And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Make thee two trumpets of silver, of a whole piece shalt thou make them; that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.
Among divers and sundry commissions granted in the Law for the benefit and better order of God's people, this which I have read is one; given, as we see, per Ipsum, 'by God Himself,' and that vivæ vocis oraculo, by express warrant from His own mouth: 'Then God spake to Moses, saying.'
And it is a grant of the right and power of the trumpets, and with them of assembling the people of God. A right and power not to be lightly accounted of, or to be heard of with slight attention; it is a matter of great weight and consequence, the calling of assemblies. There is yearly a solemn feast holden in memory of it, and that by God's own appointment. No less than of the Passover or of the Lord itself, [141/142] even the 'feast of the trumpets,' much about this time of the year, the latter equinoctial. And God appointeth no feast but in remembrance of some special benefit. It is therefore one of His special benefits and high favours vouchsafed them, and to be regarded accordingly.
This power hitherto, ever since they came out of Egypt and that God adopted them for His people, unto this very day and place had God kept in his own hands, as to Him alone of right properly belonging. For unto this very day and the place the people of God, as they had assembled many times and oft, so it was ever--they be the very last words of the last chapter, which serve for an introduction to these of ours ever all their meetings and removings were by immediate warrant from God Himself. But here now God no longer intending thus to warn them still by special direction from His own self, but to set over this power once for all, here He doth it. This is the primary passing it from God and deriving it to Moses, who was the first that ever held it by force of the Law written. For to this place they came by the sound of God's, and from this place they dislodged by the sound of Moses' trumpet.
And it is a point very considerable what day and place this was; for it appeareth they were yet at Sinai, by the twelfth verse, yet at the very mount of God by the thirty-third verse of this chapter, even then when this commission came forth; so that this power is as ancient as the Law. At no other place nor no other time delivered than even the Law itself; when the two tables were given, the two trumpets were given; and Moses that was made keeper of both the tables, made likewise keeper of both trumpets; both at Sinai, both at one time, as if there were some near alliance between the Law and assemblies. And so there is, assemblies being ever a special means to revive the Law, as occasions serve, and to keep it in life. As if the Law itself therefore lacked yet something, and were not perfect and full without them; so till this grant was passed, they stayed still at Sinai, and so soon as ever this was passed, they presently removed.
To entreat then of this power. The story of the Bible would serve our turn to shew us who have had the exercise of it in their hands from time to time, if that were enough. [142/143] But that is not enough. For the errors first and last about this point, from hence they seem to grow, that men look not back enough, have not eye to this, how it was 'in the beginning,' by the very Law of God. Being therefore to search for the original warrant by which the assemblies of God's people are called and kept, this place of Numbers is generally agreed to be it; that here it is first found, and here it is first founded; even in the Law, the best ground for a power that may be.
In legis quid scriptum est? quomodo legis? Saith our Saviour, 'What is written in the Law? How read you there?' as if He should say, If it to be read there it is well, then must it needs be yielded to; there is no excepting to it then, unless you will except to Law and Lawgiver, to God and all. Let us then come to this commission.
The points of it be three; first, 'two trumpets of silver,' to be made out of 'one whole piece' both. Secondly, with these trumpets 'the congregation' to be called, and 'the camp' removed. Thirdly, Moses to make these trumpets, and being made to use them to these ends. These three; 1. The instrument, 2. the end for which, 3. the party to whom.
Now, to marshal these in their right order. 1. The end is to be first; Sapiens semper incipit a fine, saith the philosopher. 'A wise man begins ever at the end,' for that indeed is causa causarum, as logic teacheth us, 'the cause of all the causes,'' the cause that sets them all on working. 2. Then next, the instrument, which applieth this power to this end. 3. And so last, the agent who is to guide the instrument, and to whom both instrument and power is committed.
1. The end for which this power is conveyed is double, as the subject is double whereon it hath his operation; 1. The camp, and the 2. Congregation. On either of these a special act exercised; to 'remove the camp,' to 'call together the congregation.' One for war, the other for peace.
That of the camp hath no longer use than while it is war. God forbid that should be long; nay, God forbid it should be at all. The best removing of the camp is the removing of it quite and clean away. But if it be not possible, if it lie not in us, to have peace with all men, if war must be, here is order for it. But the calling of the congregation, that is, [143/144] it; that is to continue, and therefore that which we to deal with.
The calling of the congregation, as in the two next verses, either in whole or in part; either of all the tribes, or but the chief and principal men in them. A power for both these. And in a word, a power general for calling assemblies; assemblies in war, assemblies in peace, assemblies of the whole, assemblies of each or any part.
2. This power to be executed by instruments: the instruments to be trumpets, two in number; those to be of silver, and both of one entire piece of silver.
3. This power, and the executing of it by these instruments, committed to Moses. First he to have the making of these trumpets, Fac tibi, then he to have the right to them being made, Et erunt tibi; then he to use them to 'call the congregation,' and if need be to 'remove the camp.' None to make any trumpet but he; none to have any trumpet but he. None to meddle with the calling of the congregation or removing with them but he, or by his leave and appointment.
Wherein as we find the grant full, so are we further to search and see whether this grant took place or no. Whether as these trumpets were made and given to 'call the congregation,' so the congregation from time to time have been called by these trumpets. And so first of the granting this power to be executed, and then of the executing this power so granted.
So have we two subjects, 'the camp' and 'the congregation.' Two acts, to 'assemble' and to 'remove.' Two instruments, the 'two silver trumpets.' Two powers: to make them, to own them being made for the two acts or ends before specified, first for calling the assembly, and then for dislodging the camp. And all these committed to Moses. The sum of all this is, the establishing in Moses the prerogative and power of calling and dissolving assemblies about public affairs.
Then God spake to Moses, &c.
