A LETTER TO A Non-conformist Minister OF THE KIRK, SHEVVING The NULLITY of the PRESBYTERIAN Mission or Authority to Preach the Gospel.

LONDON, Printed for B. Tooke, at the Ship in St. Pauls Churchyard, 1677.

TO THE Reader.


IT is not now the Order or Cha­racter of our CLERGY, nor their power of Binding and Absolving Sinners, which the PEOPLE have any great re­gard for, but onely [Page] our Lungs and facul­ties of PREACHING: hence it comes to pass, that by this curiosity after Preaching, the People are betray'd to the cozenage of e­very new Light and Impostor in Religi­on, who is commonly a zealous and eloquent Preacher, and so pro­found a Dissembler, that we are not other­wise [Page] able to detect him, but by enquiring into his Mission.

A LETTER TO A Non-conformist Minister OF THE KIRK, Shewing the NULLITY of the Presbyterian Mission and Authority to PREACH the GOSPEL.


I Should be very much oblig'd to receive a Satisfa­ction [Page 2] from you, wch I could never give my self concerning the Validity of your Presbyterian Missi­on: I conceive it to be the most material thing in difference between us; and that it ought to be consi­dered in the first place, there being no Imposture like that of assuming to be [Page 3] Preachers of the Go­spel without lawful Authority. I shall here trouble you with the Reasons of my dissatisfaction in this matter.

First then I must crave your pardon to look backward as far as your first Re­forming Ancestors, (from whom Pres­bytery does more im­mediately [Page 4] derive it self) Mr. Calvin in Geneva, Mr. Knox in Scotland, &c. And then permit me to ask a certain Que­stion, which hither­to none of you would do us the kindness to resolve, Who sent Them to reform the Church, or (as you phrase it) to Preach the [Page 5] Gospel? and How should they Preach except they were sent? Rom. 10. 15. which words of St. Paul seem to be a question, but are in­deed a full and pe­remptory Affirmati­on, That no Abili­ties of popular Elo­quence can qualifie any persons for Prea­chers of the Gospel, [Page 6] without external and lawful Mission.

This then I shall lay down as a Foun­dation to what I have to say, That lawful Mission is es­sential to a Preacher of the Gospel. And if so, I shall endea­vour to make evi­dent, That all your Predecessors of the Kirk (how able so­ever [Page 7] as to other qua­lifications) wanted this essential; and consequently your self who derive a Suc­cession from them.

Grant me (Sir) a little of your pa­tience, and consi­der, There are onely these Five imagina­ble AUTHORITIES from whence they could pretend to [Page 8] have received it. 1. The Spirit of God. 2ly, Them­selves or their own internal Spirit. 3ly, Or the People. 4ly, Christ and his Apo­stles. 5ly, Or the Church of Rome. Other Authority or Mission (as namely, That of the Greek Church) you will not pretend to.

[Page 9] First, From the Spirit of God. This you know to be the matter in question, and the eternal Con­troversie, and the Allegation of all Fanaticks; it will be therefore a reasona­ble demand, By what Evidences did it appeare to the World? And how shall the Contemners [Page 10] of your Gospel be left unexcusable, but by evidence of their Authority who are sent to reveal it? In the Affairs of this World, Ambassa­dors you know, must not want their Cre­dentials; how much less the Ambassadors of Religion? Doubt­less that of your An­cestors must needs [Page 11] have been an Em­bassie extraordinary, being to Reform the World, over­run (in their sense) with Idolatry and Superstition.

To this you an­swer, That the pow­erful gifts and san­ctity of those per­sons were sufficient Evidences of their being Inspir'd by the [Page 12] Spirit of God; and that the Conversion of many Thousands from Superstition to Godliness was an un­doubted Seal to their Ministry. This is the Answer of all Dissen­ters and Parties of what Name soever, Anabaptists, Behe­mists, &c. That they easily converted ma­ny Thousands no [Page 13] body denies; but whether from Super­stition to Godliness, or onely to pride, censoriousness, and contempt of all Au­thority, is the great Controversie. Nay, was it never made a Note, of a man con­verted, (as the ex­cellent Friendly De­bate observes) That though he have a [Page 14] great many Faults, yet he is wrought to an Antipathy to Bishops, Common Prayer and Surplice? And as to your self, I might appeal to your Conscience, whether you esteem any man a right Convert, that is a FRIEND to these Things. As to those powerful Gifts you [Page 15] speak of, you do not mean any thing that is miraculous, or that other Sects will not as soon pretend to: And truly as for the Sanctity of your whole Party, observable is the Confession of Mr. Calvin himself, in his Comment on the Thirty fourth Verse of the Eleventh [Page 16] Chapter of Daniel; and I promise you not to injure him in the Quotation, Sed in illorum exiguo nu­mero qui sese ab Ido­lolatriis Papatus sub­duxerunt, major pars plena est perfidia & dolis: praeclarum qui­dem zelum simulant; sed si intus excutias, reperies plenos esse fraudibus. Of that [Page 25] small number of per­sons (saith he) who profess the pure Gos­pel, the greater part is full of perfidious­ness and deceit; they pretend an excel­lent Zeal, but if you inspect them narrow­ly, you shall finde them abounding wth Frauds.

