Imágenes de páginas

some other holy and good purposes, was there a bill drawn in parliament, in the three-and-twentieth year of the reign of the queen deceased; which was the gravest parliament that I have known; and the bill recommended by the gravest counsellor of estate in parliament; though afterwards it was staid by the queen's special commandment, the nature of those times considered.


FOR non-residence, except it be in case of necessary absence, it seemeth an abuse drawn out of covetousness and sloth: for that men should live of the flock that they do not feed, or of the altar at which they do not serve, is a thing that can hardly receive just defence; and to exercise the office of a pastor, in matter of the word and doctrine, by deputies, is a thing not warranted, as hath been touched before. The questions upon this point do arise upon the cases of exception and excusation, which shall be thought reasonable and sufficient, and which not. For the case of chaplains, let me speak that with your Majesty's pardon, and with reverence towards the other peers and grave persons, whose chaplains by statutes are privileged: I should think, that the attendance which chaplains give to your Majesty's court, and in the houses and families of their lords, were a juster rea son why they should have no benefice, than why they should be qualified to have two: for, as it standeth with Christian policy, that such attendance be in no wise neglected; because that good, which ensueth thereof to the Church of God, may exceed, or countervail that which may follow of their labours in any, though never so large a congregation; so it were reasonable that their maintenance should honourably and liberally proceed thence, where their labours be employed. Neither are there wanting in the Church dignities and preferments not joined with any exact cure of souls; by which, and by the hope of which, such attendants in ordinary, who ought to be, as for the

most part they are, of the best gifts and sort, may be farther encouraged and rewarded. And as for extraordinary attendants, they may very well retain the grace and countenance of their places and duties at times incident thereunto, without discontinuance or non-residence in their pastoral charges. Next for the case of intending studies in the universities, it will more easily receive an answer; for studies do but serve and tend to the practice of those studies: and therefore for that which is most principal and final to be left undone, for the attending of that which is subservient and subministrant, seemeth to be against proportion of reason. Neither do I see, but that they proceed right well in all knowledge, which do couple study with their practice; and do not first study altogether, and then practise altogether; and therefore they may very well study at their benefices. Thirdly, for the case of extraordinary service of the Church; as if some pastor be sent to a general council, or here to a convocation; and likewise for the case of necessity, as in the particular of infirmity of body, and the like, no man will contradict, but that there may be some substitution for such a time. But the general case of necessity is the case of pluralities; the want of pastors and insufficiency of livings considered, posito, that a man doth faithfully and incessantly divide his labours between two cures; which kind of necessity I come now to speak of in the handling of pluralities.


For pluralities, in case the number of able ministers were sufficient, and the value of benefices were sufficient, then pluralities were in no sort tolerable. But we must take heed, we desire not contraries. to desire that every parish should be furnished with a sufficient preacher, and to desire that pluralities be forthwith taken away, is to desire things contrary; considering, de facto, there are not sufficient preachers for every parish: whereto add likewise, that there is not sufficient living and maintenance in many parishes to maintain a preacher; and it maketh the impossibility yet much the greater. The remedies in rerum natura are but three; union, permutation, and

supply. Union of such benefices as have the living too small, and the parish not too great, and are adjacent. Permutation, to make benefices more compatible, though men be over-ruled to some loss in changing a better for a nearer. Supply, by stipendiary preachers, to be rewarded with some liberal stipends, to supply, as they may, such places which are unfurnished of sufficient pastors: as queen Elizabeth, amongst other her gracious acts, did erect certain of them in Lancashire; towards which pensions, I see no reason but reading ministers, if they have rich benefices, should be charged.


