The Naked Truth. The Second Part.

In Several INQUIRIES Concerning the CANONS AND Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, Ca­nonical Obedience, Convocations, Pro­curations, Synodals and Visitations: ALSO OF THE Church of England, AND Church-wardens. AND The Oath of Church-wardens. AND OF SACRILEDGE.

The Second Edition Corrected and Amended.

Blanditur Cathedra? Speculaest. Inde denique superintendis,
Sonans tibi Episcopi nomine, non Dominum sed officium.
Alta sedens, non alta sapiens; sed humilia de te
Sentiens, humilibusque consentiens.
Praesis ut prosis, debitor non Dominator.
Bernard. lib. 2. de Consideratione.

London, Printed for Francis Smith, and are to be Sold at his Shop, at the Elephant and Castle near the Royal Exchange in Cornhill. 1681.


Courteous Reader,

NO man does more Reverence Good Bishops than my self, nor does any man less dread them with a slavish fear: I admire them at my distance, but I do not Idolize them; I honour them, but I do not fall down and worship them; I can say—My Lord, and (yet not add)—My God.

Nor will you find in this ensuing Inquiry, the least Tang of Bitterness or yellow Choler; No, nor so much as one tart or harsh Expression, being so far from justly disgusting any, that I shall not so much as set their Teeth on Edge; so insipid and simple an humour have I cherisht all along through this whole Discourse, (for fear of any Satyrical mixtures) that I doubt you will scarce find any Salt, Savour or Smacky Rellish here, 'twill scarce bite the Tongue of a Sinner.

Solomon sayes, Prov. 17.27. That men of understanding are of excellent Spirits (To render the words litterally from the Original) Men of understanding are long-nos'd: [...] which the Septuagint Translate [...], (that is) A man of understanding is Long-breasted, (meta­phorically put for) Patient; His heart is not near his month, he is not easily Provoked; and therefore men will neither shew their Wit nor Grace, to be angry (without a cause, without a good and honest cause) at what is here Writ: Let us rather say, (with that good German Emperor) We ought to be angry with our Sins, not with our Friends, that tell us of them.

Yet I cannot say, (in truth) that I have concealed my name because I have no skill nor strength to bear good and evil report with Equanimity.

For I bless Almighty God, that as his Providence has exercised me, with both, in no small mea­sure; so I have found by long and large experience, His strength in my weakness, that I can say without vain boasting, I walk (without much concern) by Honour and Dishonour, by evil Report and good Report.

Nor is it because I am afraid or ashamed at any thing here writ, that I thus appear on the pub­lick Stage in Masquerade, in such Disguise to walk Incognito.

But, the Subject (of my Inquiries) leads me necessarily, to rake in a Nest of Wasps and Hornetts, (peevish by nature, more enraged by Interest) thus to be disturbed of a warm nest, and therefore would certainly buzze about my Ears, if I were not thus muffled and Hooded up.

Yet I hope I have here disarmed them of their Weapons, by taking the Sting out of their Tails, (at least) the Venom, that though they may yet make a Humming Noise, yet they shall be as Stingless as Drones.

Besides, I am neither of the Race of the Decii, nor of the Curtii, to sacrifice all my quiet to the Publick good in this thankless Age, wherein many men are of so currish a disposition, and so used to the Collar about their Necks, that they are ready to snap at those Fingers that would pull it off.

But however, (in short) what wise man would be content to be a Butt, to be shot at, though Armed Cap-a-pee with Armour of Proof?

The inconvenience (for it wants not some) of allowing to the Press this Liberty, (so natural and agreeable to our English Complexion and Constitution, and the Common-mother of the Na­ked Truth, which is usually begot betwixt this bandying Pro and Con) cannot possibly equal that of making a Monopoly of the Press; taking in the Common, and confining it to a certain set of men that would seem to keep the Key of Knowledge and the Press, and they neither enter in themselves, and they that would enter in, they hinder; like surly Porters, that usually keep out better men than they let in.

Magistrates and good Bishops should say with St. Paul, We can do nothing against the Truth, 2 Cor. 3.8.but for the Truth: [...], (that is) We have no power (as the Original imports) to do any thing against the Truth, but for the Truth.

Nor have all the Bishops in England any power over us, (although they had as lawful a Com­mission for their Spiritual Courts and Jurisdiction as once they had) more than St. Paul had over those Corinthians, which he confesses in the Tenth Verse, was for Edification, not for Destruction. 2 Cor. 13.10.

A good Magistrate may do a man good, so may a good Bishop, but neither of them have power, any lawful Power, given them to do harm or wrong.

And if they chance to find me out notwithstanding my Disguise, I'le answer for every tittle here declared; with the words of our Blessed Redeemer—If I have spoken Evil, bear witness of the Evil, but if Well, Why smitest thou me?

And I am sure, what is here pretended, has no design in the world, but purely, (in all Humility and Love to Truth) the Publick-weal; And if in any thing I be mistaken, my Errors shall never be Heresies, none shall (upon a rational Conviction) more readily and willingly retract them than my self.

One would wonder a little at first at that Passage, 1 Tim. 6.17. 1 Tim. 6.17. where the Apostle gives the Charge to Rich men, that they be not high-minded, since Poor and Proud is true to a Proverb.

The Latines by one and the same word expresse a man humble in mind, and humbled with af­flictions, they are so near a Kin; and the way, God usually takes to make a man humble, is to hum­ble him, (as he did Nebuchadnezzar) by afflictions.

For Prosperity puffeth up and swells a man naturally; and if through Grace a Rich man be not high-minded, he had need keep a constant Watch and Ward over his mind, for height will tempt his mind to be high-minded and proud, as Lucifer.

Thus have I seen a man stretch and stand on tip-toe, and stalk in High Shooes upon a Church-Steeple, and look with scorn on all below; and yet, if he had stood on even ground and measured fair with those Inferiors he despis'd (as Pigmies,) he would not be able to reach their heads.

In climbing (Masons and Carpenters well observe) whilst men look upwards, they cannot be giddy crown'd, vertiginous and turn-sick; but if they look down, 'tis odds but their Brains turn round, till they fall.

'Tis most true in Morals and in Divinity; whilst men though never so high-mounted look up­wards still to Heaven, they'l say with King David, in all humility—I am a worm and no man

The Contemplation of the Vastness and Glory of Heaven (as Cicero observes in Somnio Sci­pionis) will make them best see what a pitiful Spot (in comparison) the whole Globe of the Earth is, and the glory of it; and much more with humble Eyes reflect upon their own pittiful punyships.

But if they are alwayes looking downwards upon the many under them, their Brains usually Crawl with scorn, pride and disdain, and turning Giddy they forget themselves, till they catch a fall, if not their Ruine.

And though they may pride themselves and strut in their High Shoes, and take delight in exposing their Inferiors (whom they ought to protect) to contempt and scorn; or for sport suf­fer them to be baited by Dogs, and perhaps cry, Hollou; 'Tis ten to one, but they meet at some time or other with so Rugged a Repartee, as to make them sick of such Unchristian Games, and some­times to their shame, expose also the knotty side of their own gay Arras, and prove that all is not Gold that glisters.

Popery and Mahometism were born both in one and the same Century, and had one and the same Midwife, namely, Ignorance or Barbarism.

Truth and the Press would stifle them both, and the Turk knows it as well, and therefore Po­litickly prohibits Printing: so also doth the Pope prohibit (what he can) all Printing, but what passes with his own Imprimatur's; and some others also would have the Press at the same lock, and they alone to keep the Key.

And thus whilst men hear but of one Ear, and from one Mouth, they are kept in ignorance, and seldom grow wiser than the Pope and Conclave, that Excommunicated Galileo (I think it was) for holding the Motion of the Earth.

For Errors and Superstition, Tyranny and Oppression (like Owls, and all other works of darkness) hate the light, and cannot endure to be seen by day-light; whereas the Naked Truth feeks no Corners, is bare indeed, but is not (nor needs not to be) ashamed.

Lording over Gods Heritage, [...], Dominantes Cleris, 1 Pet. 5.3. Do­mineering over Gods People, was never the mind of Christ, nor St. Peter; nor had ever any Bi­shops any such lawful Commission, (even when the High-Commission-Courts were up, whereby alone they had Authority and Jurisdiction Ecclesiastical) to Lord it over Gods Heritage.

No, no; It is the Reliques of the Luciferian Pride of that Grand Impostor, that ridiculously stiles himself—The Successor of St. Peter, yet imitates him in nothing, but in denying his Master; that sets his insulting Toe upon the Necks of Kings and Emperors, enslaves mens Bodies and Estates, as well as Souls, wheresoever he can domineer: 'Tis this Prelatical Pride, this Ex­ercising Dominion,Luke the Princes of the Gentiles, which is here condemned; and is but a Brat of Popery, whereever the Changeling is found, and which our Blessed Saviour would banish from amongst his Clergy, Luke 22.25. It shall not be so amongst you.

But say some, It shall be so though, let Christ and Laws, let God and Man say what they will; at least, some men would practise it still, which is worse than saying so; but Rome was not built (nor cannot be destroyed) in one day.

THE Naked Truth.
The Second Part.

THE Bishops and Convocation held at London Anno Dom. 1552. in the Reign of King Edward VI. whereof many of them were Martyrs at their Death, as well as (the first) Reformers in their life-time, in their Articles (now usually called, The Articles of the Church of England) the 19, 20, 21. I meet with very re­markable Passages to begin this Discourse.


ECclesia Christi visibilis est coetus fidelium, in quo verbum, &c. ‘The visible Church of Christ, is a Congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is Preached, and the Sacraments be duly Administred according to Christs Ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.’ (Where note by the way, that a Parish Church may be the right Church of Christ by this Definition.)

‘As the Church of Jerusalem, of Alexandria, and of Antioch hath Erred, so also the Church of Rome hath Erred; not only in their living, but also in matters of Faith.’


‘IT is not Lawful for the Church to Ordain any thing that is contrary to Gods Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another; wherefore although the Church be a Witness and Keeper of holy Writ, yet as it ought not to Decree any thing against the same, so beside the same ought not to enforce any thing to be believed, for necessity of Salvation.’


‘GEneral Councils may not be gathered together without the Commandment and Will of Princes, And when they be gathered (forasmuch as they be an Assembly of men whereof all be not Governed with the Spirit and Word of God) they may Err, and sometimes have Erred, not only in worldly matters, but also in things pertain­ing unto God. Wherefore things Ordained by them as necessary to Salvation, have nei­ther strength nor Authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of the holy Scripture.’

Whence it is evident, that by the Articles of the Church of England, men, the best of them, are subject to Error; which if true, (and very few except the Pope, and Papists do deny) Then with what Front can any Synod or Assembly of men Anathematize, and Damn, and by Excommunication deliver to the Devil, all that obey not their Canons and Decrees, except those Decrees be evident from the plain and undisputed sense of Holy Scriptures?

For if it be acknowledged, that they may be in the wrong, then others that they condemn may be in the right, and owned by God, though disowned by frail men.

The Popes, (whereof their own Writers say) some have been Arrians, and denyed the Divinity of Christ, as Pope Liberius; some Idolaters, as Marcellinus; some Atheists, as Alexander VI. and Leo X. that said Hem! quantum reddit nobis haec fabula Christi? and Sextus IV. that built a Male Stew, for Sodomy: some Conjurers and Socerers, Platina, &c vit. Pap. as Martin II. Silvester II. John XIX. John XX. John XXI. Silvester III. Benedict VIII. Sergius IV. Gregory VI. and many others, which see at large in the lives of the Popes, writ by one of their own Secretaries, Platina.

But I love not to rake in this sink, nor had I mentioned it here, but as necessary to my de­sign in shewing first, all men are Erroneous, none Infallible: no, not the Pope himself, as [Page 2]the Test. Rhem. Annot. Mat. 23.2. a Enchir. Cont. cap. 3. de Sum. Pont. b Stella in Lu­cae cap. 9. Rhemists vainly vaunt and suppose. And so says a Costerus the Jesuite; and also b Di­dacus Stella, Suarez, Stapleton, and many others, and indeed the whole Fabrick of their strange Religion is built on this rotten foundation. Whereas the Church of Jerusalem, on whom the Holy Ghost descended, chang'd their Opinions if not their Canons, concerning the observation of Circumcision, and the Mosaical Ceremonies: for Acts 15. they required not those Ceremonies: but Acts 21. they did require them; nay, St. Peter himself would not eat with an uncircumcised Christian, Gal. 2. if a Jew was present; notwithstan­ding he was one that made the Canon to the contrary, Acts 15. Gal. 2. Acts 21. Acts 15. And St. Paul that re­prov'd his inconstancy, Gal. 2. and would not Circumcise Titus, yet had Timothy Cir­cumcised, Acts 21.

If the Pillars of the Church warp, can we think any other Canon-makers of the Church are infallible, so that we must believe all they Decree in spight of our Teeth, or else by Excommunication—Take him Devil; and forty days after—Take him Jaylor?

This is, like the Muscovites, that acknowledge no Christians but themselves, and the Greek Church; or like the Donatists, that confined the Church of Christ to themselves, at least within the bounds of Africa; which was a larger extent than was afforded by the Family of Love, Gratian. Dist. 16. and many of our Sectarists: whose Opinions in this kind are derived from Rome, like that of Pope Agatho l. That commanded that all the Popes Decrees should be taken for the Oracles of God, and as true, as if pronounced by the Mouth of God, though contrary to Holy Writ.

Thus the Council of Trent Decreed, Conc. Tri­dent. Sect. 5. Can. 2. that the Church (that is) themselves, had power to change the Sacraments. And the Council of Constance did change the Institution of the Lord's Supper, by Robbing the Laity of the Cup with a non obstante to Christs command.

But now henceforth (this being premised) I'le keep to our own Canons and Canon-ma­kers; of which,

Query I. Whether Ecclesiastical Canons that want the Stamp of Legislative-power (or Acts of Parlia­ment) are necessarily binding and of force to us English-Protestants?

And this Inquiry was occasioned by a late Discourse or Sermon, Mischief of Separation. Preached by the Reve­rend Doctor Stilling fleet, May 2. 1680. at Guild-hall, upon that Text Phil. 3.16. Whence he exhorts (in the words of his Text) his Auditory, to walk by the same Rule or Canon, [...], Mischief of Impositions. yet Canon is not found in some Greek Copies, (as one has, in answer to the Doctor, already very ingeniously observed.)

But the accurate Mr. Baxter very pertinently in a Letter to the Doctor, puts him upon declaring, what is this same Rule or Canon, and who makes it? (which one would think, should be very necessary, and one of the first things, as a foundation, on which should be built any pertinent or rational Discourse:) For if one certain Rule or Canon be not agreed upon, it is impossible to know when we straggle, and walk disorderly, deviate and err.

And also if Preachers exhort (as they ought) to walk by the same Rule, and yet do not declare what that same Rule is, and who is the Rule-maker, the Canon-maker, or Law­maker, they had as good say nothing at all.

But the wary Doctor waves the answer to Mr. Baxter, and either would not, or could not, or durst not declare, what is the Canon, and the Rule; and Who are the Rule, or Law­makers; very wisely foreseeing that Mr. Baxter had got him upon the Lock.

For it had been dangerous for a Protestant Doctor to deny the King and Parliament to be the only Law makers, or Rule, and Canon-makers.

But on the other hand, if the Doctor had declared against the Pastoral-Head and Synod (who stil'd themselves the representative-Church, and no man, in pain of Excommunica­tion, Can. 139, 140, 141. Anno 1603. to dare to derogate from their Authority) possibly he might fear to come within dun­ger and reach of the Bishops Canons, at least he might fear he had in so doing arriv'd at the Pillars ef Hercules, and the streights, the nè plùs ultrà of his Preferments.

But no private-ends ought to byass any man, or stop his mouth from speaking out and plain such a necessary Truth, for want of adjusting this Query, What is truth? What is the Canon? the Rule, this same Law we ought all to walk by, that we may all speak the same things?

For, if the Trumpet give an uncertain sound, (an undistinct sound) who shall prepare himself to the Battle? 1 Cor. 14.8. 1 Cor. 14.8.

If one Clergy-man sounds a Retreat, whilest others sound—Boots and Saddles—To Horse, To Horse; Into what confusions will the distracted-people run? and no wonder,

For certainly this is the great cause of our Divisions, not to be remedied (at least not till agreed among our selves and) till we walk after the same Rule.

For uniformity in Religion ought to be the endeavour as well as Prayer of all true Christians, that all of us may, Rom. 15.6. with one mind and one mouth (too) glorifie God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Rom. 15.6.

But how is this possible, or that Christians should speak the same things, and walk by the same Rule, when this Rule is not agreed upon, no, not (as aforesaid) among our selves?

For if the Acts of Parliament (the universally-confessed-Law of England, even in Religi­on) be the Rule or Canon, and the King and Parliament the only Law-makers or Canon-ma­kers (as who dare deny, (now that the Popes Hierarchical Head is cut off) without In­curring a Praemunire) and that can, and (being the only Representatives of the People of England) alone ought to make Acts of uniformity in Religion, and of all other things espe­cially to have a care of Religion, and a watchful eye over Religious men; Then how comes the Convocation to call themselves the Representative-Church of England? and thunder out Ex­communication, which (with them) is eternal Damnation, Can. 139, 140, 141. An. 1603. if men die before they recant and publickly repent their wicked Error, in thinking to the contrary?

And ask any of the Convocation at this day, if they also do not look upon themselves (and value themselves) as the Representative-Church of England, and they will not surely deny it; For if they be not that, what are they?

But though those that made the Canons in 1603, might in some sense be called the Re­presentative-Church of England, and so also were that Synod of London that made the Canons Anno Dom. 1640. which are commonly called the Lambeth-Canons, and are Damn'd alrea­dy, as I'le demonstrate beyond all contradiction, if any dare deny so great and evident a Truth.

Yet the Synods and Convocation now adays, have not the Authority they had, they are scarce the shadows of those Synods, and yet the Authority also of those Synods in 1603 and 1640, and all they did is now abrogated and taken away by Acts of Parliament, and their very beings annihilated, and made of no force, power, strength, nor vertue; as I shall shew hereafter; much more, the Synods and Convocations at this day, who are so far from be­ing the Representative-Church of England, that the people of England have not the least vote or suffrage in their Election; they have not any hand, (I had almost said nor heart neither) in the choice, I am sure nor head in it; I mean, their advice is not askt about it.

Nor indeed (as I shall prove hereafter) are these Synods fairly Elected by the votes and suf­frages of the Clergy, the Inferiour Clergy; and so also are not so much as the Representatives of the Clergy.

For though the Generality of the people heed them not so much; yet they look upon the Inferiour Clergy to be at their Beck, and still within their Clutches.

And to that purpose, to make them easie and gentle to be ridden, and to bear, (like Issa­char) all the burdens they impose, without daring to kick them off; they mouth them, before they back them, with an &c. Oath (in the 6th. Can of 1640.) of Canonical obedience; which if they had not a good Swallow would choak them in the going down.

But (finally my Babe of Grace) forbear,
Cleveland's Poems.
will be to far to Swear;
For 'tis (to speak in a familiar Stile)
A Yorkshire Wea-bit longer than a Mile.

This pretty &c. Oath of obedience Canonical, is in these words, Can. 6. of 1640:

I A. B. Do Swear, That I do approve the Doctrine, and Discipline, or Government established in the Church of England, as concerning all things necessary to Salvation: And that I will not endeavour by my self, or any other, directly or indirectly, to bring in any Po­pish Doctrine, contrary to that which is so established: nor will I ever give my consent to alter the Government of this Church; by Arch-Bishops, Bishops, Deans and Arch-Deacons, &c. as it stands now established, and as by right it ought to stand, nor yet ever to subject it to the Ʋsurpations and Superstitions of the See of Rome: And all these things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and Swear, according to the plain and common sense and understanding of the same words, without any equivocation, or mental evasion, or secret reservation whatsoever. And this I do heartily, willingly, and truly, upon the Faith of a Christian. So help me God in Jesus Christ.

And if any man Beneficed or Dignified in the Church of England, or any other Ecclesi­astical person shall refuse this (&c.) Oath, the Bishop shall give him a Months time to in­form himself; and at the Months end, if he refuse to take it, he shall be suspended ab officio, and have a second Month granted, and if then he refuse to take it, he shall be Suspended ab offi­cio & beneficio, and have a third Month granted him for his better Information; but if at the end of that Month he refuse to take the Oath abovenamed, he shall be deprived of all his Ecclesiastical Promotions whatsoever, and execution of his Function which he holds in the Church of England.

Solomon says, The mercies of the wicked are cruel: Prov. 12.10. but whether the Imprudence or the Impu­dence, the ignorance or the audaciousness be greater, for men at this day to dare to put those [Page 4]Canons in execution, and to Quote them, and give them in charge, as Rules, and Ca­nons, and Laws to the present Clergy, when they are condemned by 17 Car. 1.11. and al­so by 13 Car. 2.12. Query, What Penalty they do incur that dare set up Laws in De­fiance of the Statutes of this Realm, to enthral the Kings Liege People?

For both Laity and Clergy are in a fine Dilemma at this wicked rate.

Since that whosoever denies the King and Parliament to be the only Legislators, or af­firms that the ancient Hierarchy of the Pope is yet in being, or that any other have power to make Laws in this Realm, contrary and Repugnant to the Kings Prerogative Royal, or the Customs, and Laws or Statutes of this Realm, shall be punisht &c. on the one hand. (For what skills it, to cut off the Popes Prelatical, Hierarchical, or Pastoral head, and set up (with a new-name) another in the Room of it, whether Presbyterian, Fifth-mo­narchy, Prelatical, or any other Bigots? this is to cut off Hydra's head, when another as bad and alike (as two Twins) starts up in the Room of it.)

But, on the other hand, if either Clergy or Laity derogate from Holy Synod, and do not acknowledge it to be the Representative-Church of England, Can. 139, 140, 141. Anno 1603. and that dare affirm, that the Government of the Church by Arch-Bishops, Bishops, Deans, Arch-Deacons, and the rest, or &c. is Antichristian, or contrary to the word of God, shall be Excommunicated, never to be absolved, until they repent, and publickly revoke this wicked Error.

I know some that have as good a Swallow us the best Latitudinarian of them all; Can. 7. 1603. but of all cornute things, they most dread a Dilemma, for though you escape one horn, you are catcht and tost upon the other.