Secondly, Them­selves, or their own [Page 26] internal Spirit. It is absurd; for so all men may become Preachers of the Go­spel, that will assume the confidence.

Thirdly, the Peo­ple. Let us allow this Authority for good: and then, I pray, will not Socinians, Anabaptists, Behe­mists, Fifth Monar­chy-men (and who [Page 27] not) enter in at this Door, and plead their Call by the People to Reform the Presbyterians? be pleas'd to tell us what People do you mean? If those of your own Opinion, they will not in some places amount to a Fourth or Fifth part of the People, and must all the rest [Page 28] be debar'd from E­lecting their owne Preachers? besides, you know, it is not the Peoples Election alone that can Con­stitute a Preacher of the Gospel; it is the Mission and Ordina­tion of your Prede­cessors, that I am now enquiring after. You cannot be ig­norant concerning [Page 29] the popular Election of Ministers, that it had been disus'd ma­ny Centuries before Calvin; for the Tu­mults, Factions, and Confusions that at­tended it: the un­stable People seldom or never agreeing a­bout the Persons to be Elected; and I am sure there is no Pre­cept of Scripture In­vests [Page 30] them with any such power.

Fourthly, Or will you derive your Ministry from Christ and his Apostles? But all Dissenters proclaim their Ex­traction from the same Original: which of them shall we be­lieve? From Christ and his Apostles! Give me leave to [Page 31] ask whether im­mediately or medi­ately? Immediately you will not say; if mediately, I pray in­form us by whom? Or from whose hands did your Pu­ritan Ancestors re­ceive their Mission and Ordination?

Well, Fifthly, Some body must send them to Preach [Page 32] the Gospel: Was it the CHURCH of Rome? Yes, I have heard you say; and is not this to con­fess your selves the Emissaries of Anti­christ, that Man of Sin, the Whore of Babylon? Quid Chri­sto cum Belial? But the unhappiness of it is, that this Mission from Rome, or Ro­mane [Page 33] Bishops, will as soon Watrant the Sermons of a Popish Fryar, as those of your Predecessors. And as to your pre­tended Ordination from Rome, there is one Difficulty in it, that I confess I can­not resolve; Was it not Episcopal Ordi­nation, if any, they received from that [Page 34] Church? And was such Ordination good and valid, yea or no? If good, where­fore will you needs abolish it, as repug­nant to the Word of God? If not, what will become of your Orders? And further, I would gladly understand; are any persons sent to go and preach [Page 35] the Gospel after their own sense? If so, then he that hath re­ceived Mission from your Kirk, may when he list become an Independant or A­nabaptist Preacher, and justifie his new Doctrine by your Commission.

