« AnteriorContinuar »
descend farther; That the same must be entered into and accepted of the people, at their peril, without the attending of the establishment of authority. And so in the mean time they refuse to communicate with us, reputing us to have no Church. This has been the progression of that side: I mean of the generality. For, I know, some persons, being of the nature, not only to love extremities, but also to fall to them without degrees, were at the highest strain at the first.
The other part, which maintaineth the present government of the Church, hath not kept one tenor'neither. First, those ceremonies which were pretended to be corrupt, they maintained to be things indifferent, and opposed the examples of the good times of the Church to that challenge which was made unto them, because they were used in the later superstitious times. Then were they also content mildly to acknowledge many imperfections in the Church: as tares come up amongst the corn; which yet, according to the wisdom taught by our Saviour, were not with strife to be pulled up, lest it might spoil and supplant the good corn, but to grow on together till the harvest. After, they grew to a more absolute defence and maintenance of all the orders of the Church, and stiffly to hold, that nothing was to be innovated; partly. because it needed not, partly because it would make a breach upon the rest. Hence, exasperated through contentions, they are fallen to a direct condemnation of the contrary part, as of a sect. Yea, and some indiscreet persons have been bold in open preaching to use dishonourable and derogatory speech and censure of the churches abroad; and that so far, as some of our men, as I have heard, ordained in foreign parts, have been pronounced to be no lawful ministers. Thus we see the beginnings were modest, but the extremes are violent; so as there is almost as great a distance now of either side from itself, as was at the first of one from the other. And surely, though my meaning and scope be not, as I said before, to enter into the controversies themselves, yet I do admonish the maintainers of the alone discipline, to weigh and consider seriously and attentively, how near they are unto them, with whom, I know, they will not join. It is very hard to affirm, that the discipline, which they say we want, is one of the essential parts of the worship of God; and not to affirm withal, that the people themselves, upon peril of salvation, without staying for the magistrate, are to gather themselves into it. I demand, If à civil state should receive the preaching of the word and baptism, and interdict and exclude the sacrament of the Lord's supper, were not men bound upon danger of their souls to draw themselves to congregations, wherein they might celebrate this mystery, and not to content themselves with that part God's worship which the magistrate had authorised? This I speak, not to draw them into the mislike of others, but into a more deep consideration of themselves: Fortasse non redeunt, quia suum progressum non intelligunt.
Again, to my lords the bishops I say, that it is hard for them to avoid blame, in the opinion of an indifferent person, in standing so precisely' upon altering nothing: leges, novis legibus non recreate, acescunt; laws, not refreshed with new laws, wax sour. Qui mala' non permutat, in bonis non perseverat: without change of ill, a man cannot continue the good. To take away many abuses, supplanteth not good orders, but establisheth them. Morosa moris retentio, res turbulenta est, eque ac novitas; a contentious retaining of custom is a turbulent thing, as well as innovation. A good husband is ever pruning in his vineyard or his field; not unseasonably, indeed, not unskilfully, but lightly; he findeth ever somewhat to do. We have heard of no offers of the bishops of bills in parliament; which, no doubt, proceeding from them to whom it properly belongeth, would have every where received acceptation. Their own constitutions and orders have reformed thein 'little. Is nothing amiss ? Can any man defend the use of excommunication as a base process to lackey up and down for duties and fees; it being a precursory judgment of the latter day?
Is there no mean to train and nurse up ministers, for the yield of the universities will not serve, though they were never so well governed; to train them, I say, not to preach, for that every man confidently adventureth to do, but to preach soundly, and to handle the Scriptures with wisdom and judgment ? I know prophesying was subject to great abuse, and would be more abused now; because heat of contentions is increased : but I say the only reason of the abuse was, because there was admitted to it a popular auditory; and it was not contained within a private conference of ministers. Other things might be spoken of. I pray God to inspire the bishops with a fervent love and care of the people; and that they may not so much urge things in controversy, as things out of controversy, which all men confess to be gracious and good. And thus much for the second point.
