The Reason of
Church Government Urg'd Against Prelaty
In the publishing of humane lawes, which for the most part aime not beyond the good of civill society, to set them barely forth to the people without reason or Preface, like a physicall prescript, or only with threatnings, as it were a lordly command, in the judgement 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 keepe men in obedience then feare, that to such lawes as were of principall moment, there should be us'd as an induction, some well temper'd discourse, shewing how good, how gainfull, how happy it must needs be to live according to honesty and justice, which being utter'd with those native colours and graces of speech, as true eloquence the daughter of vertue can best bestow upon her mothers praises, would so incite, and in a manner, charme the multitude into the love of that which is really good, as to imbrace it ever after, not of custome 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 & more ancient authority, then any heathen writer hath to give us, and indeed being a point of so high wisdome & worth, how could it be but we should find it in that book, within whose sacred context all wisdome is infolded? Moses therefore the only Lawgiver that we can believe to have beene visibly taught of God, knowing how vaine it was to write lawes to men whose hearts were not first season'd with the knowledge of God and of his workes, began from the book of Genesis, as a prologue to his lawes; which Josephus right well hath noted. That the nation of the Jewes, reading therein the universall goodnesse 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 be mov'd to obey sincerely by knowing so good a reason of their obedience. If then in the administration of civill justice, and under the obscurity of Ceremoniall rites, such care was had by the wisest of the heathen, and by Moses among the Jewes, to instruct them at least in a generall reason of that government to which their subjection was requir'd, how much more ought the members of the Church under the Gospell seeke to their understanding in the reason of that government which the Church claimes to have over them: especially for that the 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 spirituall knowledge, and to demand from us in Gods behalfe a service intirely reasonable. But because about the manner and order of this government, whether it ought to be Presbyteriall, or Prelaticall, such endlesse question, or rather uproare is arisen in this land, as may be justly term'd, what the feaver is to the Physitians, the eternall reproach of our Divines; whilest 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 soile, and become neighbours to the English Bishop of Chalcedon; and whilest good Breerwood as busily bestirres himselfe in our vulgar tongue to divide precisely the three Patriarchats, of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and whether to any of these England doth belong, I shall in the meane 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 Patriarchall, nor See Prelaticall, but to the faithfull feeding and disciplining of that ministeriall order, which the blessed Apostles constituted throughout the Churches: and this I shall assay to prove can be no other, then that of Presbyters and Deacons. And if any man incline to thinke I undertake a taske too difficult for my yeares, I trust through the supreme inlightning assistance farre otherwise; for my yeares, be they few or many, what imports it? So they bring reason, let that be lookt on: and for the task, from hence that the question in hand is so needfull to be known at this time chiefly by every meaner capacity, and containes in it the explication of many admirable and heavenly privileges reacht out to us by the Gospell, I conclude the task must be easie. God having to this end ordain'd his Gospell to be the revelation of his power and wisdome in Christ Jesus. And this is one depth of his wisdome, that he could so plainly reveale so great a measure of it to the grosse distorted apprehension of decay'd mankinde. Let others therefore dread and shun the Scriptures for their darknesse, I shall wish I may deserve to be reckon'd among those who admire and dwell upon them for their clearnesse. And this seemes to be the cause why in those places of holy writ, wherein is treated of Church-government, the reasons thereof are not formally, and profestly set downe, because to him that heeds attentively the drift and scope of Christian profession, they easily imply themselves, which thing further to explane, having now prefac'd enough, I shall no longer deferre.
That Church-governement is prescrib'd in the Gospell, 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, affirme to be, because we finde it so ordain'd and set out to us by the appointment of God in the Scriptures; but whether this be Presbyteriall, or Prelaticall, it cannot be brought to the scanning, untill 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 platform'd 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, then is discipline. What need I instance? He that hath read with judgement, of Nations and Commonwealths, of Cities and Camps, of peace and warre, sea and land, will readily agree that the flourishing and decaying of all civill societies, all the moments and turnings of humane occasions are mov'd to and fro as upon the axle of discipline. So that whatsoever power or sway in mortall things weaker men have attributed to fortune, I durst with more confidence (the honour of divine providence ever sav'd) ascribe either to the vigor, or the slacknesse of discipline. Nor is there any sociable perfection in this life civill or sacred that can be above discipline, but she is that which with her musicall 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 esteem'd, not by the not needing, but by the readiest submitting to the edicts of their commander. And certainly discipline is not only the removall of disorder, but if any visible shape can be given to divine things, the very visible shape and image of vertue, whereby she is not only seene in the regular gestures and motions of her heavenly paces as she walkes, but also makes the harmony of her voice audible to mortall eares. Yea the Angels themselves, in whom no disorder is fear'd, as the Apostle that saw them in his rapture describes, are distinguisht and quaterniond into their celestiall Princedomes, and Satrapies, according as God himselfe hath writ his imperiall decrees through the great provinces of heav'n. The state also of the blessed in Paradise, though never so perfect, is not therefore left without discipline, whose golden survaying reed marks out and measures every quarter and circuit of new Jerusalem. Yet is it not to be conceiv'd that those eternall effluences of sanctity and love in the glorified Saints should by this meanes be confin'd and cloy'd with repetition of that which is prescrib'd, but that our happinesse may orbe it selfe into a thousand vagancies of glory and delight, and with a kinde of eccentricall equation be as it were an invariable Planet of joy and felicity, how much lesse can we believe that God would leave his fraile and feeble, though not lesse beloved Church here below to the perpetuall stumble of conjecture and disturbance in this our darke voyage without the card and compasse of Discipline. Which is so hard to be of mans making, that we may see even in the guidance of a civill state to worldly happinesse, 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 worke of man, it must be of such a one as is a true knower of himselfe, and himselfe 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 worke in mans nature; and hereto must his hand be at defiance with gaine, and his heart in all vertues heroick. So far is it from the kenne of these wretched projectors of ours that bescraull their Pamflets every day with new formes of government for our Church. And therefore all the ancient lawgivers were either truly inspir'd as Moses, or were such men as with authority anough 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 Gods hand in it then mans. To come within the narrownesse of houshold government, observation will shew us many deepe counsellers of state and judges to demean themselves incorruptly in the setl'd course of affaires, and many worthy Preachers upright in their lives, powerfull in their audience; but look upon either of these men where they are left to their own disciplining at home, and you shall soone perceive for all their single knowledge and uprightnesse, how deficient they are in the regulating of their own family; not only in what may concerne the vertuous and decent composure of their minds in their severall places, but that which is of a lower and easier performance, the right possessing of the outward vessell, their