Statutes, stil of Scripture, til the quick and pearcing word enter to the dividing of their soules, & the mighty weaknes of the Gospel throw down the weak mightines of mans reasoning. Now for their demeanor within the Church, how have they disfigur'd and defac't that more then angelick brightnes, the unclouded serenity of Christian Religion with the dark overcasting of superstitious coaps and flaminical vestures; wearing on their backs; and, I abhorre to think, perhaps in some worse place the unexpressible Image of God the father. Tell me ye Priests wherfore this gold, wherfore these roabs and surplices over the Gospel? is our religion guilty of the first trespasse, and hath need of cloathing to cover her nakednesse? what does this else but cast an ignominy upon the perfection of Christs ministery by seeking to adorn it with that which was the poor remedy of our shame? Believe it, wondrous Doctors, all corporeal resemblances of inward holinesse & beauty are now past; he that will cloath the Gospel now, intimates plainly, that the Gospel is naked, uncomely, that I may not say reproachfull. Do not, ye Church-maskers, while Christ is cloathing upon our barenes with his righteous garment to make us acceptable in his fathers sight, doe not, as ye do, cover and hide his righteous verity with the polluted cloathing of your ceremonies to make it seem more decent in your own eyes. How beautifull, saith Isaiah, are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth salvation! Are the feet so beautifull, and is the very bringing of these tidings so decent of it self? what new decency then can be added to this by your spinstry? ye think by these gaudy glisterings to stirre up the devotion of the rude multitude; ye think so, because ye forsake the heavenly teaching of S. 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 childrens food there is in the Gospel we know to be no other then the sincerity of the word that they may grow thereby. But is heer the utmost of your outbraving the service of God? No. Ye have bin bold, not to set your threshold by his threshold, or your posts by his posts, but your Sacrament, your signe, call it what you will, by his Sacrament, baptizing the Christian infant with a solemne sprinkle, and unbaptizing for your own part with a profane and impious forefinger: as if when ye had layd the purifying element upon his forehead, ye meant to cancel and crosse it out again with a caracter not of Gods bidding. O but the innocence of these ceremonies! O rather the sottish absurdity of this excuse! what could be more innocent then the washing of a cup, a glasse, or hands before meat, and that under the Law when so many washings were commanded, and by long tradition, yet our Saviour detested their customes, though never so seeming harmlesse, and charges them severely that they had transgrest the Commandments of God by their traditions and worshipt him in vain. How much more then must these, and much grosser ceremonies now in force delude the end of Christs comming in the flesh against the flesh, and stifle the sincerity of our new cov'nant which hath bound us to forsake all carnall pride and wisdom especially in matters of religion. Thus we see again how Prelaty sayling in opposition to the main end and power of the Gospel doth not joyn in that misterious work of Christ, by lowlines to confound height, by simplicity of doctrin the wisdom of the world, but contrariwise hath made it self high in the world and the flesh to vanquish things by the world accounted low, and made it self wise in tradition and fleshly ceremony to confound the purity of doctrin which is the wisdom of God.
That Prelaticall jurisdiction opposeth the reason and end of the Gospel and of State.
The third and last consideration remains, whether the Prelats in their function doe work according to the Gospel practizing to subdue the mighty things of this world by things weak: which S. 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 chois to work by: and this will soonest be discern'd by the cours of their jurisdiction. But heer 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 fixt me too attentively to come thus farre. For Truth, I know not how, hath this unhappinesse fatall to her, ere she can come to the triall and inspection of the Understanding, being to passe through many little wards and limits of the severall Affections and Desires, she cannot shift it, but must put on such colours and attire, as those Pathetick handmaids of the soul please to lead her in to their Queen. And if she find so much favour with them, they let her passe in her own likenesse; if not, they bring her into the presence habited and colour'd like a notorious Falshood. And contrary when any Falshood comes that way, if they like the errand she brings, they are so artfull 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 Falshood interchangeably, sentences for the most part one for the other at the first blush, according to the suttle 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 goe neer to relinquish that which is to follow. And because I see that most men, as it happens in this world, either weakly, or falsly principl'd, what through ignorance, and what through custom of licence, both in discours and writing, by what hath bin of late written in vulgar, have not seem'd 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 Falshood 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 doe not find them engag'd either one way or