LONDON, Printed by M.F. for Nathaniel Butter in Pauls Church-yard at the pyde Bull neare St. Austins gate. 1640.


Most Honourable Lords, And yee the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses, of the Honourable House of Commons;

LEST the world should think the Presse had of late forgot to speake any language other then Libellous, this honest paper hath broken through the throng, and prostrates it selfe before [Page 2] you: How meanly soever, and unat­tended, it presents it selfe to your view, yet it comes to you on a great errand, as the faithfull Messenger of all the peaceable and right-affected sonnes of the Church of England; and in their names, humbly craves a gracious ad­mittance: Had it regarded the pomp and ostentation of names, it might have gloried in a train past number; It is but a poore stock that may be counted; Millions of hands (if that tumultuary, and under-hand way of procured subscriptions could have rea­son to hope for favour in your eyes) shall at your least Command, give at­testation to that, which this scroll doth in their names humbly tender unto you.

Ye are now happily (through Gods blessing) met in a much-longed-for [Page 3] Parliament; It were but a narrow word to say that the eyes of all us the good Subjects of the whole Realme are fixed upon your successe; Certain­ly there are not more eyes in these three interessed Kingdomes, then are now bent upon you; yea all the neighbour Churches and Kingdomes, if I may not say the whole Christian world, and, no small part beyond it, look wishly upon your faces, and with stretched-out necks gaze at the issue of your great Meeting; Neither doubt wee but since Soveraigne Authority hath for this purpose both summo­ned, and actuated you, you will not faile to produce something worthy of so high an expectation.

Yee are the Sanctuary, whereto now every man flees, whether really, or pretendedly distressed; Even a [Page 4] Ioab or Adonijah will bee also taking hold of the hornes of the Altar: Your noble wisedomes know how to di­stinguish of men and actions, and your inviolable justice knowes to award each his owne.

Many things there are doubtlesse, which you finde worthy of a seasona­ble reformation, both in Church and State. Neither can it be otherwise, but that in a pamperd full body, diseases will grow through rest. Ponds that are seldome scoured will easily gather mud; metals, rust; and those patients that have inured themselves to a set course of medicinall evacuations, if they intermit their springs and falls, fall into feverous distempers; Not, that supreme, and immediately-subor­dinate Authority hath in the meane time been wanting to its charge; [Page 5] Surely, unlesse wee would suppose Princes to be Gods, wee cannot think they can know all things: Of necessi­ty they must look with others eyes, and heare with others eares, and be infor­med by others tongues, and act by others hands; and when all is done, even the most regular, and carefully­inquisitive State is not like the Sunne, from whose light and heat nothing is hid.

It cannot be expected that those con­stellations which attend the Southerne Pole, should take view of our Hemi­sphere, or intermixe their influences with those above our heads; Every agent is required, and allowed to work within the compasse of its own activi­tie: Yee therefore, who by the bene­fit of your dispersed habitations, enjoy the advantage of having the whole [Page 6] Kingdome, and all the corners of it within your eies, may both clearly see all those enormities, wherewith any part is infested, (unknown to remoter intelligence) and can best judge to ap­ply meet remedies thereunto. Neither can it be, but that those eies of yours, which have been privately vigilant, within the places of your severall abodes, must needs (not without much regret) in this your publique Meeting, take notice of the miserable disorders of so many vicious and mis­affected persons, as have thrust them­selves upon your cognizance.

Whiles the Orthodoxe part in this whole Realme, hath (to the praise of their patience) been quietly silent, as securely conscious of their own right, and innocence, how many furious and malignant spirits every [Page 7] where have burst forth into sclande­rous Libels, bitter Pasquines, railing Pamphlets? (under which more Presses then one have groaned) wherein they have indeavoured, through the sides of some misliked persons, to wound that sacred Government, which (by the joynt-confession of all reformed Divines) derives it selfe from the times of the blessed Apostles, without any interruption, (without the contradicti­on of any one Congregation in the Christian world) unto this present age; Wherein, as no doubt their lewd boldnesse hath been extremely offensive to your wisedomes, and pie­ty, so may it please you to check this daring, and mis-grounded insolence of these Libellers, and by some speedy Declaration to let the world know, how much you detest this their mali­cious, or ignorant presumption; and [Page 8] by some needfull Act to put a present restraint upon the wilde and lawlesse courses of all their factious combina­tions abroad, and enterprises of this kinde.