As for Calvin; Beza, who wrote his Life, informs us, that [Page 36] he was never Initia­ted into any Orders of the ROMANE Church; Nul­lis erat Ponti­ficiis In vita Calvini. ordinibus ini­tiatus; are Beza's words, who being his great Acquaint­ance and Successor at Geneva, could not but know it very well. I was of opi­nion, that your [Page 37] Founder Calvin had been in some Orders, until your own Be­za inform'd me to the contrary. Far­rellus also and Viret his fellow Preachers in Geneva, you will find in the same quer­po, without Orders: as for John Knoz, he was (saith Mr. Clark a Presbyterian Mini­ster, who writes his [Page 38] life) put into orders very young; that is, when he was profes­sedly of the ROMAN Catholique Religi­on, he was made Deacon or Priest of that Church, by Episco­pal Ordination: but all this while we are to seek for their Pres­byterian Mission: did John Knox receive a­ny Authority to or­dain [Page 39] other Presbyte­rians? could he con­fer a power on o­thers, which he had not received, of or­daining Ministers? to say there was ne­cessity for it, is an an­swer that will excuse also other dissenters, pleading the same necessity of their Mi­nistry; of all which, our Church is so sen­sible, [Page 40] that she will ad­mit none of your Brethren to her E­clesiastical Functions without Reordinati­on. Presbyteri & Diaconi praeter Epis­copum nihil agere pertentent, Saith the Fortieth Canon of the Apostles; a Ca­non which, if it were not Apostoli­cal, you cannot deny [Page 41] be very ancient: and do not Epiphanius and Saint Austin re­count it among the Heresies of Aerius, that he affirmd, Bishop and Presby­ter were the same thing? Aerius cum esset Bresbyter (saith Saint Austin) doluisse fertur, quod Episcopus non potuit Haeres. 53. ordinari, &c. Aerius [Page 42] being a Presbyter, resented his disap­pointment of a Bi­shoprick; and to sa­tisfie his humour of revenge, would needs assert, that they are the same office. Thus for ought I can see, your Presbyterian Ancestors had no Mission at all, or no more then other Dissenters, who all [Page 43] derive themselves from Christ and his Apostles, from the Spirit of God, &c. Sleidan a Protestant Historian reports in his Commentaries, that Luther, hearing of the multitudes as­sembled, by Thomas Muncer the famous Prophet of the Anabaptists, wrote an Epistle to the Ma­gistrates [Page 44] of Mulhusen a City in Germany, where the said Mun­cer remained, ad­vising them to re­quire of him, who sent him to Preach the Gospel? and if he answered God, that he evidence it by some sign or ex­traordinary token; otherwise that he be rejected, hoc enim [Page 45] proprium & famili­are est Deo (said Luther) ut quoties consuetam & ordina­riam viam velit im­mutari, tum volun­tatem suam aliquo signo declaret.

The same quaere, Sir, you may at your leisure do us the fa­vour to resolve in re­ference to your self.

You cannot alas! [Page 46] plead any necessity to Reform Episco­pacy, but all the other Sects will plead the same to Reform you. Nor will it re­lieve you to say, that by this Argument the Jewish Church rejected Christ and his Apostles: The case not being the same betwixt Christ and the Jewish [Page 47] Church, and between us and you. To sa­tisfie the Jews and their question, By what authority doest thou these things? Our blessed Saviour appeals to the Mi­racles which he wrought, If you be­lieve not me, believe the works which I do. Nor will it avail you to return the [Page 48] question upon our selves, who sent us to Reform the Church of Rome? This tru­ly is no answer, but a desiring us to an­swer for you. Be plkas'd to know then that the Church of England was never of your froward and uncharitable humor in relation to that Church, to Reform [Page 49] our selves (saith Mr. Hooker) is not to sever from the Church we were of before, Eccles. Pol. Lib. 3. Sect. 1. We are very sensible of their Errors, and yet we confess with St. Austin, there is no just necessity to di­vide the Unity of the Catholick Church; because Separations [Page 50] in the Church tend to no other end, but to discredit the Chri­stian Religion, and render it less consi­derable, if not con­temptible to its Ad­versaries, Turks and Infidels: He that will admit no Church (saith Primate Bram­hall) but that which is spotless, with A­cesius, must provide [Page 51] a Ladder for himself to climb alone to Heaven.

But as to your Party (Sir) I pray who gave them any Authority to Preach their Reformation to these Kingdomes? Give me leave to observe to you this passage in the Raco­vian Catechism there I remember the que­stion [Page 52] is put, Num ii qui docent in ecclesia (Sociniana) ut sin­gulari aliqua ratione mittantur opus ha­bent? Whether the Preachers of Socini­an Doctrine, have need of any extraor­dinary mission? The Answer is, Nullo mo­do, quia nullam no­vam, nec inauditam afferunt doctrinam, [Page 53] &c. That is not at all, because Socinians preach no new nor strange Doctrine, but that onely which is Primitive and decla­red in the Holy Scriptures. The same is affirmed by Mr. Calvin concerning his own Reforma­tion in the Preface to his Institutions, which the Lutherans [Page 54] (you know) will by no means admit for truth: See Conradus Scluselburg de Theo­logia Calvinistarum. Indeed it had been somewhat, if it were not the matter in question; or if Soci­nians, Behemists, and all the Sects that ever molested the Church, did not urge as much for themselvs, [Page 55] boasting of Gospel truth. To say that your Party agree with us in all the Vital Articles of Re­ligion, is to say what perhaps few of you believe; for I doubt not (if opportunity serv'd) every Sect of you would advance its respective Reli­gion, as if that onely were Gospel, and all [Page 56] other but Lyes and Superstition: Or if you do believe it, the more is your un­happiness to molest the Church about opinions, which you do not esteem of any vital importance.