1.If we begin with the end, the end is assembling. Assembling is reduced to motion; not to every motion; but to the [144/145] very chiefest of all, as that which draweth together all, and so at once moveth all. For as in the soul when the mind summoneth all the powers and faculties together, or in the body when all the sinews join their forces together it is ultinum potentiæ; so in the body politic when all the estates are drawn together into one, it is nixus rather than motús, a main sway rather than a motion; or if a motion, it is motus magnus, no common and ordinary, but an extraordinary great motion. Such a motion is assembling, and such is the nature of it.
Yet even this, great and extraordinary as it is, such and so urgent occasions may and do daily arise, as very requisite it is such meetings there should be; very requisite, I say, both in war and in peace, both for 'the camp' and for 'the congregation.' The ground whereof seemeth to be, that power dispersed may do many things; but to do some, it must be united. United in consultation; for that which one eye cannot discern, many may. United in action; for many hands may discharge that by parts, which in whole were too troublesome for any. But action is more power to war: that is the assembly of fortitude. And consultation rather for peace: that is the assembly of prudence. And in peace, chiefly for making of laws; for that every man is more willing to submit himself to that whereof all do agree. The whole 'camp' then when it is assembled. Will be the more surely fortified; and the whole 'congregation,' when it is assembled, will be the more soundly advised. And hereby it cometh to pass, that there ever hath and ever will be great use of calling assemblies.
Let me add yet one thing further, to bring it home to ourselves. There is no people under heaven may better speak for the use of assemblies than we; there was nothing that did our ancestors the Britons more hurt, saith Tacitus of them, nothing that turned them to greater prejudice than this one, that they meet not, they consulted not in common, but every man ran a course by himself of his own head; and this was the greatest advantage the Roman had of them, they were not so wise as to know what good there was in [145/146] public conventions. Therefore great use of assemblies, may we say of all others.
Now if they be needful for 'the camp,' and for 'the congregation' as it is a civil body, I doubt not but I may add also every way as needful for 'the congregation' properly so called, that is, the Church. The Church hath her wars to fight, the Church hath her laws to make.
Wars with heresies, wherein experience teacheth us it is matter of less difficulty to raze a good fort than to cast down a strong imagination, and more easy to drive out of the field a good army of men than to chase out of men's minds a heap of fond opinions, having once taken head. Now heresies have ever been best put to flight by the Church's assemblies, that is, councils, as it were by the armies of God's Angels, as Eusebius calleth them; yea, it is well known some heresies could never be thoroughly mastered or conquered but so.
Then for the Church's laws, which we call canons and rules, made to restrain or redress abuses, they have always likewise been made at her assemblies in councils, and not elsewhere. So that as requisite are assemblies for the congregation in this sense, as in any other. By this then that hath been said it appeareth that God's Fac tibi here is no more than needs, but that meet it is the trumpets be put to making. And so I pass over to the instruments, which is the second part.
2. Assembling we said is reduced to motion. Motion is a work of power. Power is executed organice, that is, by instrument; so an instrument we must have, wherewithal to stir up or to begin this motion.
1.That instrument to be the trumpet. It is the sound that God Himself made choice of, to use at the publishing or proclaiming His Law. And the same sound He will have continued and used still for assemblies, which are, as hath been said, special supporters of His Law. And the very same He will use too at the last, when He will take account of the keeping or breaking of it, which shall be done in tubâ novissimâ, by the sound of 'the last trump.' And He holdeth on, or continueth one and the same instrument, to shew it is one and the same power that continueth still; that whether an Angel blow it ass at Sinai, or whether Moses as ever after, [146/147] it is one sound, even God's sound, God's voice we hear in both.
2. They are to be twain, for the two assemblies that follow in the next verses; either of the whole tribes, coagmentative, or of the chief and choice persons of them only, representative. And for the two tables also. For even this very month, the first day, they are used to a civil end; the tenth day to a holy, for the day of expiation; of which this latter belongeth to the first, that former to the second table.
3. They are to be 'of silver' (not to seek after speculations) only, for the metal's sake, which hath the shrillest and clearest sound of all others.
4. They are to be 'of one whole piece' both of them, not of two diverse; and that must needs have a meaning, it cannot be for nothing. For unless it were for some meaning, what skilled it else though they had been made of two several plates? But only to shew that both assemblies are unius juris, both 'of one and the same right;' as the trumpet are wrought and beaten out, both of entire piece of bullion.
3. But it will be to small purpose to stand much upon the instrument; I make way therefore to the third point, how they shall be bestowed, who shall have the dealing with them; for on them depends, and with them goeth the power of calling assemblies.
First, to whom these trumpets, to whom this power was granted, 'to call the congregation;' and then whether 'the congregation' were ever after so called by this power and these trumpets.
1.Where first it will be soon agreed, I trust, that every body must not be allowed to be a maker of trumpets; nor when they be made, that they hang where who that list may blow them; that is, that every man hand over head is not to be in case to draw multitudes together: there will be, saith St. Luke, turbatio nonn minima, 'no small ado' if that may be suffered. If Demetrius getteth together his fellow-craftmen, they may of their own heads rush into the common hall, and there keep a shouting and crying two hours together, not knowing most of them why they came thither and yet thither they came. There is not so much good in public meetings, but there is thrice as much hurt as this; no [147/148] commonwealth, no not popular estates could ever endure them. Nay p£uta kat_ t£xin, say both Scripture and nature, 'Let all be done in order;' let us have ðnnomon kklhsan, lawful orderly assemblies,' or else none at all. Away then, with this confusion, to begin with, away with Demetrius' assemblies.
To avoid then this confusion some must have this power, for and in the name of the rest. Shall it be one or more? For that is next. Nay, but one, saith God, in saying, Tibi, Where I wish you mark this, That as a t the first He took this power into His own hands and called them still together Himself, so here he deriveth this power immediately from Himself unto one, without first settling it in any body collective at all.
