IMPRIMATUR,

Tho. Tomkyns, Reverendissimo in Christo Patri ac Domino, Dom. Gilb. Arch. Cantuar à Sacr. Dom.

A Friendly Debate Betwixt two Neighbours, The one A CONFORMIST, The other A NON-CONFORMIST, About several weighty matters.

Published for the benefit of this City, by a Lover of it, and of pure Religion.

Prov. 15.32.

He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth under standing.

To the Reader.

Reader,

DO not throw away this little Book as soon as ever thou meetest with something that offends thee; but sit down rather, and consider upon what account thou art offended. If it be onely because the Author contradicts thy Opinions, and perhaps accuses them of folly, thou hast cause to turn thy displeasure from him upon thy self, for presuming so much of thy own infallibility: which if thou wilt not pretend unto, then read on further, and consider whether he contradicts thee with reason, or without: and howsoever it prove, thou wilt not repent thee of thy pains. For if he reprove thy Opinions without reason, thou wilt be more confir­med in them; if with reason, thou maist [Page]exchange them for better. It is possible, indeed, that some things may seem to be expressed too tartly and severely, and o­thers too lightly and merrily: but let not that put thee out of humour neither, nor make the reason which is offered less considerable. For the Author (I can assure thee) hath no gall in him, nor was in any passion when he write these things: but intended onely (as naturally as he could on a sudden) to express such Discourse as Neighbours are wont to have in their private conversation; in which if there be nothing that is smart or plea­sant, they can scarce keep one another from sleeping. He is very well aware under what great prejudices we all la­bour; and considers how hard it is to dispossess an Opinion, though false, nay [Page]ridiculous, which a man hath suck'd in with his mothers milk, and which hath been impressed on him by education, con­firmed by custom, much encouraged by the consent and practice of those with whom he daily converses, and hath per­haps his complexion and natural temper to befriend it, and incline him to it. Ʋp­on such considerations as these he cannot be angry with those against whom he writes; but rather pities them, and is sorry they consider not such things them­selves; and so repress that heat and pas­sion wherewith they advance their own private late inventions, against publick Decrees and ancient Constitutions. One sort of men (he confesses) are apt a little to move his indignation, who pretend to the greatest niceness of conscience, and [Page]have handled the matter so as to b [...] thought the most religious of all others; and yet make no scruple to do those things continually which are utterly con­trary to good conscience. (So, I believe, an understanding Heathen or Turk would resolve, were he made judge in the case, and had first their Principles, and then their Practices, laid before him.) Such the Author thinks deserve to be rebuked; and if there be any thing spoken with sharpness in the ensuing Discourse, it is when he hath to do with them. Yet in that case he hath used due moderation, not studying to vex men, but onely to awaken and convince them. For he is very sensible that when we go about to displace any Opinion, and in­troduce another in its room, we usually [Page]lose our labour, if we either fail to pro­pound our mind dexterously, or use not such meekness as may shew we have a good will to those from whom we differ. Where these are wanting, instead of inviting men to receive a Truth, we find they are commonly further alienated from it. Now he hath some confidence he is not much defective in the first, ha­ving taken care to express his mind clearly and in plain words, and contri­ved his Discourse into the form of a Dia­logue, to make it more easily apprehend­ed. As for the Later, he cannot but think that he hath done his duty, and testi­fied his kindness every where, even to those against whom thou mayest think him most severe. But if thou judgest otherwise, then he earnestly beseeches thee [Page]to overlook it and pass it by, as an in­considerate and hasty expression; and to weigh rather what Truth is here pre­sented to thee, than in what manner it is delivered.

In short, If it had not been to fill up some vacant pages, he had made almost as short a Preface as those words of the Son of Sirach (according to which he expects the success of his labour) Ecclus. 21.15. If a skilful man hear a wise word, he will commend it, and add unto it: but as soon as one of no understanding heareth it, it displea­seth him, and he casteth it behind his back.

Examine all things, and judge righteous judgment.

A Table of the principal matters contained in this Discourse.

  • THe occasion of it. pag. 1.
  • All are not Christ's Ministers who pretend to it. 2, 3.
  • Of powerful Preaching. 4, 5, 15.
  • Of spiritual Illumination. 6, &c.
  • The great proof of Christian Religion is the Spi­rit. 9, 10.
  • Of Spiritual and Logal Preaching 11, &c.
  • Of the necessity of Good works to our justification. 13, 14.
  • Who are the most Soul searching Preachers. 16, 17, &c.
  • Ʋpon this occasion Mr. Watson's late Book of Re­pentance is a little examined. 20, 21, &c.
  • Mr. Bridges his Ten Sermons considered, especially that about the Difference between New Testa­ment spirit and Old Test. spirit. 25, 26, &c.
  • By what means this whole Nation came to be over­run with folly. 34
  • Mr. Bridges one of them that helps to continue and increase it. 35 unto 40.
  • Of Spiritual Preachers. 40. &c.
  • Of applying Promises. 43, 44, &c.
  • Of Experimental Preachers. 47, &c.
  • Foolish Application of Scripture 49, 51.
  • [Page]A Comparison between the discreet Conformists and the mon-conformists. 54.
  • Of the Seal that some pretend God hath given to their Ministry. 55.
  • Who are the most guilty of being Time-servers. 57, &c.
  • The Annotations commonly ascribed to the Assem­bly men say nothing of Sacrilege. 59, &c.
  • Several other instances of Men-pleasing. 64.
  • Of forsaking Principles 66, &c.
  • None more guilty then they that accuse others of it. 68 unto 79.
  • Of the calling of the present Ministers of our Church. 79.
  • Of praying by the Spirit. 89 to 92.
  • Pretence to it hath brought Religion into contempt. 87 &c.
  • Concerning a Form of Prayer. 93, &c.
  • Of the Common Prayer. 97, &c.
  • That some things may be done concerning the Wor­ship of God which he hath not expresly comman­ded. 101, &c.
  • That the enjoyning things indifferent makes them not unlawful. 104.
  • All do not think our Forms of Prayer and other Orders unlawful, who speak against them, or suffer others to do so. 110.
  • Of Will worship. 113.
  • None more Superstitious then they who seem most afraid of it. 117, &c.
  • The reason men are no more affected with a good [Page]Form of Prayer. 120, &c.
  • A brief confutation of a new book called Nehush­tan. 123 unto 143
  • Who the Non-conformists call dull Preachers. 13, &c.
  • Christian Religion teaches the highest Morality. 145.
  • Of profiting by Sermons. 147, 151.
  • Of Christian comfort. 148, 149.
  • All the Godly (as is pretended by some) are not Non­conformists. 152.
  • Nor the Generality of them. 154.
  • They reason now as they did in the late Rebellion. 159, &c.
  • They have not more of the Power of Godliness then others. 161.
  • S. Pauls description of those who have onely a Form of Godliness. 162.
  • Who have the Power of it. 165.
  • Of keeping Days. 167, &c.
  • A better way of spending our time then in run­ning to private Meetings, and keeping Days. 169.
  • How frivolously we are charged with Slightness of spirit. 172.
  • Concerning Experience, and what things are to be known by it, what not. 173, &c.
  • Of delighting in heavenly discourse. 178, &c.
  • Of going to see a Play. 180, 184, &c.
  • We are not always bound to do what is best. 183.
  • A remarkable passage in one of Mr. Bridges's [Page]Sermons considered. 188, 189, &c.
  • Of plain Preachers. 192, 196.
  • Of painful Preachers. 194.
  • Whether Non-conformists be the strictest people. 198.
  • And the most serious people. 199, &c.
  • And tender-conscienc'd. 201.
  • They are to be praised who read the Prayers de­voutly. 202. &c.
  • Zeal carries men beyond and against their Reason. 203, 204.
  • A Difference to be made between one Non-confor­mist and another. 205, 206.
  • We should be reconcil'd, if the Presbyterian Mini­sters would perswade their people to do what they can do themselves. 208.
  • A brief view of their own Discourses heretofore a­gainst separation from them. 209, 210, &c.
  • They complain of Persecution unjustly. 217, &c.
  • They were contented some Ceremonies of their ow [...] making should be enjoyned. 220 &c.
  • Their own Advice about the Covenant very goo [...] for them to follow. 222.
  • The Covenant against the Law. 223, &c.
  • They had as good stay away as not use Reverence i [...] Divine Service. 230.
  • How to hear Sermons. 231.
  • How Non-conformists should behave themselve while they remain unsatisfied about things i [...] difference. 234 unto 240.

A Friendly Debate BETWEEN A Conformist, and a Non-Conformist.

Conf.

GOod morrow, Neighbour: I am very glad to see you, and you are welcome home.

Non-Conf.

I thank you kindly: But I do not understand your Salutation, not having been from home this twelve­moneth.

C.

No? what's the reason then that we have not seen you at Church of late?

N. C.

I believe you did not see me: but I [...]ssure you the Church never wants my compa­ny.

C.

How can that be? Are you there, as the Angels are, after an invisible manner?

N. C.

Pish! you do not apprehend me. Do you take your house of stone to be a Church?

C.

Yes indeed do I: and (as I have been in­form'd by them that know it) it is more properly called so, than your Assemblies. For the English word Church, Originally signifies an house of the Lord for Christians to worship in; as I have been told by your Minister.

N. C.
[Page 2]

Minister? he may be the Kings Mini­ster, perhaps, but he is none of Christ's.

C.

My good neighbour, do not grow warm so soon; for you and I must have a great deal o [...] Discourse together. Pray walk in here to my house.

N. C.

Well, what have to say for your Mi­nister?

C.

This I say, that he is both the Kings's Mi­nister and Christ's also: whereas I have reason to fear he whom you follow is neither.

N. C.

Fare you well.

C.

Nay, stay a little, and hear me out. How can he be the Minister of Christ, who is disobe­dient to his Sovereign, whom Christ bids him obey?

N. C.

Disobedient? Yes, in those things which Christ hath forbidden him to do. And therein I hope you will be content he should obey God ra­ther than man.

C.

I knew this would be your answer. But, what if I prove that he is disobedient even there where Christ and his Laws are not at all con­cern'd?

N. C.

You cannot do it.

C.

Why, what Law of Christ is there that re­quires him to live in London, or at least within five miles of it?

N. C.

None that I know.

C.

But the Law of the Land forbids him to live in this place, or within such a distance. And [Page 3]yet notwithstanding he lives here in defiance of that Law (which you confess is not contrary to Christ's. And being here, he lives also in the breach of a great many other Laws.

N. C.

That was a Tyrannical Law.

C.

Very good. But it is not repugnant, you are convinced, to the Commands of Christ; and therefore he is not a good Subject, and conse­quently not a good Christian; much less such a person, as a Minister of Christ ought to be.

N. C.

Would not you think it hard to be so abridg'd of your liberty?

C.

Yes, without doubt. But, if we must never submit to such things, as we count harsh and ri­gorous, then farewel all the Doctrine of Christ concerning to king up our cross, and suffering pa­tiently, &c. Which Doctrines, if you had studied, you would not have uttered such a word as im­plies the King to be a Tyrant.

N. C.

Pray pardon me that rashness.

C.

I do most readily, and hope you ask God pardon for this, and all other your rash words and actions. But that I may a little further con­vince you of that we were speaking of; I be­seech you tell me, what Law of Christ is there that enjoyns him whom you follow to hold his Assemblies just then, when the publick Service of God, established by Law, begins? Is not this sufficient to convince any unprejudiced man, that he is not content to enjoy his own way of worshipping God, but he would also destroy [Page 4]ours? That is, not only to act contrary to a Law [...] but to endeavour to subvert what is enacted by it? Else, why might it not suffice him to begin when the publick Service is done;

N. C.

For that I cannot tell what to say.

C.

Then I can make an answer for you. Your Minister is afraid, lest any of you should go to Church, and like our Minister so well, that you should think there is no need of him.

N. C.

Away, away! There is no danger o [...] that. He so far excels yours, that if we should come to hear him, it would onely make us like our own the better.

C.

Wherein (I pray you) doth this excellen­cy consist?

N. C.

O Sir, he is a very powerful man Yours is a meer Dr. Dulman in compare with him.

C.

What do you mean? that he hath a loud­er voice, that he is more vehement, and lay [...] about him more than ours? Or what is it? If yo [...] take him to be powerful, who presses his Do­ctrine with strong and powerful reasons, such as we cannot gainsay or resist; I believe our Minister will prove the more powerful of the two.