body, in health or sicknesse, rest or labour, diet, or abstinence, whereby to render it more pliant to the soule, and usefull to the Common-wealth: which if men were but as good to discipline themselves, as some are to tutor their Horses and Hawks, it could not be so grosse in most housholds. If then it appear so hard and so little knowne, how to governe a house well, which is thought of so easie discharge, and for every mans undertaking, what skill of man, what wisdome, what parts, can be sufficient to give lawes & ordinances to the elect houshold of God? If we could imagine that he had left it at randome without his provident and gracious ordering, who is he so arrogant so presumptuous that durst dispose and guide the living arke of the holy Ghost, though he should finde it wandring in the field of Bethshemesh, without the conscious warrant of some high calling. But no profane insolence can paralell that which our Prelates dare avouch, to drive outragiously, and shatter the holy arke of the Church, not born upon their shoulders with pains and labour in the word, but drawne with rude oxen their officials, and their owne brute inventions. Let them make shewes of reforming while they will, so long as the Church is mounted upon the Prelaticall Cart, and not as it ought betweene 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 unlawfull waggonry wherein it rides, let him beware it be not fatall to him as it was to Uzza. Certainly if God be the father of his family the Church, wherein could he expresse that name more, then in training it up under his owne all-wise and dear Oeconomy, not turning it loose to the havock of strangers and wolves that would ask no better plea then this to doe in the Church of Christ, what ever humour faction, policy, or licentious will would prompt them to. Againe, if Christ be the Churches husband expecting her to be presented before him a pure unspotted virgin; in what could he shew his tender love to her more, then in prescribing his owne wayes which he best knew would be to the improvement of her health and beauty with much greater care doubtlesse then the Persian King could appoint for his Queene Esther those maiden dietings & set prescriptions of baths, & odors, which may render her at last the more amiable to his eye. For of any age or sex, most unfitly may a virgin be left to an uncertaine and arbitrary education. Yea though she be well instructed, yet is she still under a more strait tuition, especially if betroth'd. 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 publick preaching indeed is the gift of the Spirit working as best seemes to his secret will, but discipline is the practick work of preaching directed and apply'd 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 Physitians in London should get into the severall 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 inclin'd, and so without so much as feeling one puls, or giving the least order to any skilfull Apothecary, should dismisse 'em from time to time, some groaning, some languishing, some expiring, with this only charge to look well to themselves, and do as they heare. Of what excellence and necessity then Church-discipline is, how beyond the faculty of man to frame, and how dangerous to be left to mans invention who would be every foot turning it to sinister ends, how properly also it is the worke of God as father, and of Christ as Husband of the Church; we have by thus much heard.
That Church governement is set downe 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 is it untrue. Of the time of the Law there can be no doubt; for to let passe the first institution of Priests and Levites, which is too cleare to be insisted upon, when the Temple came to be built, which in plaine judgement could breed no essentiall change either in religion, or in the Priestly government; yet God to shew how little he could endure that men should be tampring and contriving in his worship, though in things of lesse regard, gave to David for Solomon not only a pattern and modell of the Temple, but a direction for the courses of the Priests and Levites, and for all the worke of their service. At the returne from the Captivity things were only restor'd 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 ought of moment without divine intimation. In the Prophesie of Ez-kiel from the 40 Chapt. onward, after the destruction of the Temple, God by his Prophet seeking to weane the hearts of the Jewes from their old law to expect a new and more perfect reformation under Christ, sets out before their eyes the stately fabrick & constitution of his Church, with al the ecclesiasticall functions appertaining; indeed the description is as sorted best to the apprehension of those times, typicall and shadowie, but in such manner as never yet came to passe, nor never must literally, unlesse we mean to annihilat the Gospel. But so exquisit and lively the description is in portraying the new state of the Church, and especially in those points where government seemes to be most active, that both Jewes and Gentiles might have good cause to be assur'd, that God when ever he meant to reforme his Church, never intended to leave the governement thereof delineated here in such curious architecture, to be patch't afterwards, and varnish't over with the devices and imbellishings of mans imagination. Did God take such delight in measuring out the pillars, arches, and doores of a materiall Temple, was he so punctuall and circumspect in lavers, altars, and sacrifices soone after to be abrogated, lest any of these should have beene made contrary to his minde? is not a farre more perfect worke more agreeable to his perfection in the most perfect state of the Church militant, the new alliance of God to man? should not he rather now by his owne prescribed discipline have cast his line and levell upon the soule of man which is his rationall temple, and by the divine square and compasse thereof forme and regenerate in us the lovely shapes of vertues and graces, the sooner to edifie and accomplish that immortall stature of Christs 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 vaile. We may passe over the history of the Acts and other places, turning only to those Epistles of S. Paul to Timothy and Titus: where the spirituall eye may discerne more goodly and gracefully erected then all the magnificence of Temple or Tabernacle, such a heavenly structure of evangelick discipline so diffusive of knowledge and charity to the prosperous increase and growth of the Church, that it cannot be wonder'd if that elegant and artfull symmetry of the promised new temple in Ezekiel, and all those sumptuous things under the Law were made to signifie the inward beauty and splendor of the Christian Church thus govern'd. And whether this be commanded let it now be judg'd. S. Paul after his preface to the first of Timothy which hee concludes in the 17 Verse with Amen, enters upon the subject of his 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 might'st 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 might'st warre a good warfare, bearing thy selfe constantly and faithfully in the Ministery, which in the I to the Corinthians is also call'd a warfare: and so after a kinde of Parenthesis concerning Hymenæus he returnes to his command though under the milde word of exhorting, Cap.2.v.I. I exhort therefore. As if he had interrupted his former command by the occasionall mention of Hymenaeus. More beneath in the 14 V. of the 3 C. when he hath deliver'd the duties of Bishops or Presbyters and Deacons not once naming any other order in the Church, he thus addes. 