other. Concerning therfore ecclesial jurisdiction, I find still more controversie, who should administer it, then diligent enquiry made to learn what it is, for had the pains bin taken to search out that, it had bin long agoe enroul'd to be nothing els but a pure tyrannical forgery of the Prelats; and that jurisdictive power in the Church there ought to be none at all. It cannot be conceiv'd that what men now call jurisdiction in the Church, should be other thing then a Christian censorship; and therefore is it most commonly and truly ecclesiastical censure. Now if the Roman censor a civil function, to that severe assise of survaying and controuling the privatest, and sliest manners of all men and all degrees had no jurisdiction, no courts of plea, or inditement, no punitive force annext, 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 spiritous vices as would slip easily between the wider and more material grasp of Law; Or that it stood more with the Majesty of that office to have no other Serjeants or maces about them but those invisible ones of Terror and shame: Or lastly, were it their feare, lest the greatnes of this autority and honour arm'd 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 devested and disintal'd of all jurisdiction whatsoever. For if the cours of judicature to a political censorship seem either too tedious, or too contentious, much more may it to the discipline of 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 lesse contentious it is, by so much will it be the more Christian. And if the censor in his morall episcopy being to judge most in matters not answerable by writ or action could not use an instrument so grosse and bodily as jurisdiction is, how can the minister of Gospel manage the corpulent and secular trial of bill and processe in things meerly spiritual. Or could that Roman office without this juridical sword or saw strike such a reverence of it self 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 ministery of the Evangel bind her self about with farre more pearcing beams of Majesty and aw by wanting the beggarly help of halings and amercements in the use of her powerful Keies. For when the Church without temporal support is able to doe her great works upon the unforc't obedience of men, it argues a divinity about her. But when she thinks to credit and better her spirituall efficacy, and to win her self respect and dread by strutting in the fals visard of worldly autority, tis evident that God is not there; but that her apostolick vertu is departed from her, and hath left her Key-cold. Which she perceaving as in a decay'd nature seeks to the outward fomentations and chafings of worldly help, and external flourishes, to fetch, if it be possible, some motion into her extream parts, or to hatch a counterfeit life with the crafty and arteficial 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 Asse carrying her self and her government along in a mean and simple guise, she may be as he is, a Lion of the tribe of Juda, and in her humility all men with loud Hosanna's will confesse her greatnes. But when despising the mighty operation of the spirit by the weak things of this world she thinks to make her self bigger and more considerable by using the way of civil force and jurisdiction, as she sits upon this Lion she changes into an Asse, and instead of Hosanna's every man pelts her with stones and dirt. Lastly, if the wisdom of the Romans fear'd to commit jurisdiction to an office of so high esteem and dred as was the censors, we may see what a solecism in the art of policy it hath bin all this while through Christendom to give jurisdiction to ecclesiastical Censure. For that strength joyn'd with religion abus'd 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 bin 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 her self into an Asse, and becomes despicable, that is to those whom God hath enlight'nd with true knowledge; but where they remain yet in the reliques of superstition, this is the extremity of their bondage, and blindnes, that while they think they doe obeisance to the Lordly visage of a Lion, they doe it to an asse, that through the just judgement of God is permitted to play the dragon among them because of their wilfull stupidity. And let England here well rub her eyes, lest by leaving jurisdiction and Church censure to the same persons, now that God hath bin so long medcining her eyesight, she doe not with her overpolitick fetches marre all, and bring her self back again to worship this Asse bestriding a Lion. Having hitherto explain'd, that to ecclesiasticall censure no jurisdictive power can be added without a childish and dangerous oversight in polity, and a pernicious contradiction in evangelick discipline, as anon more fully; it will be next to declare wherin 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 crookednes, any wrincle or spot should be found in presbyterial government, that if Bodin the famous French writer though a papist, yet affirms that the Commonwelth which maintains this discipline will certainly flourish in vertu and piety, I dare assure my self that every true protestant will admire the integrity, the uprightnes, the divine and gracious purposes therof, and even for the reason of it so coherent with the doctrine of the Gospel, besides the evidence of command in Scripture, will confesse it to be the only true Church-government, and that contrary to the whole end and mistery of Christs comming in the flesh a