To affirm the Pope or (any thing like the Conclave) any other Pastoral head to be the Supream head and Governour of the Church, is to incur a Praemunire, by denying the Kings Supremacy, as also by denying the King and Parliament to be the only Legislators; (And there is not a Protestant in England (if a Lay-man) that dares, or does deny the Kings Supremacy, and that the King and Parliament are the only Legislators, Law-makers, or Canon-makers:)

Nay, the Lay-men are not much afraid to say, that the Government of the Church by Arch-Bishops &c. or & Reliquos, (whether Commissaries, Officials, Arch-Deacons, Sumners or Apparitors, Surrogates, Registers, deputy Registers, Canons, Petty canons, Prebends, Resi­dentiaries, Non-Residentiaries, Chapters, Chanters, Precenters, Rural-Deans, Sub-Deans, Vicar-Generals, Lay chancellors, &c. (which last are a kind of Lay-elders, which we laugh at in the Presbyterians) are not sound, nor (in the least) mentioned in the word of God, although they are threatned with Excommunication; which (in their sense) is eternal damna­tion, (until they recant) (publickly;) and within 40 days (after Excommunication) the Gaol.

But the Clergy men (poor Souls) they are hamper'd with an &c. Oath of Canonical o­bedience; dare not say any thing in defiance of that &c. Oath, though it be condemned (which they honest men do not know, at least, very few of them) by Act of Parliament: namely by the 13 Car. 2.12. as aforesaid.

The Statute 25 Hen. 8.19. condemns the Popes Supremacy, and all Hierarchy and Canons which were prejudicial to the Kings Prerogative Royal, 25 H. 8.19. and to the Laws and Sta­tutes of this Realm; and gives Power and Authority to the King (Hen. 8.) to nominate and assign at his pleasure thirty two Persons of his Subjects, whereof sixteen to be of the Clergy, and sixteen of the Temporality (Some Lay-elders then in those times) of the upper and nether House of the Parliament, to view, search, and examine the Canons, Consti­tutions, and Ordinances Provincial and Synodal heretofore made, and such as they judg'd worthy to be continued, should from thenceforth be kept and obeyed.

But I never heard that these Commissioners did ever do any thing to the purpose.

Yet this Power of granting Commissions and Authority of this nature, was by 1 Eliz. 1. for ever united and annexed to the Imperial Crown of this Realm; and upon this Statute and foundation was built the Star-Chamber and High-Commission-Court, and the Authority of all Canon-makers Synodical.

But down came the Fabrick by repealing 1. Eliz. 1. in 17 Car. 1.11. and also in and by 13 Car. 2.12.

By which last Statute that unreasonable Oath also ex Officio, (by vertue whereof the Spi­ritual Courts if a man had lain with a Wench, or a Wife had plaid foul play, if examined by every little Surrogate and Register, must either be their own accusers, or by Perjury damn themselves) was abrogated also and taken away, together with that same choaking &c. Oath, and for company all the Fraternity thereof, and Fellow canons of 1640 and Provision made by striking at the foundation 1 Eliz. 1. (on which their High-Commission Courts were built) that no more Commissions be granted by his Majesty for the future; but the Spiritual-Courts by that Statute of 13 Car. 2.12. just in statu quo, wherein they were 1639.

Now, will it be worth the while to consider what State they were in 1639? no great, I'le warrant, if their Basis on which their Star-Chamber and High Commission-Court were built, be taken away.

For the said Statute of 13 Car. 2.12. does not only provide against the Canons made in the year 1640. but also against any other Ecclesiastical Laws not formerly confirmed, allow­ed [Page 5]or Enacted by Parliament (which the Canons of 1603. never were) or by the establish­ed Laws of the Land as they stood in the year of our Lord 1639.

So that it is not so difficult to get out of this Labyrinth that does so puzzle many men, as some do imagine.

For all Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions till the Statutes of Hen. 8. to the contrary were de­rived from the Pope as Supream Head of the Church: This Head being beheaded, the Su­premacy was vested in the Crown, and for Rules and Canons to walk by, King Hen. 8. was empowered by the Statute aforesaid to nominate 32. Commissioners, one Moiety Lay, and the other Clergy: yet they did nothing, (perhaps for that reason.)

But 1 Ed. 6.2. This great Flower of the Crown is taken care for, and not for ornament only, but for weightier reasons it is Enacted, that all Processes Ecclesiastical, Summons, Citations, &c. be from the first day of July then next following, made in the name and with the Stile of the King as it in Writs original or Judicial at the Common-law; and the Test thereof in the name of the Archbishop, or Bishop, or other having Ecclesiastical Jurisdicti­on, who hath the Commission and grant of the Authority Ecclesiastical immediately from the Kings Highness, and that his Commissary, Official or Substitute exercising Jurisdiction under him shall put his name in the Citation or Process after the Test.

So that if there be any Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in England, distinct from his Majesties Lay-Courts, they must be such as acknowledge his Majesties Supremacy above their Hierarchy, and as a Testimony thereof all their Processes Ecclesiastical, Citations, Summons, &c. ought to be made in the name and with the Stile of the King, as it is in Writs original and judicial at the Common law: and also the Kings Arms Engraven in the Seal of their Spirital Court.

Oh! but this would be to buckle and stoop, and thrust the Hierarchy and holy Pastoral Head under a Lay-girdle (for though the Pope be exil'd this Realm, it is hard to exile the Hierarchical Spirit, witness the Fifth-Monarchy men, Presbyterians, and you know who) they'le keep no Courts at all first; no; will they not? Then who cares? who are the Losers? If they go thereto, and be so pettish.

And it is a proper Query, what penalty they have and do incur by keeping their Spiritual Courts otherwise (which were first founded upon the Popes Title, and since that deter­mination) now vested in his Majesty, as all other Courts (good reason and Law too) and all their original and judicial Processes ought to be in his Majesties name, and under the Seal of his Majesty, as a token of their due Homage, by striking Sail, and lowring their old rotten, over-worn Top Sayls to the Kings-Flag.

'Tis true, the said Statute of 1 Edw. 1.2. is repealed by 1 Mar. 2. but I care not for that, for it is revived again by Repealing 1 Mar. 2. in the Statute 1 Jac. 25.

And 'tis well worthy our observation what (1 Mar. 2.) The Bishops and Clergy of the Province of Canterbury (in their Convocation assembled) do acknowledge and confess in their Supplication to their Majesties (Philip and Mary) in these very words: Insuper Majesta­tibus vestris supplicamus pro sua Pietate efficere dignentur ut ea quae ad Jurisdictionem nostram & Libertatem Ecclesiasticam pertinent, sine quibus debitum nostri Pastoralis officii & curae anima­rum nobis commissae exercere non possumus, nobis superiorum temporum injuriâ ablatâ restitu­antur, & ea nobis, & Ecclesiae perpetuo illaesa & salva permaneant; & ut omnes leges, quae hanc nostram Jurisdictionen & libertatem Ecclesiasticam tollunt, seu quovis modo impediunt, abrogentur, &c. (that is) Moreover we do in all humility Petition your Majesties, That out of your great Piety you would vouchsafe to make such Provision, That those things which belong to our Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Liberties (without which we cannot duly discharge that Pastoral Office and cure of Souls committed to our Care) and taken from us lately by the Iniquity of the Times, may be again restored to us, so that they may for ever remain invio­late and safely secured, and assured to us and the Church; And that all the Laws (which have taken away, or do any ways hinder our Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Liberties) may be made null and void.

Here's ado and a whining for their dear Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, and Liberties, which (the Convocation themselves being Judges) were at that time taken from them and abroga­ted; and if since that time they have not catch'd it again, 'tis to be fear'd, 'tis desperate now, and never to be retriev'd.

But Queen Elizabeth was enabled and empowered ('tis the words of the Statute) to re­trieve their Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction by granting them Commissions to that purpose; of which large Power granted by Parliament, they made such large use, as is complained in 17 Car. 1.11. (at large;) against Magna Carta, &c. (which I am loth to repeat, but would willingly have it lie buried, and never rise up in Judgement against any Successors as seem to be of the same sanguine complexion,) that 13 Car. 2.12. damns all such Com­missions for ever, and that his Majesty nor his Successors shall never grant them any more; Repealing 1 Eliz. 1. their great Foundation. So that we are come at length to an easie Re­solution of the Query.

For if the Spiritual Courts be askt the question, By what Authority they do these things, and who gave them this authority? Whether God or man?

Not God (for certain;) because there is not the least Specimen of Chancellors, Regi­sters, Sumners, Officials, Commissaries, Advocates, Notaries, Surrogates, &c. or any ejusdem farinae in Holy Writ.

Nor from Man; because his Majesty has by Statute Enacted never to empower them with any more Commissions to the worlds end.

But if they pretend they have it ab origine, (as was their original) from that old Hierar­chy of the Pope that founded them, they incur a Praemunire; (the greatest of punishments on this side death) nay, any might kill a man attainted in Praemunire without being prosecuted as an Homicide, till Eliz. 5.1. took away that severity; but at this day they forfeit goods and liberty, but not life.

So that if the Question (I say) be put to them concerning their Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Spiritual Courts (as in another case it was put by our Blessed Saviour to the Pharisees) Is it from Heaven or from men?

I fear all their Learned Doctors of their Canon-Law must answer, as the Pharisees did, We cannot tell.

And if so, I think, they have brought their Hogs to a fine Market; if after all this Cry, there appear to be so little Wool: who'le give five hundred pounds for a Chancellors-place, and as much or more for a Registers-place?

And though the Clergy or others might (by the Kings Commission) make Laws and Ca­nons while 1 Eliz. 1. was in force, and which lasted all her (and King James his) Reign, and till 17 Car. 1. yet then the branch of that Statute of 1 Eliz. 1. being taken away, and al­so Repealed by his present Majesty 13 Car. 2.12. till which time the Canons in 1603 and 1640. were in force, but now that their Basis is taken away, (that branch 1 Eliz. 1.) I cannot discern where their Authority lies, (more than in the said days of Queen Mary, when they confest they had none.)

But this I do not peremptorily assert, but leave it to the consideration of men of greater abilities, reading and leisure; than my necessary Diversions and constant Employs will at present admit.

And I wish with all my heart (if wishes would do) that most of the Canons of 1603. and also some of 1640. were of more Authority than indeed they are.

And if the Reader knew me, he would also know it is my Interest (which can never Lye) to have them and the Clergy and the Hierarchy too of greater and more justifiable Autho­rity, than they have at present.

Yet nevertheless, as I have Christened this my Discourse in the Title-page, The Naked Truth, it shall never be said, (whatever be the Consequence) that it derogates from the name.

I have no Picque, no Design, no Interest against Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, but on the contrary, I have one of my own; where my Predecessors have exercised as much Ecclesi­astical Jurisdiction, (though not so often, it being but a little one) as any Bishop in En­gland; and therefore if the Naked Truth did not silence Interest, I would not enlarge one Syllable more.

And I will further add, that the first Reformers (whereof many of them were Martyrs) do seem to be so divinely Inspired in composing the 39 Articles of the Church of England (that is, of the Doctrine of the Church of England,) that there is scarce one Fanatick in En­gland so Foppish as to differ or deny; so evenly have they cut a hair betwixt the Remon­strant and Anti-remonstrant, and other diversity of opinions, that though they differ toto Coelo from one another, yet they all concenter and agree in those 39 Articles of the Church of England.

But when the said Branch of 1 Eliz. 1. gave power to the Queen and her Successors to set up a High-Commission Court, They made work, (I'le promise you,) woful work sometimes, and about trifles too.

So that I must say of them, and the Canons of 1603 and 1640. as is usually said of a great Wit: viz. Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixturâ dementiae.

And this will appear if we further consider, that even those men of the Hierarchy that most vaunt those Canons and Impose them upon others, Though a burden too heavy to be born, yet they themselves will not touch them with one of their Fingers, when thwarting their Interest; of which, take a few Instances, that first occur and come into my mind.

Who regards or observes Can. & 14. of 1640?

For are all Socinian-Books, and also those of Brownists, Separatists, Anabaptists, Familists, and other Sects burnt? Are none kept, bought nor sold, as Can. 2. & 4. does enjoyn?

Is the Communion-Table every where plac'd Altar-wise, and Rail'd in, as recom­mended Can. 7?

Indeed the 6th. Canon with the &c. Oath, is too much kept, and a shame it should be suffered (indeed) to be Imposed upon the Consciences of the Clergy, being disallowed by Act of Parliament, as aforesaid.

But pitiful is the case of young Clergy-men especially if they be put to the sad choice, ei­ther to swallow the Oath of Canonical obedience, with the &c. to-boot and into the bargain, or else starve for want of Institution to a Living.

Are all Conventiclers, Separatists, and members of gathered-Churches Excommunica­ted, and every three Months declared to be such, to put the Zealots in mind to take out a Writ de excommunicato capiendo against them, and put them all in Gaol? And who will lay out money to build Gaols enough to hold them all? Can. 9. and 11. and Can. 65. 1603? who reads Prayers upon the Inauguration-day of King Charles 2. as enjoyned Can. 2? who furnishes all the Parishes with two Books of Common-Prayers compiled for that purpose, as decreed Can. 2?

Who does upon every Eve of the Festivals, and Saints days in the year, as well as upon all Holy-days read Prayers publickly; or if they do a little in some places in the Morning, how few in the Afternoons, and yet enjoyn'd Can. 14?

How many Spiritual Courts do take care to put into the Condition of the Bonds of Se­curity given by the Party to be Married by Licence,

That the Parties or one of them have or hath been a Month commorant in the said Juris­diction, immediately before the said Licence granted? look the Condition of their Printed Bonds, there's not a word of it; but catch, that catch may; they know among themselves the weakness of their Canons, and therefore every one makes his own Market and the best he can of them, yet this is decreed Can. 16. 1640.

Who can make the States of Venice, Holland, Genoa, Switzerland, &c. believe that the most High and Sacred order of Kings (if taken in opposition to Aristocracy, and other modes of Government) is of Divine-Right, being the Ordinance of God himself, founded in the Prime Laws of Nature and clearly established by express Text both of the Old and New Testament; as is asserted Can. 1. of 1640?

Did ever any Protestant or Popish Divines assert any such thing, before this Synod de­creed it?

Was not the first Government by Moses the Priest changed by God's express Command into an Aristocracy? Did not Moses complain to God for redress, Num. 11.11, 12.14. as unable to bear the burden of Government himself alone? because it was too heavy for him, and made him weary of his life.

Wherefore the Lord chang'd the Government into a kind of Aristocracy, or King and Parliament (if you will) and took the Spirit (of Government) that was upon Moses and gave it unto the seventy Elders. Vers. 16, 17.

That a mixt-Monarchy is the best Government, is the opinion of most: That the English-Constitution of Monarchy is the best kind of Government (and one King) and not seven Kings, (as of old) and Established upon the Divine positive Laws of the Land on which it was first founded and on which it stands the most steddily; and that it is not contrary to Holy Writ; is not only my opinion but the opinion (I think) of all English-men; nay, almost of all the world, that envy our happiness.

Every thing stands surest on its own bottom; but when men, to mount it higher, will make it stand upon imaginary Crotches and weak props, 'tis the way to ruine.

The Holy Scriptures say expresly, that there is no power but of God, whether the Monar­chy of Poland, or the Aristocracy of Venice, Genoa, &c. they are all of God, and the Powers that be, are ordained of God, one as well as another and as much as another.

'Tis well the King and Parliament condemn'd these Canons as soon almost as born; For if it once had been an allowed and an avowed Doctrine of the Church of England, that Mo­narchy (in opposition to Aristocracy) is of Divine-Right, founded in the Prime-Laws of nature, and by express Texts both of the Old and New Testament; (and yet name not one such Text) Then all the States of Europe must by our Doctrine be condemn'd as held jure Diabolico, contrary to Divine Right, and the Prime-Laws of Nature, and contrary to express Texts both of the Old and New Testaments: and if so, what assurance could they have in affiances and Leagues with a People that in their publick Doctrines condemn them in their very Constitutions and Foundations, as contrary to God, Nature, and holy Scripture?

But into what follies and extravagancies will not men run when blinded with flattery and Sycophantry? and how dizzy-crown'd are some men when they are climbing or have climb'd too high, till their Brains are Turn-sick? This 'tis to be [...], Busis in other mens Dioceses, and to meddle with things above our understanding, at least above our Cognizance.

The wringing of the Nose bringeth forth blood, and straining the strings too high, breaks them, at least, spoils the Musick, and endangers all: such Politicians as prefer Flattery be­fore Truth, and things Pleasing before things Profitable do never bring good to themselves nor others in Conclusion, for magna est veritas & praevalebit. At long run, Truth is always strongest.

Thus you see how needful it is, not only to count Moneys (but opinions too and Doctrines) after our Spiritual Fathers.

Then for the Canons of 1603.

Who does always bid the Prayers before Sermon as Can. 55?

How is the Canon of 88. observed, Prohibiting the prophaning of Churches, when I could instance that without molestation, some at this day are made Courts of guard for Souldiers, some are made Shops of, many lie desolate?

Who mind Can. 109. that prohibits Common-Swearers, Common-Drunkards, notori­ous Whoremasters and Whores, &c. from the Blessed Sacrament of the Lords Supper? Do not even Bishops hear men Swear a thousand Oaths in their hearing, and either do not or dare not use any discipline against them; and yet they pretend their great business is disci­pline, and if they be not good at that, what are they good for more than the Inferiour Clergy, that bear the burden and sweat of the day?

The 112. enjoyns Ministers and Church-Wardens to present every one of their Parish that took not the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, (being 17 years of age, of either Sex) at Easter last; Is this done? or if it be, what comes of it? more than to help the Registers to a little money sometimes, and in the Interim brings all the Parish about the ears of the Minister and Church-Wardens?

The 119. commands all Church Wardens to make a true Presentment of all and every the Articles given them in charge, and to which they are Sworn, and not perfunctorily, and for form sake only: But let but the Church-Wardens give the Registers their money, and subscribe omnia benè; though all be amiss, yet all is heal'd up with two or three shillings.

The 120th. Canon decrees that all Citations of quorum nomina should be sent out subscri­bed by the Judge or Surrogate of the Court, and not only by the Register, But who ob­serves it?

The 135. and 136. enjoyns a Table of Fees to be hung up in the place where the Ec­clesiastical Courts are kept, that every one may at his pleasure take a Copy, but works of darkness hate the light.

The Statute enjoyns upon great penalty, that they shall not take above 6 d. for any Let­ters of Administration or Probate, where the Goods of the Deceased amount not to 5 l. But they will have 17 s. 10 d. though the Goods come not to 40 s. and 18 s. 2 d. where the Goods amount to above 40 l. And for engrossing the Inventory, and one Story or other, they'le make the Administrator pay at the least 17 s. or 18 s. (when the Goods come not to 40 s.) And when the Goods come to above 40 l. they never take less than six and twenty shillings, sometimes 30 s. sometimes 40 s. sometimes 50 s. sometimes more, as I can instance in very many particulars.

And if a poor man Indict them upon the Statute, they have so many Holes to ereep out as, and great friends (that go snips with them perhaps) that little good is to be done upon them, as well as little good by them.

But I confess that the Canons of 1603. and 1640. stand upon weak Foundations, for the reasons aforesaid, in comparison of those Canons made by the Four first General Councils (wherein all consent) and also all other Canons Provincial and Synodical made before 25 Hen. 8. are all by the 19. of 25 Hen. 8. confirmed, so that they be not contrary and repug­nant to the Laws of this Realm.

Yet in the 15th and 16th Canon of the first General Council of Nice, it is provided, that no Bishop shall remove from one Bishoprick to another that is fatter and better; nor that any Pres­byter remove from one Benefice to another, because the great Tythes fill a greater Barn.

(By vertue whereof Eusebius Pamphilius (that writ the Ecclesiastical History) refused to remove from the little Bishoprick of Caesarea, to be the great Bishop of Constantinople (prof­fer'd to him by the Emperor Constantine the Great) (But Constantinople, in those days, no, nor yet Rome, had an Arch Bishop, that name was not yet in Fashion.) And for this mo­desty of Eusebius, (as one that was Proof against Pride and filthy lucre,) Constantine decla­red he was fit to be Bishop of the whole world.)

But I must reclaim my Pen, for if I go on in instances of this nature and at this rate, what will become of me, if some men happen to discover who I am, and see through my Con­cealment? for it is a known adage of old, confirm'd by every mans daily experience, Obse­quium amicos, veritas odium parit; I know, a Tyger is not more enrag'd nor more revengeful, than a Proud and Covetous man when he is told those plain Truths that gaul him; especi­ally if he be a man of much Power and little Grace.

Not a word more, therefore (at present especially;) and the rather because the subject of my Discourse will lead me to name some honest Canons hereafter that will cut some men to the very heart, that are mightily for the Canon Law, and yet practise it not in any thing that thwarts their Pride and avarice.

But I shall do it in hopes that those Canons may do some good upon them, for really I be­lieve, some of these imposers of Canons upon others, never heard of some that I shall name by and by, for all their vaunting of Canons, Canons; 'tis probable they have ply'd their Guns and such Canons, more than ply'd their Books, or else they could not be so ignorant, as I per­ceive some of them are, upon Discourse.

But I cannot fully handle this Argument of the Canons, except I enquire in the second place,

Quer. 2 Query II. What kind of Canons were in use in the Apostles dayes, and Primitive times, and who the first Inventers or Founders of Canons?

GAnon is the Greek word for a Carpenters-Rule, it is a word of Architecture: signifying the Rule, that directs men in building.

Answ. Whence it is that the Holy Scriptures are called a Canon: as in Gal. 6.16. Phil. 3.16. and in several other places: Canons therefore are nothing else but Ecclesiastical Rules or By-Laws made by the Church for its better edification.

The first Synod (say some) or rather private Conventicle of Christians after our Blessed Saviours Resurrection, we read of Acts 1. Synod 1. Acts 1. and they met about the choice of an Apostle to suc­ceed Judas and take his place, St. Peter being the Prolocutor, when the whole number of names was 120.

To these Brethren St. Peter makes a Speech, and (not he, but) they [...], Statuerunt, made a Statute or a Canon, publicè & totius Collegii suffragiis, the most Votes carried it.

The second was called Acts 9. to make new Officers in the Church, Synod 2. called Overseers for the poor, or Deacons; which last word in the Original only signifies Your humble Servant; or a ready and vigilant Minister.

