FIVE Groans of the CHURCH:
Prudently Foreseeing, and passionately Bewailing Her Second Fall: Threatned by these five dangerous, though undiscerned,
miscarriages that caused her First: Viz.
Humbly presented to her supreme Head and Governour,
The Kings most excellent MAIESTY;
and His great Council, the PARLIAMENT of ENGLAND.
Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, and are ready to die,
Rev. 3. 2.
Cambridge: Printed for J. Greaves. 1663.
O All you that pass by me, stand and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow; if it hath been done to any Reformed or Protestant Church under Heaven, as it is done unto me! O now my wounds were ready to be closed, my Ruines to be repaired, my Desolations and Wastes to be finished; when the Barbarous was checked, the Licentious was restrained, the usurpers were removed, the professed Enemies of different Interests and Religion which persecuted me, were subdued, and I ready to settle upon the Eternal Foundations of sound Doctrine, of Primitive Government, of an holy and pure Worship. of a decent and comely order, to the amazement of the World, to the honour of Religion, to the glory of God, to the peace of the whole Earth, and for good will among men! behold! my children are discontent, my Government is complained of, my Ordinances are neglected, my Ministers are despised, my peace is disturbed, and my safety endangered. Hear, O Heavens, and give ear, O Earth! What could I have done that I have not done? Have I not taught the truth of God sincerely giving Milk to babes, and stronger meat to them that were able to bear it and the Oracles of God to all in a Language they best understood? Have I concealed any part of Gods sacred Counsell from you? Have I not set forth with all plainness and freedome the blessed fulness and excellencies of my Lord Jesus Christ, in such a manner and measure as I received from the Word and Spirit? Have I not administered all the Ordinances of God faithfully? Have I not enjoyned and taught all vertue and all grace, carefull? reconmending to my Children whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lively, whatsoever things are of good report; every holy Duty every necessary Rule; and every immitable Example; with all the Advantages of sound Knowledge, powerfull preaching which at once was able to inform the weak, to reclaim the most erroneous to reform the most debauched, to satissie the most curious, and to silence the most refractory? Have I not prepared with much study and industry, with many prayers and tears, with long education, and diligent care, Reverend Bishops, Orderly Presbyters, able Ministers, workmen that need not be ashamed, duly ordained, and called after an uninterrupted and Catholick succession through all Ages, agreeable to that original institution which was from Jesus Christ, the great High Priest, the true Prophet, the soveraign King of the Church, the chief preacher of righteousnesse, and Bishop of our souls? Have I not, I say, taken an holy care of a succession of Ministers about holy things, who might divide the Word aright by solid preaching, might wait upon God solemnly by a devout and discreet Praying, might convince Gain-sayers by acute Disputing might instruct the world by exact Writing, might maintain peace and order by wise Governing, might reform the world by holy living? Hath it not been my care and endeavour to keep up the soundness, power and life of Christian Religion? Have not I laboured that my good people might every where have what is necessary and wholesome for their souls good in devout Prayers, in holy. Sacraments, in powerful Sermons; whereby I desired (God knoweth) to preserve wholesome and saving truth, to promote true holiness, to set up an holy decency, to maintaine the wholesome form and power of godliness, in truth, peace, order and unity? Have not I held forth an holy Light, Rule, and Life, in the plain parts of Scripture every where read; in the Articles every where acknowledged, in the Creeds and Catichism every year explained, in the Liturgy constantly used, whereby poor souls had a plain, easie and sure way to Heaven, through an unfeigned Faith, sincere Repentance, a Catholick Charity, a devout humility, a good conscience, and an holy obedience to God and man, according to the will of God, unto all well pleasing? Doe not I take care to instruct the ignorant diligently, to comfort the weak hearted tenderly, to raise up them that fall compassionately, to visit those that are sick charitably, to relieve those that want mercifully to bury my dead that sleep in Jesus solemnly, to punish those that doe amisse severely, to restore them that have gone astray pitifully, to instruct them that oppose themselves meekly, to frame a way of Peace, Order, and Communion, (in which Brethren might happily dwell together in unity) prudently, rationally, and discreetly? O what failings of mine then have occasioned these impatient murmers which I hear! What faults of mine have raised those bitter reproaches which I bear? What enormities of mine have provoked those imminent dangers which I fear? O why is it that ye who own my Saviour, who have submitted to my Doctrine as your Rule, who have partaked of my Sacrament as your refreshment and comfort; O why is it that ye hate and dispise me, that ye strip and wound me, that ye tear and mangle me, that ye impoverish and debase me that ye make me a scorn, an abomination, an hissing and astonishment to all that see me, a derision and a mocking to my enemies round about me?
Alas all men of weight and worth, for parts and piety, for judgement and ingenuity, for conscience and integrity, for grace, learning and renown, know my innocency thus far, that as to the foundation of Faith and Rule of holiness, I have only adheared to Gods blessed Word: as for the Circumstances and Ceremonies of Religion, I use in them prudently and charitably that liberty and power which I suppose is allowed here for peace, order, and decency, by that blessed God who is not the Author of Confusion, but of peace, as in all the Churches of the Saints. If we may believe the integrity of those Reformers that setled this Church, whose learning, worth, and piety hath been confirmed by the testimony of so many wise and religious Princes, by the approbation of so many learned and reverend Convocations, by the applauses of so many other reformed Churches: if we may believe the preaching living and dying of so many hundred excellent Bishops and Ministers or the Prayers and proficiencies of so many thousand of godly Christians; or if we may believe the wonderfull blessings and special graces of a mercifull God, attesting the verity, integrity and sanctity of my Christian Constitution for many happy years: or if you will believe all men in England, who have by oaths and Subscriptions, by Vows and Protestations resolved to maintain the Protestant Religion as it was established in the Church of England; who despair any where to find the way of truth and peace, of holiness and happiness, but in the use of those holy means, and in the exercise of those divine graces which accompany salvation, within me professed and enjoyed. I know nothing excellent in any Church for outward policy, inward tranquillity, and eternal felicity; nothing that was pious or peaceable, moral or vertuous, ritual or spiritual, orderly or comely, or any way conducing to truth and holiness, to grace or vertue, to the souls edification and comfort, which was not by me entertained with competent Maintenance, noble Encouragements, ingenious Honours, peaceable Serenity, and munificent plenty; In which I flourished so many years by Gods gooduesse, and mans indulgence.
Alas, whatever I have done in the settlements of the Rites, Circumstances and Decencies of Religion, I have observed that modesty, wisdom and humility that became a Church of Christ, in discreetly and ingeniously complying with sober, primitive and venerable Antiquity in the Church, as far as it observed the Rules of Gods Word, and went not beyond the liberty allowed it in point of Order and Decency. O you are too knowing to be ignorant, and too ingenious to be insensible of your duty to God, and your respect to me; who was heretofore so much loved by my Children, applauded by my Friends, reverenced by my Neighbours, feared and envyed by mine Enemies for those spiritual Gifts, Ministerial, Devotional and Practical, which were evidently seen in me, those heavely influences which people received from me, those gracious examples and frequent good works set forth by me, the blessed experiences men enjoyed within me, the charitable simplicities exercised by my members, the numerous Assemblies, the frequent Devotions, the reverent Attentions, the unanimous Communions, the well-grounded hopes, and unspeakable comforts which thousands enjoyed, both living and dying, in obedience to, and communion with me; which to impartial men were most impregnant evidences, and valid demonstrations of true Religion, and a true Church, setled by the joynt consent, and publick piety of a Christian Nation. He was a wise, holy, and reverend Son of my bosome, who said, That in the greatest maturity of his Judgment, and integrity of his Conscience, when most redeemed from juvenile Fervours, popular Fallacies, vulgar Partialities, and secular Flatteries, be declared to the present Age and Posterity, that since be was capable to move in so serious a search, and weighty a disquisition as that of Religion is; as his greatest design was through Gods grace to find out and persevere in such a profession of Christian Religion as hath most of truth and order, of power and peace, of holiness and solemnity, of divine verity and Catholick antiquity, of true charity and holy constancy: So he could not (apart from all prejudices and prepossessions) find in any other Church or Church-way, ancient or modern, either more of the good he desired, or less of the evil he would avoid, then he had a long time discerned, and upon a stricter scrutiny more and more in the frame and form, in the Constitution and Dispensation of the Church of England. No where, saith he, diviner Mysteries, no where sounder Doctrinals, holier Morals, warmer Devotionals, apter Rituals or comlier Ceremonials. All which together, by a meet and happy concurrence of piety and prudence, brought forth such Spirituals and Graces, both in their Habits, Exercises and Comforts, as are the Quintessence and Life, the Soul and Seal of true Religion; those more immediate and special Influences of Gods holy Spirit upon the Soul, those joynt Operations of the blessed Trinity, for the Iustification, Sanctification, and Salvation of a Sinner.
1. Can you blame my Government, that ancient and Catholick Government of godly Bishops; which is so agreeable to Right Reason, so suitable to the Principles of due Order and Policy among men, so consonant to Scripture wisdome both in Rules and Patterns, so conforme to the Catholick and Primitive way of all Christian Churches throughout all Ages, and in all places of the world? Would you have me, against all charity, modesty humility or equity, to fall away from the Apostolical way of all Famous Churches and religious Christians? to cast off the eqoV arcaion kai paradosin, the bawmon ieron, nec conciliis institutum sed semper retentum, & non nisi authoritate Apostolica institutum; the Apostolici seminis traduces Episcopos, that universam sucessionem Episcoporum; those successiones ab initis decurrentium Episcoporum; that ordinem Episcoporum qui in Iohannem stat Authorem; that toto orbe decretum.) Shall I not enquire of the former Age, and prepare my self to the search of my Fathers? for I am but of yesterday, and nothing. Shall not they teach me, and tell me, and utter words out of their hearts? Shall not I stand in the way, and ask for the old way, which is the good way, and walk therein?
Would you have me give offence to the whole Christian world, which either is or would be governed by Bishops, as the most Apostolick, Primitive, and Universal Way? Would you have me disown the right succession of the power Ministerial, conferred by Episcopal hands unto this day? Shall the Jewish Church have the Heads of their Tribes as Bishops and Rulers over their Brethren the Priests and Levites, and the Christian Church (in imitation of them, as in other particulars, so in this, have their Apostles, Evangelists, their Pastors and Teachers, without reproach, and may not I? O it is certaine that what is once well done, in a regular publick way, is ever after done as to the permanency of that vertue that is alwayes in a great and good example, shall I lay aside Primitive & right Episcopacy, which hath such grounds from Scripture, both as to the divine wisdom so ordering his Church among the Jews, as also by the example, Precept and Direction evident from our Lord Jesus Christ, and the holy Apostles in the New Testament, who preferred worthy persons for their Piety, Zeal and holy Gravity, to exercise a christian authority over Ministers and people for their souls good, which might consist with charity and humility, for the preservation of the Churches peace and purity in the best and primitive times; such grave persons as for their Age, were Fathers; for their innocency, Saints; for industry, Labourers; for constancy, Confessors; for zeal, Martyrs; for charity, Brethren; for their light, Angels; and venerable for all Excellencies? And I own no other Bishops but such in whom are remarkable the vertues of the most ancient and imitable Bishops; the industry of St Austin the Courage of St. Ambrose, the Devotion of St. Gregory, the Learning of Nazianzen, the Eloquence of St. Chrysostome, the Mildness of St. Cyprian, the Love of St. Ignatius the Constancy of St. Polycarp, the Noblenesse of St. Basil; and those who come neerest the Apostolical pattern and resemble the most of any Christians or Ministers, the Grace and Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. I endeavour that my Bishops may be among Christians the most faithful; among Men, the most civil; among Preachers, the most painful; among Orators, the most perswasive; among Governours, the most moderate; among pious Men, the most fervent; among Professors the most forward; among Severe Men the most exact; among Sufferers, the most patient; among Perseverants the most constant: the most compleat every way and perfect unto every good work. These I take care should be duely chosen, should be esteemed with honour and reverenced with love. My Rule to them is, That they should over-rule with vigilance, should rule with joynt counsel neither levelled with younger Preachers and Novices, nor exalted too much above the Grave and Elder. I allow these men an honourable competencie, with eminencie, wherewith they may exercise a large heart and liberal hand, which may conciliare a general respect, and deserve the common love. My direction to them, is, that their vertue and piety may preserve the Authority of their places; and this in the order, peace and dignity of the Church, that they may be the Touchstone of Truth, the Loadstone of Love, the Standard of Faith the Pattern of Holinesse, the Pillars of Stability and the Centres of Vnity; such as the Erroneous may hate, the Factious envy, good men may love, and bad men may fear.
2. Can ye blame my Doctrine, approved by the Reformed, and agreeable with the Primitive Church? a doctrine according to godliness, teaching all men that denying all ungodliness and worldly lust, they should live righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world.