It is from our purpose to enter the question, whether the power were in the whole body originally? Seeing though it were, it is now by the positive ordinance of God otherwise disposed. The reason may seem to be partly, necessity of expedition; the trumpets may need to be blown sometimes suddenly, sooner than divers can well meet and agree upon it too. Partly, avoiding of distraction; the two trumpets may be blown two divers ways if they be in two hands, and so shall the 'trumpet give an uncertain sound,' and how shall the congregation know whither to assemble? Nay, a worse matter yet than all that, so may we have assembly against assembly; and rather than so, better no assembly at all.
Therefore as God would have them both made of one piece, so will He have them both made one piece, so will He have them both made over to one person; for Tibi implieth one. Who is that one? It is to Moses God speaketh, to him is this Tibi directed; him doth God nominate, and of his person make choice first to make these trumpets. No man to make, no man to have the hammering of any trumpet but he.
And there is no question but for Aaron, and his sons the priests; they are to call the Levites, to call the people together to their assemblies: how shall they warn them together, unless they make a trumpet too? But if there be any question. For to whom giveth He this charge? Not to Aaron is this spoken, but to Moses; Aaron receiveth no charge to make [148/149] any trumpet, never a Fac tibi to him, neither in this nor in any other place. To Moses is this charge given. And to Moses; not, 'Make thee' one, one for secular affairs that they would allow him, but Fac tibi duas, 'make thee two,' make both.
2. Well, the making is not it. One may make and another may have, Sic vos non vobis; you know the old verse. When they be made and done, then who shall own them? It is expressed, that too: Et erunt tbit, 'shall be for thee.' They shall be, both thine. A third if they can find, they may lay claim to that; but both these are for Moses.
We have then the delivery of them to Moses to make, which is a kind of seisin, or a ceremony investing him with the right of them. We have beside, plain words to lead their possession, and those operative, Erunt tibi; that as none to make them, so none to own them being made but Moses. And what would we have more to shew us, cujus sunt tubæ, 'whose the trumpets be,' or whose is the right of calling assemblies? It is Moses' certainly, and he by virtue of these stands seized of it.
To get yet further. But was not all this to Moses for his time only, and as it began in him so to take end with him? Was it not one of these same privilegia personalia quæ non trahuntur in exemplum, 'a privilege peculiar so not precedent to be made of it?' No, for if you look but a little forward, to the eighth verse following, there you shall see that this power which God here conveyeth, this law of the silver trumpets, is a 'law to lost for ever,' even throughout all their generations, not that generation only. And there is great reason it should be so, that seeing the use should never cease, the power likewise should never determine.
Being then not to determine but to continue, it must descend to those that hold Moses' place I demand then, What place did Moses hold? Surely it is that Aaron was now the High Priest anointed and fully invested in all the rights of it ever since the eighth chapter of the last book. Moses had in him now no other right but that of the chief magistrate. Therefore as in that right, no other, he received [149/150] and held them, so he was made custos utrisque tabulæ; so he is made custos utrisque tubæ. But who can tell us better than he himself; in what right he held them? He doth it in the fifth verse of the thirty-third chapter of Deuteronomy, read it which way you will: Erat in Jishrune Rex, or in rectissimo Rex, or inrectitudine Rex, or in recto Regis, dum congregaret Principes populi, et tribus Israel. All come to this, that though in strict propriety of speech Moses were no King, yet in this he was in rectitudine Rex, or in recto Regis; that is, in this had, as we say, jus regale, that he might and did assemble the tribes and chief men of the tribes at his pleasure. Herein he was Rex in rectitudine. For this was rectitudoRegis, a power regal. And so it was holden in Egypt before Moses, even in the law of nature; that without Pharaoh no man might 'lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.' suppose to no public or principal motion; and so hath it been holden in all nations, as a special power belonging to dominion. Which maketh it seem strange, that those men which in no cause are so fervent as when they plead that Churchmen should not kapieÚein, that is, 'have dominion;' do yet hold this power, which hath every been reputed most proper to dominion, should belong to none but to them only. Our Saviour's Christ's Vos autem non sic may, I am sure, be said to them here in a truer sense than as they commonly use to apply it.
To conclude then this point, if Moses as in the right of chief magistrate held this power, it was from him to descend to the chief magistrates after him over the people of God, and they to succeed him, as in his place so in this right, it being by God Himself settled in Moses, and annexed to his place, lege perpetuâ, by an estate indefeasible, 'by a perpetual law,' throughout all their generations. Therefore ever after by God's express order, from year to year, every year on the first day of the seventh month were they blown by Moses first, and after by them that held his place, and the feast of the trumpet solemnly holden; as to put them in mind of the benefit thereby coming to them, so withal to keep alive and fresh still in the knowledge of all, that this power belonged to their place, that so none might ever be ignorant to whom it did of right appertain to call assemblies.
[150/151] And how then shall Aaron's assemblies be called? With what trumpet they? God Himself hath provided for that in the tenth verse following, that with no other than these. There is in all the Law no order for calling an assembly, to what end or for what cause soever, but this and only this; no order for making any third trumpet; under these two therefore all are comprised. This order God taketh, that Moses shall permit Aaron's sons to have the use of these trumpets. But the use, not the property. They must take them from Moses, as in the thirty-first chapter of this book Phinehas doth; but, Erunt tibi God's own words, Erunt tibi must still be remembered; his they be all for all that, Moses the owner still, the right remains in him; their sounding of them deprives not him of his interest, alters not the property; Erunt tibi, must still be true, that right still be preserved. It may be, if we communicate with flesh and blood, we may think it more convenient, as some do, that God had delivered Moses and Aaron either of them one. But when we see God's will by God's word what it is, that Moses is to have them both, we will let that pass as a revelation of flesh and blood, and think that which God thinketh to be most convenient.
Now then, if the trumpets belong to Moses, and that to this end, that with them he may 'call the congregation,' these two things do follow: first, that if he 'call,' 'the congregation' must not refuse to come; secondly, that unless he 'call' they must not assemble of their own heads, but keep their places. Briefly thus: 'the congregation' must come when it is called; and it must be called, ere it come. These are the two duties we owe to the two trumpets, and both these have God's people ever duly performed.