Therefore sometimes the Magistrates are called Deacons, Rom. 13.4.

Sometimes women are so called, Rom. 16.1. Sometimes St. Paul is called a Deacon, Col. 1.23.25. 2 Cor. 2.6. and so is Timothy, 1 Tim. 4.6. Sometimes all Believers are called Dea­cons by Christ himself, John 12.26.

And at this meeting the Principal Electors that chose these seven Deacons, were the People, the multitude of Disciples, Acts 6.2, 5. when they were pleased, Then they (the multitude) chose Stephen.

The third was a Conventicle of the believers of Jerusalem: Synod. 3. And from this of all other in Holy Writ all the Councils in after Ages derive their Authority, as well as Platform.

For this was the first that made Canons or Decrees to bind the absent; but what Burdens or obligations? only a very few and very easie, and under no penalty upon those that disobeyed; yet in this Council where not only the holy Apostles, but the Holy Ghost was present and president, yet for all that, those few and harmless Canons there made, were not (like the Laws of the Medes and Persians) unalterable and irrefragable.

For at the next Council held in the same Town, and by the same men, St. James and the rest of the Presbyters, Acts 21.18. were of another opinion (as aforesaid) concerning the observation of Mosaical Ceremonies, particularly Circumcision.

But the Canons of the same third Synod, we find in Acts 15.28, 29. only two verses; Acts 15.28, 29. not a Book of Canons; and those Canons (or rather one single Canon,) short, full, modest and cha­ritable; namely, It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no greater burthen (they were not wanton in their Impositions, but how tender, and loth to load men) than these necessary (not trivial) things; That ye abstain from meats offered to Idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from Fornication; from which, if ye keep your selves, ye shall do well; Fare ye well.

Ye shall do well, fare ye well; why? that's well said, and honestly, and Christian like.

That's a great deal better and more like good Christians than to conclude their Canons with Curses and Anathema's, and take them Satan; but modestly and piously, (not the language of Hectors) but the language of the Holy Ghost; ye shall do well, Fare ye well.

But that's not all the Remarks I make upon this Synod, and Canon; it begins, It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us

In which Stile run all the Canons and Decrees of Councils, ever since, but how Apish? how mimical? how false many times? The Holy Ghost did indeed in the Primitives times come frequently not only upon the Apostles, but upon every Christian in the gifts of Miracles, Tongues, &c. that they might well say, (and truly too) It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.

But for men that are only Apes, nay, that cannot so much as shew any signs of the Holy Ghost, (than as it is brought from Rome, &c. in a Cloak-bag) for them to Preface at the Pri­mitive Rate—It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us—Oh Confidence and Forehead!

This third Synod was Celebrated at Jerusalem about fourteen years after our Saviours Re­surrection, in the 4th Claudii Imp. Caesaris.

There (when St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Barnabas, and St. James had made their Speeches) The people were very well pleas'd, Acts 15.22.

Had the Apostles the gifts of the Holy Ghost? so had the people; all the Assembly, Acts 2.1, 2, 7, 8. Did the Holy Ghost descend upon the Apostles? so did he upon all the people, Acts 2.38, 39. upon all that repented and were Baptized: were the Apostles filled with the Holy Ghost? so was all the Assembly, Acts 4.31. so was Stephen before he was chosen Deacon, Acts 6.5. so at Samaria all believers received the Holy Ghost, Acts 8.14, 15, 16, 17 nay, the Holy Ghost fell upon the whole Auditory, Acts 10.44. And that there should be no [Page 10]mistake, St. Peter (you must know it was before he was Pope) he confesses there was no diffe­rence, nor Preference, nor Prelacy; for like Priest, like People, The people have received the Holy Ghost as well as we.

The Disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost, Acts 13.52. so also the Gentiles, Acts 15.8. and the Holy Ghost made no difference, vers. 9. no, no, 'Tis Pride and ambition that makes the difference, The Holy Ghost in his gifts made none; in Temporal affairs there must be a diffe­rence, but to Spiritual gifts the poor are entituled as much as the Rich.

A Deacon, a Presbyter or Priest are names wherewith the Apostles and Primitive Christi­ans were well acquainted; but Arch Deacon and Arch Priest, &c. are but modern coyn, and did not pass currant in the Primitive times of Christianity.

Yet if the ambitions of men did not extend nor aim at any higher reach, than to vye with, or out vye their equals, contemporaries, or betters, it is still but humane ambition and par­donable.

But most of the Councils whether Oecumenical, Provincial, or Synodical since the Primi­tive times have, (ever since the Gifts extraordinary of the Holy Ghost left the Church) vy'd with the Apostles for the Infallible Spirit in their Assemblies, not an ace less would they go.

Nay, (which is an ambition not less groundless than vain and ridiculous) they would outvy the Apostles in Monopolizing the infallible Spirit to themselves alone (the Clergy, forsooth.)

Whereas all the people, all the brethren (as aforesaid) received the Holy Ghost as well as the Apostles; and they were consulted, and their advice askt in framing Canons as aforesaid.

It being meet, that they that were oblig'd should have a hand, and a heart, a vote and a consent (at least by their Representatives) in those Decrees that obliged them to obedience.

But no such matter, no: for when the French or Spanish faction prevails in the Conclave, when an Arrian Emper or makes an Arrian Council and consequently an Arrian Creed as at Ariminum: and when an Homousian Emperor makes an Athanasian, as in the first General Council of Nice; when an Idolatrous Empress makes Canons for worshipping of Images, Harangu'd to it by some of her favourite Priests, as in the second Council of Nice; when Simony, Flattery, Hypocrisie or Sorcery creates a Pope, and a thousand Fopperies, Partialities and Interest of Princes swayes in the Conclave of Cardinals; yet none of them all will bate a Tittle of the old Preface to their Canons—namely—It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.

Constantine (the great) was no Arrian, nor yet Eusebius Bishop of Caesarea (before praised) whatever some men imagine, but without dispute he made the greatest part of the Creed for the whole Council of Nice.

As may be seen at large in his Epistle to the people of his own Diocess; Theod. lib. 1. c. 12. which the great Constantine very well approved of.

But the Council of Nice had a hand in altering it a little, and made some little addition of the word Homousios or Consubstantial (which neither Eusebius nor any Orthodox man does gain-say) nevertheless that un scriptural word, (though according to the sense of Scripture) made the greatest Schism in the Church that ever was, and was (at last) the great cause of the Turks Conquests and Triumphs over Christendom; The Arrians (which once was the Major part of Christendom) chusing rather to turn Turks, (that owned, and to this day own the Lord Jesus Christ to be the great Prophet of God, and with whom they met with fairer quarters than amongst some of the Orthodox; so fatal has it been to Christendom to impose unscriptural words upon mens Consciences under the Title of the Infallible Spirit and Holy-Ghost, in meer disputable points, that will endure Contest to the worlds end.)

As if God and our Lord Jesus Christ with the Holy Ghost, (The Holy Trinity) did con­demn all men, as fast as one man condemns another; and meerly too, because they cannot see to split a hair (as few men of all mankind are so quick-sighted) betwixt Homousion and Homoiousion; or, betwixt one substance with the Father, and alike substance with the Father.

I'le only add the words of Eusebius, Theod. l. 1. c. 12. namely, Therein (in the said first Council of Nice) It was Prohibited that any man should make use of any Terms which the Custom of the Scriptures do not allow; by which Phrases (or Terms) have happened all these Revels and Disorders wherewith the Church is thus disturb'd.

Observe how agreeable that Note of Eusebius is to that Divine 20th. Article of the Church of England, set down at length in the beginning of this Discourse.

And how careful our first Reformers were, and tender of laying Stumbling-blocks before the weak; not delighting to make them fall in hopes to get a top of them, or get some booty from them, much less did they cram unscriptural Articles, Canons, and Creeds down mens throats, and ram them down with a Curse, an Anathema, or Excommunication; However no &c. Creeds and Canons are so ramm'd down.

Again, by what Authority do they lay Injunctions and Burdens, Canons and Decrees on all mankind that are Christians?

Whilst the Roman-Emperour had the universal Monarchy, there might be General Coun­cils, to whom he gave Command to sit, approv'd or disprov'd their Acts, and gave life and vigour to their Canons when Enacted: But now it is next to Impossible (now that both Emperour and Pope have such a Precarious sway) that there should be an Oecumenical Council, the Old House is too much broken to pieces and divided against it self.

Besides, if there were a General-Council, what Tokens are upon them of the Holy Ghost, more than upon a Parliament, who pretend not to be Bigots, nor to have the people Bi­gotted, but ruled by God, according to the Laws of the Land they live in, in all quietness, godliness and honesty; and in Righteousness and Holiness, according to the Divine Laws of the Land Men live in?

For if once Men come to dispute Authority, and the wisdom of the Laws and Law-makers, the next step is Confusion and Rebellion; nor did, or can any Government under Heaven subsist, when they are not able to avow and execute their Laws against all Gainsayers.

This, notwithstanding, does not urge that Governours, if wise, should be wanton in Power, and lay unnecessary Burdens upon their people, (though weak) for they are the least able to bear; and if the Laws or Canons they impose be nothing but some necessary things, (as did the said Synod of Jerusalem) there are none but obstinate and querulous persons that will refuse Obedience; and such must be made to know themselves, or else the Govern­ment sits very unsteady, as being precarious, (the condition of Supplicants, not of such as bear Sway and Authority.)

And one would wonder that those that have Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, (if now there be any such thing) should desire to hold it, at this Precarious Rate they do; (I say not this, that I grudge any Power they have, but wish them more.)

But Power (though fading) is so pleasant to some Men, that they are loth to part with it, or, (like frank Gamesters) venture it for a better, and as much more; rather like drowning Men, they lay hold of that that does but help to sink, and drown them in con­clusion.

And is it not worth the greatest care to give relief in this Extremity; or set the Church, (that is) the Kingdom to rights, which has gone so long lame and limping on the right side?

But how shall this be done, (there's the skill) or who shall do it? The Synod sure, that call themselves the Representative Church of England, in pain of Anathema to all that dare deny.

Ay, but the Laity, the Laity have got generally an odd opinion, to see with their own Eyes, and not by Spectacles, especially not Spectacles of Clergy make; which of old they were so long us'd to, they thought it spoiled their eye-sight; and so being kept blind, the Clergy led them by the nose, whilst the ignorant Laity pinn'd their Faith upon the Clergy-mans sleeve; and Ignorance was the Mother of their Devotion.

Besides, The naked Truth is uniform, but Canons and Decrees of Clergymen do so differ and clash one with another, that it is impossible they should all be truth; Truth which never yet was patcht and Pye-bal'd, or wore a Party-colour'd Coat.

But how has one Council condemn'd and curst another to the pit of Hell? How usual for one Pope to dig up the Carcase of his immediate Predecessour, and either hang him up (in Effigie at least) or throw his dead Body (after it has been sufficiently abused) (at farewell) into Tyber?

Again, why do Clergy men only Represent in Council, and not all the Brethren (the Laity) as of old? How come Synod men to be so lickt, that all others compar'd to them, are but an ugly shapeless Lump of deformity? Or, how come they, the Clergy, to be the Represen­tative Church of England, (when met in Synod) though the Lay-people never gave any Votes in their Election, nor so much as any of their Advices consulted, about the chusing those Members of the Convocation? And if not, how come they obliged to obey their Decrees and Canons, when they never gave them their Suffrages and consent?

Though the Clergy chuse some of them, (the Nether-house) for so they distinguish (Parlia­ment like) yet the Ʋpper house is made up of Bishops, and the Richer Dignitaries, Deans, Arch-Deacons, &c. which make up by far the major part; the Inferiour Clergy of the King­dom have no Vote in their Election, and yet must be concluded by them, their Canons and Decrees, as if they really had given their Suffrages to their Election, and the Constituting of the Synod, for it is all but umbrage.

As for Example; In the Diocess of London, there are Five Arch-deaconries; namely, the Arch-deaconries of London, Essex, Middlesex, Colchester, and Hartford.

In each of these Arch-deaconries, Two of their Inferiour Clergy are chosen Procurators for the ensuing Synod, (Elected de novo as often as there is a new Parliament chosen.)

And these Ten (one would think) should be a very fine ballance to the Hierarchy and Richer Dignitaries, (the Bishop, Dean, Five Arch-deacons, the Chapter, &c.) and al­most, but not altogether able to turn the Scales.

But, (I thank you) when it comes to, there's no such matter; for it is five to one that not one of those Synod men (which with such ado are Elected) shall sit.

For the Bishop, out of these Ten, chuses and culls out Two, and sends the rest home again, as if they never had been chosen; And how then should these Synod men be called proper­ly (and in pain of Damnation so owned) for the Representative Church of England, since they are not at all Elected by the Laity, nor any of the Ʋpper-house chosen by the Clergy; and of the Nether house, but Two of Ten (that are chosen) are suffered to sit?

Besides, that said Branch of 1 Eliz. 1. on which the Convocation did once flourish, be­ing now wither'd and made of no effect, what does a Convocation signifie (all these things con­sider'd together) towards a Representative Church of England, and to lay Burthens and Impositions (necessary or unnecessary) upon the Natives, without his Majesties Commission?

Besides, since 1 Eliz. 1. is repealed, (whereby the High-Commission-Court had so great Power, as (by vertue of that Statute) to dispense with the said Statute of 1 Edw. 6.2.) af­ter it was revived by 1 Jacob. 25. all the Reign of King James, and part of Car. 1. so that they never did admit the King's Arms into the Seal of the Court, nor yet vouchsafe to send Process and Citations, &c. in any other Name, (no not the Kings) but their own only, is to be attributed to the dreadful awe in which Nobles, Lawyers, Gentry, and Commonal­ty were kept, by the Terrors of a Star-Chamber, and High Commission-Court.

Which being now Dissolved, Quere, whether they must not be accountable for the neglect of that Statute of 1 Edw. 6.2. whenever Authority shall reckon with them? (in good time.) But in other cases 'tis said,—Forbearance is no Acquittance.

These Oecumenical, Provincial, Synodical, Classical, &c. Assemblies and Synods, with their Directories and Impositions, Canons, and Decrees, have made a great deal of noise and bub-bub in the World: Theod. lib. 1. c. 6. which brings to my mind that passage of Eusebius, Bishop of Nicome­dia (an Arrian) to the Lord Paulinus Bishop of Tyrus,—namely,—Some approved one Party, some another. The Actions of both parts lookt not only like a Tragedy, but also deserved much weeping and lamentation. The case was not now as in former times; for they were not For­raign Enemies that took Arms against the Church, but Men of one Houshold, of one Kind­red; yea, and such as were Fellows at one Table: instead of Lances, they whetted their Tongues one against another. Nay, moreover, when they were Members compacted and united into one body; yet for all that, they were armed to Battle within themselves.

Then since (as must be confessed) men whilst humane are subject to erre, and especially in their own cases, and for their own Interest, to be partial, cruel and passionate; since one Canon contradicts another, one Synod another, one Assembly another, and perhaps all of them repugnant to Truth, Holy Scripture, and the Laws of this Realm: Until it please God to send us the Infallible Spirit, God grant us the humble, meek and milde Spirit; not this bloody, cruel, Horse-leach Spirit of imposing upon men, and making them believe in spight of their teeth, and putting out their eyes because they are not so good and clearly discerning, or more quicksighted than our own; calling one another Heretick to the end of the Chapter; which has (as aforesaid) caused most of the Miseries, Wars, Mutinies, Blood­shed and Calamities in the Christian World.

Object. But shall men be left at Liberty then, to believe what they list?

Answ. Yes, they shall in spight of all men living: You may make men tell Lies, and rehearse the Articles of their Belief; but you are ne'er the wiser: for none but God, the searcher of hearts, knows whether they believe what they rehearse. Nay, the heart of man is so de­ceitful, that few men know their own hearts, or what they do believe with the heart; nay, you have many times a close Atheist excommunicating and cursing Christians, that do not believe according to his Canons; though in his sleeve he laugh at all Creeds and all Canons.

Object. Shall men then have Liberty of Conscience?

Answ. Yes, they shall as to matters of Faith, in spight of all the world; but as for Works that are contrary to the Laws of the Land (which ought not withstanding to be tender of imposing unnecessary Creeds and Burdens, that are not contained in express Scripture (beyond dis­pute) and not lay traps on purpose to ensnare and make men forfeit their Livings and Livelihoods to men of greater Latitude.) The Magistrate must either justifie his Laws and vindicate them, or repeal them, or his Authority will soon come to a period. God and Nature seem to delight in Variety, and in making Men and Women (all in the world) of different Features, Ayres, Dimensions, Complexions, &c. And how do we know that Almighty God is so much displeased with Variety of Opinions also, as some men imagine? Though we have different Physiognomies and different Eye-sights, yet we all continue to be men. And though we have different Judgements, Minds, and Opinions, (some more clear, some more purblind) yet we may all continue Christians.

But suppose other men do not (cannot for their lives) see so well as we, or so well as the Synod, or the Magistrate, yet must we therefore pull out, or put out their eyes; deliver them to the Devil first, and then to the Gaol, and after all to the pit of Hell; And for ex­pedition sake thither with the more speed, (until the writ De Haeretico comburendo was Can­cell'd) Fire and Faggot.

These have been the Methods, this the Piety of bloody Synods and bloody Bonners; and distinguishing themselves (all the better) from all mankind, by the name of Clergy, Clergy. The word (Clergy) indeed is a Scripture expression, but never but once found in Holy Writ, and then it signifies Lay-men, 1 Pet. 5.3. the Flock, not the Sheepherd that feeds the Flock. The Presbyter Peter advising his Fellow Presbyters, or Priests, [...], ne (que) ut domminantes Cleris; Not Lording it over God's Lot, over the flock (there called) Clergymen, (that is) Laymen.

Nay this I'll say for these Clergymen, some of them, shall knock a word out of joynt and do as feat things as any Layman of them all.

Notable was the first Canon that ever was made by a General Council, the first at Nice; namely, 'Si quis à Medicis propter languorem defectus est, &c. ‘If any man be guelt by the Chirurgeons because of the Disease, (you wot of) or Eunuch'd by the Barbarians, we are content he shall remain a Clergyman. But if, being wholesome and found, he make himself an Eunuch, (as did the great Origen) he, although he be a Clergyman, ought to be made a Layman again: And if such a man be a Layman, he shall never be Ordain'd a Clergyman. As also we Ordain the same therefore against those that are so audacious as to gueld themselves: But if the Barbarians or their Masters gheld them, such, if they be of good Conversation, are by this Canon admitted to become Clergymen.’

These Holy Fathers in this General Council were three long years a sitting before they brought forth those Canons, Theodoret. l. 1. c. 7. and all the while plentifully maintain'd by the unparallel'd Muni­ficence of the Emperour Constantine. But one unlucky Accident had like to have spoiled all at last, if their Wisdomes had not salv'd it up; 'twas this:

Two of those same Bishops (318. says Theodoret; 270. almost, says Eustathius Bishop of Antioch, who made one; 270 just, faith Athanasius, who was also there present;) it happen'd, I say, that two of them (called Chrysanthus and Musonius) departed this Life, Priusquam Acta Synodi perficerentur, &c. faith Nicephorus. This put the Reverend Fathers to a notable plunge, faith Nicephorus. (For it seems it was not yet agreed, whether the Infallible Holy Ghost sway'd every Individual, or but some, or but the Major-part, or on­ly whilst in Cathedris; or went also home with them to their Lodgings: whether he was totus in toto, or in qualibet parte totius.)

But to make all sure, what do they, but away (no doubt upon serious deliberation and con­sultation among themselves) they go to the Church-yard or Sepulchres, and standing by the Graves of the two deceased Bishops, with the said Nicene Canons in their hands, (as if they had been alive, and had had Ears to hear) they made their address to them in these words, and with this following Common prayer and Harangue. Holy Fathers! (said they) ye that with us have fought (true enough) the good fight, and have finisht your course, and kept the Faith; if there­fore ye, that are enlightned with the Beams of the Trinity, and see things more cleverly, all In­terpositions being done away; we say, if ye approve of what we have done, 'tis fit (telling those glorified Saints their duty) that you do also with us subscribe this little Book (of Ca­nons.)

And having made this Speech, they left the Book upon the Tomb sealed up, and watcht all night; but the next day returning to the Sepulchre, they found the Seals untoucht; and opening the Book, they found their Hands (with which they were very well acquainted) newly sub­scribed among the rest, viz. in these very words,—We Chrysanthus and Musonius, who sate with all the Fathers in the first Holy Occumenical Council of Nice, though Translated from the Body, have yet subscribed this Libel with our own hands.

And it was kindly and civilly done of them, I'le assure you, to leave their Heavenly Stations, and visit the Tombs, at the request of Mortals praying to Saints; nay, and to have learnt to write neither better nor worse, but the very same old Characters their Writing masters had taught them, (for so Nicephorus adds in the story) Subscriptiones illorum reliquis incertas cognovère recentes adhuc in hac verba conceptas. The old Fathers knew their hands again, when they saw them, very well, the Ink was scarce dry upon the Book. And a further Miracle it was, that the Ink being scarce dry did not blot, the Book being clos'd up and Seal'd.

And the greatest wonder was, that one Town could hold so many Bishops three years toge­ther, without venting their Malice and Spleen against one another, more remarkably than when at their first Meeting, every one (like fierce Tygers) snarling, biting, assaulting, and flying in the face of each other, by Articles and informations, endeavouring to make each other more black; (that were black enough already) and by blemishing their Reputations with the General, get them turn'd out of their Livings; Constantine had work enough (says the Historian) to keep the Peace amongst them and to keep them quiet; and as the best Expedient, he call'd them all before him, and every ones heart leapt with joy and fear; with joy, that the Articles he had put in against his adversary should be first read and consider'd; but yet in a trembling fear, lest the black-lot should be his own; from which sears the Emperour forthwith deliver'd them all, by making a Bonefire of all the Indict­ments, and charging them thenceforth to keep the Peace. And blessed be God for this piety and prudence of the Emperor, or else with what strange dismal features had these Holy Fa­thers been decipher'd to posterity, if their Pictures (as they had drawn and pourtrayed one another in their Informations) had been transmitted to after-Ages, instead of being com­mitted to the fire.

