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took to bring the apostles, and Luke the evangelist, yea, Christ himself, from certain records that were then current, to patronize their idolatry: yet for all this the worthy emperor Theophilus, even in those dark times, chose rather to nourish himself and his people with the sincere milk of the gospel, than to drink from the mixed confluence of so many corrupt and poisonous waters, as tradition would have persuaded him to, by most ancient seeming authorities. In like manner all the reformed churches abroad, unthroning episcopacy, doubtless were not ignorant of these testimonies alleged to draw it in a line from the apostles' days: for surely the author will not think he hath brought us now any new authorities or considerations into the world, which the reformers in other places were not advised of: and yet we see, the intercession of all these apostolic fathers could not prevail with them to alter their resolved decree of reducing into order their usurping and over-provendered episcopants; and God hath blessed their work this hundred years with a prosperous and steadfast, and still happy success. And this may serve to prove the insufficiency of these present episcopal testimonies, not only in themselves but in the account of those ever that have been the followers of truth. It will next behove us to consider the inconvenience we fall into, by using ourselves to be guided by these kind of testimonies. He that thinks it the part of a well-learned man to have read diligently the ancient stories of the church, and to be no stranger in the volumes of the fathers, shall have all judicious men consenting with him; not hereby to control and new fangle the scripture, God forbid! but to mark how corruption and apostasy crept in by degrees, and to gather up wherever we find the remaining sparks of original truth, wherewith to stop the mouths of our adversaries, and to bridle them with their own curb, who willingly pass by that which is orthodoxal in them, and studiously cull out that which is commentitious, and best for their turns, not weighing the fathers in the balance of scripture, but scripture in the balance of the fathers. If we, therefore, making first the gospel our rule and oracle, shall take the good which we light on in the fathers, and set it to oppose the evil which other men seek from them, in this way of skirmish we shall easily master all superstition and false doctrine; but if we turn this our discreet and wary usage of them into a blind devotion towards them,
and whatsoever we find written by them; we both forsake our own grounds and reasons which led us at first to part from Rome, that is, to hold to the scriptures against all antiquity; we remove our cause into our adversaries' own court, and take up there those cast principles, which will soon cause us to solder up with them again; inasmuch as believing antiquity for itself in any one point, we bring an engagement upon ourselves of assenting to all that it charges upon us. For suppose we should now, neglecting that which is clear in Scripture, that a bishop and presbyter is all one both in name and office, and that what was done by Timothy and Titus, executing an extraordinary place, as fellow-labourers with the apostles, and of a universal charge in planting Christianity through divers regions, cannot be drawn into particular and daily example; suppose that neglecting this clearness of the text, we should, by the uncertain and corrupted writings of succeeding times determine that bishop and presbyter are different, because we dare not deny what Ignatius, or rather the Perkin Warbeck of Ignatius, says; then must we be constrained to take upon ourselves a thousand superstitions and falsities, which the papists will prove us down in, from as good authorities, and as ancient as these that set a bishop above a presbyter. And the plain truth is, that when any of our men, of those that are wedded to antiquity, come to dispute with a papist, and leaving the scriptures put themselves without appeal to the sentence of synods and councils, using in the cause of Sion the hired soldiery of revolted Israel; where they give the Romanists one buff, they receive two counterbuffs. Were it therefore but in this regard, every true bishop should be afraid to conquer in his cause by such authorities as these, which if we admit for the authority's sake, we open a broad passage for a multitude of doctrine, that have no ground in scripture, to break in upon us.
Lastly, I do not know, it being undeniable that there are but two ecclesiastical orders, bishops and deacons, mentioned in the gospel, how it can be less than impiety to make a demur at that, which is there so perspicuous, confronting and paralleling the sacred verity of St. Paul with the offals and sweepings of antiquity, that met as accidentally and absurdly, as Epicurus's atoms, to patch up a Leucippean Ignatius, inclining rather to make this phantasm an expounder, or indeed
a depraver of St. Paul, than St. Paul an examiner, and discoverer of this impostorship; nor caring how slightly they put off the verdict of holy text unsalved, that says plainly there be but two orders, so they maintain the reputation of their imaginary doctor that proclaims three. Certainly if Christ's apostle have set down but two, then according to his own words, though he himself should unsay it, and not only the angel of Smyrna, but an angel from heaven, should bear us down that there be three, St. Paul has doomed him twice: "Let him be accursed;" for Christ has pronounced that no tittle of his word shall fall to the ground: and if one jot be alterable, it is as possible that all should perish; and this shall be our righteousness, our ample warrant, and strong assurance, both now and at the last day, never to be ashamed of, against all the heaped names of angels and martyrs, councils and fathers, urged upon us, if we have given ourselves up to be taught by the pure and living precept of God's word only; which, without more additions, nay, with a forbidding of them hath, within itself the promise of eternal life, the end of all our wearisome labours, and all our sustaining hopes. But if any shall strive to set up his ephod and teraphim of antiquity against the brightness and perfection of the gospel; let him fear lest he and his Baal be turned into Bosheth. And thus much may suffice to shew, that the pretended episcopacy cannot be deduced from the apostolical times.
