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is the using of set forms attributed here to "constancy,” as if it were constancy in the cuckoo to be always in the same liturgy.
Much less can it be lawful that an Englished mass-book, composed, for aught we know, by men neither learned nor godly, should justle out, or at any time deprive us of the exercise of that heavenly gift, which God by special promise pours out daily upon his church, that is to say, the spirit of prayer. Whereof to help those many infirmities, which he reckons up, “rudeness, impertinency, fatness," and the like, we have a remedy of God's finding out, which not liturgy, but his own free Spirit. Though we know not what to pray as we ought, yet he with sighs unutterable by any words, much less by a stinted liturgy, dwelling in us makes intercession for us, according to the mind and will of God, both in private and in the performance of all ecclesiastical duties. For it is his promise also, that where two or three gathered together in his name shall agree to ask him anything, it shall be granted ; for he is there in the midst of them. If then ancient churches, to remedy the infirmities of prayer, or rather the infections of Arian and Pelagian heresies, neglecting that ordained and promised help of the Spirit, betook them almost four hundred years after Christ to liturgy, (their own invention,) we are not to imitate them ; nor to distrust God in the removal of that truant help to our devotion, which by him never was appointed. And what is said of liturgy is said also of directory, if it be imposed: although to forbid the service-book there be much more reason, as being of itself superstitious, offensive, and indeed, though Englished, yet still the mass-book; and public places ought to be provided of such as need not the help of liturgies or directories continually, but are supported with ministerial gifts answerable to their calling.
Lastly, that the common-prayer book was rejected because it“ prayed so oft for him," he had no reason to object : for what large and laborious prayers were made for him in the pulpits, if he never heard, it is doubtful they were ever heard in heaven. We might now have expected, that his own following prayer should add much credit to set forms; but on the contrary we find the same imperfections in it, as in most before, which he lays here upon extemporal. Nor doth he
ask of God to be directed whether liturgies be lawful, but presumes, and in a manner would persuade him, that they be so; praying, “ that the church and he may never want
What could be prayed worse extempore ? unless he mean by wanting, that they may never need them.
CHAPTER XVII. Of the Differences in point of Church-Government. The government of church by bishops hath been so fully proved from the scriptures to be vicious and usurped, that whether out of piety or policy maintained, it is not much material; for piety grounded upon error can no more justify king Charles, than it did queen Mary, in the sight of God
This, however, must not be let pass without a serious observation ; God having so disposed the author in this chapter as to confess and discover more of mystery and combination between tyranny and false religion, than from any other hand would have been credible. Here we may see the very dark roots of them both turned up, and how they twine and interweave one another in the earth, though above ground shooting up in two several branches.
We may have learnt, both from sacred history and times of reformation, that the kings of this world have both ever hated and instinctively feared the church of God. Whether it be for that their doctrine seems much to favour two things to them so dreadful, liberty and equality; or because they are the children of that kingdom, which, as ancient prophecies have foretold, shall in the end break to pieces and dissolve all their great power and dominion. And those kings and potentates who have strove most to rid themselves of this fear, by cutting off or suppressing the true church, have drawn upon themselves the occasion of their own ruin, while they thought with most policy to prevent it. Thus Pharaoh, when once he began to fear and wax jealous of the Israelities, lest they should multiply and fight against him, and that his fear stirred him up to afflict and keep them under, as the only remedy of what he feared, soon found that the evil which before slept, came suddenly upon him, by the preposterous way he took to prevent it.
Passing by examples between, and not shutting wilfully our eyes, we may see the like story brought to pass in our own land. This king, more than any before him, except perhaps his father, from his first entrance to the crown, harbouring in his mind a strange fear and suspicion of men most religious, and their doctrine, which in his own language he here acknowledges, terming it “the seditious exorbitancy" of ministers' tongues, and doubting “ lest they,” as he not Christianly express it,
“ should with the keys of heaven let out peace and loyalty from the people's hearts." Though they never preached or attempted aught that might justly raise in him such thoughts, he could not rest, or think himself secure, so long as they remained in any of his three kingdoms unrooted out.