N. C.

It may be so. I have heard indeed tha [...] he is a man of Reason: but what is that to the Demonstration of the Spirit, and of power?

C.

True: there is no compare between these. But hath your Minister that Demonstra­tion [Page 5]of the Spirit and of Power?

N. C.

Yes sure, if ever any man had.

C.

That's good news; for then we shall see that which before we only believed. Hath he the gifts of the Holy Gost? Can he speak with Tongues, and Prophesie, and work Miracles, and tell us the thoughts of mens hearts?

N. C.

What do you mean?

C.

I mean that which the Apostle Saint Paul meant, who had this Demonstration of the Sipirit, and of Power; which he gave the world, to con­vince them that Jesus was risen from the dead, and was made Lord of all, whom they were therefore bound to obey.

N. C.

But I mean something else.

C.

Pray tell me what that is. Only let me desire you not to use words, without the sense belonging to them; and to intreat your Minister, that he would hereafter forbear to pray to God that he may speak in the Demonstration of the Spirit, and of Power; for no body now can hope to do it.

N. C.

I mean, that he is spiritually enlight­ned to search the deep things of the Spirit of God, which the natural man cannot discern.

C.

I wonder at you, that you should not dis­cern the Apostle there speaks of the Holy Ghost (i.e. the wonderful Gifts of it) in them, which [...]ssured them of those things that no meer natu­ral Reason could prove. I doubt your Minister is not spiritually enlightned, because he doth [Page 6]not instruct you better in the Scriptures.

N. C.

Scriptures? He never says [...] but he quotes a place of Scripture for it. [...] Sermons are nothing else: whereas you [...] but Rational Discourses.

C.

I remember I have heard a wise man say that one may talk nothing but Scripture, and ye [...] speak never a wise word. And I verily believe it; for it is not the Word of God when we mis­take its sense, as you commonly do.

N. C.

Doth yours do any better?

C.

Yes: he seems to me to make it his bu­siness to let us into the meaning of the holy Book. And he backs his Reason, not with phra­ses snatch'd from thence, but with such place as manifestly speak the same sense that he doth.

N. C.

I have heard him sometimes endeavou [...] to open the Scripture, but methinks he doth not do it in a Spiritual way, but onely Ratio­nally.

C.

My good Neighbour, consider what yo [...] say. Do you think that these two words, Spiritua [...] and Rational are opposed the one to the other If they be, then Spiritually is as much as Irratio­nally and absurdly.

N. C.

No, pardon me there. I do not think those two are opposite; but Carnal Reason is opposite to the Spirit.

C.

To speak properly, you should say that Carnal Reason is opposite to Spiritual Reason▪ [Page 7]That is, a Reason that is guided by Fleshly lusts [...]s opposite to that which is guided by the Gospel of Christ.

Ns. C.

I say, as I said before, it is opposite to the Spirit.

C.

You must either mean as I do; or else that it is opposite to the Gospel, which is frequent­ly called the Spirit in Scripture. But, pray tell me, how shall we understand the Gospel, by our Reason, or by something else?

Ns C.

By the Spirit.

C.

What, must we have an immediate Reve­lation to make us understand its sense? or must we study and consider, and lay things together, and so come to know its meaning?

N. C.

Yes, we must give our minds to it, and then the Spirit enlightens us.

C.

That is, it guides us to reason, and dis­course, and judge aright. Is not that it you mean?

N. C.

No; I mean it shines into our minds with its light.

C.

These are phrases which I would have you explain if you can. My Question is this, Doth the Spirit shew as any new thing, which is not the conclusion of the Reasonings and Dis­courses in our minds about the Sense of Scri­pture?

N. C.

I cannot say it doth.

C.

Then you confess that the Scripture is to to be interpreted in a Rational way; we not [Page 8]having that which is truly to be called Spiritual in distinction from the other, viz. the immedi­ate revelation of the Holy Ghost, which the Apostles had.

N.C.

Still I cannot think that this is Spiritual.

C.

That is, you are prejudiced: or else you phansie every thing that you do not understand to be Spiritual.

N.C.

No, not so: but the manner of under­standing the things of God, methinks, should be other than you conceive.

C.

Truly, if you have any other manner of understanding besides this, and have not the ex­traordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost; I conclude you take the sudden (and many times pretty) suggestions of Imagination to be Illuminations from above.

N.C.

Now you have hit on something that I would have said: The Spirit doth often dart things into my mind.

C.

How know you that? Do you take every thing that comes into your head you know not how, to be an Irradiation from the Holy Ghost?

N.C.

No, I dare not say so.

C.

Then you examine it, and consider whe­ther it be rational and coherent, or no.

N.C.

Yes.

C.

Then you fall into our way whether you will or no. And whatsoever you think of us, we do not deny but God's good Spirit puts good [Page 9]thoughts oft-times in our minds, and represents things more clearly to us than we could make them by all our reasonings: which is as much as to say, that it lets us see the reasonableness and aptness of such a Sense (for instance) of the Di­vine Writings as we discerned not before.

N.C.

Well, I am glad to hear you speak so much of the Spirit.

C.

You might hear ten times as much, if you would but frequent our Assemblies. For there we are constantly taught, that the very ground and foundation of our Faith in Jesus Christ is the Spirit, i.e. the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven upon our Saviour and his Apostles.

N.C.

You mix so much of Reason with what you say, that I am afraid you are not in the right.

C.

You should rather conclude the contrary, and not believe any thing but what you have a good reason for.

N.C.

Say you so? How then shall I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Can Rea­son tell me this?

C.

I am sorry to see you so ill instructed. If you had continued to hear our Minister, he would have made you understand before this time, that though our reason could not find out that Truth, yet God hath given us the highest reason to believe it. And this I told you is the Spirit; the Spirit in Christ and in his Apo­stles.

N.C.
[Page 10]

Pray explain your meaning, for I un­derstand not these new Notions.

C.

The Holy Ghost (I mean) descended on our Saviour at his Baptism, with a voice from Heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This is one reason we have to believe on him. Then he wrought miracles by the power of this Spirit; and though he was killed, yet he was raised again from the dead by it; and after that he sent the Spirit upon his A­postles, who thereby demonstrated that he was the Son of God with power. Which are all reasons for my belief; and if you have any other I would gladly hear them, or know whether you believe without any Reason at all.

N.C.

These are Spiritual Reasons.

C.

I like your Language very well: only re­member that these are the Divinest Reasons which cannot be resisted. For thus our mind ar­gues with it self: That which God testified by voices from Heaven, and by a world of Mira­cles, is to be believed; that Jesus is his Son, he did in this manner testifie; therefore we are to believe that he is God's Son.

N.C.

Who taught you to reason on this fa­shion?

C.

Is this such a mighty business, that you wonder at? We are taught continually to give our selves these reasons, why we should be­lieve: And methinks it is the most powerful preaching in the world. For, if I believe firmly [Page 11]that Jesus is the Son of God, is risen from the dead, and will come to judg the world; how can I chuse but obey him with great care and con­stancy?

N.C.

You say true. But me thinks there is more Spiritual Preaching than this.

C.

What should that be?

N.C.

To preach the great Misteries of the Gospel.

C.

Is not this the first great Mystery of God­liness, God manifested in the flesh? (1 Tim. 3.16.) and is not this the next, that he was justified in, or, by the Spirit; which we give as a proof that he was manifested in the flesh? Read the rest, and then come and hear our Minister, and you shall find them a I unfolded one time or other in a plain and ample manner.

N.C.

These methinks are no such great My­steries.

C.

No? sure you know not the meaning of the word Mystery, but live onely upon phrases. Was not this a Secret kept in the breast of God from ages and generations?

N.C.

Yes.

C.

Then it is a Mystery, and the chief and first of all. That God hath sent his Son into the World. As for the ends of his sending him; if those be they you call Mysteries, they are as much declared among us, as among you; and per­haps a great deal more.

N.C.

What do you mean?

C.
[Page 12]

I mean, his dying for our Sins, and rising again for our Justification, and Intercession on our behalf at God's right hand. I dare say these are as well opened to us, as ever they have been to you.

N.C.

I am glad to hear it; for I alwayes thought there was little but Legal Preaching a­mong you.

C.

You mean, we are taught to obey the Commands of Christ.

N.C.

No: the Doctrine of Good works is al­ways sounding from your Pulpits.

C.

These are the same thing: for no other Works are taught us, but such as Christ injoyns. As for the Works of Moses his Law, we never hear of them, but only that they do no longer oblige us. If we did, I assure you we should call our Preachers Legal as much as you can do.

N.C.

But I am afraid the insisting so much upon Good works, is Legal.

C.

You should rather fear that the Preaching of them so little, leads men to Libertinism.

N.C.

We are tender least the Grace of God should be impeached, by putting men so much upon Doing.

C.

Then, it seems, you think it peculiar to the Spirit of the Law, to be very sollicitous a­bout Doing well.

N.C.

Yes.

C.

Now I see you are in very gross dark­ness. [Page 13]For certainly both the Law and the Gospel put men upon doing; but not the same things, nor with the same disposition.

N.C.

Explain your self; for methinks you are in the dark.

C.

The Gospel give us better rules of life, and gives us power to do according to them with a more willing and chearful mind, than the Law did.

N.C.

Where then is grace all this while?

C.

It was the Grace of God that gave us the Gospel; and it is his Grace that accepts of our repentance and obedience after we have offend­ed him; which pardons also, and passes by our failings and imperfections, when we sincerely design and study to obey him in all things.

N.C.

You do not think then that you can de­serve any thing of him.

C.

No: how should we, seeing we are his Creatures, and owe him all the Service we can do him? Which makes us believe, that if we had been born in innocence, and continued so till this time, we could have merited nothing; much less can we pretend to it, now that we are Sin­ners.

N.C.

But you think Good works are neces­sary to our Justification.

C.

Who ever doubted of it that understood himself?

N.C.

That doth many a Godly Divine; whom I have heard say, that they are not re­quisite [Page 14]to our Justification, but only to our Sal­vation.

C.

I am loath to say, that those Godly Divines did not mind what they said, because I ought in modesty to suspect my own Understanding, ra­ther than theirs: But to me it seems a strange thing, that they should not observe Salvation to be nothing else but our final and absolute justi­fication at the day of Judgment. And then I am sure our Saviour saith he will examine what men have done; and according as he finds it good or bad, pronounce the sentence of Absolution or Condemnation. Read the 25. of S. Matthew, from the 31. verse to the end.

N.C.

What do you conclude from thence?

C.

What? That if good works be necessary to our Justification then when we come before the Judge; they are necessary now to the begin­ning of our Justification, or (if you would have me speak other words) to enter us into the state of Justified persons.

N.C.

How can that be, since we are justified by Faith only?

C.

Very well. For it is not an idle ineffectu­al Faith which justifies us; but that which works by love to our Saviour: and love is the keeping of his Commandements.

N.C.

I see one shall not want rational dis­course at your Church (as you call it:) but me­thinks I nevr found that life and power in your Ministry which I have in ours.

C.
[Page 15]

I told you before, that I find nothing so powerful as the Christian Doctrine rationally handled. And if the Faith of Christ be not so preached as I now told you, for my part I feel no force in the loudest words that I hear; but am apt to say as the man did when he shear'd his Hogs, Here is a great deal of noise, and little wool.

N.C.

My meaning was, That ours move my affections very much, and yours stir them not at all.

C.

I have been taught, that there are two wayes to come at the Affections: One by the Senses and Imagination; and so we see people mightily affected with a Puppet-play, with a Beggar's tone, with a lamentable Look, or any thing of like nature. The other is, by the Reason and Judgment, when the evidence of any Truth convincing the Mind, engages the affections to its side, and makes them move according to its direction. Now, I believe your Affections are moved in the first way very often; by melting Tones, pretty Similitudes, riming Sentences, kind and loving Smiles, and sometimes dismal­ly sad Looks; besides several Actions or Ge­stures which are very taking. And the truth is, you are like to be moved very seldom in our Churches by these means. For the better sort of Hearers are now out of love with these things: nor do they think there is any power either in a puling and whining, or in roaring [Page 16]and tearing voice. But if you can be moved by such strength of reason, as can conquer the Judgment, and so pass to demand submission from the Affection; you may find power enough (I think) in our Pulpits. And let me tell you, the Passions thus excited differ as much from the other, as the motions of a Man do from them of a Beast, if not more. For one may be affected, whether he will or no by Objects of Sense: but Reason convinces and moves us by sober consi­deration, and laying things seriously to heart. And I wish heartily you would examine whe­ther the cause why you was no more affected with our preaching, was not this, That you took no pains with your self; i. e. you would not be a Man, but was contented to be moved in Reli­gion like a meer Puppet, whose motions de­pend upon the power of other Agents, and not its own.