3. Doe you find fault with my Devotion in the Publick worship of God, by Confession, prayers, praises, Psalms, and other holy Oblations of a Rational and Evangelical service, offered up to our God by the joint piety of all my children, (the koinaV euceV the mia dehsiV the Communi Oratio) where nothing is expressed as my mind, which I thought not agreeable with the mind of Gods spirit in the Scripture? nor do I know any part of it to which a judicious Christian might not in Faith say Amen, taking the expressions of it in that pious and benign sense which the Church intended, and the words may well bear. Indeed the whole composure of my Liturgy is (in my judgement) so wholesome, so holy, so compleat, so discreet, so devout, so useful, so savoury, so welladvised, that I find nothing in the eighteen Liturgies composed in the Eastern and Western Church, that is excellent, but is in this of mine; and many things which are less clear or necessary in them are better expressed or wisely omitted here the whole being so ordered, as might best inform all peoples understandings, stir up their affections and quicken their devotions, in a wholesome form of sound words; such as Moses, David, the Prophets, and the Lord Jesus left behind them, solemnly recorded in the Scriptures. So that according to the primitive care, I first laid down Scripture grounds in the Creeds and Confessions, and then I enlarged and fixed my Lyturgies and devotions as near as I could to the majesty, solemnity, and exactness, unanimity and fulness of publick prayers upon all holy publick occasions, so plainly, that the devout soul knows well what it should desire of God; and so affectionately, that it earnestly desires in it, what it knoweth God alloweth; and so uniformly, that it peaceably goeth along with the Congregation, with one mind and one heart in the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
4. Is it the Rites and Ceremonies I impose that displease you? Alas I find the God of Heaven which we worship in England enjoyning more Ceremonies on his own people, and forbidding no holy custome to any Christians, in order to advance the decency and order of his service or Christians mutual edification and joint devotion under the Gospel. Our blessed Saviour hath by his spirit guiding the pens and practises of the Apostles, sufficiently manifested the power and liberty given the Church, and the Governours of it, for the choice and use of such decent customes, Rites, and Ceremonies, (not as divine institutions upon the consciences, but as humane injunctions upon the practises) as agree with godly manners, and the truth of the Gospel, and may best serve for order, decency, peace, solemnity, and mutual edification of Christians, agreed upon by publick consents in which every ones vote is personally or vertually included. It's true, as the Lyturgy, so the Ceremonies have something of Rome in them: for to deal plainly, I did freely and justly assert to my own use and Gods glory whatever upon due tryal I found to have the stamp of Gods truth and grace, or the Churches wisdome and charity upon it. I would not refuse any good I found amongst them, because it was mixed with some evil; but trying all things, I held fast that which was good, being intent upon the great ends of piety, devotion and charity. It's true, I enjoyn my people an inward worship of soul, in spirit and in truth, before God; but withal I enjoyn outward worship of the body, (which is but a reasonable service to God that make the body) exemplary and significant before men, in such habits and gestures as may most conduce (by the advice of the whole Church; for the private spirit of the prophets, in these things ought to be subject to the publick spirit of the Prophets) to reverence, devotion and edification, in knowing humble, meek and quiet spirits, rightly discerning the innocent nature of such things not prohibited and so indifferent; and the Christian liberty allowed to them, to use those things indifferent when commanded, and to lay them a side when not commanded. However, let the many Obligations to unity by the true Faith you jointly professe give you more satisfaction, then the occasions of dividing the Ceremonies in which you differ, give you offence: so that you may not upon so small occasions, in such small matters, sacrifice to your private passion and perswasion the publick peace and prosperity of the Church; especially since I never heard of any sober Christian, or truely godly Minister, who (being in other things prudent, unblameable, and sincere) did ever suffer any check of conscience meerly upon the account of having been conformable to, and keeping communion with me: nor did they ever complaine of Ceremonie, Lyturgy and Episcopacy, as any damps to their real graces, or to their holy communion with Gods blessed Spirit; but admired them as the united influence, the joynt consent, the combined devotion of all good Christians in this Nation, who publickly agreed with one mind, and in one manner to serve the Lord, in a way allowed by the most pious of Princes, practised by the best Nobility, owned by the wisest Gentry, maintained by the most learned Clergy, and embraced by the best sort of Commons. I allow only such Ceremonies as make religious Duties not more pious, but more conspicuous; not more sacred but more solemn; not more spiritual and holy, but more visible, imitable and exemplary; to quicken my children, to allure others, to instruct and edefie all.
5. Are ye offended with my Canons and Injuctions? Is it fit that a few men whom Order and Policy hath made inferiour to others, as the Rulers and Representatives of the whole society, should prefer their own private Opinions and Judgements before the well-advised Results, the learned Counsels, the pious Endeavours, and solemn Sanctions of so many, eminent for piety, prudence, integrity, publick influence, and just Authority?
6. Are my solemne Fasts and Feasts your grievances? those solemn remembrances of Gods mercy to men in Christ celebrated with prayer, praises preaching, and communicating to Gods glory, and all sober Christians improvement, according to the known president of the Jews, and the general practise of the Christian Church? What harme is there is some good men observing a day, observe it to the Lord; and others not observing a day, observe it not to the Lord?
7. Do you resent my Endeavours for Unity and Uniformity? Alas, I desire onely that men sincerely worship one true God, and profess the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they may be partakers of the gifts and graces of the blessed Spirit, and may have an holy communion with that adorable Trinity, and with one another in love and charity, as Christians, enjoying the noblest life, the sweetest society, and most heavenly fraternity; imitating God, emulating Angels; Children and expectants of happinesse, Partakers of grace, and daily preparing for eternal Glory: that all men who have been called, baptized and instructed by lawful Ministers here, in the mysteries and duties of the Gospel, may make a joynt and publick profession of the Christian Faith, and Reformed Religion, in the name, and as the sense of the whole Nation, grounded upon the holy Scripture, guided also and administred by that uniforme order, due authority, and holy Ministry for Worship and Government which according to the mind of Christ, the pattern of the Apostles, and the practise of all primitive Churches, hath been lawfully established by the wisdome and consent of all Estates in this Kingdome, for Gods honour, the Churches safety, the publick peace, and the common good of souls.
8. Doe I not allow you a just liberty to dot such things constantly and chearfully which are most proper and advantagious to the nature and excellency of men? to think what is true to do what is fit, and enjoy what is just in reference to God, others and your selves? I have taken from you no liberty but that of doing evil: you are at liberty to enjoy all the comforts priviledges, and Ordinances which Christ hath instituted, in an holy order, and regular way, for private or publick good; and to hope for that reward and crown which God the righteous Judge hath promised those that persevere in well doing. My highest aim is, that you may have liberty to exercise a good conscience void of offence towards God and towards man, that they may willingly in all things live honestly.
9. Are ye displeased with my Members? Alas, innocent men, they pursue after the knowledge of, and communion with God, in order to a rational, religious, spiritual, gracious perfect and unchangeable life; enjoying themselves in the blessed enjoyment of God, the enjoyment of whom satisfieth all their desires, rewards all their duties, requites all their sufferings, compleats all their happiness; crowns and perfects true Religion. They endeavour that on earth, which they hope for in heaven; viz. a right knowledge and a willing performance, which as reasonable they owe for ever to God their Maker, Preserver, and Redeemer in Christ. With this religious frame and temper, of which themselves only are consciencious they prepare for a glorious and blessed immortality, with a sincerity of heart, and uprightness of conversation, which hath no other Rule but Gods Word, no other End but Gods Glory, no other Comfort but the Constancy of this Disposition to their Lives end. Innocent men, they look for one common Salvation they use one common Sacrament, they professe one Faith and Rule of Holinesse, they have one Gracious Temper, the same inward sense of Duty and Devotion; they walk in the same order with the Catholick Church over the face of the earth.
10. Doe you envy me my Patrimony and Maintenance, what the Law of God allows me, what the Gospel hath provided me, what the piety of elder times hath bestowed upon me, what good Kings, Peers and people of their own endowed me with, freely honouring the Lord with their substance, that they that served the Altar, might live by the Altar? O why may not my children who attend the Gospel, live by the Gospel, since they attend a Ministry as venerable in its Mysteries, as clear in its Doctrine, as glorious in its chief Minister Jesus, as painful to it's Ministers, and as comfortable to pious and devout souls, as the Ministry of the Law? Why are you offended that they of my children that are taught, should communicate to them of my children that teach in every good thing?
11. Do you envy my just Power and Authority, whereby with the wisdome gravity and integrity of such men as are invested with that power, I may check all abuses and disorders in the Church, and by a well ordered discipline, I may recover my self to my former glory and renown, for which I was spoken of throughout the world?
12. Doe you except against the private infirmities, the personal failings of my Bishops and Ministers, as lesse strict and unblameable in their lives, less painful in their calling, lesse prudent in their undertakings, or lesse compassionate in their Government? though all the world knoweth that within me Learning flourisheth, Knowledge multiplyeth, Grace aboundeth, excellent Preaching thriveth, Sacraments are duelie administred, the fruits of Gods spirit are mightihe diffused, hospitable Kindness is exercised Christian charity is maintained, plain heartednesse and goods works are eminent; though I know the Christian world cannot shew men more eminent then some of my Clergy are for well-weighed knowledge for Christian Courage and Patience, for sincere piety, for indefatigable industry, for Care and Vigilancie, for exemplary Vertue, for sound Doctrine, useful Writing prudent Governing; for a firm Constancy for fatherly Instructions, charitable Corrections, and imitable Conversations; who guide the people without any allowed licentiousnesse in conversation, any undecency in Devotion, any irregularitie in Administration; in all which, according to the sacred direction of Gods Word, according to the heavenlie assistance of Gods spirit through Faith in Jesus Christ, they teach them to worship the only true God, who is blessed for ever; as the admirable instruments of Gods glory, and the good of mens souls: teaching them a fruitful and effectual Faith, a sound and judicious Knowledge, an hearty and sincere Love, a discreet and prudent Zeal, a severe and through Repentance, servent and devout Prayers, godly and unfeigned Sorrow, spiritual and unspeakable Comforts, well grounded and firm Hope heavenlie and holie Conversation, a meek obedience and submission in the general frame of Christian mens carriage. Though I have men famous for greatness of Learning soundness of Judgement gravity of Manners, and Sanctity of Lives; yet among my ten thousand Ministers, it's likely some may doe amiss. If when there were but three men in the world, one was a Murtherer; if among Noah's sons one of the three was disobedient; if among Jacob's children, of two one was prophane; if of twelve Apostles one was a Divel, another dissembled, and a third denyed his Master; if among the Asian Angels, there is none but was to be reproved; if among the few Primitive Preachers, there was a Demas that loved the present world, a Diotrephes that loved the pre-eminence: among my so many thousand Clergy; it's not likely but that some may fall short of the severe exactnesse required in all Ministers, who ought to be patterns in good works.
Oh my Clergy are not Angels, but men subject to the like infirmities with other men. If they should say they have no sin, they would deceive themselves, and the truth would not be in them: but if they confess their sins, he is faithful and just to forgive them their sins, and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness. Be Perfection the glory of other Churchmembers, the glory of mine is Sincerity. "Without all peradventure, the most holy and all-seeing God, who walketh in the midst of the Golden Candlesticks, whose pure eyes are most intent upon the Ministers of the Church, hath found iniquity in his servants the Bishops, and other Ministers, both as to their persons and professions; all things being open and naked to him with whom we have to do.
1. He observes how many consecrated and set apart to the service of God and his Church in the name, place, power and authority of Jesus Christ, and approaching his gracious presence with Aaron in the holy of holies, in the glorious manifestations of God in Christ to his Church, by publick Ordinances and spiritual Influences, have not so sanctified the Name of the Lord God, their God, in their Hearts and Lives in their Doctrines and Duties.
2. The great Searcher of hearts knoweth how rashly many of his Ministers undertake, how carelesly they manage that great and terrible work, under which Angels may swoon, and great Apostles cry, Who is sufficient for these things! how vulgarly they converse, how lazily they live, how loosely they behave themselves, how ambitiously they designe, how covetously they reach, how enviously they repine, how unexemplarily they walk unworthy of the favour and indulgence shewed them, to the amazement of their High-calling, the dishonor of their Profession, to the forfeiture of their Dignity and Plenty, the endangering of their Peace and Safety.
3. He that is about our paths, and about our dwellings, hath observed how unpreparedly, negligently and irreverently, how partially, popularly and passionately, how formally and vainly, without any power of godliness, Life of Religion, some performe the work of God, the great work of Eternal concernment to our own and other mens souls.
4. He whose eyes see, whose eye-lids try the children of men, hath looked down from heaven, and observed the iniquity of some mens holy things; their dead and unreasonable, instead of a living and acceptable service: he hath taken notice of that supine negligence which hath sunk some mens Ministrations below the just majesty, solidity and gravity of Gospel-dispensations; others by an affected height and depth for want of plain instruction and charitable condescending, amuse the poor people, who know not what they say, nor whereof they do affirm.
5. He that will reprove, and set mens sins in order before them, hath taken notice of some mens remiss compliance, and others exact rigours, (according to their private tempers, judgements and passions) whereby they swerved too much from that just charity, discretion, legality and constancy which my Canons intented, and my constitution, health and peace required; especially in the peevish touchinesse of these times, when so many subtle and envious ones lie in wait to destroy me.
Yet my Church-mens exorbitancies are not my constitutions, their failings are not my frame, their infirmities are not my nature; their fall is no more mine who disallows it, then the Angels fall may be the Heavens that forbid it: their weaknesses are humane my authority is divine: that charity which thinketh no evil, will not lay upon me those enormities which I forbid by a Law, which I restraine by Discipline, which I mourn for in mine Humiliation, and discountenance in those great patterns that shew a most excellent way. These sinnes (O the Christian world!) are transgressions of my Law, affronts to my Authority the baffles of my Canons and Injunctions. O that my Apologie were written, yea, printed in a book, for the satisfaction of the world, that the good that I would do, that I cannot do? and the evil that I would not doe that I do! I find a law of my members against the law of my mind: So that it's no more I, but the sins and the sinners that dwell in me.