I wish I could ob­lige you to consider, whether you ought to take upon you to Reform, that is, sup­press [Page 57] the universal order of Christs Church by Bishops &c. Banish all ancient Liturgies; the use of the Creed, the Lords prayer, and ten Commandments out of your publique Devotions; all An­niversary Solemni­ties of Christs Nati­vity, Resurrection, &c. all Reverence or Kneeling at the [Page 58] holy Sacraments of Christs Body and Blood; revile the Church (whereof I cannot say, you but your Ancestors, were made Members by Baptism) with the Names of Superstiti­on and Idolatry. Preach your despe­rate Doctrine of ab­solute Reprobation, and the impossibility [Page 59] of keeping Gods Commandments; in­troduce your own extemporary inven­tions instead of Li­turgy: Levy Warr against your Sove­raign; and all this without any Autho­rity!

For all these strange things I should think, Sir, your Ancestors had [Page 60] but need of some ex­traordinary Mission. But perhaps you will Answer and tell us, That there have been extraordinary Prophets sent into the World without Miracles, as John the Baptist: And 2ly, That Miracles are no certain Signs of true Prophets.

As for John the [Page 61] Baptist, you may re­member the words of the Angel, Luke 2. 15. he was filled with the Holy Ghost from his Mothers Womb; he shall go before in the Spirit and power of Elias (a Character to wch your Brethren will not pretend) he was a person prophesied of many Ages before [Page 62] his Birth, Isa. 40. 3. The Voice of one crying in the Wil­derness, make strait the way of the Lord, &c.

2ly, That Mira­cles are no certain E­vidences of true Pro­phets; because there shall arise false Christs and false Prophets, which shall shew great Signs and Wonders, [Page 63] insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very Elect: Wherefore if they shall say unto you, behold he is in the De­sert, go not forth; be­hold he is in the secret Chambers, believe it not, Math. 24. 24. That false Prophets can work any miracle but deceptio visus, I do not believe. The [Page 64] meaning of our Sa­viours words is this, That if any other Prophet after him shall arise, assuming to be that Christ or Messias sent from God, though he may pretend to strange things, believe him not, go not forth af­ter him. If new Pro­phets, Sir, though they come with a [Page 65] shew of miracles, are to be suspected; shall we presently receive all the Preachers of new Lights, that have not so much as the pretence?

I find a late Wri­ter asserting, That in holy Scripture, there be two marks by wch together, not asunder, a true Prophet or one newly sent [Page 66] from God is to be known: One is the doing of miracles; The other is the not teaching any moral Doctrine adverse to that which hath been already preach'd of old: Asunder (he saith) neither of these is sufficient: and for proof alledgeth two places of Scripture, Deut. 13. 1, 2, 3. com­pared [Page 67] with Matth. 24. 24. Our blessed Saviour and his Apostles ful­filled both these marks, First, in their Miracles, Acts 2. 22. Secondly, they taught no Doctrine of Morality, oppo­site to that which they found already established. Christ came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil [Page 68] it, saying none other things, then what Moses and the Pro­phets did say should come to pass. But he Preached a Do­ctrine, which had all the obliging Chara­cters of Vertue and Goodness, of Peace and Love; witness his excellent Sermon on the Mount; non vox hominem sonat. [Page 69] There he presses the necessity of Moral Goodness, and keep­ing the Command­ments of God; o­therwise methinks then Calvin hath done: I shall instance a remarkable passage in the Second Book of his Institutions, the seventh Chapter and fifth Section. Quod autem impossi­bilem [Page 70] legis observati­onem diximus, id est paucis verbis expli­candum simul & con­firmandum; Solet e­nim vulgo absurdissi­ma sententia videri, ut Hieronimus non dubitavit Anathema illi denunciare: at quid visum sit Jero­nimo, nihil moror: impossibile appello, quod nec fuit un­quam, [Page 71] & ne in poste­rum sit, Dei ordina­tione & decreto im­peditur. I shall now (saith he) explain and confirm what I have said of the im­possibility to observe the Commandments: which commonly seems a very absurd assertion; insomuch that Jerom doubted not to denounce it accursed: [Page 72] but what seemed to him I do not care, I call that impossible which never was, and which God hath de­creed that it never shall be. His Command­ments are not grievous, 1 John 5. 3. Vertuous Doctrine! if the Command­ments be impossible, and that God hath decreed them so, ne­mo tenetur ad impossi­bile, [Page 73] Alas! we are of our selves too prone to take an allowance of Sin, without this License from Mr. Calvin.