And if you finde it passe for one of the maine accusations against some great persons, now questioned before you, that they endeavoured to alter the forme of the established government of the Common-wealth; how can these Pamphleters seem worthy of but an easie censure, which combine their counsels and practises, for the changing of the setled form of the go­vernment of the Church? Since, if Antiquity may be the rule, the civill Politie hath sometimes varied, the sa­cred, never; And if originall Authori­ty may carry it; that came from arbi­trary imposers, this, from men inspired, [Page 9] and from them in an unquestio­nable clearnesse derived to us: And if those be branded for Incendiaries, which are taxed of attempting to in­troduce new formes of administrati­on, and rules of Divine worship into our neighbour Church, how shall those boute-feux of ours escape, that of­fer to doe these offices to our owne? the severall, and daily variable projects whereof, are not worthy of your knowledge, or our confutation; Let me have leave to instance in two, the prime subjects of their quarrell, and contradiction; Leitourgie, and Epi­scopacy.

The Liturgie of the Church of En­gland hath been hitherto esteemed sa­cred, reverently used by holy Martyrs, daily frequented by devout Prote­stants, as that, which more then once [Page 10] hath been allowed and confirmed by the Edicts of religious Princes, and by your own Parliamentary Acts; and but lately, being translated into other Languages, hath been entertained abroad, with the great applause of for­raigne Divines and Churches; Yet, now, begins to complain of scorn at home: The Matter is quarrelled by some, the Form by others, the Use of it by both: That which was never be­fore heard of in the Church of God, whether Jewish, or Christian, the ve­ry prescription of the most holy devo­tion offendeth. Surely, our blessed Sa­viour, and his gracious Fore-runner, were so farre from this new Divinitie, as that they plainly taught that, which these men gain-say; a direct forme of prayer; and such, as that part of the frame prescribed by our Saviour, was composed of the formes of devotion [Page 11] then formerly usuall; And Gods peo­ple ever since Moses his daies, con­stantly practised it; and put it over un­to the times of the Gospel; under which, whiles it is said that Peter and John went up to the Temple at the ninth houre of prayer, we know the prayer wherewith they joyned was not of an extemporary, and sudden conception, but of a regular prescripti­on; the formes whereof are yet extant, and ready to be produced; And the Euangelicall Church, ever since, thought it could never better improve her peace, and happinesse, then in com­posing those religious models of invo­cation and thanksgiving; which they have traduced unto us: And can ye then with patience think, that any in­genuous Christian should be so farre mis-transported, as to condemne a good prayer, because, as it is in his [Page 12] heart, so it is in his book too? Far be it from me to dishearten any good Chri­stian from the use of conceived prayer, in his private devotions; and upon oc­casion also, in the publique; I would hate to be guilty of pouring so much water upon the spirit, to which I shall gladly adde oyle rather; No, let the full soule freely poure out it self in gra­cious expressions of its holy thoughts, into the bosome of the Almighty: Let both the sudden flashes of our quick ejaculations, and the constant flames of our more fixed conceptions mount up from the altar of a zealous heart, unto the throne of Grace; and if there be some stops or solecismes in the fer­vent utterance of our private wants, these are so far fro being offensive, that they are the most pleasing musique to the eares of that God, unto whom our prayers come: Let them be broken off [Page 13] with sobs, and sighes, and incongrui­ties of our delivery, our good God is no otherwise affected to this imperfect elocution, then an indulgent Parent is to the clipped, and broken language of his deare childe, which is more de­lightfull to him then any others smooth Oratory; This is not to be op­posed in another, by any man that hath found the true operation of this grace in himselfe: But in the meane time, let the publique formes of the sacred Church-Liturgie have its due honour; Let this, by the power of your Autho­ritie be re-inforced, as that which be­ing selected, out of ancient models, (not Romane, but Christian) and con­trived by the holy Martyrs, and Con­fessors of the blessed Reformation of Religion, hath received abundant sup­ply of strength, both from the zealous recommendation of foure most religious [Page 14] Princes, and your own most firme and peremptory establishment; A­mongst which powerfull induce­ments, that is worthy of no sleight consideration, which I humbly tender unto you, from the judgement of the learnedst King that ever sate upon this Throne, or (as I verily think) since So­lomons time, upon any other; King Iames of blessed memory, who (how­ever mis-alledged by some, as letting fall disgracefull speeches concerning this subject) after a solemne hearing of those exceptions, which were taken by some against this open forme of Common-prayer, (as it is called in Queen Elizabeths Act for uniformity) shuts up in his Proclamation given at Westminster, the fifth of March, in the first yeare of his raigne, with these words; ‘And last of all, We admonish all men, that hereafter they shall not expect [Page 15] or attempt any farther alteration into the Common and publike forme of Gods service, from this, which is now established; For that, neither will We give way to any, to presume, that Our own judgement having determi­ned in a matter of this weight, shall be swayed to alteration, by the frivolous suggestion of any light spirit; Neither are We ignorant of the inconveniences that doe arise in Government, by ad­mitting innovation in things once set­led by mature deliberation: And how necessary it is to use constancy in the upholding of the publique determina­tions of States; for that such is the un­quietnesse, and unstedfastnesse of some dispositions, affecting every yeare new formes of things, as, if they should be followed in their unconstancie, would make all actions of State, ridiculous and contemptible; whereas the stedfast [Page 16] maintaining of things, by good advise established, is the weale of all Common-wealths.’