Yet the Clergy, The Clergy, (what by the Piety of some Princes, and the simplicity of others) got such Immunities and Priviledges to sin and offend the Laws, and yet be free from the Cognizance or Jurisdiction of the Lay-Magistrate, that they begun to distinguish themselves in Habit from other men, and colour of their Clothes (as did the Pharisees of old) that a man thought himself never so safe, as when he had got on a Cassock and Girdle, or some such distinguishing weed.

I doubt not but St. Peter and St. Paul were as good Clergy-men as the best of them; and yet after they were Apostles, who could distinguish them for such, (as the word Clergy is now taken) that had found St. Peter a fishing, with his Fishers Coat tuckt about him; and St. Paul in his Loom a weaving?

But in process of time, the Presbyters or Priests begun to call themselves alone, the Church; themselves alone, the Council, and Synod; and themselves alone, God's Heritage, or God's Lot; or, (which is all one) his Clergy.

But since this word Clergy has so long obtain'd in the world (how properly I have alrea­dy discuss'd) and also is become part of-some Statutes in England, I (that hate Innovation without great cause) will even let it go as it is, and take it in its common acceptation here­after. I only have said thus much, to show, that neither the Name nor the Thing; nei­ther the word Clergy, nor yet God's Heritage, belongs any more to this Tribe of Levi, than to other Christians, if so much; nor that they alone above all others; nor some of the few and odd ones amongst them (much less) are the Representative Church of England, and must needs be acknowledged so to be, in pain of Excommunication, the Gaol, and Damnation. And by the premises it seems to be evident, that there is no Law, or Canon, at this day in force, or of force sufficient to make them such a Represen­tative.

One Head we all acknowledge, viz. Imperial; but the Pastoral Head was Beheaded (as aforesaid) when the Popes Head was cut off. And where is that Hydra that dare put his Prelatical, Fifth-Monarchy, or Presbyterian Head in his room?

Laymen cannot see so readily the Tokens of the Infallible Spirit amongst these Clergy and Synod-men, that they boast of; but that they are faulty and frail (at least) as much as other prudent Men: even in that first general Council, (before praised) Arrius had some friends amongst them to the last, and such that refused their Bishopricks (no common Bigots I'le pro­mise you) and contemning the glorious Caresses and gifts of an Emperour (that seem'd to be enamoured and in love with those Reverend Fathers, even almost to sin) rather than they would subscribe (to keep their High seats) the Nicene Creed.

And when after the death of Constantine, when the Arrian Creed and Religion came to be uppermost, and the State-Religion, and the opinion countenanc'd, preferr'd, and infa­shion at Court, (as it did in the days of his Son and Successor Constantius) many of the Nicene-Creed-Bishops fac'd about, kept their Bishopricks and their Livings, being not now neither Non-Conformists, like the Vicar of Bray; only Athanasius alone stood it out to the last with great constancy.

In the Seventeenth Canon of the said first Council of Nice, it is ordained, that no Bi­shop shall ordain any that are not of his own Diocess, without the consent of the Bishop of that Diocess to whom he appertains; or if he does, the Ordination is null and void.

Whence note, how easie was the Remove from being a Clergy-man back again (as you were) a Lay-man; where was the indelible Character in those days that the Papists prate of?

The Eighteenth Canon is made against Clergy-men that are Usurers, the penalty was, loss of his Bishoprick, or Living; and also the Clergy-man for his Usury was made a Lay-man again; so small was the leap from Clergy to Laity.

In the Twentieth Canon, (being the last) it is piously ordained, that no man shall pray kneeling upon the Lords-day, or in the days of Pentecost.

But enough of the Canons, and these first Canons and Canon-makers; I'le conclude them as St. Bernard does, Homil. 4. super missus est.

Videas plerosque in Ecclesiâ de ignobilibus nobiles, de pauperibus divites factos, subitò intume­scere, pristinae oblivisci abjectionis, genus quoque suum erubescere, & infimos dedignare pa­rentes, &c.

Video & alios (quos non sine dolore videri debet) post aggressam Christi Militiam, rursùs saecularibus implicari negotiis, rursùs cupiditatibus terrenis immergi, cum magnâ curâ exigere muros, & negli­gere mores, &c.

‘You may see (quoth he) very many Church-men of mean Parentage, now made equal with Noblemen; of poor Fellows, now made Rich; and swell so suddenly, and look big, that the Priest forgets that ever he was Clark; nay, he's asham'd of his own Parents, and the stock he came on.’

‘And some Money'd-men (you may see) fly presently into high Ecclesiastical Dignities, and then presently admire themselves for their worth and holiness; when (alas!) they have got indeed richer Copes, not richer Brains; thinking themselves Men of Worth, and de­serving that great Dignity, to which they arriv'd through the assistance of great friends and flattery: And (if I durst say) which they purchast with their Money, not with their deserts. Not to speak of those that are so hoodwink't with Ambition, that their places makes them proud, and high, and unsociable, &c. coveting to involve themselves in Secular Affairs, and Ambitious Designs, after they have listed themselves Souldiers in the Camp of Christ, (which I am very much troubled to see) they being more careful to Erect stately Mannors, than to correct their evil Manners, &c.’

Query III. Of Procurations, Synodals, and Visitations.

Query. WHether (since by the Laws of this Realm, no man ought to take a Purse, or exact any Money but by Act of Parliament) Procurations, Synodals, and Visitations, may be exacted of (and paid by) the Inferiour Clergy, to the richer Dignitaries?

Answ. Procurations are certain Impositions exacted from the Clergy, by the Bishops, and his (Eyes called) Arch-Deacons in their Visitations, claiming the same by ancient Custom, but no Law.

The original of these Procurations is (pretended to be) a Compact or Agreement made betwixt the Incumbent and the Visitor, (viz. the Bishop, or Arch-Deacon) whereby each Incumbent charged himself or his Benefice with such a yearly Rent to the Visitor, to defray his and their Charges at some great Town fit for their reception, at a publick Meeting or Visitation of the Clergy, rather than be pestered with entertaining the Visitor and his Train (which grew like a snow-ball the further it roll'd) in their Ecclesiastick Visitations, which of old were the only Visitations.

But he that has but a life-Estate (as no Parson or Vicar has any more) in his Benefice, can never grant a Rent for ever out of such Benefice, and bind his Successors; nil dat quod non habet; it is not so much as an Annuity or Rent-seck, much less can the Incumbent or Termer grant a Rent-charge, no not with the consent of the Patron; Spiritual Livings being surely incorporeal things.

You see then, if some do but (of any fashion) get in one foot, it is hard getting them out again: perhaps they'l say, (as some have done) that no Clergyman Benefic'd, Rector not Vicar, has any Freehold in his Living, but all is the Bishop's; and the Inferiour Clergy that do the great Work, are but the Bishops Curates and Journey-men. I'le assure you, some of them are so ignorant, that they know no better, and dare not value themselves, nor be­have themselves in his presence at a higher rate.

And yet this Lording over the Clergy, this exercising Dominion one Clerg man over another, as the Princes of the Gentiles, and usually call'd Prelacy, is not only absolutely forbid by our Blessed Saviour, as aforesaid; but as much care and provision made against the Pride and Avarice of the greater sort of Clergymen, (if such cob-web and net-work Laws or Canons could hold the mighty) as heart can wish.

To instance in a few that first come to my mind at present, (for some men will never take warning, until their Iniquities become to be hateful to all Mankind.)

Our Blessed Saviour warns them, the Apostle Peter warns them not to play the Bishop for fil­thy lucre, but of a ready mind; the ancient Councils, Fathers, Canons, Laws and Statutes warn them, and command to forbear this more than bestial rapacity: but surdo fabulam, for (of all spoyls) none are made with more ease and safety, than when the Inferiour Clergy become a Prey to the great ones; yet no spoils are so unchristian, unhumane, nor so unnatural.

Tygers spare their own whelps; Eagles, Hawks, and Kites, use not their sharper Ta­lons against Birds of their own feather; Dogs indeed and Swine only (of all Brutes) have a stomach to feed upon, eat up, and devour their own kind.

Dictum est etiam quod in plerisque locis Archidiaconi super Fresbyteros exerceant Dominatis­nem, & ab eis censum exigant,Cabilonens. Synod. 2. cap. 15.quod magis ad Tyrannidem quàm ad Rectitudinis ordinem pertinet.

Si enim Episcopi, juxta Petri Apostoli sententiam, non debent esse dominantes in clero, sed farma facti gregis ex animo, multò minùs isti boc facere debent. Sed contenti sint regularibus discipli­nis, & teneant propriam mensuram, & quod eis ab Episcopis jungitur, hoc per parochias suas exer­cere studeant, nihil per cupiditatem aut avaritiam prasumentes. (that is)

‘It is reported, that in many places Arch-Deacons domineer over Parish Priests, and will have Money of them; which exaction borders upon Tyranny, rather than right Or­der and Justice.’

‘For if Bishops, in the opinion of the Apostle Peter, ought not to Lord it over the Clergy, but take the oversight of the flock, not by constraint, but willingly; much less should these Fellows do the same: but be content with good Discipline (and the Corps of their Arch-Deaconry) keeping within their own bounds; and endeavour to put the Bishops Injunctions in execution all over the Diocess, not daring to do any thing through Ava­rice or greediness.’

There is a like Order made in Concil. Lateran. sub Alexandro 3. Concil. Lat. par. 2. c. 3. to the Archbishop of Canterbury, against Exactions of this nature; and the Extortions of the Arch-Deacon of Coventry.

Object. If it be objected, that these Synods are none of the Four first General Councils;

Answ. It is readily confest; for how should they make Laws against the Exorbitances of Arch-Deacons, when there was no such Creature in nature exercising any Jurisdiction Ecclesiasti­cal, Anast. in vit. Sixt. Rom. Episc. and therefore could not abuse their Authority, till they had it to abuse?

I read indeed Anno Dom. 260. of St. Lawrence an Arch-Deacon, Martyr'd in that year, saith Anastasius.

But this Arch-Deacon had nothing of our Arch-Deacons but the Name; he was indeed Arch-Deacon (in English) the Arch-servant, or Chief Deacon to the Bishop, of all the Servants or Deacons about him.

He was Chief Turn-key, Prudent. de Coronis. (saith Prudentius) describing his Office; at best, but Chief Porter or Door keeper, that kept the Keys of the poor mans Box, and the Church-doors; Claustris sa­crorum praeerat, (to use the words of Prudentius) coelestis arcanum domus fidis gubernans clavibus, votasque dispensans opes: ‘The Arch-Deacon was chief Turn-key, or chief Stew­ard among the Deacons, and chosen by themselves from among themselves.’

The next Arch-Deacon I read of, was one Stephen, Anno 255. Arch-Deacon to Cornelius Pope of Rome; St. Ambrose had got one about the year 400.

Afterwards the Name, by the favour of the Emperors of Constantinople, became a Name of some repute; for till then, Mr. Arch-Deacon was not suffered to sit, nor yet to be co­ver'd in presence of a Parish Priest.

But about this time, (as before Diocesans began to appropriate the Name of Bishops to themselves alone, which in the Apostles days signified no more than Presbyter; as appears by 1 Pet. 5.1. Tit. 1.5, 6, 7. where the Presbyter in the fifth verse, is called Bishop in the seventh verse: and Acts 20. the Elders or Presbyters, verse seventeen, are called Bishops verse twenty eight: Take heed therefore unto the flock over which the Holy-Ghost hath made you Bishops) also Arch-Deacons, and the Bishops-Dean or Deacon was chosen (though very improperly) out of the Presbyters, who had lost that servile name in that of Priest or Elder, than which the Church never knew a greater Title of honour; but as Diocesses did increase, so did the profit also of being the Bishop's Deacon or Dean; and what Priest or Rector, (that could) would not strive to be the Favorite-Dean, or Arch-Dean?

Though (as we esteem in England) such Men are more properly called Arch Priests: And these Arch-Deacons in the Diocess of London, are five as aforesaid.

For when Bishops had Diocesses so large and great as now they are, if they were never so Eagle-sighted, it is impossible one Man could oversee them.

Therefore then they got for themselves these Spectacles, or rather Eyes (for so the Arch­Deacons are called oculi Episcoporum.) And in London Diocess there are (as aforesaid) Five Auxiliary-eyes; Revel. 4.6. in imitation (some think) of those Beasts in the Revelations, which had Eyes before and behind: only there is some difference in the number, for there were but Four beasts, here Five.

I hope no Man is so ignorant as to think this Similitude a Sarcasm to the Five Arch-Dea­cons; for it is the greatest honour that ever was conferred upon them.

For two of the most Learned Interpreters of our Age, Grotius and Doctor Hammond, agree that these four Beasts aforesaid, were four Apostles, Peter, John, Paul, and Bar­nabas, saith Doctor Hammond very probably; but Grotius thinks those Four Beasts were Peter, James, (the Lords Brother, Bishop of Jerusalem) Matthew, and St. Paul. But this by the by; only to avow and vouch the Complement past upon the Arch-Deacons, those Bishops eyes before and behind, to help him [...], to inspect or oversee his Diocess; and if he had as many Eyes as Argus, he would not have one superfluous Eye in so great a Cure, a Care and a Charge.

In the Apostle's days, the Office of a Bishop was a good thing; but now it is also a great thing; a great trouble to be sure for one man, a trouble and a charge too.

And truly at length, these Arch-Deacons also learnt to be some-bodies, and would be known too in their places. Did the Bishop visit? so would they; Had he any Procurati­ons? so would they, 'till at last Visitations grew so comfortable and pleasant to Mr. Arch-Deacon, and so profitable also, that they never thought themselves in their Harvest, like as when they were at this work of Visitations, what by Commutations of Penance, Money from Church wardens, Money from Delinquents, Money from the Clergy, they had such Golden days on't by Visitations, Procurations, &c. that they would always have been upon the spur to be at it, till their eager vagaries were restrain'd, and they confin'd to make but one Visitation in a year. Therefore we frequently meet with such Canons as this, — Archidiaconi suas Ecclesias semel tantûm quotannis visitent; & Archidiaconi non mulctent excessus pecuniâ, nec nisi Authoritate Episcopi & confensu in alios sententiam promulgent: so that, though these Arch-deacons were the Bishop's Eyes, yet not his mouth; nor could they thunder out an Excommunication without special Licence.

Thus of old onely semel in anno by Visitations (but amongst us) his in anno ridet Archi­diaconus.

Nay, though the Bishop suspends the Arch-Deacons Jurisdiction three Months before, and three Months after his own Visitation; and the Bishop gets the Procurations of the Infe­riour Clergy in his Visitations, (which is every third year) yet Mr. Arch-Deacon will de­mand them over again, and the Clergy (good Men) are so wise and civil as to pay it; even any thing for a quiet life.

Yet in the said Maxime, 'tis added, (after semel tantùm quotannis visitent) nè tamen graves sint; ‘Let the Arch-Deacon visit but once a year, but then also without being (burthen­some; or being)—Such a grievous Man.

Yet Custom is his only pretence for these Exactions, which Apology here aggravates his Crimes; as if one that is accustomed to take a Purse, Swear and Curse, and pick Mens pockets, should say, I beg your pardon, Gentlemen, 'tis but to keep my hand in ure; I am so accu­stom'd to't, I can't help it, indeed I cannot. But custom in sin augments the Crime; like an old ulcer, (that the Leg has long been us'd to) 'tis the harder to be cured, and the harder to be endur'd.

It is a Maxime of the Common-Law (which is especially made up of Customes, landa­ble and reasonable Customes, that) Pur ceo que cest prescription, est encounter reason, ceo est voyd. Customes against reason, (especially against Laws and Statutes to the contrary) are void, Ideoque malus usus abolendus est.

It is a custome time out of mind, for wicked men to take Purses upon Salisbury-plain; will this plea save a Thief from the Gallows?

Consuetudo non prescribit abi per jus expressum reprobatur (Hostiensis.) Hostiensis. No Man can prescribe a Custom against a Positive Law.

And does not the Twenty Ninth Chapter of Magna Charta, Magna Charta confirm'd by Edw. 1. and by Edw. 3. four times, and Rich. 2, &c. (that Sacred Law so often confirm'd, and the breakers thereof so oft Curst by Bell, Book, and Candle, and has with­stood (and stood its ground against) all Violence, Oppressions, Innovations, High-Commis­sion-Courts; &c. in opposition to it, and rising up against it; nay more, it has been proof against the length of time, and looks as fresh and flourishing, as if it were in its prime, and it is my Faith, my Hope, and my Prayers, that it may so continue to the worlds end; sure it was made in a lucky hour) which Enacts That ‘No Free-man shall be taken or Imprisoned, or be disseized of his Freehold, (of which nature are all Rectories and Vicaridges) or Liberties, or Free-customs, or be Out law'd, or Exil'd, or any otherwise destroyed; nor we will not pass upon him, nor Condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land; we will sell to no Man, we will not defer to any Man Justice or Right.’

Bishops are Right Reverend Men, and Arch-deacons Reverend Men, but still they are but Men; and if I were a Clergy man, if I could not hold my Free-hold, nor obtain it (my Be­nefice) but ad nutum Episcopi, I would never hold one whilst I liv'd; for if so, then he that Marries his Chambermaid, or his Son, or his Kinsman, or his Kinswoman's Husband, or his Kinswoman's Maid's Husband, (if a Clergy man) would find one hole or other in my Coat; or, make one (which is more easie and more common) big enough to make me lose their Lordships good opinion; who though good Men, and Right Reverend Men, yet whilst they are so, they may err and be wrapt with Passion, Prejudice, or Interest, against which (I know it experimentally) Innocence is no fence; and therefore I say, if I were a Clergy-man, (as perhaps I am, for ought any body shall know) I would leave them all the Benefices to them­selves, rather than hold them upon such tickle terms, and not like a Free-man, and an English­man, by the Laws of the Land, my Birthright.

And does his Sacred Majesty and his Privy-Councel pretend any right to exact Money, or to raise any, or take any mans Freehold from him, but by Law, and Acts of Parliaments? and shall these Bishops and Arch-Deacons dare to continue these Exactions against Law, a­gainst Christs Law; (not to Bishop it for filthy lucre) against the Law of the Land, and Magna Charta; against Sacred Councels, Fathers, and Canons; and all this, because 'tis easie to prey upon their own poor gentle kind, though so unnatural as aforesaid?

I wonder they are not afraid of these Curses and Anathema's, (if they themselves do believe the vertue of them) and Excommunications, thunder'd out against the Impugners of Magna Charta, so often, by the Bishops of old, with Bell, Book, and Candle? or do think all these Ceremonial Curses were only of force against the Impugners of the first clause of Magna Charta, namely, that Holy Church shall be free.

And do they keep two measures, one to buy by, and another to sell by.

But let Magna Charta and the Laws of the Land sleep at present, I'le only henceforth play my Canons against these Exactions, turn their own Canons upon them, their Canon-Law, and the Civil Law; and sure their Lay-Chancellors will herein stand by them to divert the shock: for they are either good (at skill) in Civil and Canon Laws, (of which they are Pro­fessors) or else what are they good for?

And can there be any fairer play than to fight a man with his own weapons, that he is us'd to, and has skill in, if in any: 'Tis Argumentum ad hominem, (which I'le make use of, and), which of all Arguments soonest stop the mouth; out of thine own mouth will I condemn thee, thou wicked Servant, says the Parrable; and then it soons follows, He was speechless! The A­postle Paul us'd such a stabbing Argument ad hominem, Rom. 2. Thou that sayest (by thine own Law) Rom. 2.22. a man should not steal, doest thou steal? Thou that abhorrest Idols, dost thou commit Sacriledge?

I have instanced enough in the Canon-Law already, but if those many already recited will not do, I'le stop their mouths for ever, if Canons can do it: For none are so frequently met with as Canons to this effect, that Censum à Presbyteris Parochianis exigere, Tyrannicum est. Constitut. Apostol. l. 2. cap. 32. de Agapis. Presbyteris, ut qui laborant in verbo doctrina duplex seponatur, pars in gratiam Apostolorum Domini, cujus locum sustinent, tanquam Conciliarii Episcoporum, & Ecclesia corona.

Let the Presbyters that labour in the Word and Doctrine have double maintainance, for the sake of the Apostles of our Lord, whose Successors they are, (mark that) being the Bi­shops Counsellors, and the Churches Crown.

And those Canons and Constitutions Apostolical (in 8. Books) are numbred amongst the Books of Canonical Scripture, by John Damascen; and by Eusebius, as also Epiphanius, lib. 1. adversus Haereses: J. Damasc. de orthodoxa fide. of the same opinion is Proclus Patriarch of Constantinople, and Oecumeni­us in Comment. in Epist. 1. ad Timoth. so also in Can. Apostol. 84. Athanasius indeed allows them to be of good and wholesome use in the Church, but not Canonical, as composed by St. Clement, the disciple and companion of the Apostles.

But there are so many things foisted in amongst them by the Pope, (who long had the keep­ing of them) that though many good things are amongst them, they are none of my Creed; but good enough to shew against the Canon-Law men, and to prove, that Presbyters or Priests are not (in the judgement of Antiquity) such scums and pitiful fellows, to stand with cap in hand, like so many School-boys, before the Bishop, whilst he schools them, catechises them, lectures them, and calls them to account: from the beginning it was not so, as I will shew anon; they were his Fellows, and Counsellors any where, even in the Church: The only dif­ference was, he sat uppermost, but all sat, (not stood bare-head, like so many Boys.) And can there be any greater cause of the contempt of the Clergy, and their neglect amongst the Laity, then when they see how the Bishop (one of their own Cloth, that should best understand their worth) slights them? good God! whither will not pride and oppression hurry frail man?

Jubemus Presbyterum tantùm docere, Can. Apostol. l. 3. cap. 20.baptizare, benedicere populo: Diaconum ministrare Episco­po & Presbyteris. We ordain, That only the Priest or Presbyter shall preach, baptize and bless the people; and the Deacon, (although Arch-Deacon, (but that he was not then born nor baptized in the Church) ought to wait upon the Bishop and the Priests, or Presbyters.

Cavendum sanè est, Cabil. Synod. 2. cap. 14.nè cùm Episcopi Parochias suas peragrant, quandam damnosam, &c. which I'le faithfully English thus—

‘Special care should be taken, (saith that learned Council) lest the Bishops, going to visit their Diocesses, should play the Tyrants over their Inferiours, or over their Fellows and Comrades, not exacting money of them, by strict and rigorous courses.’