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 mai'st know how thou ought'st to behave thy selfe in the house of God. From this place it may be justly ask't, whether Timothy by this here written might know what was to be knowne concerning the orders of Church governours or no? If he might, then in such a cleere text as this may we know too without further jangle; if he might not, then did S. Paul write insufficiently, and moreover said not true, for he saith here he might know, and I perswade my selfe he did know ere this was written, but that the Apostle had more regard to the instruction of us, then to the informing of him. In the fifth Chap. after some other Church precepts concerning discipline, mark what a dreadfull command followes, Verse 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 anough, he closes up the Epistle with an adjuring charge thus. I give thee charge in the sight of God who quickneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, that thou keepe this commandement: that is the whole commandement concerning discipline, being the maine purpose of the Epistle: although Hooker would faine have this denouncement referr'd to the particular precept going before, because the word Commandement is in the singular number, not remembring that even in the first Chapt. of this Epistle, the word Commandement is us'd in a plurall sense, Vers. 5. Now the end of the Commandement is charity. And what more frequent then in like manner to say the Law of Moses. So that either to restraine the significance too much, or too much to inlarg it would make the adjuration either not so waighty, or not so pertinent. And thus we find here that the rules of Church-discipline are not only commanded, but hedg'd 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 to death. Yet all of this notwithstanding we shall finde them broken wellnigh all by the faire pretenders even of the next ages. No lesse to the contempt of him whom they fain to be the archfounder of prelaty S. Peter, who by what he writes in the 5 Chap. of his first Epistle should seeme to be farre another man then 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, wch is his mighty ordinance. Yet all this was as nothing to repell the ventrous boldnesse of innovation that ensu'd, changing the decrees of God that is immutable, as if they had been breath'd by man. Neverthelesse when Christ by those visions of S. John foreshewes the reformation of his Church, he bids him take his Reed and meet it out againe after the first patterne, for he prescribes him no other. Arise, said the Angell, 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 lesse. Doctrine indeed is the measure, or at least the reason of the measure, tis true, but unlesse the measure be apply'd to that which it is to measure, how can it actually doe its proper worke. 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 Gods appointment, as being the most adequat 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 measur'd, so farre is it from being in Gods tuition or delight, that in the following verse he rejects it, however in shew and visibility it may seeme a part of his Church, yet in as much as it lyes thus unmeasur'd he leaves it to be trampl'd by the Gentiles, that is to be polluted with idolatrous and Gentilish rites and ceremonies. And that the principall reformation here foretold is already come to passe 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 beene prov'd that God hath still reserv'd to himselfe the right of enacting Church-government.
That it is dangerous and unworthy the Gospell to hold that Church-government is to be pattern'd by the Law, as B. Andrews and the Primat of Armagh maintaine.
We may returne now from this interposing difficulty thus remov'd, to affirme, that since Church-government is so strictly commanded in Gods 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 it selfe to be supported by this first and greatest reason, must be the next dispute. Wherein this position is to be first layd down as granted; that I may not follow a chase rather then an argument, that one of these two, and none other is of Gods ordaining, and if it be, that ordinance must be evident in the Gospell. For the imperfect and obscure institution of the Law, which the Apostles themselves doubt not oft-times to vilifie, cannot give rules to the compleat and glorious ministration of the Gospell, which lookes on the Law, as on a childe, not as on a tutor. And that the Prelates have no sure foundation in the Gospell, their own guiltinesse doth manifest: they would not else run questing up as high as Adam to fetch their originall, as tis said one of them lately did in publick. To which assertion, had I heard it, because I see they are so insatiable of antiquity, I should have gladly assented, and confest them yet more ancient. For Lucifer before Adam was the first prelat 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 advis'd are content to receive their beginning from Aaron and his sons, among whom B. Andrews of late yeares, and in these times the Primat of Armagh for their learning are reputed the best able to say what may be said in this opinion. The Primat in his discourse about the originall of Episcopacy newly revis'd begins thus. The ground of Episcopacy is fetcht partly from the pattern prescrib'd by God in the Old Testament, and partly from the imitation thereof brought in by the Apostles. Herein I must entreat to be excus'd of the desire I have to be satisfi'd, how for example the ground of Episcop. is fetch't partly from the example of the old Testament, by whom next, and by whose authority. Secondly, how the Church-government under the Gospell can be rightly call'd an imitation of that in the old Testament? for that the Gospell is the end and fulfilling of the Law, our liberty also from the bondage of the Law I plainly reade. How then the ripe age of the Gospell should be put to schoole againe, and learn to governe her selfe from the infancy of the Law, the stronger to imitate the weaker, the freeman to follow the captive, the learned to be lesson'd 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 drawne howsoever to a likenesse of something Mosaicall, if it cannot be prov'd 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 availe the matter. The whole Judaick law is either politicall, and to take pattern by that, no Christian nation ever thought it selfe oblig'd in conscience; or morall, which containes in it the observation of whatsoever is substantially, and perpetually true and good, either in religion, or course of life. That which is thus morall, besides what we fetch from those unwritten lawes and Ideas which nature hath ingraven in us, the Gospell, as stands with her dignity most, lectures to us from her own authentick hand-writing and command, not copies out from the borrow'd manuscript of a subservient scrowl, by way of imitating. As well might she be said in her Sacrament of water to imitate the baptisme of Iohn. What though she retaine excommunication us'd 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 deliver'd from the law to the Gospell in the office of the Priests and Levites, was that there should be a ministery set a part 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 not that only rule well, but especially to those that labour in the word and doctrine. By which we are taught that laborious teaching is the most honourable Prelaty that one Minister can have above another in the Gospell: if therefore the superiority of Bishopship be grounded on the Priesthood as part of the morall 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 Ethicall law, and betraies it to be a meere childe of ceremony, or likelier some misbegotten thing, that having pluckt the gay feathers of her obsolet bravery to hide her own deformed barenesse, now vaunts and glories in her stolne plumes. In the meane while what danger there is against the very life of the Gospell 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 receav'd, to lay open. It cannot be unknowne by what expressions the holy Apostle S. Paul spares not to explane to us the nature and condition of the law, calling those ordinances which were the chiefe and essentiall offices of the Priests, the elements and rudiments of the world both weake and beggarly. Now to breed, and bring up the children of the promise, the heirs of liberty and grace under such a kinde of government as is profest to be but an imitation of that ministery which engender'd to bondage the sons of Agar, how can this be but a foul injury and derogation, if not a cancelling of that birth-right and immunity which Christ hath purchas'd for us with his blood. For the ministration of the law consisting of carnall things, drew to it such a ministery as consisted of carnall respects, dignity, precedence, and the like. And such a ministery establish't in the Gospell, as is founded upon the points and termes of superiority, and nests it selfe in worldly honours, will draw to it, and we see it doth, such a religion as runnes back againe to the old pompe and glory of the flesh. For doubtlesse there is a certaine attraction and magnetick force betwixt the religion and the ministeriall forme thereof. If the religion be pure, spirituall, simple, and lowly, as the Gospel most truly is, such must the face of the ministery be. And in like manner if the forme of the Ministery be grounded in the worldly degrees of autority, honour, temporall jurisdiction, we see it with our eyes it will turne the inward power and purity of the Gospel into the outward carnality of the law; evaporating and exhaling the internall worship into empty conformities, and gay shewes. And what remains then but that wee should runne into as dangerous and deadly apostacy as our lamented neighbours the Papists, who by this very snare and pitfall of imitating the ceremonial law, fel into that irrecoverable superstition, as must needs make void the cov'nant of salvation to them that persist in this blindnesse.
