Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and humour of some men. The Church never wanteth a kind of persons, which love the salutation of Rabbi, master; not in ceremony or compliment, but in an inward authority which they seek over mens minds, in drawing them to depend upon their opinions, and to seek knowledge at their lips. These men are the true successors of Diotrephes, the lover of pre-eminence, and not lord bishops. Such spirits do light upon another sort of natures, which do adhere to these men; quorum gloria in obsequio; stiff followers, and such as zeal marvellously for those whom they have chosen for their masters.' This latter sort, for the most part, are men of young years, and superficial understanding, carried away with partial respects of persons, or with the enticing appearance of godly names and pretences; Pauci res ipsas sequuntur, plures nomina rerum, plurimi nomina magistrorum : few follow the things themselves, more the names of the things, and most the names of their masters.

About these general affections are wreathed and interlaced accidental and private emulations and discontentments, all which together break forth into contentions; such as either violate truth, sobriety, or peace. These generalities apply themselves. The universities are the 'seat or the continent of this disease, whence it hath been, and is derived into the rest of the realm. There men will no longer be e numero, of the number. There do others side themselves before they know their right hand from their left: so it is true which is said, transeunt ab ignorantia ad præjudicium, they skip from ignorance to a prejudicate opinion, and never take a sound judgment in their way. But as it is well noted, inter juvenile judicium et senile præjudicium, omnis veritas corrumpitur : through want of years, when men are not indifferent, but partial, then their judgment is weak and unripe; and when it groweth to strength and ripeness, by that time it is forestalled with such a number of prejudicate opinions, as it is made unprofitable: so as between these two all truth is corrupted. In the mean while, the honourable names of sincerity, reformation, and discipline are put in the fore-ward : so as contentions and evil zeals cannot be touched, except these holy things be thought first to be violated. But howsoever they shall infer the solicitation for the peace of the Church to proceed from carnal sense, yet I will conclude ever with the apostle Paul, Cum sit inter vos zelus et contentio, nonne carnales estis? While there is amongst you zeal and contention, are ye not carnal ? And howsoever they esteem the compounding of controversies to savour of man's wisdom and human policy, and think themselves led by the wisdom which is from above, yet. I say, with St. James, Non est ista sapientia de sursum descendens, sed terrena, animalis, diabolica : ubi enim zelus et contentio, ibi inconstantia et omne opus pravum. Of this inconstancy it is said by a learned father, Procedere volunt non ad perfectionem, sed ad permutationem ; they seek to go forward still, not to perfection, but to change.

The third occasion of controversies I observe to be, i an extreme and unlimited detestation of some former heresy or corruption of the Church already acknow. ledged and convicted. This was the cause that

produced the heresy of Arius, grounded especially upon detestation of Gentilism, lest the Christian should seem, by the assertion of the equal divinity of our Saviour Christ, to approach unto the acknowledgement of more gods than one. The detestation of the heresy of Arius produced that of Sabellius; who, holding for execrable the dissimilitude which Arius pretended in the Trinity, fled so far from him, as he fell upon that other extremity, to deny the distinction of persons; and to say, they were but only names of several offices and dispensations. Yea, most of the heresies and schisms of the Church have sprung up of this root; while men have made it as it were their scale, by which to measure the bounds of the most perfect religion; taking it by the farthest distance from the error last condemned. These be posthumi hæresium filii ; heresies that arise out of the ashes of other heresies that are extinct and amortised.

This manner of apprehension doth in some degree

possess many in our times. They think it the true touchstone to try what is good and evil, by measuring what is more or less opposite to the institutions of the church of Rome, be it ceremony, be it policy, or government; yea, be it other institutions of greater weight, that is ever most perfect which is removed most degrees from that Church; and that is ever polluted and blemished, which participateth in any appearance with it.

This is a subtile and dangerous conceit for men to entertain; apt to delude themselves, more apt to delude the people, and most apt of all to calumniate their adversaries. This surely, but that a notorious condemnation of that position was before our eyes, had long since brought us to the rebaptisation of children baptised according to the pretended catholic religion : for I see that which is a matter of much like reason, which is the re-ordaining of priests, is a matter already resolutely maintained. It is very meet that men beware how they be abused by this opinion; and that they know, that it is a consideration of much greater wisdom and sobriety to be! well advised, whether in general demolition of the institutions of the church of Rome, there were not, as mens actions are imperfect, some good purged with the bad, rather than to purge the Church, as they pretend, every day anew; which is the way to make a wound in the bowels, as is already begun.

