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land, who, whenas Christ hath taught her to pray,
thinks it not enough unless she add thereto the teaching of Antichrist? How can we believe ye would refuse to take the stipend of Rome, when ye shame not to live upon the almsbasket of her pravers? Will ye persuade us that ye can curse Rome from your hearts, when none but Rome must teach ye to pray ? Abraham disdained to take so much as a thread or a shoe-lachet from the king of Sodom, though no foe of his, but a wicked king; and shall we receive our prayers at the bounty of our more wicked enemies, whose gifts are no gifts, but the instruments of our hane ? Alas! that the Spirit of God should blow as an uncertain wind, should so mistake his inspiring, so misbestow his gifts, promised only to the elect, that the idolatrous should find words acar ceptable to present God with, and abound to their neighbours, while the true professors of the gospel can find nothing of their own worth the constituting, wherewith to worship God in public! Consider if this be to magnify the church of Eng. land, and not rather to display her nakedness to all the world.
Like, therefore, as the retaining of this Romish liturgy is a provocation to God, and a dishonour to our church, so is it by those ceremonies, those purifyings and offerings at the altar, a pollution and disturbance to the gospel itself; and a kind of driving us with the foolish Galatians to another gospel For that which the apostles taught hath freed us in religion from the ordinances of men, and commands that“ burdens beri not laid” upon the redeemed of Christ; though the formalist“.
" What! no decency in God's worship?” Cer" tainly, readers, the worsliip of God singly in itself, the very act of prayer and thanksgiving, with those free and unimposed expressions which from a sincere heart unbidden come into the outward gesture, is the greatest decency that can be imagined. Which to dress up and garnish with a devised bravery abolished in the law, and disclaimed by the gospel, ailds nothing but a deformed ugliness ; and hath afforded a colourable pretence to bring in all those traditions and car- : nalities that are so killing to the power and virtue of the gospel. What was that which made the Jews, figured under the names of Aholah and Aholibah, go a whoring after all the heathen's inventions, but that they saw a religion gorgeously attired and desirable to the eye? What was all that the false
doctors of the primitive church and ever since have done, but “ to make a fair shew in the flesh,” as St. Paul's words are?
If we have indeed given a bill of divorce to popery and superstition, why do we not say as to a divorced wife, “ Those things which are yours take them all with you, and they shall sweep
after you ?” Why were not we thus wise at our parting from Rome? Ah! like a crafty adulteress, she forgot not all her smooth looks and enticing words at her parting : “ Yet keep these letters, these tokens, and these few ornaments; I am not all so greedy of what is mine, let them preserve with you the memory”—of what I am ? No, butą“of what I was; once fair and lovely in vour eyes.”' Thus did those tenderhearted reformers dotingly suffer themselves to be overcome with harlot's language. And she, like a witch, but with a contrary policy, did not take something of theirs, that she still might have power to bewitch them, but for the same intent left something of her own behind her. And that her whorish cunning should prevail to work upon us her deceitful ends, though it be sad to speak, yet, such is our blindness, that we deserve. For we are deep in dotage. We cry out sacrilege and misdevotion against those who in zeal have demolished the dens and cages of her unclean wallowings. We stand for a popish liturgy as for the ark of our covenant. And so little does it appear our prayers are from the heart, that multitudes of us declare, they know not how to pray but by rote. Yet they can learnedly invent a prayer of their own to the parliament, that they may still ignorantly read the prayers of other men to God. They object, that if we must forsake all that is Rome's, we must bid adieu to our creed; and I had thought our creed had been of the apostles, for so it bears title. But if it be hers, let her take it. We can want no creed, so long as we want not the scriptures. We magnify those who, in reforming our church, have inconsiderately and blamefully permitted the old leaven to remain and sour our whole lump. But they were martyrs : true; and he that looks well into the book of God's providence, if he read there that God, for this their negligence and halting, brought all that following persecution upon this church, and on ihemselves, perhaps will be found at the last day not to have read amiss.
But now, readers, we have the port within sight; his last section, which is no deep one, remains only to be forded, and
then the wished shore. And here first it pleases him much, that he had descried me, as he conceives, to be unread in the councils. Concerning which matter it will not be unnecessary to shape him this answer ; that some years I had spent in the stories of those Greek and Roman exploits, wherein I found many things both nobly done, and worthily spoken : when, coming in the method of time to that age wherein the church had obtained a Christian emperor, I so prepared myself, as being now to read examples of wisdom and goodness among those who were foremost in the church, not elsewhere to be paralleled ; but to the amazement of what I expected I found it all quite contrary: excepting in some very few, nothing but ambition, corruption, contention, combustion; insomuch that I could not but love the historian, Socrates, who, in the proem to his fifth book professes, “he was fain to intermix affairs of state; for that it would be else an extreme annoyance to hear, in a continued discourse, the endless brabbles nd counterplottings of the bishops."