But outwardly professing the same religion with them, he could not presently use violence as Pharaoh did ; and that course had with others before but ill succeeded. He chooses therefore a more mystical way, a newer method of antichristain fraud, to the church more dangerous; and, like to Balak the son of Zippor, against a nation of prophets thinks it best to hire other esteemed prophets, and to undermine and wear out the true church by a false ecclesiastical policy. To this drift he found the government of bishops most serviceable; an order in the church, as by men first corrupted, so mutually corrupting them who receive it, both in judgment and manners. He, by conferring bishoprics and great livings on whom he thought most pliant to his will, against the known canons and universal practice of the ancient church, whereby those elections were the people's right, sought, as he confesses to have greatest influence upon churchmen.”. They
66 on the other side finding themselves in a high dignity, neither founded by scripture, nor allowed by reformation, nor supported by any spiritual gift or grace of their own, knew it their best course to have dependence only upon him; and wrought his fancy by degrees to that degenerate and unkingly persuasion of " No bishop, no king.” Whenas on the contrary all prelates in their own subile sense are of another mind; according to that of Pius IV., remembered in the history of Trent, that bishops then grow to be most vigorous and potent, when princes happen to be niost weak and impotent. Thus when both interest of tyranny and episcopacy were incorporate into each other, the king, whose principal safety and establishment consisted in the righteous execution of his civil power, and not in bishops and their wicked counsels, fatally driven on, set himself to the extirpating of those men whose doctrine and desire of church-discipline he so feared would be the undoing of his monarchy. And because no temporal law could touch the innocence of their lives, he begins with the persecution of their consciences, laying scandals before them ; and makes that the argument to inflict his unjust penalties both on their bodies and estates. In this war against the church, if he had sped so, as other haughty monarchs whom God heretofore hath hardened to the like enterprise, we ought to look up with praises and thanksgiving to the Author of our deliverance, to whom victory and power, majesty, honour, and dominion belong for ever.
In the meanwhile, from his own words we may perceive easily that the special motives which he had to endear and deprave his judgment to the favouring and utmost defending of episcopacy, are such as here we represent them; and how unwillingly, and with what mental reservation, he condescended against his interest to remove it out of the peer's house, hath been shewn already. The reasons, which, he affirms, wrought so much upon his judgment, shall be so far answered as they be urged. Scripture he reports, but distinctly produces none; and
constant practice of all Christian churches, till of late years tumult, faction, pride, and covetousness invented new models under the title of Christ's government.” Could any papist have spoken more scandalously against all reformation? Well may the parliament and best affected people not now be troubled at his calumnies and reproaches, since he binds them in the same bundle with all other the reformed churches; who also may now further see, besides their own bitter experience, what a cordial and well-meaning helper they had of him abroad, and how true to the protestant cause.
Ås for histories to prove bishops, the Bible,—if we mean not to run into errors, vanities, and uncertainties,-must be our only history. Which informs us that the apostles were not properly bishops; next, that bishops were not successors of apostles, in the function of apostleship. And that if they were apostles, they could not be precisely bishops;
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if bishops, they could not be apostles ; this being universal, extraordinary, and immediate from God; that being an ordinary, fixed, particular charge, the continual inspection over a certain flock. And although an ignorance and deviation of the ancient churches afterward may with as much reason and charity be supposed as sudden in point of prelacy, as in other nianifest corruptions, yet that “ no example since the first
for fifteen hundred years can be produced of any settled church, wherein were many ministers and congregations, which had not some bishops above them ;” the ecclesiastical story, to which he appeals for want of scripture, proves clearly to be a false and over-confident assertion.
Sozomenus, who above twelve hundred years ago, in his seventh book, relates from his own knowledge, that in the churches of Cyprus and Arabia (places near to Jerusalem, and with the first frequented by apostles) they had bishops in every village; and what could those be more than presbyters? The like he tells of other nations; and that episcopal churches in those days did not condemn them. I add, that many Western churches, eminent for their faith and good works, and settled above four hundred years ago in France, in Piedmont and Bohemia, have both taught and practised the same doctrine, and not admitted of episcopacy among them. And if we may believe what the papists themselves have written of these churches, which they call Waldenses, I find it in a book written almost four hundred years since, and set forth in the Bohemian history, that those churches in Piedmont have held the same doctrine and government since the time that Constantine with his mischievous donations poisoned Sylvester and the whole church.
Others affirm they have so continued there since the apostles; and Theodorus Belvederensis in his relation of them confesseth, that those heresies, as he names them, were from the first times of Christianity in that place. For the rest I refer me to that famous testimony of Jerome, who upon that very place which he cites here, the Epistle to Titus, declares openly that bishop and presbyter were one and the same thing, till by the instigation of Satan, partialities grew up in the church, and that bishops, rather by custom than any ordainment of Christ, were exalted above presbyters; whose interpretation we trust shall be received before this intricate