4. It's you, it's you whom I have nourished and brought up as children, whom I have encouraged as Ministers, whom I have promoted as Governours; it's you that have brought this reproach and danger upon me. When I had with heroick patience endured the oppression of adversaries; by a Christian prudence defeated the attemps of Schismaticks, by an exemplary humility and piety turned the hearts of enemies, and by a miracle of Restauration silenced the mouths of all men; you my Sons, opened the mouth of scandal, strengthned the cry of reproach, raised the clamours of the envious. Oh, if an enemy had done this, I could with the same Christian courage I have suffered these twenty years, have born it; but it's you of my own bosome, family and profession: O you, my Clergy, whom I expected more glorious, more steemed, more reverenced before all the world, after your constant sufferings, who coming out of this fiery furnace, might shine brighter then ever you did with the love of Christ and of me his Church, both as to the care of those private charges and publik inspections, committed to you in excellent order, and by due authority: and I expected that neither pride nor envy, pomp nor popularity, neither covetousnesse nor ambition, should distract the thoughts, divide the hearts, exasperate the humours, or provoke the reproach of an incensed people against my Order and Government, and the good of all sorts of Christians. Whosoever of you, notwithstanding the miracles both of your sufferings and reliefe, at such a time as this, when the mouth of Hell is open against me, shall open any other mouth to joyne in the cry against the Church, give life or tongue to any scandalous sin, and set that to its clamans de terra, crying from the ground; that by luxury or sloth, by covetousnes or griping, by insolence or pride, by carelesness or loosenesse, by disorder and irregularitie, shall justifie mens malice against me, and by that means perswade credulous and easie people, that is true that hath been said of me, all is just that hath been inflicted upon me; I know not what Wo is heavy enough for him: O alas, my Brother! O it had been better for him he had never been born.
5. My Doctrince I can maintaine, my discipline I can assert, my constitution I can vindicate: You you, O my Sons, I cannot justifie: wo is me that I must hear your reproach, and cannot gain saie it. Five things there are that tend equallie to mine and your own ruine, which I must charge you before the world: Five things that will insensiblie undermine my famous Fabrick, which hath been the care and labour of so many years when erected, and the miracle of this last year when restored. These five sad Particulars, are,
1. Vndue Ordination.
2. An unconscionable Simony.
3. Carelesse Non-residence.
4. Loose Prophaneness.
5. Encroaching Pluralities.
The Church of England's resentment of Undue Ordination.
ALthough I am well satisfied (whatever the Romanists and others have of late suggested) that my Ordination is Authentick, Primitive and proper in the form of it; is valid in the Author, being by men ordained in an uninterrupted succession by the Primitive Bishops, as they were by the Apostles, and the Apostles by Christ, and Jesus Christ by God himself; and is regular and legal in the circumstances of it, being agreeable to the established Lawes of the Realm; yet not without much regret must I confesse that solemn investiture of men to the great calling of Ministers, fallen much below its native glory much shrunk in its Primitive sacrednesse and reverence, and extreamly decayed in its first esteem and honour, because my Reverend Bishops in the great intricacies of late alterations, are surprized to bestow the honour of that high calling, 1. upon the Young, 2. upon the Unlearned, 3. upon the Debauched; and 4. upon the Factious.
Of Young Ministers, whereof I have a Call of above 3000.
WO is me! when I have those that teach before they have learned; that I have those that would instruct others, and have need themselves be instructed which are the first principles of the Doctrine of Christ. Instead of the ancient Fathers, we have children who are made Priests in all Lands. Former times honoured my excellent Clergy for their age and gravity, reverenced them for their learning and austerity and esteemed them as the wonder of the world; and said, Ask the Father, and he will shew thee; thine ancients, and they shall tell thee: this age slights them for their youth and weakness, for their ignorance and unexperience, as persons that are but of yestardy, and know nothing. We have understanding, saith the common people to the young men, as well as you: we are not inferiour to you; yea, who knoweth not such things as these? As the Patriarchs separated their first-born for the Priest-hood, and Moses & Aaron reserved themselves many years for their Ministries, and the Law prepared men thirty years for the sacred service; and the blessed Jesus, the Preacher of righteousness, entred not until the thirtieth year of his Age upon the great work of the Ministry: so my Bishops, knowing how to behave themselves in the work of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth, took heed to themselves and the flocks over which the holy Ghost had made them Overseers, that they laid hands suddenly on no man, neither were partakers of other mens sins, but keep themselves pure, taking care that men be first proved, and then use the Office of a Deacon, being found blamelesse; and then when they had used the Office of a Deacon well and purchased to themselves a good degree of a Priest or Bishop, then they took care that they should be blamelesse, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach:--not Novices, left being lifted up with pride, they fall into the condemnation of the Devil.-- Moreover, they took care they might have a good report of them that are without, lest they fall to reproach and condemnation of the Devil. But now, since the loosenesse of these late times, there are admitted to the Priesthood of the meanest of the people, who are not the sons of Levi: as in Jeroboam's days, every one that will, is made a Priest, that he may have bread to eat. Those Pulpits that were filled with ancient Fathers, are now Desks for young children: those solemne Assemblies that were rapt up into the third Heaven with pious Sermons and devout Prayers, hear the late pedantique Herangues and juvenile Orations with scorn and laughter: those people that thronged to hear the wisdome of God delivered in the demonstration of the Spirit and with power, are quite weary of that true foolishnesse of Preaching, that consists onely in the childish wisdome of words, and in the trifling enticing words of mans wisdome. I had reverend men that shewed themselves a pattern of good works, in Doctrine shewing uncorruptnesse, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned; that they that were of The contrary party were ashamed, having no evill to say of them, when I ordained Elders in every City. I had men blameless, sober, just, holy, temperate; whose judgements were setled, whose passions were allayed, whose affections were composed, whose actions were advised, and conversation exact and uniforme: since, every one did what was good in his own eyes. My young Ministers have been unstable in all their ways, unsetled in their minds, rash in their undertakings, imprudent in their carriage, weak in their discourses unexperienced in their behaviour not even, orderly and stayed in their conversation; to the grief of good men who esteem all Ministers very highly in love for their works sake; to the joy of those evil men that have ill-will for Sion, who cry Aha, aha, so would we have it. O young men, who requireth these things at your hands? Why do you run before I am willing to send you? O how dare you take this Office upon you, until you are called with solemn preparation, as was Aaron? Are not you afraid (now you have newly passed the elements of Philosophy, and the first principles of Nature) to look into those mysteries which the Angels desire to look into, to search into that knowledge which passeth knowledge? Are not you afraid to ascend that Pulpit whither Luther said he never ascended (though very aged) without fear and trembling? Are not you afraid to undertake that dreadful work from which the Prophets fled, the Fathers avoided, the Primitive Pastors trembled at? Do you know what you do, when you undertake to be Embassadors in Christs stead to bring back the world to God, to be Co-workers with God in the salvation of souls, to be Angels of the Church, to be as Stars in Gods right hand, to be Stewards of the misteries of God, to watch for precious souls as they that must give an account?--How can you govern others, who cannot govern your selves? What power have you over others, who have hardly any power over your selves? What esteem can you find among them, who will naturally dispise your youth? Did not Philosophy think you fit (O young men) to hear Morals, and shall Divinity admit you to read divine Lectures? How can you in the heat of youth, in the vigour of your lusts, appear in the world perswading men to mortifie their lusts, to crucifie the flesh with the affections and lusts? With what hope can you endeavour to compase the world to that great Rule, to which you cannot compose your selves? How will you behave your selves as Guides among persons whose years and experience are so much beyond yours? How impertinently will you converse? how weakly will you discourse? how imprudently will you deal? how contemptibly will you live among a staid and discreet people, wiser then you in their Generations?
The goodness of God having furnished man with two chief Instruments (saith an incomparable man) both necessary for this life hands to exercise, and a mind to devise great things; the one is not profitable longer then the vigour of youth doth strengthen it, nor the other greatly till age and experience have brought it to perfection.
Of Dibauched Men ordained, 1500.
OH, am I, as Julian blasphemed, the sanctuary of all prophaneness? Am I a refuge for all licentiousness? Whom a strict Colledge expels, whom the severe University discountenanceth, whom civil men note with a mark of hatred and abhorrence, must I admit to my sacred Order, and honour with my most solemne Ministrations? My care is, that each Minister should be of an holy and unblameable conversation: What have these poor creatures to doe to take Gods Word held forth by me in their mouths, seeing they hate to be reformed? O my reverend Sons, what, do you bring a man to teach the world a God and his service, Who is without God in the world?--What, do you send them to speak of that God who is not in all their thoughts? Why are they employed to propagate the knowledge of God, who desire that the knowledge of the holy One may cease from them? To what purpose do they preach an holy Life, who never intend to live it? Why do they put those poor souls to pray for those things of God, which they doe not desire? to read that Bible which they do not believe, to bind those heavy burthens upon the people, which they themselves do not intend to bear? to teach that on the Sabbath demurely, which they will contradict throughout the Week profanely? Is there any need of authorizing publick patterns of impiety? Do you intend to destroy what ye have built? I know you not. Why then do you send lewd Ministers to teach men by an evil example that prophanenesse which I have endeavoured to reform by my good instruction? Wo is me, that I see those within me running to all excess of riot, who are employed to teach a pure Religion, and undefiled before God. You, O reverend Fathers taught men to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, justly and godly in this present world; and will you suffer men to go from among you to reach all ungodlinesse and worldlie lusts? O alas! one man a Divine and a Beast! What consecrated to God, and devoted to sin! An abomination in the holie place!--"Behold, thou are called a Minister, and restest in the Law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the Law; and art confident that thou thy selfe art a Guide to the blind, a light of them which are in darknesse, an Instructor of the foolish, a Teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge, and of the truth of the Law, thou therefore that teacherst another, teachest thou not thy self? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adulterie? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit Sacriledge? thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the Law dishonourest thou God? for the Name of God is blasphemed among the people through you.
Of Unlearned Men Ordained.
I Am ashamed that than ignorance which formerlie found preferment should now find orders too; and that I should settle them legally in that calling, whereunto I alwaies said they had illegallie intruded themselves. It was too much to suffer that daring ignorance to Vsurp the sacred Office, much more to consecrate it to it. The late Miscarriages want nothing to compleat them, but to be hallowed. The Catholick Church never entertained a Ministry but what was qualified either with extraordinarie gifts from above, or with humane learning from below: by which the mind being instructed and improved in all the riches of wisdome and knowledge, which are part of the glorie and image of God in man; by this learning all truths are clearlie unfolded. How do you think poor souls can clear divine truths, lying hid in the depth darknesse and ambiguity of Original words, without skill in Languages? How can the attain the genuine and emphatick sense of the Word of God without skill in the Original words and phrases? How can they maintain the truths I have established, and confute the errours I have condemned? How can they detect the fallacies with which my poor people are deluded, and convince the gain-sayers with which I am troubled, and discover those sophisms in which poor souls wrap themselves, darkning wisdome with words without understanding, without the art of sound reasoning? How can they convey the holy truths they are furnished with to others, without an holy Eloquence, a sacred Perswasion and Rhetorick, which may commend them to mens minds, and enforce them upon their hearts? how can they satisfie themselves and others in the Controversies of this Age, without the Observations, Histories and Customs of former Ages; and standing in the wayes, and asking for the old, which is the good way, and walk therein, so find rest for their souls?