false appearance of the same is exercis'd by Prelaty. But because some count it rigorous, and that hereby men shall be liable to a double punishment, I will begin somwhat higher and speak of punishment. Which, as it is an evil, I esteem to be of two sorts, or rather two degrees only, a reprobat 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 illegall violence, but a saving med'cin ordaine'd of God both for the publik and privat good of man, who consisting of two parts the inward and the outward, was by the eternall providence left under two sorts of cure, the Church and the Magistrat. The Magistrat hath only to deale with the outward part, I mean not of the body alone, but of the mind in all her outward acts, which in Scripture is call'd the outward man. So that it would be helpfull to us if we might borrow such autority 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 civill Magistrat looking only upon the outward man (I say as a Magistrat, 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 signes and marks, or in his doings the effects of injustice, rapine, lust, cruelty, or the like, sometimes he shuts up as in frenetick, or infectious diseases; or confines within dores, as in every sickly estate. Sometimes he shaves by penalty, or mulct, or els to cool and take down those luxuriant humors which wealth and excesse have caus'd to abound. Otherwhiles he seres, he cauterizes, he scarifies, lets blood, and finally for utmost remedy cuts off. The patients which mostanend are brought into his hospital are such as are farre gon, and beside themselves (unlessee they be falsly accus'd) so that force is necessary to tame and quiet them in their unruly fits, before they can be made capable of a more human cure. His general end is the outward peace and wel-fare of the Commonwealth and civil happines in this life. His particular end in every man is, by the infliction of pain, dammage, and disgrace, that the senses and common perceivance might carry this message to the soul within, that it is neither easefull, profitable, nor praisworthy in this life to doe evill. Which must needs tend to the good of man, whether he be to live or die; and be undoubtedly the first means to a natural man, especially an offender, which might open his eyes to a higher consideration of good and evill, as it is taught in religion. This is seen in the often penitence of those that suffer, who, had they scapt, had gon on sinning to an immeasurable heap, which is one of the extreamest punishments. And this is all that the civil Magistrat, as so being, confers to the healing of mans mind, working only by terrifying plaisters upon the rind & 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 hectick disposition to evill, the sourse of all vice, and obliquity against the rule of Law. Which how insufficient it is to cure the soul of man, we cannot better guesse then by the art of bodily phisick. Therefore God to the intent of further healing mans deprav'd mind, to this power of the Magistrat which contents it self 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 autority seems to have bin plac't, as all both civil and religious rites once were, only in each father of 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 Gods peculiar, where the Priests, Levites, Profets, and at last the Scribes and Pharises took charge of instructing, and overseeing the lives of the people. But in the Gospel, which is the straitest and the dearest cov'nant can be made between God and man, wee being now his adopted sons, and nothing fitter for us to think on, then to be like him, united to him, and as he pleases to expresse it, to have fellowship with him, it is all necessity that we should expect this blest efficacy of healing our inward man to be minister'd to us in a more familiar and effectual method then ever before. God being now no more a judge after the sentence of the Law, nor as it were a schoolmaister of perishable rites, but a most indulgent father governing his Church as a family of sons in their discreet age; and therfore in the sweetest and mildest manner of paternal discipline he hath committed this other office of preserving in healthful constitution the innerman, which may be term'd 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 then the external, by so much is his cure more exactly, more throughly, and more particularly to be perform'd. For which cause the holy Ghost by the Apostles joyn'd to the minister, as assistant in this great office sometimes a certain number of grave and faithful brethren, (for neither doth the phisitian doe all in restoring his patient, he prescribes, another prepares the med'cin, some tend, some watch, some visit) much more may a minister partly not see all, partly erre as a man: besides that nothing can be more for the mutuall honour and love of the people to their Pastor, and his to them, then 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 imployment, not now any more to be separated in the Church by vails and partitions as laicks and unclean, but admitted to wait upon the tabernacle as the rightfull 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 assigne them. And this all Christians ought to know, that the title of Clergy S. Peter gave to all Gods people, till Pope Higinus and the succeeding Prelates took it from them, appropriating that name to themselves and their Priests only; and condemning the rest of Gods inheritance to an injurious and alienat condition of Laity, they