That it is impossible to make the Priesthood of Aaron a pattern whereon to ground Episcopacy.
That which was promis'd next, is to declare the impossibility of grounding Evangelick government in the imitation of the Jewish Priesthood: which will be done by considering both the quality of the persons, and the office it selfe. Aaron and his sonnes were the Princes of their Tribe before they were sanctified to the Priesthood: that personall eminence which they held above the other Levites, they receav'd 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 borne inheritors of the dignity. Therefore unlesse we shall choose our Prelats only out of the Nobility, and let them runne 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 wch was a representation of Christs own person more immediately in the high Priest, & of his whole priestly office in all the other; to the performanoe of wch the Levits were but as servitors & Deacons, it was necessary there should be a distinction of dignity betweene two functions of so great ods. But there being no such difference among our Ministers, unlesse 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 worke is the office of a Prelat excellent above that of a Pastor? in ordination you'l say; but flatly against Scripture, for there we know Timothy receav'd ordination by the hands of the Presbytery, notwithstanding all the vaine delusions that are us'd to evade that testimony, and maintaine 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 worke, then that whereby he did ordaine 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 Prelat, and not the seldome discharge of a higher and more noble office wch is preaching and administring much rather depresse him? Verily neither the nature, nor the example of ordination doth any way require an imparity betweene the ordainer and the ordained. For what more naturall then 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 then their own.
To the Arguments of B. Andrews and the Primat.
It followes here to attend to certaine 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 bee rude draughts indeed, in so much that it is marvell 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 12 and 23 pages he seemes most notoriously inconstant to himselfe; for in the former place he tels us he forbeares to take any argument of Prelaty from Aaron, as being the type of Christ. In the latter he can forbeare 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 comming take away the one type, it must also the other. Marvellous piece of divinity! and well worth that the land should pay six thousand pound a yeare for, in a Bishoprick, although I reade of no Sophister among the Greeks that was so dear, neither Hippias nor Protagoras, nor any whom the Socratick schoole famously refuted with out hire. Here we have the type of the King sow'd to the typet of the Bishop, suttly to cast a jealousie upon the Crowne, as if the right of Kings, like Meleager in the Metamorphosis, were no longer liv'd then the firebrand of Prelaty. But more likely the Prelatss fearing (for their own guilty carriage protests they doe feare) that their faire dayes cannot long hold, practize by possessing the King with this most false doctrine, to ingage his power for them, as in his owne quarrell, that when they fall they may fall in a generall ruine, just as cruell Tyberius would wish,
When I dye, let the earth be roul'd 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 abolish't as part thereof. When the Law was made, there was no King: if before the law, or under the law God by a speciall type in any King would foresignifie the future kingdome of Christ, which is not yet visibly come, what was that to the law? The whole ceremoniall law, and types can be in no law else, comprehends nothing but the propitiatory office of Christs Priesthood, which being in substance accomplisht, both law and Priesthood fades away of it selfe, and passes into aire like a transitory vision, and the right of Kings neither stands by any type nor falls. We acknowledge that the civill magistrate weares an autority of Gods giving, and ought to be obey'd as his vicegerent. But to make a King a type, we say is an abusive and unskilfull speech, and of a morall solidity makes it seeme a ceremoniall shadow. Therefore your typical chaine of King and Priest must unlink. But is not the type of Priest taken away by Christs comming? 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 gather'd hence but that the Prelat would still sacrifice? conceave him readers, he would missificate. Their altars indeed were in a fair forwardnesse; and by such arguments as these they were setting up the molten Calfe of their Masse againe, 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 then one there cannot be, and that one can be no lesse then a Pope. And this doubtlesse 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 S. Pauls acknowledging him. Tis true that in the 17 of Deut. whence this autority arises to the Priest in matters too hard for the secular judges, as must needs be many in the occasions of those times involv'd so with ceremoniall niceties, no wonder though it be commanded to enquire at the mouth of the Priests, who besides the Magistrates their collegues had the Oracle of Urim to consult with. And whether the high Priest Ananias had not incroach't beyond the limits of his Priestly autority, or whether us'd it rightly, was no time then for S. 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 seeke for counsell in a hard intricat scruple from a Dunce Prelat, when there might be found a speedier solution from a grave and learned Minister, whom God hath gifted with the judgement of Urim more amply oft-times then all the Prelates together; and now in the Gospell 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 annull'd both in their person, and in their representative office, what right of jurisdiction soever can be from this place Levitically bequeath'd, must descend upon the Ministers of the Gospell equally, as it findes them in all other points equall. Well then he is finally content to let Aaron go. Eleazar will serve his turne, as being a superior of superiors, and yet no type of Christ in Aarons life time. O thou that would'st winde into any figment, or phantasme to save thy Miter! Yet all this will not fadge, though it be cunningly interpolisht by some second hand with crooks & emendations; Heare then; the type of Christ in some one particular, as of entring 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 then sufficient. And all, or any of the Priests, consider'd separately without relation to the highest, are but as a livelesse trunk and signfie nothing. And this shewes the excellence of Christs sacrifice, who at once and in one person fulfill'd that which many hunderds of Priests many times repeating had anough to forshew. 