How is it possible for those poor creatures to understand sundry passages of Scripture, depending upon propriety of words & idioms, or upon the Customs, Rites, Proverbs, Forms, Usages Laws, Offices and Antiquitie of the Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman Governments, without a competent portion of humane Learning? My Religion was as the Kings Daughter, all glorious within; attended on by Arts and Sciences, those Handmaids who cloathed her with garments wrought with needle-work of divers colours, embroidering her with pathetick Elegancies, with solid Eloquence and Orations, with Sublimity and Gravity, with Method and Acuteness, with excellent Morals, and useful Observations of a very sober sense. But now; alas it's exposed to a prophane world, with the ridiculous impertinencies and foolish adventures of men zealous, but not according to knowledge. What empty discourses do I hear? what incoherent Notions do I read? what vain trifles am I troubled with? what pillering learned mens works do I endure? O what abundance of things should a Minister understand! O what a great defect is it to be ignorant of them! O how much doe we miss a competent Knowledge in ordinary Ministers! 1. To satisfie themselves and others exactly in the true and original will of God. 2. To explain and unfold the words in which Gods will is originally expressed, and to endeavour by all means a right notion and conception of them, as they are to be understood in the Scripture. 3. To shew exactly what are those saving truths which are naturally contained in those words so explained. 4. To confirm those truths so drawn out of the Scripture, by such evident Arguments and powerful Reasons as may establish the true believer, and convince the Gainsayer 5. To press those truths so made manifest upon men with that power, that they may have their proper influence and efficacy upon mens hearts and lives. The honest men that are industrious, I would willingly encourage provided they have what I wished alwaies, and shall now expect in all my Priests and Deacons solidity, gravity, modesty piety, and some savour of Learning, with humility and zeal, with humanity; some methods of intelligible Reason, and profitable Scripture-Divinity.--The Law was published by Moses, learned in all the Learning of the Egyptians: the Gospel was propagated by St. Paul, bred up at the feet of Gamaliel, to all the varieties of Heathenish and Jewish knowledge: the Primitive Fathers (as Clemens Alex. Euseb. Tertul. St. Aug. St. Ambrose Min. Fel. Lactant. and others) maintained the Faith so propagated, by their comprehensive Learning. Therefore I have taken care that none should be admitted to Orders but they who are approved by sober and wise men as have given themselves wholly to these things, that their profiting may appear unto all, as men of whom there is some hope, because of their promptness of wit, quickness of conceit, fastness of memory, clearnesse of understanding, soundnesse of judgement, and readinesse of speech; that they may in time, by art, industry, experience and observation, become skilful Linguists, subtle Disputants, copious Orators, exact Critiques, comprehensive Historians, profound Divines, and powerful Preachers; that throughout the three Kingdomes I may have those that may settle the people rightly, instruct the ignorant clearly, satisfie the doubtful fully, meet with the seducers skilfully, and promote piety and peace succesfully. As the times now are, wherein Learning aboundeth even unto wantonnesse, and wherein the world is full of Questions, Controversies, Novelties and Niceties in Religion, and wherein most of our Gentry and people are (by the advantage of long peace, and the customes of modern Education, together with a multitude of English Books) are able to look through the ignorance of a Clergy-man, and censure it, if he be tripping in any point of History, Cosmography, Moral or Natural Philosophy, Divinity or the Arts; yea, and to chastise his very method and phrase, if he speaks loosely or impertinently, or but improperly. I, as these times are, must not admit any Clergy-men without a competency of Learning; as who may endeavour by their prayers, care and industry to improve the Learning they have, so as they may be able upon good occasion to impart a spiritual gift to the people of God, whereby they may be established, and to speak with such understanding, sufficiencie and pertinencie, in some good measure of proportion to the quicknesse and ripeness of these present times; shewing in their Doctrine uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech which cannot be condemned; that they which are of the contrary party may be ashamed, having no evil to say of them. I whose Clergy professed to use, and prayed to God to blesse their long Preparative Studies, Mediations, Writings, Readings, habitually to fit them for that dreadful work, and for every actual discharge of it; I am ashamed of those poor Smatterers, who have gathered a few raw and indigested Notions, either by superficial reading of the Scriptures, or by hearing some Sermons, or by gleaning a little here and there from the plainest Writings, (without any Critical, Historical, or Polemical Learning) who are fit implements to bring in such ignorance, irreverence, Atheism, Superstition and Confusion, as shall quite put out the Christian and reformed Religion in this Nation, (reducing all to the ancient darkness, looseness and barbarousness) which hath been established by persons of real abilities, of good Learning, sound knowledge, sober Judgements, orderly Method grave Utterance, and weighty Eloquence; which all wise and sober Christians expect should appear in every true Minister of the Church of Christ, insuch a competent measure and evident manner, as they may be able comfortably to discern them and usefully to enjoy them. I am ashamed to see a Roll of four hundred and fix and twenty Tradesmen, who, 1. out of desultory restlesness, 2. out of covetousness and ambition, 3. out of sullennesse and discontent, 4 out of pride and envy, having intruded in former years into the sacred Calling of a Minister, are now ordained to it. I am ashamed that my Authority should consecrate their Extravagancies; and that what I looked upon as the misery of late times, should be allowed in this; that I should countenance vain men that run from that Calling wherein they are called, and usurp the Office, Honour and Authority of that sacred Priesthood and Evangelical Ministry, instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ, as sent of God the Father; a mischief that greatly threatneth the Church and State, Faith and good Manners, all things Civil as well as Sacred. O what wise and honest hearted Protestant (that hath any care of posterity, or prospect for the future) findes not a sad dispondency, with an holy impatience arising in his soul, while he seeth so many weak shoulders, such unwashen hands, such unprepared feet, such rash heads, such empty souls publikly intruding themselves upon all holy Duties, all sacred Offices, all solemn Mysteries, all divine Ministrations with equal insolency and insufficiency, being for the most part so much the more impudent, by how much they are grosly ignorant; in whom you cannot discern any either rational or religious, orderly or honest expressions in any degree proportionable to what was observable in my most solid Ministers, my most acute Scholars, and most profound Divines, who have been hitherto my support and Ornament. Certainly (Reverend Fathers) you will not so debase and undervalue the Evangelical Offices of Christ, as to admit every self-flatterer and obtruder presently to officiate, without any due examination or approbation from those with whom that commission and power hath been ever deposited in a regular and visible succession from Christ, the great Examplar or Original although: (duely considering the diversities of gifts from the same Spirit) you are not to exclude any modest person though of meaner parts and less improved education) if he be of ingenious education, of pious affections, and an orderly life) from a place in Christs Ministry where one may sow, another may reap, according to the several dispensations and gifts of the same God, who worketh all and in all.
The Church of England's resentment of the thirteen hundred forty and two factious Ministers that have been lately ordained.
YEt I will justifie you (O ye my reverend Sons) in this, that though you were surprized to ordain young men, yet you hoped that years might improve them; and debauched, yet you may hope that Discipline may reform them; and unlearned men, yet you may hope that time (with Gods blessing upon their private industry and studious piety) may instruct them; but I cannot with patience see your hands laid upon their heads so suddenly for their Ordination, who laid their hands lately upon you for your ruine. O that mine head were waters, that mine eyes were a fountain of tears, to weep for the unhappinesse of the daughter of my people, that must needs unadvisedly authorize men principled against its Government, prejudiced against its Order, prepossessed against its Liturgy, and privately practising against its peace and happiness! In vain doth Authority silence your old adversaries, if you consecrate new ones: in vain do they suppress the former race of Non-conformists if you raise up a new Generation, a seed of evil doors, children that are corrupters.--Shall we perpetuate our miseries, and keep up our unhappinesse? Must a sad race of Dissenters run parallel with the Orthodox succession to the end of the world? whereby I must languish and die, my reformed Religion must decay, my piety and charity must be weakned, and my Authority and discipline languish. What eye will pity me when I have raised those men that shall ruine me, when I have commissioned those men that shall oppose me, and given them an opportunity for popular applause who shall use it against me? without my leave, no Ordination; no Ordination, no pretence to preach; no preaching, no publick, opportunity to seduce whole multitudes against Doctrine and Discipline, against Order and Government. My safety is now in mine own hands: if I take care whom I prefer, I need not care whom I may fear: if I carefully chuse my Ministers I need not offensively suspend them: if I took care whom I ordained, I might without any noise put an end to all my trouble: Mortality would silence those Ministers that now disturb my peace, and my care may prevent any more. How ominously do some men discourse? how popularly do they endeavour to preach? what dangerous intimations do they make? how untowardly do they confirm? how ackwardly doe they use my Ceremonies? and read my Liturgy? When I consider the general approbation and submission to my Government and Discipline before the Wars, by all the Clergy and Layty of these Kingdomes; and withal, remember how contrary to true Learning and honest Integrity, as if they understood not what they did, or that they did conform contrary to their conscience, contrary to their former oaths and practise, against their obedience to the Laws in being before the points in controversie had any free and impartiall debate, these men cryed; down the established Government and Religion, and approved and encouraged the violent and most illegal Extravagancies, tending to the utter ruine of Religion and Government.
Indeed I must confesse that most of all sides who have thought or done amisse, have done so not out of malice or wilfulness, but out of mis-information or mis-apprehension of things: and therefore I charitably think none will be more faithful then those persons who upon mature deliberation being made sensible of their errours, doe feel in their hearts most vehement motives of repentance, and earnest desires to make some reparations for former defects. Yet such sincere Converts are they, who are not so much-frighted with the sudden miscarriage, as convinced of the continued errour of their ways; who are rather perswaded by the truth and reason I always urged, then awed by the authority and power I now enjoy; and so are not blindly carried on by that Providence that advanceth me now, as it did, and may again overturn me; but are rationally wrought upon by the pregnant evidence of the Word, the clear practice of the Catholick Church, the best Comment upon that Word, and the irresistable strength of Reason for Order and obedience, upon which I was alwayes established, which they have not rashly complyed with, until they had examined all Allegations impartially, surveyed the merit of the Cause leasurely, waited upon God by prayer humbly, searched the will of God and the constant practise of good men diligently and sincerely, conversed with good and knowing men profitably and satisfactorily, and denyed themselves in all worldly respects most Christianly. The Lapsed were not formerly admitted to the communion of Christians, much less to the honour of Ministers, without that discreet delay wherein they might have time to satisfie themselves in the reason, and others in the sincerity of their repentance and conversion. With that caution was the Jewish Proselyte received to the Synagogue? with what care ought a Christian be brought to the Pulpit? Do they serve God in this complyance, or do they serve the time? If they serve God, he was the same as yesterday, so to day, and for ever. Do they serve the times? God forbid that they who teach a Religion whose interest is in another world, should yet own no more Religion then may consist with their interest in this. Alas, (say poor souls, distracted with alterations of times and men, to their unconstant Ministers) is this way lawful you submit to? why then did you declare it superstitious, Popish, and intolerable these twenty years, before God, Angels and Men? Is it unlawful? why do you practise it now? Was it against your Consciences all the while it was discountenanced, and is it agreeable to your Consciences now it is upon a sudden countenanced? Oh have you perswaded us these twenty years to venture Lives and Estates against those things you allow and practise! Is it for this you prayed? Is it for this we fought? is this the issue of all our blood and treasure? &c. Oh it's a sad thing to see men in the same Desk reading Common-prayer in a Surplice, where they preach'd against both Common prayer and Surplice. Oh it's a sad thing to see men build up in a day, that which they have destroyed these twenty years. It's intolerable to see men keep their places by Conformity, which they gained by Non-conformity; when they turned out honest men by crying down my Government and Worship, now they keep them out by compliance with my Government and Worship. Alas, to see men Presbyterian in the beginning of the War, Independent in the end of it, and now Episcopal. Where shall we stop? Where we are now, we know; where we shall be a year hence, God knoweth. Alas, is a good Living the onlie Creed men have? and Preferment their only Confession of Faith? It was a miracle that St. Peter could convert three thousand at one Sermon, it's nothing now that his Majestie hath converted ten thousand Ministers with one glance of his eye. Ah, blessed Hammond, thou didst write rationallie; excellent Gauden, thou didst perswade powerfullie; devout Taylor, thou didst urge patheticallie: honest Nicholson, thou didst answer satisfactorilie: solid Sanderson, thou didst see clearly; holy Usher and Hall, you did offer moderatelie, heartily and learnedly.--But who O ye worthies! believed your report? who would hear you? who was convinced by you? The King is restored, I flourish, and dispose of all Preferments, and my Converts are innumerable. Well, I have but two Wishes; the first is, That all who have gone astray may be reclaimed to the way of truth; the second is, That all who are reclaimed, may be reclaimed from mature deliberation, and a serious consideration of all that can be alleadged on all hands, trying all things and upon good grounds holding fast that which is good. Give me the men who conform upon the conscience of my principles, and not upon the prosperity of my Cause; --who can neglect the most successful errour, and own the most afflicted truth; who are settled upon my principles which are constant, and not upon my preferments which are uncertain. Is it the Kings Majesties favour they depend upon? he may fail. Is it the Church-Government they depend upon? that may fail. Is it Church-encouragement they stick to? that may fail, Is it the ancient Truth and Faith they comply with? that hath never failed, and that will never fail. Give me Ministers who as they preach, so live upon the things which are not seen, and not the things which are seen; the things which are seen are temporal, the things which are not seen eternal.
And must I have a Samaritan of Religion? serve the true God in the Temple, and the Calves at Bethel? Must I have a sound form of words in the Desk, and an extempory effusion in the Pulpit? must I have the same man read Episcopally to walls, and preach factiously to a throng? use the Ceremonies, and say to his confidents, They are a burden to him? use the Surplice, yet unwilling to give offence? use the Crosse in Baptism yet say I wish it were forborn? Well, I shall never forget the words of a wise and judicious Father, now with God: "They themselves (meaning the Non conformists) when time was seemed to be, and if they dissembled not, which we are unwilling to believe, were indeed reasonable well affected: for they submitted to Government, used the liturgie, and observed the Ceremonies appointed according to Law and order; and gave their own professed approbation of the same, as well by express words from their mouths, as by subscription under their hands yet remaining upon record: what hath wrought this change in them, (evidence of reason, or worldly interest) and how far it hath wrought upon them (in reality, or but in complyance) and in what order too, (by immediate assault upon their judgment, or by dealing, under hand first with their affection) themselves do or should best know. It highly concerneth them as much as the peace of their consciences are worth, (and much more then so) to be well assured that their hearts are upright in this affair: and in order thereunto, not to content themselves with slight and overly examination, (there is more wickedness and deceitfulness in the hearts of all men, then most men are aware of) but to make the more diligent, distinct and impartiall search possible into the true Causes and Motives of this Change; (and for so much as fears and hopes have been ever found the fittest engines to work such seats) to enquire particularly what influence or opperation either the fear of loosing what they had, or the hope of getting more might have in this work towards the producing such an effect." It will best become others to judge as charitably as they may; but doubtlesse it will be safest for them to be very jealous over themselves, lest so great a Change could not have been wrought in so short a space, without a strong infusion of the one, or of the other, or both into the Medicine that wrought it; especially since the conjuncture of time wherein this change happened, may very probably raise some suspition that a visible hope and advantage had some co-operation at lest with whatsoever was the principal cause of this so sudden an alteration. If not so, nor so, but that they find themselves clearly convinced in their judgements of their former errour, and that they are fully perswaded that they are now in a better way then that wherein they formerly walked, it is happy for them, and I doubt not but that they will finde matter of rejoycing in it if they be not mistaken (a thing not impossible) in the tryal of their own hearts. O that I had men that in the change of times were unchangeable in their mind and opinion and to hold to their former and well-grounded Principle, so long as they can neither apprehend any reason of sufficient strength to convince their understandings that they are in the wrong, or to manifest unto them the necessity of making such a change.
The Church of England's resentment of Scandalous Profanenesse.