Thus, that great Oracle of Wise­dome, and Learning, whom I beseech you suppose, that you still heare dire­cting this prudent and religious advise to your present eares; and consider how requisite it is for you, out of the reason both of State, and pietie, to rest in that his sound, and exquisite judge­ment. As for those particularities of exceptions which have been taken by some at certain passages of that Book, they have more then once received full satisfaction, by other pens: Let me onely say thus much, That were the Readers but as charitable, as the Con­trivers were religiously devout; those quarrels had either never been raised, or had soone died, alone: Oh suffer [Page 17] not then, I beseech you, this holy form of Gods Service, to be exposed to the proud contempt of ignorant, and ill­affected persons; maintain, and beare up the pious acts of your godly prede­cessors, yea, make good your owne: And if our holy Martyrs heretofore went to heaven with a Litany in their mouth; Let not an ill advised new­fanglenesse be suffered to put scorn up­on that, wherein they thought them­selves happy.

As for that forme of Episcopall Go­vernment, which hath hitherto obtai­ned in the Church of God, I confesse, I am confounded in my selfe, to heare with what unjust clamours, it is cried down abroad, by either weak, or fa­ctious persons; of either, or both which, I may well take up that word of our Saviour, Father forgive them, for [Page 18] they know not what they doe: Surely, could those look with my eies, they would see cause to be thoroughly ashamed of this their injurious mis-conceit; and should be forced to confesse, that never any good cause had more reason to complain of a wrongfull prosecution; Were this Ordinance meerly humane, and ecclesiasticall, if there could no more be said for it, but that it is excee­ding ancient, of more then 1500 yeares standing, and that it hath continued in this Iland, since the first plantation of the Gospel, to this present day, without contradiction: A man would think this were enough plea to challenge a reverent respect, and an Immunity from all thoughts of alteration; For, even nature if selfe teaches us to rise up before the hoare-head; and hath wrought in us a secret honour, even to the very outward gravity of age; and [Page 19] just policie teaches us, not easily to give way to the change of those things, which long use, and many Lawes have firmly established, as necessary, or beneficiall.

Yea, the wisedome of the ancient Grecians went so farre, as to forbid the removall of a well setled evill; But, if religion teach us better things, and tell us, that nothing morally evill, can be setled well: and being, however, set­led, had the more need to be (after too long delay) removed; Yet right rea­son, and sound experience informe us, that things indifferent, or good, having been by continuance, and generall ap­probation well rooted in Church, or State; may not upon light grounds be pulled up: But, this holy calling fet­ches its pedegree higher, even from no lesse, then Apostolicall; (and therefore, [Page 20] in that right, Divine) institution; For, although those things which the Founders and prime Governours of the Euangelicall Church did, as men, went no further then their own per­sons, yet, what they did as Apostles, is of an higher and more sacred conside­ration; and, if as Apostolike men, they did, upon occasion, enact some tempo­rary things, which were to die with, or before them, yet, those things which they ordained for the succeeding ad­ministration of the Church which they should leave behinde them, in all essentiall matters, can be no otherwise construed, then as exemplary, and per­petuall.

