WITH A SHORT REFLECTION upon a Scandalous Pamphlet, Intituled, A Proposition for the Safety and Happiness of the KING and KINGDOM.

IN A LETTER to a GENTLEMAN of the House of Commons.

LONDON, Printed for R. Jenaway, in the Year 1667


I Suppose the Pamphlet which you sent mee, was designed rather to let me see the Im­pudence of this Licentious Age, than to draw me into the Impertinence of Answering it. The Lameness of the Style, the Sence, and the Coherence, but especially the Weakness of what he calls Arguments, make me asha­med to deal with such an Adversary. Yet in running it over, I could not but observe this one Confession: It is not the Dignity P. 18, 19. of the Bishops, their Lordships and Revenues; It is not their Cathedrals, Organs, and their Divine Service in what State and Magnificence they please; It is not Common Prayer, no nor any Ceremony of the Church whatsoever for all its significancy, if it [Page] [...] [Page 3] [...] [Page 4] be but a circumstance of Worship, and no more, that could hinder most of the Sober Nonconformists to come over to you; but it is these Declarations, Sub­scriptions, and Oaths which you im­pose on them in your Acts.

Now, though I think it no hard matter to make it appear, that these Declarati­ons, Subscriptions, and Oaths, contain nothing in them but what is absolutely ne­cessary to the Safety of the Church and State; and that those men who refuse to make such Acknowledgments and Engage­ments, are utterly unfit to be intrusted with the Cure of Souls, and the office of Preach­ing to the People; which, like other good things, as it is excellent in the Use, so is it no less dangerous in the Abuse: Yet sup­posing, for once, that these Oaths and Sub­scriptions were as unlawful, as they would have the World believe; What is this to [Page 5] those that are not required to Subscribe or Swear? Is not this a plain Acknow­ledgement, that notwithstanding all these Clamors against the Governours, and the Ceremonies of the Church, yet there is in­deed no just ground of separating from ei­ther, since no Swearing or Subscription is required of the Multitude, of which they so much boast, and whose Cause they pretend to plead? Of these, by their own Confession, as many as are Judicious and Sober, may come over and Conform: So that we have only a few Factious Men (that call themselves Ministers) that make all this Noise; as if for their sakes, the KING and PARLIAMENT must undoe all that they have done, for the Restoring of Religion and good Order in the Church, and preserving Peace in the State: and because the City and the Ships have been lately burnt, these Men that are well P. 6. [Page 6] skilled in blowing Coals, must have leave to set the whole Kingdome in a Flame.

The Worthy Gentlemen of your House, will, I hope, consider this: Which that you may not look upon only as an unwary word dropt from a loose Pen, I shall add, for Con­firmation, what I long since observed in a Book written by a great Rabbie of that Tribe, under the Title of Five Disputa­tions of Church Government, and Worship: Printed at London, 1659. A time, when he could have but small encouragement to say more than be thought in this matter.


THose Modes or Circumstances of Worship Disp. 4. P. 361. which are Necessary in Genere, but left un­determined by God in Specie, are left by God to humane Prudential Determina­tion: (else an Impossibility should be ne­cessary.) But many such there are, that are Necessary in Genere, but left undetermined of God in Specie; therefore many such are left to humane Pru­dential Determination.

§. 5. Yet it is in the Power of man to determine of Disp 5. P. 400▪ such Modes and Circumstances as are necessary to the [Page 8] performance of that Worship which God hath institu­ted in his Word: and therefore lawful Governors may in such Cases bind us by their Commands.

1. It is left to humane Determination, what Place the P. 400. Publick Assemblies shall be held in.

2. It is left to man to determine of the Time of Ho­ly P. 401. Duties, except only where God hath determined of it already.

3. It is left to the Determination of humane Pru­dence, Ibid. what Utensils to employ about the Publick Worship of God.

Here therefore we must thus conclude,

1. That every misordering of such great affairs, is P. 423. the sin of them that do it.

2. But yet that the Subject is not exempted from Obedience by every such mistake of the Governor: but by some, he is.

§. 67. If the mischoosing of such Circumstances, by Church-Governors, be but an Inconvenience, and do not destroy the Ordinance it self, or frustrate the Ends of it, we are to obey: 1. For he is the Judge of his own work, and not we: 2. The thing is not sinful, though inconvenient: 3. Obedience is commanded to our lawful Governors.