Then follows a Lecture to teach Bishops what they ought to do in their Visitations, and what they ought not to do: 'They ought to spend their time, (in inquirendis rebus emendatione dignis, in praedicatione verbi Dei, in lucris animarum, potius quam depraedandis & spoliandis hominibus, & scandalizandis fratribus, operam dent) ‘in confirming men, in reforming what is amiss, in preaching the Word, busying themselves in gaining Souls, and not in spoiling and making a prey of men, and giving offence to their Brethren.’

Et si quando eis ad peragrandum ministerium suum à fratribus aut subditis aliquid accipiendum est, hoc summoperè observare debent, nè quem scandalizent aut gravent, Tanta ergò in hâc re discretio tenenda est, ut & verbi Dei praedicator sumptus, ubi proprli desunt, à fratribus accipiat, & item fratres, illius potentiâ non graventur; exemplo Apostoli Pauli, qui, nè quem gravaret, arte & manibus victum quaerebat.

‘And if, for the work of the Ministery, somewhat be to be received, either of their Brethren, or else of their Inferiours, yet let them look to't, that they neither burthen any man, nor give offence.’

‘Such prudence therefore is to be used in this affair, that as on the one hand a Preacher of God's Word may recieve somewhat of his Brethren, to bear his charges, when he has (mark that!) no proper maintenance and Revenue of his own; so also his Brethren ought not to be burthen'd with his Mightiship: In imitation of the Apostle Paul, who chose ra­ther to get his living with his hands and Trade, then to be burthensom (or chargeable) to any.’

Get living with their hands! there's no need of that, blessed be God, for the munificence and legal provision is enough, enough (if avarice can possibly have enough) to glut men, without being burthensom to poor Priests and Vicars.

Indeed, if these Bishops and Arch-deacons were as poor as St. Paul, and should come a begging our charity as he did; hard-hearted would that man be, that would not open his purse, for his relief, though his Family fasted for it a day after.

But these are rich and mighty, and with Beaver cock'd, make Speeches, and give in charge, to pay Procurations to one another; (that will not be forgotten I'le warrant,) and not (as the holy Scripture says) Remember the Poor; but Rememember the Rich Arch-deacon, and the richer Bishop, with your Procurations, Synodals, and Visitations; though the poor Vicar's Family pine and pinch for't a Month after.

And if they may not thus gò snips, and share in every Benefice throughout the whole Dio­cess, then Woe be to you, with Suspensions, Anathema's, Excommunications, and the Goal.

And yet some of these Arch-Deacons pay neither to Church nor Poor, neither to Assess­ments, nor yet keeping Hospitality, or so much as keeping House: These Undue-dues then thus coming into Mr. Arch-Deacons hands, (though he be alive, and alive's like,) 'tis no contradiction to say they come in manus mortuas? Is it not within the Statutes of Mortmain?

If they can shew any License from the King, or any of his Predecessors, to vex his Sub­jects thus against Law, Reason, and Equity: If they had orderly sued out their Writ ad quod Damnum, out of Chancery, before they had established this Ecclesiastical Revenue and Annuity, let them shew it: But to plead only a Custom of Sinning against Law, Reason and Conscience, is the absurdest of all their Pleas.

And (in good earnest) if there were no Law against it, Is there any Conscience that a poor, lean, bare-bone-Vicar should thus greaze a fat — Arch-deacon in the — Fist?

I know that when the Devil shew'd our blessed Saviour all the Kingdoms of the World in a moment of time; he said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them, Luke 4.5, 6.for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it. But that was a Lie.

Yet the Pope says, that all the Kingdoms of the World, and the Power and the Glory of them are his, and delivered unto him, and to whomsoever he will, he gives them; but most espe­cially, all Bishopricks and Benefices are his, in his donation; And he gave them (condition­ally) to go snips in them all; that as the High-priest under the Law had the Tenth (of the Priest's Tythes) so he would have the tenth part of every Bishoprick and Benefice.

And though the Bishop is not the High-Priest, as Aaron was, and also that His Majesty has the Tenths, yet they would be known too in their places, and go snips with all the Rect­ors and Vicars in the Diocess, by Procurations, Synodals, and Visitations, &c. which amounts to as much as His Majesties Tenths in many Benefices, and in many also, much more.

Though Aaron's Law is exemplified in paying the Tenths in England, yet never did Aaron exact two Tenths or three Tenths of the Tribe of Levi; let them even take all for me, I hope, in time they'l have enough.

Inventum est quod in quibusdam locis Presbyteri duo denos vel quatuor denos denarios Episcopis in censum annis singulis darent, quod penitus abolendum esse decrevinus; Syn. Cab. 2 [...] cap. 17. (that is) ‘We hear (says the Synod) that in some places the Elders or Presbyters pay the Bishops every year twelve pence or fourteen pence, as a Subsidy or Annuity, which we hereby Decree shall henceforth be utterly abolished.’ (It is to be hoped the King and Parliament will be Pe­tition'd to make such a Decree too here in England.)

Twelve pence or fourteen pence yearly for Procurations! It would be well for thousands of poor Benefic'd Vicars in England, if they could put off the rich Bishop, or his Great Eye (the Arch-deacon) with ten times so much: no, they'l have it to a peny, or else — suspend the profits of the Benefice, silence the Minister ab officio, and not leave him and his Family a farthing to live upon, till they be paid, and till the charges of the Sequestration and costs of Suit be also paid; or else by Excommunication, his Soul is delivered to Satan, and his Body to the Goal; from whence there is no deliverance, till the charges of putting him also into Goal, and for his delivery thence be also paid; (which is about seven pounds, for Spiritual-Court-Fees, and other consequents thereof; I know it.)

So that want of Money delivers the poor Priest to Satan and the Goal; soul and body: and ready Cash again delivers him from both.

The Pope, that has the Keys of Heaven-gates, (if he says true) pay the Porter and he lets you in: And our Absolution-men pretend to have the Key of Hell-gates; and to let men out, from the Devil, to whom they themselves had delivered them for being poor, and un-able to pay: but upon condition tho', that if they have any credit to borrow money enough, or empty the Pewter-shelf to Alchymize into money, to pay the Porter, they let you out; and you are (as you were) rectus in Curiâ, as honest Christians as ever, and you and they as good Friends as ever; Thus Orpheus (is said) to trade to Hell, by the Poets, and also to redeem men thence by Musick; These, by Money do the feat.

Oh Money! Money! oh the vertue of Money! the vice of wanting Money! our blessed Sa­viour says, It is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but at this rate, quite contrary, It is hard for a poor Man, or a poor Vicar to come there; if he do not pinch very hard to get money for these men, whoever goes without; or in whose debt soever he dies, if he dies in their debt, He had better no; he knows his doom: There wants nothing but A yellow co [...]t painted with Devils and Hell fire, with which the Inquisition do array the Jews and Here­ticks when they burn them, in Spain and Por­tugal. Sambenitas, and a Faggot, with the Writ de Haeretico comburendo, to make him the most Wretched.

This is a pretty thriving Trade, if it would but last; and for my part, I, (that have as much power to Curse, Anathematize and Excommunicate, as any Bishop or Arch-deacon of them all, and to absolve them again) with all my reading and experience, in their Spiri­tual [Page 20]Courts and Jurisdictions, (few men have had more, or so much as I) I say, I here protest, (considering the premisses, and the repealing of 1 Eliz. 1.) that I know not by what Autho­rity we do these things; by what Authority we deliver the King's Subjects to the Devil, and back again, at pleasure; what Rule, Canon, Law, or Authority we go by, and who gave us this Authority and Commission; since His Majesty cannot give any such Commission by 13 Car. 2.12.

Luther spoil'd the Pope's Market for Indulgences to this day; and 'tis an even lay but some honest Protestant or other will, by vertue of the Naked Truth, spoil this Trade to Hell and back again.

But how the Devil should be so much at their devotion and beck, (as if he was their Goa­ler) to take all that they deliver to him, or send to him by their Mittimus of Excommunica­tion; nay, and at their bidding to let men go free, as soon as they are pleas'd, I mean, as soon as they are paid, together with their Registers, and Sumners, transcends the apprehension of the Vulgar.

Dictum est quod in quibusdam locis, Syn. Cab. 2. cap. 18.Episcopi & Comites ab Incestuosis, &c. (that is) ‘We are told that the Bishops and their Fellows take money of offenders, commuting Penance, and then divide the spoil among themselves, which we decree shall utterly be abolished, lest haply covetousnesness enter in, &c. And much more very excellently says that honest Sy­nod; (of every ten Procurators chosen by the Clergy to constitute that Synod, Eight of them were not turn'd off, and not suffer'd to enter the Convocation-house, I'le warrant.)

The 19. Chapter of the said Synod enjoyns, that the Tythes should be there all paid, where their Children are Baptized, and the Cure serv'd.

The 20. Chapter is an Admonition to peace and concord. And the 21. Chapter forbids all Bribes and Extortions, committed by Registers, Proctors, Commissaries and Officials, and the rest of that Motley-Tribe, that like Lay-Elders, are (as Cleveland says)

Most Divine-Tick-Tack in a Pye-bald crew,
To serve as Table-men of divers hue:
She that conceiv'd an Aethiopian Heir,
By Picture, when the Parents both were fair,
At sight of you had born a dappled Son,
You chequ'ring her Imagination.
Had Jacob's Flock but seen you sit, the Dams
Had brought forth speckled, and ring-streaked Lambs:
Like Royston-Crows, who are (as I may say)
Friers of both the Orders, Black and Grey:
Like him that wore the Dialogue of Cloaks,
This shoulder John-a-Stiles, that John-a-Nokes.
Be sick and dream a little, you may then
Phansie these Linsie-wolsie Vestry-men.

But I shall tire my self, (as I have done already, and I fear also tired my Reader) with transcribing old Canons, and old Verses.

In short, in all the Synods and sacred Councils, (that I can consult, and there's none of them have escap'd my Inquisition) and also in the Primitive times, and first three Centuries, Presbyters and Priests have been so far protected from proud and insolent Prelacy, that care has been taken of them, even in Punctilio's, such, as keeping on the Hat, sitting, &c. in presence of the richest and greatest Bishop of them all.

Constitutum est quod Episcopus quolibet loco sedens stare Presbyterum non patiatur, Conc. Carth. cap. 34, Ecclesia au­tem & consessu Presbyterorum, sublimior sedeat; intra domum vero collegam se Presbyterorum esse cognoscat.

‘It is decreed, that the Bishop wheresoever he sit, shall not suffer a Presbyter to stand be­fore him; nevertheless in the Church, and at a meeting (or Sessions) of Priests, he shall sit uppermost; but in a house, or at home, he ought to know that he is a Fellow and Com­panion of the Presbyters.’

Thus the Bishops call the Presbyter Elpidius, In Council. il. Theodoret, l. 4. c. 8. — our Brother and fellow in Office Elpidi­us; which is the very same Title that is given by the first Council of Nice, to old Alexander Bishop of Alexandria, and Eustathius Bishop of Antioch, two of the greatest Bishops and Me­tropolitans in Christendom, in those days.

And are not good and stately Mannors, large Fines, Rents and Incomes, (pertaining to Bishops and Archdeacons) enough to satisfie their appetites, but they must long also to pinch somewhat from every poor bare-bone Parish-Priest? who with great study and pains, and large expence of money and time, at School and the University, at long-run may perhaps (espe­cially if he or his Friends can part with more money) get into a Benefice.

But by that time Money for Ordination, (the true sin of Simon Magus, and the basest Symo­nie) Money for Institution, (to the Bishop, and his Secretary, his Registers, Porters and Ser­vants) Money for Induction, (to the Archdeacon, and his Registers also) First-Fruits, Arrears of Tenths, Dilapidations, Procurations, Synodals and Visitations, &c. are paid, and many of these payments without Law, some against Law, Conscience, Equity and Reason, no wonder the Priest is a poor Priest all the days of his Life; whilst some surly Dignitaries that oppress [Page 21]him, maintain their Foot-boys and Coach-horses in better plight. Let such read a Letter of my Recommendation, 'tis from a Pope (too) of Rome, (but before they grew so proud and high:) it is Epist. 3. Sancti Clementis de officio Sacerdotum; they know where (sure) to find it in print: whilst poor Priests lament with St. Bernard, Serm. 77. Parum est nostris vigilibus, si non servant, nisi & perdant: ‘These big-Spiritual-men think it too little to withdraw their favour and protection from us poor Labourers, except they also do us a mischief.

Which will certainly be my reward from them, for this Naked Truth, if they can discover me; but God's will be done, 'tis the usual portion and consequence of speaking Truth, and plain-dealing; but, God's will be done, I say again.

Nay, they will not suffer the poor Presbyter to preach, and take pains in his Parish, to which he is Instituted by them, and of which they have (as by Law bound) given him the Cure, according to his Presentation, except he also pay Ten Shillings more for a License to preach there; although he have had never so many Licenses before, to preach in the same Diocess, and has already given them so many ten shillings a piece for them.

The Great Turk is more merciful to the Grecian Slaves, he gives them free leave to pray or preach Christianity, not demanding one penny for the License.

In Popish times and Countries, they us'd to say, — No Peny, no Pater-noster; in our Country we must say, No Peny, no Preacher, no Licens'd Preacher.

When a Deacon is ordain'd Priest or Presbyter, the Bible is given into his hands by the Bishop that ordains him, saying, — Take thou Authority to preach the Word of God, and to Minister the Holy Sacraments in the Congregation where thou shalt be so Appointed.

Then (in Institution) the Bishop appoints him where: one would think, after all this, the Priest so ordain'd might preach the Word of God in his own Cure, whereto the Bishop has In­stituted him, and whereof the Archdeacon has given him Livery and seifin by Induction: But no such matter, he shall be silenc'd still, for all this, except the other Ten Shillings be paid for a License, (though he has three or four Licenses already, and all paid for:) And if the Bishop come to Visit the week after, or the day after; so that he knows well enough that the Mini­ster has good Letters of Orders, and Institution; (for he himself gave it him the other Day) yet he must pay for shewing these things again at Visitations, and though he shew'd them all three years before at the former Visitation, and the Bishop has them all upon Record in his Books, yet he must shew them again, and never recover them, till he pay for them again.

In Portugal (I have known) in their Visitations, the Bishops make every Parish-priest pay for a License to keep a Concubine; And if a Man be old, &c. and have no Stomaeh to a Wench, yet still he must pay a Millroy or two for a License.

So that now they proverbially say; Visitationes morum (are become) Visitationes nummorum.

St. Paul indeed went to visit the Brethren, and to see how they do; but these go to visit their Brethren, and to see how their Pockets do.

And all they have to say for themselves is, It us'd to be so in Popish times, and formerly pra­ctic'd by others that were no Papists.

But the Civil-laws also provide against such foppish Pleas. Error, Justinian. Inst. l. 2. tit. 6.falsae causae usucapionem non parit; nam usucapio non competit istis qui mala fide possident. And many such Laws can I cite, if I list, and if I did not think I have done their business already; If Statute-Law, Com­mon-Law, Civil-Law, or (their Masterpiece) the Canon-Law, Reason, Equity, Justice or Conscience, nay, humane Nature and Compassion to their own kind will work upon them, in despight of their Interest; and Money — Money.

And I hope all these Laws of God and Man, Reason, Honesty and good Conscience will over-vote their Interest and Money — and Money — and that they will ask God for­giveness, and that every Offender of them, from the highest to the lowest, will make resti­tution; or, at least, say with repenting Job; Behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my Mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer; Yea twice, but I will pro­ceed no further.

Thus they will do; if this work kindly (as it is intended) upon their Consciences; but, if instead thereof, being gawl'd) they do nothing but kick and wince; and instead of thanking me for my great pains (here frankly bestowed upon them for their cure, in much Charity) shall rather joyn their Heads together, first to find who I am that thus is kindly liberal to them; and then secondly, get a Club of Criticks and cunning Lawyers to lie at catch for eve­ry Expression here to improve it (that is, to mis-improve it) to Revenge, then I shall be for­ry that I have vouchsaft so much pains and care towards them, to so little Fruit and Refor­mation; and so little thanks from them, from whom it is most especially due. That in their Visitations (at least) may cease that Dialect, better becoming the Mouths of Hectors and Pad­ders, than Registers and Secretaries of Holy Bishops, namely — Come — Clergy-man — deliver your Purse — your Purse — for Visitations, Synodals, shewing of Holy-Or­ders, and Procurations.

Archdeacons have all good fat Corps, (so they call the Lands and Tenements, (a kind of Glebe) annex'd for ever to their Archdeaconries; they need not pinch the poor Parson, that every body pinches.

Pharaoh's Lean-kine indeed, did eat up the Fat ones; but for the Fat ones to devour the Lean, is a Prodigy not to be dreamt of, or imagin'd.

Visitations made by Bishops and Archdeacons, have for their Warrant (as some alledge) the Practice and Example of St. Paul and Barnabas, Acts 15.36, 42. Acts 15. who went to visit the Brethren in every City, where they had Preached the Word of the Lord, and to see how they do. And Paul went through Syria and Silicia, confirming (mark that) the Churches.

So that the work of a Visitation was to confirm (or strengthen) the Converts, by preaching again the Word of the Lord to them; Not, by a perfunctory-mumbling over a few canting Words over Childrens heads, as Popish-Bishops do (mimically) in pretence of imitating St. Paul, who went to confirm men to the Faith, whereby no flesh alive can possibly be en­lightened, instructed, or confirmed, or strengthened in the Faith.

Nor did St. Paul send his Sumner before him, commanding the Disciples or Brethren to come and meet him at such a great Town, where there is a great Church and a great Tavern, and be sure to bring their Purses with them too; or if they could not both come, that then of the two, they should be sure to send their Purses however, by some Neighbour, though they could not come in person, that so the Attonement and Peace might the better be made.

If Cross-grain will not come, then let him stay,
(Let him but send his Purse) still keep away.

'Tis an unpardonable sin to come to a Visitation and forget your Purse; nay, or to bring it empty: You may with empty Purse part with your Letters of Ordination, Institution, In­duction, &c. but there is no redeeming them without Money; never Man yet in all my Intel­ligence found any other Redeemer — of them, save Money — Money.

And yet the first Archbishop, Rog. Hoveden Annal pars post 807. in his first Visitation after the Conquest, namely, Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Council of London, Anno 1200. did ordain that no Procura­tions, or other Money, Toll, or Exactions, should be paid in Visitations, in these very Words. Prohibemus né subditos suos Talliis & exactionibus Episcopi gravare presumant, Cùm c­nim dicit Apostolus, non debent Filii Thesaurizare Parentibus sed Parentes Filiis multò longè a pietate paterna videtur, si praepositi subditis suis graves existant, quos in cunctis necessitatibus Pa­storis more debent fovere.

Archidiaconi aut sui Decani, nullas exactiones vel Tallias in Presbyteros seu Clericos exercere praesumant, &c. He that likes, may read more of these Decrees two and twenty years after; namely, Spelman. Con­cil. Tom. 2. p. 156, 220, 221, 265, 380, 381, 48, 489, 576. 1222. Council. Oxford, by Stephen Langeton Archbishop of Canterbury; and four years after confirmed by Otho the Popes Legate. Concilio Londini. Anno 1226. and by Othobon the Popes Legate, and the Council under him, Anno 1248. and before that, by the Diocesan Sy­nod held at Salisbury, Anno 1217.

Is it not strange, that a Bishop, and a poor Bishop too, should call a Synod to cry down these oppressions! and yet it was done in the year aforesaid by Robert Poor Bp. of Sarum. And An. 1287. by Peter Quivil Bp. of Exeter. And by Walter Raynolds Archbp. of Canterbury, and Conc. Lond. in the Reign of K. Edward II. And by John Stratford Archbp. of Canterbury, An. 1342. De visitatione & procuratione Archidiuconorum & aliorum ordinariorum.

But all the Visitations of old made by Bishops or Archdeacons were Ecclesiastim, like that of St. Paul's and Barnabas.

For to send out Citations to Ministers, Church-wardens, and Sinners, and little Children to come to be Confirm'd, &c. at such a great Town; They rather go to visit the Bishop, than the Bishop to visit his Brethren, as St. Paul did, Ecclesiastim, from Church to Church.

Thus Topsy Turvy can Visitations now become; as if the Minister that is enjoyn'd to vi­sit the Sick, (in the Common-Prayer-Book) should send out his Apparitor, and command the Sick person to come and visit him; or at least, give him a meeting at such a Church, and such a Tavern, and then he shall hear what Prayers he will say over him.

St. James says, Jam. 1.27. pure Religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, To visit the Fatherless and Widdows, &c. What to do? To pill them and poll them; No surely, that would not be a very pure Religion, except of such a pure Religion as is made up of pure Money; the Fatherless (I suppose) like not the visits of such kind of Fathers, they had rather they would keep away; and not help to make them poorer, and add Affliction to the Af­flicted; of such Visiters better have their Room than their Company; Is this your Kindness to your Friends when you come to visit them? Hah?

Indeed I find that Allowance is taken care for, (in Visitations of old) but what? Not Money; but Food and Drink, such as the poor Vicar and his Family makes shift with, but never, never any Money in ancient time. For which let him that lists consult Wil. Lindewood in his Provincial Constit. l. 3. de Censubus & Procurationibus, f. 159, 160. Johannes de Aten in his Glosses on Otho's and Othobon's Constitutions, f. 43, 89. Angelus de Clavasio in his Sum­ma Angelica, Tit. Visitatio. also Gratian. Distinct. 42. cap. non opertet. Also, Concil Lateran. sub Innocent 3 Pap. An. 1215. cap. 33, 34. Also Concil. apud Castrum Gunter. An. 1251. Concil. Surius Con. Tom. 3. p. 746. apud Salmar. An. 1253. Synod. Andegavensis, An. 1263. Concil. Provincial. apud Lan­gres, An. 1264. Concil. Burdegal. An. 1582, &c. collected by Laurentius Bochellus, Decret. Eccles. Gallican. lib. 5. Tit. 15. Devisitatione, Procuratione, & personis quibus commissa est potestas visitandi. Also Concil. Coloniens An. 1549. Concil. Trident Sess. 24. de Reformatione, cap. 3. Thomas Zerula in his Praxis Episcopal. par. 1. Tit. visitatio.