Now if to this Text, we shall adde the undoubted Commentary of the Apostles own practises, and to this Commentary, we shall super-adde [Page 21] the unquestionable glosse of the cleare practise of their immediate succeslors, in this administration, continued in Christs Church to this very day; what scruple can remain in any ingenuous heart? but, if any one resolve to conti­nue unsatisfied, in spight of reason, and all evidence of history, and will wilfully shut his eies, with a purpose not to see the light, that man is past my cure, and almost my pity: The good God of heaven be mercifull to such a mis-zealous obstinacy: Certainly, ex­cept all histories, all Authors faile us, nothing can be more plain then this truth; Out of them, we can, and doc shew, on whom the Apostles of Christ laid their hands, with an acknow­ledgement and conveyance of Impari­ty and Jurisdiction; we shew what Bishops so ordained lived in the times of the Apostles; and succeeded each [Page 22] other, in their severall charges, under the eies and hands of the then living Apostles; We shew who immediate­ly succeeded those immediate succes­sors, in their severall Sees, throughout all the regions of the Christian Church; and deduce their uninter­rupted Line, through all the following ages, to this present day; And if there can be better evidence under heaven, for any matter of fact, (and in this cause, matter of fact so derived, evin­ceth matter of right) let Episcopacy be for ever abandoned out of Gods Church; But if these be (as they are) certain and irrefragable; Alas, what strange fury possesseth the minds of ig­norant, unstable men, that they should thus headily desire, and sue to shake off so sacred, and well grounded an Insti­tution!

[Page 23] But I hear what they say; It is not the office of Episcopacy that displeases, but the quality: The Apostles Bishops, and ours, were two; Theirs was no other then a parochiall Pastor, a preaching Presbyter without inequalitie, without any rule over his brethren; Ours claims an eminent superiority, whether in a distinct order, or degree; and a power of Ordination, Jurisdiction, unknown to the Primitive times. Alas, alas, how good people may be abused by mis­information! Heare, I beseech you, the words of truth and confidence; If our Bishops challenge any other spirituall power, then was by Apostolique Au­thority delegated unto, and required of Timothy, and Titus, and the Angels of the seven Asian Churches, (some whereof are known to us by name) let them be disclaimed as usurpers; and if we doe not shew, out of the genuine [Page 24] and undeniable writings of those holy men, which lived both in the times of the Apostles and some yeares after them, and conversed with them, as their blessed fellow-labou­rers, a cleare and received distinction, both of the names and offices of the Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, as three distinct subordinate Callings, in Gods Church, with an evident specifi­cation of the duty and charge belon­ging to each of them; Let this claimed Hierarchy, be for ever hooted out of the Church: And if the bounty of religious Princes have thought meet to grace this sacred function, with some accession of titles, and mainte­nance; far be it from us to think, that the substance and essentiall parts of that Calling is ought impaired, or altered, by such gracious munificence; And, although (as the world goes) these honors [Page 25] cannot ballance the contempt of those eminent places; and that por­tion (which is now made hereditary to the Church) cannot, in the most of these dignities, (after all deductions) boast of any superfluity, yet (such as they are) if any man have so little grace, and power of selfe-government, as to be puffed up with pride, or transported to an immoderation in the use of these adventitious favours; the sin is perso­nall, the calling free; which may be, and is managed by others, with all humble sociablenesse, hospitall fruga­lity, conscionable improvement of all meanes and opportunities to the good of Gods Church.

I may not yet dissemble, that, whiles we plead the divine right of Episcopa­cy, a double scandall is taken, by men, otherwise not unjudicious, and cast [Page 26] upon us from the usuall suggestions of some late Pamphleters; The one, that we have deserted our former Tenet, not without the great prejudice of Sove­raignty; for, whereas we were wont to acknowledge the deriving of our Te­nure, as in fee, from the beneficent hand of Kings, and Princes; now as either proudly, or ungratefully casting off that just dependence, and behol­dingnesse, we stand upon the claime of our Episcopacy, from a divine Origi­nall; The other, that, whiles we labour to defend the Divine right of our Epi­scopacy, we seeme to cast a dangerous imputation upon those Reformed Churches, which want that Govern­ment; Both which, must be shortly cleared.

