Page images

nistration set or no? If it be not set, how is it an order? And if it be a set order both for matter and form

Answ. Remove that form, lest you tumble over it, while you make such haste to clap a contradiction upon others. Remonst. If the forms were merely arbitrary, to what use was the prescription of an order?

Answ. Nothing will cure this man's understanding but some familiar and kitchen physic, which, with pardon, must for plainness sake be administered to him. Call hither your cook. The order of breakfast, dinner, and supper, answer me, is it set or no? Set. Is a man therefore bound in the morning to poached eggs and vinegar, or at noon to brawn or beef, or at night to fresh salmon, and French kickshose? May he not make his meals in order, though he be not bound to this or that viand? Doubtless the neat-fingered artist will answer, Yes, and help us out of this great controversy without more trouble. Can we not understand an order in church-assemblies of praying, reading, expounding, and administering, unless our prayers be still the same crambe of words?

Remonst. What a poor exception is this, that liturgies were composed by some particular men?

Answ. It is a greater presumption in any particular men, to arrogate to themselves that which God universally gives to all his ministers. A minister that cannot be trusted to pray in his own words without being chewed to, and fescued to a formal injunction of his rote lesson, should as little be trusted to preach, besides the vain babble of praying over the same things immediately again; for there is a large difference in the repetition of some pathetical ejaculation raised out of the sudden earnestness and vigour of the inflamed soul, (such as was that of Christ in the garden,) from the continual rehearsal of our daily orisons; which if a man shall kneel down in a morning, and say over, and presently in another part of the room kneel down again, and in other words ask but still for the same things as it were out of one inventory, I cannot see how he will escape that heathenish battology of multiplying words, which Christ himself, that has the putting up of our prayers, told us would not be acceptable in heaven. Well may men of eminent gifts set forth as many forms and helps to prayer as they please; but to impose

them on ministers lawfully called, and sufficiently tried, as all ought to be ere they be admitted, is a supercilious tyranny, impropriating the Spirit of God to themselves.

Remonst. Do we abridge this liberty by ordaining a public form.

Answ. Your bishops have set as fair to do it as they durst for that old pharasaical fear that still dogs them, the fear of the people; though you will say you are none of those, still you would seem not to have joined with the worst, and yet keep aloof off from that which is best. I would you would either mingle, or part : most true it is what Savanarola complains, that while he endeavoured to reform the church, his greatest enemies were still these lukewarm


Remonst. And if the Lord's Prayer be an ordinary and stinted form, why not others?

Answ. Because there be no other lords that can stint with like authority.

Remonst. If Justin Martyr said, that the instructor of the people prayed (as they falsely term it) "according to his ability.'

Answ. "Oon duvaμıç ȧvre will be so rendered to the world's end by those that are not to learn Greek of the Remonstrant, and so Langus renders it to his face, if he could see; and this ancient father mentions no antiphonies or responsories of the people here, but the only plain acclamation of Amen.

Remonst. The instructor of the people prayed according to his ability, it is true, so do ours: and yet we have a liturgy, and so had they.

Answ. A quick come-off. The ancients used pikes and targets, and therefore guns and great ordnance, because we use both.

Remonst. Neither is this liberty of pouring out ourselves in our prayers ever the more impeached by a public form. Answ. Yes: the time is taken up with a tedious number of liturgical tautologies and impertinencies.

Remonst. The words of the council are full and affirmative. Answ. Set the grave councils up upon their shelves again, and string them hard, lest their various and jangling opinions put their leaves into a flutter. I shall not intend this hot season to bid you the base through the wide and dusty cham

paign of the councils, but shall take counsel of that which counselled them-reason: and although I know there is an obsolete reprehension now at your tongue's end, yet I shall be hold to say, that reason is the gift of God in one man as well as in a thousand: by that which we have tasted already of their cisterns, we may find that reason was the only thing, and not any divine command that moved them to enjoin set forms of liturgy. First, lest anything in general might be missaid in their public prayers through ignorance, or want of care, contrary to the faith; and next, lest the Arians, and Pelagians in particular, should infect the people by their hymns, and forms of prayer. By the leave of these ancient fathers, this was no solid prevention of spreading heresy, to debar the ministers of God the use of their noblest talent, prayer in the congregation; unless they had forbid the use of sermons, and lectures too, but such as were ready made to their hands, as our homilies: or else he that was heretically disposed, had as fair an opportunity of infecting in his discourse as in his prayer or hymn. As insufficiently, and to say truth, as imprudently, did they provide by their contrived liturgies, lest anything should be erroneously prayed through ignorance, or want of care in the ministers. For if they were careless and ignorant in their prayers, certainly they would be more careless in their preaching, and yet more careless in watching over their flock; and what prescription could reach to bound them both in these? What if reason, now illustrated by the word of God, shall be able to produce a better prevention than these councils have left us against heresy, ignorance, or want of care in the ministry, that such wisdom and diligence be used in the education of those that would be ministers, and such strict and serious examination to be undergone, ere their admission, as St. Paul to Timothy sets down at large, and then they need not carry such an unworthy suspicion over the preachers of God's word, as to tutor their unsoundness with the Abcie* of a liturgy, or to diet their ignorance, and want of care, with the limited draught of a matin, and even-song drench. All this may suffice after all their laboursome scrutiny of the councils.