And yet not so, but that this right had been called in question, yea, even in Moses' own time, (that we marvel not if it be so now) and both these duties denied him even by those who were alive and present then, when God gave him the trumpets. But mark by whom, and what became of them.
The first duty is to come when they be called; and this was denied, in the sixteenth chapter following, the twelfth verse, by Korah, Dathan, and their crew. Moses sounded his trumpet, [151/152] sent to call them; they answer flatly and that not once, but once and again Non veniemus, they would not come, not once stir for him or his trumpet, they. A plain contradiction indeed; neither is there in all that chapter any contradiction veri nominus, 'true and properly so to be called,' but only that. You know what became of them, they went quick to hell for it; and wo be to them, even under the Gospel, saith St. Jude, that perish in the same contradiction, 'the contradiction of Korah.'
The second duty is, to be called ere they come; this likewise denied, even Moses himself, (that they in this place may not think strange of it) in the twentieth chapter of this very book. Water waxing scant, a company of them grew muntinous, and in tumultuous manner, without any sound of the trumpet, assembled of themselves. But these are branded too: the water they got is called 'the water of Meribah;' and what followed you know. None of them that drank of it, came into the land of promise. 'God swore they should not enter into His rest.'
Now as both these are bad, so of the twain this latter is the worse. The former, that came not being called, do but sit still, as if they were somewhat thick of hearing; but these latter that come being not called, either they make themselves a trumpet without even a Fac tibi, or else they offer to wring Moses' trumpet out of his hands, and take it in their own. Take heed of this latter; it is said there to be adversus Mosen, 'even against Moses himself.' It is the very next forerunner to it, pricks fast upon it. For they that meet against Moses' will, when they have once thoroughly learned that lesson, will quickly perhaps grow capable of another, even against Moses himself, as these did. Periclitmaur argui seditionis, saith the town-clerk, 'We have done more than we can well answer;' we may be indicted of treason for this day's work, for coming together without a trumpet; and yet it was for Diana, that is, for matter of religion.
You see then whose the right is, and what the duties be to it, and in whose steps they tread that deny them. Sure they have been baptized or made to drink of the same water, 'the water of Meribah.' That ever shall offer to do the like, to draw together without Moses' call.
[152/153] And now to our Saviour Christ's question: 'In the Law how is it written? How read you? Our answer is, There is it thus written, and thus we read, that Moses hath the right of the trumpets, that they to go ever with him and his successors; and that to them belongeth the power of calling the public assemblies.
This is the Law of God, and that no judicial Law, peculiar to that people alone, but agreable to the Law of nature and nations, two Laws of force through the whole world. For even in the little empire of the body natural, principium motis, 'the beginning of all motion' is in and from the head. There all the knots, or as they call them all the conjugation of sinews, have their head, by which all the body is moved. And as the Law of nature by secret instinct by the light of the creation, annexeth the organ to the chiefest part, even so doth the Law of nations, by the light of reason to the chief person; and both fall just with the Law here written, where by Erunt tibi, the same organ and power is committed to Moses, the principal person in that commonwealth. The Law of nations in this point, both before the Law written and since, where the Law written was not known, might easily appear if time would suffer, both in their general order for conventions so to be called, and in their general opposing to all conventicles called otherwise.
Verily the heathen Laws made all such assemblies unlawful which the highest authority did not cause to meet, yea though they were erîn Orgwn _neka, say Solon's Laws; yea though sub prætextuu religionis, say the Roman Laws. Neither did the Christian Emperors think good to abate any thing of that right. Nay, they took more straight order; for besides the exiling of the person, which was the Law before, they proscribed the place where under pretence of religion any such meetings should be. But I let them pass, and stand only on the written Law, the Law of God.
We have Law then for us, that Moses is ever to 'call the congregation.' But though we have Law, Mos vincit Legem, 'Custom overruleth Law.' And the custom or practice may go another way, and it is practice that ever best betrayeth a power. How then hath the practice gone? It is a necessary question this, and pertinent to the text itself. For there is a [153/154] power granted; and in vain is that power that never cometh into act. Came then this power into act? It is a power to 'call the congregation together.' Were the congregations called together by it? A grant there is that Erunt tibi, so it should be: did it take place? Was it so, Erantne illi? Had he it? Did he enjoy it? Let us look into that another while, what became of this grant, what place it took. And we shall not offend Moses in so doing. It is his advice and desire both, that we should enquire into the days past that were before us. And ask, 'even from one end of heaven to the other,' to see how matters have been carried. So that, as our Saviour Christ sendeth us to the Law by His In Lege quid scriptum est? So doth Moses direct us to the use and practice by his Interroga de diebus antiquis. I do ask then, these trumpets here given, this power to 'call together the congregation,' how hath it been used? Hath 'the congregation,' been called accordingly in this, and no other manner? By this and no other power? It hath, as shall appear; and I will deal with no assemblies, but only for matters of religion.
Of Moses, first, there is no question; it is yielded that he called them, and dismissed them. And even so did Joshua after him no less than he, and they obeyed him in that power no less than Moses. And as for that which is objected concerning Moses, that he for a time dealt in matters of the Priest's office, it hath no colour in Joshua and those that succeeded him.
The covenant and the renewing of the covenant are matters merely spiritual; yet in that case did Joshua (Joshua, not Eleazar) assemble all the tribes, Levi and all, to Sichem Joshua the twenty fourth called the assemble at the first verse, disssolved it at the twenty-eighth. For if Joshua may call, he may dissolve too; Law, reason, sense, teach that cujus est nolle, ejus est et velle. That calling and discharging belong both to one power. Nay, Demetrius' assembly, though they had come together disorderly, yet when the town-clerk that should have called them together did discharge them, they added not one fault to another but went their ways, every man quietly, Demetrius himself and all; that they are worse than Demetrius, than deny this.