Now, as to the third point, of unbrotherly proceeding on either part, it is directly contrary to my purpose to amplify wrongs: it is enough to note and number them; which I do also, to move compassion and remorse on the offending side, and not to animate challengers and complaints on the other. And this point, as reason is, doth chiefly touch that side which can do most: Injuriæ potentiorum sunt ; injuries come from them that have the upper hand,
The wrongs of them which are possessed of the government of the Church towards the other, may hardly be dissembled or excused: they have charged them as though they denied tribute to Cæsar, and withdrew from the civil magistrate the obedience which they have ever performed and taught. They have sorted and coupled them with the Family of love, whose heresies they have laboured to destroy and confute. They have been swift of credit to receive accusations against them, from those that have quarrelled with them, but for speaking against sin and vice. Their accusations and inquisitions have been strict, swearing men to blanks and generalities, not included within compass of matter certain, which the party which is to take the oath may comprehend, which is a thing captious and strainable. Their urging of subscription to their own articles, is but lacessere, et irritare morbos Ecclesia, which otherwise would spend and exercise themselves. Non consensum quærit sed dissidium, qui, quod factis præstatur, in verbis erigit: He seeketh not unity, but division, which exacteth that in words, which men are content to yield in action. · And it is true, there are some which, as I am persuaded, will not easily offend by inconformity, who notwithstanding make some conscience to subscribe ; for they know this note of inconstancy and defection from that which they have long held, shall disable them to do that good which otherwise they might do: for such is the weakness of many, that their ministry should be thereby discredited. As for their easy silencing of them, in such great scarcity of preachers, it is to punish the people, and not them. Ought they not, I mean the bishops, to keep one eye open, to look upon the good that those men do, not to fix them both upon the hurt that they suppose cometh by them? Indeed, such as are intemperate and incorrigible, God forbid they should be permitted to preach : but shall every inconsiderate word, sometimes captiously watched, and for the most part hardly enforced, be as a forfeiture of their voice and gift in preaching? As for sundry particular molestations, I take no pleasure to recite them. If a minister shall be troubled for saying in baptism, do you believe? for, dost thou believe? If another shall be called in question for praying for her majesty, without the additions of her stile; whereas the very form of prayer in the book of Common-Prayer hath, “ Thy servant Elizabeth,” and no more: If a third shall be accused, upon these words uttered touching the controversies, tollatur lex, et fiat certamen, whereby was meant, that the prejudice of the law removed, either reasons should be equally compared, of calling the people to sedition and mutiny, as if he had · said, Away with the law, and try it out with force :
If these and other like particulars be true, which I have but by rumour, and cannot affirm; it is to be lamented that they should labour amongst us with so little comfort. I know restrained governments are better than remiss; and I am of his mind that said, Better is it to live where nothing is lawful, than where all things are lawful. I dislike that laws should not bè continued, or disturbers be unpunished: but laws are likened to the grape, that being too much pressed yields an hard and unwholesome wine. Of these things I must say; Ira viri non operatur justitiam Dei; the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
As for the injuries of the other part, they be ictus inermes ; as it were headless arrows; they be fiery and eager invectives, and, in some fond men, uncivil and irreverent behaviour towards their superiors. This last invention also, which exposeth them to derision and obloquy by libels, chargeth not, as I am persuaded, the whole side: neither doth that other, which is yet more odious, practised by the worst sort of them, which is, to call in, as it were to their aids, certain mercenary bands, which impugn bishops, and other ecclesiastical dignities, to have the spoil of their endowments and livings: of these I cannot speak too hardly. It is an intelligence between incendiaries and robbers, the one to fire the house, the other to rifle it.
The fourth point wholly pertaineth to them which impugn the present ecclesiastical government; who although they have not cut themselves off from the body and communion of the Church, yet do they affect certain cognisances and differences, wherein they seek to correspond amongst themselves, and to be separate from others. And it is truly said, tam sunt mores quidam schismatici, quam dogmata schismatica; there be as well schismatical fashions as opinions. First, they have impropriated unto themselves the names of zealous, sincere, and reformed; as if all others were cold minglers of holy things and profane, and friends of abuses. Yea, be a man endued with great virtues, and fruitful in good works; yet if he concur not with them, they term him, in derogation, a civil and moral man, and compare him to Socrates,