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blessed meekness of his lowly roof, those ever-open and inviting doors of his dwellinghouse, which delight to be frequented with only filial accesses; how can they justify to have turned these domestic privileges into the bar of a proud judicial court, where fees and clamours keep shop and 'drive a trade, where bribery and corruption solicits, paltering the free and moneyless power of discipline with a carnal satisfaction by the purse? Contrition, humiliation, confession, the very sighs of a repentant spirit, are there sold by the penny. That undeflowered and unblemishable simplicity of the gospel, not she herself, for that could never be, but a false-whited, a lawny resemblance of her, like that airborn Helena in the fables, made by the sorcery of prelates, instead of calling her disciples from the receipt of custom, is now turned publican herself; and gives up her body to a mercenary whoredom under those fornicated arches, which she calls God's house, and in the sight of those her altars, which she hath set up to be adored, makes merchandise of the bodies and souls of men. Rejecting purgatory for no other reason, as it seems, than because her greediness cannot defer, but had rather use the utmost extortion of redeemed penances in this life. But because these matters could not be thus carried without a begged and borrowed force from worldly authority, therefore prelaty, slighting the deliberate and chosen council of Christ in his spiritual government, whose glory is in the weakness of fleshly things, to tread upon the crest of the world's pride and violence by the power of spiritual ordinances, hath on the contrary made these her friends and champions, which are Christ's enemies in this his high design, smothering and extinguishing the spiritual force of his bodily weakness in the discipline of his church with the boisterous and carnal tyranny of an undue, unlawful, and ungospel-like jurisdiction. And thus prelaty, both in her fleshly supportments, in her carnal doctrine of ceremony and tradition, in her violent and secular power, going quite counter to the prime end of Christ's coming in the flesh, that is, to reveal his truth, his glory, and his might, in a clean contrary manner than prelaty seeks to do, thwarting and defeating the great mystery of God; I do not conclude that prelaty is antichristian, for what need I? the things themselves conclude it. Yet if such like practices, and not many worse than
these of our prelates, in that great darkness of the Roman church, have not exempted both her and her present members from being judged to be antichristian in all orthodoxal esteem; I cannot think but that it is the absolute voice of truth and all her children to pronounce this prelaty, and these her dark deeds in the midst of this great light wherein we live, to be more antichristian than antichrist himself.
The Mischief that Prelaty does in the State.
I ADD one thing more to those great ones that are so fond of prelaty this is certain, that the gospel being the hidden might of Christ, as hath been heard, that ever a victorious power joined with it, like him in the Revelation that went forth on the white horse with his bow and his crown, conquering and to conquer. we let the angel of the gospel ride on his own way, he does his proper business, conquering the high thoughts, and the proud reasonings of the flesh, and brings them under to give obedience to Christ with the salvation of many souls. But if ye turn him out of his road, and in a manner force him to express his irresistible power by a doctrine of carnal might, as prelaty is, he will use that fleshly strength, which ye put into his hands, to subdue your spirits by a servile and blind superstition; and that again shall hold such dominion over your captive minds, as returning with an insatiate greediness and force upon your worldly wealth and power, wherewith to deck and magnify herself, and her false worships, he shall spoil and havoc your estates, disturb your ease, diminish your honour, enthral your liberty under the swelling mood of a proud clergy, who will not serve or feed your souls with spiritual food; look not for it, they have not wherewithal, or if they had, it is not in their purpose. But when they have glutted their ungrateful bodies, at least, if it be possible that those open sepulchres should ever be glutted, and when they have stuffed their idolish temples with the wasteful pillage of your estates, will they yet have any compassion upon you, and that poor pittance which they have left you; will they be but so good to you as that ravisher was to his sister, when he had used her at his pleasure; will they but only hate ye, and so turn ye
loose? No, they will not, lords and commons, they will not favour ye so much. What will they do then, in the name of God and saints, what will these manhaters yet with more despite and mischief do? I will tell ye, or at least remember ye: (for most of ye know it already :) that they may want nothing to make them true merchants of Babylon, as they have done to your souls, they will sell your bodies, your wives, your children, your liberties, your parliaments, all these things; and if there be ought else dearer than these, they will sell at an outcry in their pulpits to the arbitrary and illegal dispose of any one that may hereafter be called a king, whose mind shall serve him to listen to their bargain. And by their corrupt and servile doctrines boring our ears to an everlasting slavery, as they have done hitherto, so will they yet do their best to repeal and erase every line and clause of both our great charters. Nor is this only what they will do, but what they hold as the main reason and mystery of their advancement that they must do; be the prince never so just and equal to his subjects, yet such are