Vox Populi: Or, the SENSE of the SOBER LAY-MEN OF THE Church of England. Concerning the HEADS Proposed in his MAJESTIES COMMISSION TO THE CONVOCATION.

LONDON, Printed for Randall Taylor near Stationers-hall, 1690.

The Bookseller to the Reader

THese Papers were sent to me be­fore the late Prorogation of the Parliament; but yet I have thought fit to publish them, hoping they may be useful to the Publick.


WE pay too great a Deference to so venerable an Assembly as our Convocation, to come before them, tho with a Petition in our hands, without making some Apology for this seeming Rudeness, as tho we presum'd to instruct our Teachers, and fancied our selves wiser than our Spiritual Guides. We might plead by way of Excuse, that a former Convocation not only allowed, but desired more on our behalf than we do pretend to:Burnet's Hist. of the Reform. Vol. 1. p. 147▪ For they ad­dressed to King Henry the 8th, That an equal number of Lay-men might be joined to some of their own Body, with a full power to ab­rogate or confirm Canons and Ecclesiastical Laws, as to them should seem most expedient: whereas we do neither presume nor desire to sit among the Clergy as Counsellors, but only to be permitted to stand as Supplicants at their door.

We might further alledg in our own behalf, that when we lately ven­tured with our Pens to defend the Doctrines of our Church against the Papists, in which Controversy our Learned Clergy gain'd such im­mortal Trophies of Honour, our Papers were not only kindly recei­ved, but protected too: Even Dr. Sherlock himself condescending to cover a Protestant Footman with his mighty Shield, who like a small Squire had ventured to strike a blow or two for the Giant. We are therefore apt to believe, that what we now propose for the fur­ther advantage of our Church, will be as favourably entertain'd. And we are the rather encouraged to such a Persuasion, because the Master of the Temple, notwithstanding the Canon in this case (which shall be observ'd in its proper Place under that Head) hath lately revo­ked that Letter of Attourny which the Clergy seemed to pretend to, for the warranting them alone to act in our Names, while we sate still and held our Peace. For, saith he, Tho the Clergy have of late in a great measure monopoliz'd the Name of the Church to themselves, yet in propriety of Speech they do not belong to the De­finition [Page] of it; Dr. Sherlock's Disc. of the Na­ture, Ʋnity and Communion of the Catholick Church, p. 32. 34. they are indeed the Governours of the Church, as they have receiv'd Authority from Christ the supreme Lord and Bi­shop of the Church, but they are no more the Church, than the King is his Kingdom, or the Shepherd his Flock; the Bishops and Pastors of the Church, consider'd as such, represent the Head and not the Body, &c.

But that which we shall insist on, and stand by as the main Reason of our willing and publishing the following Papers, and which we conceive will fully silence those that are most likely to raise a Clamour against us, is to clear our selv [...]s from the inj [...]ious Misrepresentation that Vox Cleri Vox Cleri p. 11 gives of us, as tho we were as perverse Enemies to his Majesties excellent Design in his Commission to the Convocation as he himself is, and those whose Judgment he pretends to express: For one of the main Reasons he urges a­gainst all Alterations, is that which he cites out of Dr. Burnet in Judg Hales's Life, That as some might come in, so others that were in our Communion might take offence by the Alterations, and desert it; and seeing our frequent Chan­ges in some things, might suppose there is nothing certain among us; and from the many Disputes about our Liturgy, proceed to question our Articles, and at last fall off to the Church of Rome, which they saw more constant to their Prin­ciples. And as we shall not repeat what hath been already replied, so we shall take the more effectual way of confuting him, by declaring the common Sense of the wisest and best among our selves that we have convers'd with about these matters. For tho we pay that Respect even to the violent Bigots of our Clergy, which the great Learning of many of them does deserve, yet we must beg their Pardon if we are unwilling all the blame of their unaccountable Stiffness and Rigour should lie at our door. We should think our selves very unhappy, if any unreasonable Sowrness or Humour of ours should be the great Obstacle to the Churches Reformation and Peace: If we should any way contribute to the keeping open those bleeding Wounds which our Spiritual Physicians are called together to heal and close. We that have been so well instructed by our Ministers, have learnt to distinguish between the Substance of our Religion, and the separable Appendages of it; and shall not suspect a change of our Food every time the mode of garnishing the Dish is altered; and have more of that Divine Charity they have preached to us than to stand at an irreconcileable Distance from Dissenting Protestants, and to run both out of the Church and our Wits too, if the Convocation should think fit to let them in on an ho­nourable Accommodation of our Differences. We have therefore thought fit to descend to the particular Heads mentioned in his Majesties Commission, and under each of them to propose such Alterations as would not only not be offensive to us, but are highly desirable, because we suppose them equally conducive to the Beauty and Safety, the Strength and Glory of our Church.

Of the Liturgy and Ceremonies.

TO begin with the Calendar; we shall not insist on the Rule to find out Easter, which hath been sometimes found not to be true, because that does more concern the Clergy to look after, than any of us: But as to some of the Lessons appointed in it, they being design'd for our Edification, we hope we may have [...]ib [...]ty to speak. What a smutty Story is that in the 6th, 7th, and 8th Chapters of Tobit, appointed for the Lessons on the last day of September, and the first of August, which is enough to make a Man laugh till he burst, as certainly as the lumps of Pitch, Fat, and Hair, did the Dragon (Another precious Story, which not being appointed formerly by our Church, was by the New Reformers on the late Kings Restauration, ordered to be read to us on the 23d of November). The business in short, is this, Tobias luckily catcht a certain Fish, that greedily snapt at him,Tobit c. 6. Roasted it, and Eat it; but by the Direction of the Angel, very carefully lays up the Heart, the Liver, and the Gall. Now an Ointment made of this Gall, was a notable Remedy against Whiteness in the Eyes. If it were as good against Dimness of Sight too, we could wish for the sake of the Author of Vox Cleri, we knew what sort of Fish this was.Tobit c. 7. But a far greater Vertue lay in the Liver, and the heart as Tobias afterwards found, when he came to the House of Raguel. For this Raguel had a Bonny Girl to his Daughter, called Sarah, on whom it seems a certain spiteful De­vil had clapt a sort of a Venetian Pad-lock; so that tho seven young Fellows had successively Married her, yet none of them had been able to Consummate the Business, but lost their own Lives the very first Night they made any offers that way. Tobias was deeply smitten with her, and not discouraged for all this, in short, makes up the Bargain and Marries her.Tobit c. 8. And just before he Beds her, takes the aforesaid Heart and Liver of the Fish, and burns them upon the Coals, which made such a perfume, that away scours the Devil into the utmost parts of Egypt; and so Tobias and Sarah very comfortably enjoy each other. The Au­thor of Vox Cleri hath a peculiar Crotchet of his own, of read­ing [Page 2] some Portions out of [...] in the Church, for the further enlightning our Understanding. And why not the Arcadian Prayer in the same Book for the furthering of our Devo­tions? To carry on the Humour, we humbly move, that we may be in [...]tructed out of another Royal Paper; That the same day, on which this Story out of Tobit is read to us, the other Lesson to make them both of a piece, may be the late Depositions about the pre­tended Prince of Wales.

The Gloria The frequent Repetition of this, is one of those things which A. B. Ʋsher, Bp. Williams, Prideaux, and Brownrig, Dr. Ward, Featly, and Hacket took notice of, and would have consider'd, whether it were not fit to be amended. See the Copy of the Proceedings of these Divines touching Innovations, &c. and Con­siderations on the Common-Prayer Book, p. 7. Patri is sometimes said, for Instance on the first day of the Month, five times at the end of the Psalms read for the Morning-Service; again, at the end of the the Lords Prayer after the Absolution; a­gain, at the end of the 95th Psal. O come let us Sing, &c. again, at the end of the Be­nedicite; again, at the end of Benedictus; and again, in the Litany; that is ten times in the ordinary Morning-Service.

The Lords Prayer is said once at the end of the Absolution; again, after the Apostles Creed; again, in the Litany; and again, in the beginning of the Communion-Service; and again, in the second part of the Communion-Ser­vice; and again, in the Pulpit before Sermon; so that 'tis re­peated five times every Sunday Morning constantly, and six if there be a Communion.

Not to speak of the Kyrie Eleesons, nor of all the Congregati­ons, even Women too, saying after the Minister with a loud Voice, nor of their alternate reading the Verses of the Psalms, for which later, we don't find any Rubrick; all which seem to make such a confused Babling, that we can hardly reconcile it to the Apostles Discouse in the first Epistle to Corinth. and 14th Chapter; and make a Man think he were in Dover-Court, rather than a Christian Assembly.

Good Lord deliver us, is repeated eight times in the Litany; and We beseech thee to hear us good Lord, no less than two and twenty times in the same.

We can't but on this Occasion sometimes reflect on that wise Doctor at Oxford, who when he met with a little good way, was wont after he had once travell'd over it, to turn about his Horse, and say, 'Tis so good, let's go this over again.

This hath a semblance of those vain Repetitions forbidden by our Saviour; and when we reproach the Fanaticks for their Tautologies in Prayer, they immediately flap us in the mouth with this; and we profess sincerely we are not able to reply up­on them.

Most of the Coll [...]cts have but one Petition in them. Were seve­ral of our short Prayers well digested into one, we humbly con­ceive it would be like the uniting of the little Sparkles of Heaven into a constellation that renders them the more conspicuous. And were the whole Service somewhat shortned, and so room left for Free-Prayer, and encouragement given to it, we que­stion not but our Learned Clergy would immediately exceed any of the Dissenters in that way, and greatly edify us. For not to examine what hath been urged on both sides, we will take the Learned Dr. Stillingfleet's Opinion for true, ‘That this was an Invention of the Jesuits: yet we know they are cun­ning Fellows; 'tis a very popular thing; it takes wonderfully; & fas est & ab hoste doceri.

We are of that Gentleman's mind, who said,Character of a Trimmer, by Sir W. C. a Lay Gentle­man of our Church, p 20. ‘There may be too great a restraint put on Men whom God and Nature hath distinguished from their Fellow-labourers, by blessing them with a happier Talent; and by giving them not only good Sense, but a powerful Utterance too, hath enabled them to gush out on the Attentive Auditory with a mighty stream of devout and unaffected Eloquence; when a Man qualified, en­dued with Learning too, and above that, adorn'd with a good Life, breaks out into a warm and well-deliver'd Prayer before his Sermon, it hath the appearance of a Divine Rap­ture, he raiseth and leadeth the hearts of the Assembly in ano­ther manner than the most composed or best studied form of set words can ever do; and the Pray-wees would look like so many Statues, or Men of Straw, in the Pulpit, com­par'd with those who speak with such a powerful Zeal, that men are tempted at the moment to believe Heaven it self hath directed their words to them.’

Herein we confess we don't expect the concurrence of the Au­thor of Vox Cleri, who hath an aking Tooth at Lectures and Ser­mons too, as well as, no doubt, a mighty spleen at this Free-prayer, and would have all the publick Ministrations to consist in reading Liturgies and Homilies; And then if God Almighty [Page 4] would but send a man a good pair of Eyes, or in case he don't do that, a Fescue, and a pair of Spectacles, he might e'en keep [...]he Gifts of his Spirit to himself, for any n [...]ed that a Clergy-man may have of them.

We could wish for the sake of the Greek Churches, that the severe Clauses in the Athanasian Creed were expunged; for tho we believe all the Articles of Faith contained in it, yet we think it no more becomes us to damn Folks in the Church, and at Di­vine Service, than in the Streets, and in common Discourse.

We think it very odd, that Te Deum, Benedicite, the Psalms in Prose, and the Three Creeds, should be appointed to be SUNG or said. The Lessons in the Old Common Prayer-Book were order'd to be Sung in a plain Tune. That is reform'd, and they are now appointed to be read distinctly with an audible voice. And is there not the same reason for the other two? Were this cant­ing way laid aside, we might then have the Psalms in the New Translation; for 'tis for the sake of their being point [...]d to be SUNG or said, that though in some places it be corrupt, and in others hath several Verses that are not in the Original, but the Septuagint only, the old one is still retained.

We have known some Men that have risen from the Dunghil to a great fortune; who have hung up their Leathern Breeches as a Monument of their former low Circumstances; but not that they used to santer and trudg up and down in them as Ornaments, when they had a Pair of fresh Silk ones lying by them.

We could wish those two Rubricks in the Communion Ser­vice were review'd; the first of which directs the Curate to stand at the North-side of the Table, when he saith the Collect and the Lord's Prayer; and the seccond immediately after directs him to turn to the People, and rehearse distinctly all the Ten Commandments. We humbly conceive, did the Curate look the same way when he reads the Collect and Lord's Prayer, as he doth when he reads the Commandments; or rather, were both of them read in the Desk where the other Prayers are, especially in great Churches, we might then be able to hear him, which now many times we can't, and consequently are no more edified than by the Music of the Spheres. See the Rubric about reading the Lessons. When the Lessons are read, the Curate is order'd so to stand and turn himself, as he may be best heard of all such as are present. The reason is the same in both Cases. This we find reckon'd by those great Lights of our Church, formerly mention'd, among [Page 5] the Innovations,Id. ut supr. p. 5. the reading some part of the Morning Prayer at the H. Table when there is no Communion. Nor can we be satisfied with what is usually said in defence of this Practice, That 'tis to put the people in mind that they should celebrate the Communion every Sunday. In the Name of God, what need is there of such dumb signs to in­struct us in our Duty, which are so contrary to Edification, when we have so many Excellent and Learned Men, who can and ought to do it to much better purpose in their frequent, Eloquent and Pious Sermons out of the Pulpit? Must such Motions, as well as Pictures, be Lay-mens Books?