Finding, therefore, the most of their actions in single to be weak, and yet turbulent, full of strife and yei flat of spirit; and the sum of their best council there collected, to be most commonly in questions either trivial or vain, or else of short and easy decision, without that great bustle which they made; I concluded that if their single ambition and ignorance was such, then certainly united in a council it would be much more; and if the compendious recital of what they there did was so tedious and unprofitable, then surely to set out the whole extent of their tattle in a dozen volumes would be a loss of time irrecoverable. Besides that which I had read of St. Martin, who for his last sixteen years could never be persuaded to be at any council of the bishops. And Gregory Nazianzen betook him to the same resolution, affirming to Procopius, " that of any council or meeting of bishops he never saw good end ; nor any remedy thereby of evil in the church, but rather an increase. For,” saith he, tentions and desire of lording no tongue is able to express.
I have not therefore, I confess, read more of the councils, save here and there; I should be sorry to have been such a prodigal of my time; but, that which is better, I can assure this confuter, i nave read into them all. And if I want any thing yet I shall reply something toward that which in the
- their con.
defence of Murena was answered by Cicero to Sulpitius the lawyer. If ye provoke me (for at no hand else will I undertaké such a frivolous labour) I will in three months be an expert councilist.* For, be not deceived, readers, by men that would overawe your ears with big names and huge tomes that contradict and repeal one another, because they can cram a margin with citations. Do but winnow their chaff from their wheat, ye shall see their great heap shrink and wax thin, past belief.
From hence he passes to inquire wherefore I should blame the vices of the prelates only, seeing the inferior clergy is known to be as faulty. To which let him hear in brief ; that those priests whose vices have been notorious, are all prelatical, which argues both the impiety of that opinion, and the wicked remissness of that government. We hear not of any which are called nonconformists, that have been accused of scandalous living; but are known to be pious or at least sober men : which is a great good argument that they are in the truth and prelates in the error.
He wonld be resolved next, “What the corruptions of the universities concern the pre. lates ?” And to that let him take this, that the Remonstrant having spoken as if learning would decay with the removal of prelates, I shewed him that while books were extant and in print, learning could not readily be at a worse pass in the universities than it was now under their government. Then he seeks to justify the pernicious sermons of the clergy, as if they upheld sovereignty; whenas all Christian sovereignty is by law, and to no other end but to the maintenance of the common good. But their doctrine was plainly the dissolution of law, which only sets up sovereignty, and the erecting of an arbitrary sway, according to private will, to which they would enjoin a slavish obedience without law; which is the known definition of a tyrant, and a tyrannized people.
A little beneath he denies that great riches in the church are the baits of pride and ambition; of which error to undeceive him I shall allege a reputed divine authority, as ancient as Constantine, which his love to antiquity must not except against ;
In that admirable speech, Pro L. Murena, sparkling with wit and eloquence, Cice o, to humble the pride of Sulpitius, who valued himselt greatly on his knowledge of the civil law, jocularly threatens in three days to profess himself a lawyer :-“ Itaque, si mihi, homini vehementer occupato, stomachum moveritis, triduo me jurisconsultum esse profitebor.” c. xiii. $28. Uper. t. v. p 333. edit. Burb. – Ed.
' a widow's house will tempt as well
and to add the more weight, he shall learn it rather in the words of our old poet, Gower, than in mine, that he may see it is ro new opinion, but a truth delivered of old by a voice ficm heaven, and ratified by long experience.
“ This Constantine which heal hath found,
Within Rome anon let found
I can thereto none other skill.” But there were beasts of prey, saith he, before wealth was bestowed on the church. What, though, because the vultures had then but small picking, shall we therefore go fling them a full gorge? If they, for lucre, use to creep
into the church undiscernibly, the more wisdom will it be so to provide that no revenue there may exceed the golden mean; for so good pastors will be content, as having need of no more, and knowing withal the precept and example of Christ and his apostles, and also will be less tempted to ambition The bad will have but small matter whereon to set their mischief awork;
and the worst and subtlest heads will not come at all, when they shall see the crop nothing answerable to their capacious greediness; for small temptations allure but dribbling offenders; but a great purchase will call such as both are most able of themselves, and will be most enabled hereby to compass dangerous projects.
But,” saith he, as a bishop's palace.” Acutely spoken! because neither we nor the prelates can abolish widows' houses, which are