OH you, my Sons, why doe you these things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Oh, Sirs, my God above looks upon you, and is provoked; the blessed Angels see you their fellow-servants, (for you are a spectacle to God and Angels) and are grieved; wicked men observe you, and blaspheme God; good men behold you, and are ashamed. Is it for this that you are delivered, that you may work wickednesse? Hath God punished you, and will you yet sin more and more? Will not twelve years sufferings reform? will not twenty years reproaches awake you? will not miracles of judgement decer you from evil? will not miracles of mercy oblige you to good? Oh, despise you the riches of Gods goodness towards you, not knowing that the goodness of God should lead you to repentance? But after your hardnesse and impenitency of heart, will you treasure up more wrath against another day of wrath? Is this the return you make to a gracious God, to dishonour him? Is this your kindnesse to me, to undoe me? Is this your gratitude for the publick favours of King and Parliament to be utterly unworthy? Religion hath honoured you with a high Calling; you betray it: Your Prince vouchsafed you Royal Favours; you shame him; Honest people afford you their pity and compassion; you deceive them. Is this your kindness to your friends?
I saw indeed the late scandalous Centuries, but I neglected them as slanders and calumnies: I heard the late complaints and outcries, but slighted them as I do envy, malice and hatred. Dreadful things were daily suggested against you; great things were daily offered for you: the Faction reviled, the Orthodox maintained you: sober men writ for you; but now you confute them: holy men excused you; but you contradict them: good and great men spoke for you; but who will now believe them? Must you needs justifie Malice it self? Must you needs justifie what Uncharitableness it self durst not suggest against you? Doe you hear what they say;--There, there go your Ministers? If you hear not what they say, see what you are: You are the salt of the earth; if the salt now loose its favour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be troden under foot of men. You are the salt; yet, how unsavoury? you are the light of the world, and do you walk as children of light? are you burning are you shining lights? Oh your carelesnesse, Oh your indifferency in matter of Religion! Oh how negligently you doe the work of the Lord, while you know God is serious in the Word he speaks, in the Judgements he afflicts, in the Mercies he bestows! When you know Christ is serious in redeeming souls, the holy Spirit is serious in sanctifying them, the Devil is serious in undoing them; the whole Creation is serious round about you. How you Triffle with immortal souls! how you play with the great and terrible work of the Ministrie! how formallie you do pray! how unconcernedlie you do preach! how vainlie and unprofitablie do you discourse! how unevenlie do you walk! What, do you speak for Eternitie? doe you preach for Immortalitie? Are you sent of God? are you here to save souls? and yet Gallio-like, care for none of those things? Wo is me, to see you walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the way of sinners, and sit in the seat of the scornful; whose delight should be in the Law of the Lord, in whose law you should meditate day and night! What, the same man laugh at Religion, and preach it! the same soul Droll upon serious Holinesse in company, and yet urge it in the great Congregation! What, perswade men to vertue in the Pulpit, and laugh men out of it in the Parlour! Where is that serious; Holinesse that crowned, that solemn Gravitie that adorned, that severe Vertue that advanced my sober Ministers, my Reverend Pastors, and holie men? Where is thy pious Spirit, devout HALL! where is thy gracious Temper, excellent USHER! where is thy even and setled Frame, serious HAMMOND! where is thy virtuous deportment, Famous MORTON! where is thy rationall, well-weighed, and staved soul, O venerable SANDERSON! In England as in Rama, there is a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning; I as Rachel, weeping for my excellent children: but they are not. Wo is me for your Covetousness. O ye my sons, than you instruct men for another world, yet look not beyond this; that you who are sent to teach men to live by faith should yet live by sense; that you who teach faith the evidence of things not seen, should yet eye onlie the things which are seen. Oh shame! self-denyal is the great dutie you enjoyne, self-seeking is the great sin you are guiltie of Love not the world, is one of the most remarkable Axiomes of our Religion; Love the world, is the considerablest rule of your lives. I have coveted no mans silver or gold, saith the Apostle: Oh what say you? I seek not yours, but you, saith he: I seek not you, but yours, say you, Neither at any time used I a cloak for covetousnesse, God is my witnesse, saith the Apostle: Oh, what you have done, God and men are witness, Give me the souls, (saith Abraham) take thou the goods: Give us the goods (say you) take you the souls. Is to live to Christ in this sense, thy gain? is to die to him, thy advantage? Alas! Alas!
Oh your debauched courses, (you vile and sordid souls) An holy Calling, and an unholy Life! Spirituall persons, and yet live after the flesh! a clean Garment, and an unclean heart! servants of God, and yet servants of sin! reverend in your Function, and yet shameful in your Lives! a Minister, and yet given to Wine! a Priest, and yet wanton! in holy Orders, and yet in riotous Disorder! walk circumspectly, and yet reel! a man devoted to the Study and the Closet, in chambering and wantonnesse! conversation in heaven, and in Ale-houses and Taverns! studie Eternity, and yet trifle away time! stand at the Communion of Saints, yet sit down in the company of scorners! Oh these things ought not to be.
Thus vile you are and yet you are proud; thus dishonouring your selves, and yet ambitious. Learne of me (said Christ) for I am meek and lowly: Look upon you, you are proud and Lordly. I made you Ministers for the service of souls, you advance your selves to be Rulers. I taught every soul of you to be subject; you are impatient of subjection. Humility and meeknesse was the glory of my Ministers; haughtiness and pride is your shame. Were you raised by the favour of God and men lately, to be high now? God remembred, and man pitied you in your low estate; God will remember, and man will punish you in your high estate. You humbled your selves, and you were exalted; you exalt your selves, and you may be made low. Oh the pride that composeth your Sermons, that contrives your designes, that fills your thoughts, that formeth your countenances, that putteth the Accents and Emphasis on your Words, that ordereth your Habit, modelleth your Gestures; that makes you aim at your selves in all you do, and forget God; when you should aim at God, and forget your selves. Shall Ministers that bring men to Heaven, live in pride, that cast Angels to Hell?
You are proud, poor souls, and ye must be contentious too: Ambassadours of peace ye are, yet in strife and envie: you profess a Gospel of peace, yet what emulation? what wrath? Christ lest peace among you when he went to Heaven, shall he find peace when he returns from Heaven? Oh no: though Religion obligeth you to peace, although divisions have undone us, although Truth be almost lost, the power of Godliness be decayed, good men be grieved I be endangered; though enemies be encouraged, and Atheism be promoted by your unhappy differences; yet still you quarrel, still you dispute. Why doe you strive, seeing ye are brethren? Have you not one God? have you not one Faith? have you not one Baptism? have you not one Hope? Oh why do you not keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? why these jealousies, these fears, these distances, these bitternesses? I mark them which cause divisions contrary to the truth and peace; I always owned, and shall avoid them. Bishop Usher proposed what was moderate, you hearkned not; Bishop Davenant writ peaceablie, you read him not; Bishop Sanderson offered modestly, you regarded him not: many sober men offered healing Principles agreeable to the Concessions on all hands, yet they are neglected: God himself united you in your miseries, yet you disagree in your judgements; he joined you in sufferings, yet you divide your selves in his service. O tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Askelon,--that Ministers of the Gospell disagree among themselves, and head and lead their people to disagreements. What, shall a Minister live and not love? How do you Read? How is it Written? Is it not, Follow peace with all men as much as in you lieth, if it be possible? Doe not you read, doe not you preach thus? Oh why do you not live thus? Yea, there is utterlie a fault among you, that you fall out with your Neighbours. Now there is utterlie a fault among you, That you go to Law one with another, I speak this to your shame, Why do not you rather suffer wrong? why do not you suffer your selves to be defrauded? How preach you? how read you? is it not, that ye resist not evil? and if any man shall sue thee at the Law, and take away thy coat, give him thy cloak also. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness and wisdome: but if you have bitter envyings and strifes in your hearts, glorie not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdome descendeth not from above, but is earthlie, sensual and divellish; for where envying and strife is, there is confusion and everie evil work: but the wisdome which is from above, is first pure, and then peaceable gentle, easie to be intreated, full of mercie and of good works, without partialitie, without hypocrisie: and the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Well, if you go on professing Religion indifferently, doing the work of God negligentlie; if you carrie on one he a form of godlinesse hypocriticallie; if you live without the grace of God within you prophanelie; if you live without the fear of God before you looselie; if you live without the love of God uncharitablie; if you live against your profession shamefully: farwel the most flourishing Church, farwell Ordinances, farwel Ministry, farwel Comforts, farwel Blessings, farwel our Glorie, farwel our God; and wo unto us when he is departed from us.
Oh my Sons, hearken to this one Wish; and Oh that it be not my last!--For Gods sake, for your own sake for my sake, for three Kingdoms sake, for our gracious Kings sake for the sake of late Posteritie.
TAKE HEED TO YOUR SELVES.
1. That you want not that grace you offer others; that when you save others, you perish not as Cast-a-ways your selves. Oh feel the power of that Religion you preach, and preach the power you feel: Be what you perswade others to be.
2. Take heed to your selves and consider what manner of men ye ought to be in all holie conversation and godliness.
3. Take heed to your selves, that you pull not down with a wicked life what you build up with an holie Doctrine. If there be no such thing as Religion, preach it not; if there be live it; if a loose life may be allowed, do not preach against it: and if it may not be allowed, do not live it; be not deceived, and deceive not others. Doe you know the judgement of God that all that commit such things as you do, are worthy of death? then why do you do them? if not, why do you preach the other? Oh preach exactly, and live exactly: as you think all the week how to speak upon Sunday, so resolve upon Sundaie how to live all the week. How curiouslie you preach! Oh how carleslie you live!
4. Take heed to your selves, and walk wiselie towards them that are without; that whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed, considering the nature and end of your conversation.
Oh take heed to your selves: You have many eies upon your infirmities; you have many spectators of your falls, to find, to aggravate, and to publish them: God forbid that you should do evil in the eies of the whole world; the good part whereof watcheth on your Vertues, to imitate you: the evil part watcheth on your Vices, to traduce you; you are as lights upon a hill, O walk as in the light.
Take heed to your selves: if not for others, yet for your own immortal souls. Oh preach not of Heaven, and fall short of it: Oh preach not of Hell, and fall into it; of grace and dutie, and yet live without them.
Oh take heed to your selves. Vigilant is your Tempter, great are your tryals, many are your temptations much the opposition you will meet: for weightie is your work: you destroie the power of Satan: you engage the power of hell: Oh take heed to yourselves.
Oh take heed to your selves. You have the same nature with others, but you commit not the like sins with others: the sins that dwell in you are the same with other mens, the sins that are committed by you are greater then other mens: Oh watch that over your evill nature, take care of your great transgressions: 1. Against knowledge, wilfullie: 2. Against your truth, unfaithfullie: 3. Against your profession, hypocriticallie: 4. Against others, verie offensivelie; against the honour of God and his waies, verie dangerouslie; who is blasphemed by the ignorant and ungodly through you.
Take heed to your selves, that you may be blessed in your undertaking. Let your waies please God, as you hope God will bless your waies.--if not for your own, yet for other mens souls sake take heed to your selves: speak from your hearts to their hearts: be not intangled by sin, that you may be able to speak against sin. Oh do as you preach, that the world may see you mean as you preach.
Oh reverend Fathers, enjoin my wholesome Canons severelie, visit mens live and carriages exactlie, oversee the flocks over which the holie Ghost have made you overseers, carefullie: Pittie Religion that is a dying; pittie me that am decaying; pittie your selves that are again falling. Reform my Clergie, and you are safe; neglect them, and you perish: keep up the life and practise of Religion, and that will keep you; if the power of Religion be lost, the profession of it will; your Galling will fail, your Order will fail; and God knows what will be the end thereof: I fear nothing but sin, I want nothing but true grace eminent in all my Ministers, whereby they may please God adorn the Gospel, convince Gainsayers, and reform the world.
Have you not enjoined, That no Ecclesiasticall persons shall at any time, other then for their honest necessities, resort to any Taverns or Ale-houses, neither shall they Bord or Lodge in any such place? Furthermore, they shall not give themselves to any base or servile labour, or to Drinking or Ryotting, spending their time idly by day or night, playing at Dice, Cards or Tables, or any other unlawful Game; but at all times convenient they shall hear or read somewhat of the holy Scriptures, or shall occupy themselves with some other honest study or exercise, alwaies doing the things which shall appertain to honesty, and endeavouring to profit the Church of God; having always in mind that they ought to excel all others in purity of life, and should be examples of the people to live well, and Christianly, under pain of Ecclesiastical censures to be inflicted with severity, according to the qualities of their offences.
The Church of England's Complaint against Unconscionable Simony.
IN your other courses, O ye my Sons, fear of Authoritie may deter you, Conscience may check you, strict Lawes may restrain you, a severe over-sight may reform you: in this strange, in this sad miscarriage of Symony, I have made Laws, yet you transgresse them: I have enacted, 31 of Q. E. 6. "That if any persons, bodies Politick or Corporate, shall or do at any time for any sum of money, reward, gift, profit or benefit, directlie or indirectlie, or for or by reason of any Promise, Grant, Bond, Covenant, or other assurance of or for any sum of monie, reward, gift, profit, or benefit whatsoever, directlie or indirectlie, present or collate any person to any Benefice with cure of souls, Dignitie, Prebend, or Living Ecclesiastical; or give or bestow the same for or in respect of any such corrupt cause or consideration; that then everie such Presentation, Collation, Gift, &c. should be utterlie void, and of none effect in Law; and that any person accepting of any Ecclesiastical promotion upon such sordid accounts, shall be judged a disabled person in Law to have or enjoie any Benefice, Dignitie, Prebend, or Living Ecclesiasticall."----Yet still you truck for Livings, you market for Benefices; still you buy and sell in the Temple: this abomination is still forbidden, and yet still allowed: my Cannons tie from it by an Oath, yet you venture. You swear thus:
I, N. N. do swear, That I have made no Simonical payment, contract or promise, directly or indirectly, by my self, or by any other to my knowledge, or with my consent, to any person or persons whatsoever, for or concerning the procuring and obtaining of this Ecclesiastical Dignity, place, preferment, Office or Living, nor will at any time hereafter perform or satisfie any such kind of payment, contract or promise made by any other without my knowledge or consent So help me God through Jesus Christ.