For our Childrens sake, we could wish that the Order of Confir­mation were not made a matter of meer Form and Ceremony; that it were carefully look'd to, not only that they be able to say the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments, and to answer the Questions in the Catechism, but that they understand them too; to this end, that the Rubric, which so rarely well enjoins the Curate diligently to catechise the younger sort, and then either to bring them, or at least send in Writing▪ with his hand subscribed thereunto, the Names of all such persons in his Parish as he shall think it to be pre­sented to the Bishop to be Confirmed, may be reinforced and observed, that so those that are notoriously scandalous, or grosly ignorant what their Godfathers and Godmothers promised for them in Baptism, and which now with their own Mouth and Consent they are openly before the Church to ratifie and confirm, may not be admitted to it.

'Tis certainly no fault in our Constitution, but there is a great one in those who do not act according to it that ad­mit many who have as little understanding of the Baptism [...]l Covenant when Hands are laid, as when Water was poured upon them. And we could wish some of our Spiritual Fathers would shew us by what warrant these words are used in the Collect for that Service.— On whom, after the example of thy holy Apostles, we have now laid our hands, to certifie them by this sign of thy Fa­vour, and Gracious Goodness towards them. And that they may be diligently compared with our Churches Definition of a Sacrament.

We could wish those passages in the Burial of the Dead were review'd, viz. Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God, to take to himself the Soul of our dear Brother here Departed, &c. We give thee hearty thanks for that it hath pleased thee to deliver this our [Page 6] Brother out of the miseries of this sinful World. —That we may rest in him (viz. Christ) as our hope is this our Brother doth. We do not enquire how the Clergy can read this over all Dead men that are not either Excommunicated, Unbaptized, or have not laid violent hands on themselves. Tho we could wish men that are so charitable to the dead, would be so to the living too. But we too often accompany the Corps of a drunken, debaucht neighbour of ours; who lived all his days in the habitual pra­ctice of many deadly sins, and gave no signs of Repentance that we could ever hear of; it may be the fatal arrow struck through him while he was in the very act of some foul sin. The Grave cannot strike a colder damp on our bodies, than the thoughts of this doth on our Devotions; and we can no more say Amen on such occasions, than the dead man himself, on whose Funeral we attend. 'Tis true indeed, we are told that these words do suppose the strict exercise of Discipline. But as long as we see no such thing, 'tis an Hypothesis that gives us no relief at all.

And seeing we are fallen on the Discipline of the Church, we do most humbly and earnestly beseech our Spiritual Fathers and Guides, that they would at last try their utmost for the setting of it up, that we may not be told from year to year, as we are in our Ashwednesday Service, that there WAS anciently in the Church a godly Discipline of putting notorious Sinners to open Penance, which we only wish were restored, but confess it is not. And we think that which our Church hath set up in the room of it, deserves a little Consideration; viz. the reading the general Sentences of God's Cursing against impenitent Sinners, out of Deut. 27. and other places of Scripture, to which we are all required to answer and say Amen.

Now suppose any man hath a near relation that is unmerciful, a Fornicator, an Adulterer, a Covetous person, an Idolater, Slanderer, Drunkard, for the Curse is pronounced against all these: Or suppose our King should be guilty of any of these crimes, as some of them were within the memory of man, we should be loth to say Amen, or So be it, to such a Curse. We have often heard the men of the Scotch Kirk reproach'd severely for the Excommunicating of Kings. A David may take another man's Ewe-Lamb; and it would be well if a Nathan would bring him to a sense of that horrible sin by a parable, and by a [Page 7] particular application of a Thou art the man. But for every one of us of the Laity to pronounce an Amen to a solemn Curse de­nounced against all such Offenders, and them among the rest, tho in the self-same Service we stile them our most Religious and Gracious ones, and that in the Church too, don't look like that Reverence we have been taught to bear towards Crowned Heads. True indeed, the Israelites once did pronounce several of these Curses on Mount Ebal, with an Amen; but this was by virtue of an express Command from God; and this might be suitable enough to a Legal Spirit, to the rough and sowre dispensation of the Law, but not to the calm, kind, and peaceable Institution of the Gospel, which is soft and gentle, as the wings of that Dove that lighted on the head of him who was the Author of it.

Having consider'd the Liturgy, we proceed to take notice of those Rites and Ceremonies of our Worship, which His Majesty hath join'd with it, and concerning which, he says, That being things in their own nature indifferent, and alterable, and so acknowledged, it is but reasonable, that upon weighty and important Considerations, &c.

Now it being confess'd on all hands, that they are things al­terable and indifferent in their own nature, we are all of us of the mind, that many unanswerable Reasons may be urg'd for their utter removal, and their being totally laid aside; such as are the dangers and hazards to which they have already expos'd our Church, the fatal Divisions, the unnatural and implacable animosities they have occasioned, and continue to foment; the obligations that we lie under from the Commands and Exam­ples of Christ and his Apostles, to yield in things of so small mo­ment to the invincible scruples, and the earnest importunities of our weaker Brethren, as well as many others that have been al­ledged and inforced by many Learned Pens. We cannot tell how to excuse the conduct of those persons, who, notwithstanding all the respect they owe to a Gracious Prince, their Duties to God and their scrupulous fellow-Christians, will evidently lay open both the Church and State to an unavoidable Ruin, rather than depart from the Imposition and Use of such Rites, no more than we could have justified St. John the Baptist, if he had fallen a Sa­crifice to the fury of Herod, meerly because he would not admi­nister Baptism without his Raiment of Camel [...] h [...]ir and his leathern Girdle. We cannot blame the Piety and Wisdom of our first Re­formers, who introduced and continued these, to avoid throwing [Page 8] the Nation, that was then over-run with Superstition, into great and deadly Convulsions: but since these reasons are now ceas'd, and very dismal inconveniences do attend their present use, we do think it better to throw them by, than retain them.

It was necessary, that when our Church first rose out of the Superstition, Darkness and Idolatry, in which she had been so long buried, she should like Lazarus have some of the Grave-cloaths a­bout her; but if out of some odd Humour she should resolve still to wear them, she would appear not only unlovely, but ridiculous. But lest we should seem to push this matter too far, we shall on­ly say, That it is highly requisite that the use of them should be left indifferent; that a strict Uniformity in these Rites is no lon­ger necessary, provided there be an Agreement in all the Essen­tials of her Doctrine and Worship; and there are many Grounds that move us to insist on this; viz. that they are but trivial things, and of no moment; that they neither add any real De­cency and Beauty to our Worship, nor render it more acceptable and pleasing to God; besides, there are many Persons in our Communion, who are weary of them; and many others who frequent our Churches, that do either despise or smile at our rigorous insisting upon them;P. 20. 22. for as the Letter concerning the Convocation well says, The number of those who are addicted to them, is not very great; and the greatest part of the Nati­on, are such as are not over-zealous, and fond of them, but might by the Method we offer, be more firmly fixed to us. There is a Body of Men who are still among us, and attend in our Churches, and at our Sacraments, who do think our present Contests about these matters, to be much like that, which we about London saw managed between the Ladies and the Mobile about Top-knots; the Rabble design'd to force them to lay them aside by Ballads, Pi­ctures, and insolent Jeers; but that S [...]x which uses to conquer by their Charms, got the Victory now by Obstinacy and Reso­lution, and the poor Top-knots have outlived their fury. While we saw no prejudices arise to the Nation, this afforded us a plea­sant diversion; but had the dispute run so high as to endanger an universal Mutiny and Insurrection, we should have commended that Sex, if they had prudently thrown them off, and quitted the Field.

We do therefore judge, That such things as these should no longer be imposed as terms of our Communion, and such as will [Page 9] not submit to them may be esteemed as genuine Sons of our Church, as those that do; that this is a Season wherein these latter should be allowed as free an access to our Altars and Fonts as the other; and that it is a condescention which we owe not only to our Blessed Saviour, and those weak Disciples which he hath so tender a concern for but to the Safety and Honour of our Church, as well as her present Constitution.

Of the Canons.

SInce the consideration of the greatest part of 'em will fall un­der the following Heads in His Majesty's Commission, we shall confine these Remarks to a few of 'em that cannot be so conve­niently rang'd under those Particulars.

The first Canon enjoins the maintaining the King's Supremacy over the Church of England in Causes Ecclesiastical,Can. 1.

And as that Canon declares all Foreign Power (forasmuch as the same has no establishment by the Law of God) to be justly taken away and abolish'd; so that Doctrine should in all reason be dis­own'd and censur'd, which so many Divines of our Church have endeavoured to def [...]nd and propagate in their publick Writings, viz. ‘That the Church Ʋniversal ought to be governed by the Decrees of General Councils; and during the interval of such Councils, the only way of Concord is to obey the Governing Part of the Universal Church, viz. All the Bishops in one Re­gent College, governing the whole Christian World, per li­teras formatas. Especially when, on pretence of the easier Execu­tion of these Universal Laws, some of 'em have been so liberal to his Holiness, as to assign that Province to him of Patriarch of the West, and the Centre of Unity to this part of the Catholick Church. And how much all the fierceness of Archbishops Laud and Bramhall, Dr. Heylin, Bishops Morley, Gunning, and Sparrow, Dr. Saywell, Mr. Dodwell, &c. against all Dissenters at home, and their strange chilness to the Reformed Churches abroad, is owing to a miserable fondness for this Notion, as the hopeful ground of a Reconciliation between the Church of England and the French Church that has cast off the Papal Infallibility, it were no difficult Task to shew, and were worthy the Observation of any Historian that would give a true Account of the continuance and increase of our deplorable Divisions. And as we dislike this [Page 10] Notion the more when we consider the purposes and designs for which 'tis calculated, so we have this Argument to urge why it should be disown'd, viz. Because it plainly sets up a Foreign Ju­risdiction, against which the Nation is solemnly sworn.

The second Canon excommunicates ipso facto all Impugners of the King's Supremacy.

Ag [...]inst which we think there is nothing can be objected but the fault common to it with the 10 following Canons, viz. Ex­communicating ipso facto.—Of which more under these fol­lowing Canons.

Can. 3. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That the Church of Eng­land by Law established under the King's Majesty, is not a true and Apo­stolical Church, teaching and maintaining the Doctrine of the Apostles; Let him be excommunicated ipso facto, and not restored but only by the Archbishop, after his Repentance, and publick Revocation of such his wicked Error.

Can. 4. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That the Form of God's Worship in the Church of England established by Law, and contained in the Book of Common-Prayer and Administration of Sacraments, is a corrupt, superstitious, or unlawful Worship of God, or contains any thing in it repugnant to the Scriptures; Let him be excommunicated ipso facto.

Can. 5. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That any of the 39 Ar­ticles agreed upon by the Archbishops and Bishops of both Provinces, and the whole Clergy, in the Convocation holden at London 1562, &c. are in any part superstitious or erroneous, or such as he may not with a good Conscience subscribe unto; Let him be excommunicate ipso facto.

Can. 6. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That the Rites and Cere­monies of the Church of England by Law establish'd, are Wicked, Anti­christian, or Superstitious; or such as being commanded by lawful Au­thority, men who are zealously and godly affected, may not with any good Conscience approve 'em, use 'em, or, as occasion requires, subscribe to 'em; Let him be excommunicate ipso facto.

Can. 7. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That the Government of the Church of England under His Majesty by Archbishops, Bishops, Deans, Archdeacons, and the rest that bear Office in the same, is Antichristian, or repugnant to the Word of God; Let him be excommunicate, &c.

Can. 8. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm or teach, That the form and manner of making and consecrating Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, contains any thing in it repugnant to the Word of God; or that they who are made Bishops, &c. Let him be excommunicate ipso facto.

Can. 9. Whosoever shall hereafter separate themselves from the Com­munion of Saints, as 'tis approved by the Apostles Rules in the Church of England, and combine themselves together in a new Brotherhood, &c. Let him be excommunicate ipso facto.

Can. 10. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That such Ministers as refuse to subscribe to the form and manner of God's Worship in the Church of England, prescribed in the Communion-book, may truly take to 'em the Name of another Church not established by Law, and dare presum [...] to publish it, That this their pretended Church has of long time groan'd under the burden of certain grievances imposed upon it, and upon the Members thereof before mentioned, by the Church of England, and the Orders and Constitutions therein by Law established; Let him be excom­municate ipso facto.

Can. 11. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm or maintain, That there are within this Realm other Meetings, Assemblies, or Congregations, of the King's born Subjects, than such as by the Laws of this Land are held and allowed, which may rightly challenge to themselves the Name of true and lawful Churches; Let him be excommunicate, &c.

Can. 12. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That 'tis lawful for any sort of Ministers or Lay-persons, or either of them, to join together, and make Rules, Orders, or Constitutions in Causes Ecclesiastical, without the King's Authority, and shall submit themselves to be ruled and govern­ed by them; Let him be excommunicate ipso facto.

To these may be added,

Can. 139. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That the Sacred Synod of this Nation, in the Name of Christ, and by the King's Authority as­sembled, is not the true Church of England by representation,; Let him be excommunicate, &c.

Can. 140. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That no manner of person either of the Clergy or Laity, not being themselves particularly assembled in the said Sacred Synod, are to be subject to the Decrees thereof, in Causes Ecclesiastical (made and ratified by the King's Majesty's Su­preme Authority) as not having given their voices to them; Let him be excommunicate, &c.

Can. 141. Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, That the Sacred Synod assembled as aforesaid, was a Company of such persons as did conspire together against godly and religious Professors of the Gospel; and that therefore both They, and their Proceedings in making of Canons and Con­stitutions in Causes Ecclesiastical, by the King's Authority as aforesaid, ought to be despised and contemned, the same being ratified by the same Regal Power; Let him be excommunicate, &c.