We must obey in all things lawful. P. 424.

And when we do obey in a Case of Miscommanding, it is not a doing evil, that good may come of it, as some do misconceive: but it is only a submitting to that which is ill commanded, but not evil in him that doth submit. It is the Determiner that is the cause of the [Page 9] Inconvenience, and not the Obeyer. Nor is it incon­venient for me to Obey, though it be worse perhaps to him that Commandeth. While he sinneth in Comman­ding, he may make it my Duty to Obey.

§. 6. Dist. 4. We must distinguish between Ceremo­nies P. 396. imposed by a Lawful Magistrate, or Church-Gover­nors; and such as are imposed by Usurpers, or Men without Authority.

§. 25. Prop. 12. It may be very sinful to command some Ceremonies, which may lawfully, yea, must in Duty be used by P. 398. the Subject when they are commanded.

§. 27. Prop. 14. Yet certain things that are commonly called Ceremonies, may lawfully be used in the Church upon Humane Imposition; and when it is not against the Law of God, no person should disobey the Commands of their Lawful Governors in such things.

Of Set-Forms, and the Book of Common-Prayer.

Prop. 1. A Stinted Liturgy is in it self Lawful. Disp. 4. P. 358.

2. A Stinted Liturgy in some parts of Publick Ser­vice, is ordinarily necessary.

3. In the parts where it is not of Necessity, it may not onely be submitted to, but desired, when the Peace of the Church requireth it.

7. The safest way of Composing such a Publick P. 359. Form, is, to take it all, for Matter and Words, out of the Holy Scriptures.

8. Yet is not this of such Necessity, but that we may joyn in it, or use it, if the Form of Words be not from Scripture.

Prop. 1. A Stinted Liturgie is in it self Lawful.

This is thus proved:

Argument 1. That which is not directly, or consequen­tially forbidden by God, remaineth lawful: A stinted Liturgy is not directly, or consequentially forbidden by God: there­fore it remaineth lawful.

The Major is undoubted, because nothing but a Pro­hibition can make a thing unlawful. Sin is a transgres­sion of a Law: where there is no Law, there is no Trans­gression: And yet I have heard very Reverend men an­swer this, That it is enough that it is not commanded, though not forbidden▪ Which is plainly to deny both Scripture and Civil Principles.

Now for the Minor, That a stinted Liturgy is not for­bidden, we need no other proof, than that no Prohibiti­on P. 361. can be produced.

Argument 6. If it be lawful for the People to use a stint­ed P. 364. Form of words in Publick Prayer, then is it in it self lawful for the Pastors: but it is lawful for the People: for the Pastors prayer (which they must pray over with him, and not onely hear it) is a stinted Form to them, even as much as if he had learnt it out of a Book. They are to follow him in his Method and Words, as if it were a Book-Prayer.

Argument 7. It is lawful to use a Form in Preaching: therefore a stinted Liturgy is lawful.

  • 1. Because Preaching is a part of that Liturgy.
  • 2. Because the reason is the same for Prayer, as for that, in the main.

[Page 11] Argument 8. That which hath been the practice of the Church in Scripture-times, and down to this day, and is yet the practice of almost all the Churches of Christ on earth, is not like to be unlawful: but such is the use of some stinted forms of Publick Service: therefore, &c. That it was so in the Jews Church, and approved by Christ, I have shewed. That it hath been of ancient use in the Church since Christ, and is at this day in use in Africk, Asia, Eu­rope, even among the Reformed Churches in France, Holland, Geneva, &c. is so well known, that I think I need not stand to prove it: yea, those few that seem to disuse it, do yet use it, in Psalms, and other parts of Worship.

As for the Common-Prayer it self, I never rejected it P. 421. because it was a Form, nor thought it simply unlawful because it was such a Form; but have made use of it, and would do again in the like case.

Of Ceremonies.

The Ceremonies controverted among us, were especi­ally, The Surplice, the Gesture of Kneeling in receiving the P. 409. Lords Supper, the Ring in Marriage, Laying the hand on the Book in taking an Oath, the Organs and Church-Musick, Holy-dayes, Altars, Rails, and the Cross in Baptism.

Of the Surplice.