Yet you do it. Oh you men of God, can you forswear this abominable sin, and yet commit it? Will you publicklie disown it before God and the Church, and yet own it between your selves and your Patrons? Shall not God search out this? These things you do, and God keeps silence: you think he is altogether such a one as your selves. Ah, he, he will reprove you; he will set your sins in order before you. Oh consider this, ye that in this forget God! Oh be sure, your sins shall find you out. Shall a man take the name of God in vain, and be guiltless? Shall a man break his solemn Oath, and be delivered? Shall he escape that doth such things? Shall he prosper? How will you look that God in the face in Prayer, whom you have blasphemed in your Oath? How can you behold that Congregation that knows you are forsworn? What preach the Word of God, and regard not the Oath of God! What, gain a Parsonage, and loose thy soul! To attain to a Preferment, shall you hazard more then the whole world?
1. Have you never read that in Acts 8. 18 19 20, 21, 22, 23. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the Apostles hands the holy Ghost was given, he offered them MONEY, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because that thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money: Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this wickedness; and pray God, if perhaps the thoughts of thy heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquitie. You will say,
Object. You buy not any gift or grace, as Simon would have done; but some encouragement to exercise your gifts and your graces.
Sol. Alass! is it not the gift of God you buy? are Tythes of God, or are they not? if they are not, why do you challenge them? If they are of God, why do you buy them of men? Shall a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me, even this whole Nation They say wherein have we robbed God? in Tythes and Offerings. The Lay-patron takes from God, and you take from him: he steals from God, you receive from him. Is it his? why do you say Tythe belong onely to Ministers? Is it the Ministers? why doe you pay him for it? why do you justifie his encroachment, betray Gods right, wrong me and undoe your selves? Who goeth to warfare at his own charge? You do it. Doe ye not know that they who minister about holy things, live of the things of the Temple? and that so the Lord hath ordained that they that preach the Gospell, should live of the Gospel?
Object. I deal not with the Patron himself, you will say.
Sol. Oh be not deceived! God is not mocked: what you do by others, you do your selves: Simon himself went not to God, whose the holie Ghost was, but to Peter, one of the Stewards of the manifold gifts of God.
Object. I am Civil to the Steward.
Answ. How read you, 2 King 5. 20. &c. Gehazi the servant of Elisha the man of God said, Behold, my Master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought, but as the Lord liveth I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. So Gehazi followed after him: and when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the charriot to meet him, and said, Is all well? and he said, All is well: my master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the Prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments. And Naaman said, Be content take two talents; and he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants, and they bare them before him. And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house; and he let the men go and they departed. But he went in, and stood before his Master: and Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said thy servant went not whither. And he said unto him, Went not my heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments and olive-yards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and men-servant, and maid-servants? The leprosie therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.
Object. Yes let Gahazi look to that.
Sol. Is it a sin in him to receive a gift, and is it not a sin in you to give it?
Object. I onely laid a wager, bought a horse, married my Patrons daughter, or gave bond to resigne.
Sol. Fie, fie! Are you called to be Ministers? Doe your dutie, you may look for your due, and make no terms with men for what God freelie gives you. Will you add a cheat to your Sacriledge? rob God, and put a trick upon the Law? Is this, is this to obey for conscience sake?
Object. I onely bought an Advowson.
Sol. If you cannot buy a Living when it is void, how can you buy it over another mans head when it is not? What do you aim at in the Advowson? Do you aim at the good of souls? those souls are provided for alreadie. Do you aim at the benefit of the place? O unworthie man! What, embrace the present world! is the Tythe a Ministers? what need you buy it aforehand? Is it the peoples? why do you take it at all?
2. And is the Church grown so contemptible, that it may be bought and sold for money? Is Preferment rather a prize for the Richest, then a reward for the Worthiest? who will spend their daies in serious studie, and their life in wearisome retirement, and their estates in a chargeable education, and at last must either buy their preferment, or live neglected, and die unobserved? What ingenious man can endure tedious allowance, unsupportable fees, intolerable baffles, and not retire to his closet, and there give himself to dispondencie and despair, cursing the day wherein he was born, and the years wherein he was bred up; saying, as Elijah secretly to his soul, Lord, it is enough, take away my life, since I have out-lived the glory of the Church, the honour of my Calling, the encouragements of Parts and Worth?--I cannot live usefullie; O that I might die comfortablie!
3. Have I no true Ministers, but a Generation of Demasses, that embrace the present world? Have I no Ministers called of God, that will live upon God? none that can trust God with their maintenance? Will you all crowch for the Priests office onely, that you may eat a Morsel of bread? will you all degrade your selves, and buy and sell your sacred persons and employments? Justlie would the Catholick Church have degraded you, Can. ap. 10. Conc. Chalc 2. Conc. Aurias. 14. And will you go on making merchandize of the Word? and will you go on in the Ministrie, out of filthy lucre, and not out of a ready mind?
Thus, thus are my worthie Sons laid aside, the unworthie are promoted: my people perish, my Religion decaies, my enemies break in upon me, and I have only here and there one to stand by me. The weak, the scandalous that came in by Symony, betray me. Oh sacred Majestie, O ye the honourable Nobilitie, O ye worthie Gentlemen, let it be your honour that you can dispose of Livings to the glory of God, the honour of the Church, and your own comfort: let it be your shame that you make any advantage of your Livings to the dishonour of God the danger of the Church, and the ruine of souls. Oh ye ingenious Ministers, content your selves rather that you deserve Preferment, then endeavour to enjoy them in this vile, unworthie and dangerous way: never stoop to these low terms: be rather buried in an honest privacie, then appear with a publick infamie. Non si nunc & olim sic erit. Oh sacred and august Authoritie of King and Parliament, own your former Laws; vindicate your Authoritie; meet, meet this threatning mischief; set a watch upon Patrons and their Stewards; frown upon the reaching Clergie; find out the Panders of Symony that lie about town, and set up as it were an Office for abomination. Take heed, Oh ye Patrons, how you lay the Childes portion in a Parsonage, and devour that which is holy, and after that make enquiry; forcing the hopeful Youth to begin with Perjurie, and commence with Sacriledge. Oh! words fail me: I must leave with you the excellent Jewel's words to Queen Elizabeth, 1561.
"The Livings of such as are in the Ministry, are not in their hands to whom they are due: they seldom pass now adaies from the Patron, if he be no better then a Gentleman, but either for the Lease or present money. Such merchants are broken into the Church of God, a great deal more intolerable then were they whom Christ whipt out of the Temple. Thus they who should be carefull for Gods Church; that should be Patrons to provide for the consciences of the people, and to place among them a learned Minister, who might be able to preach the Word to them in season and out of season and to fulfil his ministry, seek their own, and not that which is Jesus Christs; they serve not Jesus Christ, but their belly: and this is done not in one County, in one place, but throughout all England. Oh mercifull God, whither will this grow at the last? If the misery which this Plague worketh, would reach but to one Age, it were intolerable; it will be a Plague to Posterity; it will be the decay and desolation of Gods Church. Young men see this, and they are weary and discouraged, they divert their studies another way, I know your Grace heareth not of these matters; and I hope God will work in your gracious heart some remedies against them: for otherwise the Schools will be forsaken, the Church desolate, the People wild and dismayed, the Gospel discredited; and this noble Realm, which ever was famous for the name of Learning, likely to come to such ignorance and barbary as hath not been heard of in any memory before our time. Poor souls are destitute without a Guide, the afflicted in conscience have no one to quiet them; they grow wild and savage as a people that hath no God; they are commanded to change their Religion, and for lack of instruction they know not whither to turn them. Oh if the Kingdom of God be not worthy to be promoted, yet the Kingdom of Satan is worthy to be overthrown.
Oh our Posterity shall rue, that ever such Fathers went before them; and Chronicles will report this miscarriage: they shall reade it written in whose time and in whose reign this was done. Or if we grow is barbarous that we consider not this, or be not able to draw it into Chronicle; yet forreign Nations will not spare to write this, and publish it to our everlasting reproach and shame. By these means forreign power which by Gods mercy this Realm is delivered from, shall be brought upon us: the truth of God shall be taken away; the holy Scripture burnt and consumed in fire; a marvellous darkness and calamity must needs ensue.
Oh that your Grace might behold the miserable disorder of Gods Church! or that you might see the calamities that will ensue! It is a part of your Kingdom, and such a part as is the prop and stay of the rest. I will say to your Majesty as Cyrillus some times said to the godly Emperours Theodorus and Valentinian: Ab ea quae erga Deum est pietate reip; vestrae status pendet. You are our Governour, you are the Nurse of Gods Church: We must open this grief before you and God knoweth whether it may be redressed, it is let grown so long, it is gone so far: but if it may be redressed, there is no other but your Highness that can redress it.
The Definition of Symonie.
SYmonie is an intentive desire or purpose to buy or sell a spiritual Living, or any Corporal thing annexed to the Church.--Grat. dist. 1. p. 2. 91 Zanch. de inter. cultu. Concil. compl. Sect. 43. dec. cont. Nic. can. 8. 96.
The Church of Englands Complaint against Encroaching Pluralities.
IS your portion, oh my Sons in this life or is it in another? Is the satisfaction your immortal souls look for in the emptie, vain, low and perishing contents of this world, or in the full, high and everlasting enjoyments of the other world? If in this life you have hope only you are of all men the most miserable, the most contemptible, and most deceitfull: if in another, why so many Imperial Laws, so many Ecclesiastical Canons so many Decrees of Councils, so many severe Reproofs from Fathers and Casuists, so many Complaints and Reproaches, so many Laws and Injunctions, so many Attempts and Endeavours in Parliament these sixtie years against your Monopolie of Livings and Pluralities of Benefices? Why do you heap upon your selves this envie? Why do you provoke these Reproaches? I provided for you liberallie; I checked those that opposed your maintenance, seasonablie; I encouraged your Industrie and Merit carefullie, beyond any reformed Church in the world; I restored you to your Rights handsomelie, I secured your Rights legallie: will not this satisfie you? will not this content you?
1. It's but latelie that you were thought uncapable of one Living; and now three, four, five, cannot suffice you. It's not long since you wanted necessaries, and do you now heap up superfluities? Lately you could not provide for your Families Wants, and doe you now provide for their Excess and Pride? Have you forgot how latelie you grasped all, and you lost all? Alas! Alas!
2. And will you eat bread out of your Brethrens mouths, and will you starve your fellow-servants? Are you Ministers? so are they. Are you Orthodox? so are they. Are you Loyal? so are they. Have you been constant? so have they. Are you serviceable to the Church? they more; in labours more abundant. On how manie excellent men who out-lived the late miseries, Articles, Committees, Sequestrations, Protestations, Covenants, Engagements, lingring out their lives, laden, and almost oppressed, worn out and quite tired with the burthen of years, cares, feares, labours, necessities and afflictions, are now fain to die in obscuritie, want and contempt, as if the Sons of the Church of England wanted onlie this to make up the measure of their sufferings That they should be undone when the Church is restored! How many hundreds sober and able men are laid aside, and contemned by some as Orthodox, and despised by others as poor? whom the people would relieve, but that they are faithful to me: whom I would relieve, but that I am swallowed up by you. When you look big with your abundance and superfluitie, and glorie in your preferments how manie hundred able and sober men are ashamed of their Order and Function, are wrapped up in poverty and discontent, and lost in poor emploiments? whose faithful labours I want, whose sober conversations might honour me, whose diligence and care might restore me, whose reason and learning might uphold me, whose powerful preaching might establish me, whose self-denial and devotedness to publick good might save me. Alas, Sirs, let none of you think of himself more highly then be ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith, for as you have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so I being made of many, am one bodie in Christ, and everie one in me is a member one of another. You, my Sons having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given you, whether Prophesie, &c. why shal not they that prophesie be encouraged according to the proportion of Faith? or Ministrie, why should not all be encouraged that wait on the Ministrie? or they that teach, on teaching? or they that exhort, on exhortation? The bodie is not one member, but manie: now hath God set the members in the bodie as it pleaseth him; and if they were all one member, where were the bodie? the eie connot say to the head, I have no need of thee: nor againe the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the bodie which seem to be more feeble, are necessary; and those less honourable, upon these we ought to bestow more abundant honour. And our uncomelie parts have a more abundant comeliness: for our comelie parts have no need, but God hath tempered the bodie together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked, that there should be no schism in the body but that the members should have the some care one for another. Now ye, my Sons, are the bodie of Christ, and members in particular: and God hath set some in the Church; first, Apostles; secondarily, Prophets: thirdly, Teachers: Are all Apostles? are all Prophets? are all Teachers? are all provided for? Oh cover earnestly the best Gifts, not the best Livings! And yet I could shew you a more excellent way.