We have often heard our Clergy mention among many other Excellencies of our Church, her admirable Charity towards those that differ from her; and we have hitherto taken it for one of her just Characters. For tho those that dissent from us, would frequently object the Severity of the Penal Laws, and the rigor with which they have sometimes been Executed, as if such heavy Fines, and long Imprisonments, look'd but like a cold and frozen sort of Charity, yet we thought it a sufficient Answer, That our Church did not Countenance any of these Severities by her Doctrine. And therefore, how active soever some of our fiery Zealots (who were the Tools of another Party) might be in urging the Execution of them, this was their personal Fault, and nor justly imputable to the Church her self. Tho, by the way, we cannot think it so ingenuous in some of our Clergy, to throw all the blame of those severe Laws on the Parliament that En­acted them, which many of themselves were but too earnest and importunate Sollicitors of. But we are extreamly surprized to read the foregoing Canons, and when we hear them objected as an Evidence of the Uncharitableness of our Doctrine it self; We are at a great loss, what to say in defence of it; for we plainly perceive by them, that the Practice of our most violent Bigots in the Execution of the Penal Laws, has been as much more Cha­ritable than these Canons of our Church; as 'tis more merciful to send the Bodies of Men into the Custody of the Jailor, than to consign their Souls into the Paws of the Devil. Nay, 'tis well that Writs de Excom. Cap. have not been issued out against all whom these Canons Excommunicate. For if they had, the whole Race of Dissenters had long since been both the Jaylors and the Devils Prisoners; and we are very much afraid, a great part of our own Clergy and Laity must have born them Company. So that we can foresee no better Apology for the Convocation that fram'd these Canons, than this, That they seem only to have designed them for the old rusty Armor of our Church, to be hung up for Terror, rather than to be used for Execution. For it cannot be denied, that how little Charity soever those had that made them; our Bishops have generally since had more Christian Tenderness, than to Prosecute all in their Courts, whom these Canons make so hainous Criminals. And there­fore, were we of the Laity worthy to offer our humble Advice to the present Convocation, we should recommend it to them, [Page 13] as a pi [...]ce of necessary Prudence, as well as Charity, to Cashier these ill-natur'd Canons: For they do but frighten the silly Dissenters the more from our Communion, and are a standing R [...]proach to our Church her self on these two Accounts.

1. Were the Assertions here censur [...]d, never so dangerous Heresies, an ipso facto Excommunication is an unreasonable thing

'Tis no better than passing Sentence on an Offender, before any Attempts are used to reclaim him, which is a gross Absur­dity in Ecclesiastical [...]auses, wh [...]re 'tis not the bare Offence sub­jects Men to that Censure of the Church, but Obstinacy in it. For these Canons, quite contrary to our Saviour and his Apostles Rule, make a Heathen, and a Publican of our Brother, before he is ever told of his fault; they reject him before he be admonish'd. Whereas Divine Justice it self does not subject Men to the Sen­tence of Condemnation, meerly for their Sins themselves, but for their Impenitency in them. And sure the Church should not use greater Severity; and therefore should not in those C [...]nsures (which Tertullian calls Summum futuri judicii praejudicium) exclude Men from her Communion, ipso facto, upon their having run in­to Errors or Crimes▪ but upon their persisting incorrigibly in them. And what Lindwood observes concerning such Canons as these, does not wholly excuse them; nam [...]ly, That a d [...]claratory Sentence of the Judg is necessary, notwithstanding the ipso-facto-Ex­communication, to a Mans being avoided, as an Excommunicate Person by others. For all that this can amount to, is no more than to say, That tho a Mans Mittimus to the Devil is drawn up by these Canons, yet his Neighbours are not to take notice of it, till it be publish'd; but for all that, the Man is truly Excommunicated, and that without any other precedent Ad­monition, than what the Canons themselves give him, which few of us ever read or see; No personal Admonition being used to prevent his Excommunication, but only to restore him by Abso­lution. And if these Canons be just, all whom they Excom­municate, are bound in Conscience to forbear the Churches Communion; and therefore we cannot in consistency with our selves, invite the Dissenters into it, unless we could either change their Minds, or at least put Gags into their Mouths. But were this all the Fault of these Canons, the matter were more tole­rable. But

[Page 14]2. The Assertions themselves mention'd in the Canons can by no means des [...]rve so heavy a Censure.

For as Excommunication is the highest Censure of the Church (which according to the Form us'd in our own, excludes the Person excommunicated from all Christian Society, and cuts him off as a dead Member from the Body of Christ) so it should never be us'd against any but those who are guilty of such perni­cious Errors, or hainous Crimes, as give all imaginable ground to believe them in a state of damnation. Such as those mentioned 1 Cor. 6.9, 10. Gal. 5 19, 20. 2 Tim. 3.2, 3, &c. For otherwis [...] we might shut those out of our Communion, whom our bl [...]ssed Sa­viour receives into his; and dangerously cut off the living instead of the dead Members of his Mysti [...]al Body. Besides, Nothing will sooner bring that sacred part of the Church's Discipline into contempt, than the using it [...]n slight and frivolous Occasions; as we shall further shew afterwards, when we come to speak of Ec­clesiastical Courts.Sess. 25. Decr. de Reform. cap. 3. 'Twas a grave and wise Caution of the Coun­cil of Trent, though they had not the grace to follow it themselves, That though the Sword of Excommunication be the very sinews of Ecclesiastical Discipline, and very wholsom to keep the People in obedience, yet it should be warily us'd▪ lest if it be drawn out rashly on every slight cause, the People should rather despise than dread it. For if Clergy-men will so far trifle with those solemn Censures, as to thunder out Excommunications against all that keep Easter the wrong day, or maintain Antipodes, or wear Beards of a wrong cut, &c. as some Wise and Learned Popes have for­merly done; 'Tis no wonder if Men come to look upon them as Ecclesiastical Scarecrows; and provided they can scape the Jaylor, set the Bishop at defiance. And though the Assertions censur'd in these Canons be not altogether such Trifles, yet they are some of them things too dubious to Men o [...] mean Capacities, that have a fa­tal biass of an unhappy Education clapt on their Understandings; and of too small consequence to bear the weight of so heavy a doom. For what tho the Dissenters should arraign the Offic of Burial read over the Graves of all the notorious Villains that have the good fortune to escape, or buy off an Excommunication; or censure the use of our God-fa [...]ers as exclusive of the Parents publick undertaking for the religious Education of his own Child? What though they foolishly mistake the Sign of the Cross for a New Sacrament; what tho they dispute against that Passage in [Page 15] the Book of Ordination, that asserts the divine right of three di­stinct Offices, Bishops, Priests and Deacons? What tho they be more peevish and untoward, and censure the very Office of our Bishops, as they are by the late Alterations in the Book of Ordination, made the sole Pastors of all the Churches in their several Dioceses. Nay, what though they affirm their own Congregations to be true and lawful Churches: shall we on the score of their declaring their mistaken Opinion in any one of these disputable matters, treat them as if they had denied all the Articles of the Apostle's Creed, or broken all the Ten Commandments? Nor are the Dissen­ters the only Persons concern'd in these Canons. There are few of our Latitudinarian Clergy (as some are pleas'd to call all that have not as narrow Souls as their own) but will freely in their Discourses censure some things in the Government of our Church, particularly the Lay-chancellors Power of decreeing Excommu­nications. And all these must expect no quarter from the 7th Ca­non. So that these Canons will quickly retrench the corpulency of our Church, and reduce it to the small number of Bigots, who it seems are not so ridiculous as they seem'd to be, in monopoli­zing the Character of her True Sons to thems [...]lve [...]. And yet even of the Bigots there are so many that frequently arraign some of our Articles in the Pulpit it self (particularly the 17th, about the Doctrine of Election) that we see not how they will escape the 5th Canon. And if we were not afraid of being sent to the Devil for company, by virtue of the 139. Can. we would make bold to question the Convocations being the Church of England by Representation. See the Pref. 'Tis strange how they shou'd Represent us of the Laity, who never Chose or Deputed 'em. 'Tis much stranger how they shou'd Represent the K. and Parliament; (who I hope are a very Exc [...]llent part of our Church) for if they do, we see not what occasion there can be to interpose their Authority anew to give force to their Canons. They can at the most, only Represent the Clergy of our Church, and are indeed no more than the King's and [...]rliament's Ecclesiastical Council, to advi [...]e 'em what Laws relating to the Church, they shall enact by th [...]ir Authority circa Sacra. For all their Canons would never bind one Consciences as the Laws of the Church, if the Civil Authority made 'em not the Laws of th [...] Land. To sum up this Head; Why should we think our Convocation so infallible, and the Constitutions of our Church so absolut [...]ly [Page 16] perfect, that a man cannot find the least fault with any one of them under a less penalty, than being cut off as a dead member from the Body of Christ? This is as inexcus [...]ble a rigor, as if our Parliament should make it no less than Banishment for any Subject to dispute the Equity of the least Clause in the whole Book of Statutes: So that if the Convocation think fit to keep up these Canons still, it were very great Charity to clap Pad­locks on the Tongues of the People, to prevent their running into the Devils Clutches, by prating too freely against the Or­ders of our Church. And perhaps it was the sagacious fore­sight of such Complaints as these, made that wise Conv [...]c [...]ti­on by way of prevention, excommunicate among the rest▪ all that should affirm 'em to be, A Company of m [...]n that conspired against godly and religious Professors of the G [...]spel; or assert, That their Canons should be despised or rejected: Only they were care­ful to twist in the Kings Authority with their own, that he who slighted the Convocation, might be thought to trample on the Crown.

Of Corruptions in the Ecclesiastical Courts.

AND here we do most humbly desire that the Reverend Guides of our Church will patiently hear us; and espe­cially those of that Venerable and truly Apostolical Order; and if any expressions should drop from us that may seem inconsistent with that filial duty we owe to 'em, we desire it may be impu­ted to our great zeal for 'em; and we shall as submissively fall on our Knees to beg their Pardon, as we would do on any other occasion to implore their Blessing. M [...]ny of the old Corruptions (saith one of our Reverend Fathers in God) do yet remain among us in practice, Dr. Barnet's Thanksg. Ser. before the H. of Commons, Jan 31. p. 33 and the administration of the Ecclesiastical Authority is liable to great Obj [...]ctions. I will not run out in farther particulars, for it will be easie to find them; and if you once set ab [...]ut it, you will soon see wh [...]t work is before you.

We shall confine our Discourse chiefly to the high and dread­ful Sentence of Excommu [...]ication, for so it is in its self, and was always so esteem [...]d by devout Souls, till the great and scanda­lous [Page 17] Abuses and Corruptions of it in these latter days hath made it contemptible to that degree, that sinners do no more value [...], than men do the threatning predictions of a common Almana [...]k maker concerning Thunder and Lightning. We have many things here to offer, under these following Heads.

  • 1. The Persons that manage it.
  • 2. The Causes for which it is inflicted.
  • 3. The manner of proceeding in our Ecclesiastical Courts.
  • 4. The things that ensue on the sentence of Excommunication.

1. The Persons that manage it. And into whose hands would a man rationally expect the Keys should be put, but theirs to whom Christ and his Apostles have given th [...]m, and where the Primitive Church left them? Who should judg Spiritual Matters, but Spiritual Men? Who should correct the children, but their Fathers; and discipline Souls, but they that have the Care of them, and watch over them, as those that must give an account? They that so justly claim the Power of Ordinati­on, why should they not have that of Excommunication; and deliver up to Satan, as well as give the Holy Ghost? What is it that can reasonably be supposed to hinder our Reverend Bi­ [...]hops from minding so great and necessary a part of their Of­f [...]ce? Is it their great diligence in Preaching? 'Tis true, this [...]ur Church doth strictly tie them unto. The1 Tim. 3. apt to teach. Epi­ [...]le, or thatActs 20 17.—have taught you publickly, and from house to house; take heed therefore to your s [...]lves, and to all the stock over which the H. Ghost hath made you over­seers, to feed the church of God, &c. which is appointed for it, and theSt. John 21. J [...]s [...] [...]ith to Peter, lovest thou me more than these? — Fe [...]d my lambs. —Feed my s [...] &c. M [...]. 28.18. Go and tea [...]h all na­on [...], &c. Gospel read at their Consecration, puts them in [...]ind of it: Nay they formally promise it: For these are Two of the Questions propounded to them [...] the Arch-Bishop.—See the form of the Consecration of Bis [...]ps. Are you determined out of [...]e Holy Scriptures, to instruct the people [...]ommitted to your [...]harge?—Will you then faithfully ex [...]rcise y [...]ur s [...]lf [...] the same Holy Scriptures, and call upon God by Pray­ [...] for the true understanding [...]f the same, so as ye may be [...]ble by them to teach and exhort by whol [...]some Doctrine, [...]d to withstand and convince the gainsayers? To which [...]e Bishop answers,See to [...]he same [...]ur­ [...]se, the Collect immediately following V [...]ni creator spiritus; and the [...] of the [...]ch-Bishop to the Bishop, when he delivers him the Bible; and the first of the three [...] Prayers said for the last Collect immediately before the Benediction. I am so determined by Gods [...]ce: and, I will so do by the h [...]lp of God. And the [...]ractice of some of our Reverend Fathers, does [Page 18] convincingly shew they are no strangers to Gods grace or help, See the first Collect in the Consecration of Bishops. See the Collect in the Conse­crat. said next after the Lita­ny. See the Collect after Veni Crea­tor. in this particular. But will diligence in one duty, excuse the neglect of another? Doth not our Church pray Almighty God to give to all Bishops the Past [...]rs of his Church, that they may duly administer godly Discipline, as well as diligently preach the Word? and, That they may faithfully serve Almighty God in this Of­fice, to the glory of his name, and the edifying and well-governing of his Church. And further, That they may be not only ever­more ready to spread abroad the Gospel, but also use the Authority gi­ven them, not to destruction, but to salvation?

And doth not the Bishop solemnly promise to correct and pu­nish according to such Authority as he hath by Gods Word, as well as to such as shall be committed to him by the Ordinance of this Realm? And the Archbishop charges him, when he delivers him the Bible, not only to take heed to Doctrine, but how he ministers Discipline too.