Remonst. Our Saviour was pleased to make use in the

* i. e. A, b, c.

celebration of his last and heavenly banquet both of the fashions and words which were usual in the Jewish feasts.

Answ. What he pleased to make use of, does not justify what you please to force.

Remonst. The set forms of prayer at the Mincha.

Answ. We will not buy your rabbinical fumes; we have one that calls us to buy of him pure gold tried in the fire. Remonst. In the Samaritan chronicle.

Answ. As little do we esteem your Samaritan trumpery, of which people Christ himself testifies, Ye worship ye know

not what.

Remonst. They had their several songs.

Answ. And so have we our several psalms for several occasions, without gramercy to your liturgy.

Remonst. Those forms which we have under the names of St. James, &c., though they have some insertions which are plainly spurious, yet the substance of them cannot be taxed for other than holy and ancient.

Answ. Setting aside the odd coinage of your phrase, which no mint-master of language would allow for sterling, that a thing should be taxed for no other than holy and ancient, let it be supposed the substance of them may savour of something holy or ancient, this is but the matter; the form, and the end of the thing, may yet render it either superstitious, fruitless, or impious, and so worthy to be rejected. The garments of a strumpet are often the same, materially, that clothe a chaste matron, and yet ignominious for her to wear : the substance of the tempter's words to our Saviour were holy, but his drift nothing less.

Remonst. In what sense we hold the Roman a true church, is so cleared that the iron is too hot for their fingers.

Answ. Have a care it be not the iron to sear your own conscience.

Remonst. You need not doubt but that the alteration of the liturgy will be considered by wiser heads than your own. Answ. We doubt it not, because we know your head looks to be one.

Remonst. Our liturgy symbolizeth not with popish mass, neither as mass nor as popish.

Answ. A pretty slipskin conveyance to sift mass into no mass, and popish into not popish; yet saving this passing

fine sophistical boulting hutch, so long as she symbolizes in form, and pranks herself in the weeds of popish mass, it may be justly feared she provokes the jealousy of God, no otherwise than a wife affecting whorish attire kindles a disturbance in the eye of her discerning husband.

Remonst. If I find gold in the channel, shall I throw it away because it was ill laid?

Answ. You have forgot that gold hath been anathematized for the idolatrous use; and to eat the good creatures of God once offered to idols, is, in St. Paul's account, to have fellowship with devils, and to partake of the devil's table. And thus you throttle yourself with your own similes.

Remonst. If the devils confessed the Son of God, shall I disclaim that truth?

Answ. You sifted not so clean before, but you shuffle as foully now; as if there were the like necessity of confessing Christ, and using the liturgy: we do not disclaim that truth, because we never believed it for their testimony; but we may well reject a liturgy which had no being that we can know of, but from the corruptest times: if therefore the devil should be given never so much to prayer, I should not therefore cease from that duty, because I learned it not from him; but if he would commend to me a new Paternoster, though never so seemingly holy, he should excuse me the form which was his; but the matter, which was none of his, he could not give me, nor I be said to take it from him. It is not the goodness of matter therefore which is not, nor can be owed to the liturgy, that will bear it out, if the form, which is the essence of it, be fantastic and superstitious, the end sinister, and the imposition violent.

Remonst. Had it been composed into this frame on purpose to bring papists to our churches.

Answ. To bring them to our churches? alas! what was that? unless they had been first fitted by repentance and right instruction. You will say, the word was there preached which is the means of conversion; you should have given so much honour then to the word preached, as to have left it to God's working without the interloping of a liturgy baited for them to bite at.

Remonst. The project had been charitable and gracious. Answ. It was pharisaical, and vain-glorious, a greedy de

« PreviousContinue »