N.C.

You need not have made so long a dis­course in this business; for when you have said as much as you are able, I can answer all in a few words: Assuring you that I am moved with the things they say; for I think they are the most soul-searching Preachers in the world.

C.

It is an hard matter to understand your Phrases. If you mean such Phreachers, whose Do­ctrine touches the Conscience, letting men see their duty and their sins plainly; I think none are to be preferr'd before ours.

N.C.

Pray, Sir, consider what you say.

C.
[Page 17]

What I have said, I say again. And I must add, that I have cause to believe some of you have left our Congregation, because the good man's Doctrine searched into you too far, and came too near the quick.

N.C.

I understand you not.

C.

Have you never heard any man say, that he would come no more to Church, because his Mi­nister ript up his sins of Disobedience to Gover­ [...]ours, Faction, Rebellion, Reviling Superiours, [...]ash Censuring and judging their actions, im­modest and malapert Disputing with Spiritual Instructors, Meddling with other mens matter, Gadding from house to house, to hear or tell news, if not to talk against the Court and Church; with other such like things that are too com­mon, but not commonly reproved?

N.C.

Yes, I cannot deny it.

C.

Then no doubt he search'd to the bottom of that man's heart; who finding himself wound­ed, instead of seeking for a Cure, kick'd at him that shot the arrow, and flung dirt in his face; calling him Railer and Reviler, when he only told him the plain truth.

N.C.

You are angry.

C.

No truely, I am only desirous you should understand things nakedly, as they are in them­selves.

N.C.

Do you think that our Ministers do not inform their Auditors of the danger of these sins?

C.
[Page 18]

If they did, I believe they would have fewer come to hear them.

N. C.

You are uncharitable.

C.

No such matter. I know many of those that flock to them are not able to bear such Do­ctrine. But they call those plain and searching Preachers, that rip up other mens faults, and that discover to them some kind of sins, which they have heard the Godly most bewail and complain of: for instance, Deadness of heart in duty, Spiritual pride, and unprofitableness under Ordinances, though so powerfully admi­nistred.

N. C.

Well; and are not these home [...] truths?

C.

But I doubt many of those you call Godly are troubled with other diseases, which had need be look'd narrowly after. And besides, me think [...] your Ministers do too plainly commend them­selves, when they tell you what powerful Ordi­nances you live under, and how you are fed wit [...] a feast of Fat things; whilst other poor Soul are even starv'd in other Congregations; mean in a such as ours.

N. C.

You might as well say that they com­mend us, when they caution us so much again [...] Spiritual pride.

C.

You are in the right. It doth too palpabl [...] suppose you to be endowed with great gifts and so is apt to put you into a high conceit o [...] your selves, notwithstanding all their cautio [...] [Page 19]against it. And therefore my opinion is, that they had better teach you all your duty; and then finding how short you are of Perfection, that will be a more effectual means to keep you hum­ble, than all their Declamations against Spiritu­al Pride.

N.

They do tell us our duty. And I assure you some preach even against those sins which you say we do not love to hear of.

C.

I'l take your word for it. But they are rare men, and they do it rarely. I could tell you also of one, that doing thus, was forbid by his Auditors to proceed, if he intended to have their company.

N. C.

Methinks you should not suspect any of them to be guilty of negligence in these matters: Do you not take them for conscientious and good men?

C.

Yes truly, I think there are many good men amongst them. But, to deal plainly with you, I look upon most of them as very imperfect and in a lower form of goodness.

N. C.

Strange! What reason have you for this?

C.

They do not govern their Passions, nor reverence their Governours nor Elders, nor fear to make a Schism in the Church; being furi­ously bent to follow their own fancies, impatient of Contradiction, conceited of their own Gifts, too ready to comply with the Peoples follies, and to humor them with new and affected phra­ses; [Page 20]nay, to gratifie their rudeness with most un­savoury, clownish and undecent expressions, not only in their preaching, but in their Prayers. And especially they seem to me to have little and narrow spirits, wanting that great Charity which our Saviour commends, and confining Godliness to a smal Sect and Party.

N. C.

O Sir, how much are you out of the way▪ If they were not the best men in the world, they could never come so close to us in their Preach­ing, and search the very Heart, as we find they do.

C.

Now that you repeat this again, you force me to tel you that, which otherwise I would have concealed.

N. C.

What's that.

C.

That if we may judge of the Sermons you hear by those we see in print; I think many o [...] them are so far from searching into the Consci­ence, that they rather dally and play with men [...] childish phansies.

N. C.

Are you in good earnest?

C.

Why should you make a doubt of it? Yo [...] know I do not use to jest.

N. C.

I do not believe you can give me on [...] instance of any such thing.

C.

Yes but I can, and more than one. What d [...] you think of the Doctrine of Repentance? Is the [...] any thing deserves to be more gravely handled or can one ever expect to be pierc'd & wound [...] by that Preacher; who treating of that argument [Page 21]doth not touch the Soul in a lively manner?

N. C.

I acknowledge it is a most weighty Doctrine: but what then?

C.

I'll tell you, I never met with any Treatise (in so serious a subject) more light and toying, than a Book which came lately out of the Press, called The Doctrine of Repentance, useful for these times, by T. W.

N. C.

You are prejudiced.

C.

I doubt you are; and yet I believe I shall make you of my mind. Look you; here is the book, which one lent me. What think you of the very beginning of the Epistle to the Reader? Faith and Repentance are the two wings by which we fly to Heaven. Doth not this look like a School-boyes phrase, which he applies to every Subject? For at another time T. W. would tell you, That Prayer and Meditation are the two wings whereby we fly to Heaven. Now as for Re­pentance, he tells you presently it is a Purgative, and bids you not fear the working of this Pill. That [...]oist tears dry up the rheums of sin, and quench the [...]rath of God.

N. C.

Let the Epistle alone, and go into the body of the Book: there you will find it more powerful.

C.

Truly I have not read it over; but I open­ [...]d it in several places, and I met only with a [...]ngle there, where I expected a clap of thun­ [...]er.

N. C.

That's because you had not a fancy to it.

C.
[Page 22]

I assure you I brought an indifferent mind to it, being glad if good things be said by any body. But I could not but be disgusted when I read this, page 16. That holy Sorrow is the Rhu­larb to purge out the ill humours of the Soul, &c.

N. C.

You take little bitts, and mind not his continued discourse.

C.

Read then what he saith of an Hypocrite, pag. 89.90. and you will think you are reading one of Blunt's Characters, if you ever saw that B [...]ok. I expected to have found him cut up and anatomiz'd; whereas in truth he doth but stroke h [...]m, and play with him. For thus he says; The Hypocrite is a Saint in jest; he makes a majesticck shew, like an Ape cloathed in Ermine or Purple. The Hypocrite is like an House with a beautiful Fr [...]ntispiece, but every Room within is dark: [...]e is a rotten P [...]st fairly gilded. Under his mask of Profession he hides his Plague [...] sones. The Hypo­crite is against painting of Fa [...]s, but he paint [...] HOliness: he is seemingly good, that he may be re­ally b [...]d. In Samuel's Mantle he plays the Devil therefore the same word in the Original signifies to use Hypocrisie, and to be prophane. But at thi [...] present we will let the rest alone, and only ob­s [...]rve how he concludes what he says of him Hypocrites are far g [...]ne with the Rot, and if an [...] thing will cure them, it must be feeding upon the sa [...] Marshes of Repentance.

N. C.

Why do you look me so in the face?

C.
[Page 23]

To see if you did not smile; as sure you would do, were you not angry with me for lay­ing open this Childishness. Nay, do not frown. I appeal to your Conscience, whether you feel any more force in such words as these, than in a Feather, blown with a great blast against your face, or in a Straw trust with a strong arm a­gainst your Breast.

N. C.

I cannot commend them; but you ought not to examine Books (writ with a good intention) so severely.

C.

I am far from that humor, and have only exercised a little of that liberty which he gives us in the second page of his Epistle; where he tells us, He thought to have smothered these Medi­tations in his Desk, but conceiving them of great concern at this time, he rescinded that first resoluti­on, and exposed them to a critical view. Now if I had a mind to play the Critick, as simple as you think me, I could shew you that he ought to have exposed them only to the view of his very good Friends, and not to Criticks.

N. C.

That was only a careless word.

C.

Being one of his friends, I am willing to believe so; else I should have thought it an af­fectation of a fine expression.

N. C.

I wish you had never seen the Book.

C.

So do I wish too, provided no body else had seen it. But pray be not troubled, nor in­terpret this as any disrespect to him; for I should not have given notice of any of these things to [Page 24]you, but that you would needs make Compari­sons, which are alwayes odious. And you may make a good use of this freedom which I take: for I perswade my self, if you would but com­pare some of our Books, which you despise, with this now mention'd, you would find there is as much difference between the jingling and rime­ing of this and their solid sense, as between the noise of a Jews-trump, or Bag-pipe, and the grave sound of an Organ.

N. C.

But have not your men that quibble, and hunt after little Sentences and fine Words, like him whom you condemn?

C.

I had no intention to deny that; but only to shew that there is trifling every where. And therfore that you ought not to be so partially af­fected to all your own, and so unequal to all ours.

N. C.

What's one to so many, as are among you, whose Books also are licensed to pass the Press?

C.

To answer the last in the first place: I can tell you upon my own knowledge, that such simple Books have been rejected; and if any of them have chanced to pass, you shall seldom find the Preface of some other grave Divine, much less of three or four Divines of note, set before in commendation of it.

N. C.

Why? no more hath that, you have been speaking of.

C.

True; but no doubt he might have had those Ornaments, if he had pleased: For I have seen many pitiful Books that have had great [Page 25]Commendations prefixed. And as the Dunghil­cocks have the largest Combs; so commonly the meanest Books are set off with the largest Praises.

N. C.

I perceive you still persist in your confidence, that you know more Books of this nature.

C.

Yes: But I do not delight to muster up all the folly that is in Print; and therefore shall only take notice of one Book more, writ in ano­ther way; and (if you please) try whether it de­serve the Commendation which the Preface be­stows upon it.

N. C.

What Book is that?

C.

It is called Christ and the Covenant, &c. in ten Sermons, by W. B. which pretends to be full of Mysteries; and, as we are told in the E­pistle to the Reader, gives us the very marrow and quintessence of the Gospel. Upon which account he exhorts us to buy it, and makes us believe it is worth any money.

N. C.

And you bought it.

C.

No, I did not think it worth any thing, when I had once perused a little of it.

N. C.

What part did you peruse?

C.

I thought that the Marrow I was told of might be found (if any where) in that Discourse which he calls the Way and Spirit of the New Testament. But as far as I examin'd it, I met with nothing but a great many bones to pick, and they had little or nothing on them.

N. C.

Pray forbear this merriment; and let [Page 26]us seriously consider what he saith.

C.

That's my desire. And for your satisfaction read that part where he tells us, what the way of the Old Testament was, and what the way of the New is. I believe I shall convince you, that he is not only out of the true way, but also de­scribes his own way after a poor and wretched manner.

N. C.

Be not so earnest.

C.

He tells us in the first place, That the Old Testament Legal spirit serves God upon the account of Rewards mostly, or chiefly, or only: But the New Testament spirit doth not. Whereas there is nothing plainer, than that Rewards are pro­pounded in both Covenants to encourage our duty. And the Gospel urges us so frequently with the consideration of the rewards it promises, that I question not but he that hath them always in his mind, and serves our Lord Christ out of those hopes, as his chief motive, pleases him very well. For the true difference between the Covenants is not, that the one sets rewards before men, and the other not; but, that the old Covenant made with the Jews propounded Temporal Rewards and the Gospel propounds Eternal; which ar [...] as often repeated in the Gospel as the other it the Law. And therefore he hath discovered [...] New-nothiing, when he saith, that to serve Go [...] for Rewards mostly, &c. is plainly Legal. Nay, it is absolutely false. For if a man be moved (a I said) only by hopes of unseen things in ano [...] ther [Page 27]world to obey God, and quit things present for his sake; no doubt he serves him in an E­vangelical manner.