Why is that Preferment engrossed by one, which might maintain Twentie? Why are those Revenues lost upon the folly, vanitie and superfluitie of one familie, which might provide for the honest occasions of five? Oh Justice, the equal Distributer of Affairs, whither art thou sled! Oh Equity, whither art thou retired!
3. If you consider not the sin, do you consider the consequences of these miscarriages; the envie that you alreadie sink under; the occasion given unto them that seek occasion, which hath alreadie disgraced you; the great discontent that alreadie endangereth you. Have not you enemies to your Order, Calling and Judgement, and must you incense your friends? Must you provoke that God that hath hitherto upheld your Order and Function, by abusing the maintenance he allows for his service and servants to your own advantage? Must you displease his sacred Majestie, by appropriating to a few ill beloved persons for whose sake his Majestie is thought the worse of, that encouragement which might be equallie bestowed up on well deserving and well beloved, who might in each Parish reach his subjects their dutie faithfullie, perswade them to obedience succesfullie, and settle them in the Doctrine of Government according to the great Principles of Christianitie, most happilie? Must you provoke your Brechren of the Clergie to discontent, by taking up all the encouragements of their Studies, all their emploiments and hopes? How manie hopefull, young men in Citie and Countrie are forced either to want, or, which is worse, to live upon your small Pensions, and scant allowance; and, what is natural for Parts and Ingenuitie in want to despair their fortunes, and to envie yours? How readilie doe they now, hopeless of any regular favour, applie themselves to popular applause, that their compliance may gaine that among the people, which their merit could not among you? Doe not you see how the people forsake you, as Self-Seekers? how the Gentry censure you, as Unconscionable? how the Clergie abhor you, as Invaders of their places and preferments? Do you not see that the Law can hardlie secure you? that authoritie can scarcelie defend you from all the affronts and baffles that Malice and Furie do suggest to an incensed people? the adversaries triumph, the manie Friends I have weep, the Sober and Serious are amazed to see fourscore or an hundred odious men filling up a whole Church. Do you imagine those manie active men will rest in a dispirited, poor, mendicant, decaied, dejected and vexatious condition? Doe not you fear their melancholie thought, their retrived contrivance, their forlorn meetings? You know there are none so dangerous as the discontented Scholars. Monopolie is the Ruine of the State; Pluralities are the ruine of the Church; the one, necessitates the indigent Subject to dangerous courses and practises; the other, the poor Scholar to as dangerous discourses and thoughts.
Is it not enough that mens late malice and insolencie against the Ministrie reduced them to want and contempt, but that (to my shame, who am blessed of God with abundance and honour) one small part of the Ministrie should reduce the other to small Contributions, poor Dependencies; so uncertain and so base, that men of ingenious spirits and learning must detest them, who cannot endure when they do their work to beg for their wages, not without sordid compliances and flatteries with vile men in their vilest humours? Oh look upon the poor Curates, and their Families: what is their portion of the prosperity we now enjoy? Alas, they live by Gods mercy, and mens charitie. How despicable is their Calling? How little their Authoritie? how inconsiderable their Instructions? how successlesse their Doctrine? how uncreditable their Lives? Doe not you see that your fellow-Ministers under these necessities will not long be able to assert the honour of their Calling; and that no after Generation will succeed to inherit their poverty and pains, unless such as will further debase the Dignitie of the Function? What, must all the ingenious Ministers be Stipendaries! The Faction threatned no more. Must they have onely their allowances? Anarchie could have done no more. Are you restored to reduce your fellow-servants to that penurie by a Law, which Fanaticks would have brought them to without Law? They wanted only this misery, to be undone by their Brethren, and perish by them of their own profession.
Object. These poor men, you will say, are provided for answerable to their Parts.
Answ. Have they Parts for the Calling of Ministers, and have they not Parts for the Maintenance of Ministers? Can they preach the Gospel, and can they not live by the Gospel? Are they worthie to discharge your Cures, and are they not worthie to enjoy them?
5. Do you desire the advantage of so many Benefices, or do you desire the charge? if the advantage, then the poor Separatist was in the right, when he called you Hirelings; then indeed you make merchandise of souls; then you are the greatest Juglers and Deceivers in the world; and you laugh among your selves, (as the Thuscan Sooth-sayers) and confer Notes, as that Pope with his Cardinal saying, How much gain doth this Fable of Christ bring us?--and poor souls should avoid you as the shadow of death. What, shall I hear him whose godlinesse in gain! whose God is his bellie! whose faith is advantage! whose hope is onely in this world! His watchmen are blind, they are ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber: yea, they are greedie doggs which can Never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look for their own way every one for his gain from his quarter. Come ye, say thee, I will fetch wine, and we will fill our selves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundantlie, Esay 56. 9, 10, 11, 12.
If the Charge, do you know what you do? do you know that you must watch over the Congregation as they that must give an account? so many Benifices, so many more hundreds of souls that you must answer for? Do you know what it is to answer the great God for an immortal soul? do you know what is to give an account of the purchase of Christs blood? do you know what is the work, what is the charge of a Minister? Oh poor souls! you consider not whether some have not accused you to God, whom you never saw, whether souls under your charge are not daily going to another world, with doleful complaints against you, whom you never knew; whether any in Hell do not cry out against you whom you never saw: thousands have appeared before the Judgement-seat of God, excusing themselves with your faults, though you lay it not to heart; alleadging, that they saw no more Religion in the world then Interest and Gain, they knew not what to do to be saved. Alas, you are not sensible that there may be hundreds in Hell that you looked not after, cursing the day that ever you were born, that ever you were sent into the world that there should be so many Wretches that lived only to damn men. If it be a Charge you desire, why doe you not attend unto that flock over which the holy Ghost made you overseers? Why doe you not in that calling wherein you are called abide with God? Is it possible for you to serve two Cures? you will hold to the one, and despise or neglect the other: and is it possible for you to be saved? Lord, what if you gained the world at the rate of undoing souls? Do you consider that the bread you eat is the price of souls? How can you eat with comfort, and think. Oh some of my charge may be now going to Eternity, and I prepared them not? How can you sleep securely, and think, Some of my charge may awake to morrow in another world, whether of wo or weal I know not? How can you die peaceably and think, Where shall we meet the many souls that have gone before us out of our Congregations? Oh where are ye, O immortal souls? with God, or for ever departed from the presence of the Lord! Oh did you ever read that of St. Bernard, Qui non unus sed plures in beneficiis, non unus sed plures in suppliciis? If you pity not me once againe by these courses decaying, if you pity not poor souls by this means perishing, Oh pity your selves, and have mercy upon your own souls: Alas, that men should be educated chargeably, should study diligently, should be ordained solemnlie to delude souls, to mock God, to deceive the world, and undo men, for two, or three or four hundreds pounds yearlie, during a short life! that you should appear in a Pulpit (if yet you doe appear in a Pulpit) for a little Maintenance! that you should appear very solemnly every Sunday, onely to put a trick upon God and men! I hope better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though thus I speak.
In the Primitive times every Church of so many souls as are of your Parishes, had many Ministers, whereof the ablest speakers did most in publick, and the rest did the more of the less publick work, (which some mistake for ruling Elders) but now one of you takes the care of many Churches.
The Popish times, I mean years 632, could divide England into Parishes, for the better discharging of the cure of souls: our times unite those Parishes again, for the better maintenance of pride and vanity. Is it for this that we are reformed? is it for this we are Protestants? then each Parish had their Ministers to pray with them ferventlie, to teach them faithfullie, to comfort them seasonablie, to converse with them usefullie, to relieve them charitablie, to direct them carefullie. Ah! in quae nos reservamur tempora! Now, now my people are neglected, my buildings are ruined, my hospitalitie is lost, my authoritie is shrunk and faln, and the Church of England is thought to be nothing else but the interest of a few crafty Clergiemen, ordering all things to their best advantage.
Though Envy may know, and Prejudice it self may consider, I am a Church made up of godly and religious men: Princes, Nobles, Gentry, Bishops, Ministers and People, maintaining an Orthodox Doctrine, a Primitive Government, a pure and orderly Worship, a severe Discipline, and a Christian Communion in Word and Sacrament; who have forbid these extravagancies by wholsome Laws, checked them by severe Canons, and disallowed them by fair and just means imaginable. In the darkest and most superstitious times, I ordered, That no Monks, i.e. idle persons, should take Livings of Bishops, or appropriate the Revenues of them to themselves; but that the Priests serving in those Cures, and the Churches, might be provided with necessaries.
Do you know why Monks were pulled down in H. 8. time? Lay it to heart, I beseech you; for many look for your fall too.
1. They were accused for engrossing Wealth and trade; and do you hear what the world saith of you? 2. They were accused for impoverishing Parish-Priests by decrying Preaching, as ministring matter of Schisms and Disputes, and magnifying their own performances of Prayer and Devotion: by which, and other Artifices, they undermined the poor Priests, and procured that many Churches presentative, with their Glebes and Tythes, were appropriated to their Covents, leaving but a poor pittance for the Parish-Vicar. This was the occasion of the first Impropriations; I pray God your carelesness doth not occasion another.
Oh remember Robert Whigifts, the Abbot of Wellow's speech, who was wont to say, That they and their Religion could not long continue, because (said he) I have read the whole Scripture over and over, and never found that Monasteries (and I may adde Pluralities) were founded by God: for (said the honest Abbot) every planting which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
Do you remember that Lay-parliament in King H. 8. his time? wherein the Nobles and Commons assembled signified to the King, That the Temporal profession of Abbots, Priors, &c. vainly spent, would suffice to finde 150 Earls, 1500 Knights, 6200 Esquires, 100 Hospitals? Doe you remember those Mock-parliaments that often considered how many 1000 men your Tythes (ill bestowed upon you, as they thought) would maintain? You were once undone,-- now are you made whole: I beseech you, my Sons, sinne no more, left a worse thing come unto you.
Bishop Jewel on 1 Thes. p 71.
Forasmuch brethren as we were kept from you for a season concerning sight, but not in heart, we are enforced the more to see your face with great desire. Therefore we would have come unto you, I Paul, at least once or twice; but Satan hindred us. Such a zeal and care had he over the people of God. Oh in what case then are they that are careless, and have no regard of the people of God! which hunt after Livings, and bend not themselves to do good! which serve their own belly, and seek to be rich, and eat up the people of God as if they were bread! They cannot say they have a desire to see the face of their flock, and that their heart is with them: howsoevar they find time for other matters; they can never take time to know their sheep, and doe the work of the Ministry among them: they care not for them they think not of them; they plant not, they water not, they watch not, they give no warning of the dangers at hand: they teach them not to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. It were happy if all such were removed out of the Church of God: they destroy the souls, and lead them to destruction by their negligence. What account shall they give unto God for the souls of their Brethren? Where shall they stand? or what will they say when he shall bid them make a strait account? This is the practise of Satan, he useth all means to snare us, and withdraw us from that blessed hope: sometimes he letteth the encrease of the Gospel, by raising up tumults, and disquieting the Church of God, stirring the heart of such as are in Authority to persecute by all means the teachers of the Gospel of Christ. Again, when God gives peace and quietness to his Church, he leadeth the Overseers of the people to a forgetfulness of their duty, to seek the pleasures and delight of this life, and to have no regard of the work of the Lord: such occasion the Devil seeketh to hinder our salvation, and to withstand the truth and glory of God.
The Church of England's resentment of Non-residence.
OH my Sons, I have no pleasure in exposing you; yet have I no power to excuse you: you know that I have charity for you, that suffereth long, that is kind, that is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Alas! what shall I do now my people complain, my adversaries reproach, my Soveraign is displeased my Nobility and Gentry are incensed; and where-ever I turn my self, Complaints are made, Petitions are drawn up Jealousies are whispered; and Fears are murmured? If I should hold my peace I should be thought altogether such a one as you are: if I should speak, my tongue fails me. I am in a great strait; yet you had better hear your miscarriages faithfully reproved by me, to your reformation, then maliciously aggravated by others to your destruction. My words may be smart, yet they are wholsome; severe they may be, yet kind; you hear me with sorrow, but not with more then I speak to you with.
1. It's sad that after so many Councils, Decrees (as Carth. 6. Tol. 6. Chalc. 7. Nic. 15. Sardic 14. after so many Fathers charge, as Hier. com. 2. p 111. Aug. 7. 4. in B 16. Athan. in Jo. 7. Naz. apol. p. 16. Cyp. Ep. 8 Greg. de curâ pastorali passim) after so many provisions of Parliaments, as 30 Hen. 8. 4 32 El. 6. so many complaints from friends and foes, as 31 Q. El 3 K. I. 12 K. Ch. a sin so dishonourable to your profession, so dangerous to Church and State, so clearly repugnant to your Callings as Non-residence is, should yet be named amongst you.
As, 1. Do you read that in Act. 20. 25. Take heed to your selves, and all the flock over which the holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood? &c. Take heed, be not absent, neglect not. Do you consider where you are, what you have taken upon you? Over which the holy Ghost: hath the holy Ghost set you over your flocks, and do you forsake them? hath Heaven intrusted them to you, and doe you neglect them? Overseers and yet come not neer your flock? Bishops, and never visit them? To feed the Church of God, that Church for whose sake the world is upheld. Oh what a charge have you undertaken! and will you be unfaithful to this charge? are you Stewards of Gods own Familie? Oh it's required of a Steward that he be found faithful, 1 Cor. 4. 2 Have you the conduct of those Saints that must live for ever with God in glorie, and will you neglect them? Are the souls of man thought meet to see his face in glorie, and are they not worthie of your utmost care and pains? Oh if you keep beasts you might say they are scarce worth looking after; but do you think so of the souls of men, of the Church of God, the peculiar people, the holy Nation? Which he hath purchased with his blood; God the Son hath purchased the Church with his blood, and will not you look to it? What, Sirs, will ye dispise the bloud of Christ? Shall the price of his bloud be lost? Hath Christ died for souls, and shall I not sweat? Are my people they which Christ came from Heaven to save, and shall not I go from the Citie, from the Court, &c. to save them? Oh what doe I hear, may you say, when it may be one of my poor flock perisheth, for whom Christ died?