They all concur — Ʋt nullus Procurationem recipiat nisi in Locis visitatis duntaxat; & tum, Tantum victuallibus à locis quae visitantur; That Meat and Drink, when the Visiters are a­thirst [Page 23]or hungry, shall be given them, but not one Farthing of Money. For, says the said Council of London, Anno 1200. The Children ought not to lay up for the Parents, but Pa­rents for their Children; How far is it then from the Piety of Fathers, if rich Prelates, that ought, like good Pastors to provide for the wants of their poor Flocks under them, should be burthensom to their Inferiours?

And therefore the said John de Aton in his Gloss on that clause of Othobon's Constitu­tion, f. 89. hath these Words; viz. Nos tam Ecclesiarum indemnitati quam Praelatorum salu­ti consultius provedentes districtius inhibemus, nè quis eorum Procurationem (quae ratione visitationis debeter) ab Ecclesia quacun (que) recipiat, nisi cum eidem visitationis officium impendit, qui vero recepe­rit donec restituerit ab Ingressu Ecclesiae sit suspensus; (By this Law then the Bishops and Arch­deacons must make restitution, of all the Moneys they received for Procurations, or else be Suspended, and not suffered to enter into the Church, until they restore those ill-gotten Goods.) Et haec ratio fortè movet Episcopos hujus Regni, qui in Visitationibus suis Procurationes ab Ecclesia communiter non exigunt; quia ad singulas Ecclesias ob causam Visitationis non decli­nant, lecet plenè personas visitent tàm Clerum quam populum; ob hanc causam nunc ad unum locum, nunc ad alium congruum convocando; cumtamen Procurationem debeant recipere tantum modo de lo­cis visitatis.

In short, Visitations of old were to a good end, like that of Paul and Barnabas, by preach­ing the Word again to them, to confirm them, or strengthen and corroborate them in the Faith.

Afterwards, this Godly usage became a Trade, but never till there was Money to be got by it: a nusance, that Pride and Covetousness invented, and continues in spight of the Laws and Canons of God and man.

For which cause the learned French Bishop Claudius Espencaeus complains in these words: Comment. in Epist. ad Titum, c. 1.Minores non tantum Episcopi sed ut Archidiaconi, eorumque male officiosit (absit verbo invidia, nam de malis loquor) Officiales & Vicarii, dum Diocaeses & Parochias obequitant, non tam facino­rosos & criminum reos poenis & correctionibus à vitiis deterrent, quo fine Peregrinationes hujusmodi olim jam fucrint jure canonico ordinatae, quam pecuniâ praesenti & numeratâ, titulo Procurationis, nè dicam fictitiae Jurisdictionis emungunt, & exigunt tum Clericos, tum Laicos.

First, they bring their printed Articles for the Church-wardens of every Parish to buy, (and though they have half a score of them) which the Parish has bought ten years together, yet still they must buy a new Book every year, or lay down the money for it, and then you may chuse whether you will take it with you or no: Then also the Church-wardens must swear to keep and observe those Articles; And are not all that do so, forsworn? Then they must give money (a grant) for being sworn; then they must swear to Present, and if they do not make a Presentment, they are Excommunicated; if they do put in a Presentment, (usually written in Court, and very brief, with an omnia benè, for which they pay a shilling) then also for putting in the Presentment a shilling more: For three shillings and six pence, or three shillings and eight pence, a Church-warden may escape cleverly. But saith the said French Bishop, the Minor Bishops and Arch-deacons, and their wickedly-officious (pardon the Word, for I speak only of the wicked) Officials, and Vicar-generals in their Visitations, do not so much deterr men from sin, by punishing the criminals, as to drain their Purses by exacting rea­dy monies, of the Clergy and Laity, by the name of Procurations, and I know not what feigned Jurisdiction: Thus the said good Bishop Espencaeus.

And therefore in the greatest height of Popery in England, the Kings Judges and Justices in his Temporal Courts have usually decreed, that Excommunicate persons shall be absolv­ed (clave errante) when the Judges disallowed the cause for which a man was Excommuni­cated: And many Actions of the Case have been brought against the Arch-deacons, &c. for Excommunicating men for things out of their cognizance, and exceeding the limits of their Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions; namely, when they meddle with the right of Patronage, exempt Churches, (being Lay-Fees, &c.) and have made them pay sawce for being so sawcy and prag­matical.

I'le instance in one: Pat. 18 Edw. 1. m. 26. De libertatibus liberarum Capellarum Regis.

Rex omnibus, &c. salutem. Inspeximus literas celebri, memoriae Domini H. Regis Angliae pa­tris nostri patentes, in hec verba. Henricus Dei gratia Rex Angliae, Dominus Hiberniae, Dux Normanniae, Aquitaniae, & Comes Andegav. Omnibus ad quos, &c. Cùm plures in Anglia Ca­pell as habeamus exemptas, quorum libertates locorum Ordinarii infestant, &c. Rescriptum igitur A­postolicum de verbo ad verbum sic duximus subscribendum. Innocentius Episcopus Servus Servo­rum Dei, karissimo in Christo filio Regi Anglorum illustri, salutem & Apostolicam benedictionem. Tanto libentiùs Celsitudinis tuae precibus benignum impartimur assensum, quanto inter Reges & Prin­cipes Christianos te specialiter reputamus dilectum filium & devotum: Tuis itaque supplicationibus inclinati, districtiùs inhibemus, nè ullus Ordinarius, aut etiam Delegatus vel Subdelegatus in Capel­las Regias & Oratoria earundem Ecclesiae, Romanae immediâté subjecta, &c. Excommunicationis vel Interdicti sententiam audeat promulgare, seu aliquod ipsis onus imponere, quod aliis exemptis Eccle­siis, &c. Nulli ergo omnino hominum liceat hanc paginam nostrae inhibitionis infringere, &c. Si quis autem hoc attemptare praesumpserit, Indignationem omnipotentis Dei, & beatorum Petri & Pauli Apostolorum ejus Noverit incursurum. Dat. Lugduni, 12 Kal. Augusti, Pontificatus nostri anno 3.

What a doe was here made? what care taken? what Interest made by a great King at the Court of Rome? for what? for nothing in the world but to keep the King's exempt Churches and Chappels free from the Bishops Impositions and burdens; the Pope reserv­ing them for his own Tooth: for so it follows in the said Bull, & absque mandato sedis Apostolicae speciali. — This in English sounds like that of the Lawyer, to his brother At­torney:

Loving Brother,
Pluck thou one Goose, and I'le pluck t'other.

I am confident the Brethren all over Syria and Cilicia were mighty glad to see Paul and Barnabas, when they went lovingly to visit the Brethren and see how they did do: They did not make Friends, nor beg,— saying, Let me be exempt, and Let me be exempt, but certainly were very glad to see them; for those Visitors came to do them good, not harm; to strengthen their Faith, not to weaken their Estates; to enrich them with Graces, not impoverish them with Extortions and Oppressions; with hand and heart to better them, not with hand in Pocket to beggar them: Bern. Serm. 77. super Cantica. like those wretched Prelates St. Bernard complains of, Quem da­bes mihi de numero Praepositorum qui non plus invigilet subditorum evacuandis marsupiis quam vitiis extirpandis? shew me ever a Prelate of them all, that is not more rare at emptying the Poc­kets of them that are subject to them, then in extirpating prophaness? Non est custodire, sed perdere; non ornare sponsam, sed spoliare; non est defendere, sed exponere; non est institu­ere, sed prostituere; non est pascere gregem, sed mactare & devorare; dicente de illis Domino, Qui devorant plebem meam ut cibum panis; & quia comederunt Jacob, & locum ejus desolaverunt. Et in alio Propheta; peccato populi mei comedent; quasi decat, peccatorum precia exigunt, & peccan­tibus debitum solicitudinem non impendunt. This is not to defend, but to offend; not to adorn the Spouse of Christ, but to make her forlorn; not to protect, but ruine; not to insti­tute, but to prostitute; not to feed the Flock, but to eat and devour it; as saith the Lord concerning them, Psa. 14.4. Hos. 4.8. They eat up my people as they eat bread: they have devoured Jacob, made waste his dwelling-place. And in another Prophet, They eat up the sin of my people; (that is to say) They exact Money of Offenders, and are more diligent to make them pay for their Sins, than cure them of their Sins. So that as good store of differences and dis­sensions (that makes other men break) makes the Lawyer sound and whole; And as a sick­ly Autumn is the Physitian's Harvest; so a wicked Diocess made the fattest Prelate, it seems (in St. Bernard's time, by commuting Penance, Excommunicating, then Absolving, then presenting them again, and at them again the next Visitation, Money — more Money.

Successores omnes capiunt esse, Ibid.Imitatores pauci. They would be accounted the Apostles Successors, but few will follow the Apostles examples: Oh utinam tan vigiles reperirentur ad curam, quàm alacres currunt ad cathedram: Would they were as watchful in discharging the Cure, as they are nimble to get into the Chair!

Sed & litteris forsitan mandentur istaquae dicimus, dedignabuntur legere: aut si fortè legerint, mihi indignabuntur, quamvis rectiùs sibi hoc facerent.

But if haply, (saith St. Bernard) what I now say should be committed to Writing, they would not vouchsafe to read the same; or if they did, they would be raging mad at me, whereas by right and good reason they had more need be enraged against themselves.

These Spiritual-Gluttons had need to go to School to the Heathen Poet, and learn his Com­mon-prayer.

Sit mihi quod nunc est, Hor. lib. 1. Ep. 18.etiam minus, ut mihi vivam
Quod superest aevi, si quid superesse volent Dii.
Let me but keep the pittance that I have,
Nay, though 'twere less than 'tis, I no more crave;
'Twill serve to help me (jogg on) to my Grave.

Placita & Assisae capta apud Northampton in crastino natalis Sacti Johannis Baptistae, Rot. 25. in alb. Tur. Lond. An­no Regni Regis Henrici silii Regis Johannis tricesimo primo; Coram Rogero de Thurkelby, & sociis suis Justiciaris.

Essoniator Dragonis de Staunton, & Henricus filius Roberti Essoniator Aliciae de Staun­ton obtulerant se quarto die versus Magist Nicholaum Archidiaconum de Bathonia, de placito, quare tenuit placitum in Curia Christianitatis de feodo ipsorum Dragoniis & Aliciae de Staunton, contra Prohibitionem, &c. & versùs Walterum Personum, &c. & versus Wil. Lenteneley de placito quarè secutus est placitum in curia Christianitatis de laico seodo, &c. contra eandem Pro­hibitionem, &c. Predictus Walterus occasione praedict. districtionis fecit ipsos cituri coram offici­ali Archidiaconi Bathoniae apud Bristol in Ecclesia S. Mariae de la Radeclyvae; Et cum ipsi detulissent eidem Waltero Prohibitionem Domini Regis, nè predictus Walterus Placitum illud amplius sequeretur, idem Walterus Spreta Prohibitione Domini Regis, secutus est placitum illud in curia Christianitatis coram Archidiaono Bathoniae de die in Diem & fecit ipsos Excommunica­ri, &c. unde dicunt, quod deteriorati sunt & damonum habent ad valentiam 10 l. & inde pro­ducant, &c.

Et Praeceptum est eidem Waltero quod interim Absolvi faciat Praedictos Dragonem & Alici­am sectam, &c. Et postea per praeceptum Justiciar. de nunciavit ipsos a sententia illa absolu­tos, &c.

This, (amongst many others, wherein I could instance) is but to shew that the King's [Page 25]Judges did controul the inferiour Jurisdictions, (called Ecclesiastical) and Judge whether the cause or contempt deserved Excommunication, and accordingly commanded Absoluti­on, &c. as I have known the Lord Chief Baron, (in his Majesties Court of Exchequer) a­bout seven years ago, command Doctor Lake (Commissary of Lincoln, and then in Court) to absolve one King, &c. to which the Doctor making some tergiversation, the Lord Cheif Baron threatned to lay him by the heels for his contempt.

For it is great insolency, for a Commissary, Official, or his Master, the Arch-deacon, to excommunicate in their Courts and Visitations the Kings Subjects, except by Authority and Commission from God or the King.

From God, they have no power to excommunicate or to hear Causes, then hath any Pa­rish-Priest in his Parish, if so much: And if they have a Commission from the King (let them shew it) but when they have shewn it, I dare say it will run, with submission to His Majesties Decrees in his superiour Courts; Courts of Record at Westminster; Courts of good and great use; Courts that have his Majesties Authority and Commission to shew for what they do; Courts that do not bear the Sword in vain; Courts that are not made up only of an empty noise of Curses and Anathema's, thundring and cracking as if they came from Hea­ven, when all is but — vox & praeteria nihil, and not of little or no use, but to vex and weary out the Supplicants, Suiters and Attendants, by enriching some few (not of the best of man­kind) with Money, — Money.

And on the contrary; how careful have our Kings of England been rather to encourage Parish-Ministers, that labour and look after the Flock, even in times of Popery; as for instance in this Brief, sub privato sigillo Edwardi 1. anno regni ejus 33. in these words.

Rex dilecto sibi Ricardo Oysel, Ballivo suo de Holdernesse, salutem. Mandamus vobis, quod de exitibus Molendinorum nostrorum in Belliva vestra faciatis Decimas dari Personis Ecclesiarum in quarum Parochiis Molendina ista existunt, prout alii Magnates de regno nostro, ac hominis par­tium illarum Decimas dant de exitibus Molendinorum suorum. Et nos vobis inde in compoto ve­stro ad Scaccarium nostrum debitum allocationem fieri faciemus. T. R. apud Westm. 20. die Octobris. Per breve de privato sigillo.

And good reason (sure) had that valiant King to give all due encouragement to the In­feriour Clergy, if we consider how he was affronted, and defy'd and brav'd by the Prelates, Polid. Virgil Angl. Hist. l. 17. especially by Robert Arch-bishop of Canterbury, so that the King was forc'd to put all the Rebellious Prelates and Clergy out of his protection, seizing their Goods and Revenues, until they (at long-run) submitted themselves, after a tedious Bustle, (to which they were encou­raged by Pope Boniface.)

I know that the King granted his Favour afterwards and Protection to the said stout Arch-bishop Robert and the rest, and suffered the said Arch-bishop to stand by him and his Son upon a wooden Scaffold (erected before the Gates of Westminster-Hall for that purpose) when with many Tears the King askt Pardon (with all Humility) not the Arch-bishop's Pardon, but that the People would pardon him; Walsingham Hist. Angl. p. 36. but it was not for his humbling the proud Clergy as aforesaid, but for his Arbitrary Government; Dicens, se minús bene & tranquillè quam Regem deceret ipsos rexisse, &c. Rursum, ut libertates contentas in Magna Charta, Mat. West. An. 1297. p. 409, 410. Ypodigmae Neustr. p. 84.& de Fo­resta, in usu extunc efficacius haberentur, & voluntarias super his exactiones inductas, de caetero quasi id irritum revocaret, petentibus Comitibus & Baronibus; Rex Articulos in praedictis chartis conten­tos innovari insuper & observari mandavit. Henry de Knyghton adds, Rogavit (que) Populum accepta licentia, ut omnia condonarentur ei, & orarent pro eo; & orabant quidam publicè, alii vero sic, alii vero occulte, pauci vero bene.

Anno 32 Edw. 1. this King was again affronted by Thomas Corbridge, Arch-bishop of York.

For when the King by his Letters Patents granted to Mr. John Bouhs the Prebend of Sty­velington in the Church of St. Peter in York, and commanded Thomas Corbridge the new Arch-Bishop to admit him, &c. after two successive Mandates, he neglected to do it, to the King's damage 10000 l. (as in the Plea Rolls of Trinity Term held at York, To be seen in the Receivers Office of the King's Exche­quer at VVest­minster. 32 Edw. 1. is at large expressed.)

Thereupon the Arch-bishop being summoned to answer this contempt before the King's Justices, he appearing, answered; ‘That he was always ready to obey the Kings commands, so far as he could; but he could not admit the King's Clerk, because the Pope had conferr­ed the said Prebendary, and Chappel thereunto belonging, on his own Clerks, of whom they were now full; and that he could not make void the Act of the Pope, his Superiour Lord, nor deprive or remove his Clerks; And therefore prayed the King to hold him excu­sed; refusing to give any other answer.’

Whereupon Judgment was solemnly given against him, ‘That what he alledged was no sufficient cause for him not to execute the Kings commands; and that all his Temporalties should be seized into the Kings hands for this his contempt, &c.

By which we may see, that even in times of Popery, the Kings of England have opposed the Popes Innovations and Usurpations, and the Kings Justices have taken cognizance of these Ecclesiastical matters; and that no Forreign Mandates or Bulls were pleadable in the Kings Courts, in bar of the Kings Writs; and that long before the Reign of King Henry 8. obedience to the Pope before the King, was adjudged a very high contempt in Law, and had a suitable punishment; and that the Kings Temporal Courts had Soveraign Jurisdiction o­ver the Ecclesiastical Proceedings, which is also more evidenced by the several sorts of Man­dates [Page 26]dates and Writs, even in times of Popery, frequently issued out against Arch-bishops, Bi­shops, Ecclesiastical Judges and Ordinaries, commanding them to do this and that, and pro­hibiting them not to do this and that; witness the Writs of Quare impedit, Quare incumbravit, Quare non admisit, de Clerico admittendo, de copia libelli deliberanda, de permutatione Beneficiorum, de revocatione Praesentationis, Residentia facienda, de cautione admittenda; de Assisa ultima Prae­sentationis, cessavit de Cantaria, de Nonresidentia pro Clericis Regis, de Praesentatione ad Ecclesiam, Praebendam, Capellam, &c.

Nay, (it seems to me that) even in times of Popery, the Kings Judges would take no no­tice of any Excommunications, Cook. Instit. 134.2. but what were decreed by the Bishop himself, or one that hath ordinary Jurisdiction, and is immediate Officer to the Kings Courts.

Because only upon the Significavit's of Arch-bishops, and Bishops only, or such as have or­dinary Jurisdiction, shall be issued out the Writ, De excommunicato capiendo.

For if a Bishop do not certifie the same upon his own knowledge, Cook. Instic. Sect. 201. (but only by hear-say) or the Certificate of another Bishop, (and by parity of reason, of any other man, as his Commis­sary, Arch-deacon, &c.) such Certificàte is not sufficient.

And of these Ecclesiastical Proceedings the Kings Justices are the only Judges. Much more are they Judges at this day whether these Procurations and Visitations shall be paid, being so contrary to Magna Charta, as well as against the Canon-Law, Equity, Reason, and Consci­ence.

And also Judges whether the Seal to the Significavit be a legal Seal according to Statute, and whether all the Processes have been made in the Name and Stile of the King, as well as Seal'd with the King's Arms? For (all the reason in the World that) if the Clergy will take in (to help them on with their Ecclesiastical Ordinances and Jurisdiction (The King's helping hand to conduct all Men to the Goal whom they have delivered to the Devil; that their pro­ceedings also should be, as the Law enjoyns, in the Name (stile, and under the Seal) of the King.

But strange also is the Practice at this day in their Spiritual-Courts in many particulars; I'le Instance but in two at present, this discourse more properly coming under another head. One is in the Case of Probate of Wills, the other is in the Case of Excommunication.

The Practice at this day, as to Probate of Wills, (wherein Lands, Tenements and Heredi­taments are given and granted) is for the Register to keep the Original Wills, and give the Executor only a Copy of the Original-Will, to which Copy they affix the Seal of the Court.

Estates disposed by Will are usually in Prejudice of the Heir at Law, and yet if the Heir by Will have a Tryal at Law with the Heir at Law, and show the Will prov'd under the Seal of the Court, he will lose his Lands for all that; for the Judges at this day will take no No­tice of it; and if he goes to get the Original out of the Register's Hands, sometimes 'tis lost, and cannot be found for Love nor Money, then farewel Land, for that's also gone past all Re­covery; or, if the Registers do happen to stumble upon the Original, they will not part with it except you give them a thousand pound Bond, and good Security to return the same; and also 40 s. or 50 s. it usually costs over and above; I know it to be true by woful Experience; to the ruine of many a Man's Estate, to the defeating the Will of the deceased, and in defi­ance of the Statute 21 Hen. 8.5. 21 H. 8.5. which commands them to affix the Seal of the Court to the Original-Will, in such cases where Lands and Hereditaments are bequeathed, and deliver it to be kept by the Executor, or Party concern'd; for who can safer keep a Man's Deeds than himself? and for the Copy, they ought to take but one peny for every ten lines thereof, where­of every line to contain ten Inches in length.

So that (if the Question be ask'd again, What are the Spiritual-Courts good for?) Are they not good at acting in defiance of the Statutes of this Realm? And have they not al­ways been good at that, as in many Instances Appears in this Discourse? I will not Advise (tho') that to make them good and wholesom, they should be drest and be drest, as the Doctor Advis'd his Patient to dress Cucumbers, with which he had long been enamour'd, to the ru­ine of his health; namely, To take the Cucumbers and slice them, and wash them in Vinegar, then in Salt and Water, then again in Vinegar and Salt, and then in Vinegar and Pepper, and then lastly (the onely way to keep them from being mischievous is) to throw them to the Dunghil.

But certainly Errors from the Rule, from the Rule of holy Scriptures, the further they go, the further they go astray; and it can have no colour of charity, or pretence from God or Christ, or the holy Scriptures, to deliver precious Souls to the Devil: for want of paying the Knave a Groat; if their Excommunications were (as they pretend) a real delivery to Sa­tan, a precious Soul (for whom Christ dyed) is too cheap in all conscience to be fairly delivered to the Devil for the value of a Shilling or two.

But (that the best on't is) they'l redeem it again also for as cheap a Price; a Man would wonder such mischiefs should be no more taken notice of, except the Fellows are look'd upon to be so contemptible, as that no wise Man heeds them nor their Blunder, nor their Thun­der.

Another miscarriage is, That whoever the Register with some little Surrogate, (whom the Register leads by the Nose) for the blindest and the willingest to be so led is the fittest Pre­perty) shall excommunicate, though but for want for paying the Register his Fees, illegal [Page 27]and unjustifiable Fees; all Parish-Ministers are bound to deliver their Flock so excommu­nicated to the Devil, or declare the same (so to be) publickly in the Church, though he knew nothing of the merit of the Cause, nor of the due course of Proceedings.