But I pass to the Kings, that estate fitteth us better. There [154/155] doth David call together the Priests and other persons ecclesiastical, and that even with these trumpets. And for what matters? Secular? Nay, but first, when the ark was to be removed. And again, when the offices of the temple were to be set in order; things merely pertaining to religion? And as he calleth them, 1Chron. 15.4. so he dismisseth them, 1Chron.16.43.
The like did Solomon, when the temple was to be dedicated; called the assembly 2Chron. 5.2, dissolved the assembly in the tenth verse of the seventh chapter following.
The like did Asa: when religion was to be restored, and a solemn oath of association to be taken for the maintaining of it, with the sound of these trumpets did he it.
Jehoshapat used them, when a public fast to be proclaimed. Jehu used them, when a solemn sacrifice to be performed. Joash in a case of dilapidations of the temple, a matter merely ecclesiastical. Josias when the temple to be purified, and a mass of superstitions to be removed.
In all these cases did all these Kings call all these conventions of Priests and Levites for matters of religion. I insist only on the fact of Ezekias. He was a King, he gave forth his precept for the Priests and all their brethren to assemble. Wherefore? Ad res Jehovæ, 'for the affairs of the service of God, yea, God Himself. There are fourteen chief men of the Priests set down there by name, that by virtue of that precept of the King, came together themselves, they and their brethren, all ex præcepto Regis ad res Jehovæ, by the King's authority for matters merely of the Church. I know not what can be more plain: the matters spiritual, the persons assembled spiritual, and yet called by the King's trumpet.
Thus till the captivity. In the captivity there have we Mordecai, when he came in place of authority, appointing the day of Purim, and calling all the Jews in the province together, to the celebrating of them. After the captivity Nehemias kept the trumpet still; and by it first called the Priests to shew their right to their places by their genealogies, and after reduced them also to their places again, when they were all shrunk away in time of his absence.
These lead the practice till you come to the Maccabees, [155/156] and there it is but too evident; they profess there expressly to Simon, made them their ruler, that it should not be lawful for any pisnstr_yai sustroy_n, 'to call any assembly in the land,' ¥neu aÙtoà, 'without him.' A plain evidence that so had ever gone the course of their government; else how should it come to pass, that the altering of religion is still termed the deed of the King? that his disposition, godly or otherwise, did always accordingly change the public face of religion? which thing the Priests by themselves never did, neither could at any time hinder from being done. Had the Priests without him been possessed of this power of assembling, how had any act concerning religion passed without them? In them it had been to stop it at any time, if they had of themselves had this power of assembling themselves to set order in matters of religion.
Thus, from Moses to the Maccabees, we see in whose hands this power was. And what should I say more? There was in all God's people no one religious king but this power be practised; and there was of all God's Prophet's no one that ever interposed any prohibition against it.
Would Esay, shall we once imagine, have endured Ezekias him to call, or the Priests to come together only by his precept, ad res Jehovæ; and not 'lift up his voice like a trumpet' against it, if it had not been in his knowledge the King's right to command, and their duty to obey? Never, certainly.
What shall we say then? Were all these wrong? Shall we condemn them all? Take heed. In all that government, God hath no other children but these; if we condemn these, we 'condemn the whole generation of His children.' Yet to this we are come now, that either we must condemn them all, one after another: the Kings as usurpers, for taking on them to use more power than ever orderly they received, and the Prophets for soothers of them in that their unjust claim; or else confess they did no more than they might, and exceeded not therein the bounds of their calling. And indeed that we must confess, for that is the truth.
This then may serve for the custom of God's own elect people. But they were Jews, and we would be loath to judaize; and it may be this was one of the clauses of [156/157] 'the Law of commandments, consisting of ordinances' which Christ came to abrogate.
I demand therefore, when Christ came how was it then? Will the like appear in the assemblies since Christ? The very like every way, as consonant to that of the Old Testament as may be. For Christ giveth a promise of His assistance to such meetings; but sets no new order for calling of them, other than had been taken in the Old. Therefore the same order to be kept still.
A time there was you know after Christ, when they were infidels, Kings and kingdoms both. A time there followed when Kings received religion; and no sooner received they it, but they received this power of the trumpets with it. This to be made manifest: 1. By general councils; 2. By national and provincial councils that have been assembled, 3. under Emperors, 4. And under Kings, by the space of many years,
1. And for general councils, this first to begin with; that if those assemblies be not rightly called that by this power are called, we have lost all our general councils at one blow. The Church of Christ hath to this day never a general council, unâ liturâ, 'with one wipe,' we dash them out all, we leave never a one, no not one. For all that ever have been, have been thus called and kept. Yea, those four first, which all Christians have ever had in so great reverence and high estimation, not of one of them a lawful council if this new assertion take place. This is a perilous inconvenience, yet this we must yield to, and more than this, if we seek to disable assemblies so holden. For sure it is, all the general councils were thus assembled, all, seven--for more are not to be reckoned, the eighth was only for a private business. The rest were only of the West Church alone, and not so general; the East and West together make a general; the East and West together never met but in one of these seven, for public affairs, unless it were once after in that of Ferrara.
And it is well known, which they never had, and so the council never kept but broken, even as soon as it was broken up.
Briefly then to survey those seven. And I will not therein allege the reports of stories, (they write things they saw not [157/158] many times, and so frame matters to their conceits, and many times are tainted with a partial humour) but only out of authentical records in them, and out of the very acts of the councils themselves, best able to testify and tell by whose authority they came together. And it is happy for the Church of Christ, there are so many of them extant as there are, to guide us to the truth in this point, that so the right may appear.