To be short, the Church of God may and ought to reform themselves in case of error, or corruption of manners: But if we once admit others to do it, unauthoriz'd [Page 74] or unsent, we open a wide door to all Sects and Heresies; and an­other consequence is, we shall rest no where; but be tossed too and fro, (as Saint Paul speaks) and carryed about with every wind of Doctrine, with the various lights of all Preten­ders: This, one would think, hath [Page 75] been apparent e­nough in the expe­rience of our Age.

Not that we deny our need of amend­ment and Reforma­tion in this World of imperfection; but we give heed to the admonition of our blessed Saviour, John 10. 1. Verily I say unto you, he that enters not by the [Page 76] door into the Sheep­fold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a Theif and a Robber: not entring in at the door, signi­fies entring without any Authority, ei­ther extraordinary, when the Doctrines are new and strange, or ordinary, when they are already known and confest.

[Page 77] For grant (saith Bishop Sanderson) for the suppression of Idolatry, in case the Church will not do her Office, that it is lawful for any unauthoriz'd Persons (such as Knox, &c.) to take upon them to reform what they think a­miss; there can be no sufficient cause given, why by the same rea­son, [Page 78] and upon the same grounds, they may not take upon them to make Laws, raise For­ces, administer Justice, execute Malefactors (Malignants) or do any other thing the Magistrate should do, in case the Magistrate slack to do his duty: which if it were once granted, (as granted it must be, in case your [Page 79] Presbyterian Refor­mation be justifiable) every wise man seeth the end can be no other but vast Anarchy, and confusion both in Church and Common­wealth: whereupon must un avoidably fol­low the speedy sub­version both of Reli­gion and State. Se­cond Sermon ad Cle­rum on Rom 38.

[Page 80] This is our present case; you a private Person, pretending to no extraordinary things, say all things are amiss; the Magi­strate (and he a Chri­stian too) is of opi­nion, yea, perswaded in his Conscience, that you do all things amiss; who shall be Judge? The Scrip­ture; 'tis a ridiculous [Page 81] answer. The Scrip­ture is a Law; and no Law can ever pro­nounce either for one or t'other, but in the mouth of some Judg.

From all these pre­mises I perswade my self, your Ancestors were no Prophets sent from God, but in­truded themselves in­to the Divine Functi­on: and (as the Pro­phet [Page 82] speaks) they followed their own Spirits, and prophe­cy'd out of their own hearts. To add one word more, consider all the Prophets men­tioned in Holy Scrip­ture, Samuel, Elias, Isaiah, Jeremy, Ho­sea, &c. At the begin­ning of their Prophe­cies, that the World might understand their [Page 83] Divine Mission, they usually declare how and in what manner they received it, Isa. 6. the first and second Chap. of Jer. So as their Authority was confessed, when the matter of their Pro­phecies was little re­garded. Some of them were qualified extra­ordinarily with the power of Miracles, [Page 84] prophesie of future events, &c. others had the ordinary Li­cense from the Schools of the Pro­phets.

In the New Testa­ment, our blessed Sa­viour and his Apo­stles, beside the inter­nal excellency of their Doctrine, gave the World sufficient external evidence [Page 85] that they were per­sons sent from God; and whereas you say, that you Preach no other Doctrine then that of Christ and his Apostles, it is the answer of Socinians, Anabaptists, &c. and will serve every mans turn as well as yours. But in the last place, cannot you justifie your selves by the [Page 86] Sobriety and vertue of your Lives? By the Loyalty of your Actions? It is a great controversie, and I shall not take upon me to pronounce my own sence of it; but you have heard of King James his opi­nion in the matter, Ego a Puritanis non solum a na­tivitate con­tinuoIn praefacione Monitoria.[Page 87] vexatus sui, ve­rum etiam in ipso ma­tris utero propemodum extinctus, antequam in Lucem editus fui. I have been disquiet­ed (saith he) by the Puritans from my Mothers Womb, &c. And his Son the blessed King Charles the First, from a certain inti­mate acquaintance [Page 88] with your Party, writes thus to our present Soveraign King Charles the Se­cond; If ever you stand in need of them, or must stand to their courtesie, you are un­done; you may never expect less of Loyalty, Justice, or Humani­ty, then from those who engage into Re­ligious Rebellion; [Page 89] under the colours of piety, ambitious poli­cies march, not only with greatest security, but applause, as to the Populacy; you may hear from them Ja­cobs voice, but you shall feel they have Esau's hands. [...]. Chap. 27.