But that's not all, a worse mischief is yet behind, namely, The Bishop: 5 Eliz. 23. The Bishop (up­on the Certificavit of the Arch-deacon's Register) grants his Significavit, without hearing a­ny thing of the Cause; so that, as Papists believe, as the Bishop of Rome believes, so here quite otherwise (yet no better) the Bishop believes as the Register of the Arch-deacon's Court believes, and whatever he certifies to the Bishop, he signifies into the High-Court of Chancery; so that is usually more safe to displease any Lord in the Land, than a little, stin­gy, sneaking Register that bought his Place, and must make his best on't.

And we may say of these pittiful Fellows as was said of Pope Alexander the 6th. his Sy­mony, in selling so many Benefices, Cardinal-Caps, Indulgences, &c. as he was Pope, hav­ing first by Bribes purchas'd the Popedom:

Emerat ille prius,
Why should not Chapmen sell their Ware, When aboveboard they bought it fair?

Synodals are certain yearly Exactions, paid by every beneficed-Priest to the Arch-deacon out of every Benefice in every Arch-deaconry yearly and every year, throughout the whole Kingdom of England.

Originally, They were given to the Clergy voluntarily, for the maintainance of their two Procurators, which were in every Arch-deaconry throughout England, chosen by the in­ferior Clergy, to represent them and vote for them in the Synod.

In imitation of the Wages allowed to the Knights, (4 s. per diem) Citizens and Burges­ses (2 s. per diem) for every day they Sit actually in Parliament, for which there are several Statutes of old time made, but seldom or never in these days put in use and practise, except here and there by some needy man. But however there is a Law for this, but Synodals are against Law, and therefore they differ (only) as right and wrong.

Besides, They were Free-will Offerings; but now they are commanded and exacted as a Tribute to Mr. Arch-deacon in pain of Suspension, Excommunication, silencing ab officio, (you shall not pray nor preach till you pay him, nor administer the blessed Sacraments, you shall not serve God, nor so much as come into the Church, till he be first serv'd, (that is) paid) And also your Benefice too shall be fleec'd, he will go shares, or the Minister shall have no share at all.

And yet originally this was conferred in kindness to the two Procurators, that were cho­sen to be Representatives in the Convocation, and for their encouragement to perswade them to accept the Place, in behalf of all the benefic'd Ministers of that Arch-deaconry.

But what do you tell Arch-deacons of Originals, or whence the Procurations and Syno­dals came originally? Very few of them know that, and if they do, they desire not the knowledge of these ways, Rem, rem, quocun (que) modò rem.

If they be for Canons, why do not the Bishops suspend all the Arch-deacons, and excom­municate them at least with the lesser (for so they distinguish) Excommunication, ab Ingressu Ec­clesiae, till they repent of their Wickedness, and till they make Restitution, as the Canons enjoyns? John de Aton in Gloss. in constit. Othon. And why do not then also the Arch-bishops excommunicate the Bishops according to that Canon, until they repent, and make Restitution, to the poor Clergy? (They have made younger Brothers of them (to be sure) long enough.) Brothers, quoth he? If this be the kindness of Brothers and Brotherly-kindness, we'l even disclaim the Kindred at this rate; I hate the Friendship that must be bought. I know the Synod does not sit usually three days during a whole Sessions of Parliament; no matter for that; Synodals, Synodals the Arch-deacon will have, right or wrong: Indeed the Parliaments now adays have got an o­pinion (as aforesaid) to see with their own eyes, saving their presence, and therefore though present in Synod, they sit long enough before they ask them a Question, or send to them of late days; no matter still— Arch-deacons will make the poor inferiour Clergy pay notwith­standing they do not sit; strange People! what will you take a man's money for nothing? So impossible it is for any man that ever came in their fingers, to get out of their clutches. The Rich-man (in the Parable) was tormented in the Flames of Hell? for what? for robbing poor Lazarus? No, (he was not so vile) but for not relieving him according to his ability, and yet he did relieve him with a niggardly Benevolence—the Scraps and Crumbs that fell from his Table, (some Crumbs of comfort in that.)

But our richer Dignitories, though they fare deliciously every day, and have lusty Revenues, &c. yet that satisfies not, except also they grind the faces of the poor Vicars, against all Con­science and Equity, as well as against Reason and Law.

If it be a sin to drink Wine in Bowls, and not be affected with the afflictions of Joseph; what is it to add affliction to the afflicted; and help to load the Back that is already ready to break? Hard is his heart that can find in his heart to rob the Spittle.

In the Primitive-times, (and long after) no Bishops were elected but by the People, and benefic'd Clergy of the Diocess; then by the Clergy; after that (in Times of Popery) by the great Clergy-men, the Dean and Chapter, to whom the King sends the Conge de Estire, no­minating (tho') therein who he will have them elect, and 'tis well enough. But I name it for this, to wit, That the Primitive Christians and Clergy, (by whose Suffrages) one of their [Page 28]Brethren were advanced over their heads, it could not be expected in all gratitude and inge­nuity, but the new advanced Bishop should be kind and loving to his Brethren of the Clergy, and do them all the good and grace he could, and misimprove his power to do them all the mischief or disgrace he can; if his Power be of the same Make, (and like the Apostles) that was for edification (as aforesaid) and not for destruction.

Of Churchwardens.
Query III. Whether Churchwardens be Lay-men or Clergy-men?

BY what has been said, the Remove is very short and easie, from a Clergy-man to a Lay­man; and a way neither longer nor more difficult, than from a Lay-man to a Clergy­man; which certainly is not very far.

It would as much have puzzled our learned ones to know by what name to have call'd St. Paul if they had catch't him a Weaving (as aforesaid) Whether a Clergy-man or a Lay­man, as to answer this Quaere, What kind of Creature (as to Ecclesiasticals,) is a Churchwar­den? If we find him at Plow, we are apt to think him a Lay-man; but if we find him (as he is made by Statute) a Bishop or Overseer of the Poor and serving Tables, (the sole Office of a Deacon in the Primitive-Times) why is he not as much a Clergy-man as any Deacon, or as those 7. Deacons Chosen? Acts 6.

Like an Impropriator's Motley kind,
Whose Scarlet Coat is with a Cassock lin'd;
So mixt they are, knows not whether's thicker,
A Lair of Burgess, or a Lair of Vicar.

The Papists have 7. kind of Orders, And all of them, as well as Priests, are examin'd, and their abilities approv'd by the Bishops, before their Graces pass, namely, The Door­keepers, Readers, Conjurers, Taper-bearers, Sub-Deacons, Deacons, Priests.

The 3 last of these, namely, Sub-Deacons, Deacons, Priests, are onely accounted Holy Orders.

Our Churchwarden's office, is much the same with the Sub-Deacons, (not the Conjurer's;) Few of them are guilty of that; if they were, sure they would not take the following Oath of Churchwardens usually given to them, in the Spiritual-Court.

Our Churchwarden, indeed, does not read the Epistle, nor perform any Publique Sacred Office, as the Deacons, and sub-Deacons do amongst the Papists; But his cheif use a­mongst us is to take care of the Poor, and Church, and to Repair them both; to provide Bread and Wine for the Holy-Supper; And not only be the Common-Informer for that Year, but also to present all Offences upon Oath; so that he is not only an Accuser, but a Witness; does not only present, but in some sort also Convict, as being upon his Oath.

Which Oath is usually given to them in these words— You shall Execute the Office of Church-warden in the Parish where you are chosen for this ensuing Year, according to His Majesties Laws Ecclesiastical, So help you God.’

By what has been already here discuss'd, It may be evident: How difficult it is, (even for a Doctor of both Laws) to decide which are those Laws Ecclesiastical that are this day in force; and which are not so in force, but void and of no effect.

Some of them swallow the Oath glib (poor Hearts) rather than venture to be Excommu­nicated; then paying Three shillings and six pence, and (if they make a Presentment) a shil­ling more for that; and fare-you-well, till the next half-Year, (that is) the next Visita­tion.

But if they be stubborn, and will neither pay nor swear, (as the better half usually do,) then they are delivered to Satan by Excommunication; and if they do swear, how are their Souls hazarded by down-right Perjury? Their case is a Pitiful case, that's the truth on't; and deferves the wisest and greatest consideration.

I never durst give that usual Oath, but this—You shall Execute the Office of Church-warden in the Parish where you are cho­sen, according to your discretion, and skill in His Majesties Laws Ecclesiastical, So help you God.’

But I am quite weari'd with pudling thus long in this Channel, or rather this Kennel.

Of Sacriledge.
Query IV. Whether to keep and enjoy Abbey-lands, and Lands belonging formerly to Nuns, Fryars and such Faternities, be Sacriledge?

AS there is a Mystery of Godliness, so there is a Mystery of Iniquity. The Mother of Harlots had Mystery writ in her forehead: nay the publique devotions and prostitu­tions to Bacchus and Venus wanted not their Arcana's. We read of the depths of Satan, and Labyrinth's in the way to Hell, (How easie soever the descent be,) The stile of servus servorum is the umbrage and prologue to the greatest Pride: and Jure Divine the umbrage of the greatest Cheats and Pick-pockets. And in Prosecutions of these Mysteries which Rome preserves as (Arcana Imperii) the Reliques and holy secrets to maintain their Grandeur and Hierarchy, They usually fence all their Immunities, Priviledges, Goods, Lands, Tene­ments, and Emoluments; (as they do all their other Popish Reliques and Figments, when they begin to decay) (and which they have got by cheating Tricks, as with a Safe-guard, securing all) with a Jure Divino. And would make the world believe that when with their cheats of Purgatory and Indulgences they have pick't men's Pockets and got a great deal of money, The Magistrate may not search them, hands off; 'Tis now sacred, 'tis now divine and holy; what are you mad, to break through a Jure Divino? will you rob God?

Thus when a handsome Whore had made use of her time and her beauty, (whilst it last­ed) which (some think) is but a very little while;) Playing them both away for more dura­ble Beauties, (good store of Gold;) The Crafty Friers and Monks (like the Box-keepers: or Panders) were sure to march off with most of the Gains; Picking the Ladi's Pocket of (at least) half her Winnings, with a Story (told) of Purgatory and Indulgences; Thus Sell­ing and Buying by a fair Bargain and Sale (and fairly by Deed inrolled, Indented and deli­vered in the Presence of Witnesses, as hereafter shewn,) An Imaginary Heaven or a Fools Paradise.

Thus the Girle kill's 3 Birds with one stone, and in barter for a Little, very little mode­sty, gets first pleasure. 2. Profit and store of Gold. 3. With one Moity of it, (after all,) Heaven it self; (in her simple opinion:) whilst the Subtil Friars laugh in their Sleeves, to see how soon the Fools and their money are parted, and by this Craft getting their Wealth, and their stately Abbies and Monasteries; Thus building a great many Thus Horn-Church near Rumford in Essex was built by a Popish-Whore, and therefore had the name. Horn-Churches and Horn-Chappels.

With these kind of Methods did the Fat Abbots and pretty Nuns subsist very Plentiful­ly and well; and kept themselves in very good Plight; and for Sinners, very well on't, (at least) well to live; sending out their Emissaries and Finders to Hay about and bring in more Game to net; namely, old Usurers, old Whore-Masters, nay, Incestuous persons and Murderers; For Rome (like the Sea and the Gallows) refuses none.

Thus having got the Fat of the Land, and every day making new Purchases, new Prizes and New-Conquests; (for fear the State that Frighted them often with their Statutes of Mortmayn, &c. should force them to Restitution of what they thus Purloin'd for themselves and their own greedy Guts,) (though (in Pretence) for God's sake; They therefore entrench't and garrison'd themselves and their gettings with this same Outwork, (for their eternal guard and safe-guard) Jure Divino. And where is the man of mortals now so daring and Hardy as to venture to storm this Outwork, and pass the Trench of Jure Divino, for fear of fighting with God, and Robbing God? As if all their corrupt Conquests, (purchas'd by Jug­ling and Sleight) were Deodands, and God's Inheritance; which to touch with a Lay-finger (forsooth) is to Rob God, and down-right Sacriledge.

Sacriledge is a Term of Art, which joining forces with the said Jure Divine, hath done wonders (of this nature) though not one of a thousand does know what Sacriledge is.

Sacriledge is (certainly) the worst of Robberies, for it robs God, by Purloining, detain­ing or alienating what he has been pleased to appropriate to himself. And this is the full definition or rather description of Sacriledge.

The Tithes and Offering's God had set a part for himself, his own Propriety, and for his own immediate Service, under the Law. To defraud the Priests of those Tythes and Offe­rings is called Mal. 3.8. Robbing of God. Mat. 3.8.

And by like reason and express Scripture, the maintenance of Gospel-Ministers is ex­presly commanded; namely, Daily bread, (not Lands and Tenements setled upon them for e­ver; If any such there be, It is a Free-will Offering and the munifice and charity of the Law) For

Our blessed Saviour says, The workman is worthy of his meat: (that is) Sustenance; Mat. 10.10. but Lands, Mannors, and Tenements in Fee-Simple for ever, Christ that was himself poor and Landless, also his Disciples, and Apostles, having neither Silver nor Gold nor a purse nor scrip to put them in, did never labour for the morrow, nor yet for the meat that perisheth: but seeking first the Kingdom of God, all other things were added unto them.

And if the wicked World did not maintain them, they were to cast off the dust of their Shooes against them, and go to them that would entertain the Word and them. But in what proportion their entertainment and maintainance is to be; whether the Tenth, the Fifth, the Twentyeth, the Hundreth, or Thousandth part of a mans Estate, is not decided by the Gospel.

And 'tis the Idlest of dreams to say, that because the Priests under the Law, the Levites had the Tythes of the whole Land, that therefore by the same Reason, Ministers of the Gospel should have the same Proportion and Allowance out of all mens Estates, and that it is Sacriledge to detain the same:

For, is the Parson or Parish-priest the 12th part of the Parish he lives in, though you al­so number with him his Family if he have any; or are the Clergy and their Families the 22th part of England, as the Tribe of Levi were the 12th part of Israel.

Except this be proved, a Parity of maintainance cannot hence be argued by paying the Tenth or Tithes; unless a Parity of numbers of the Clergy of England bore the like pro­portion to England, that the Tribe of Levi did to Israel: that is, a 12th part.

And therefore it is an Idle Dream, and a Bug-Bear, to call detaining of Tithes, Sacriledge, except it can be prov'd that God or Christ, or the Apostles ever took (or commanded to be taken) the Tenth to Gospel-Ministers (as God expresly commanded the Tythes of all Is­rael to the Levites); That bear no proportion in number to the Tribe of Levi, nor are the Tenth part, nor scarce the hundreth part of most Parishes, and yet shall lick up the whole Tenth part of the Parish.

But though detaining of Tythes from Ministers, is not Sacriledge, yet detaining of Tithes from Ministers, is as great a Sin, as (and no greater sin than) detaining Tithes from Impropriators, namely, (as other frauds and wrongs.) A transgression of the Laws of the Land.

Which the wily Priests never cared to trust to, if they could help it; nor to be beholden to; (though to the Law of the Land alone, and Acts of Parliament, they are beholden for any Tithes or portion of Tithes that they do enjoy;) and therefore they secure their Tithes with this same frightful word, Sacriledge; and also Jure Divino. A Vicar has not the great Tithes; no; nor a poor man has not the great Mannors and Lordships that others have; but the poor and poor Vicars have all that is their due, and allowed them as their Propriety; and let them be thankful to God and the Laws for that; though not so great as other men's, and perhaps neither do they deserve so much as other men; howsoever it is their Lot, and therefore poor Vicar, Sorte tuâ contentus abi; though I wish thee well and more.

For it is not Sacriledge for a Gentleman to have the great Tithes or Abbey-Lands; (disposed of by Acts of Parliament,) if he honestly purchas'd them of the Crown: But 'tis Robbery (at least in heart) for thee (poor Vicar) thus to covet thy Neighbours Goods, thy Neighbours great Tithes, that never, never—(no, not in the days of Popery) never were thine, nor thy Predecessors; but belong'd to the said Abbots and Nun's, from whom (by the Law of the Land) they (as being got by a Cheat) Escheated to the King: and never were God's Propriety or Gods Purchase: (for if this could be prov'd, All the Kings and Parlia­ments in the World cannot take them away and Alienate them.)

But fair and softly; Though the said Whores, Extortioners, Usurers, and Murderers; &c. being deluded and Cheated with an Imaginary Purgatory, and Paradise (over the Gates whereof the Pope writes in Capital Letters, This House is to be Let, Enquire of St. Peter's Suc­cessor for the Key) The silly Purchasers (like those of old that bartred their Silver-Spoons; Bodkins, and Tankards for the Publique-Faith) were Fob'd of their Moneys, Goods and Lands.

Nay, Deat. 23.18. though the Moneys and Lands, be tendred to God, and by deed of Gift, (fairly en­gros'd, Sealed and) deliver'd in the presence of Witnesses and super altare too (as Bishop Andrews notably observes,) who can prove that God Accepts this Tender, and strikes up the Bargain? because there ought to go always two Words to a bargain, namely, as both buyer and seller can agree. And when and where did God say that he Accepted these cheat­ing Purchases, these fruits of Sin, for Deodates?

Nay, I know that God has said to the contrary, that he will not accept of any such Gift, Offering, Bargain or Sale: in Deut. 23.18. Thou shalt not bring the Hire of a Whore, or the Price of a Dogg, into the House of the Lord thy God, for any vow, for even both these are an abomina­tion unto the Lord thy God.

It was Politickly done tho' to fence in the Abbey-Lands with a Jure Divino; and yet even in the days of Popery, The noyse the wyly Priests made (eccho'd by the silly Priests) Sacri­ledge, Sacriledge, did not Affright our Kings and Parliaments from making many Statutes of Mortmayn, to stop the Current of this Cheating Deluge of Charity (to the Church) almost ready to drown the Common-wealth. And yet (like Pharaoh's Lean-kine) the greedy-Priests that had Eat up the Fat of the Land, look'd as Hungry and Sharp, as if they had really kept and observ'd their Vow of Poverty, (and yet were the richest Cormorants in the Land:) which Vow notwithstanding some think they kept as well as their Vow of Chastity: (And yet they were the Archest Fellows in nature at a Wench.) Insomuch as one of their own Popes; (and the Learnedest of them all) Aeneas Sylvius, used to say; that Marriage of Priests had Ruin'd many, But a Single Life had Damn'd many more.

For which Causes (amongst other) the King and Parliament made those Nunneries those Abbey-Lands, a just forfeiture to the Crown; And though the said old Charm—Jure Divino — and Sacriledge, Sacriledge — have lost their wonted vigour, (as being now disoover'd to be meer Stalking-Horses under whose shaddow crafty Men catch their Prey) yet still it is in use amongst us Protestants on many such Accounts: And does feats still a­mongst the simple and unwary.

Nay, some of the Learned (whether affectedly and colourably only, or no; or that Inte­rest (the great Sollicitor and best Advocate, but the worst Judge) bribes their Judgments, I cannot tell) but sure I am, many of them seem to pin their Faith upon it.

Thus a Learned Bishop of our own, in his Book of the Collection of the Canons, A.S. Bishop o Norwich. quotes another Learned Bishop deceased, In his Title-Page concerning the form of Consecration of a Church or Chappel, &c. In these very words, namely; ‘Bishop Andrews Notes upon the Liturgy. It is not to be forgotten, though It be forgotten, that whoever gave any Lands or Endowments to the Service of God, gave it in a formal Writing, as now-adays betwixt Man and Man, Sealed and Witnessed, and the Tender of the Gift was super altare by the Donor on his Knees.’

And why? And why? why a Deed in Writing, Sealed and Witnessed, and Delivered? And why had not God the keeping of it then? So he had, as near as they could come to him, super altare, where they suppos'd he stood Metamorphos'd from a Wafer, and Transubst antiated, (In­closed also) in the Pix.

Or else I guess the Bargain and Sale had been as effectual to all Intents and Purposes, though the said formal Writing had been Seal'd and deliver'd in the Belfrey, the Body of the Church, or in the Church-Yard or Moot-Hall.

But why (I wonder) is not all this Ceremony to be forgotten, now that the days of Tran­substantiation are at an End with English Bishops? And why must this formal Story be filed up amongst the Memorandums of those odd Reliques and Canons? And together also with the form of Consecrating a Church or Chappel; and of the place of Christian Burial? And all this exemplified by the R.R. Father in God Lancelot Andrews, late Lord Bishop of Win­chester.

But above all those Admirable Collections, the greatest wonder is, how any Man durst Print and revive (as he does) the Proclamation of King Charles I. wherein the Proceedings of His Majesties Ecclesiastical Courts and Ministers are Proclaimed to be according to the Laws of this Realm.

Indeed when that Proclamation was put out; They were so; The Star-Chamber and High­Commission Court being then in being, and 1 Eliz. 1. not repealed, but in force.

But now the Case is alter'd, and these Courts and that Law that founded them is taken a­way, sure the structure then built upon it, must follow the same fate, and the Church left but with just the same Jurisdiction Ecclesiastical they had in the days of Queen Mary, (a little before the 1 Elizabeth 1.) which by their own Confession was taken away from them; as a­foresaid.

And therefore It is high time surely, That these Doubts were clear'd and resolv'd, that both the Bishop's Jurisdiction might not be so precarious as it is: And also that the People might know (at length) How much of the Canon-Law, and How many Canons, or whether any Canons be in force at this Day; and when and for what Ecclesiastical matters they are lyable to be Excommunicated and Goaled: or whether the Wisdom and Piety of the Realm does not think it most fit to make the same use of this same two-edged Sword, as (the Ancient Jews did) of Goliah's Sword; which was carefully preserved in the Temple and laid up be­hind the Ephod, and never to be made use of but by David himself, (and not by every Whip­ster that knows not how to wield it,) no, nor by David neither, but in Cases of Ʋrgent Ne­cessity.

The Apostle Paul (that had the Gift of Discerning of Spirits, and therefore never drew this Sword in a wrong cause, (as now adays) but against the Enemy of Christ onely) ne­ver drew it neither but Twice, and that against Horrible Sinners; An Incestuous Person and Blafphemers.

And therefore though Excommunication was in use in the Church whilst the said Gifts of Discerning of Spirits were frequent, and onely against Notorious Offenders and Offen­ces, yet Quaere, Whether every Commissary, and Lay-Vicar-General (though he has a Priest by him sometimes for fashion-sake) did ever wield this sharp-Weapon; or draw it upon eve­ry Occasion, as when the Register's Fees and Sumner's Fees are not paid, especially in these Days, when Men may justly scruple, whether they ought to obey their Processes as not being in the King's Name, and under the King's Seal, as the Law enjoyns.