We can't think, after all this, that they do voluntarily neglect so essential a Branch of their Episcopal Office, as Governing the Church. Ruling and Discipline is their Duty according to Gods Word; and if any Ordinance of this Realm hinder them from the discharge of a Duty Gods Word hath laid on them, we think, if they should patiently bear it, they would give but a sad Ac­count in that day, when the Great Bishop shall appear, when Pulton's or Keeble's Statutes are none of those Books that shall then be open'd.

We are sure, that this Work is a thing of the highest Trust and Authority, and wherein the greatest skill and tenderness is requisite; and therefore we think it should be p [...]rsonally dischar­ged, and can't lawfully be deputed to another. For, as the Lord Bacon hath observed, we s [...] [...]n all Laws in the world, Offices of Confidence and Skill cannot be put [...], or exercised by Deputy, exce [...]t it be especially contained in the Original Grant; Considerat. for the better E­stablish of the Ch. of Engl. p. 10. never did any Chancellor of England, or Judg in any Court, make a Deputy.— Surely ab initio non fuit ita; but 'tis probable that Bishops, when they gave themselves too much to the Glory of the World, and became Grandees in Ki [...]gdoms, and Great Councellors to Princes, th [...]n did they deleagu [...] their prop [...]r Ju­risdiction, as things of too inferior a Nature for their Greatness, and then after the Similitude and Imitation of Kings and Counts Palatine, they would have their Chancellors and Judges.

His Life, p 92. ‘Tis, saith Bishop Bedel in his D [...]fence, one of the most es­sential parts of a Bishop's Duty, to govern his Flock, and [...] i [...]flict the Spiritual Censures on obstinate Offenders. A [Page 19] Bishop can no more delegate this Power to a Lay-man, than he can delegate a Power to Baptise or Ordain, since Ex­communication and other Censures are a suspendi [...]g the Rights of Baptism and Orders; and therefore the judging of these things can belong only to him that had the Power to give them; and the delegating that Power is a thing null of it s [...]l [...] It was ever looked on as a necessary part of the Bishop's Duty [...]o Ex [...]mine and Censure the Scandals of his Clergy a [...] [...]aity, in Ancient and Modern Times.’ And much mor [...] m [...]y b [...] found to the same purpose in hi [...] Life.

But if this Sacr d Work must be put off to oth [...]rs,P. 93. were it committed to th [...] hands of any of our Clergy, though never so mean, we coul [...] bear it, out of that profound Re­verence we have for th [...]i [...] Gown and Character, as we d'off our Hats in a mean Countrey-Church, that looks little better than a Pigeon-house, as w [...]ll as in a Cathedral, for the sake of that GOD to whom the One is Consecrated as well as the other. But we have hardly any patience left us, when we consider, That the Clergy both Superiour and Inferiour, stand for Cyphers, and the whole Power of Excommuni­cation is lodged in Lay-mens hands; for such are their Chan­cellors, Officials, Commiss [...]ies, &c. 'Tis a greater piece of Sa­crilege for these Thieves to steal and run away with the Keys of the Church, than for any to carry off the Communion-Plate; Godly Discipline being a much richer Treasure than a Golden Chalic [...]. We justly deride the Presbyteri [...]ns, for their compound Assemblies, where the Minister and the Lay-Elder sit Cheek by Joul, intermingled, like a Man and a Woman at a Dutch Feast: But that H [...]tch-potch-Miscellany is more tole­rable than this Constitution of Ours, whereby the whole Clergy being excluded, the Lay-Chancellor alone sits to remit sins, or retain them, Men that we are sure have no Commission from the Blessed Jesus, or his Holy Apostles, and have no Power to deliver any Souls up to Satan, unless it be their own. 'Tis true indeed, They have a Patent for it, and that sometimes given to gratifie a Friend, sometimes perhaps purchas [...]d with a round Sum of Money, whereby the pre­sent Bishops pass away this their Power from Themselves and their Successors too, and so they are rendred uncapable of correcting their Extravagancies and Corruptions, even though they are committed in their Names, and by virtue of an Autho­rity [Page 20] derived from them; whereupon our Reverend Fathers bear the blame, and these Varlets reap the advantage of their unjust Proceedings. Nay, to that degree of insolence do they proceed, as sometimes to hector them if they offer but to inter­pose to stop or to rectify any of their Illegal and Oppressive Acts. Of this we have an instance given us by the Author of the Naked Truth; I don't mean the blustring Hickeringill, but, as is com­monly beli [...]ved,P. 64. a grave and excellent Prelate of our Church. ‘I remember (saith he) when the Bishop of Wells hearing of a Cause corruptly managed, and coming into the Court to rectifie it, the Chancellor, Dr. Duke, fairly and man­nerly bid him be gone, for he had no Power there to act any thing; and therewithal pulls out his Patent, sealed by the Bishop's Pred [...]cessor, which, like Perseus's Shield with the Gorgon's Head, frighted the poor Bishop out of the Court.’

Bishop Bedel's Life by Doctor Burnet, p. 88, 89.Another remarkable Story of this nature we have in the Life of Bishop Bedel: He saw, and his Soul was grieved at, the bare­faced Extortions, and Briberies, and Commutations of Penance, and Vexatious Suits, &c. in the Chancellor, that had bought his Place from his Predecessor; and the prostitution of Excom­munications in a sordid and base manner. To correct these abu­ses, he goes, and with a competent number of his Clergy sits and hears Causes, and gives Sentence. But his Lay-Chancellor brought a Suit against him in Chancery for invading his Office; and tho the other Bishops stood by him, saying, They were but half Bishops, till they recover'd their Authority out of the hands of their Chan­cellors; and though his Chancellor's Patent were a formless Chaos of Authority conferr'd on him against all reason and equity, wherein was false Latin, nons [...]nse, injustice, prejudice to the Chapter, contrariety to it self and the King's Grant to the Bishop, P. 102. and the Seal hanging to it none of the Bishop his Predecessor's Seal; yet the Chancellor's Right was confirm'd; and there was given him an Hundred Pound costs of the Bishop; and great endeavours were used to possess Archbishop Ʋsher himself against him, which went so far as to procure an Inhibi [...]ion and Citation against him out of his Court.P. 97. All his Brethren forsook him, even the Primate himself, though the las [...] that did so; yet at length Almighty God so remarkably prosper'd the zeal of this holy Man, that he was conniv'd at, and held on undisturb'd i [...] personally attending his Episcopal Court; God give to our Engl [...]sh B [...]hops the like Courage and Success.

Thus the Rooks give check to the King, and the Lay-chancel­lor [Page 21] in the Court proves too hard for the Bishop, as the Devil in the Sign of a Tavern doth for the Saint, Dunstan we mean.

But as though this were not enough, matters are yet a great deal worse. For not only doth an Appeal lie to the C [...]urt of De­legates, of which we shall say nothing, because 'tis his Maje­sty's; But there is also the Archbishops Court of Chamber [...]ain's Present State of England, part 2. p. 33. Arches, where any Ecclesiastical Suits between any Persons within the Province of Canterbury, except some peculiarConsets Pra­ctice of Eccl Courts. Jurisdictions belonging to the King' [...] Majesty, may, waving all Inferior Courts, be decided. The Official may take cognizance of all Ecclesiastical Causes what­soever, not only at the instance of Parties, but also of his mere Office, or when they are promoted; as also all manner of Ap­peals (except as before excepted) from any B [...]shops, Deans and Chapters, &c. Arch-deacons, their Officia [...]s and Commissaries, or other Ecclesiastical Judges whatsoever; as also all Commissa­ries of the Archbishop of Canterbury, whether particular or spe­cial, within all or any Diocese of his Province.

This Court is kept in the Archbishop's name by his Official, who is the Judge of it, called also Dean of the Arches, a perf [...]ct Lay-man, usually a Knight, and Doctor of Laws. But he being for the most part absent, substitutes a Surrogate in his place (who is the Arch­bishop's Man's man) viz. the Dean of the Deanry of the Arches.

And there doth this Judge Perkin sit in state,Chamberlain's Pres. [...]te of England, part 2. page 273. and according to the old Mumpsimus of the Pope's Canon-Law alone, without any Assessors, hears and determins all Causes, without any Jury of 12 men, as is necessary in Common Law-Courts; and presumes to sentence not only us Lay-men, but the Clergy-men also, and even Bishops themselves, for any Delinquency.

And as the Official treats our Superio [...]s in the Arches, so doth the Lay-chancellor handle us, and the Inferior Clergy in the Bi­shop's Court, held in the Cathedral of his Diocese. Only when any do not appear, being legally cited, and propounded contuma­cious, and decreed excommunicate, then the Plaintiff's Proctor offers a Schedule of Excommunication to the Judge,H. Conset. Prac [...]ice of the Spirit [...] C [...] [...] who reads it if he be in h [...]ly Orders (for you must know a special care must be taken of that) and if not, then it is given to one who is in Holy Orders, who is constituted to this purpose by the Judge. Good God! saith the forementioned Author of Naked Truth, [...] what a horrid abuse is this of the Divine Authority! This notorious Trans [...]r [...]n is excused, as they think by this, that a Minister call'd the Bishop's Surrogate▪ but is indeed the Chancellor's Servant, chosen, called and placed there [...] [Page 22] him to be his Cryer in the Court, (no better) when he hath examin'd, heard, and s [...]nt ne'd th [...] Cause, then the Minister, forsooth, pronounces the sentence. Then the Judges Seal being clapt to them, away the Letters of Excommunication are posted to the Rector, Vi­car, or Curate of the Parish, with Orders to publish the same in time of Divine Service on some Sunday, or Holy-day; al­ways provided these Letters of Excommunication be deliver'd to t [...]e Rector, &c. at least that same day on which they are to [...]e read before Morning or Evening Prayers, that they may be sure to have timely notice of it, saith ourH. Conset. Practice of Eccl. Courts, p. 38. Author; which they are to publish without delay, unless they are willing to undergo the Fate of the Miller's Man, who was hang'd for his Master: for if they neglect so to do, they are to be punisht by Suspension from their Office. For unless at his own peril, the Parish Minister must no more examine the equity and justice of the Sentence, than a Hang-man dares, but must do his Office, though to the best liver in his Parish, be the Cause what it will, how unjust soever the Sentence is, or how ille­gally soever obtain'd. He must give fire when the word of Command is given; though he, good man! know nothing of the matter, yet denounce the Ecommunication he must, and give the rest of the People warning, that they avoid the com­pany of such a one; just as the two nimble Iron Sparks on the outside of St. Dunstan's Church, when moved by the Wires within, briskly turn about, and give a Thump on the Bell, that all may know what quarter of the hour it is.

2. But to proceed from Persons to things. This we sup­pose no sober man will deny, that Excommunication being a punishment of an immediate Divine Original, men should have a Divine Warrant in what cases to inflict it. And being so severe a Punishment, no less than cutting off from the Body of Christ, and shutting out of the Kingdom of Heaven, as well as the Society of Christians on Earth, it should not be infli­cted but for those black Crimes, and deadly Sins, and those obstinately persisted in too, for which the Holy Jesus hath de­clared, that men do deserve that amputation and exclusion from Heaven, that so what is bound here below, may be bound above. And this being the Church's expulsive faculty for the casting out of noxious Hum [...]rs, her weapon for the cutting off rotten and scandalous Members, should be used to that end only, as we find in the New Testament, and many Centuries after it [Page 23] was, in the case of Heresy or detestable Enormities, accompa­nied with Contumacy. Now such Sinners swarm among us; we have such crowds of Adulterers, Drunkards, Swearers, Blasphemers, &c. that some of the Sons of our Church say, by way of excuse for the neglect of Discipline, it would not be prudent, or safe, to attack them. How few of these do our Ecclesiastical Courts take notice of? In David's time the Sparrows were allowed a place near God's Altar; in our days whole herds of Swine have the same privilege, and no one will, or dare to drive them out. But if a man trip in a Ceremony, if an honest, but simple Dissenter, will not come to the Sacrament, because though weakly, yet it may be conscienciously, he scruples Kneeling, or will not trhough obstinacy pray the Parson his Dues, or if the Governors of the State have a Political Design to carry on, out comes the sacred two-edged Sword immediately, and they are cut off by dozens. We might refer the Reader to Dr. Pinfold as to this Point, who a very few years ago sweetly feather'd his Nest by this means, as those barbarous Wretches in some places that live by the Sea-side, rejoice at the sight of a Storm, and enrich themselves with the Wrecks of those that are unfortunately cast away. We our selves have known a Minister of our Church suspended for not burying a Corpse in his Surplice, when the Surrogate bid him do it at the Grave: and a well-meaning, but stubborn Fanatick, sent to the Devil as an Easter Offering, because he would not give his Parson one of two pence half-penny, and the obstinate fool lay by it on a Capias in the Jayl f [...]r several years.

But it were well, if the Ecclesiastical Courts did let fly only on these Occasions. For the neglect of a Religious Ceremony, may by some be called a mortal Sin, and not paying the Mi­nisters dues, is a Fundamental Point, and a piece of Sacrilege.