their malicious and depraved eyes, that they so look on him, and so understand him, as if he required no other gratitude or piece of service from them than this. And indeed they stand so opportunely for the disturbing or the destroying of a state, being a knot of creatures, whose dignities, means, and preferments have no foundation in the gospel, as they themselves acknowledge, but only in the prince's favour, and to continue so long to them, as by pleasing him they shall deserve: whence it must needs be they should bend all their intentions and services to no other ends but to his, that if it should happen that a ty rant (God turn such a scourge from us to our enemies) should come to grasp the sceptre, here were his spearmen and his lances, here were his firelocks ready, he should need no other pretorian band nor pensionary than these, if they could once with their perfidious preachments awe the people. For although the prelates in time of popery were
It is in these wild outbreaks of puritanical eloquence that we are to look for the chief cause of Milton's unpopularity. Had he lived in our own day, he would still, perhaps, have been intemperate in controversy; though, after all, he was not one of those who desired to
"Decide all controversies by
sometimes friendly enough to Magna Charta, it was because they stood upon their own bottom, without their main dependance on the royal nod: but now being well acquainted that the protestant religion, if she will reform herself rightly by the scriptures, must undress them of all their gilded vanities, and reduce them as they were at first to the lowly and equal order of presbyters, they know it concerns them nearly to study the times more than the text, and to lift up their eyes to the hills of the court, from whence only comes their help; but if their pride grow weary of this crouching and observance, as ere long it would, and that yet their minds climb still to a higher ascent of worldly honour, this only refuge can remain to them, that they must of necessity contrive to bring themselves and us back again to the pope's supremacy; and this we see they had by fair degrees of late been doing. These be the two fair supporters between which the strength of prelaty is borne up, either of inducing tyranny, or of reducing popery. Hence also we may judge that prelaty is mere falsehood. For the property of truth is, where she is publicly taught to unyoke and set free the minds and spirits of a nation first from the thraldom of sin and superstition, after which all honest and legal freedom of civil life cannot be long absent; but prelaty, whom the tyrant custom begot, a natural tyrant in religion, and in state the agent and minister of tyranny, seems to have had this fatal gift in her nativity, like another Midas, that whatsoever she should touch or come near either in ecclesial or political government, it should turn, not to gold, though she for her part could wish it, but to the dross and scum of slavery, breeding and settling both in the bodies and the souls of all such as do not in time, with the sovereign treacle of sound doctrine, provide to fortify their hearts against her hierarchy. The service of God, who is truth, her liturgy confesses to be
And proved their doctrines orthodox,
He dealt hard blows at his adversaries; but his appeals were made to reason, not to physical force; and the weapons he used were arguments and syllogisms, not howitzers and demi-culverine.-ED.
perfect freedom; but her works and her opinions declare, that the service of prelaty is perfect slavery, and by consequence perfect falsehood. Which makes me wonder much that many of the gentry, studious men as I hear, should engage themselves to write and speak publicly in her defence; but that I believe their honest and ingenuous natures coming to the universities to store themselves with good and solid learning, and there unfortunately fed with nothing else but the scragged and thorny lectures of monkish and miserable sophistry, were sent home again with such a scholastic bur in their throats, as hath stopped and hindered all true and generous philosophy from entering, cracked their voices for ever with metaphysical gargarisms, and hath made them admire a sort of formal outside men prelatically addicted, whose unchastened and unwrought minds were never yet initiated or subdued under the true lore of religion or moral virtue, which two are the best and greatest points of learning; but either slightly trained up in a kind of hypocritical and hackney course of literature to get their living by, and dazzle the ignorant, or else fondly over-studied in useless controversies, except those which they use with all the specious and delusive subtlety they are able, to defend their prelatical Sparta; having a gospel and church government set before their eyes, as a fair field wherein they might exercise the greatest virtues and the greatest deeds of Christian authority, in mean fortunes and little furniture of this world; (which even the sage heathen writers, and those old Fabritii and Curii well knew to be a manner of working, than which nothing could liken a mortal man more to God, who delights most to work from within himself, and not by the heavy luggage of corporeal instruments;) they understand it not, and think no such matter, but admire and dote upon worldly riches and honours, with an easy and intemperate life, to the bane of Christianity: yea, they and their seminaries shame not to profess, to petition, and never leave pealing our ears, that unless we fat them like boars, and cram them as they list with wealth, with deaneries and pluralities, with baronies and stately preferments, all learning and religion will go underfoot. Which is such a shameless, such a bestial plea, and of that odious impudence in churchmen, who should be to us a pattern of temperance and