Thus I have given you the reasons of my dissatisfaction, [Page 90] cerning the validity of your Presbyterian Mission; and I must confess that I have here expressed only some wishes, not any hopes of convincing you; all my expecta­tion is, that perhaps some unprejudic'd persons will believe, that your Presbyte­rian KIRK hath no advantage, in point [Page 91] of a solid Foundati­on, over Indepen­dents, Anabaptists, &c. If instead of a pertinent answer to all this discourse, you shall please to pass your censure on the Author, and say that he is some Papist; I must reply to you in the words of the ex­cellent Bishop San­derson concerning [Page 92] the Puritan Preach­ers.

Some of them, e­specially such as be­take themselves to preaching betimes, and have not the lei­sure and opportunity to look much into contro­versies, understand very little of the true state of the question betwixt the Church of Rome and us; and [Page 93] yet to shew their Zeal against Popery, are forward enough to be medling with it in the Pulpit; but with so much weakness and impertinency, that they leave the questi­on worse then they found it; and the hear­er, if he brought any doubts with him, to go from Sermon more dissatisfi'd then he [Page 94] came. Preface to 14. Sermons, Printed Anno 1657. Sect. 18.

Now, if you please, let us confer a few words about some o­thers matters, first, concerning that prin­ciple of yours, that nothing is to be done about the Worship and Service of God, without express war­rant or precept in the [Page 95] holy Scriptures: and I pray inform me where has our blessed Saviour or his Apo­stles enjoyned a Di­rectory for publick prayer? Hath the Spirit any need of a Directory? what Di­vine warrant can you produce for your Singing to God in a set Form, & refusing to pray in a set Form? [Page 96] for speaking to him your sudden and ex­temporary thoughts, but speaking to the people with a studi­ed and composed Sermon? In which of the Gospels are to be found those three significant Ce­remonies required at the taking your so­lemn League & Co­venant? First, that [Page 97] we must be unco­vered. Secondly, that we must stand up. Thirdly, with our right hand lift up bare? what express Scripture have you for your form of publick pennance, called the stool of re­pentance? This prin­ciple of yours (as hath been already observed by the [Page 98] Friendly debate) makes that unlawful which the Scripture allows; in which we find many holy men doing those things (without any cen­sure) in Gods wor­ship, which he had no where commended; for instance, what Commandment had David for his De­sign of building a [Page 99] Temple? Or Solo­mon for keeping a Feast of seven days for the Dedication of the Altar? For e­recting an Altar to be ascended by steps? expressly forbidden in the 20. of Exod. verse 26. Thou shalt not go up by steps un­to mine Altar. Or what warrant had Hezekiah for conti­nuing [Page 100] the Feast of unleavened bread se­ven days longer then the time appointed by the Law? 2 Chron. 30. 23. If you say that all these things possibly were war­ranted, though not by Scripture; but now Scripture war­rant is necessary, since extraordinary inspi­rations are ceas'd: I [Page 101] pray tell us what Scripture have you for this very asserti­on, That extraordi­nary inspirations are ceas'd? In a word, This Principle of yours, makes the wor­ship of God impos­sible: The time, the place, the Vesture in which it shall be per­formed, being no where appointed: [Page 102] Do not the Quakers retort it upon your selves? Demanding Scripture for stand­ing in a Pulpit, for Preaching upon a Text, and that by an hour-glass, stinting the Spirit; for wear­ing a Cloak or Gown, &c.