But the M [...]tter doth not stop here. The Spiritu [...]l Courts have got to themselves the Cognizance of a multitude of Tem­poral Causes, viz. all Testamentary Matters,See Cosins A­pology, p. 18, 19. Matrimonial Causes▪ (and these are numerous, for the Subject is Fruitful) Jactitation of Matrimony, Divorces, Bastardy, &c. Defamati­ons, Violence to a Clergy-man, Rights of Patron [...]ge, Double Quereles, Wages for a Curate or Clerk, Interest and Title to a Benefice, Maintenance in it, such as Tithes of all kinds, Oblati­ons, Obventions, Pensions, Mortuaries, Church-yard, &c. The Dues of a Parishioner to the Church, as to Reparations, Seats, Bells, buying of Books, Utensils, or other Orn [...]ments. [Page 24] Not building a Church enjoined by a Testator, not keep­ing a Chu [...]ch in a comely sort; or when a Church-Warden refuses to yi [...]ld an Account of the Church-Stock, violating a Sequestration for Tithes n [...]t paid, hindering to gather or carry Tithes, Money promised for redeeming corporal Penance, and detained; Fighting or Brawling in a Church-yard, (I sup­pose, least the Dead should be disturbed, and hindered of their rest). And then all Duties arising at first, on the Exercise of Voluntary Jurisdiction, and yet by denial made Litigious; such be real Compositions sought by some Party to be Disannulled, Procurations, Pensions, Synodals, Pentecostals, Indempnities, Fees for Probates, &c. Or (which they to be sure will not for­get, and therefore neither will we) Fees growing due, only up­on Exercise of Litigious Jurisdiction, and these either due to the Judg himself, as Fees of Citation, Fees of Sentences, &c. or due to other Attendants in the Court, as Fees of Advocates, Proctors, Registers, Apparitors, &c. Lord! what a blessed Re­giment of Causes is here, like that of the Black-guard, for Spi­ritual Courts! Well, but tho most of these one would think were Civil Causes, and fit therefore for Civil Courts; yet let them come before the Spiritual Ones, if they please, as long as a Lay-man is the Judg of them. All that we stand on, is this, they Summon People to Answer in all these Cases, and make Decrees; and if any one do not Appear, or do not Obey their De­crees, or not Answer their Interrogatories, they are judged Con­tumacious to the Church, and then there's Death in the Pot, and they have no other way to Punish, but by Excommunication. So that an honest Man is frequently Smitten with the Churches Thunder, for matters of meer civil Right, or trivial Occasions, or it may be through the Tricks and Quirks of inferior Officers, or sometimes through the Ignorance of a blundering Surrogate, for the sake of a little Money. Let us hear my Lord Bacon's Opi­nion of this Matter. Excommunication is the greatest Judgment on Earth, Considerat. for the better E­stablish of the Ch. of Engl. &c. and therefore, for this to be used Irreverently, and to be made an ordinary Proc [...]ss to Lacquey up and down for Fees, how can it be without Derogation from Gods Honour, and making the Power of the Keys contemptible? I know very well the d [...]fence thereof, which hath no great force, That it issues forth not for the thing it self, but the C [...]ntumacy. —But the Contumacy must be such as the Party, as far as the Eye and Wisdom of the Church can discern, standeth in st [...]t [...] of Repro­bation and Damnation, as one that for that time seemeth given over to final Impenitence.

To this I think we may add their device of excommunicating whole Communities of Men, as a Dean and Chapter, or a Master Fellows and Scholars of a Colledg, the Mayor and Aldermen of a Town, &c. Hereby they have in some measure that Emperor's Wish, that the People had but one Neck, that he might chop it off at one blow. By this Interdict are prohibited all Divine Offices,Chamberlain's Present State of England, part 2. p. 39. as Divine Service, Christian Burial, Administration of Sacraments, &c. in such a Place or to such a People; and if it be against a People, it follows them wheresoever they go; if against a Place only, then the People of that Place may go to Divine Offices elsewhere. Only the Pope's Canon-Law adds,Decret. Greg. l. 5. Tit. 40. de Verb. signif. c. 17. That some who are in a special manner pri­viledged by the Roman Church, when a whole Country is interdict­ed, may celebrate Divine Offices with a low Voice, but then the Doors must be shut, the Bells must not be rung, and all the excom­municated and interdicted Persons must be excluded.

By this Contrivance whole Communities of Men may be broken off from the Body of Christ, as whole Countries have been, and some say Britain in particular, from the Continent by the Fury and Violence of the Ocean. But it will be hard to reconcile this to the common notion of Excommunication,Lord Bacon co [...] ­sid. p. 21. that 'tis a precursory and prelusory Judgment of Christ in the End of the World; when we have been so often told from the Pulpit and Press, that then Socie­ties shall not be punish'd as Societies, but every Man shall personal­ly answer for himself.

3. We pass on to the manner of proceeding in Excommunicati­ons, which we shall find exactly suitable to the Causes for which they are inflicted, and the Tools that manage this Weapon. For here's no pains taken with Men to bring them to Repentance by Scripture and Reason, convincing them of the heinous nature of their Offences, and beseeching of them in the Bowels of Christ. Only a bare pronouncing the words, I admonish you, three times in a breath; like the Jews whipping St. Paul with a triple Cord, and giving three Lashes in one. We had thought this had been a meer Corruption in the Officers; but we find one of their own Tribe tell us for Law, That a Man may be admonish'd, a first, H. Cons [...]t. Pra­ctice of Ecclesia­stical Courts, p. 383, 4. a second and a third time, all at one and the same moment. Things are managed at these Spiritual Tribunals, just as they are at Civil ones; If you will not buckle, there's no other means used to in­duce you to it, but the Charges of the Court, the Trouble of dan­cing Attendance on it; and by and by out comes the two-handled [Page 26] Rod and Blood-Pail to fright the stubborn Children into Obedi­ence.

And these Fees of the Court sometimes are very terrible things, and touch a Man to the quick. As the Reckoning is enflamed by a roguish Vintner, when his Guests are so with liberal drinking, by scoring up two Bottles for one at the Bar; so they know how to take the advantage of the Ignorance of those they have got into their Clutches, and top upon them double the Rates of what is by Law allowed. I find one of themselves confessing this in sundry Instances in the Courts of the Arch-Bishop of York, as to Testa­mentary Matters, and acknowledging the same in general as to o­ther Fees, for Copies of Acts, Depositions of Witnesses, Fees to Apparitors,H. Conset. Pra­ctice of Ecclesia­stical Courts, p. 422, 3. &c. Take one Instance: ‘To a Judg for an Ad­ministration, where the Estate is above 40 l. 7. s. 6 d. which ad­vance from 2 s. & 6 d. (for that was the old Price according to the Table allowed of in 13 Eliz.) 'was, as I have heard, saith he, in compassion to one of the Commissioners of the late Arch-Bi­shop's, his necessitous Condition, agreed by all the Proctors, and other Officers to be imposed on the Country.’ Whether this Com­missary be dead or no I know not, but till the Year 1685. this way of raising Mony on the Country, without Act of Parliament, did continue in this, and in many other Instances there enumerated by him, and I suppose doth so still: By the same reason that the French King imposes Taxes on his Slaves, because he had Authority given him once to do it in Cases of Necessity, while the Kingdom was in a Flame. And tho he had a Law to do so for the present, which these Harpies never had, yet the forementioned Author gives a substantial Reason for the thing that may supply the place of it: ‘For,Id. ibid. saith he, speaking of the Registers, the Reason of Augmen­tation to them, is, because they pay great Fines to the Arch-Bishops for their Places, (and he that buys the Devil, must sell him) and do again let them for Term of Years to Deputies for great Fines, which Deputies have no way to raise their Monies but by this manner of advance or exaction upon the Country.’ Now I think the same Argument is altogether as strong for the Surrogate, who is the Chancellor's Deputy; for Chancellors and Officials have learnt the Art of making their Places Sine-Cures, committing them to the management of those Journy-men who are many times wretch­edly ignorant, and so are often imposed on by the inferiour Officers, by whose direction all Matters are dispatched, (as the Clerk mana­ges [Page 27] the Justice) and they to be sure will turn the Water into such a Channel, that it may most effectually drive their own Mills.

But supposing none of these Blunders or Knaveries be commit­ted, let's a little examine the regular and ordinary Proceedings. And in order thereunto, we must consider there are two sorts of Causes, Plenary, i. e. such as require a solemn Order and Method; and Summary, where that being waved, a Proceeding by a shorter Cut will serve the turn. Now what Causes in particular fall under each of these Heads, is kept very dubious for a very profitable Reason,Conset. p. 22, 3. viz. this, Tho the Cause be summary, yet you may proceed plena­rily, and 'tis the more valid, and the Officers of the Court can the better lick their Fingers. But if the Cause should be judg'd to be a plenary one, and you should proceed summarily, then all the Pro­ceedings are immediately null, you lose your Charges, and the Proctor gets; and the Pidgeon-House of Cards being pulled down, the Child must begin all again.

Now in plenary Causes out goes a Citation either general or speci­al, obtained by the Plaintiff, his Sollicitor or Proctor, drawn by the Proctor, Sollicitor or Apparitor, in writing, and sealed by the Judg. Then the Mandatory, or the Plaintiff, certifies the manner in which the Defendant was cited, that so the Plaintiff's Proctor may draw an Authentical Certificate thereupon, to which an Authentick Seal is put, at the special instigation and request of the Mandatory.

Then you must have a Proctor, either general or special, to ma­nage the Cause. For no Citation, tho executed, can be brought in­to Court but by him; he must be constituted by a Proxy, i. e. by a Power or Mandate given to the Proctor by his Client to appear and transact for him, or before a Notary publick with Witnesses, and this authentically sealed too: And the Election of your Proctor must be inserted in the Acts of the Court; if he die after the Suit is contested, the Mandate is absolutely revoked. Then supposing they have not got you on the hip for some Error as yet, however there be abundance of Blots yet to be hit. Many Exceptions may be brought in, peremptory ones, either simply such, or defensive; or dilatory ones, and these are twofold, Dilatoria Solutionis, where perhaps the Party alledges the paiment or satisfaction of what is su­ed for; and Declinatoria Judicii, for declining the Cause, either by excepting against the Judg by Recusation, Provocation, &c. or by reason of the Plaintiff, or the Arbitrators, or Proctor, Advocate, Libel, Witnesses, Interrogatories, Publick Instruments, Positions, [Page 28] Sentence, &c. Besides these, there are two Squadrons more of Exceptions, Mediae, or mixt Ones; and Anomalae, or irregular Ones; each of which have their proper Seasons of being urged. And these must be drawn in writing, and some Body must pay for all this. For 'tis Mony makes these Beasts to go, without which they will not stir a soot.

What we have hitherto spoken of, is common to all Causes, whether Plenary or Summary. What we shall further add (and there is much behind) agrees in its whole Latitude to the former sort of them. Suppose then that hitherto we be clear of all Rocks; then comes the Libel, but it must be subscribed by an Advocate, and possibly you may wait a little for it, till next Court-day. This being at last given into Court, it often happens that it must be amended or alter'd, in many Cases too tedious to reckon up. And you can't have any thing done to an old pair of Clothes, but you shall find an Item for it in a Taylor's Bill. Then follows the contesting the Suit. By this time the Defendant is called upon to put in his Answer; and unless he confess the Fact, either in part, or in the whole, as 'tis laid, and so casts himself on the Mercy of the Court, which is contesting Suit Affirmatively, he must protest by his Proctor against the generality, ineptitude, obscurity, or undue specification of the Libel, and that the things contained in it are not true, and therefore what is contained in it ought not to be granted: And this is contesting Negatively.

Then the Plaintiff alledges, that his Libel is in Articles, and he desires the Judg may repeat it in full Force of the Positions and Articles, which accordingly is done, and the Libel admitted with a Salvo Jure Impertinentium & non admittendorum, &c. On this the Plaintiff desires an Answer to the Positions of this Libel; where­upon the Defendants Proctor replies, He don't believe the Positi­ons to be true. Then the Plaintiff, by his Advocate, desires the Defendant may be decreed to be cited to answer Personally to the Positions of the Libel, before the Judg, or some Commissioners. The Defendant's Proctor dissents from this, and requests a Term to be assign'd to prove the Libel. And here both sides may squabble and brawl about it, but it must be by their Seconds (the Officers I mean) in Mood and Figure, about the time, that 'tis too short, or too long; and either of them for that reason may appeal.

The Suit being contested, from Words the Proctors fall to Oaths, [Page 29] and either Side may lend his client a Swear; the one, that he be­lieves the Contents of the Libel are faithfully propounded; the other, that he will give a faithful Answer. Then the two Principals must take the Oaths of Calumny, the general one, and this is taken but once, and that either here, or in any part of the Proceedings; and the particular one, called the Oath of Malice, to this purpose, that both of them believe their Cause to be good, that they will manage it honestly, and not protract the Suit, and give no Bribes, only the Fees are excepted to such Persons to whom the Laws and Canons do allow them. After this, their Proctors help them to keep these Oaths by staving off the Business, upon im­pertinent Quirks, for six Court-days, nay sometimes for two or three Terms; so that, saith our Author, Men complain exceed­ingly of these Abuses,Conset. p. 92. that they never knew any End of their Bu­siness after it comes into these Courts.

Well, the Citation, though long first, at last is gotten out for the Defendant to appear and answer the Libel before the Judg, or the Commissioners; which Commission must be certified into Court that it hath been executed, and is sometimes paid for jointly, sometimes by one of the Parties only. The Defendant then puts in his Answer, which is either Categorical, Hypothetical, Modal, affirming or denying, finitely or infinitely; True, neces­sarily or contingently; False, or in equipollent Terms. Then the Defendant appearing Personally, is sworn to make a faithful An­swer to the Positions of the Libel, only his Proctor protests he don't intend to answer to any Criminal or Captious Position; or if he do, it shall be accounted Null. The next Court-day he is ordered to appear to be examin'd. But it may be he hath an­swered too little, and then he is summon'd again to answer more fully; it may be too much, and then his Proctor may sub­duct and revoke it.

When this is settled, If the Witnesses won't come voluntari­ly on an offer of bearing their Charges, then come Letters Com­pulsory for them to appear before the Judg, or Commissioners; and a Commission is then granted to hear their Depositions with­in the Term Probatory. These Letters are returned into the Court, and it may be the Witnesses can't be found, none of them, or but some of them do appear, and the Absenters are to be excommuni­cated; and this is often contriv'd on purpose, that hereby the Term Probatory may be prorogued, and so the Suit may be protracted, and the Charges encreased.