separated from them by local partitions in Churches, through their grosse ignorance and pride imitating the old temple: and excluded 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 sow up that Jewish vail which Christ by his death on the Crosse rent in sunder. Although these usurpers could not so presently over-maister the liberties and lawfull titles of Gods freeborn Church, but that Origen being yet a lay man expounded the Scriptures publickly, 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 doe nothing without the advice and assent of his assistant Laicks. Neither did the first Nicene councel, 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 calld. Many other autorities 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 Apostolick permission, but by consent of many the ancientest Prelates did participat in Church offices as much as is desir'd 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 publick satisfaction is given by those that have given publick 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 morall 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 vertuous deeds and the greatest dissuasion from unworthy attempts that might be. Hence we may read in the Iliad where Hector being wisht to retire from the battel, 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 wheras Terror is thought such a great stickler in a Commonwealth, honourable shame is a farre 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 Nurs and Guardian of piety and vertue, it can not sooner be then by such a discipline in the Church, as may use us to have in aw the assemblies of the faithful, & to count it a thing most grievous, next to the grieving of Gods Spirit, to offend those whom he hath put in autority, as a healing superintendence over our lives and behaviours, both to our own happines and that we may not give offence to good men, who without amends by us made, dare not against Gods command hold communion with us in holy things. And this will be accompanied with a religious dred 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 altar of our hearts, be the first principle of all godly and vertuous actions in men, this pious and just honouring of our selves is the second, and may be thought as the radical moisture and fountain head, whence every laudable and worthy enterprize issues forth. And although I have giv'n it the name of a liquid thing, yet is it not incontinent to bound it self, as humid things are, but hath in it a most restraining and powerfull abstinence to start back, and glob it self upward from the mixture of any ungenerous and unbeseeming motion, or any soile wherewith it may peril to stain it self. Something I confesse it is to be asham'd of evil doing in the presence of any, and to reverence the opinion and the countenance of a good man rather then a bad, fearing most in his sight to offend, goes so farre as almost to be vertuous; yet this is but still the feare 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 Gods image upon him, and for the price of his redemption, which he thinks is visibly markt upon his forehead, accounts himselfe both a fit person to do the noblest and godliest deeds, and much better worth then to deject and defile, with such a debasement and such a pollution as sin is, himselfe so highly ransom'd and enobl'd to a new friendship and filiall 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 himselfe, if it should see him doing or imagining that which is sinfull though in the deepest secrecy. How shall a man know to do himselfe this right, how to performe this honourable duty of estimation and respect towards his own soul and body? which way will leade him best to this hill top of sanctity and goodnesse above which there is no higher ascent but to the love of God which from this self-pious regard cannot be assunder? no better way doubtlesse then to let him duly understand that as he is call'd by the high calling of God to be holy and pure, so is he by the same appointment ordain'd, and by the Churches call admitted to such offices of discipline in the Church to which his owne spirituall gifts by the example of Apostolick institution have autoriz'd him. For we have learnt that the scornfull terme of Laick, the consecrating of Temples, carpets, and tableclothes, the railing in of a repugnant and contradictive Mount Sinai in the Gospell, as if the touch of a lay Christian who is never the lesse Gods living temple, could profane dead judaisms, the exclusion of Christs people from the offices of holy discipine through the pride of a usurping Clergy, causes the rest to have an unworthy and abject opinion of themselves; to approach to holy duties with a slavish fear, and to unholy doings with a familiar boldnesse. For seeing such a wide and terrible distance between religious things and themselves, and that in respect of a woodden table & the perimeter of holy ground about it, a flagon pot, and a linnen corporal, the Priest esteems their lay-ships unhallow'd and unclean, they fear religion with such a fear as loves not, and think the purity of the Gospell too pure for them, and that any uncleannesse is more sutable to their unconsecrated estate. But when every good Christian throughly acquainted with all those glorious privileges of sanctification and adoption which render him more sacred then any dedicated altar or element, shall be restor'd to his right in the Church, and not excluded from such place of spirituall government as his