The former had never been found worth objecting, if men had wisely [Page 27] learned to consider, how little incom­patiblenesse there is in this case, of Gods Act, and the Kings; both of them have their proper object, and extent: The office is from God; the place, and sta­tion, and power, wherein that office is exercised, is from the King; it is the King that gives the Bishoprick, it is God that makes the Bishop; Where was it ever heard of, that a Soveraigne Prince claimed the power of ordai­ning a Pastor in the Church? this is de­rived from none, but spirituall hands: On the other side, who but Princes can take upon them, to have power to erect, and dispose of Episcopall Sees, within their own Dominions? It is with a King, and a Bishop, as with the Patron, and the Incumbent: The Pa­tron gives the Benefice to his Clerk, but pretends not to give him Orders, That this man is a Minister, he hath [Page 28] from his Diocesan; that he is Benefi­ced, he hath from his Patron; Whiles he acknowledgeth his Orders from the Reverend hands of his Bishop, doth he derogate ought from the bounty of a Patrons free presentation? No other­wise is it with Episcopacy; which thankfully professes to hold at once from God and the King; Its calling, of God, its place and exercise of Juris­diction, of the King: And, if it be ob­jected, that both some former, and Modern Divines, both abroad▪ and at home, borrowing S. Ieromes phrase, have held the superiority of Bishops over Presbyters, to be grounded rather upon the custome of the Church, then any appointment of Christ, I must an­swer; First, that we cannot prescribe to other mens thoughts; when all is said, men will take liberty, (and who can hinder it?) to abound in their [Page 29] own sense: But secondly, if they shall grant (as they shall be forced) that this custome was of the Church Apostolicall, and had its rise, with the knowledge, approbation, practise of those inspired Legates of Christ, and was from their very hands recommended to the then present, and subsequent Church, for continuance; there is no such great dissonance in the opinions, as may be worthy of a quarrell.

The second, is intended to raise en­vy against us, as the uncharitable cen­surers, and condemners of those Re­formed Churches abroad, which dif­fer from our Government: Wherein, we do justly complain of a sclanderous aspersion cast upon us; We love and honour those Sister-Churches, as the dear Spouse of Christ; we blesse God for them; and we doe heartily wish [Page 30] unto them that happinesse in the part­nership of our administration, which, I doubt not, but they doe no lesse hear­tily wish unto themselves.

Good words, you will perhaps say, but what is all this faire complement, if our act condemne them, if our very Tenet exclude them? for, if Episcopa­cy stand by Divine right, what be­comes of those Churches that want it? Malice and ignorance are met toge­ther in this unjust aggravation: First, our position is onely affirmative; im­plying the justifiablenesse, and holi­nesse of an Episcopall calling, without any further implication: Next, when we speak of Divine right, we meane not an expresse Law of God, requiring it upon the absolute necessity of the be­ing of a Church (what hinderances so­ever may interpose) but a Divine institution, [Page 31] warranting it where it is, and requiring it where it may be had; Eve­ry Church therefore, which is capable of this forme of Government, both may, and ought to affect it, as that, which is, with so much Authority de­rived from the Apostles, to the whole body of the Church upon earth; but, those particular Churches, to whom this power and faculty is denied, lose nothing of the true essence of a Church, though they misse something of their glory and perfection, whereof they are barred, by the necessity of their condition; Neither are liable to any more imputation, in their credit, and esteeme, then an honest, frugall, offici­ous Tenant, who, notwithstanding the profer of all obsequious services, is tied to the limitations and termes of an hard Landlord. But so much we have reason to know, of the judgement of [Page 32] the neighbour Churches, and their fa­mous Divines, that, if they might hope to live so long, as to see a full freedome of option tendred unto them, by Soveraigne Authority, with all sutable conditions, they would most gladly embrace this our forme of Government; which differs little from their owne, save, in the perpetuity of their ( [...], or) Moderator-ship, and the exclusion of that Lay-Presby­terie, which never, till this age, had footing in the Christian Church.