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 carnall service, which might afford many priorities. And this I take to be the summe 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 inferre Popedome all as well. Many other courses he tries, enforcing himselfe with much ostentation of endlesse genealogies, as if he were the man that S. Paul forewarnes us of in Timothy, but so unvigorously, that I do not feare his winning of many to his cause, but such as doting upon great names are either over-weake, or over sudden of faith. I shall not refuse therefore to learne so much prudence as I finde in the Roman Souldier that attended the crosse, not to stand breaking of legs, when the breath is quite out of the body, but passe to that which follows. The Primat of Armagh at the beginning of his tractat seeks to availe himselfe of that place in the 66 of Esaiah, I will take of them for Priests and Levites, saith the Lord; to uphold hereby such a forme of superiority among the ministers of the Gospell succeeding those in the law, as the Lords day did the Sabbath. But certain if this method may be admitted of interpreting those propheticall passages concerning Christian times in a punctuall correspondence, it may with equall probability be urg'd upon us, that we are bound to observe some monthly solemnity answerable to the new moons, as well as the Lords day which we keepe in lieu of the Sabbath: for in the 23 v. the Prophet joynes them in the same manner together, as before he did the Priests and Levites, thus. And it shall come to passe that from one new moone 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 alledg'd from hence, that we are to solemnize some religious monthly meeting different from the Sabbath, as from the other any distinct formality of Ecclesiasticall orders may be inferr'd. This rather will appeare to be the lawfull and unconstrain'd sense of the text, that God in taking of them for Priests and Levites, will not esteeme them unworthy though Gentiles, to undergoe any function in the Church, but will make of them a full and perfect ministery, as was that of the Priests and Levites in their kinde. And Bishop Andrews himselfe to end the controversie, sends us a candid exposition of this quoted verse from the 24 page of his said book, plainly deciding that God by those legall 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 withall to him that brought these treatises into one volume, who setting the contradictions of two learned men so neere together, did not foresee. What other deducements or analogies are cited out of S. Paul to prove a likenesse betweene the Ministers of the Old and New Testament, having tri'd their sinewes I judge they may passe without harme doing to our cause. We may remember then that Prelaty neither hath nor can have foundation in the law, nor yet in the Gospell, which assertion as being for the plainnesse thereof a matter of eye sight, rather then of disquisition I voluntarily omitt, not forgetting to specifie this note againe, that the earnest desire which the Prelates have to build their Hierarchy upon the sandy bottome of the law, gives us to see abundantly the little assurance which they finde to reare up their high roofs by the autority of the Gospell, repulst as it were from the writings of the Apostles, and driven to take sanctuary among the Jewes. Hence that open confession of the Primat before mention'd. Episcopacy is fetcht partly from the patterne of the Old Testament, & partly from the New as an imitation of the Old, though nothing can be more rotten in Divinity then such a position as this, and is all one as to say Episcopacy is partly of divine institution, and partly of mans own carving. For who gave the autority to fetch more from the patterne of the law then what the Apostles had already fetcht, if they fetcht any thing at all, as hath beene prov'd they did not. So was Jereboams Episcopacy partly from the patterne of the law, and partly from the patterne of his owne carnality; a parti-colour'd and a parti-member'd Episcopacy, and what can this be lesse then a monstrous? Others therefore among the Prelats perhaps not so well able to brook, or rather to justifie this foule relapsing to the old law, have condiscended at last to a plaine confessing that both the names and offices of Bishops and Presbyters at first were the same, and in the Scriptures no where distinguisht. This grants the remonstrant in the fift 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 learned'st of the Fathers hides not his opinion, that custome only, which the Proverbe cals a tyrant, was the maker of Prelaty; before his audacious workmanship the Churches were rul'd in common by the Presbyters. and such a certaine truth this was esteem'd, that it became a decree among the Papall Canons compil'd by Gratian. Anselme also of Canturbury, who to uphold the points of his Prelatisme made himselfe a traytor to his country, yet commenting the Epistles to Titus and the Philippians acknowledges from the cleernesse of the text, what Ierome and the Church Rubrick hath before acknowledg'd. He little dreamt then that the weeding-hook of reformation would after two ages pluck up his glorious poppy from insulting over the good corne. Though since some of our Brittish Prelates seeing themselves prest 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 Mimick Bishop limm'd out to the life of a dead Priesthood. Or else they would straine us out a certaine figurative Prelat, by wringing the collective allegory of those seven Angels into seven single Rochets. Howsoever since it thus appeares that custome was the creator of Prelaty being lesse ancient then 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 reply'd that wagers and Church antiquities, such as are repugnant to the plaine dictat of Scripture are both alike the arguments of fooles, 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 custome and catalogue, or as S. Paul saith by sight and visibility, rather then by faith? But first I conclude from their owne mouthes that Gods command in Scripture, which doubtlesse 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 it selfe sufficient to confute all other presences that may be brought in favour of it.
That Prelaty was not set up for prevention of Schisme, as is pretended, or if it were, that it performes not what it was first set up for, but quite the contrary.