Christian abilities and his approved good life in the eye and testimony of the Church shall preferre him to, this and nothing sooner will open his eyes to a wise and true valuation of himselfe, which is so requisite and high a point of Christianity, and will stirre him up to walk worthy the honourable and grave imployment wherewith God and the Church hath dignifi'd 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 profane in himselfe that Priestly unction and Clergy-right whereto Christ hath entitl'd him. Then would the congregation of the Lord soone recover the true likenesse and visage of what she is indeed, a holy generation, a royall Priesthood, a Saintly communion, the houshold 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 laick, if his capacity, his faith, and prudent demeanour commend him. And this the Apostles warrant us to do. But the Prelats object that this will bring profanenesse into the Church, to whom may be reply'd, that none have brought that in more then their own irreligious courses; nor more driven holinesse out of living into livelesse things. For whereas God who hath cleans'd every beast and creeping worme, would not suffer S. Peter to call them common or unclean, the Prelat Bishops in their printed orders hung up in Churches have proclaim'd the best of creatures, mankind, so unpurifi'd and contagious, that for him to lay his hat, or his garment upon the Chancell table they have defin'd it no lesse hainous in expresse words then 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 then Canaanitish) thus have they made common and unclean, thus have they made profane that nature which God hath not only cleans'd, but Christ also hath assum'd. And now that the equity and just reason is so perspicuous, why in Ecclesiastick censure the assistance should be added of such, as whom not the vile odour of gaine and fees (forbid it God and blow it with a whirlewinde out of our land) but charity, neighbourhood, and duty to Church-government hath call'd together, where could a wiseman wish a more equall, gratuitous, and meek examination of any offence that he might happen to commit against Christianity then here? would he preferre those proud simoniacall Courts? Thus therefore the Minister assisted attends his heavenly and spirituall, cure. Where we shall see him both in the course of his proceeding, and first in the excellence of his end from the magistrate farre different, and not more different then excelling. His end is to recover all that is of man both soul and body to an ever lasting health: and yet as for worldly happinesse, 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 oft-times he may have cause to wish much of it away, as a diet puffing up the soul with a slimy fleshinesse, and weakning her principall organick parts. Two heads of evill he has to cope with, ignorance and malice. Against the former he provides the daily Manna of incorruptible doctrine, not at those set meales only in publick, but as oft as he shall know that each infirmity, or constitution requires. Against the latter with all the branches thereof, not medling with that restraining and styptick 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 & 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, unlesse by accident. And he that will not let these passe into him, though he be the greatest King, as Plato affirms, must be thought to remaine impure within, and unknowing of those things wherein his purenesse and his knowledge should most appear. As soon therefore as it may be discern'd that the Christian patient by feeding otherwhere on meats not allowable, but of evill juice, hath disorder'd his diet, and spread an ill humour through his vains immediatly disposing to a sicknesse, the minister as being much neerer both in eye and duty, then the magistrate, speeds him betimes to overtake that diffus'd malignance with some gentle potion of admonishment; or if ought be obstructed, puts in his opening and discussive confections. This not succeeding after once or twice or oftner, in the presence of two or three his faithfull brethren appointed thereto he advises him to be more carefull of his dearest health, and what it is that he so rashly hath let down in to the divine vessel of his soul Gods temple. If this obtaine not, he then with the counsell of more assistants who are inform'd of what diligence hath been already us'd, with more speedy remedies layes neerer siege to the entrenched causes of his distemper, not sparing such fervent and well aim'd 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 lesse repeated. But if, neither the regard of himselfe, nor the reverence of his Elders and friends prevaile with him, to leave his vitious 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 stubbornnesse with racking convulsions nigh dispaire, other whiles 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 perform'd 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 dreadfull sponge of excommunion pronounce him wip't out of the list of Gods inheritance, and in the custody of Satan till he repent. Which horrid sentence though it touch neither life, nor limme, nor any worldly possession, yet has it such a penetrating force, that swifter then any chimicall sulphur, or that lightning which harms not the skin, and rifles the entrals, 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 medcin, where the malady is obdurat; 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 cleare 