N. C.

Good Neighbour, be not so confi­dent.

C.

Why should I not have some degree of confidence about these things, seeing I am ma­ster of common Reason, and I have consulted also with several of our Ministers about them, who have made it plain to me, that the Gospel propounds Eternal Rewards in the Life to come, as the great motive to well-doing? The most that any sober man ever said (as far as I can learn) in this argument is, that he who doth well only in sight of those rewards is in a weak estate; but they always allowed him to be indued with an Evangelical Spirit.

N. C.

Then it seems you live upon your own purse, and upon what you can earn of God; which he tells you is contrary to a Gospel spirit.

C.

It is so. But that is an impertinent Con­clusion from his former discourse. For a man may serve God upon the account of Reward, and yet not be so foolish as to imagine he can earn any thing of him.

N. C.

Indeed you speak too confidently.

C.

I am not of that mind. For I may judge what is consequently spoken as well as another man. And I am sure that Conclusion is nothing to the purpose: only he imagin'd this to be a pret­ty saying, That a man of a Gospel spirit knows he [Page 28]lives upon a better purse, than all his own [...]arnings can amount unto.

N.C.

I wish you would be more tempe­rate.

C.

Who can endure to see men bear up them­selves so highly, and hear them cry'd up, as if they were full of the Spirit, when as there is scarce common sense in them, and not be a little concern'd?

N.C.

Well, suppose there be one flaw in that Discourse, must that make all this ado?

C.

One flaw? Read the rest, and you will find that it is no wiser. For he would have us immediately after to receive this as another note of a Legal spirit, that it is a fearing spirit, put on rather by the Threatnings, than the Promises; and the Gospel spirit rather by Promises than Threatning.

N.C.

And is not this true?

C.

No. For our Saviour bids his Disciples again and again to fear▪ (Luke 12.4, 5.) not in­deed such things as the Mosaical spirit did, Tem­poral Calamities upon their Bodies, Goods. &c. but Eternal Miseries, which they should avoid, though with the enduring of all the hardships in the world. And whereas he says, that the diffe­rence between the Dispensations is, that the one is terrible, the other comfortable; it is manifestly false. For the Gospel speaks a great deal more terribly, than the Law doth, to Hypocrites and Unbelievers.

N.C.
[Page 29]

Therefore he tells you afterward, that a gratious Soul may be full of fears about its condi­tion.

C.

This is nothing to his business. For he was not speaking concerning the fears, which a Soul hath about its estate; but of the Principle upon which a man doth his duty. And, if I understand any thing, a Christian is moved by fear, as well as hope.

N.C.

Well, he acknowledges so much when he saith a gracious heart may be full of fears.

C.

I tell you again this is impertinent; for these are not motives to his Duty, but rather hindrances and impediments, as he will tell you. And besides, he makes them to be cause­less fears; for, he saith, they are the fears of a man that stands upon a rock; and therefore he ought not to be troubled with them. Whereas the Scripture requires us to fear, (Hebr. 4.1.) (and tells us there is cause for it) lest a Promise being left us of entring into rest, any of us should seem to come shore of it: and to work out our sal­vation with fear and trembling: and, to have grace to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Mind this last place, and tell me if it do not directly oppose what he saith. He perswades you that a fearing spirit is a Legal spirit [...] and the Apostle tells you, it is an effect of the Gospel grace, and such a thing whereby we acceptably serve God.

N.C.
[Page 30]

You have studied this, I perceive: and I have not. But what say you to the third, which is this, A Legal spirit measures the love of God by outward things.

C.

I say it is the best thing he says; and he was to blame, that he passed it over so slightly and ha­stily, as if it were not worth his notice.

N.C.

Is not the fourth as remarkable, viz. That an Old Testament Spirit trades much, or most, or altogether, with conditional Promises; the other not?

C.

It is indeed very remarkable: First, for the paltry phrase of trading in promises; and Se­condly, for the pernicious consequence of the Doctrine.

N.C.

Why? Is not the Doctrine true?

C.

No. For though there was an absolute Promise of sending Christ, yet there are no ab­solate Promises which Christ makes to us.

N.C.

He seems to grant as much.

C.

That is, he contradicts himself.

N.C.

No; he saith, though the Promise b [...] Conditional; yet the Lord hath promised that Condition elsewhere, and that without a Condi­tion.

C.

Then it is not Conditional; for what i [...] without a Condition is absolute.

N.C.

You would make him speak Non­sense.

C.

Do you try at leisure if you can make good Sense of his words, which methinks are not much [Page 31]better, than if he had said, The Promises are Conditional, but without any Condition.

N.C.

Phy, Sir! they are thus to be taken: The Promise is upon a Condition; onely that Condition is promised without a Condition.

C.

Now you have mended the matter finely; and made it plain, that he thinks all the Promi­ses are absolute. Which how well it agrees with their being Conditional, I pray tell me, when you have thought of it, at our next meeting.

N.C.

Do not you grant then that God pro­mises the Condition (upon performance of which we shall enjoy the Promise) without a Condition?

C.

No indeed; for it is certainly false. He promises (for instance) Eternal life if we repent and effectually believe, and not otherwise. Re­pentance therefore and Faith are the Conditions of that Promise. And I affirm that God no­where promises that any of us (do we what we will) shall repent and believe. But he requires us to consider and lay to heart what is spoken to us by his Son Jesus; which is as much as to say, that upon this Condition he will work Repen­tance and Faith in us.

N.C.

He doth so. But though the Promise runs conditionally, yet he tells us, it shall be fulfilled absolutely.

C.

You mean, W. B. tells us so; and therein confesses he did not speak truly before, when he said the Promise was without a Condition; for [Page 32]now he acknowledges that it runs conditionally. And to say it shall be fulfilled absolutely, is to say, that it seems to be Conditional, but is not.

N.C.

Well; methinks there is much of My­stery in what he delivers.

C.

That is, you do not understand it, but it sounds prettily, and so you like it. And so I be­lieve you do the next, (for the same reason) wherein he tells you, that in the Old Testament they came to Christ by the Promise, but now we come to the Promise by Christ.

N.C.

I like it because it seems to carry a [...] great mystery in it.

C.

It may seem so, but it doth not.

N.C.

No? what do you make of it?

C.

I think it rather carries a plain falsity in it. For we come to Christ by the Promise as well as they; and they went to the Promise by Christ, as well as we.

N.C.

I know not what you mean.

C.

That's because you know not what he means. But if you will understand me, thus it is. There was a Promise that God would send Christ into the world; and the fulfilling of thi [...] Promise is one great reason why we believe it Jesus; and so we are led (you see) to him by the Promise. On the other side, there were Pro­mises of great things that Christ would do for those that believed on him; and those then tha [...] did believe the Messiah would come, hoped fo [...] [Page 33]the enjoyment of these Promises by his means; and so (if I may speak in his phrase) they went first to Christ, and then to the Promise,

N.C.

I do not well apprehend you; and therfore thinks it's time to lay aside this Book.

C.

You do discreetly? For if you had conti­nued your discourse about it, I should have dis­covered a world of Follies to you.

N.C.

The things of God are Foolishness to the natural man.

C.

These are not the things of God, nor the things of a man neither; but childish Fancies, or as we commoly speak, New-nothings.

N.C.

I know they appear so to the natural man.

N.

I do not judge according to meer Nature but by the direction of the Spirit which instru­cted the Apostles; and therefore you apply that Scripture foolishly to me.

N.C.

You use your reason too much.

C.

You have some reason to say so, for if I had used it less, things had not appeared so [...]idiculous.

N.C.

By that time your heart hath lain so long [...]-soke in the bloud of Jesus as his hath done, we shall hear other language from you.

C.

You are taken, I perceive, with that new [...]hrase in the Epistle to the Reader, and only [...]ecause it is new: else it would seem very irre­ [...]erent, being taken from a Toast in a Pot of [...]le, or a Sop in a Dripping-pan; a great deal [Page 34]more fit for a Preface before a Book of one of those you call Old Sokers, then of such a Reve­rend Author.

N.C.

You are merry, Sir.

C.

Truly, I do not make my self merry with any mens Sins: but at their little foolish Affe­ctatious, how can one chuse but smile? But could he not as well have said, that he had a long time thought of the efficacy and virtue of the Bloud of Christ; or, that he was much acquain­ted with the Love of Christ in dying forus? Why to say that he had lain long a soke in his blood, is as absurd as if he had told us that he had lain long beaking himself in the Beams of the Sun of Righ­teousness; or roasting himself before the Fire of the Divine Love.

N.C.

Pray, Neighbour, forbear these expres­sions.

C.

I was only going to shew you that we have as good a faculty, as you to coyn new Words & Phrases, if we would take the liberty. But I will forbear, if you will but be content up­on this occasion to look back with me, and con­sider how all the Nation comes to be overrun with folly.

N.C.

How, I pray you?

C.

As soon as you had cast out of doors all that was Old among us; if any Fellow did but light upon some new & pretty Fancy in Religi­on, or some odd unusual Expression, or per­haps some swelling words of Vanity▪ presently [Page 35]he set up for a Preacher, and cry'd up himself for a man that had made some new discovery. And such was the confidence of these men, both in inventing strange Language, and proclaiming their great Discoveries every where, that the poor people were perswaded, the Nation never knew what Communion with God meant till this time. Now they thought the happy days were come, when the Spirit was powered out, the My­steries of the Gospel unfolded, Free grace held forth, the Anointings and Sealings of the Spirit vouchsafed, Christ advanced to his Throne; and when they should have such Incomes, in dwel­lings, and I know not how many other fine things, as never was the like heard of before. For one man comes and tells them of the stream­ings of Christ's Blood freely to sinnners: ano­ther bids them put themselves upon the stream of Free grace, without having any foot on their own bottome: A third tells them how they must apply Promises, absolute Promises. A fourth tells them there is a special Mystery in looking at the Testamentalness of Christs Sufferings. And be­cause he found that every body had got into their mouths Gospel Truths, hidden Treasures, and such like words; he presented them with Sipps of Sweetness, and told them he was come to shew them how the Saints might pry into the Father's Glory; and in short, bid them not be afraid of New Lights, but set open their windows for any Light that God should make known to them.

N.C.
[Page 36]

Sure, no body used such Expressions as these.

C.

This last is to be found in that very Au­thour you have laid out of your hands, pag. 47. who also puts the people into a fancy, that they have Revelation and Visions in these dayes.

N.C.

Certainly you do him wrong.

C.

You shall be judg of that, when you have read the beginning of the next page. There he tells you that there are four times wherein you should think much on Christ crucified. And the first is this, In case of some Revelation or Vi­sion that you may be under. Which he repeats again in the following page. It is a good thing, saith he, to think of Christ crucified at all times, [...] when you have Revelations and Visions, &c. [...] is a good time. From whence I conclude, [...] as he bids you open your windows for new Lights to come in, so, when he thinks on't, he will call upon you, as the Beadle doth in the Streets, Hang out your Lights, Hang out your new Lights.

N.C.

Pray be not so abusive.

C.

There is no abuse at all in this. For the same reason that made him step at first out of the common way of speaking, may make him use such an expression as this if he light on it. I [...] being also a thing peculiar to such men to please the people with some new-found Words and Phrases; which if they should lay aside, toge­ther with all their abused Scripture-expression [Page 37]they would look just like other men, only not so well.

N. C.

You may say your pleasure.

C.

I thank you. And pray look back again, and consider what followed all these glorious Discoveries, as they called them. Since the people were so much in love with new-minted Words, in which they thought there were great Myste­ries concealed; those men who would excell all the rest of these new Teachers set forth them­selves in more pompous Language, and made a shew of a more glorious Appearance of God in them. For they told the people of being Godded with God, and Christed with Christ, &c. which strangely amused silly Souls, and made them gaze and stare, as if the Holy Ghost were come down again from Heaven upon men.

N. C.

Our Ministers are not of this strain.

C.

But they first began this affectation of new phrases; and no wonder if their Scholars endeavoured to out-do them.

N. C.

They are none of their Scho­lars.

C.