First, then, for the great Nicene council, the first general congregation of all that were called in the Christian world. The whole council in their synodical epistle written to the Church of Alexandria witness they were assembled, the holy Emperor Constantine gathering together out of divers cities and provinces. The whole letter is extant upon record in Socrates i.9. and Theodorit i.9. Give me leave to make here a little stand; for here at this council was the pale first broken, and the right (if any such were) here it went first away. A Nice there were then together three hundred and eighteen bishops, totius orbis lumina, as Victorinus well termeth them, 'the lights of the whole world;' the valour, that the Christian religion ever had before or since; men that had laid down their lives for the testimony of the truth. Did any of them refuse to come, being called by him, as not called aright? or coming, was there any one of them that did protest against it? or pleased the Church's interest, to meet of themselves? Not one.
What was it then? Want of skill in so many famous men, that knew not their own rights? Or want of valour, that knowing it for such would not so much as speak a word for it, but sit still, and say nothing all the while? There were then and there present, Spyridion, Paphnutius, Potaman, and divers besides, but these I name that had not long before for their constancy had their right eyes bored out, their right-ham-strings and the strings of their right arm-pits cut in sunder. Did these want courage, think we? Were they become so faint-hearted that they durst not open their mouth, for their own due?
[158/159] Verily, that council of Nice which is and ever hath been so much admired by all Christians, cannot be excused before God or men, if they thus conspired, all, to betray the Church's right, and suffered it contrary to all equity to be carried away, leaving a dangerous precedent therein, for all councils ever after to the world's end. But no such right there was; if there had been, they neither wanted wit to discern it, nor courage to claim it. But they knew whose the trumpets were, to whom Erunt tibi was spoken; and therefore never offered to lay hold on either of them and say, This is ours.
And yet, to say the truth, there is no man of reason but will think it reasonable, if this were the Church's own peculiar, if appropriate unto it, and so known to them to be, there ought to have been plain dealing now at the very first council of all; that if Constantine would embrace religion, he must needs resign up one of his trumpets, and forbear from thence to meddle with their assemblies. Was there so? No such thing. Why was there not? Belike, because none were there that had ever been present at any assembly, holden under persecution, to know the Church's order and manner of meeting them. Yes, there was Hosius bishop of Cordova, who had held the council of Elivra in Spain, even in the time of persecution. Hosius for the West. And for the East there was Eustathius bishop of Antioch, had held the like at Ancyra then too both the councils yet extant to be seen and these two, presidents of them. Yet were these twain, two that came first, and sat foremost at the council of Nice; and neither of them that pleaded or knew of any such right, but that their power then ceased, and that Constantine's trumpet now took place. Sure, if but this first council be well considered, it is able to move much. And the example of this first was of great consequence; for all the rest followed it, and as this went so went they. And this for the first.
2. The second general council at Constantinople; who called that congregation? Their own letter to the Emperor is yet to be seen, professing they were thither assembled by his writ.
[159/160] 3. For the third at Ephesus, let the acts of the council now set out in Greek, be looked on. Four several times they acknowledge they were thither summoned by the Emperor's oracle, beck, charge, and commandment.
4. For the fourth at Chalcedon, look but upon the very front of the council, it proclaimeth itself to be there assembled, Facta est Synodus ex decreto piissimorum, et fidelissimorum Imperatorum, Valentiniani et Martiani. And it is well known it was first called at Nice, and then recalled from thence and removed to Chalcedon, all wholly by the disposing of the Emperor.
5. So saith the fifth at Constaninople: Juxta pium jussum a Christi amati, et a De custoditi Justiniani Imperatoris. They be their own words.
6. And so the sixth at Constaninople: Secundum imperialem sanctionem congregata est; and, pro obedientiâ quam debuuimus. They be the express words of Agatho, bishop of Rome in the same council.
7. And even so the seventh at Nice, quæ per pium Imperatorum decretum congregata est meaning Constantine and Irene.
And these be all the general. In all which the force of the truth presenteth itiself so clearly, that Bellarmine is even dazzled with it; for, as one dazzled, he sets down divers reasons why the Emperors were to call them, in that very place where he taketh upon him to prove the Emperors were not to call them.
2. But it may be general councils have a fashion by themselves. Those congregations may be called thus: but National or Provincial, such as ours, how? Even so too, and no otherwise. Constantine began with them first, before he proceeded to the general at Nice. His tractoria, or writ, is extant to be seen in Eusebius; whereby he called the first [160/161] provincial council in France. For sure by no canon could the bishop of Syracuse in Sicily, or Restitutus bishop of London in Britain, be lawfully summoned to a Synod in France, which they were, but, as it was indeed, by the Emperor's writ only. But this he did as the beginning of his reign, perhaps while he was yet an imperfect Christian. Nay, even first and last he did the same: as at the beginning he called this, so in the end of his reign, the thirtieth year, the year before his death, called he the council of Tyre, and from thence removed it to Jerusalem, and from thence called them to appear before himself in Constantinople. The letters are to be seen by which they were called. The like after him did Constans at Sardis, Valentinian at Lampsacus, Theodosius at Aquileia, Gratian at Thessalonica.
It is too tedious to go through them all; only for that of Aquileia thus much. St. Ambrose, a man of as much spirit and as high courage as ever the Church had, and one that stood as much as ever did any for the Church's right, he was there present and president both. Thus writeth he from the council to the Emperor in his own name, and in the name of all the rest: Juxta mansuetudinis vestræ statuta convenimus ,'Hither we are assembled by the appointment of your clemency.' And there is no one council more plain than that of St. Ambrose for this purpose. Yea, I add this, which is a point to be considered, that even then when the Emperors were professed Arians, even then did the bishops acknowledge their power to call councils; came to them being called; sued to them that they might be called. Came to them as Hosius to that Arimine, Liberius to that of Sirmium, and that of Seleucia. Sued for them as Liberius to Constantius, as Leo to Theodosius for the second Ephesine council, Innocentius to Arcadius. And sometimes they sped, as Leo; and sometimes not, as Liberius and Innocentius; and yet, when they sped not, they held themselves quiet, and never presumed to draw together of their own heads.