The Witnesses at last being got all together before the Judg, they are sworn; Then the Proctor protests against them, and any thing they shall say against the intention of his Client, and de­sires a Day to be assigned for propounding Interrogatories, which are to be given in by him into the Hands of the Register, or Ex­aminer. Then the Witnesses are privately examined, their De­positions put into writing by the Register, and signed by the Wit­nesses, and after repeated before the Judg, who examins them, Whether on their Oath it be all right and true? and whether they would have any thing altered? But their Positions are taken in Latine, because we suppose that's a Language that is like the Ʋni­versal Character, which all, even the Country Jobbers themselves do understand.

Now after this it may be, the Proctor on one side objects, that the Witnesses han't answered to some Interrogatories which they ought to do, or not fully, but he on t'other side gives him the Lie, and so a Day is appointed for the Judg to enquire into this.

It may be the Witnesses are to be produced, not before the Judg, but the Commissioners; and then there's more ado in that Case than in this, which, to avoid tediousness, we omit.

For the same Reason we shall (though we are yet come hardly half way) proceed no further, nor speak particularly to the pub­lishing the Depositions of the Witnesses, producing more Witnes­ses, Exceptions which are numerous, and Replications which are as many, and answer the other, just as one Tally doth another; nor of Duplications and Triplications, and Quadruplications. For by all these ways is the Cause bang'd about between the Par­ties, and beaten to and fro like a Shittle-cock between two Battle­dores. Nor of dead Proofs, which are Instruments, either Pub­lick or Private, and both of them of many sorts. Nor of the Assignation of the Term to hear Sentence, nor of the Suppletory Oath, given sometimes to one side, sometimes to t'other, to supply and piece out the defect of Proof.

Besides and after all this, there's another long pair of Stairs, and 'tis the Third in order, that would break a Man's wind to get up, and that is, the giving of Sentence. And then when you think the matter is issued and ended, all is undone again by an Appeal, which if we should fully speak of, there are so many deep steps that we should be utterly tired, as to be sure the Plaintiffs [Page 31] and Defendants have been long ere this, by being carried up, and led down so many dark and winding Stairs in these enchanted Castles.

From what hath been offer'd, we plainly see, there's no difficul­ty in believing that to be a very great Truth that Dr. Burnet tells us, of Bp Bedel'sBp Bedel's Life, pag. 89. observation, That the Officers of his Spiritual Court drew People into trouble by vexatious Suits, and held them so long in it, that for three penny-worth of the Tithe of Turf, they would be put to five pounds Charges.

We have only one thing to add on this Head, and we leave it, That one half of the manner of their Proceedings hath not been told in Plenary Causes; and though many cramp Words have been used by us in what we have written, they are the pro­per Terms of Art; and there's a very large Vocabulary of them, necessary to be mention'd by us, if we should tell out the remain­der of this Tale; which we forbear, lest Men should think we have a Design upon them to send them to him whom the Officers of this Court deal so much with, and to whom Hermolaus Barba­rus was fain to resort to understand the meaning of [...].

4. We should proceed to the Things that ensue upon Excom­munication. And here it were easy to be very large in discour­sing on the Significavit into the Court of Chancery in the Bishop's name, that the Person hath stood excommunicate forty Days, for the getting a Writ, de Excommunicato capiendo, that he may be sent to Prison. Of the forfeitures of ten Pounds on every Capias; afterwards for not yielding ones self up a Prisoner on the Procla­mation of the Capias's. It is a liberty peculiar to the Ch. of England,Dr. Consin' [...] Apology, p. 8, 9, 10. (saith the learned Advocate of these Courts) above all the Realms in Christendom that I read of, that if a Man stand wilfully forty days together Excommunicate, and be accordingly certified by the Bishop into the Chancery, that then he is to be committed to Prison without Bail or Main-prise; quòd potestas regia Sacrosanctae Ecclesiae in suis querelis deesse non debet, because the Royal Power ought not to be wanting to Holy Church in her Quarrels. Yet we must confess we don't see how this can be justified, unless that Axiom be own'd for truth, that Dominion is founded in Grace; and when a Man is made as a Publican and Heathen, he loses all his Civil Rights.

We might further speak of the several ways of Absolution from this Sentence, and that upon several little mistakes in the Form of [Page 32] Proceedings, and by Orders sent down from Civil Courts. For when a Man is fast bound one would think, there are many of these ways of unloosing him; as we have seen Children, that by the dextrous pulling of the right String, have immediately whipt off the Pack-thread from another's thumbs in a most surprizing manner.

Bp. Bedel's Life, p. 89.We might further speak also of the commuting of Penance for Money, ‘Which, as Dr. Burnet well saith, is the worst sort of Si­mony, being in effect the very same abuse that gave the World such a Scandal, when it was so indecently practised in the Church of Rome, and open'd the way to the Reformation. For the selling of Indulgences is really but a commutation of Penance.’ Of this that good Bp Bedel had so many, and such notorious In­stances in his Diocess, that be bitterly bewail'd it, and to which he was able to reply nothing but that he had read in Mantuan of ano­ther place in the World, (Rome he means) where Heaven and God himself were set to sale. Id. p. 90.

Now from that little that hath been said, we may see how tru­ly he spoke,Id. p. 93. when he said that a plain and simple thing is by these Men made very intricate. And that amongst all the Impediments to the Work of God among us, Id. p. 103. there is not any one greater than the A­buse of Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. This is not only the Opinion of the most Godly, Judicious, Learned Men, that I have known, but the cause of it is plain.

Blessed Iesu! who alone works great Marvels, send down thy Spirit on our Bishops, that they may boldly whip these Buyers ond Sellers out of thy Tem­ple, that sit there only to dishonour thy Name, and spunge on thy People, and turn thy House of Disci­pline into a Den of Thieves. Amen.

And we beseech God to encline their Hearts, and those of our Governours to do it, and not to suffer these Lay-Chancellors to meddle but in Civil Causes only, and there to endeavour to regu­late their enormous Abuses; and in the Lord Bacon's Words, ‘That in lieu of Excommunication,Consid. p. 21, 22. there be given to them some ordinary Process with such Force and Coercion as appertaineth, and that this Censure be restored to the true Dignity and Use thereof, which is, that it proceed not but in cases of great Weight, and that it be decreed not by any Deputy or Substitute, but by [Page 33] the Bishop in Person, and not by him alone, but assisted by some others of his grave Clergy, according to the excellent Model of that incomparably learned and pious A B. Ʋsher.

Then will Discipline recover its ancient Vigour and Splendor; then will Sinners no longer slight this Spiritual Sword in the Church, as Atheists do God's fiery flaming one that sometimes appears in the Heavens, as if it were a meer Meteor hanging in the Air, and made of fiery Vapors only; but will find 'tis a solid substantial thing, hath a real Point and a sharp Edg piercing into the very Depths of the Soul, and that it needs not corporal Penalties to set one upon it to that end.

Of removing scandalous Ministers.

AND sure none that regard the Glory of Almighty God, or the Honour of our Church, or the Reputation of our Cler­gy themselves, can ever oppose so reasonable a Motion as this; for nothing has more exposed our Holy Religion to Contempt, or encouraged the Laity in their Vices, or sunk the Credit of our Clergy (not to say, of our Church it self) than the scandalous Lives of some of that Function; and since Examples have a more powerful Influence on the People than meer Precepts; 'tis no Wonder that the Lives of flagitious Clergy-men bring in more Proselytes to Wickedness and Vice, than ever their preaching will make Votaries to Religion and Vertue; for how should the best Advices and Counsel they can deliver from the Pulpit, make any great Impression on their Hearers, which they never follow them­ [...]elves when out of it? They may long enough commend Vertue, and declaim against Vice, and urge what they say with Argu­ments drawn from the Rewards and Punishments of another World; but how should the People believe them, when they do [...]ot live as if they believed themselves? And while so many of [...]ur Clergy make no great Scruple of Conscience to drink and whore, and swear and game, and droll on the Bible, and pro­ [...]ane the Sunday, and neglect the most important Duties of their [...]astoral Charge; 'tis no Wonder if the Laity think themselves [...]thorized to take the same Liberty which they see used by those whom they look on not only as their Instructors, but their Pat­ [...]erns too. It was a just Observation of the late E. of Rochester, [...]hat that one particular Vice, viz. the base Arts of some Cler­gy-men [Page 34] in aspiring to the high Preferments of the Church, had possess'd many of the best Quality in the Nation with that wretched Idea of Religion that greatly disposed them to Atheism: For they look'd on that sacred Profession, as a Holy Cheat, a Trade of talking well, and living ill. 'Tis high time then to redress this Cor­ruption, to rid our Pulpits and our Altars of such as stain them with their profane Breath and unhallowed Hands,1 Sam. 2.17. and like the wicked Sons of Eli, make the very Offerings of the Lord to be abhorr'd. And we are sure our Church may as well spare them as a beautiful Face may those Blotches and Scabs that serve only to disfigure it. And yet in all the Book of Canons, we find not one that expresly orders the deposing a scandalous Clergy-man. There is indeed a Canon against such Ministers as omit the use of any Form of Prayer,Can. 38. or any Rite or Ceremony whatever prescrib'd in the Service-Book, to suspend them for the first Fault; if they persist a Month in it, to excommunicate them; if another to de­pose them;Can. 54. and another, to make void the Licenses of all such Ministers as refuse to conform to the Laws, Institutes, and Rites of our Church. So that we cannot blame her for not taking sufficient Care to purge out of all her Sons, that scandalous Sin of Non-Conformity.Can. 68. For there's another Canon to seclude from the Ministry for three Months, every Minister that shall refuse to bap­tize any Child that's brought to him (be the Parents Christian, Mahometan, or Pagan) or bury any (except the Excommuni­cate, &c.) according to the form prescribed in the Liturgy. A­nother Canon forbids Ministers either to appoint or keep Fasts ei­ther in publick or Private Houses,Can. 72. without the Leave of the Bishop, threatning them with Suspension for the first time, Excommuni­cation for the second, and Deposition for the third. A Canon which we think might very well be spared: For People need very little to be disswaded from that sort of Mortification; and the Mi­nisters will be very loth to attempt it, when they are obliged to double Pennance, to go on Pilgrimage to the Bishop one Day, and fast the next.Can. 73. Another Canon there is against all Meetings or Clubs of the Clergy to plot any thing against the Doctrine of the Church, or to the Prejudice of the Common-Prayer-Book, threat­ning them with Excommunication. A very provident Canon indeed, that seems to have been made by a Spirit of Prophecy against Smectymnuus and the Latitudinarians: And 'tis very probable those of our Clergy who were so f [...]ll of Indignation against the [Page 35] late Commissioners, mistook them for such a plotting Conventicle. We need not insist on the 74th Canon which prescribes the Clergy their several Habits, and very prudently cautions them against wearing light-coloured Stockings, and charitably allows short Gowns to the poor Curates that have not Mony to buy long ones. But setting aside these hainous Crimes; we find only this one Ca­non against other Immoralities. viz. 75. No Ecclesiastical Persons shall at any time other than for their honest Necessities resort to any Taverns or Ale-houses, neither shall they board or lodg in any such Places: Furthermore they shall not give themselves to any base or servile Labour, or to drinking or Riot, spending their time idly by Day or by Night, playing at Dice, Cards, or Tables, or any other unlawful Game. But at all times convenient they shall hear or read somewhat of the Holy Scriptur [...]s, or shall occupy themselves with some other honest Study or Exercise, always doing the things that shall appertain to Honesty, and endeavouring to profit the Church of God, having always in Mind that they ought to excel all others in Purity of Life, and should be Examples to the People to live well and Christianly, under Pain of Ecclesiastical Censures to be inflicted with Severity according to the Qualities of their Offences.

This Canon indeed speaks something to the Purpose, and yet we would beg leave to suggest two things relating to it.

1. We suppose this Canon only threatens the scandalous Clergy with Excommunication; for it does not as the 38, 72, &c. threaten them with Deposition on their persisting incorrigible. Whereas that too is highly necessary, there being all the Reason in the World that obstinate Non-Conformity to the Laws of God, should at least be equally punish'd with stubborn Nonconformity to the Laws of the Church; for it would look but very odd to treat a Minister more severely for omitting a Collect in the Service-Book, or keeping a private Fast, than for being drunk, or lying with his Neighbour's Wife.

2. We wish that this good Canon it self, may not stand for a Cypher for want of Execution. And yet hitherto all the good Effects that might have been expected from it to free our Churches from such leprous and unclean Priests, have been in a great Mea­sure frustrated. For we do not see that one in twenty, of such whose notorious Vices make too publick a noise to be unobserved, was ever excommunicated, much less deposed for them. We speak within Compass, and heartily lament the intolerable Mischiefs that from this fatal Source overflow our Church. And therefore we would [Page 36] humbly recommend it to the Wisdom of the Convocation, to take the most effectual Methods for the obviating of them, and (if it might be no Offence) would take the Liberty to suggest that if the Rural Deaneries in Arch-bishop Ʋsher's Model were restored, they might first receive Complaints against such, and suspend them till the Matter come before the Diocesan Synod. Were this done, and were all our Clergy such excellent Ornaments of their Pro­fession, as (God be thanked) a great many of them are, the Dissenters would not so easil [...] gain ground upon us, as they have hitherto done by the pretended Strictness of Life in their Ministers, and their great Laboriousness in the Duties of their Function.

Of the Reformation of Manners both in Ministers and People.