Sure they all came out of their School. For they taught men first to despise sober and plain Doctrine, which teaches them their Duty toward God and their Neighbour, entertaining them with finer Speculations of pretended Go­spel-Mysteries and Manifestations; with which [Page 38]we heard almost every Sermon stuffed: so that he was thought no body that had not good store of them. Now as those you admire found they could win no great number of Proselytes, unless they left the old track of Preaching Sobriety, Justice, Charity, and Godliness: so their Scho­lars found in a little time that the new Notions and Language of their Masters were grown stale; and that unless they invented newer, at least coined some other Phrases, their Reputati­on would be but small. And thus it came to pass, that every one, striving not so much to speak what would profit, as what would please, dres­sed up Religion in affected Language of his own making; and new Expressions, if not new Noti­ons, were heaped one upon another every year; till none knew what Christianity was. For at last there arose a Company of fine Youths, who judged even their Masters to be in a low and dull Form of Religion, sticking in the beggerly Elements, and the dead letter, and the Old-Te­stament spirit, as their manner of speaking was. These imagine that not only we, but you, know Jesus only in the Flesh, and stand in the out­ward Court, and are not yet come within the Veil to discern the Spirit and the Mystery, which they alone bring to light. Such a pro­gress doth Fancy make, when once it is let loose, and men are taught not to reason, but to believe, there is no end of its Follies; and God only knows when this Nation, which is overflowed [Page 39]with them, and is made fond of them, will be re­duced to a more sober mind.

N.C.

We bewail it as well as you.

C.

I am glad of it. But I wish you would be­wail the Original sin of all (as W. B. advises you in another case, I doubt with no good meaning, pag. 473.) which will be found in your selves; from whence a great number of other Mischiefs have flowed, and made the same pro­gress with that now named. For you first taught the people to forbear all expression of Devotion when they came into the Church, and decried the reverence of uncovering the Head there as Superstitious and abominable. And so they soon took the liberty to come talking into the Church, and not onely to walk with their Hats on to their Seats (even when the Minister was reading the Holy Scriptures) but keep them half on when he was at Prayer. And then, be­cause others were wont to kneel, or at least Stand, in that holy Duty; they would shew their Liberty, or their Opposition (I know not whether) in Sitting, nay in Lolling after a la­zy fashion, as if the Minister were telling a sleepy Tale, not praying to our Creatour. In short, there were no bounds could be set to their Extravagancies; but they found out as many new Gestures, and odd phrantick Expressions, in their Prayers, as before they had done in their Preaching.

N.C.

For all this you shall never make me [Page 40]believe but that they are the onely Spiritual Preachers.

C.

This you told me before; and I am of your mind, if you call that Spiritual Doctrine which is airy, thin, and so refined that no body can feel and touch it, no not with his most se­rious thoughts.

N.C.

Yes, I can feel it to be very Spiritu­al?

C.

It is an hard matter to understand your Language. Do all our Preachers onely tell us carnal things?

N.C.

That is not my meaning.

C.

What then?

N.C.

I call it Spiritual, to distinguish it from Moral Teaching.

C.

As much as to say, our Ministers teach men their Duty, and yours do not: or else, that yours teach them onely such Duties as may be done in their Spirits between God and them­selves, but not such as are expressed in Life and Manners, in our bodily actions, which tend to the good of our Neighbours, and the Happiness of the world.

N.C.

I understand you not.

C.

Your Sermons are chiefly about prayer, and meditation, and Communion with God, and Believing,—

N.C.

Yes, Believing: Now you have hit my meaning.

C.

But I was going to add something to that [Page 41]word, viz. Believing, without Doing. Else you will not count it spiritual Preaching.

N.C.

Not if they should insist much upon Doing. For there are more Spiritual matters for Believers to be instructed in.

C.

That is, things revealed to us by the Spi­rit sent down upon the Apostles.

N.C.

I know not what to say to your expli­cation; for I never heard it before. But pray proceed.

C.

I know no spiritual things but those which concern the glory of our Saviour in the heavens, his power at Gods right hand, his Intercession there for us, his coming again to Judgment, and such like; which are proved to be true; not by humane Reason, but by the Spirit descend­ing from heaven on the Apostles.

N.C.

Well, and are not these great things?

C.

And do not our Ministers treat of them as well as yours?

N.C.

But none in a spiritual way. Ours treat of spiritual things spiritually.

C.

I guess what you mean. They treat of these things in such a manner, as not to bring them down to meddle with our Lives, or not much and chiefly, as W. B. speaks. Or thus, they draw matter of Comfort from them, but little or nothing of Duty.

N.C.

I know not how to express it. But I alway find that they handle these things in a sweeter manner than other men.

C.
[Page 42]

I believe you. For nothing is so sweet and pleasing to flesh and bloud, as for a man to hear how much a great Prince is in love with him, and how freely he loves him; how his heart beats in Heaven toward him; and especially how careful and compassionate he is toward him in a perse­cuted condition.

N.C.

And is not this very spiritual Do­ctrine?

C.

Yes. But setting aside all fancy; nothing is more solidly open'd by our Divines, than the power of our Saviour, and his great love toward his faithful and obedient Disciples.

N.C.

You must needs still bring in Obedi­ence.

C.

I have been taught to do so. For this great Lord always loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: and therefore God hath anointed him with the oyl of gladness above his fellows; i. e. gi­ven him such a Royal Power in the Heavens, (Hebr. 1.9.) Unto which glory we cannot be promoted but by the same way of Righteousness. And let me tell you, I think I have heard it cle­arly demonstrated, that though there is infinite comfort and satisfaction in believing that our Lord Jesus is so exaled, and hath made us such promises, which he is able to make good; yet all this is but to incourage our Obedience, and to make us constant and firm in the Christian Religion, notwithstanding all the Difficulties and Troubles we meet withall for Christ's sake. So [Page 34]that in truth these are the most spiritual Preachers, that is, the best Interpreters of the mind of the Spirit, who urge and presse men, from the consideration of what God hath revea­led to us in these matters, to be stedfast and un­moveable, and abundant in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.

N.C.

Doth not Christ himself say that the Work of God is Believing? (John 6.29.)

C.

Yes, but not such a believing as yours, which is only a relying on Christ for the for­giveness of your Sins.

N.C.

What was it then?

C.

An effectual perswasion that God hath sent Jesus into the world, as he there tells you, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. And if you can think he means a bare perswasion of this, that God sent him, with­out the effects and fruits of it, which is the be­coming his Disciples sincere profession of his Religion, and living according to it; then the Devil may be a good Believer, a very Spiritual person and great Saint, for he very early acknowledged Him to be the Son of God. And we read that the Devils believe and trem­ble.

N.C.

Alas! this is a poor Faith, which can­not apply the Promise.

C.

That's because it is not made to them. For if it were, and they had but a good fancy, they [Page 44]might apply it (in your way) as well as any body else, and yet remain Devils still.

N.C.

Now you go beyond all the bounds of Reason.

C.

Because I follow you, whose Doctrine leads to this.

N.C.

How doth that appear?

C.

I cast my eye casually upon one place in the Book newly nam'd, and there I found this Mystery; That though there is a Condition in the new Covenant, yet no Condition to be perform'd by us, but by Christ our second Adam: pag. 69. And though he confesses somthing must be per­formed by us, yet he saith, it is all promised to us, and that without Condition. And therefore a little after he makes this a mark of those that are in Covenant, to be begot again by a Promise, especi­ally the absolute Promise: pag. 72. Now since no Condition is to be performed by us, why should any person take any care about it? or why should any one trouble himself about doing that, which is already done for him, or, if it be not done, is promised that it shall be done? especially since his great work is (as you say) only to close with the promise, to lay hold upon the absolute pro­mise? For no body being named particularly in the promise, nor any quallification supposed in any man whereby he may know that he is ca­pable of the Blessing rather than another; no rea­son can be given why all should not apply it to themselves, though never so bad; nay, why [Page 45]they ought not to apply it.

N.C.

No, that is too great a boldness; they must be humbled and cast down—

C.

Then it seems they ought to feel some Qua­lification in themselves, which incourages them to lay hold on the Promise. Though, if it be absolute, it's more than needs, nay, than is good: for they ought to have no respect to any of those things, but only the Freeness of the Promise. And then I pray why might not a Devil remain so still?

N.C.

But such as are within the Covenant will find themselvs wrought upon to forsake their sins, &c.

C.

Grant that. Yet if they do, it is no Incou­ragement to them, according to your Doctrine; and therfore if they doe not, it ought to be no Discouragement. For they ought not to take any confidence to go to God because anything they find in themselvs; and therefore they may be confident, though they find nothing in them­sevles but only a strong fancy that the Promise belongs to their Persons.

N.C.

Though they cannot take any confi­dence because theyare so disposed toward God yet they must be well disposed.

C.

Why so?

C.

Will he have it so in order to give them Confidence to hope in his Mercy that their sins shall be forgiven?

N.C.
[Page 64]

No; the promise of that is abso­lute.

C.

Then one man may be as confident that hath not those Dispositions as he that hath, believing that it is God's will he shall have them when he pleases.

N.C.

I see you understand nothing of the Covenant of Grace.

C.

Yes, I understand that it was the riches of God's Grace, to make a Covenant of saving those Sinners who would obediently believe on his Son. For this was more than he was bound to grant; and this Believing and Obedience can deserve nothing of him (it being a Duty to be­lieve what he reveals, & to do what he en­joyns;) and besides, he gives us the means of Faith, and Helps to well-doing,

N.C.

How can it be Free, if we do any thing for it?

C.

I have told you, that we cannot do any thing for to deserve it; and what we do he in­ables us to perform it And therefore it is free; because when we have done all, yet he is no way tied to give us any thing, but only upon the account of his own most gracious Promise.

N.C.

You grant then his Promise is from meer Grace.

C.

No body doubts of it that I know of. But this Grace is not so fond as to make the Promise to any one that is confident it belongs to him, even whilst he remains in a state of Sin Such a [Page 74]Favour God had to Sinners, as freely, and with­out any disposition in them, to send his Son and his Holy Spirit: but unless they become like to his Son, they are taught by him not to presume he will give all the Blessings the Gospel promi­ses; for they are made only to the faithful.

N.C.

God will make them so.

C.

But according to your Opinions, that is a thing which they need not consider when they apply the Promises of Salvation to themselves. For you say, they must have respect to absolute promises; which you know have nothing to do with any Qualification for this Favour. In pur­suance of which Doctrines you perswade your selves that Assurance of God's Love is not to be grounded upon any Grace wrought in us; but only upon the Testimony of the Spirit, per­swading us that our Persons are beloved, and that the Promises are made to us.

N.C.

This is Antinomianism.

C.

May be so; and your Ministers may be Antinomians, and yet not know it.

N.C.

Call them what you please, I am re­solved to follow them: for I think you will allow them to be the most experimental preachers, in the world.

C.

Stil you pester me with Phrases which I doubt you understand no more than I.

N.C.

Is not the word plain enough?

C.

It is, if you mean by an experimental Preacher a man that hath tried himself those ways [Page 48]which he earnestly beseeches others to walk in: but then it will not serve your purpose; for you cannot deny but we have men that lead as strict and holy lives as any of yours can do.

N, C.

I mean, one that preaches his own Experiences in the ways of God,

C,

You do not well know what you mean. For this is either the same that I now told you; or else, it may signifie no more than one that preaches his own Fancie.

N. C.

Now it is hard to know what you mean.

C.

I mean that tells you stories of God's Withdrawings and Desertings; and again, of his Shinings in and Sealings, &c,

N. C,

And do you call these Fancies?

C.

Commonly they are no more. For I observe well, meaning people fall into these melancholick & despairing Fits: & are recovered again into greater Chearfulness and Assurance, without any reason at all; but only by a fanci­ful application of some Scripture or other, which belongs not at all to their condition: and yet casts them down, or raises them up.

N. C.

You are mistaken; they have Rea­son.

C.

If there be any that can be thought a suf­ficient ground, of God's withdrawing himself, sure it must be some provoking Sin which they have committed. And yet I see that they who cannot charge themselvs with any volun­tary [Page 49]act of Sin, nor with any such Omission nei­ther, fall into these fancies (so I must still call them) of being forsaken by God. All the oc­casion that ever I could find for such black thoughts is, but some such thing as this, that they have not such Inlargments as they were wont; or cannot go to Duty with that delight which formerly they took in it: which your Ministers ought to teach them, are no Reasons, but only melancholick Conceits. And if these be the things you call Experiences, there are none of us but understand them, as well as you, finding the same Dulness and Heaviness in our selves. Only we are taught not to talk or complain of it, but to do our duty notwithstanding as well as we are able, and we shall find it will not last alway.