Some decent Habit is necessary; either the Magi­strate, P. 409. or the Minister himself, or the Associated Pastors [Page 12] must determine what. I think neither Magistrate nor Sy­nod should do any more than hinder Undecency: But yet if they do more, and tye all to One Habit (and suppose it were an undecent Habit) yet this is but an imprudent use of Power. It is a thing within the Magistrates reach; he doth not an aliene work, but his own work amiss: and therefore the thing in it self being lawful; I would obey him, and use that garment, if I could not be dispensed with. Yea, though Secondarily the Whiteness be to signifie Puri­ty, and so it be made a teaching sign, yet would I obey.

Of Kneeling at the Sacrament.

But yet, as sinfully as this Gesture was imposed, for P. 411. my part I did obey the Imposers, and would do, if it were to do again, rather than disturbe the Peace of the Church, or be deprived of its Communion. For God having made some Gesture necessary, and confined me to none, but left it to Humane Determination, I shall submit to Magistrates in their proper work, even when they miss it in the manner. I am not sure that Christ in­tended the example of himself and his Apostles, as obli­gatory to us that shall succeed. I am sure it proves sitting lawful; but I am not sure that it proves it necessary: (though very convenient.) But I am sure, he hath com­manded me Obedience and Peace.

Of the Ring in Marriage.

And for the Ring in Marriage, I see no reason to P. 411. scruple the lawfulness of it: For though the Papists make a Sacrament of Marriage, yet we have no reason [Page 13] to take it for any Ordinance of Divine Worship; any more than the solemnizing of a Contract between a Prince and People. All things are sanctified and pure to the pure.

Of Organs and Church Musick.

And for Organs, or other Instruments of Musick in Gods Worship, they being a Help partly Natural, and P. 412: partly Artificial, to the exhilerating of the spirits, for the praise of God, I know no argument to prove them simply unlawful, but what would prove a Cup of wine unlawful, or the tune and meeter, and melody of singing unlawful.

Of Holy-Dayes.

Nor for my part do I make any scruple In point of Lawfulness; For Conveni­ency is accor­ding to seve­ral accidents. to keep a P. 412, 413. Day in Remembrance of any Eminent Servant of Christ, or Martyr, to praise God for their Doctrine or Example, and honour their Memorial.

But the hardest part of the Question is, whether it be lawful to keep Days, in celebrating the Memorial of Christs Nativity, Circumcision, Fasting; Transfiguration, Ascension, and such like?

And yet for all this I am resolved, if I live where such P. 416. Holy-days as these are observed, to censure no man for observing them; nor would I deny them Liberty to fol­low their judgments, if I had the power of their liberties; provided they use not reproach and violence to others; and seek not to deprive them of their Liberties.

[Page 14] Yea more, I would not onely give men their Liberty P. 417. in this, but if I lived under a Government that perem­ptorily commanded it, I would observe the outward rest of such a Holi-day, and I would preach on it, and joyn with the Assemblies in Gods Worship on it. Yea, I would thus observe the Day, rather than offend a weak Brother, or hinder any mans salvation, much more rather than I would make any division in the Church.

Of Altars, and Rails.

And for the next Ceremony, the Name and form of an Altar; no doubt it is a thing indifferent, whether the Ibid. Table stand this way, or that way: and the Primitive Churches used commonly the names of Sacrifice, and Altar, and Priest, and I think, lawfully: for my part I shall not be he that shall condemn them.

I conceive that the dislike of these things in England Ibid. (the form and name of an Altar, and the Rails about it) was not as if they were simply evil.

Whether we shall receive the Lords Supper at a Ta­ble, or in our seats; and whether the Table shall be of P. 401, 402. wood or stone? whether it shall be round, or long, or square? whether it shall stand in the East or West-end of the Temple, or in the middle? whether it shall have Rails, or no Rails? All these are left to Humane Pru­dence.

Of the Cross in Baptism.

But of all our Ceremonies, there is none that I have P. 417. more suspected to be simply unlawful, than the Cross in Baptism.

[Page 15] Yet I dare not peremptorily say, that it is unlawful: nor P. 418. will I condemn either Antients or Moderns that use it: nor will I make any disturbance in the Church about it, more than my own forbearance will make.

I presume not to censure them that judge it lawful; but onely give the Reasons that make me doubt, and ra­ther think it to be unlawful, though still with a suspicion of my own understanding.

Ambros. contr. Symmach.Unus quis que patienter ferat, si non extor que atur Imperatori, quod moleste ferret, si ei extor quere cuperet Imperator.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.