Yet because it hath the outside of a specious reason, & specious things we know are aptest to worke with humane lightnesse 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 schisme the Bishop was heav'd above the Presbyter. And must tradition then ever thus to the worlds end be the perpetuall canker-worme to eat out Gods Commandements? 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 40 yeares shall be found defective, ill contriv'd, and for needfull causes to be alter'd? Our Saviour and his Apostles did not only foresee, but foretell and forewarne us to looke for schisme. Is it a thing to be imagin'd of Gods wisdome, or at least of Apostolick prudence to set up such a government in the tendernesse of the Church, as should incline, or not be more able then any other to oppose it selfe to schisme? it was well knowne what a bold lurker schisme was even in the houshold of Christ betweene his owne Disciples and those of Iohn the Baptist about fasting: and early in the Acts of the Apostles the noise of schisme had almost drown'd the proclaiming of the Gospell; yet we reade not in Scripture that any thought was had of making Prelates, no not in those places where dissention was most rife. If Prelaty had beene then esteeem'd a remedy against schisme, where was it more needfull then in that great variance among the Corinthians which S. Paul so labour'd to reconcile? and whose eye could have found the fittest remedy sooner then his? and what could have made the remedy more available, then to have us'd it speedily? and lastly what could have beene more necessary then to have written it for our instruction? yet we see he neither commended it to us, nor us'd it himselfe. For the same division remaining there, or else bursting forth againe more then 20 yeares after S. Pauls death, wee finde in Clements Epistle of venerable autority written to the yet factious Corinthians, that they were still govern'd by Presbyters. And the same of other Churches out of Hermas, >and divers other the scholers of the Apostles by the late industry of the learned Salmatius appeares. Neither yet did this worthy Clement S. Pauls disciple, though writing to them to lay aside schisme, in the least word advise them to change the Presbyteriall government into Prelaty. And therefore if God afterward gave, or permitted this insurrection of Episcopacy, it is to be fear'd 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 establish'd. For marke whether this rare device of mans braine thus preferr'd before the ordinance of God, had better successe then fleshly wisdome not counseling with God is wont to have. So farre was it from removing schisme, that if schisme parted the congregations before, now it rent and mangl'd, now it rag'd. Heresie begat heresie with a certaine monstrous haste of pregnancy in her birth, at once borne and bringing forth. Contentions before brotherly were now hostile. Men went to choose their Bishop as they went to a pitcht field, and the day of his election was like the sacking of a City, sometimes ended with the blood of thousands. Nor this among hereticks only, but men of the same beliefe, yea confessors, and that with such odious ambition, that Eusebius in his eighth book testifies he abhorr'd to write. And the reason is not obscure, for the poore dignity or rather burden of a Parochial Presbyter could not ingage 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 seldome 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 in stead of finding Prelaty an impeacher of Schisme or faction, the more I search, the more I grow into all perswasion to think rather that faction and she as with a spousall ring are wedded together, never to be divorc't. But here let every one behold the just, and dreadfull judgement 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 almes, man out of the pretended care of peace & unity being caught in the snare of his impious boldnesse to correct the will of Christ, brought forth to himselfe upon the Church that irreconcileable schisme of perdition and Apostasy, the Roman Antichrist: for that the exaltation of the Pope arose out of the reason of Prelaty it cannot be deny'd. And as I noted before that the patterne of the High Priest pleaded for in the Gospel (for take away the head Priest the rest are but a carcasse) sets up with better reason a Pope, then an Archbishop, for if Prelaty must still rise and rise till it come to a Primat, why should it stay there? when as the catholick government is not to follow the division of kingdomes, the temple best representing the universall Church, and the High Priest the universall head; so I observe here, that if to quiet schisme there must be one head of Prelaty in a land or Monarchy rising from a Provinciall to a nationall Primacy, there may upon better grounds of repressing schisme be set up one catholick head over the catholick Church. For the peace and good of the Church is not terminated in the schismelesse estate of one or two kingdomes, but should be provided for by the joynt consultation of all reformed Christendome: that all controversie may end in the finall pronounce or canon of one Arch-primat, or Protestant Pope. Although by this meanes for ought I see, all the diameters of schisme may as well meet and be knit up in the center of one grand falshood. Now let all impartiall men arbitrate what goodly inference these two maine reasons of the Prelats have, that by a naturall league of consequence make more for the Pope then for themselves. Yea to say more home are the very wombe 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 schisme, but it was schisme it selfe, and the hatefull thirst of Lording in the Church that first bestow'd a being upon Prelaty; this was the true cause, but the pretence is stil the same. The Prelates, as they would have it thought, are the only mawls of schisme. Forsooth if they be put downe, a deluge of innumerable sects will follow; we shall be all Brownists, Familists, Anabaptists. For the word Puritan seemes to be quasht, and all that heretofore were counted such, are now Brownists. And thus doe they raise an evill report upon the expected reforming grace that God hath bid us hope for, like those faithlesse spies, whose carcasses shall perish in the wildernesse of their owne confused ignorance, and never taste the good of reformation. doe they keep away schisme? if to bring a num and chil stupidity of soul, an unactive blindnesse of minde upon the people by their leaden doctrine, or no doctrine at all, if to persecute all knowing and zealous Christians by the violence of their courts, be to keep away schisme, they keep away schisme indeed; and by this kind of discipline all Italy and Spaine is as purely and politickly kept from schisme as England hath beene by them. With as good a plea might the dead palsie boast to a man, tis I that free you from stitches and paines, and the troublesome feeling of cold & heat, of wounds and stroke; if I were gone, all these would molest you. The Winter might as well vaunt it selfe against the Spring, I destroy all noysome and rank weeds, I keepe downe all pestilent vapours. Yes and all wholesome herbs, and all fresh dews, by your violent & hidebound frost; but when the gentle west winds shall open the fruitfull bosome of the earth thus over-girded by your imprisonment, then the flowers put forth and spring, and then the Sunne shall scatter the mists, and the manuring hand of the Tiller shall root up all that burdens the soile without thank to your bondage. But farre worse then 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 keepe downe the lesser ill, and let out the greatest. Be asham'd at last to tell the Parlament ye curbe Schismaticks, when as they know ye cherish and side with Papists, and are now as it were one party with them, and tis said they helpe to petition for ye. Can we believe that your government strains in good earnest at the petty gnats of schisme, when as we see it makes nothing to swallow the Camel heresie of Rome; but that indeed your throats are of the right Pharisaical straine. Where are those schismaticks with whom the Prelats hold such hot skirmish? shew us your acts, those glorious annals which your Courts of loathed memory lately deceas'd have left us? those schismaticks I doubt me wil be found the most of them such as whose only schisme was to have spoke the truth against your high abominations and cruelties in the Church; this is the schisme ye hate most, the removall of your criminous Hierarchy. A politick government of yours, and of a pleasant conceit, set up to remove those as a pretended schisme, that would remove you as a palpable heresie in government. If the schisme would pardon ye that, she might go jagg'd in as many cuts and slashes as she pleas'd for you. As for the rending of the Church, we have many reasons to thinke it is not that which ye labour to prevent so much as the rending of your pontificall sleeves: that schisme would be the sorest schisme to you, that would be Brownisme and Anabaptisme indeed. If we go downe, say you, as if Adrians wall were broke, a flood of sects will rush in. What sects? What are their opinions? give