N. C.

You make too light of these things.

C.

I hope not. But you lay too great weight upon them, and make these such Marks of a Gra­cious Soul, that it helps to put good (but weak) people into these Humors; and, I doubt, makes them lay hold on all occasions to fancy them­selves deserted.

N. C.

Pray speak no more of these matters, for I see you are ignorant in them; as you are in all the great things of God, which are Foolish­ness to the world. Why do you smile? They are the Apostle's words, (1 Cor. 1.23.)

C.

I know it. But I smile to see how you prove that which you deny, viz. that Fancy go­verns you.

N. C.
[Page 50]

How do I prove it?

C.

By this application of the Apostle's words according to their Sound, and not their Sense.

N. C.

Why what is their Sense, think you?

C.

That to a mere Gentile it seemed a foolish thing to believe that a Crucified person was made Christ, that is Lord and King of the world. The Jews stumbled at this, and would not receive him for the Messiah, or King of Israel, who shamefully hung upon a Cross: and the Gentile thought this a ridiculous perswasion, which none but Idiots would receive. But then he tells you what Gentiles and Jews these were; viz. such as were meerly natural, and did not allow the te­stimony of the Spirit, whereby the Apostles proved this Doctrine. For they who were con­vinced that the Holy Ghost was in the Apostles; and judged not by mere humane Reason, but Heavenly testimonies, made no scruple to be­lieve that this crucified Jesus was made Lord of all: and herein they acknowledged the great Power and Wisdom of God to be made appa­rent.

N. C.

You give the oddest interpretations of Scripture that ever were heard of.

C.

Every thing seems odd to you which is cross to your Fancy. But examine the Scriptures seriously, and you will find the interpretations which I have learnt to be plain and even.

N C

I do read them continually.

C.

I believe you; and that you apply every [Page 51]thing, as you fancy it will fit these times.

N. C.

I apply it as I see those do who (not­withstanding all that you have said) I take to be the most experimental Preachers. For that which they have seen with theer eyes, which they have look ed on, and which their hands have handled of the word of life, that declare they unto us, as S. John speaks, 1 Ep. 1. 1. Pray be more serious, and do not laugh while we speak of these things.

C.

Well, I will. Bring me one of those men that have done this, and I tell you seriously I will become one of his Disciples.

N. C.

I can bring you an hundred that I am acquainted with.

C

Then the story of the Wandering Jew is no Fable. Would I could see but one (one, I assure you, would suffice me) of these happy men.

N. C.

Would I could know what the matter is that makes your fancy wander and rove on this Fashion. You have talkt so rationally all this wile, that I cannot but admire now to see your wits go a wool-gathering I know not whi­ther.

C.

I do not stray one jot from the business. I have heard (as I was going to tell you) of a Jew. who being present at our Saviour's Death, and seing him hang upon the Cross, hath ever since wandred up and down from place to place, and (as the story goes) remains somewhere or other to this very day. I always took it indeed for a [Page 52]Lie, till now that I meet with you, who give me hopes to see an hundred such men, and that in London.

N. C.

You seem to me to be distracted. I have nothing to do, either with Jews, or with Lies.

C.

A little, my good Neighbour, with Lies. For if your men have seen the Lord of Life with their eyes, and look'd upon him, and handled him; then they were alive in our Saviours time, as that Jew is said to have been. Or else he hath appeared to them since, as he did to S. Thomas saying, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it in­to my side.

N. C.

No: there was some other seeing be­side that.

C.

What? hath W. B. or some of his Disci­ples had a Vision, wherein they beheld him and look'd upon him?

N. C.

You cannot understand the things of God.

C.

Yes, as well as you; unless you have had some Revelation, which he presumes you may enjoy.

N. C.

There is seeing and feeling without that.

C.

You can tell me of none which we are strangers unto. If you mean, that you discern the truth and certainty of the Christian Faith; I doubt not that our eyes are as good as yours [Page 53]in that point. If you mean, that you approve of the Christian life, even from your own sense of the satisfaction and Happiness there is in it; I make no question it as palpable to us as to you. Or if you would have us think that you have long & seriously meditated upon the My­steries of the Gospel, so as to be mightily affe­cted with them; I do not believe that we are de­fective in that neither, but have look'd upon them, as long as your selves, and are as affectio­nate Admirers of them.

N. C.

You are faln, methinks, into a strain of Boasting.

C.

It is you, that have compelled me, as the Corinthians did S. Paul by undervaluing him. And if you think me a fool in this (as well as other things) I am in a worse conditon than that great Apostle thought he might be: Read his discourse in 2 Cor. 11.16, 17, &c. and give me leave to speak to you a little in his words. You are a wise sort of people, and so can be content now and then to suffer fools gladly. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage to cer­tain Opinions of his own, which make it neces­sary for you to do or not to do that which God hath not tied you unto. If a man devour you, by living continually upon you; If he take of you, Gold, Silver, and other gifts whereby he must be maintained; If he exalt himself, preten­ding perhaps, to more of the Sprit, and a more special Mission from God, than other men have; [Page 54]still you suffer him very patiently. Why then cannot you suffer me only to boast a litle; especially since it is not of my self, but of our Ministers which I hear? And those few words of S. Paul in that place shall suffice to this pur­pose; Are yours the Ministers of Christ? (I speak you will think, as a fool) ours are more, For they know Christ Jesus the Lord, [...]s well as yours: they preach him as sincerely and feeling­ly: they tread in his steps, and crucifie the flesh with the affections and lusts. And beside, they are more peaceable, more obedient to Gover­nours, more respectful to their Superiours, more modest in their Inquiries and Resolutions about difficult Points, more charitable to those that dissent from them, and more desirous me­thinks to edifie, rather than to humour the people. For they do not seek to please their itching Ears, and gratifie the longings of their Fancies with new-found words, affected Expres­sions, and odd Phrases; but tell us those things that concern our Saviour and his holy Life in plain & proper Language. Which, I protest fills me with joy and gladness whensoever I think of it. And it makes me conclude they have much Experience of the things of God because they make me so feelingly conceive what the pleasure and contentment is of being meek and lowly, sober and chaste, contented and heavenly-min­ed; and above all things, of having an heart inlarged with great Charity to all men, so as to [Page 55]be ready to forgive, and to do good. This holy disposition, you cannot deny, must needs make them capable to understand the Mind of God revealed to us in his Word; which book I observe they are very careful we should under­stand aright, and not interpret and apply it, as I see you do, according to our Fancy. For you conceive that, because S. John declared what he saw and handled of the word of Life. (i. e. of our Saviour and his Gospel) to convince some that denied he was come in the Flesh, or gainsay'd their Doctrine; you are able to do the same.

N. C.

Well, I see my mistake in that. But say what you will, your Preachers never had such a Seal to their Ministry as God hath given ours, by converting thousands through their means.

C.

More Phrases still? You mean God hath shewn they are rightly called or sent by himt

N. C.

Yes.

C.

Then all those men who turn people may say that they have a Seal of God to their Ministry; See, say the Popish Priests, what multitudes we convert! therfore we are sent of God. Behold; say the Quakers, we have a Seal from Heaven; for so many of your people have forsaken you; and follow us.

N. C.

But you mistake me, Sir; They do not only convert men to our Party, but to to be good [Page 56]They really turn them from sin to God.

C.

I am glad to hear it. But may not a que­stion be made, whether they are not converted only from some, not from all Sins; nay, whether they are not converted from one Sin to another? So I am sure you confess it is with the Quakers, who make men sometime more civil in one regard, but more uncivil, than ever in others.

N. C.

Sure, you cannot suspect us to be like them.

C.

It will be fit for you to examine yourselvs throughly in this Point; Whether, for instance, many among you are not converted from loving the World, to hate their Neighbours; from cold Devotion at our Churches, to a fiery Zeal against our Ministers; from Undutifulness to Natural Parents, to the greatest Contempt of Civil and Spiritual. Nay, is this never made a Note of a man converted, that, though he have a great many Faults, yet he is wrought to Antipathy to Bishops, Common-Prayer, an innocent Cas­sock, and a Surcingle, as you are pleased in de­rision to call our Ministers Girdles?

N. C.

Truly, I think the badness of your Mi­nisters may have provoked the people to be rude to them; the best of them being no better, than Time-servers.

C.

We will consider that by and by. Only let me note, that you cannot deny what I suspect you guilty of. And beside, suppose there be a great [Page 57]many converted by your Ministers to true god­liness, this is no greater Seal (as you call it) than we have, there being many turned from all their evil ways, to a more noble degree of Vertue, than you can commonly shew, by those very men who did then heartily serve God when yours too much served the Time.

N. C.

You will say any thing.

C.

If you know, what is meant by a Time­server, and do not only pelt with words, I hope to make you confess, what I say.

N. C.

Try what you can do.

C.

I think we are agreed that a Time­server is one who complies with the naughty Humors of the time for his own profit, and meddles not with the reigning sins, for fear of offending his good Masters by whom he is main­tained. A thing which it is hard to sind any man of note guilty of among us; but which it is no­toriously known the most eminent of yours were faulty in, in their time.

N. C.

I doubt you will prove your self a fase Accuser.

C.

Charge me with that, if you can, when I have done. And let me ask you, whether you are not satisfied that the sins of Sacrilege, and Rebellion or Disobedience to Governours, are very heinous; and whether it be not apparent that their was great need, in the beginig of the late Times, to warn the Nation to take heed of in­volving themselves in that Guilt which several considerable persons were runing headlong into [Page 85]I think you will not oppose me in either of these, and I take your silence for Consent. And then I dare appeal to you, whether your Divines were not very meal-mouth'd, as we use to speak, and afraid these words should come within their lips, even then when they saw these Sins come to their full groowth Nay, I affirm that you shall scrace find mention of them in their Writings, much less was any thing heard of them in their Sermons. Which is an evidence to me, that either they had not sound and good Consciences, or that they wanted Courage, and contented them­selvs to swim along with the Stream. And in the first place, let me tell you somthing that hath been observed of their unworthy Compli­ance with the Sacrilegious humour of those times. A worthy Minister of my acquanitance once told me, that your Assembly-men or other Divines, who wrote the larger Annotations upon the Bible, (of the Edition An. 1646) are very guilty in this point. For where there is a fit oc­casion, said he, to speak against Sacrilege, and where other Expositors are wont to declare the foulness of the Sin, there they say not a word, but pass it quite over, as if they knew of no such thing in the world. Though he wouldnot impute it to their ignorance, but to their base Cowar­dise and flattering disposition, which was loath to displease the Lords of that Time.

N. C.

Sure he did them a great deal of wrong

C.

I'll tell you some of the places, he instan­ces [Page 59]in. First, that known place Act. 5. where he told me in that Edition of 1646. there is no mention made of their Sacrilege, and defraud­ing God of that which was devoted to him, (though that was their chief Crime) but onely of their Hippocrisie, Covetousness, and Lying I must confess I have not the Book, and therefore you must take his word for it But thus much I will tell you upon my own knowledge; that having occasion once to look upon their Annotations, (and that of the third Edition, much inlarged) upon Rom. 2.22. where there was a fitter occasion to say something of this Sin, than in the former place, because the very word Sacrilege is here mentioned, I ob­served (I well remember) that these tender­finger'd Gentleman would not so much as touch it, but fairly slipt over it. For they only speak of the notion of the word in the Civill Law, (and that not directly) defining it, The taking away from the Emperour any thing that his is. Would not this make one think that they were very much afraid to meddle with this Sin?

N. C.

Perhaps that is the meaning of Sacri­lege, there.

C.

One can scarce believe it, who consults the place; where the Apostle reprehends a manthat commits somthing of the same nature with tha [...], which he reproves another man for. And there­fore I doubt not but, those who then cry'd out against Idols, and by no means would indure [Page 60]them in the Holy place, did discover their Pro­faneness and disrespect to that place some other way, which in all likelihood was in not bringing their Offerings thither, but detaining from God that which was his own peculiar goods. They that are learned, I doubt not, can give you other reasons.

N. C.

But I have heard some say, that things are not holy now, so as they were then; because they were separated by a particular direction and express command of God, which was the thing that made them holy.

C.