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 bankets of Christian consolation; with pretious ointments bathing and fomenting the old and now to be forgotten stripes which terror and shame had inflicted; and thus with heavenly solaces they cheere up his humble remorse, till he regain his first health and felicity. This is the approved way which the Gospell prescribes, these are the spirituall weapons of holy censure, and ministeriall warfare, not carnall, but mighty through God to the pulling downe of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth it selfe 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 reclaming that divine particle of Gods breathing, the soul, and what could be done lesse? he that would hide his faults from such a wholsome curing as this, and count it a two-fold 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 able by this time to discern whether Prelaticall jurisdiction be contrary to the Gospell or no. First therefore the government of the Gospell being economicall and paternall, that is, of such a family where there be no servants, but all sons in obedience, not in servility, as cannot be deny'd by him that lives but within the sound of Scripture, how can the Prelates justifie to have turn'd the fatherly orders of Christs houshold, the blessed meeknesse of his lowly roof, those ever open and inviting dores of his dwelling house which delight to be frequented with only filiall accesses, how can they justifie to have turn'd these domestick privileges into the barre of a proud judiciall court where fees and clamours keep shop and drive a trade, where bribery and corruption solicits, paltring the free and monilesse power of discipline with a carnall satisfaction by the purse. Contrition, humiliation, confession, the very sighs of a repentant spirit are there sold by the penny. That undeflour'd and unblemishable simplicity of the Gospell, not she her selfe, for that could never be, but a false-whited, a lawnie resemblance of her, like that aire-born Helena in the fables, made by the sorcery of Prelats, instead of calling her Disciples from the receit of custome, is now turn'd Publican her self; and gives up her body to a mercenary whordome under those fornicated arches which she cals Gods house, and in the sight of those her altars which she hath set up to be ador'd makes merchandize of the bodies and souls of men. Rejecting purgatory for no other reason, as it seems, then because her greedines cannot deferre but had rather use the utmost extortion of redeemed penances in this life. But because these matters could not be thus carri'd without a begg'd and borrow'd force from worldly autority, therefore prelaty slighting the deliberat and chosen counsell of Christ in his spirituall government, whose glory is in the weaknesse of fleshly things to tread upon the crest of the worlds pride and violence by the power of spirituall ordinances, hath on the contrary made these her freinds and champions which are Christs enemies in this his high designe, smothering and extinguishing the spirituall force of his bodily weaknesse in the discipline of his Church with the boistrous and carnall tyranny of an undue, unlawfull and ungospellike jurisdiction. And thus Prelaty both in her fleshly supportments, in her carnall doctrine of ceremonie and tradition, in her violent and secular power going quite counter to the prime end of Christs comming in the flesh, that is to revele his truth, his glory and his might in a clean contrary manner then Prelaty seeks to do, thwarting and defeating the great mistery of God, I do not conclude that Prelaty is Antichristian, for what need I? the things themselves conclude it. Yet if such like practises, and not many worse then these of our Prelats, in that great darknesse of the Roman Church, have not exempted both her and her present members from being judg'd to be Antichristian in all orthodoxall esteeme, 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 then Antichrist himselfe.
The mischiefe that Prelaty does in the State.
I adde one thing more to those great ones that are so fond of Prelaty, this is certain that the Gospell being the hidden might of Christ, as hath been heard, hath ever a victorious power joyn'd 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 Angell of the Gospell ride on his own way, he does his proper businesse 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 rode, and in a manner force him to expresse his irresistible power by a doctrine of carnall 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 againe shall hold such dominion over your captive minds, as returning with an insatiat greedinesse and force upon your worldly wealth and power wherewith to deck and magnifie her self, and her false worships, she shall spoil and havock your estates, disturbe your ease, diminish your honour, inthraul your liberty under the swelling mood of a proud Clergy, who will not serve or feed your soules with spirituall food, look not for it, they have not wherewithall, or if they had, it is not in their purpose. But when they have glutted their ingratefull bodies, at least if it be possible that those open sepulchers should ever be glutted, and when they have stufft their Idolish temples with the wastefull pillage of your estates, will they yet have any compassion upon you, and that poore pittance which they have left you, will they be but so good to you as that ravisher was to his sister, when he had us'd her at his pleasure, will they but only