Neither would we desire to choose any other Judges of our calling, andJacobus Le­ctius Pre­ [...]er. Theol. l [...]. vide Episc. by Di­vine Right. fol. ult. the glorious eminence of our Church, so governed, then the famous Profes­sors of Geneva it selfe; Learned Lectius for a Civilian, and for a Divine, Frede­ricus Span [...]emius, the now renowned Pastor, and Reader of Divinitie in Geneva; [Page 33] who in his Dedicatory Epistle before the third Part of his Dubia Euan­gelica, Obversatur mihi crebro grata ista Ecclesiarum ve­strarum facies, ista in pub­licis pietatis exercitiis reve­rentia, &c. Et quamvis omnia illa reg­na abundent praesulibus e­ruditissimis, & Theologis summis, &c. Sive prolixi nostri erga ec­clesias omnes Britanicas affectus, quarum praesules amplissimos, Pastores fidos, greges florentes in Domino suspicimus & amplexa­mur, &c. Quo Deo sua semper apud vos constet gloria, Serenissi­mo Regi vestro suum jus, praesulibus sua authoritas pastoribus suus honor, Ec­cles [...]is vestris omnibus sua sanctitas, sua tranquillitas, &c. Epist. Dedic. 3. Part is Dub. Euang. Anno 1638. to the incomparable Lord Primate of Ireland, doth zealously applaud, and congratulate unto us, the happy, & (as he concei­veth) flourishing estate of our Church, under this Government, magnifying the graces of God in the Bishops thereof, and shuts up with fervent prayers to God for the continuance of the Authority of the Prelates of these Churches. Oh then, whiles Geneva it self praiseth our Govern­ment, and God for it, and prayes for the happy per­petuation of it, let it not be suffered, that any ignorant or spightfull Sectaries, [Page 34] should openly in their Libels curse it, and maliciously brand it, with the termes of Unlawfull, and Antichristi­an: Your wisdomes cannot but have found abundant reason to hate, and scorn this base and unreasonable sug­gestion; which would necessarily in­ferre, that not Christ, but Antichrist, hath had the full sway of all Gods Church upon earth, for these whole sixteen hundred yeares; A blasphemy which any Christian heart must needs abhorre; And who that ever hath loo­ked into either Books, or men, knows not, that the religious Bishops of all times, are, and have been they, which have strongly held up the King­dome of Christ, and the sincere truth of the Gospel, against all the wicked machinations of Satan, and his Anti­christ? And even amongst our owne, how many of the Reverend, and Learned [Page 35] Fathers of the Church, now living, have spent their spirits, and worne out their lives in the powerfull opposition of that Man of sin. Consider then I be­seech you, what a shamefull injustice it is, in these bold sclanderers, to cast up­on these zealously-religious Prelates, famous for their workes (against Rome) in forraigne parts, the guilt of that, which they have so meritoriously and convincingly opposed. If this most just defence may satisfie them, I shal for their sakes rejoyce; But, if they shall ei­ther with the wilfully-deafe Adder stop their eares, or against the light of their owne consciences, (out of private respects) beare up a known error of uncharitablenesse, this very paper shall one day be an evidence against them, before the dreadfull Tribunall of the Almighty.

[Page 36] What should I urge in some others, the carefull, peaceable, painfull, consci­onable managing of their charges, to the great glory of God, and comfort of his faithfull people? And, if whiles these challenge a due respect from all well­minded Christians, some others heare ill, (how deservedly, God knows, and will in due time manifest) yet, why should an holy calling suffer? why should the faults (if such be) of some, diffuse their blame to all? Farre, far we know is this, from the approved inte­grity of your noble Justice, whiles in the mean time, (unlesse your just check doe seasonably remedy it) the impetu­ous and undistinguishing vulgar are ready so to involve all, as to make in­nocence it self a sin; and (which I am amazed to think of) dare say, and write, The better man, the worse Bishop.

[Page 37] And now, since I am faln upon this sad subject, give me leave I beseech you, to professe, with how bleeding an heart, I heare of the manifold scandals of some of the inferiour Clergy, presented to your view, from all parts; It is the misery, and shame of this Church, if they be so foul as they are suggested; but, if I durst presume so far, I should, in the bowells of Christ, beseech you, (upon the finding of so hate­ful enormities) to give me leave to put you in mind, of the charitable example of our religious Constantine, in the like case; you cannot dislike so gracious a patterne; I plead not for their impunity, let them (within the sphere of their offence) beare their own sin; But oh, forbid to have it told in Gath, or published in the streets of Ascalon; Your wisedomes well see, under what malignant eyes we are, of opposite Spectators; What a death it is, to think of the sport, and advantage these watchfull enemies will be sure to make of our sins, [Page 38] Et no­stris pin­guescunt monstra ruinis. Jos. Isc. and shame? What exprobrations, what triumphs of theirs, will hence ensue? These, and all other our cares are now se­curely cast upon your exquisite prudence, and goodnesse; The very mention of our feares, whiles ye sit, had need to crave par­don of presumption; But withall, to take down the insolence of those envious In­sulters, it may please you to give me leave to tell them, that, however, in so nume­rous a multitude, there be found some foully vicious, (as there is no Pomegranate wherein some grains are not rotten, and even in twelve there is one Iudas) yet, up­on a just survay, it will be found, that no one Clergy in the whole Christian world, yeelds so many eminent Scholars, learned Preachers, grave, holy, and accomplished Divines, as this Church of England doth at this day; And long, and ever may it thus flourish, as it surely shall (through Gods blessing) whiles the bountifull in­couragements of Learning, and ingenuous [Page 39] education are happily continued to it; And the more, when those luxuriant boughes of disorder and debauchednesse, are through just censures seasonably lop­ped off.