IN the Ministers.] What relates to such as are chargeable with scandalous Immoralities was considered under the former Head; but under this Head, we would humbly recommend to the present Convocation, the reforming two very gross Corruptions retained in our Church, notwithstanding all the loud Complaints that have been made against them, Pluralities and Non-Residence, two Diseases that have hitherto defied all Remedies, and have been rather che­rish'd by our spiritual Physicians, than any thing effectual attempted towards the Cure of them; and no wonder when many of the same Men were the Patients that should have been the Physicians; so hard it is to redress these grand Evils in a Synod where the greatest Pluralists and Non-Residents do commonly make up the major Vote; and yet these are so notorious Ble­mishes in a Church, that even the Council of Trent could not for very Shame but take notice of them. And the Truth is, though they have in their best Decrees of Reformation left a Hole to creep out by Virtue of Dispensations, yet their Canons are far more strict than ours: for in their Decree of Refor­mation, Sess. the 7th. cap. 2d. they forbid any Prelate, having more Metro­politan or Cathedral Churches than one in Commendam, accounting him happy that can govern one well. And cap. 3d. They enjoyn the Collation of infe­riour Ecclesiastical Benefices that have Cure of Souls, on worthy and able Per­sons who may reside on the Place, and take care of the Flock themselves; and by the 3. deprive that Clergy-man of all his Benefices that retains more than one, whether by way of Union for Life, or perpetual Commendam, or any other Title, &c. only all these good Canons are spoiled, and by the wretched Art of Dispensations made only a more subtle Trick of drawing Money into the Pockets of those that grant them. And Sess. 23d. cap. 1. Their Decree of Reformation against Non-Residents begins thus: Since all to whom the care of Souls is committed, are enjoyned by Divine Precept to know their Sheep, to offer Sacrifice for them, and to feed them with the Preaching of the Word of God, the Administration of Sacraments, and the Example of their good Works, to take a Fatherly Care of the Poor and all other miserable People, and discharge other pastoral Duties, all which can never be performed by those that do not watch over and assist their Flock, but like Hirelings forsake them, &c. See also Sess. 6. Cap. 1st, and 2d. and what they say is far more applicable to Parish-Churches than to Metropolitan or Cathedral.

But to return to our own Church: For Pluralities I find only this one Canon bout them, viz. 41.

No License or Dispensation for the keeping of more Benefices with Cure than one, [...]hall be granted to any, but such only as shall be thought very well worthy for his Learning, and very well able and sufficient to discharge his Duty, i. e. Who shall [...]ave taken his Degree of a Master of Arts at least, in one of the Ʋniversities of [...]is Realm, and be a publick and sufficient Preacher lice [...]c'd; Provided always that he be, by a good and suffi [...]i nt Caution, bound to make his personal Residence [...] of his said Benefices, for some reasonable time in every Year; and that the [...]id Benefices be not more than 30 Miles distant a su [...]der. And lastly, That he have [...]der him, in the Benefice where he does not reside, a Preacher lawfully allow'd, t [...]at's able sufficiently to teach and instruct the People.

A Canon that rather approves and strengthens, than corrects so shameful an Abuse. For what restraint can it be imagin'd to lay upon it? A Man needs to higher Qualifications to capacitate him for being a Pluralist, than that [...]e be a Master of Arts, and a lawfully approved Preacher. Here are no Bounds set to the Num [...]er of the Benefices he may enjoy, but that they [...]hould not stand above 30 Miles from one another; so that a Man may enjoy the same Number of Benefices, provided he can bring them within that com­ [...]ass of Miles. And I wish that the Avarice of some could be held within [...]hose wide Bounds too.

Nor is the reasonable Time in which he must reside yearly in every one of [...]em determin'd, but left to his own discretion.

And now what Apology can be made for so unreasonable a practice? Let [...]s suppose a Pluralist to engross four or five good Livings to his own Share. [...]he best Restriction laid on him by this Canon is, That he keep in every living, where he resides not, an approved Preacher that may profitably each and instruct the P [...]ople But if these four Preache [...]s that supply his [...]ace in four of the Parishes, be Men of those Abilities that fit them for [...]scharging all the Duties of their Function to the People, what tolerable [...]eason can be given why they should not enioy all the encouragement to [...]eir Labour which the Parish-Tyths were design'd to give them? Why [...]ould the main part of the Profits of four Parishes be swept away by an [...]e Drone of a Pluralist, that saunters about in his Coach, and swims in [...]xury and Ease, but never took the least care of them, unless perhaps [...]ce in a Year to give them a kind of Visitation-Sermon; while the poor Ministers that reside among them, and bestow all their pains and time upon [...]em, scarce earn their Bread with the sweat of their Brows, but struggle [...]der those Discouragements of a stingy Allowance that starve their Parts, [...]d sink their Spirits, and too often put them on doing those things which [...]nder them mean and contemptible. For by that time a poor Curate has pro­ [...]ded Bread for his Family, and perhaps a Gown and Cassock for himself, [...]t of his 20 or 30 l. per. Annum, he'l find very little left for the encrease of [...]s slender Library, and much less for those Works of Charity, whereby he [...]ould keep up that Esteem and Interest in the Hearts of the People, that's [...] highly conducive to the success of his Instructions upon them. So that [...]hile the Number of Pluralists is so great, and their Covetousness far grea­ [...]r, it cannot be expected where the Salary they allow is so despicable, that [...]ey should ever provide for some of their Cures any better Priests than [...]hose of Jeroboam, made of the meanest of the People; such as may thank God that our Church has furnished them with a Liturgy, and some of our [...]earned Clergy with Sermons for every Sunday of the Year. And what [Page 38] Account will such mercenary Pastors (as the Council of Trent it self calls them) give to the universal Bishop and Shepherd of those Flocks whom they have starv'd to fill their own Purses? Or whence can the greedy Hu­mour of heaping up so many Steeples spring, but from that wretched insa­tiable Love of Mony, which is so unbecoming a Clergy-man, who pretends a Concern for the Salvation of Souls, and therefore should not gratify his filthy Lucre at the price of their Blood?

We are so far from speaking this, as grudging the Clergy the just En­couragement of their Labours, that if a more fair and just distribution of the legal Maintenance would not sufficiently provide for all, we should think it worthy the pious Zeal of his Majesty, and the Parliament, to find out way [...] of supplying that Defect. But in the mean time, as the Difference of the Value of Benefices will have room enough to reward the different Abili­ties of the Clergy, so we cannot but regret it, that the greatest Load of excessive Preferments is usually heapt, not on those that deserve, but on those that seek them. The importunate Ambition of the latter putting them on those base Methods to compass their Design, which the Probity, as well as the Modesty, of the former debar them from.

Having said so much about Pluralities, we shall be more brief on the o­ther Head of Non-residence. We shall not insist on the 42, 43, 44. Canons which relate to the Deans, Prebends and Canons in the several Cathedrals and Collegiate Churches, because those concern the Clergy more than us. Only we cannot but commend the great Care of our Church in its injunction to the Deans, who must providently see that the Petty-Canons, Vicars-choral, and other Ministers of the Church, have a Latin as well as English Testament. We suppose this Caution was, lest the lazy Fellows should for­get all they had learned at School; and Greek, it seems is as little expect­ed from them as Syriack or Arabick.

The 45 enjoyns the Resident Clergy one Sermon every Sunday, when they have not just Impediment. The 46 and 47 runs thus.

46, Every Beneficed Man, not allow'd to be a Preacher, shall procure Sermons to be preach'd in his Cure once in every Month at the least, by Preachers lawfully licens'd, if his Living in the Judgment of the Ordinary will be able to bear it. And upon e­very Sunday when there shall not be a Sermon preach'd in his Cure, he, or his Cu­rate, shall read some one of the Homilies prescrib'd, or to be prescrib'd by Authority, to the Intents aforesaid.

47, Every Benefic'd Man licens'd by the Laws of this Realm, upon urgent oc­casions of other Service not to reside upon his Benefice, shall cause his Cure to be sup­plied by a Curat, that is a sufficient and licens'd Preacher, if the Worth of the Bene­fice will bear it. But whoever has two Benefices, shall maintain a Preacher licens'd in the Benefice where he does not reside, except he preach himself at both of them usually.

These Canons, especially the former, do so evidently expose themselves, that they save us the labour of any long Remarks upon them. We cannot but think it strange, that a Man may be the Incumbent of a Cure, and conse­quently enjoy both the Name and the Revenues of a Minister to that People, who is not so much as licens'd to preach; nay, is so meer a Lay-man, that ac­cording to Can. 49. he must not take on him to expound, in his own Cure, or elsewhere, any Scripture or Matter of Doctrine: and the highest Priviledg allow'd him is, That he study to read plainly and aptly, (without glozing or adding) the Homilies already set forth, &c. I perceive there may be Ignoramus Mini­sters, [Page 39] as well as Lawyers or Jury-men; and if our Church do not wrong them, by the severe restraints this Canon lays on them, they are more fit to be sent to School to con their Lesson, than into the Pulpit to instruct the People. But though we cannot admire the Wisdom of our Church in allowing such Men Benefices, yet we must acknowledg her great Charity towards them and their Curats, in providing so good a help as the Book of Homili [...]s, for those whose Eyes are the only considerable Talents that God almighty has thought fit to bless them withal.

We shall add no more under this Head, but that we wish the Simoniacal Oath, were strong enough to keep out all secret Arts of purchasing Prefer­ments. And we think it highly adviseable, that according to Arch-Bishop Ʋsher's model, Artic. 2d. in every Rural Deanery, the Ministers of particu­lar Parishes might be censurable for Errors, or gross negligence in their Of­fice, &c. with Liberty of Appeals to a Diocesan Synod if need be.

But that the Clergy may not think us in these two Articles too severe on them, and partial to our selves, we shall propose it to the Wisdom of this Convocation, Whether the Power of Patrons in presenting to Livings, should not be so far restrain'd, as not to impose a Minister on any Parish, without their own consent? The very Learned Bishop of Salisbury, in his Regalia, as well as others, hath made it undeniably evident, that this was the practice of the Universal Church for 600, if not 1000 Years after our Saviour's Time. And therefore tho we would have so much regard paid to the Charity of our Ancestors, as not to exclude Patrons from a Privilege enjoy'd on that score by so long Prescription, yet we could be heartily glad that 'twere rendred con­sistent with this Ancient Privilege of the People too, that the Primitive Pra­ctice in this Particular might be reviv'd. If indeed the Parson alone were to be sav'd or damn'd, not only for himself but his Parishioners too, 'twere no great matter to the People who he be; but if they must answer for their own Souls, 'tis but reasonable they should be satisfied whom they trust with the conduct of them.

And how liberally soever Patrons have endow'd any Churches, 'twere but a hard Bargain they make with the People, to require them, by implicit Faith, to acquiesce in whatever Ministers they or their Heirs shall ever recommend to them.

Nay, some would not have Patrons impose on our Clergy, any more than on the People. There are several secret ways of purchasing a Benefice, which some Patrons oblige the Clergy to, without making a down-right Bargain: And we would not have so much as the courting an Abigal to be the price of it.

Of Reforming Manners in the People.

LEST the Fear and Apprehension into which the words Alteration and Re­view have cast the Author of Vox Cl [...]ri, should be fatal to him, we shall now labour to recover him, by assuring him, that there are some of the old Canons we desire may be reinforc'd, and that the Subjects to which they relate may be considered and examined, viz. Such as order the Censures of the Church to be inflicted upon all Persons notoriously wicked, that they may be hindred from coming to the blessed Sacrament with such Frequency, and in such Numbers as they now ordinarily do; particularly Can. 26. which runs thus. No Minister shall in any wise admit to the receiving the Holy Communion any of his [Page 40] Cure or Flock, which be opennly known to live in notorious Sin, without Repentance; nor any who have maliciously and openly contended with their Neighbours, until they shall be reconciled: Nor any Church-Warden or Side-man who having taken their Oaths to present to their Ordinary all such publick Offences as they are particularly charg'd to enquire of in their several Parishes, shall (notwithstanding their said Oaths, and that their faithful Discharge of them, is the chief means whereby publick Sins and Offences may be reform'd and punish'd) wittingly and willingly, desperately and irreligi­ously incur the horrible Crime of Perjury, either in neglecting or in refusing to present such of the said Enormities and publick Offences as they knew themselves to be committed in their said Parishes, or are notoriously offensive to the Congregation there: although they be urg'd by some of their Neighbours, or the Minister, or by their Ordinary himself to dis­charge their Consciences by presenting them, and not to incur so desperately the said horri­ble Sin of Perjury. We do now humbly request that according to this Canon some effectual Provision may be made to hinder all such wicked Persons from our Communion, which are a Scandal and Reproach to any Church, much more to ours. That the Matter may be seriously debated and weighed, and whether more proper Methods than those hitherto resolv'd on may not be found out and settled. For to speak on the behalf of the Laity, as the impo­sing such a Task on us or the Church-Wardens, is very hard and severe, so it hath been unsuccessful to the Purpose for which it was intended, and is likely always to prove so, though the Canon says that the Church-Wardens and Sides­mens faithful Discharge of their Oaths in presenting Offenders to the Ordinary, is the chief means whereby Publick Sins and Offences may be reform'd and punished. For it cannot be probably expected that they should discharge this Office with that Fidelity and Care which is requisite in a Business of such Im­portance: If we consider either the manner of their present choice, the Multiplicity of secular Affairs in which they are unavoidably ingag'd, the Temptations to which they may be exposed either by Neighbourhood, Ac­quaintance, Friendship, or Dependance upon others; and not to mention the small Reverence which is paid to Oaths by the Generality of Persons in this dissolute Age, which ought to be considered; nor the Tricks of waving the taking them, which the Corruption of our Spiritual Courts hath supplied us with; it cannot be imagin'd but that while Men are called to this Office by turns, and the worst as well as the best Parishioners are chosen to it, and while Men are govern'd by their worldly Interest, either no Presentations at all should be made, or those that are should be Omnia B [...]ne. Besides, should these Lay-Officers be Persons of Sobriety and Integrity, and out of Regard to their Oaths, the Peace of their own Consciences, and the good Comfort of their Christian Neighbours, make exact and just Presentations, yet according to our present Constitution they are bound to carry them into the Spiritual Courts; and what becomes of them when they are lodg'd there, all the World knows; instead of imposing suitable Penances, Money shall be extorted by a Body of Men who have already shew'd us, that they can set Indulgences to sale, and that they are willing Men should ruin their own Souls, and go very quietly to Hell provided they will pay them tole for their Passage. We are therefore of the opinion that the present Convocation should consider whether the Inspection into the Manners of the People should not be intrusted solely with the Ministers and Priests, and this determin'd and judg'd to be one part of the pastoral Care; whether it be not now absolutely necessary to authorize and impower all Ministers and Curates to observe the Lives of their Parishio­ners [Page 41] to admonish them privately and publickly, to pronounce the Censures of the Church, either of Suspension or Excommunication, according to their several Lives and Offences; they may be appointed to do all this in Subordination to the Bishop or the Ordinary; though we think 'tis requisite the [...] should be exempted from the Jurisdiction of the Spiritual Courts; they may [...]e still a [...] to the Bishop, and be obliged to acquaint him with the Reasons and manner of their Pro­ceedings, and be liable to be punish'd by him, if they either mis-beh [...]ve them­selves, or neglect their Duty. Let this Authority and Power be [...] sted in them in such a Subordination, and let it be declared and esteem'd as an ess [...]ntial Branch of the Pastoral Office, and in our Apprehensions it will be a more effectual way to redress this Disorder than the other. That which suggests and incourages this Pro­posal is our Communion-Rubrick, which requires all Persons that intend to com­municate, to send in their Names to the Curate, and orders him to admonish those that are unfit, that they should not presume to come. Now if this were duly ob­served, and the Curates likewise impowered to reject such as shall, notwithstand­ing their Admonition, dare to present themselves, and to pronounce either a Sen­tence of Suspension or Excommunication against them; we conceive that this will be a more proper and effectual Method to preserve our Communions pure, than that other of committing it to the Church-Wardens, who are too often careless and unconcern'd about a matter of such a Spiritual Nature, or such as deserve to fall under the Censures of the Church themselves. It will be no hard Matter for the Convocation to fix and settle this Authority and Power, that the Curates should be invested with its just Bounds and Limits; This we propose with all Humility to Persons, that by their Sagacity and Wisdom may soon find out better Ways than we are able to do. But that which we earnestly and importunately request is, that since his Majesty hath put an Opportunity into their Hands, of reviewing the old Canons and making new, that they would resolve upon some course for the pre­venting Men of the most profligate Lives and Principles from joyning themselves to our Communion, and partaking of the most Holy Sacrament; and we hope the Author of Vox Cleri and others of the same stamp, will not charge us with a De­sign of pulling down the House, since we only demand that these Spiders which have filled every Corner of it with their Cobwebs and Venome, may be swept out, and are willing th [...]t the Besom with which it is to be done should be put into the Hands of our Priests and Clergy. The Reasons of our Request are such as these.