us the Inventory; it will appeare both by your former prosecutions and your present instances, that they are only such to speake of as are offended with your lawlesse government, your ceremonies, your Liturgy, an extract of the Masse book translated. But that they should be contemners of publick prayer, and Churches us'd without superstition, I trust God will manifest it ere 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 answer'd ye, no rabble sir Priest, but a unanimous multitude of good Protestants will then joyne to the Church, which now because of you stand separated. This will be the dreadfull consequence of your removall. As for those terrible names of Sectaries and Schismaticks which ye have got together, we know your manner of fight, when the quiver of your arguments which is ever thin, and weakly stor'd, after the first brunt is quite empty, your course is to betake ye to your other quiver of slander, wherein lyes your best archery. And whom ye could not move by sophisticall arguing, them you thinke to confute by scandalous misnaming. Thereby inciting the blinder sort of people to mislike and deride sound doctrine and good christianity under two or three vile and hatefull terms. But if we could easily indure and dissolve your doubtiest reasons in argument, we shall more easily beare the worst of your unreasonablenesse in calumny and false report. Especially being fortold by Christ, that if he our Master were by your predecessors call'd Samaritan and Belzebub, we must not think it strange if his best Disciples in the reformation, as at first by those of your tribe they were call'd Lollards and Hussites, so now by you be term'd Puritans, and Brownists. But my hope is that the people of England will not suffer themselves to be juggl'd 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 disgracefull name into the things themselves: knowing that the Primitive Christians in their times were accounted such as are now call'd Familists and Adamites, or worse. And many on the Prelatickside 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 perswaded, this your old fallacy wee shall soone unmask, and quickly apprehend how you prevent schisme, and who are your schismaticks. But what if ye prevent, and hinder all good means of preventing schisme? that way which the Apostles us'd, was to call a councell; from which by any thing that can be learnt from the fifteenth of the Acts, no faithfull Christian was debarr'd, to whom knowledge and piety might give entrance. Of such a councell as this every parochiall Consistory is a right homogeneous and constituting part being in it selfe as it were a little Synod, and towards a generall assembly moving upon her own basis in an even and firme progression, as those smaller squares in battell unite in one great cube, the main phalanx, an embleme of truth and stedfastnesse. Whereas on the other side Prelaty ascending by a graduall monarchy from Bishop to Arch-bishop, from thence to Primat, and from thence, for there can be no reason yeilded neither in nature, nor in religion, wherefore, if it have lawfully mounted thus high, it should not be a Lordly ascendent in the horoscope of the Church, from Primate to Patriarch, and so to Pope. I say Prelaty thus ascending in a continuall pyramid upon pretence to perfect the Churches unity, if notwithstanding it be found most needfull, yea the utmost helpe to dearn up the rents of schisme by calling a councell, what does it but teach us that Prelaty is of no force to effect this work which she boasts to be her maister-peice; and that her pyramid aspires and sharpens to ambition, not to perfection, or unity. This we know, that as often as any great schisme disparts the Church, and Synonds be proclam'd, 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 forc't to dissolve, and unmake her own pyramidal figure, which she affirmes to be of such uniting power, when as indeed it is the most dividing and schismaticall forme that Geometricians know of, and must be faine to inglobe, or incube her selfe among the Presbyters; which she hating to do, sends her haughty Prelates from all parts with their forked Miters, the badge of schisme or the stampe of his cloven foot whom they serve I think, who according to their hierarchies acuminating still higher and higher in a cone of Prelaty, in stead of healing up the gashes of the Church, as it happens in such pointed bodies meeting, fall to gore one another with their sharpe spires for upper place, and precedence, till the councell it selfe prove the greatest schisme of all. And thus they are so farre from hindring dissension, that they have made unprofitable, and even noysome the chiefest remedy we have to keep Christendom at one, which is by councels: and these if wee rightly consider Apostolick example, are nothing else but generall Presbyteries. This seem'd so farre from the Apostles to think much of, as if hereby their dignity were impair'd, that, as we may gather by those Epistles of Peter and Iohn, which are likely to be latest written when the Church grew to a setling, like those heroick patricians of Rome (if we may use such comparison) hasting to lay downe their dictatorship, they rejoys't 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 soone as the building was finisht. But the lofty minds of an age or two after, such was their small discerning, thought it a poore indignity, that the high rear'd government of the Church should so on a sudden, as it seem'd to them, squat into a Presbytery. Next or rather before councels the timeliest prevention of schisme is to preach the Gospell 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 Prelats should you remove schisme, and how should you not remove and oppose all the meanes of removing schism? when Prelaty is a schisme it selfe 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 alledge is the very disease we groan under; and never can be to us a remedy but by removing it selfe. Your predecessors were believ'd to assume this preeminence above their brethren only that they might appease dissention. Now God and the Church cals upon you, for the same reason to lay it down, as being to thousands of good men offensive, burdensome, intolerable. Surrender that pledge which unlesse you fowlely usurpt it, the Church gave you, and now claimes it againe, for the reason she first lent it. Discharge the trust committed to you, prevent schisme, and that ye can never do, but by discharging your selves. That government which ye hold, we confesse 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 kingdome. 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 gulph of distraction in this land as will never close her dismall gap, untill ye be forc't (for of your selvs ye wil never do as that Roman Curtius nobly did) for the Churches peace & your countries, to leap into the midst, and be no more seen. By this we shal know whether yours be that ancient Prelaty which you say was first constituted for the reducement of quiet & unanimity into the Church, for then you wil 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 your selves above your brethren, and all your learned scraping in antiquity even to disturbe the bones of old Aaron and his sonnes in their graves, is but to maintain and set upon our necks a stately and severe dignity, which you call sacred, and is nothing in very deed but a grave and reverent gluttony, a sanctimonious avarice, in comparison of which, all the duties and dearnesses which ye owe to God or to his Church, to law, custome, or nature, ye have resolv'd to set at nought. I could put you in mind what counsell 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 pittifull, who is charitable, let him say thus, if for me this sedition, this enmity, these differences be, I willingly depart, I go my wayes, 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 receave him. This was Clements counsell to good and holy men that they should depart rather from their just office, then by their stay, to ravle out the seamlesse garment of concord in the Church. But I have better counsell to give the Prelats, and farre more acceptable to their eares, this advice in my opinion is fitter for them. Cling fast to your Pontificall Sees, bate not, quit your selves like Barons, stand to the utmost for your haughty Courts and votes in Parliament. Still tell us that you prevent schisme, though schisme and combustion be the very issue of your bodies, your first born; and set your country a bleeding in a Prelaticall mutiny, to fight for your pompe, and that ill favour'd weed of temporall honour that sits dishonourably upon your laick shoulders, that ye may be fat and fleshy, swoln with high thoughts and big with mischievous designes, when God comes to visit upon you all this forescore yeares vexation of his Church under your Egyptian tyranny. For certainly of all those blessed soules which you have persecuted, and those miserable ones which you have lost, the just vengeance does not sleepe.
That those many Sects and schismes by some suppos'd to be among us, and that rebellion in Ireland, ought not to be a hindrance, but a hastning of reformation.