After my departing (saith the Text) grievous Wolves shall enter in among you not sparing the flock. Oh, Sirs, do you not know that the Jesuite is busie, that the Seducers are many? Why do you forsake the flocks? Are you resolved to ruine me? First, you displease the people, then you leave them open to any seditious or factious persons that will improve their prejudice, discontents and weaknesse, to their own advantage. It's true, you substitute your Curates: but, alas, poor men, they are hardlie able to live, much lesse to dispute: they are hardlie able to furnish themselves for Sermons, much less for Controversies: besides that, they are so contemptible, that I may here very pertinentlie alledge that of Eccles. 9. 13..
Oh that you should betray his Majesties interest and my cause, and leave his subjects and my people to the temptations of those men who with good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple, with feigned words making merchandize of them! Can you stay in Court or Citie, and leave poor Neighbours perverted, honest men deluded, good subjects debauched, and a Kingdome almost overturned? As Augustus said to Quint. Varus, Quintili Vare redde Legiones; so his Majesty, so I (if yet you will hear me) say unto you: Oh restore us the many souls which by your neglect we have lost! Oh restore that peace which by your carelesness we want! Oh restore us that puritie of Doctrine and Worship, which by publick and private diligence you might have secured! while you are asleep, the enemie soweth his cares; while you sleep, your ruine slumbers not: while you ride to and fro seeking that preferment your ambition may pitch upon, your adversary the Devil and his missaries goes to and fro seeking whom he may devour. You compass Sea and Land for Wealth, your adversaries compass Sea and Land for proselytes.
And did not the late times slander you? and are you Hirelings indeed? He that is an Hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth, and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The Hireling fleeth because he is an Hireling, and careth not for the sheep Joh. 10. Oh of your own selves do men arise speaking perverse things to draw away Disciples after them. Therefore watch; and remember, that in the Primitive times for the space of many years the Ministers ceased not to warne every one night and day with tears: and they could say to their Congregations, We take you to record that we are pure from the blood of all men; for we have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God. We have coveted no mans silver or gold, nor apparel, Acts 20.
2. Are not you them that watch for mens souls? and doe you not look after them? Are you to watch over them so as to give an account? and do you leave them? are you the Angels of the Church, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation and to behold the face of their father which is in Heaven? and do you not regard them? Angels, and earthly? Angels, and yet worldlie? Are you the Souldiers of Christ, and do you intangle your selves in the affairs of this life? Are you ordained to preach the Gospel? a necessitie is laid upon you, and wo is you if you preach not the Gospell. Are you Stewards of the manifold gifts of God and do you not remember that you must give an account of your Stewardship, for you shall be no longer Stewards? Are you in Christs stead, and yet so careless of his people? Ah if Christ had served you so, what had become of you? what had become of the world?
3. Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ and yet not feed his flock? Simon Peter lovest thou me? feed my lambs. Simon Peter, lovest thou me? Thou knowest, O Lord, that I love thee: feed my sheep. Have you any kindness for your peoples souls? Do you not hear them cry, Come and help us? Are they your joy, your Crown, your rejoycing? Oh have mercie upon them! Do you not hear them say, Master, carest thou not that we perish? We have immortal souls to loose, and Eternitie to hazard; carest thou not that we perish? Doe you wonder that your people desert you, when you have forsaken them? Can you blame them that they separate from you, who have no care of them? They must needs forget their dutie towards you, when you have forgotten yours towards them. No wonder if they cleave to their Pastors and Teachers: for they find none like minded, who naturally care for their state.
O Sirs, the harvest of souls at this time is great: the Prebends are many, the Priests are many, the Deans are many--the Labourers are few: Shall I pray the Lord of the harvest to turn you out, and send forth Labourers into his harvest? the souls that would be saved are many; but they die in ignorance, and you are not among them to instruct them; they die in doubt, and you not neer them to satisfie them; they die in despair, and there is none to comfort them; they live in disorder, and there is none to guide them; they are in a state of nature, and there is none to reclaime them; they are weak, and there is none to strengthen them; they are liable to temptation, and there is none to assist them to manage their Temptation; they go astray, and there is none to seek them that are lost; they are in the gall of bitterness, and there is none to relieve them; they are under the power of Satan, in darkness, and there is none to turn them to God that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Christ, if God peradventure might give them repentance to the acknowledgement of the truth, that they might escape out of the snare of the devil; that so they might be converted, and their sins he forgiven them. Fain would they hear, that their souls might live; but you are not among them to preach; willing are they to receive the Sacrament, but you are not among to administer it. They are declining in grace and there is none to recover them, or in the spirit of meekness to restore them; they are at a loss, and there is none to advise them; they miscarrie, and there is none to oversee them, to watch over them, to look to them; they are sick, and there is none to visit them, to instruct and comfort them; they are unrulie, and there is none to see that Church discipline be exercised upon them.
4. Will you receive the tythes of God, and not do the work of God? Will you live of the Gospel, and not preach the Gospel? will you live of the Altar, and yet not serve the Altar? will you eat, and yet not work? will you receive tythes given to Melchizedec, and yet bless not the children of Abraham that pay it? will you receive the Levites portion and yet not wait on the Tabernacle nor serve the Sanctuary? Will you have the double honour of Reverence and Maintenance, and yet not labour in the Word and Doctrine? Must he that is taught communicate unto him that teacheth him not in everie good thing?--How can you enjoy those Donations our forefathers made to Ministers for teaching the Word of God, for praying &c. and yet neither teach nor pray? Vid. Spel. conc. Br. p. 29. Vid. Iliyr. cent. 8. c. 9. Col. 316. Ed. 1624. Bede Hist. Eccl. l. 1. c. 16. fin. Lamb. Arch. p 22. Bonif. Ep. p. 24. Polyd. Virg, l. 5 p, 89 90. Stow, p. 99. vit. Eg. Ingulph. Sect. 6 7. Mat, West. Gest. Br. 2. 2. Tilsley anim. sed p. 173. Speed Hist. 7 c. 32. Fox Martyrol. 3 p. 136. Praefat. in Leg. Alfredi c. 38. Leg. Eccl. Aur. Athelstan. Malmesb. de Gest. br. 2. c. 11. Gemel. l. 6. c 9 Seld. Eadm. Hist. p. 171. R. Basingst. 3. p 186. How will you look your Ancestors in the face, when you have taken their gifts, and neglected their desires? What, take the tythe they gave, and leave their posterity destitute!
Ob. You will say, We have Curates and they perform our duty.
Ans. 1. Curates? what new generation of men are these Curates? We have indeed some Prophets, some Apostles, some Evangelists, some Pastors, some Doctors: but no Curates. Your Commission (O my Sons) is, Go ye, and teach all Nations; not Go ye, or send your Curates to teach all Nations. Hath your Servant libertie to bring whom he will to your service, while he takes his pleasure; and have you libertie to bring whom you will to Gods service, while you take your pleasure? Oh Sirs, the Scriptures run thus: Son of Man, I have made thee a watchman to the house of Israel: therefore hear the word of my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, & thou givest him not warning nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way to save his life: the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquitie, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousnesse which he hath done shall not be remembered, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, If thou warn the righteous that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin; he shall surely live because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, and his Kingdom: Preach the Word be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables: But watch thou in all things endure afflictions do the work of an Evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. If you would be saved onely by Curates, then serve God by Curates: if you may be damned onelie by Curates, then trust your charge to Curates. But how do you read? Son of man prophesie against the shepherds of Israel prophesie and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds, Wo be to the shepherds of Israel, that do feed themselves: should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye cloath you with the wool ye kill them that are fed: but you feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthned, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost: but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandred through all the mountains, and upon every high hill, yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. Therefore ye shepherds hear the word of the Lord: As I live saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherd search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock: Therefore O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I am against the shepherds, and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock, neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more, for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
2. Are Curates Ministers, or are they not? if not, why do you employ them? if they are, why do they not live upon that maintenance that God hath allowed Ministers? You could not endure rationally in these late times to hear of Stipends, yet now your Brethren must be content with Allowances: and besides, if they are Ministers, then either they have cure of souls, or not: if they have cure of souls, why do they not attend their own charge? if they have no cure of souls, how can they exercise any Ministeriall act, seeing they have none to exercise it upon? no people being obliged to attend any but their own Minister: yea, all people being bound to attend onely their own Minister. If you will say, He is your peoples Minister, then you must say, You are not--One people can have but one Minister at a time.
3. Do you who are non-resident expect tythes by mans Law onlie or by Gods? Nor by mans Law onlie; for you have said, and must say against the Anabaptist, That they are of Divine right; otherwise they will say, What man hath given, man may take away; nor must you look for it by Gods Law, which never allowed the maintenance of a minister to any but such as did the work of the Ministry. The Labourer, and he onlie, is worthy of his hire.
4. Cannot the State keep Curates as well as you? If this be all, may not the Commonwealth allow Salaries and Stipends as well as you, and so remove the burthen of tythe? O Sirs, you know not what to do; when the King, Lords and Commons observe how much tythe goeth to maintain your pride, vanitie and follie, and how little to maintain the service of God, they say, what need this waste? why do we throw away so much of the Publick Revenue, as amounts to two million and a halfe, whereas half a million may maintain men to read prayers, and do all the duties of Ministers? A Gentleman hath a Parsonage of 200 l. a year in his gift; Why saith he shall I part with so much of my Estate? cannot I give 20 or 30 l. to a Curate as well as a Clergie-man? You will tell him, Sir, you Rob God. He will say, no more then you: you know God onlie hath tythes when they are employed in his service; and I shall allow so much and more to Gods service then you do. Obj. Why should you being a Lay-man, meddle with tythes, which belongs to Gods service? Answ. I do not meddle with any which belongs to Gods service, but with what is abused to mans wantonness. Obj. I am a Clergy-man. Answ. So are Thousands more; yet none hath right to tythe, but he that performs the dutie enjoined them that receive tythe: tythe is not so much the maintenance of Ministers persons as their wages for their work: but a little of the tythe may suffice him who does the work, as we may observe from what you allow; and reallie I do not know by what Law of God or man a Clergie-man may turn his tythe to private advantage, any more then a Lay-man. O Sirs, if you neglect your Calling when you have maintenance, what will you do if you had none? Oh you that condemne Sacriledge, do you live by it? You that say a man should not rob the Church, do you rob it? You that preach and write against taking away Ministers maintenance, doe you take away Ministers maintenance? Is it for this the Nation upheld tythes against all oppositions, to have a few Readers and Curates? What, have we saved them from the Factious, to be swallowed up by the Covetous! Oh you are men born to undoe your selves, to ruine your calling, and to tempt a greedie world to take awaie all your maintenance. Do you read Historie? (Alas, I am afraid that a spirit hath seized you.) Do you observe what was written in Ead. 10. ch. p. 279. and Chartres de nug. cur. 7. 21. They (the Priests) grew scandalous:--they neglected their Cures; they resided not upon their Livings;--they went to and fro for their pleasure; the people arose up against them, the Noblemen withdrew their tythe from them;--the whole kingdome cryed, No Service, no Maintenance:--Yea, the poor people burned the tythes, being loath the unworthy Ministers should have any benefit by them, though loath themselves to meddle with them.--Thereupon it was agreed among the Thanes, that there should be no maintenance given to Persons, but to Churches, which might allow them to such persons as did them service; and that none should live by Church-allowance, but they that did Church-duties. Seld. ibid. Excerpt. Egbert. can. 100. In continuance of time the Lazie and the idle had ingrossed almost all Church-preferments; then the tithes were alienated and impropriated as it is at this daie--whereupon the Clergie awaked a while, and followed their business diligentlie in K. Ed. 6. and the beginning of Q. El. Reign. Yet men are men still: for about the 30 of Q El. the remainder of Church-livings that had escaped the Impropriators, was ingrossed by a few Pluralists and Nonresidents: insomuch that the Commons in the Parliament of that year petitioned the Lords earnestlie argued rationallie concluded peremptorilie against these miscarriages, as they did in all Parliaments until the 12 of K. Ch. when the scandal of this usurpation was so great, the odium so general, the clamour so universal, the juggle of the Non-residents (in holding tythes under the pretence of the Ministrie for nothing, and in receiving a million of the National Revenue for nothing else but that they were in Orders) was so apparent, that the whole maintenance of Ministers was endangered all Church-preferment was threatned. And you who now cannot content your selves with handsome and honest competencies, were like to be brought to a morsel of bread. O Sirs, give not occasion to them that seeks occasion: let the world see that duty is more your care then Maintenance; that you do not work to eat, but that you eat to work, that to maintain the English Clergy, is, 1. to uphold Religion; 2 to advance Gods Name; 3. to promote the salvation of souls, to support the glory and interest of the Kingdom, together with the peace, civility and happiness of this Age and Posterity.
A Catalogue of Non-residencies
IN Berkshire 18
Cambridgeshire and Isle Ely 45
So that of 12000 Church-Livings, or thereabouts, 3000 and more being impropriate, and 4165 being Sine-cures, or Non-residents Livings; what a poor remainder is there left for a painful and an honest Ministry, for the glory of God, and the salvation of souls?