Another thing I would intreat you to reflect upon, is the [Page 103] reason of your dis­pleasure at the tem­poral Revenues and encouragement of the Church of Eng­land; that which Dis­senters (if I under­stand them aright) would be at, is this, that the Clergy be re­duced to their primi­tive poverty and de­pendance on the Peo­ple; and methinks [Page 104] Judas hath very well expressed their sence, John 12. 4. To what purpose, is all this waste of precious oint­ment on the feet of Christ? might it not have been sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he had the bag, and was a Thief. [Page 105] They do not consi­der, how many ver­tues there are requi­site in a Church-man, which can have no place in the house of Scarcity; how little exemplary charity, temperance or humi­lity can be expected from a narrow estate: that we cannot say, he is a temperat man, who is so, having [Page 106] scarcely wherewithal to satisfie his thirst: or an humble person, whose fortune gives him small temptation to be proud. Are not all Christians under the same obligations of humility and con­tempt of Riches as the Clergy? Lay not up for your selves treasures upon Earth, was said to all; and [Page 107] is it not true in expe­rience, that the po­verty of Priests must be attended with ig­norance or very slen­der knowledg? The necessities of our bles­sed Saviour and his Apostles upon Earth, were supply'd by Miracles; and there­fore their case and our's not the same.

Give me leave to [Page 108] commend to your consideration, those excellent words of King Charles the First, [...]. Chap. 14. The con­clusion of the War, makes it evident, that the main Reformati­on intended, was the Robbing the Church of its Lands, and the abasing of Episcopacy into Presbytery; but [Page 109] no necessity shall ever, I hope, drive me or mine to invade or sell the Priests Lands, which even Pharo­ah's Divinity abhor­red to do. If the po­verty of Scotland might, yet the plenty of England cannot excuse the envy and rapine of the Church Lands. The next work will be Jerobo­am's [Page 110] Reformation, Consecrating the meanest of the people to be Priests in Israel, to serve their Golden Calves, who have enriched themselves with the Churches Patrimony.

Again, be pleas'd to reflect on your displeasure at the Liturgy of the Church of England. [Page 111] Some of you are for no Forms at all; others are for Liturgy, but it must be reformed. In the History of the Reign of About the Year 1585. Queen Elizabeth, this passage is observable: four Classes of Presby­terians, complained of the Liturgy to the Lord Burleigh then Secretary of State; his Lordship bad them go and make a better; whereupon the first Classis went and fram'd a new one, some­what near that of Gene­va; [Page 112] this the second Classis dislikes, and al­ters in six hundred parti­culars; which alterati­on was excepted against by the third Classis; and what the third resolved upon, the fourth would not consent to: Thus your Party expect a sa­tisfaction about the wor­ship of God, which is impossible to be given you. As to your pray­ing by the Spirit, there is a certain doubt in it, which hi­therto none See the friend­ly debate. [Page 113] of you would do us the favour to resolve: Ei­ther you mean praying by the Spirit of God, or by your own Spirits; if you conceive the words and matter of your prayer by the di­ctate of the Holy Ghost, then are your prayers as much the word of God as any of David's Psalms, or as any part of the Bible; and, be­ing written from your mouths, may become Canonical Scripture. If by praying with the Spi­rit, [Page 114] you only mean that you are inspir'd with de­vout affections, then there is nothing in your prayers, but what others may pretend to, as well as your selves.

In brief, Since you do not pretend to enter­tain your people with immediate inspirations, you oblige them to a Service they know not what; to offer up prayers, whereof they know not a syllable, nor your self neither, before you begin: if you know [Page 115] them before hand, either for matter or words, then they cannot be extempo­re, as you would have the people believe; per­adventure the reason why the people fancy your prayers, is, their variety; they love not to go where they must be always entertain'd with the same expressi­ons; but if the sence of our own infirmities (which are always the same) cannot oblige us to pray, why should a set of new words do it? [Page 116] Consider those words of the blessed Martyr King Charles the First. Some men are so impatient, not to [...] use in all their devotions their own invention and gifts, that they wholly cast away and contemn the Lords Prayer. I ever thought that the proud Ostentation of mens own Abilities for Invention, and the vain affectation of variety for expressi­ons in publick prayer, merits a greater brand of Sin, then that which [Page 117] they call coldness or bar­renness; nor are men in those novelties, less sub­ject to formal and super­ficial tempers (as to their hearts) then in the use of constant forms, where not the words, but mens hearts are to blame. I make no doubt but a man may be very formal in the most extemporary variety, and very fervently devout in the most wonted ex­pressions: Nor is God more a God of variety, then of constancy; nor are constant forms of prayer, [Page 118] more likely to flat and hin­der the Spirit of prayer, then unpremeditated and confused variety, to di­stract and lose it.


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