This is one of the most notable things you have said yet, however you came by it. But it will not do your Business. For what will you say, if I shew you that even in their Notes upon the Law of Moses, and other places of the Old Testa­ment, they say not a word of this Sin, of turning that to another use which God hath separated by his special command unto his own? no, though there be the fairest invitation, and sometimes great reason, to do it?

N. C.

I believe you undertake more than you can do.

C.

Thus much I can assure you upon my own knowledge, that consulting upon a time (as any man may have occasion to do) their Notes upon Levit. 25.34. where the Fields belonging to the Levites are forbidden to be sold; I found that they were perfectly mute, and said not a word of the nature of this Sin amongst the Jews for fear, [Page 61]one would think, that any Christian should thence conclude, that it was unlawful to sell the Bishops Lands, which then their Masters were about.

N. C.

The Text is plain enough, if any one had a mind to make that Inference.

C.

I, but some Annotations on a plain place make it more observed: and I am sure they are large enough in their Descants upon as plain words as those. And therefore why they should forbear to say any thing there I cannot imagine, unless it were a fear of displeasing the Parliament and many of their partakers. For as for them­selves, I believe many of them would not have had the Lands sold, but imployed to their use and benefit.

N. C.

Well, is this all?

C.

No, there is another remarkable place in the Book of Joshua, Chap. 6.19. where God commands all the Gold and Silver, &c. which should be taken in Jericho, to be consecrated to him, and put into the Treasury. Notwithstand­ing which we read that Achan purloined 200 shekels of Silver and a wedge of Gold to his own private use, and was therefore severely punished, nay all the Congregation troubled for his offence, till he suffered for it, Josh. 7.21. And yet these men say not a syllable of this Sin in their Notes on either of those verses; though all other Divines are wont from thence to shew how dangerous it was then to rob God, and take [Page 62]a way what was separated to his uses. In other places I am sure they oft make large Declamati­ons against some Sins, and in a manner preach against them: and therfore why they should not have a syllable to say here about this matter, is a great Mystery, unless I have discovered the cause of it. As for that place, Gen. 47.22. I know you will say they were Idolatrous Priests whose Land Joseph sold not. But methinks they needed not have made an excuse (as they there do) for Joseph's not selling them as if it had been an act of greater Virtue, if he had. And methinks they should have told the world pretty smartly that if Pharaoh had such a respect to the Aegy­ptian Priesthood as not to sell their Land; Christian Princes & Governours should not be more unkind (if not unjust) in these days, nor expose to sale those Lands which have been ser­tled upon the Priests of the most High God. But above all, I wonder at their profound si­lence in their Notes upon Ezek. 48.14. where one would think at last they would have broken it; especially since they might have done it pret­ty securely in such an obscure place, which few read. There the Lands of the Levites are again forbidden to be sold: And by Levites according to their own Principles we are to understand the Ministers of the Gospel, whose Lands there­fore ought not to be sold. I prove it clearly. thus, In the beginning of their Explication of this Vision, they lay down this for a Founda­tion [Page 63]of their Exposition (Chap. 40.2.) that herein was represented the ample and flourish­ing estate of Christ's Church, under the Types of the Re-building of the Temple, Restauration of the Levitical Worship and Service, nad the Repossession and Inhabitation of the whole Land. Which they repeat again Chap. 43.1. and in sundry other places. If this be true, (as they believed it to be) then, according to their own Rules, the assigning of Land for the Le­vites must signifie the care that ought to be tak­en to settle a Maintenance for the support of the Gospel-Ministery and Service; and the pro­hibition against selling the Levites Lands must denote the pleasure of God, that the portion of Land or other things settled upon the Evange­lical Priesthood, or Ministery, should never be alienated from them. Now I pray you tell me, why would they not open their mouths at last in so plain a case as this? What should be the cause, that they do not so much as name this Sin, much less bid the World beware of it, and still much less pass any sentence upon it? Do you think they did not know what is wont to be said on these places? Did they not understand well enough, that if they would write conse­quently to their own principles before laid down, they must either tax that Sin in this place of Ezekiel, or else say just nothing? Why did they chuse the later, and pass it over with a word; but only referring us to two or three places [Page 64]of Scripture nothing to the purpose?

N. C.

Truly I know not what to say.

C.

I'll tell you then. The most probable conjecture is that which I have made already, That they were afraid in the least to displease their masters who set them on work. The Par­liament would have taken it very ill, and all the good people too, who, to save their own purses, were content the Churches Lands should be sold to carry on the War which they had ille­gally begun.

N. C.

I hope better, and that you will not now take occasion from the mention you make of the War, to fall into a Declamation against the other Sin of Rebellion.

C.

Since you love not to hear any thing of it, I am content to be as silent as your Minsters were wont to be: only let me tell you, I have observed several other things which they for­bear, not because they think it is their Duty, but for fear of displeasing a party.

N. C.

What do you mean?

C.

I mean, it was for this reason that they seldom or never (some of them) used the Lora's Prayer, because the people had been taught on a sudden to abhorr Forms, without remembring them that the Lord's prayer was a Form. It was not fit to tell them that, for fear they should have continued to like other Forms of prayer for its sake. I observe also, that still they will by no means give the title of Saint to one of the [Page 65]Apostles or Evangelists of our Lord, (though I think they will call them Holy, which is the same) no not when they reade a Text out of their Writings. For which I can conceive no other reason, but their good Dames and Masters do not like it. They are afraid that it is Popish. And rather than these Men-servers will be at the pains of convincing them of their er­rour, or, to speak more properly, rather than venture the danger of losing them, (for many might in a passion fly off, if they heard the name of Saint given to any but themselves) they will not offend their tender ears by naming that abominable word. And were it not that I am loath to try you, I could instance in a great ma­ny other things wherein they are meer Slaves to the humours of the people, and serve the time; not daring to say those things, or to use those words, which they know are fit to be said and to be used, meerly because many people will run away from them.

N. C.

There is no danger of that. Whither should they run?

C.

To our Ministers; whom perhaps they forsook upon such little accounts, and so may return to them when they see others do like them.

N. C.

Hold you content, Neighbour. They will never return to one that is an Apostate, and hath forsaken his Principles. And that I am sure you will grant your Minister hath done; though [Page 66]you will not have him call'd a Time-server.

C.

You have a company of the most frivolous exceptions against our Ministry that ever I heard of. None of which (as I might have shewn you all along) are sufficient to justifie your separati­on from us, were they true. But being as they are, either false Imputations, or else such things as no man need be asham'd of, you can the less be excused for your forsaking our Assemblies. As for this that you charge our Minister with­all, I have reason to think it is a Forgery, and that he never had any other Principles than he hath now. Or if he had, what do you say to those who stuck so fast to their Principles, that it cost them all they were worth? Are there no [...] a great number of these among our Clergy­men? And do you not hate these as much as any else? nay look upon them as your old Enemie [...] because you remember what Enemies you we [...] to them?

N C.

There are a great many, I am certain [...] that were once ours, and now are fa [...]n away [...]wore [...] you. Those I abhor a great deal more th [...] your old Clergy, and cannot endure to he [...] them

C.

Suppose there be many such; yet there no reason for this strong Antipathy against the [...] For it is like they were very young when the followed you; and may say, as S. Paul, When was a Child, I spake as a Child, I understood a [...] Child, I thought (or reasoned) as a Child: [...] [Page 67]when I became a man, I put away childish things.

N. C.

Belike you think ours a Childish Reli­gion.

C.

Perhaps I do, and, for any thing you know, can prove it to be so in great part. But that's not our business now; which is onely to shew, that it's no shame for any body to think and speak otherwise than he did, provided his Judgment be grown more ripe and manly. What? Do you think Youth must never exam­ine the Principles they receive with their Educa­tion, nor judge for themselves when they are able? If you would not have them follow their Masters or Parents, as Horses and Asses do those that lead them in a string, why do you blame any of them that consider who it is that leads him, and whither he is carrying him? nay, that for­sakes the track in which he hath always walked, when he finds it to be wrong?

N. C.

Nay, a great many Old men have for­saken their Principles, who, one would think, should have had more wit or more honesty.

C.

They have never the less for that: For I hope you are not too old to learn. And this is all you can make of it, that once they thought it unlawfull to do according to their present practice; but days have taught them wisdom, and given satisfaction to their Scruples. Beside, the extravagant Freaks and the mad fantastick Tricsk which were plaid in Religion, when you reigned, [Page 68]opened many mens eyes (whom you had deluded by fair speeches and goodly pretences) to see their folly in condemning and cashiering Bishops and Common Prayer.

N. C.

You have an art of Apologizing for any thing.

C.

Let's see your skill in that art; for I would fain try it a little. What will you say if none be found so guilty of this which you charge us with­all as your own dear selves?

N. C.

I will say, that you can prove any thing.

C.

No: you shall onely say, that they have the least reason of all other men to talk against forsaking Principles, who have done it so notori­ously.

N. C.

I cannot but wonder at your confidence. Are not your very Senses convinced of the con­trary? Do you not see how they suffer for their Consciences; how they are deprived of their Li­berty, and have lost good Benefices. If they would have forsaken their Principles, what need­ed they have been thus deprived?—

C.

You need say no more, for I know it all be­forehand. But pray be not you too confident, no [...] take it ill that I stop you thus in your carier; since I think you will spend your breath to little purpose. Answer me soberly a few questions, and then perhaps you will thank me for saving you the pains you were about to take. Do you not remember a time when the Covenant was m [...]g­nified [Page 69]as the most Sacred thing in the world, next the Holy Scriptures? Did you never meet with such a passage as this in Commendation of it? This Oath is such, and in the matter and conse­quence of it of such concernment, as I can truly say, it is worthy of us, yea of all these Kingdoms, yea of all the Kingdoms of the World? If you have not, it is to be found in Mr. Nye's Exhortation at the taking of the Covenant, Septemb. 25. 1643. pag. 2.

N. C.

What of all this? is there any thing we more suffer for than that holy Covenant?

C.

Surely, that Gentleman and a great num­ber beside (who now are followed and esteemed above our Changelings, as you are pleased to call them) have long since altered their minds, and reprobated that Covenant; or, to speak in his own words, they have been found to purpose, nay more, to vow and to swear, and all this according to the flesh; so that with them there is, notwithstand­ing those Obligations, Yea, yea, and Nay, nay; pag. 5. A thing which he there accuses of great falsnesse and inconstancy, such as is not to be shewn amongst us.

N. C.

What do you tell mee of Independents? We have nothing to do with them.

C.

Yes, but you have. For it appears by your discourse, that your Opinions now are a mixture of the Fancies of more Sects than theirs. And as for your Ministers, it's plain that they are in part turn'd Independents, (which is a grosse [Page 70]Apostacy from their Principles) having Congre­gations in several places that have no Dependen­cy one upon another.

N. C.

They are forced to it.

C.

If that be a good excuse, no body will want an Apology for his faults, which he will find there was some necessity or other for. But (I pray) do you not remember such a creature some years ago, as the people called a Lay El­der, but by your Ministers was named a Ruling Elder?

N. C.

Yes.

C.

And you remember it was disputed very hotly, whether he were one of God's creatures, or of Man's.

N. C.

Very well.

C.

And the Ministers whom you adhere to, confidently affirm'd that their Ruling Elders were by Divine right, and ought to be admitted not onely upon the account of prudence, but as seated by God in the Church as Church-officers. If you doubt of it, read the Vindication of Presby­terial Government, set forth 1649, from pag. 34. to pag. 55.

N. C.

I know their Opinion well enough.

C.

But can you tell me what is become of these creatures? doth not the whole species seem to be lost among you? what is the reason that we bear never a word of them?

N. C.

They are still in their first Princi­ples.

C.
[Page 71]

You grow witty. But it will not serve your turn; for I should think the principles are lost as well as they. Else what's the cause you have none of them in your private Congregati­ons, where you may do what you list? Either you have deserted those Principles, or else your Covenant, which I am sure you thought bound you to maintain these. Chuse which part you will; for either of them will serve my turn.

N. C.

I never troubled my head much about those Seniors, and therefore do not much care what is become of them.

C.

But you should think what is become of your Ministers Principles, who, I believe, are content now to let the Lay Elders die; they be­ing but the creatures of men, and so of a mortal nature.

N. C.

It is no great matter if they do, and never rise again.

C.

Good. But I have another Question to ask you. Was not there a time when this was a Prin­ciple among your Ministers, that they should obey the Orders of the Magistrate under whom they li­ved, if they were not sinfull?