But stay; Where are we, or what is this we speak of, or to whom? Whiles I men­tion the Church of England, as thinking it your honour, and my own, to be the pro­fessed sons of such a Mother, I am now taught a new Divinity, and bidden to ask, Which Church we mean? My simplicity never thought of any more Churches of England but one; Now this very dayes­wiser discovery tels us of more; There is a Prelaticall Church (they say) for one; and, which is the other? Surely it is so young, that as yet, it hath no name; except we shall call it indefinitely, as the Jews were wont to style the creature they could not abide to mention, That other thing; And what thing shal that be, think we? Let [Page 40] it be called, if you please, the Church An­tiprelaticall; but leave England out of the style; Let it take a larger denomination, and extend to our friends at Amsterdam, and elsewhere, and not be confined to our England: Withall, let them be put in mind, that they must yet think of another subdi­vision of this division; some there are (they know) which can be content to ad­mit of an orderly subordination of seve­rall Parishes to Presbyteries, & those again to Synods; others are all for a Parochiall absolutenesse, and independence; Yea, and of these, there will be a division, in semper divisibilia; till they come to very Atomes: for to which of those scores of separated Congregations, knowne to be within and about these walls will they be joyned? and how long without a further scissure? Oh God; where doe men stay, when they are once past the true bounds? But if it be so, that the Prelaticall part must needs make up one divident member [Page 41] of this English Church; tell me, bre­thren, I beseech you, what are the boun­ders of this Church? what the distinction of the Professors and Religion? and, if the clients of the Prelacy, and their adhe­rents, (whose severall thousands are punctually calculated) be they who make up this Prelaticall Church, what grounds of faith, what new Creed doe they hold, dif­ferent from their neighbours? what Scrip­tures, what Baptisme, what Eucharist, what Christ, what heaven, what meanes of salvation other then the rest? Alas, my brethren, whiles we doe fully agree in all these, and all other Doctrinall and Practi­call points of religion; why will ye be so uncharitable, as by these frivolous and causlesse divisions, to rend the seam­lesse coat of Christ? Is it a Title, or a Reti­nue, or a Ceremony, a garment, or a co­lour, or an Organ-pipe, that can make us a different Church, whiles we preach and professe the same saving Truth, whiles [Page 42] we desire (as you professe to doe) to walk conscionably with our God, according to that one rule of the Royall Law of our Maker; whiles we oppose one and the same common enemy, whiles we unfai­nedly indeavour to hold the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? Oh consider, I beseech you in the feare of God, consi­der, whether these be the thoughts of the sons of peace, and such as are sutable to the charge, and legacy of our deare Savi­our, and think seriously from what spirit they proceed; For us, we make no diffe­rence at all (in the right and interest of the Church) betwixt Clergy and Laity, be­twixt the Clergy and Laity of one part, and another; we are all your true bre­thren; we are one with you, both in heart and brain; and hope to meet you in the same heaven; but if yee will needs bee otherwise minded, we can but bewaile the Churches misery, and your sin; and shall beseech God to be mercifull to your [Page 43] willing and uncharitable separation. Howsoever, I have freed my soule before my God, in the conscience of this just ex­postulation, and faithfull advise.

What remains, but that I poure out my heart in my fervent, and dayly prayers to the Father of all mercies, that it would please him to inspire this Great Counsell, with all wisedome from above; and crown this great meeting with the bles­sing of all happy successe, so as it may pro­duce much glory to his own name, much complacency and contentment to his deare Anointed, comfort to all good hearts, terror to his enemies, seasonable restraint to all insolence and faction, pre­vention of all Innovations; and lastly, a firm peace and settlement to this Church and Common-wealth, and to all other his Majesties Dominions? Which God grant for the sake of the Son of his love, Jesus Christ the righteous. Amen. Amen.


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