'Tis sad thus to send Men to Satan, because they do not pay the Knave a Groat; especi­ally, when the Sumner does not Cite Men according to Law, and to make Appearance be­fore a Court too that does not pretend to Sit by His Majesties Commission; nor by Vertue of their Original Constitution and ordinary Jurisdiction from the Pope. This to Assert, would make them incurr a Proemunire; what can they say for themselves?

The Apostle Paul did many things that we cannot do; our Blessed Saviour did many things which would be sin in us to Attempt to do: He walk't upon the Waters, he Fasted [Page 32]40 Days and 40 Nights, he commanded his Servants to take away a Man's Ass and Colt tyed; we may not Attempt these things; they are above our Skill. And so (I fear) it is beyond our Skill and Abilities to wield and draw, sheath and unsheath that Goliah's Sword of Excom­munication; Especially, when Men offend onely our Interests, and not the Law of the Land; and yet it is often brandished against this sin of Sacriledge, Sacriledge; and by those, many times, that do not, or will not know what Sacriledge is.

Nay, I have heard some Men speak great Words against the King and Parliament in Hen. 8. time, and against all Parliaments ever since, that Alienated or consent to Alienate these Abbey-Lands and Nunneries, as if they would smite them with this Thunder-bolt of Excommunication, (as guilty of Sacriledge) if they durst.

It was as safe for Naboth and his Vineyard to lye conveniently and next Hedge to Ahab's, as sometimes to have had Lands bordering upon St. Petèr's Patrimony: why so? what can't St. Peter or his Pretended Successors do?

Oh! this Religion, this Engine of pretended Religion, this Dart of Excommunication, when 'tis out of the Magistrates keeping, shall wound and mawl them wonderfully: Ask the Excommunicated Venetians, (when Dandalus their Ambassador came with a Rope about his Neck to beg their Peace) ask the poor Duke of Ferrara, if this be true.

Let the King Command a Becket, or a Woolsey to his Allegiance, They will be his Humble Servants with a Salvo honore Dei; And say others, in omnibus nisi rebus Christi; so that these kind of Religious Bigots always keep in Reserve a Starting-Hole, a Loop-Hole, a Sally-Port always ready and open (when their Forces and occasion calls) to Attempt against the King's Supremacy, especially when their Humours are cros't, or their Pride Affronted, or their Revenge unappeas'd, or their Covetousness unglutted; And 'tis a hard matter to Glut it.

The Popish Religious Houses had once a third part of the Land, and were they Glutted? Bishops and Arch-Deacons have enough to live on without sharing with and pareing every Benefice in the Diocess; yet though they know not how they came honestly and lawfully by their Procurations, Synodals and Visitations; though it be against Law, Conscience and Compassion, for the Rich thus to pinch the Poor; yet take it from them, And 'tis a hundred to one, if they do not plead Jure Divino for the Tenure, and cry out Sacriledge, Sacriledge.

Of the Church of England.
Quaere, What it is?

THere's nothing more ordinary than for People to say, (in these days of Part-taking and distinguishing who Men are for?) I am for the Church of England:

Whereas there is not one of a Thousand understands what he means, or who he means, in saying so.

In the Days of Popish Prelacy, Men were Taught to believe as the Church believes; (meaning) as the Clergy believes: So that, for Salvation, they needed no further Know­ledge or Insight than a blind Implicite Faith in the Church, (that is) in the Clergy.

To see with Clergy-mens Eyes, to believe as they pleas'd to prescribe, to be led thus by the Nose to Heaven, was the Divinity of Old; And so a Man did but follow his Nose in the dark, no matter for Eyes: The Arch-Deacons, (those oculi Episcoporum) together with the Bishops, they could see and [...] and Oversee for us all; 'till at last, the Church had no other Members but Head and Eyes: a monstrous Church, sure.

And though the Holy Apostles and Elders had as good Eyes, one would think, as these Pretenders and pretended Successors, yet they never had the Forehead (that those Men put on) who confine and Monopolize the Church of Christ to themselves alone, and make Ca­nons and Laws by themselves alone, as if they alone were the Church.

Thus when Magna Charta says, That Holy Church should be free; They always meant, and it is so construed at this Day. — Let the Clergy be free — (from Taxes, Impositi­ons, &c.) So that by the Church of England, is meant the Clergy of England; A little Church then (surely) in so great a Realm, and a great pity that so many Lay-Brethren should dye out of the Pale of the Church.

And yet the Dignitaries of the Church, (not content to be onely amongst the Croud of other Clergy-men the Church) streighten the Bounds, and take in the Pale to more scanty Limits, making themselves when in Synod especially and Convocation, (at least) the Re­presentative-Church; and of power to see for all the rest, and to bind them to what Decrees and Laws they list. Thus the Articles of Religion, Regn. Eliz. Anno Domini 1562. Articuli de quibus convenit, &c. Articles agreed upon in the Synod of London By and Between the Arch-Bishops and Bishops of Both Provinces, and all the Clergy. What little share the Infe­riour Clergy have in making such Articles, I have shown already; and also that 1 Eliz. 1. is repealed; on which those Articles seem to be founded.

Which yet I say not, to weaken the force and vertue of them: they are so good, so mo­derate, so charitable, so Christian-like in themselves, that they need no voucher, no Sta­tutes to vouch them, they are so honestly come by.

For, Pride and Passion, Prejudice and Peevishness, Malice and Revenge (the wonted In­mates) were excluded the Convocation-House, when those 39. Articles of the Church of England were composed, and nothing but the Naked-Truth permitted entrance. 'Tis strange, you'l say, and in a Synod too, compos'd of Clergy-men; and of the few too, (But I care not for that) once it happened to be so, it seems.

But still I say, (under favour) The Holy Apostles never took so much upon them to make Canons and Constitutions, but by assent and consent, (as well as joint Promulgation in the names) of all the Lay-Brethren; or when the multitudes of Disciples were encreased, at least, they might, I hope, have a vote in chusing who should represent them in this re­presentative Church.

Which if true, (and It is before sufficiently prov'd) then surely, as the Church of Co­rinth, Ephesus, Galatia, &c. were the Christians of Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, &c. Clergy and Lay together, (though those distinctions were not then known;) so really and truly, The Church of England are all the Christian's of England; over them, under Christ, the King is the Visible Head and Supreme Governour in the Executive power, and the King and Par­liament in the Legislative or Canon-making Power.

With what tollerable modesty then can the Clergy alone, (much less a few of them) arrogate to themselves the Title, Priviledges and Immunities of the Church of England? Tell not me that it was so when the Pope usurp't the Supremacy, what is that to us now?

I know that when Magna Charta was made; by Holy Church being Free, (was meant) Let the Clergy be free, from Taxes, &c. but how little did the Prelates value that Law? for though the Clergy (by that Statute) was free from Impositions and Burdens, yet the Prelates did not so much regard it seems, but that they notwithstanding would venture to Pill and Poll the Inferiour Clergy, by Procurations, Synodal's, Visitations, and many more vexations as if the Clergy was free (for no body) to fleece but for themselves alone, and that too, ar­bi trarily.

Better it is for them, much better, to be thrown up in Common (as of yore) amongst the Laity again, and take Neighbour's-fare, by Acts of Parliament; than by being an In­closure and exempt, be made the peculiar of arbitrary-Impositions, (though by the men of their own Cloth;) none were so unkind to Joseph as his own Brethren, he had fairer Quar­ters from the Gypsees.

As the Clergy (all of them) have as much His Majesties Protection as other folk, and the benefit of the Laws, nay, and the benefit of the Clergy too (if they need it) as much as a­ny Lay-men; good reason therefore they should contribute equally with others to Taxes, and Arms, and to the Poor, &c. But 'tis sad when this will not suffice; but for enjoying the name (and nothing but the name) of the Church. They shall not only pay First-Fruits, and Tenths to His Majesty, as bound by Law; but to pay without end, and without Law, all the Arbitrary Impositions that Rich and great Men of their own Cloth shall lay upon them (for Letters of orders, Institution, Induction, Licences to Preach, Procurations, Synodals, Visitations; and then again for shewing these Letters of Orders, Institutions, &c.) 'tis that makes you so poor and beggarly (generally) and consequently contemptible, world without end.

I cannot but with some complacency read the Statute of 16. Rich. 2.5. where the King and Parliament (when Popery was in its Zenith) did not forget, that they and the Clergy, the Inferiour Clergy too, were English-men; namely. That,

Whereas the Commons of the Realm in this present Parliament have showed to our redoubted Lord the King, grievously complaining, That whereas our said Lord the King and all his Liege People ought of right, (mark that) and of Old time wont (mark that too) to sue in the King's Court, to recover their Presentments to Churches, Prebends and other Benefices of Holy Church, to the which they had right to Present; The cognizance of Plea of which Presentment belongeth only (mark that too) to the Kings Court of the old Right of his Crown, used and approved in the time of all his Progenitors Kings of England;’

And when Judgments shall be given in the same Court upon such a Plea and Pre­sentment, (mark that too) The Arch-Bishops and Bishops, and other Spiritual Persons which have Institution of such Benefices, within their Jurisdiction, be bound (mark that too) and have made Execution of such Judgments, without Interruption, (mark the Reason) for another Lay-Person cannot make such Execution; And also be bound of right (mark that too) to make Execution of many other the King's Commandments, &c. (too long here to insert) but concluding, That against the offenders Process by Praemunire facias) should be made, and not only against the offenders, but against their Procurators, Executors, Maintainors, (mark that too) as in the Statute of Provisors, 27 Edw. 3.1. and against All other which do sue in any other Court (mark that too) in derogation of the Regality of our Lord the King.

Whence it appears, That even in those Popish times, Patrons, (most whereof were Lord of the Mannors, and gave the Tythes and Glebe) should present (right and good reason) and give their own; (may they not do what they will with their own?) to what Clerk they please, giving him thereby Jus ad rem, and then the Bishop and Archdeacons by Institution and In­duction as Instruments in Law, because a Lay-person (as the Sheriffs, &c.) cannot (as the Law then was, and now is) make such Execution, and give the Clerks presented Jus in Re, or possession.

And if a Bishop or Arch-deacon (for they are but men) do refuse the same wantonly or through prejudice, or design, for a Kingsman or a Friend of his own when modestly request­ed by the Clerk presented, and will not admit him habilem; then the Law has provided a Writ called Quare Impedit, to force him to shew a Lawful cause in the Kings-Courts, and by them approved, or otherwise to force the Bishop to make Execution according to the Pa­trons Presentment.

Thus we see in Times of greatest Popery, our Ancestors did assert their own Proprieties against Arbitrary Proceedings of Men that call'd themselves—the Church—the Church.

Ile give but one Instance more, to show what little pretence the Clergy alone have to entitle themselves alone the Church Representative of England, (distinct from the Lay-Brethren) and that is in making a Canon to Cringe to the East, and Bow at the Name of Jesus.

Object. How now? will some say, Of all instances you might have forborn this; For can any good Christian do too much Reverence to the Name of Jesus? We now know what you would be at; Phil. 2.10, 11. for does not the Apostle say, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, &c. this might have been let alone.

Answ. But, I will not let it go so; yet must acknowledge readily and chearfully, That there is no other Name under Heaven by which we can be saved, nor any other name (except that of God and Jehovah!) that deserves more signal Reverence.

And yet, notwithstanding, Bernardus non videt omnia, nor the Church, the Church (I mean the Clergy) in her Placet's, always rational, much less, Infallible.

The words in Phil. 2.10, 11. are—That at the Name of Jesus every knee (not every head) should how, of things in Heaven, (therefore not litterally to be understood, for there is no knees there to bow,) and things in Earth, and things under the Earth; (there is no knees there nei­ther, except those in Graves, and they are too senceless, at least too stiff to bow.) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; Therefore such as take the words litte­rally, ought at the same time that they bow the head or knee, to use also their Tongues, and confess at the same time, that Jesus Christ is Lord.

But (I say) in obedience to this Holy Scripture, (or rather, some Clergy-men's Com­ment thereon) Men, at this day, at the Name of Jesus, bow their heads, not their knees; yet the Text speaks not one word of that; nay, in all discourse, as well as in the Church, men that understand it in the litteral sence, ought to bow the knee, (and not dop the head) and also at the same time they ought with their Tongues confess—That Jesus Christ is Lord.

Thus when we hear a Common-Swearer 100 times in an hour swear—by Jesus— as is usual and often; we ought (by this Interpretation) to make a Legg every time, and with our Tongues Eccho to him and cry out — Jesus Christ is Lord.

But such was the wisedom, for want of comparing the Words with the Context; For by the Name of Jesus (there) is understood the Power and Soveraignty of Jesus, to which God hath highly Exalted him (not those 4. or 5. Letters, but a Power) above every Name (that is, above every Creature, or above all created Powers) whether in Heaven or in Earth, or under the Earth, that they might how the knee to him, (that is,) adore him.

So Prov. 18.10. The Name of the Lord is a strong Tower; not the Letters Jehovah, or Jah) is a strong Tower, or the found and noise of those words, but—The Power of the Lord is a strong Tower, the righteous run unto it, and are safe; not into the Letters or found of the Name.

Yet, notwithstanding, if any man will show Reverence at the Name of Jesus, I am not offended, so he shew as much Reverence at the Name of God, and at the Name of the Ho­ly Ghost.

It is a hard and harsh saying of some, and borders upon Blasphemy, to make distinctions, in the Holy Trinity; as if we were more beholden to the Second Person of the Holy Tri­nity, than to the First, or Third Person; This Grates—to make a difference in Reve­rencing The Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity.

But in this Instance, I only show, that the Clergy, the Clergy, (much less — a few of the Clergy because Higher and Taler,) have shown no Charter hitherto, nor reason to have such a Charter granted to them to be (without the Laity) The Church, The Churth of Eng­land.

The whole Oecumenical Council of Nice had erred shamefully but for one single ey'd man, Paphnutius. And it is pretty reading in the Council of Trent, to see how at a loss the Fathers were for a Resolution, 'till Post-Night; till the Packet return'd from Rome (one said with their Holy Ghost in a Cloak-bagg); So that the next day after the Post came in, People repair'd to the Counsel-House for News, and to know how squares would go; as [Page 35]men do now to a Country Coffee-house on a Post-night to know how things go above.

But is it not strange Impudence, Atheism, and Effrontery thus to take Gods holy Name and Spirit in vain, by making the Holy Ghost father all our Escapes and By-blows, adul­terately begotten by Self-Interest, Pride, Passion, Revenge, crasty Fetches, covetons designs, (whether the French or the Spanish Interest carry it, still The stile is— It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us—) God forgive them.

And this is the Church— The Church, (that is) the Clergy, the Clergy; or rather the Few, the Few; the least in number (I will not say, I cannot say) the worst of the num­ber, nor the Idlest of the number.

But add to them Lay-Chancellors, or Vicar-Generals, Sumners, Registers, &c. To make up this Church, the Church of England— And you make them worse and worse.

I look upon the Church of England as the greatest Bull-Work against Popery; what? This latter sort of men? are they such a Bull-work? no, the Protestants of England, The Protestant Laws of England embodied with the Fundamental-Laws of the Realm; Ruine one, and you ruine the other; for they must live and die together.

Thus have I evidenced, that the Laity (in the Apostles times) were the Church, and as much Canon-makers and Rule-makers, and had the conduct of the infallible Spirit and gifts of the Holy Ghost, as well as the Apostles; and therefore certainly the Christian People (as well as the Clergy) of England, are the Church of England.

Nay, In Hen. 3. time, when the Popish Prelates were most Rampant, and Othoben the Pope's Nuncio had almost Beggar'd that King, keeping him poor, and doing what he list with him; yet when they were to be excommunicated that Infringed Magna Charta, The Clergy, (nor the Synod) did not make it, but the King, and Parliament in these words.

Noverint universi Quòd Dominus H. Rex Angliae illustris, Anno. 37. H. 3.R. Comes Norff. & Marescallus An­glin, H. comes Hereford, & Essex, I comes de Warewico, Petrus de Sabbaudia, Caeterique Magna­ces Anglia, consenserunt in sentiam Excommunicationis generaliter latam apud Westm. Tertio de­cimo die Muii Anno Regni Regis Pradicte, in hàc formà, scilices Quod vinculo Praefacae sententiae ligenter omnes venientes contra libertates contentas in chartis communium libertatum Angliae, & de Foresta, &c. Dominus Rex & praedicti Magnates omnes, & Communitas Populi protestantur pub­litè, &c. by Communitus Populi, there I understand the Honse of Commons, though it had not the form in those days which now it puts on and decently wears.

By which it appears, that the King and his Lay-people would not trust the Clergy in those days with making Sentences of excommunication; nor with declaring causes of Excommu­nication; much less without the Privity of King and Parliament, as some have presumed. But matchless is the Malice of those men that are angry with all Lay-men that dare be so bold as to see their own way with their own (and not with Clergy) eyes, and Prospectives.

The Conclusion.

THus have I stared these Quaries, so needful to be discuss'd, And prov'd, That all Ec­clesiastical Jurisdiction (like all other Jurisdictions) must be deriv'd from the King or the Pope; To assert the latter, Incurs a Praemunire, or to pretend any old ordinary Jurisdi­ction originally granted them from the Pope in their first creation: and his Majesty has ob­lig'd himself never to Empower them by Commission any more.

By the Statutes of Hen. 8. all those ordinary Jurisdictions Ecclesiastical were cut off, and they (left) without any in Queen Maries time, as the Synod did confess (as aforesaid:) But in King Edward's time their Ecclesiastical Proceedings were revived, but with condition, that all Citations, Processes, &c. should be in the Name of the King the Head of the Church, (as in Original and Judicial Writs at the Common Law,) He being also Head of the State. And in due acknowledgment also of this Supremacy, The Seals of their Spiritual-Courts should have engraven in them, The Kings Arms.

Great, very great Reason there is (and there was) for such a Statute as that, 1 Edw. 6. But oh! this Hierarchy! this Power! how sweet? could the Bishops ever be brought to this? I'le warrant some of them would keep no Courts at all first: but who cares?

For, cui bono? cui fini? should be the question every man puts in all his affairs; so here; cui bono? cui fini? what are the Spiritual Courts good for at this day as they are managed?

I protest, I cannot tell, and yet no man in England has more reason to know their virtue than I, nor scarce any has had more experience of them, and in them, and still (as I said be­fore) I have an Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of mine own.

For except a little money (I should say) a great deal of money, (ungedly money wickedly got) by the Extortions of Registers, (I'le prove what I say) and shamefully against Law; and money, money, from the poor Clergy, the Inferiour Clergy, and silly Churchwardens, a­gainst the Common-Law, Statute-Law, Canon-Law, Civil-Law, Equity, Conscience, Rea­son and Humane Compassion, all condemning this unnatural and Unkind Rapaeity, Except these be good things, I know not what they are good for; not by what Authority they dare send out [Page 36]Citations without the King's Name, Title, and Seal, against the King's Liege-People: or how a Writ de Excummunicato Capiendo can legally be awarded, (the ground whereof being a Significavii under Seal, a legal Seal) unless the Kings Arms be engraven in the Seal of the Significavit, and the Process, on which it is founded, also run in the King's Name, &c.

Tell not me, (for I know it) That the opinion of the Judges was ask't about this, as in the said Proclamation; But when was it? It was when the High-Commission-Courts were in be­ing; no man durst speak any thing in these days against their Placet's, It would be his ruine if he did; But now since that Branch of 1 Eliz. 1. is repealed; I for my part, know not by what Authority we do these things: And I write this, as much for my own satisfaction and more, than for any man's else.

And that too in a discourse here (such as it is) neither Polite nor neatly dres't; I have neither Will nor Leisure to write it over again, and sleek it, and polish it, and make it Fine, 'tis now most natural, most like my self, (plain and blunt) not curious, nor affected, (like my Garb) not Rich, and yet, I hope, not Slovenly. For I (am one of those that) love my Pleasure and Humour so much, as not to take over-much pains to please or displease any man alive.

However, what Prudent Man would barter his Ease, to purchase (in Exchange) the Repu­tation of a Writer (not worth one farthing) in this Scribling-Age.

For New Books are like New-Plays, wherewith the Poets and Actors can scarce please One in Ten; And though the Fops get there all the little Wit they have; yet they will rail and disparage them, but cannot (notwithstanding) for bear seeing them for their hearts.

I write (as I speak) right on, and the Naked Truth, and Home Truths; purposely neg­lecting the wily circumspection of Flatterers and Dislemblers, Fellows of no Soul.)

And as I have writ this off-hand, and what came next to hand, and occur'd (at present) without pumping; yet has not one word here slipt my Pen, without its due weight and consi­ration; nothing is here presented Crude and Immature, but well-digested, as (a few of those) things that my Head and Heart have long been full of; though a late Occasion now gives them Birth; no Abortion, I hope.

For I am well assur'd that I have not only given Birth here to my own Conceptions, but to the Conceptions also of almost the whole Nation, whose Judgments are not blinden and brib'd by Interest: (And these last shall Be mine Enemies and they only:) But I hope al­so, Psal. 62.3. they shall be like a bowing Wall and a tottering Fence, whilst I say and Pray the whose Psalm, 62.

I have no picque against any man in Particular, no private Interest, nor Revenge to gra­tifie, but wish for my own private-Interest, as well as for the publique-Weal, That Ecclesi­astical Jurisdiction were of force, strength and vertue, and not thus uncertain, disorderly and precarious.

I have (I confess) in this Search and Inquiry Anatomiz'd and rip't up to the Bottom some Secret parts, yet I have also at the same time cast a vail over their Nakedness, and hid their shame; (what I could, I mean.)

And in these Gentle Dissections, if some think that I have gone too deep, Let them consider that Old Ʋlcers and Fistula's are incurable, except we search to the Bottom; but in doing this also, I hope, I have retain'd the Property of a good Chirurgeon; namely, a Ladies Hand, as well as a Lyons Heart: And is there any but Babies and Boobies that will be frighted out of their Wits with a Scare-Crow or Magotte-Pye?


I Hereby allow and authorize Francis Smith Bookseller: to Print my Book, Entituled, The Naked Truth, the Second Part.

Edmund Hiceringill.

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