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wringing the collective allegory of those seven angels into seven single rochets. Howsoever, since it thus appears that custom was the creator of prelaty, being less ancient than the government of presbyters, it is an extreme folly to give them the hearing that tell us of bishops through so many ages : and if against their tedious muster of citations, sees, and successions, it be replied that wagers and church antiquities, such as are repugnant to the plain dictate of scripture, are both alike the arguments of fools, they have their answer. We rather are to cite all those ages to an arraignment before the word of God, wherefore, and what pretending, how presuming they durst alter that divine institution of presby. ters, which the apostles, who were no various and inconstant men, surely had set up in the churches; and why they choose to live by custom and catalogue, or, as St. Paul saith, by sight and visibility, rather than by faith? But, first, I conclude, from their own mouths, that God's command in scripture, which doubtless ought to be the first and greatest reason of church government, is wanting to prelaty. And certainly we have plenteous warrant in the doctrine of Christ, to determine that the want of this reason is of itself sufficient to confute all other pretences, that may be brought in favour of it.
CHAPTER VI. That Prelaty was not set up for Prevention of Schism, as is
pretended ; or if it were, that it performs not what it was first set up for, but quite the contrary.
YEt because it hath the outside of a specious reason, and specious things we know are aptest to work with human lightness and frailty, even against the solidest truth that sounds not plausibly, let us think it worth the examining, for the love of infirmer Christians, of what importance this their second reason may be. Tradition they say hath taught them, that, for the prevention of growing schism, the bishop was heaved above the presbyter. And must tradition then ever thus to the world's end be the perpetual cankerworm to eat
out God's commandments? Are his decrees so inconsiderate • and so fickle, that when the statutes of Solou or Lycurgus
shall prove durably good to many ages, his, in forty years, shall be found defective, ill-contrived, and for needful causes to be altered ? Our Saviour and his apostles did not only foresee, but foretell and forewarn us to look for schism. Is it a thing to be imagined of God's wisdom, or at least of apostolic prudence, to set up such a government in the tenderness of the church, as should incline, or not be more able than any others to oppose itself to schism? It was well known what a bold lurker schism was, even in the household of Christ, between his own disciples and those of John the Baptist, about fasting; and early in the Acts of the Apostles the noise of schism had almost drowned the proclaiming of the gospel; yet we read not in scripture that any thought was had of making prelates, no, not in those .places where dissension was most rife. If prelaty had been then esteemed a remedy against schism, where was it more needful than in that great variance among the Corinthians, which St. Paul so laboured to reconcile? and whose eye could have found the fittest remedy sooner than his? And what could have made the remedy more available, than to have it speedily? And, lastly, what could have been more necessary, than to have written it for our instruction? Yet we see he neither commended it to us, nor used it hiinself. For the same division remaining there, or else bursting forth again more than twenty years after St. Paul's death, we find in Clement's epistle, of venerable authority, written to the vet factious Corinthians, that they were still governed by presbyters. And the same of other churches out of Hermas, and divers other the scholars of the apostles, by the late industry of the learned Salmasius appears. Neither yet did this worthy Clement, St. Paul's disciple, though writing to them to lay aside schism, in the least word advise them to change the presbyterian government into prelaty. And therefore if God afterward gave or permitted this insurrection of episcopacy, it is to be feared he did it in his wrath, as he gave the Israelites a king. With so good a will doth he use to alter his own chosen government once established. For mark whether this rare device of man's brain, thus preferred before the ordinance of God, had better success than fleshly wisdom, not counselling with God, is wont to have. So far was it from removing schism, that if schism parted the con
gregations before, now it rent and mangled, now it raged. Heresy begat heresy with a certain monstrous haste of preg. nancy in her birth, at once born and bringing forth. Contentions, before brotherly, were now hostile. Men went to choose their bishop as they went to a pitched field, and the day of his election was like the sacking of a city, sometimes ended with the blood of thousands. Nor this among heretics only, but men of the same belief, yea, confessors; and that with such odious ambition, that Eusebius, in his eighth book, testifies he abhorred to write. And the reason is not obscure, for the poor dignity, or rather burden, of a parochial presbyter could not engage any great party, nor that to any deadly feud: but prelaty was a power of that extent and sway, that if her elec tion were popular, it was seldom not the cause of some faction or broil in the church. But if her dignity came by favour of some prince, she was from that time his creature, and obnoxious to comply with his ends in state, were they right or wrong. So that, instead of finding prelaty an impeacher of schism or faction, the more I search, the more I grow into all persuasion to think rather that faction and she, as with a spousal ring, are wedded together, never to be divorced. But here let every one behold the just and dreadful judgment of God meeting with the audacious pride of man, that durst offer to mend the