1. Because according to the Doctrine of our Church these Persons have no Right at all to partake of the Sacrament, and to celebrate these Holy Mysteries;R [...]bri [...]k [...]. for she appoints the Curate to advertise and admo [...]ish such as these t [...]t in any w [...]s [...] th [...]y presum [...] not to come: In her Exhortation she tells us that it is to be admi [...]is [...]r [...] only to those who are devoutly and religiously disposed, and that if any who do not repent of their Sins, and live in them without Amendment, do come, the Communion does nothing else but increase their Damnati [...]: And we are told that Pers [...] th [...] live in Variance and Contention, or in any known Sin,Q. Elizab. [...]. must not be admit [...]d [...]use tis contrary to the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ: So that th [...]se 'Men are really Intruder [...], and thrust themselves as Guests to our most [...]oly Tables, contrary to the express Commands of the Church; and when we desire that they may be cast out, 'tis no way injurious or prejudicial to them, but tends to their Benefit and Advantage: 'tis [...]s charitable and just, as to snatch a Cup of Poison out of the Hands of a Mad man, who is boldly going to drink it.

2. The admitting such Persons to the Sacrament is a very high Incouragement to [Page 42] the Debauchery and Wickedness that now reigns among us: when these shall have as free an Access to this Holy Table as Persons of the highest Sobriety and Vertue, when they shall shelter themselves under our very Altars, and none have any Power or Commission to pluck them from thence, what can be expected but that Impi­ety and Profaness should overflow us as a mighty Stream? They have already learn­ed to stop the Mouths of their own Consciences and our Mouths too, when we offer to rebuke them, by saying that they are good Christians, and Members of the Church as well as we; they perswade themselves that their being of our Church here doth give them an undoubted Title to a Place among the Assembly of the First-born, and while they have such Apprehensions as these, we must expect they should in­dulge themselves in all manner of Immoralities; and now shall the Holy Sacra­ment be prostituted to countenance and incourage such fatal Presumptions as these, to strengthen the Hands of the Vile, and cause them to commit Sin with all imagi­nable Boldness and without any Remorse? Shall we turn the Cup of the Blood of Christ into the Cup of Devils, as the Apostle expresses it in 1 Cor. 10.21. not only by permitting those who offer up themselves as Sacrifices to the Devil to drink of it, but by making it as effectual to the promoting the Interest of Satan, as though he himself had really instituted it?

3. Because such a Practice as this tends to the increasing the Numbers of the Dissenting Conventicles. For though they are not without faulty Members as well as we, yet it must be confess'd that they are very careful to keep or purge out all that are openly scandalous in their Lives. We indeed excel them in our Episcopal Government, the Decency and Order of our Worship, in the Numbers of sober and learned Clergy; but in this particular we are more defective than they, there is not so much of this unhappy Leaven among them, as there is among us; so that many Persons of strict Piety, who are burden'd and griev'd with this Disorder, will be tempted to desert us and join with them; and they being not acquainted with the Distinctions of learned Men, will be more easily led into such an Error; and if a speedy Reformation be not made in this Matter, we must expect the Numbers of those who are the greatest Ornaments of our Communion, out of a pretended Concern for their Edification, will leave us. For,

4. We must now ackowledg and declare that the Admission of such as these ve­ry much hinders our Edification, and makes us take the Holy Sacrament with much less Joy and Comfort than wee might otherwise do. As we belong to a Church that not only recommends the most inlarged Charity, but is celebrated for it, so we hope we are not without some Measures of that Love to God and the Souls of Men, which she requires in all her Communicants; and being influenc'd by this we can­not with unconcern'd Eyes and Hearts behold these Men at once profane the Name of God, and eat and drink Damnation to themselves, i. e. as our Church explains it, Diseases, Death, and the Wine of God's Wrath.

Exhort. bef. the Commun.'Tis with a great and sincere Sorrow that we observe Persons guilty of the highest Impurities allowed to come to the Holy Communion, who ought to be driven from it. Our Peace and Benefit would be much greater in our Approaches to it, if we did not find there some who but a few Hours before were venturing their Lives in the Quarrel of a Strumpet; others who spent the last Night in Revelling and Drun­kenness, and when they joyn themselves to us, seem to take us for a Crew of merry Companions; others that just before the Communion were belching out Oaths and Curses, and soon after the end of it will pour out whole Vollies of them again, &c. And if there were none allowed to kneel there, but such as were sober and vertu­ous, devoutly and religiously disposed. We must therefore be excused, if after so [Page 43] long a silence we take the liberty to express our Resentments in this Matter, and to declare that we do, with a very passionate Grief, see the Holy Bread and Wine touch'd by such polluted Hands, and unhallowed Mouths, especially when we sear and expect, that after the taking of these, (according to the Threatning denoun­ced by our Church) The Devil should enter into them as he did into Judas, to fill them full of all Iniquities, and bring them to destruction, both of Body and Soul; Exhort. be­fore the Communion. And we would add, that while we have a warm and zealous regard to the Honour of God Almighty and his Sacraments, and the Good of others, we shall have the same sense and apprehensions.

But to conclude this Subject, that our present Convocation may be stirred up to a more vigorous Zeal and Diligence in the framing new Penitentiary Canons, or reforming the Old, we would with all modesty and submission remind our Fathers and Guides, now assembled, of the Promises they made at their several Ordina­tions, and of the solemn Charge they received from our Church; which is in these words; Wherefore consider with your selves the End of your Ministry towards the Chil­dren of God, towards the Spouse and Body of Christ, Form of ordering of Priests. Sparrow. p. 125. and see that you never cease your La­bour, your Care and Diligence, until you have done all that lieth in you, according to your bounden Duty, to bring all such as are, or shall be committed to your Charge, unto that agreement in Faith and Knowledg of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of Age in Christ, that there be no place left among you, either of Error in Religion, or for viciousness of Life. And since we shall not entertain a suspicion of their readiness to discharge their Offices with the utmost fidelity, of their willingness to pay a chearful Obe­dience to the Commands of our common Mother, we will not question their gra­tifying our Desires in this Particular.

Of the Examination of such Persons as desire to be admitted into Holy Orders, both as to their Learning and Manners.

'TIs the unhappy neglect of this, has not only over-stock'd our Church with a shoal of supernumerary Clergy, but given too many the opportunity of crouding in­to Holy Orders, whom their Parents only thrust on the Service of the Church, because they know not how to dispose otherwise of them, And yet it must be own'd, that the Canons of our Church are not altogether chargeable with this Neglect: For the 35th Canon enjoins the Bishop, before he admits any Person into Holy Or­ders, to examine him, in the presence of those Ministers that shall assist him in the Imposition of Hands; or at least take care that the foresaid Ministers examine him if he have any lawful Impediment. We could heartily wish the Bishop might accordingly do it more con­stantly himself, in the presence of such as assist at the Ordination, and not leave it so generally to the Arch-Deacon, or one of his Chaplains. And 'twere highly ad­viseable that the particular Trials which every Candidate for Sacred Orders must pass, in order to give a good Specimen of his Proficiency in Humane Learning, and especially in the study of Divinity, were prescrib'd. For it can by no means be thought a sufficient Evidence of a Man's being qualified for that Sacred Function, that he can construe a piece of the Latin Testament; and resolve that grand Question of Quot sunt Symbola? &c. The admirable care of many Foreign Churches, particularly the Reformed Churches in France, about the admission of their Proposants, is a very commendable Pattern. And even in this Point, the Directo­ry (how idle a Book soever it may be in other things) has the advantage of any thing prescrib'd in this Canon, which is too làx and general. And we would surther offer it to consideration, Whether what the 34th Canon enjoins in the Case of a Bishop's ordaining a Man that is not of his own Diocess, should not hold also in his [Page 44] ordaining those that are? viz. That he ordain no Person but such as shall exhibit Letters Tes [...]im [...]nial of his good Life and Conversation, under the Seal of some Colledg in Cambridg or Oxford, where before he remain'd; or of three or four grave Ministers, toge­the [...] with the Subscription and Testimony of other credible Persons, who have known his Life and Behaviour by the s [...]c [...] of three [...]ears next before.


HAving thus pas [...]'d thro' the several Heads mention'd in his Majesties Commis­sion, and wit [...] the s [...]me [...]sign, viz. for the advancing the Honour and Service of Almighty God, for the Good and Quiet of the Church, and for the better go­vernment of it; we do not doubt but the Proposals we have made, if attended to by the Convocati [...] will have such an Issue. And we hope we shall not be censur'd for invading the Priest's Office in what we have done. A Man needs not the indeli­ble Character to do the Offi [...]e of a Sexton, sweep the Dust and Filth out of the Church, and lash T bit's Dog out of the Sanctuary; and that is what we have de­sign'd. And if in so doing, we have chanced here and there to give som [...] late Au­thors a lick or two, they are only such as have officiously sheltred him under their Legs. For tho we will allow him to be as good a Moral Cur as his late zealous Apolo­gist can desire, and to have l [...]arned the 5th Commandment, (for, saith he,Remarks on the two Letters to the Convo­cation, p. 12. he was faithful, and loved his Master) yet we would not have the Fanaticks think, he is a Member of our Church, or that our Congregations are so thin, even on a Week­day, (when, says he, he only appears there) that we should need his Company to encrease them. We have, in our own Apprehensions, consulted the Honour and Service of Almighty God, since what we desire tends to the more pure and orderly celebrating of his Worship, to the removal of those abuses which are as provoking to him, as they are displeasing to us; and may incline him who hath hitherto, by many Mira [...]les of Mercy and Power, defended and preserv'd us, to give us yet more signal testimonies of his Favor and Bounty. And that we have aim'd at the Good and Quiet of the Church is likewise as evident; since what we propose will render her Offices less liable to the Exceptions of our Adversaries, and more profitable to us, will increase her Purity and Splendor, will add to the number of her sober and pious Members, will make her Government more con­formable to the Primitive Pattern, and establish it on more lasting and solid Foundations, and free her Children from many of the pressing Grievances they groan under. And therefore we hope that so favourable an Opportunity which his Majesty presents the Convocation with, will not be neglected, a Prince, who by his great Vertues is the Glory of our Church as well as the Head an [...] Defen­der of it, and whose excellent Wisdom and Judgment should be alone a suffi [...]ient Ar­gument to weigh with us, tho there were no other, as there are many more to induce us to make our Reformation more perfect and compleat.

To sum up [...]ll; If his Majesties Desires, and ours, be now comply'd with, the Church of England may stand and flourish as the Envy and Glory of all the Reformed Churches, impregnable to the feeble Attacks of her Enemies, and be a­dorn'd with a very great Purity and Brightness; but if they be scorn'd and de­ny'd, we may justly expect to fall under an indelible Infamy and Reproach, to have our Strength an [...] Numbers l [...]ssen'd and abated, to be crush'd by the Artifices and Designs of our strong and numerous Adversaries, and to have our Church, and all the Abus [...]s which remain in her taken away together, by some Revolution that we loo [...]ed not for.


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