REASON OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT
URGED AGAINST PRELATY.
IN TWO BOOKS.
[FIRST PUBLISHED 1641.]
EDITOR'S PRELIMINARY REMARKS.
RETURNING to England from his travels on the continent, Mil on found the whole nation agitated by what has been called Charles the First's episcopal war against the Scots, the direct tendency of which was to render the government and the church of England unpopular. In the parliament, likewise, a feeling unfavourable to episcopacy was springing up; for, as Milton phrases it, "they had begun to humble the pride of the bishops." He saw the public approaching his own views of government, both in church and state; and to advance the "good cause" took up the defence of presbytery, as more consistent, in his opinion, with those popular political institutions which it was his earnest desire to see established. Of his conduct and motives he has himself supplied the history in the Second Defence of the People of England; and since no one can hope to better them, we shall give in his own words the origin of his controversial writings, of which this essay forms a part. "When the liberty of speech was no longer subject to control, all mouths began to be opened against the bishops, some complaining of the vices of the individuals, others of those of the order. They said it was unjust that they alone should differ from the model of other reformed churches; that the government of the church should be according to the pattern of other churches, and particularly the word of God. This awakened all my attention and my zeal. I saw that a way was opening for the establishment of real liberty; that the foundation was laying for the deliverance of man from the yoke of slavery and superstition; that the principles of religion, which were the first objects of our care, would exert a salutary influence on the manners and constitution of the republic; and as I had from my youth studied the distinction between religious and civil rights, I perceived that if I ever wished to be of use, I ought at least not to be wanting to my country, to the church, and to many of my fellow-Christians, in a crisis of so much danger; I therefore determined to relinquish the other pursuits in which I was engaged, and to transfer the whole force of my talents and my industry to this one important object. I accordingly wrote two books to a friend concerning the reformation of the church of England. Afterwards, when two bishops of superior distinction vindicated their privileges against some principal ministers, I thought that on these topics, to the consideration of which I was led solely by my love of truth, and my reverence for Christianity, I should not probably write worse than those who were contending only for their own emolument and usurpations. I therefore answered the one in two books, of which the first is inscribed Concerning Prelatical Episcopacy, and the other, Concerning the Mode or
Ecclesiastical Government; and I replied to the other in some Animadversions, and soon afterwards in an Apology. On this occasion it was supposed that I brought a timely succour to the ministers, who were hardly a match for the eloquence of their opponents; and from that time I was actively employed in refuting any answers that appeared.”
Dr. Symmons classes this work with the one immediately preceding, on Prelatical Episcopacy, and disposes of the arguments of both together; and Toland, who took less interest in ecclesiastical affairs, observes-" The eloquence is masculine, the method natural, the sentiments are free, and the whole (God knows) appears to have a very different form from what the nonconformist divines wrote in those days, or since that time on the same subject. In the opening of the Second Book, Milton enters into some details on his own studies, which all true lovers of literature will read with delight. He expresses his intention of writing an epic poem; but not having as yet thoroughly considered the idea, is uncertain what theme he shall select."
THE REASON OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT,
THE FIRST BOOK.
In the publishing of human laws, which for the most part aim not beyond the good of civil society, to set them barely forth to the people without reason or preface, like a physical prescript, or only with threatenings, as it were a lordly command, in the judgment of Pluto was thought to be done neither generously nor wisely. His advice was, seeing that persuasion certainly is a more winning and more manlike way to keep men in obedience than fear, that to such laws as were of principal moment, there should be used as an induction some well-tempered discourse, shewing how good, how gainful, how happy it must needs be to live according to honesty and justice; which being uttered with those native colours and graces of speech, as true eloquence, the daughter of virtue, can best bestow upon her mother's praises, would so incite, and in a manner charm, the multitude into the love of that which is really good, as to embrace it ever after, not of custom and awe, which most men do, but of choice and purpose, with true and constant delight, But this practice we may learn from a better and more ancient authority than any heathen writer hath to give us; and indeed being a point of so high wisdom and worth, how could it be but we should find it in that book, within whose sacred context all wisdom is unfolded? Moses, therefore, the only