hate ye and so turne 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 man-haters yet with more despight and mischiefe do? Ile 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 Parlaments, all these things, and if there be ought else dearer then these, they will sell at an out-cry in their Pulpits to the arbitrary and illegall dispose of any one that may hereafter be call'd a King, whose mind shall serve him to listen to their bargain. And by their corrupt and servile doctrines boring our eares 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 doe, but what they hold as the maine reason and mystery of their advancement that they must do; be the Prince never so just and equall to his subjects; yet such are their malicious and depraved eyes, that they so look on him, & so understand him, as if he requir'd no other gratitude, or piece of service from them then this. And indeed they stand so opportunly 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 Princes favour, & 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 turn such a scourge from us to our enemies) should come to grasp the Scepter, here were his speare men and his lances, here were his firelocks ready, he should need no other pretorian band nor pensionry then these, if they could once with their perfidious preachments aw the people. For although the Prelats in time of popery were sometimes friendly anough to magnacharta, it was because they stood upon their own bottom, without their main dependance on the royal nod: but now being well acquainted that the protestant religion, if she will reform her self rightly by the Scriptures, must undresse them of all their guilded vanities, and reduce them as they were at first, to the lowly and equall order of Presbyters, they know it concerns them neerly to study the times more then the text, and to lift up their eyes to the hils 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 clime 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 Popes 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 born up, either of inducing tyranny, or of reducing popery. Hence also we may judge that Prelaty is meer falshood. For the property of Truth is, where she is publickly taught, to unyoke & 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, & in state the agent & minister of tyranny, seems to have had this fatal guift in her nativity like another Midas that whatsoever she should touch or come neer either in ecclesial or political government, it should turn, not to gold, though she for her part could wish it, but to the drosse and scum of slavery breeding and setling both in the bodies and the souls of all such as doe not in time with the sovran treacle of sound doctrine provide to fortifie 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 falshood. Which makes me wonder much that many of the Gentry, studious men, as I heare should engage themselves to write, and speak publickly in her defence, but that I beleeve their honest and ingenuous natures comming 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 burre in their throats, as hath stopt and hinderd all true and generous philosophy from entring, crackt their voices for ever with metaphysical gargarisms, and hath made them admire a sort of formal outside men prelatically addicted, whose unchast'nd and unwrought minds never yet initiated or subdu'd under the true lore of religion or moral vertuee, which two are the best and greatest points ot learning, but either slightly train'd up in a kind of hypocritical and hackny cours of literature to get their living by, and dazle the ignorant, or els fondly overstudied in uselesse controversies, except those which they use with all the specious and delusive suttlety they are able, to defend their prelatical Sparta, having a Gospel and Church-government set before their eyes, as a fair field wherin they might exercise the greatest vertu's, and the greatest deeds of Christian autority 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, then which nothing could lik'n a mortal man more to God, who delights most to worke from within himself, and not by the heavy luggage of corporeal instrument, they understand it not, & think no such matter, but admire & dote upon worldly riches, & honours, with an easie & intemperat life, to the bane of Christianity: yea they and their Seminaries shame not to professe, to petition and never lin pealing our eares that unlesse we fat them like boores, and cramme them as they list with wealth, with Deaneries, and pluralities, with Baronies and stately preferments, all learning and religion will goe underfoot. Which is such a shamelesse, such a bestial plea, and of that odious impudence in Church-men, 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 baptisme, 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 Cyrenaick rout, but would shut his school dores 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 Prelats 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 schismaticks for only finding fault with their temporal dignities, their unconscionable wealth and revenues, their cruell autority over their brethren that labour in the word, while they snore in their luxurious excesse. Openly proclaming themselvs now in the sight of all men to be those which for a while they sought to cover under sheeps cloathing, ravenous and savage wolves threatning inrodes and bloody incursions upon the flock of Christ, which they took upon them to feed, but now clame