As for those many Sects and divisions rumor'd abroad to be amongst us, it is not hard to perceave that they are partly the meere fictions and false alarmes of the Prelates, thereby to cast amazements and panick 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 inconveniencies. With the same objected feares and suspicions, we know that suttle Prelat Gardner sought to divert the first reformation. It may suffice us to be taught by S. Paul that there must be sects for the manifesting of those that are sound hearted. These are but winds and flaws to try the floting vessell of our faith whether it be stanch and sayl well, whether our ballast be just, our anchorage and cable strong. By this is seene who lives by faith and certain knowledge, and who by credulity and the prevailing opinion of the age; whose vertue is of an unchangeable graine, and whose of a slight wash. If God come to trie our constancy we ought not to shrink, or stand the lesse firmly for that, but passe on with more stedfast 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 triall of an unfained goodnesse and magnanimity? vertue that wavers is not vertue, but vice revolted from it selfe, and after a while returning. The actions of just and pious men do not darken in their middle course; but Solomon tels us they are as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfet day. But if we shall suffer the trifling doubts and jealousies of future sects to overcloud the faire beginnings of purpos'st reformation, let us rather fear that another proverb of the same Wiseman be not upraided to us, that the way of the wicked is as darknesse, they stumble at they know not what. If sects and schismes be turbulent in the unsetl'd estate of a Church, while it lies under the amending hand, it best beseems our Christian courage to think they are but as the throws and pangs that go before the birth of reformation, and that the work it selfe is now in doing. For if we look but in the nature of elementall and mixt things, we know they cannot suffer any change of one kind, or quality into another without the struggl of contrarieties. And in things artificiall, seldome any elegance is wrought without a superfluous wast and refuse in the transaction. No Marble statue can be politely carv'd, no fair edifice built without almost as much rubbish and sweeping. Insomuch that even in the spirituall conflict of S. Pauls conversion there fell scales from his eyes that were not perceav'd before. No wonder then in the reforming of a Church which is never brought to effect without the fierce encounter of truth and falshood together, if, as it were the splinters and shares of so violent a jousting, there fall from between the shock many fond errors and fanatick opinions, which when truth has the upper hand, and the reformation shall be perfeted, 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 deeme it spoken like what hee was, a fugitive Papist traducing the Iland whence he sprung. It may be more judiciously gather'd from hence, that the Englishman of many other nations is least atheisticall, and bears a naturall disposition of much reverence and awe towards the Deity; but in his weaknesse 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 ceaselesse care what he might do to informe himselfe aright of God and his worship, he may fall not unlikely sometimes as any otherland man into an uncouth opinion. And verily if we look at his native towardlinesse in the roughcast without breeding, some nation or other may haply be better compos'd to a naturall civility, and right judgement then he. But if he get the benefit once of a wise and well rectifi'd nurture, which must first come in generall from the godly vigilance of the Church, I suppose that where ever mention is made of countries manners, or men, the English people among the first that shall be prais'd, 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 encrease, we may now thank our selves and our delayes if instead of schism a bloody and inhumane rebellion be strook in between our slow movings. Indeed against violent and powerfull opposition there can be no just blame of a lingring 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 fleam of state businesse. 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 farre otherwise. The doore of grace turnes upon smooth hinges wide opening to send out, but soon shutting to recall the precious offers of mercy to a nation: which unlesse Watchfulnesse and Zeale two quick-sighted and ready-handed Virgins be there in our behalfe to receave, we loose: and still the ofter we loose, the straiter the doore opens, and the lesse is offer'd. This is all we get by demurring in Gods service. Tis not rebellion that ought to be the hindrance of reformation, but it is the want of this which is the cause of that. The Prelats which boast themselves the only bridlers of schisme God knows have been so cold and backward both there and with us to represse heresie and idolatry, that either through their carelessenesse or their craft all this mischiefe is befaln. What can the Irish subject do lesse in Gods just displeasure against us, then revenge upon English bodies the little care that our Prelats have had of their souls. Nor hath their negligence been new in that Iland but ever notorious in Queen Elizabeths dayes, as Camden their known friend forbears not to complain. Yet so little are they toucht with remorce of these their cruelties, for these cruelties are theirs, the bloody revenge of those souls which they have famisht, that whenas against our brethren the Scots, who by their upright and loyall deeds have now bought themselves an honourable name to posterity, whatsoever malice by slander could invent, rage in hostility attempt, they greedily attempted, toward these murdrous Irish the enemies of God and mankind, a cursed off-spring of their own connivence, no man takes notice but that they seeme to be very calmely and indifferently affected. Where then should we begin to extinguish a rebellion that hath his cause from the mis-government of the Church, where? but at the Churches reformation, and the removall of that government which persues and warres with all good Christians under the name of schismaticks, 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 witnesse of God himselfe, that the corrupted estate of the Church is both the cause of tumult, and civill warres, and that to stint them, the peace of the Church must first be setl'd. Now for a long season, saith Azariah to King Asa, Israel hath beene 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. And nation was destroy'd 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 weake, for your worke shall bee rewarded. And in those Prophets that liv'd in the times of reformation after the Captivity often doth God stirre 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 tels them that they themselves might perceave the sudden change of things into a prosperous and peacefull condition. But it will here be said that the reformation is a long work, and the miseries of Ireland are urgent of a speedy redresse. They be indeed; and how speedy we are, the poore afflicted remnant of our martyr'd countrymen that sit there on the Sea-shore, counting the houres of our delay with their sighs, and the minuts with their falling teares, perhaps with the destilling of their bloody wounds, if they have not quite by this time cast off, and almost curst the vain hope of our founder'd ships, and aids, can best judge how speedy we are to their reliefe. But let their succors be hasted, as all need and reason is, and let not therefore the reformation which is the chiefest cause of successe and victory be still procrastinated. They of the captivity in their greatest extremities could find both counsell and hands anough at once to build, and to expect the enemies assault. And we for our parts a populous and mighty nation must needs be faln into a strange plight either of effeminacy, or confusion, if Ireland that was once the conquest of one single Earle with his privat forces, and the small assistance of a petty Kernish Prince, should not take up all the wisdome and prowesse 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 boyes of the Campe will be able to rout and chase them without the staining of any Noble sword. To proceed by other method in this enterprize, be our Captains and Commanders never so expert, will be as great an error in the art of warre, as any novice in souldiership ever committed. And thus I leave it as a declared truth, that neither the feare 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.