ordinances of heaven. . God, out of the strife of men, brought forth by his 'apostles to the church that benefi. cent and ever-distributing office of deacons, the stewards and ministers of holy alms: man, out of the pretended care of peace and unity, being caught in the snare of his impious boldness to correct the will of Christ, brought forth to himself upon the church that irreconcilable schisin of perdition and apostacy, the Roman antichrist; for that the exaltation of the pope arose out of the reason of prelaty, it cannot be denied. And as I noted before, that the pattern of the high-priest pleaded for in the gospel, (for take away the head priest, the rest are but a carcase,) sets up with better reason a pope than an archbishop; for if prelaty must still rise and rise till it come to a primate, why should it stay there? whenas the catholic government is not to follow the division of kingdoms, the temple best representing the universal church, and the highpriest the universal head: so I observe here, that if to quiet schism there must be one head of prelaty in a land, or mo. narchy, rising from a provincial to a national primacy, there may, upon better grounds of repressing schism, be set up one
catholic head over the catholic church. For the peace and · good of the church is not terminated in the schismless estate of one or two kingdoms, but should be provided for by the joint consultation of all reformed Christendom: that all controversy may end in the final pronounce or canon of one archprimate or protestant pope: although by this means, for aught I see, all the diameters of schism may as well meet and be knit up in the centre of one grand falsehood. Now let all impartial men arbitrate what goodly inference these two main reasons of the prelates have, that by a natural league of consequence make more for the pope than for themselves; vea, to say more home, are the very womb for a new subantichrist to breed in, if it be not rather the old force and power of the same man of sin counterfeiting protestant. It was not the prevention of schism, but it was schism itself, and the hateful thirst of lording in the church, that first bestowed a being upon prelaty ; this was the true cause, but the pretence is still the same. The prelates, as they would have it thought, are the only mauls of schism. Forsooth if they be put down, a deluge of innumerable sects will follow; we shall be all Brownists, Familists, Anabaptists. For the word Puritan seems to be quashed, and all that heretofore were counted such, are now Brownists. And thus do they raise an evil report upon the expected reforming grace that God hath bid us hope for; like those faithless spies, whose carcases shall perish in the wilderness of their own confused ignorance, and never taste the good of reformation. Do they keep away schism? If to bring a numb and chill stupidity of soul, an unactive blindness of mind, upon the people by their leaden doctrine, or no doctrine at all; if to persecute all knowing and zealous Christians by the violence of their courts, be to keep away schism, they keep schism away indeed: and by this kind of discipline all Italy and Spain is as purely and politicly kept from schism as England hath been by them. With as good a plea might the dead-palsy boast to a man, It is I that free you from stitches and pains, and the troublesome feeling of cold and heat, of wounds and strokes: if I were gone, all these would molest you. The winter might as well vaunt itself against the spring, I destroy all noisome and rank weeds, I keep down
all pestilent vapours; yes, and all wholesome herbs, and all fresh dews, by your violent and hide-bound frost: but when the gentle west winds shall open the fruitful bosom of the earth, thus overgirded by your imprisonment, then the flowers put forth and spring, and then the sun shall scatter the mists, and the manuring hand of the tiller shall root up all that burdens the soil without thank to your bondage. But far worse than any frozen captivity is the bondage of prelates; for that other, if it keep down anything which is good within the earth, so doth it likewise that which is ill; but these let out freely the ill, and keep down the good, or else keep down the lesser ill, and let out the greatest. Be ashamed at last to tell the parliament, ye curb schismatics, whenas they know ye cherish and side with papists, and are now as it were one party with them, and it is said they help to petition for ye. Can we believe that your government strains in good earnest at the petty gnats of schism, whenas we see it makes nothing to swallow the camel heresy of Rome, but that indeed your throats are of the right pharisaical strain ? where are those schismatics, with whom the prelates hold such hot skirmish ? shew us your acts, those glorious annals which your courts of loathed memory lately deceased have left us? Those schismatics I doubt me will be found the most of them such as whose only schism was to have spoken the truth against your high abominations and cruelties in the church; this is the schism ye hate most, the removal of your criminous hierarchy. A politic government of yours, and of a pleasant conceit, set up to remove those as a pretended schism, that would remove you as a palpable heresy in government. If the schism would pardon ye that, she might go jagged in as many cuts and slashes as she pleased for you. As for the rending of the church, we have many reasons to think it is not that which ye labour to prevent, so much as the rending of your pontifical 'sleeves: that schism would be the sorest schism to you; that wonld be Brownism and Anabaptism indeed. If we go down, say you, (as if Adrian's wall were broken,) a flood of sects will rush in. What sects? What are their opinions? Give us the inventory. It will appear both by your former prosecutions and your present instances, that they are only such to speak of, as are offended with your lawless government, your ceremonies, your liturgy, an extract of the mass-book trans