TOUCHING Church-maintenance, it is well to be weighed what is jure divino, and what jure positivo. It is a constitution of the divine law, from which human laws cannot derogate, that those which feed the flock should live of the flock; that those that serve at the altar should live of the altar; that those which dispense spiritual things should reap tempo. ral things; of which it is also an appendix, that the proportion of this maintenance be not small or necessitous, but plentiful and liberal. So then, that all the places and offices of the Church be provided of such a dotation, that they may be maintained, according to their several degrees, is a constitution permanent and perpetual: but for particularity of the endowment, whether it should consist of tithes, or lands, or pensions, or mixt, might make a question of convenience, but no question of precise necessity. Again, that the case of the Church de facto is such, that there is want in the Church of patrimony, is confessed. For the principal places, namely, the bishops livings, are in some particulars not sufficient; and therefore enforced to be supplied by toleration of Commendams, things of themselves unfit, and ever held of no good report. And as for the benefices and

[ocr errors]

pastors places, it is manifest that very many of them are very weak and penurious. On the other side, that there was a time when the Church was rather burdened with superfluity, than with lack, that is likewise apparent; but it is long since; so as the fault was in others, the want redoundeth unto us. Again, that it were to be wished that impropriations were returned to the Church as the most proper and natural endowments thereof, is a thing likewise wherein mens judgments will not much vary. Nevertheless, that it is an impossibility to proceed now, either to their resumption or redemption, is as plain on the other side. For men are stated in them by the highest assurance of the kingdom, which is, act of parliament; and the value of them amounteth much above ten subsidies; and the restitution must of necessity pass their hands, in whose hands they are now in possession or interest.

But of these things which are manifestly true, to infer and ground some conclusions. First, in minė own opinion and sense, I must confess, let me speak it with reverence, that all the parliaments since 27 and 31 of Henry VIII. who gave away impropriations from the Church, seem to me to stand in a sort obnoxious, and obliged to God in conscience to do somewhat for the Church, to reduce the patrimony thereof to a competency. For since they have debarred Christ's wife of a great part of her dowry, it were reason they made her a competent jointure. Next to say, that impropriations should be only charged, that carrieth neither possibility nor reason. Not possibility, for the reasons touched before: not reason, because if it be conceived, that if any other person be charged, it should be a re-charge, or double charge, inasmuch as he payeth tithes already, that is a thing mistaken. For it must be remembered, that as the realm gave tithes to the Church, so the realm since again hath given tithes away from the Church unto the king, as they may give their eighth sheaf or ninth sheaf. And therefore the first gift being evacuated, it cannot go in defeasance or discharge of that

perpetual bond, wherewith men are bound to maintain God's ministers. And so we see in example, that divers godly and well disposed persons, not impropriators, are content to increase their preachers livings; which, though in law it be but a benevolence, yet before God it is a conscience. Farther, that impropriation should not be somewhat more deeply charged than other revenues of like value, methinks, cannot well be denied, both in regard of the ancient claim of the Church, and the intention of the first giver: and again, because they have passed in valuation between man and man somewhat at the less rate, in regard of the said pretence or claim of the Church in conscience before God. But of this point, touching Church-maintenance, I do not think fit to enter into farther particularity, but reserve the same to a fitter time.

THUS have I in all humbleness and sincerity of heart, to the best of my understanding, given your Majesty tribute of my cares and cogitations in this holy business, so highly tending to God's glory, your Majesty's honour, and the peace and welfare of your states: insomuch as I am persuaded that the papists themselves should not need so much the severity of penal laws, if the sword of the Spirit were better edged, by strengthening the authority, and suppressing the abuses in the Church.

To conclude, renewing my most humble submission of all that I have said to your Majesty's most high wisdom, and again, most humbly craving pardon for any errors committed in this writing; which the same weakness of judgment that suffered me to commit them, would not suffer me to discover them, I end with my devout and fervent prayer to God, that as he hath made your Majesty the corner-stone, in joining your two kingdoms, so you may be also as a corner-stone to unite and knit together these differences in the Church of God; to whose heavenly grace and never-erring direction, I commend your Majesty's sacred person, and all your doings.

« AnteriorContinuar »