But it may be this was some imperial power, and that Emperors had in this point more jurisdiction than Kings. Nor that neither; for about five hundred years after Christ, when [161/162] the empire fell in pieces, and these western parts came into the hands of Kings, those Kings had, held, enjoyed, and practised the same power. In Italy, Theoderic at Rome; Alaric at Agatha, In France, Clovis, the first Christian king there, Childebert, Theodobert, and Cherebert; at Orleans the first, Auverne, Orleans the second, Tours. And after that again by Gontran, Clovis, Carloman, and Pepin: at Mascon, first and second, Châlon; that which is called Francica, and that which is in Vernis. Twenty of them at the least in France.
In Spain by ten several kings; in two councils at Braccara, and in ten at Toledo, by the space of three hundred years together. And how? Under what terms? Peruse the councils themselves, their very Acts speak: Ex præcepto, imperio, jussu, sancione, nuti, decreto; ex evocatione, dispositione, ordinatione, Regis. One saith, Potestas permissa est nobis; another, Facultas data est nobis; a third, Injunctum est nobis a Rege. See their several styles; nothing can be more pregnant. And now we are gone eight hundred years after Christ.
4. Then arose there a kind of empire here in the West under Charles the Great. And did not he then take the trumpets as his own, and use them six several times, in calling six several councils, at Frankfort, Arles, Tours, Chalôn, Mentz, and Rheims? And what saith he in them? Rheims I named last, take that In conventu more priscorum Imperatorum congregato a piissimo Domino nostro Carolo. That he called that convention by no other right than as the manner of the ancient Emperors had been to do. Expressing under one both what his was, and what the usage had ever been before him.
The like after him did Ludovicus Pius, Lotharius, Ludovicus Balbus, Carolus Calvus, Carolus Crassus, and Arnulphus, at the several councils holden at Aken, Mentz, Melden, Worms, Cologne, and Tribur; and so held it till nine hundred years, for about that year, a year or two under or over, was holden the council at Tribur in Germany, cum concilium sacrum continuari decrevisset; and præsidente pio Principe Arnulpho, [162/163] by the Emperor Arnulphus' decree, himself then president of it.
And if it be expected there are of the councils which carry in their acts no mention how they were called, for them we are to understand that after the decrees of the first Nicene Council were by Constantine's edict confirmed, wherein (as likewise the Council of Chalcedon) it was ordered each province should yearly hold their Synods twice, but specially after Justinian had made the decrees of the four first general councils to have the nature and force of imperial laws, a law being thus passed from them, we are to conceive the Emperor's authority was in all afterward, habitually at least; that is, if not, as in the other, by express and formal consent, yet by way of implied allowance, as passed by a former grant.
Well, thus far the trumpet giveth a certain sound. Now after this there is a great silence in the volumes of the councils in a manner for the space of two hundred years, until the year 1180 or thereabout, when the Council of Lateran was; and then, indeed, the case was altered. By tha time had the bishop of Rome, by his skill and practice, got one of the trumpets away, and carried it with him to Rome, so leaving princes but one; but so long they held it.
Truly three times so much as we are allowed would not serve for this one point of the councils, but even barely to recite them, and to cite them, they are so many. You remember how Abraham dealt with God for the saving of the five cities, how he went down from fifty to ten: I might well take a course the other way, and rise from ten to fifty, nay sixty, nay seventy, nay eighty, not so few, of councils general, national, provincial, called by Emperors, by Kings; Emperors of the East, of the West; Kings of Italy, France, Spain Germany; as before from Moses to the Maccabees, so here from Cosntantine to Arnulphus, for so many hundred years together, extant all, to be shewed and seen, all clear and evident, all full and forcible for this power; as indeed it is a cause that laboureth rather of plenty than penury of proof. And this was the course that of old was well thought of in the Christian world. Thus was the congregation so long [163/164] called, neither is there yet brought any thing to force us to swerve from the way wherein so many and so holy ages have gone before us.
Yes, something; for what say you to the three hundred years before Constantine? How went the assemblies then? who called them all that while? for divers were holden that while: in Palestine, about Easter; at Carthage, about heretics' baptism; at Rome, about Novatus; at Antioch, about Paulus Samosatenus. How assembled these?
Truly even as these people here, of the Jews, did before in Egypt under the tyranny of Pharaoh; they were then a Church under persecution, until Moses was raised up by God, a lawful magistrate over them. The cases are like for all the world. No magistrate did assemble them in Egypt. And good reason, they had then none to do it. Pharaoh, e may be sure, would not offer to do it; not for any conscience I trust or fear to encroach upon the Church's right, but because he hated both assembly and congregation, and sought by all means to extinguish both. But this was no bar but that when Moses arose, authorised by God, and had the trumpets here by God delivered him, he might take them, keep them, and use them to that end for which God gave them, 'to call the congregation.' And none then by he could do it, because to none him then was this power conveyed. They could not say to him now as before one of them did in Egypt: 'Who made you a commander over us,' to call us together? nor plead in bar of the trumpets, and say, Nay, but we will meet still of ourselves, even as we did before in Egypt, we will still of ourselves, even as we did before in Egypt, we will still keep our old manner of conventions. No, for God had now taken another order; God I say had now done it, and God shall I trust be allowed to translate this power to the principal member of the body, and to dispose of it as it best pleaseth Him.
The very same case fell out again after in the captivity of Babylon, and again, after that, in the persecution under Antiochus; and these three are all the patterns we have in the Old Testament As before in Egypt, so then they had meetings, but they were all by stealth; yet meetings then they had. For Moses ceasing, and his right with him, the power devolved to the body, to gather itself, as is usual in such cases. [164/165] But then, when Nehemias after the captivity, and Simon Maccabeus after the fury of Antiochus, were raised them by god; when God had set them in Moses' place, they might lawfully do as Moses before had done, and take the silver trumpets into their hands again. So soon as they had a lawful governor, the right returned to him straight; and the congregation, none of them might then plead, Nay, but as we did in Babylon, or as we did under Antiochus, so and no otherwise will we assemble still. No, we see the contrary rather; even of themselves they profess to Simon plainly, now they have a lawful governor, no meeting should be from thenceforth in the land without him, his privity and permission.