to devour as their prey. More like that huge dragon of Egypt breathing out wast, and desolation to the land, unlesse he were daily fatn'd with virgins blood. Him our old patron Saint George by his matchlesse valour slew, as the Prelat 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, farre be it that they should uphold and side with this English Dragon; but rather to doe as indeed their oath binds them, they should make it their Knightly adventure to pursue & vanquish this mighty sailewing'd monster that menaces to swallow up the Land, unlesse her bottomlesse gorge may be satisfi'd with the blood of the Kings 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 spok'n of Prelaty, if he consider well from what a masse of slime and mud, the sloathful, the covetous and ambitious hopes of Church-promotions and fat Bishopricks she is bred up and nuzzl'd in, like a great Python from her youth, to prove the general poyson 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 yong one, are the immediat 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 Gods word. And this may serve to describe to us in part, what Prelaty hath bin and what, if she stand, she is like to be toward the whole body of people in England. Now that it may appeare how she is not such a kind of evil, as hath any good, or use in it, which many evils have, but a distill'd quintessence, a pure elixar of mischief, pestilent alike to all, I shal shew briefly, ere I conclude, that the Prelats, as 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 then to that mighty Nazarite Samson; who being disciplin'd 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 god like shoulders. And while he keeps them about him undiminisht and unshorn, he may with the jaw-bone of an Asse, that is, with the word of his meanest officer suppresse and put to confusion thousands of those that rise against his just power. But laying down his head among the strumpet flatteries of Prelats, while he sleeps and thinks no harme, they wickedly shaving off an those bright and waighty tresses of his laws, and just prerogatives which were his ornament and strength, deliver him over to indirect and violent councels, which as those Philistims put out the fair, and farre-sighted eyes of his natural discerning, and make him grinde in the prison house of their sinister ends and practices upon him. Till he knowing this prelatical rasor to have bereft him of his wonted might, nourish again his puissant halr, the golden beames 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 himselfe. This is the sum of their loyal service to Kings; yet these are the men that stil cry the King, the King, the Lords Anointed. We grant it, and wonder how they came to light upon any thing so true; and wonder more, if Kings be the Lords Anointed, how they dare thus oyle over and besmeare so holy an unction with the corrupt and putrid oyntment of their base flatteries; which while they smooth the skin, strike inward and envenom the life blood. What fidelity Kings can expect from Prelats both examples past, and our present experience of their doings at this day, whereon is grounded all that hath bin said, may sufffice 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 Parlament, your selves, worthy Peeres and Commons, can best testifie; the current of whose glorious and immortal actions hath bin only oppos'd by the obscure and pernicious designes of the Prelats: until their insolence broke out to such a bold affront, as hath justly immur'd their haughty looks within strong wals. Nor have they done any thing of late with more diligence, then to hinder or break the happy assembling of Parlaments, however needfull to repaire the shatter'd and disjoynted frame of the Common-wealth, or if they cannot do this, to crosse, to disinable, and traduce all Parlamentary proceedings. And this, if nothing else, plainly accuses them to be no lawful members of the house, if they thus perpetually mutine against their own body. And though they pretend like Salomons harlot, that they have right thereto, by the same judgement that Salomon gave, it cannot belong to them, whenas it is not onely their assent, but their endeavour continually to divide Parlaments 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, wherof this book and many volumes more cannot contain the moytie, I shal move yee Lords in the behalf I dare say of many thousand good Christians, to let your justice and speedy sentence passe against this great malefactor Prelaty. And yet in the midst of rigor I would beseech ye to think of mercy; and such a mercy, I feare I shal 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 sav'd Sodom. Not that I dare advise ye to contend with God whether he or you shal be more merciful, but in your wise esteems to ballance the offences of those peccant Citties with these enormous riots of ungodly mis-rule that Prelaty hath wrought both in the Church of Christ, and in the state of this Kingdome. And if ye think ye may with a pious presumption strive to goe beyond God in mercy, I shall not be one now that would dissuade ye. Though God for lesse then ten just persons would not spare Sodom, yet if you can finde after due search but only one good thing in prelaty either to religion, or civil goverment, to King or Parlament, 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 darken'd and obscurd. 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 godlesse 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.