The fourth and last occasion of these controversies, a matter which did also trouble the Church in former times, is the partial affectation and imitation of foreign churches. For many of our men, during the time of persecution, and since, having been conversant in Churches abroad, and received a great impression of the form of government there ordained, have violently sought to intrude the same upon our Church. But I answer, Consentiamus in eo quod convenit, non in eo quod receptum' est ; let us agree in this, that every church do that which is convenient for the state of itself, and not in particular customs. Although their churches had received the better form, yet many times it is to be sought; non quod optimum, sed e bonis

!

quid prorimum ; not that which is best, but of good things which is the best and readiest to be had. Our Church is not now to plant; it is settled and established. It may be, in civil states, a republic is a better policy than a kingdom: yet, God forbid that lawful kingdoms should be tied to innovate and make alterations: Qui mala introducit, voluntatem Dei oppugnat revelatam in verbo ; qui nova introducit, voluntatem Dei oppugnat revelatam in rebus ; he that bringeth in evil aistoms, resisteth the will of God revealed in his word; he that bringeth in new things, resisteth the will of God revealed in the things themselves. Consule providentiam Dei, cum verbo Dei; take counsel of the providence of God, as well as of hi word. Neither yet do I admit that their form, although it were possible and convenient, is better than ours, if some abuses were taken away. The parity and equality of ministers is a thing of wonderful great confusion, and so is an ordinary government by synods, which doth necessarily ensue upon the other.

It is hard in all causes, but especially in religion, when voices shall be numbered and not weighed: Equidem, saith a wise father, ut vere quod res est scribam, prorsus decrevi fugere omnem conventum episcoporum; nullius enim concilii bonum eritum unquam vidi ; concilia enim non minuunt mala, sed augent potius : “ To say the truth, I am utterly de“ termined never to come to any council of bishops : “ for I never yet saw good end of any council; for “ councils abate not ill things, but rather increase “ them.” Which is to be understood not so much of general councils, as of synods, gathered for the ordinary government of the Church. As for the deprivation of bishops, and such like causes, this mischief hath taught the use of archbishops, patriarchs, and primates; as the abuse of them since hath taught men to mislike them.

But it will be said, Look to the fruits of the churches abroad and ours. To which I say, that I beseech the Lord to multiply his blessings and graces upon those churches an hundred fold. But yet it is

not good, that we fall on the numbering of them; it may be our peace hath made us more wanton : it may be also, though I would be loth to derogate from the honour of those churches, were it not to remove scandals, that their fruits are as torches in the dark, which appear greatest afar.off. I know they may have some strict orders for the repressing of sundry excesses: but when I consider of the censures of some, persons, as well upon particular men as upon churches, I think on the saying of a Platonist, who saith, Certe vitia irascibilis partis anime sunt gradu praviora, quam concupiscibilis, tametsi occultiora; a matter that appeared much by the ancient contentions of bishops. God grant that we may contend with other . churches, as the vine with the olive, which of us shall bear the best fruit; and not as the brier with the thistle, which of us is most unprofitable. And thus much touching the occasions of these controversies.

Now, briefly to set down the growth and progres-, sion of the controversies; whereby will be verified the saying of Solomon, that the course of contention is to be stopped at the first; being else as the waters,which if they gain a breach, it will hardly ever be recovered.

It may be remembered, that on that part, which, calls for reformation, was first propounded some dislike of certain ceremonies supposed to be superstitious; some complaint of dumb ministers who possess rich benefices; and some invectives against the idle and monastical continuance within the universities, by those who had livings to be resident upon; and such like abuses. Thence they went on to condemn the government of bishops as an hierarchy remaining to us of the corruptions of the Roman church, and to except to sundry institutions in the Church, as not sufficiently delivered from the pollutions of former times. And lastly, they are advanced to define of an only and perpetual form of policy in the Church ; which, without consideration of possibility, and foresight of peril, and perturbation of the Church and State, must be erected and planted by the magistrate. Here they stay. Others, not able to keep footing in so steep ground,

VOL. II.

Ꮮ Ꮮ

« AnteriorContinuar »