And even as these two Nehemias and Simon, even by the same right Constantine; by Moses' right all, all by the commission here penned. By it did Constantine resume the trumpet, and enjoy and exercise the power of calling the congregation; for even Moses' pattern and practice five sundry times at least doth Eusebius allege, in the life of Constantine, to justify his proceedings still by Moses' example. True it is therefore that before Constantine's time they met together as they durst, and took such order as they could. They must venture then, there was no Moses, they had no trumpet; and if they had, they durst not have blown it. But when Constantine came in place, in Moses's place, it was lawful for him to do as Moses did; and so he did, and they never said to him, Nay, spare your trumpet, look how we have done hitherto, we will do so even still; meet no otherwise now than in former times we have, by our own agreement. As before it was said, this had been plain dealing; thus, if rightly they might, they should have done. Did they so? No, but to him they went, as to Moses, for their meetings, at his hands they sought them; yea, I dare say they blessed God from their hearts, that they had lived to see the day they might now assemble by the sound of trumpet.
To conclude this point then. These two times or estates of the Church are not to be confounded; there is a plain difference between them, and a diverse respect to be had of each. If the succession of magistrates be interrupted, in such case of necessity, the Church of herself maketh supply, [165/166] cause then God's order ceaseth. But granting a Constantine to them again, God's former positive order returneth, and the course is to proceed and go on as before. When the magistrate and his authority was at any time wanting to the Church, forced she was to deal with her own affairs within herself; for then was the Church wholly divided from princes, and they from it. But when this wall of partition is pulled down, shall Moses have no more to do than Pharaoh, or Constantine than Nero? Congregations were so called under them; must they be so still under these too? No, no more than their manner of meeting in Egypt--for all the world like this of the primitive Church persecuted--was to be a rule, and to overrule these trumpets here in the text, either God for giving them, or Moses for taking them at His hands. This rather, if ever the Church fall into such bloody times, they must meet as they may, and come together as they can; they have no Moses, no trumpet to call them. The times of Pharaoh and Nero are then their pattern. But if it be so happy as to find the days of peace, Moses and Constantine are patterns for the days of peace; they have a Moses then, from that time forward they must give ear to the trumpet. In a word, none can seek to have the congregation so called as before Constantine, but they must secretly and by implication confess they are a persecuted Church as that then was without a Moses, without a Constantine.
The time then before Constantine are no bar, no kind of impeachment to Constantine's, no more than the times of Egypt were to Moses' right. And indeed no more they were; for Constantine and his successors had them and held them till a thousand years after Christ, and then one of them (by what means we all know) was let go by them, or gotten away from them; it was then gotten away, and carried to Rome. But that getting hath hitherto been holden a plain, usurping, and an usurping (not upon the congregation, but) upon Princes and their right, and that they in their own wrong suffered it to be wrung from them. And why? Because not to Aaron, but to Moses it was said, Et erunt tibi.
1. To draw to an end, it was then gotten away and with some ado it was recovered not long since. And what, shall we now let it go, and destroy so soon that which so lately we [166/167] built again? You may please to remember there was not long since a clergy in place that was wholly ad oppositum, and would never have yielded to reform ought; nothing they would do, and in eye of law without them nothing could then be done, they had encroached the power of assembling into their own hands. How then? How shall we do for an assembly? Then, Erunt tibni was a good text, it must needs be meant of the prince; he had this power, and to him of right it belonged. This was then good divinity, and what writer is there extant of those times but it may be turned to him? And was it good divinity then, and is it now no longer so? Was the King but licensed for a while to hold this power till another clergy were in, and must he then be deprived of it again? Was it then usurped from princes, and are now princes usurpers of it themselves? And this is all the difference in the matter of assemblies, and calling of them; that there must be only a change, and that instead of one, many; and no remedy now, but one of these two they must needs admit of? Is this now become good divinity? Nay, I trust, if Erunt tibi, were once true, it is so still, and if Tibi were then Moses, it so still. That we will be better advised and thus go against ourselves, and let truth be no longer truth than it will serve our turns.
2. And this calleth to my mind the like dealing of a sort of men not long since here among us. Awhile they plied prince and parliament with admonitions, supplication, motions, and petitions. And in them it was their duty, their right to frame all things to their new-invented plot; and this, so long as any hope blew out of that coast. But when that way that saw it would not be, then took they up a new tenet straight; they needed neither magistrate nor trumpet they, the godly among the people might do of themselves. For confusion to the wise and mighty, the poor and simple must take this work in hand, and so by this means the trumpet prove their right in the end, and so come by devolution to Demetrius and the craftsmen. Now, if not for love of the truth, yet for very shame of these shifting absurdities, let these fantasies be abandoned, and that which God's own mouth hath spoken, let it be for once and for ever true; that [167/168] which once we truly held and maintained for truth, let us do so still; that we be not like evil servants, judges ex ore proprio,' out of their own mouths.'
Let me not over-weary you, let this rather suffice. 1.We have done as our Saviour Christ willed us, resorted to the Law, and found what there is written, the grant of this power to Moses 'to call the congregation;' 2. we have followed Moses' advice, enquired of the days before us, even from one end of heaven to the other, and found the practice of this grant in Moses' successors, and the congregation so by them called. It remaineth, that as God by His law hath taken this order, and His people in former ages have kept this order, that we do so too; that we say as God saith, Erunt tibi, this power retaineth to Moses. And that neither with Korah we say, Non veniemus; nor with Demetrius run together of ourselves, and think to carry it away with crying, 'Great is Diana.' But as we see the power is of God, so truly to acknowledge it and dutifully to yield it: that so they whose it is may quietly hold it, and laudably use it to His glory That gave it, and their good for whom it was given: which God Almighty grant, &.