N. C.

I am not much acquainted with their Opinions in those matters.

C.

You may know them then by their Pra­ctises, (which I suppose you will by all means have to be consistent with their Principles.)

N. C.

What Practices?

[...]
[...]
C.
[Page 72]

I think there were Orders in the late Times that no man should pray publickly for King CHARLES; and they obey'd them. They were required also to keep a thanksgiving for the Victories at Dunbarr and Worcester; with which I believe the most, if not all, complied. Nay, that Thanksgiving was repeated every year at White­hall; and I believe Cromwell found some among you that would not deny to carry on the Work of that day.

N. C.

What do you inferr from hence?

C.

That they have forsaken their Principles. For now they will not obey the King's Orders. Mark what I say: They would obey Usurpers, because they had a Power for the time being; and now they disobey their Sovereign, whole Power they acknowledge to be just, and who commands things that are not unlawfull. As for example, they will not hear Common-Prayer, (at least many of them do not) which they can if they list: nor will they observe an Holy-day, which is no more unlawfull to be kept, one would think, than one of those thanksgivings. Give me a reason, for instance, why the Nine and twenti­eth of September may not as well be observed as the Third sometime was.

N. C.

That day is observed for superstitious purposes; to remember the Victory of Michael over the Dragon.

C.

Suppose it were Is not that a great deal bet­ter than to re [...]ember the Victory of Cromwell over the King?

N. C.
[Page 73]

That was but once, and away.

C.

But once all over the City and Kingdome; yet every year at White-hall. But why is not that lawfull to be done alway which we may do once, the reason continuing still the same?

N. C.

You love to rip up old things, which had better be forgotten.

C.

Not I. But you force me to it, by refle­cting upon the old Principles of some of our men. And how can one chuse (upon such an occasion) but take notice of the Fantasticalness of your mens Consciences, (at least some of them) that are so nice and squeamish in some Fits, and at a­nother time can swallow any thing?

N. C.

I do not see but they are the same.

C.

That's strange; when they are so scrupu­lous now, and were so little scrupulous then: or at least could do things with a Reluctance and Regret, and perhaps some Fears and doubts in their minds in those days; and now nothing will serve them but perfect Satisfaction. If you would have me speak plain, and shew you the difference between things they did then and those they will not do now, I will take the pains.

N. C.

Save your self the labour, I have no mind to hear more of it.

C.

That is, you have no mind to see how they have left their Principles, or at least do not act ac­cording to them.

N. C.

They know their own Principles better than you.

C.
[Page 74]

Would they would let us know something of them, that so we might have a reason for some other alterations we see in them.

N. C.

What are they?

C.

Did you never hear them cry out against Separation, and forsaking of publick Ordinances? Were there not many books writ to this pur­pose, when they possessed the Pulpit?

N. C.

I perceive whither you are going.

C.

And you shall not stir, but go along with me. Cousider, I beseech you, what are become of those Principles; or how much are their pre­sent practises condemned by them? Do they not keep Private Meetings every week, and that in the time of the Publick Service, as I told you be­fore? Are they not thereby kept from Church themselves, and do they not thereby keep a­way a great many others? Tell me (good Neigh­bour) what is this but a down right Separation from us?

N. C.

They are not for a Separation from Christ's Ordinances, but from yours.

C.

Ours are Christ's Ordinances as much as any you frequent: for we pray and give thanks to God in his Name. And we do this accord­ing to his appointment; praying onely for such things as he would have us, and no other. As for words, I hope you g [...]ant that neither yours nor ours know any ordained by him but the Lord's Pray [...], which we use, and you perhaps do not, And as for Cere [...]ies, I know those very [Page 75]men now separate from us, who heretofore ap­proved those books which were writ against Se­paration upon the account of Ceremonies. And whatsoever you imagine, they do not think our publick Ordinances (as they now stand) are An­tichristian, or that it is unlawful to be present at them. Therefore I must have a better reason for their Separation from our Assemblies; or else you must confess that they (not we) have chang'd their Principles.

N. C.

I doubt not but they have a Rea­son.

C.

No more do I. They have, without que­stion, a great many: but they are carnal rea­sons.

N. C.

Why are you so censorious?

C.

I am content they should have other rea­sons: but I speak according to your concepti­ons of them.

N. C.

You are very Mysterious on a sud­den.

C.

Methinks the matter is plain. If they have sound reasons to alter their Principles, then we have done. If they have not, what reasons can they be but carnal ones, which alter their pra­ctice?

N. C.

I do not love to hear you talk thus.

C.

Nor do I love to hear my self talk thus: but you constrain me to it. And (I pray you) whether you love it or no, do so much as hear me one word more.

N. C.
[Page 76]

You may speak your mind.

C.

Was there not a time when your Ministers would by no means hear of Liberty of Con­science? Did they not cry out upon it in their Pulpits and their books, and call it Cursed To­leration? Read but a Book called A Testi­mony to the truth of Jesus Christ, and to our so­lemn League and Covenant, &c. subscribed by the Ministers of the Province of London, Decemb. 14. 1647. There you will find that among other abominable Errors and damnable Here­sies, (as they are called, pag. 4.) this is con­demn'd for one, pag. 22. That little can be done, unless Liberty of Conscience be allowed for every man and sort of men to worship God in that way, and perform the Ordinances of Christ in that manner, as shall appear to them most agreeable to God's Word, &c. This, among others, they call a horrid and prodigious Opinion; and tell us (pag. 32. and 33.) that it will lay the glory of the most high God in the dust, if it take place, and raze the Truth of Christ to the ground, and over­throw all Christ's Ordinances, and together therewith Magistrates and Ministers, and all Re­ligious and comely Order, &c. In short, they say we shall be disown'd by all Reformed Chur­ches, who will cry out, Is this England, who co­venanted to extirpate Popery, Prelacy, Superstiti­on, Schism, &c? and after so long travel hath she nom b [...]ought forth an hidious Monster of Tolera­tion?

N. C.
[Page 77]

I know all this as well as you can tell me: and they are of the same mind still; for this was writ onely against an Ʋniversal Toleration of all Sects, which they abhorr.

C.

I can tell you another story. They would not so much as tolerate five poor men, who profes­sed to agree with them in all matters of Doctrine. Judge then what their Opinions were about Li­berty, when they would not allow it to so few dissenting Brethren.

N. C.

That was a great while ago, and most of those streight-lac'd men are dead.

C.

No such matter. But if they were, their Principles did not die with them, but survived in their followers. And yet now all on a sud­den they are vanish'd. Now they are for Liber­ty of Conscience. By which if they mean onely a Liberty for themselves let them speak out, that all their Brethren of the Separation may hear them. And withal let them acquaint us by what Title they claim this Favour more than the rest of the Sects that are sprung from them, who might take the liberty to separate from them, as well as they take the Liberty to seperate from us. And before they prove that it is due to them, let them first answer their own Argument against the Independents, (which I can shew them in a Letter of the London Ministers to the Assembly of Divine,) which was this; That to grant a Tolera­tion to them, and not to other Sectaries, will be counted Injustices

N. C.
[Page 78]

I perceive you are of a persecuting spirit.

C.

You rather discover your self of a turbu­lent spirit, which cannot forbear to trouble and confound even our discourse. For that is not the business, whether all Restraint of mens liberty be Persecution; nor whether I am for it or no: but to shew you that once your Ministers were of such a spirit as you call persecuting, and now are not.

N. C.

Then they are changed for the bet­ter.

C.

You should have said, Then they are chang'd, (which was the thing we were speaking of;) whether for the better or no, that's another question: And let them, if you please, resolve it. I believe they will not con­fess they were of a persecuting spirit, when they were against the Liberty which they now claim.

N. C.

What, do you make them of no Princi­ples at all?

C.

Do not mistake me so. They are constant to some Principles, particularly this, That all is well done that they do, though quite contrary to what they did before.

N. C.

You are bitter.

C.

Do you like this Principle better, (which they will not forsake, I warrant you) That they are in God's way, and therefore ought to be tole­rated; whereas all others are our of his way, and [Page 79]therefore ought not to be tolerated?

N. C.

You much offend me by these Reflecti­ons.

C.

I'll tell you another then, that's more mode­rate, and will please you better: That they must by all means keep you from coming to Church, for fear you should see that you may be as well taught elsewhere as in their private Meetings.

N. C.

I told you before, there is no danger of that.

C.

But you told me no Reason, as I have shewn you, that's worth any thing.

N. C.

We have one that will never suffer us to come to Church more, as long as your Ministers are there.

C.

What terrible Scare-crow should that that be?

N. C.

To tell you the truth, many of us do not think that they are Ministers.

C.

Now you have revealed the Bottom of your heart.—Pardon me that sudden con­clusion; you may have more yet lurking be­hind, which you have not told me. I should ra­ther have said, Now you have revealed your Un­skilfulness more than ever. For what have any of yours to qualifie them for the Ministry which ours have not as well as they? If you re­quire the inward motions of the Spirit of God inclining a man to devote himself to this work; (which some of you think is enough) this ours profess to have felt, as you may see in the Form [Page 80]of ordering Priests. If it be further necessary to be approved by Presbyters, and to have their hands laid on them; this is not wanting to ours, as you may there also be satis­fied.

N. C.

But the Bishop layes on his hands also.

C.

And can this unhallow them, when they are so dedicated to God?

N. C.

Yes so I am told.

C.

Then you would sooner believe what one of your own Party says without any reason, than what we say with all the reason in the world: which is plainly partial affection.

N. C.

Why so?

C.

Is it not apparent that a Bishop is a Presby­ter too? though we think him more.

N. C.

You acknowledge a distinction of per­sons in the Church, which is Antichristian.

C.

Nay, then I have done with you. You condemn all the ancient Church of Antichristia­nism; and more than that, the very Apostles themselves and the Evangelists, who it is mani­fest had some Superiority over their brethren. But observe whither you are run, having once left your way. You mix the very dregs of all other Sects with your own; and believe any thing that makes against us, even such things as the Minister you commonly hear would be a­sham'd to say. First, you onely disliked the Common Prayer; then you did not love the man [Page 81]that read it; next you would not come to hear him; and now you will not allow him to be a Minister: nay rather than suffer him to enjoy that name, you will venture to deprive Aposto­lical men of their Office, who exercised an Au­thority over their brethren.

N. C.

Suppose they did; yet they were not Lords.

C.

No, nor do we ordain any Lords when we make Bishops. That's an Honour which the King doth them, to qualifie them to sit in Parlia­ment and advise about the Affairs of the Realm, in which they are as much concern'd as other men.

N. C.

If their Lordships would preach more, perhaps we might like them better.

C.

I doubt not. For those that do, you will not come to hear.

N. C.

Their Lawn-sleeves offend us.

C.

And why should you not as well take of­fence at the White Cap and the Lace which I have often seen under the Black upon your Mi­nisters heads?

N. C.

Any thing becomes a Godly man.

C.

I thought thither would be your retreat. But why are not the Bishops Godly too?

N. C.

They do not love and encourage good men.

C.

You still suppose none are good but your selves; which is no great token of that Modesty and Humility which we think necessary to make [Page 82]a Godly man. But suppose any of them should be so bad as not to countenance the very best a­mong us, but rather the worst; yet this would be onely the fault of the Men, not of the Office.

N. C.

I have often heard that Distinction; but I could never love your Logick.

C.

Yes sometimes. For you once liked a more subtil Distinction than this, and that was between the King's personal and politick capacity—

N. C.

Pray forbear to scratch those old sores. But why do your Bishops oppose all Praying by the Spirit?

C.

I thought you might come to that at last, & I fansie it is the great quarrel you have with the.

N. C.

Verily it is.

C.

Then let me assure you, the Bishops are the farthest of any men in the world from opposing Praying by the Spirit.

N. C.

You tell me a thing incredible. I should come sometimes to hear your Ministers but that they have not the Spirit of Prayer; which the Bishops (I suppose) suppress and keep down all they can.

C.

Belike then you think that to pray by the Spirie, and to have a Spirit of Prayer, are all one.

N. C.

Why not? I know no difference.

C.

Because I am sure ours have a Spirit of Prayer; but neither ours nor yours can pray by the Spirit. If they could, the Bishops would ra­ther suffer Martyrdom than oppose it.

N. C.

I apprehend you not.

C.
[Page 83]

Very likely: for I see you have been nou­rished with phrases, but understand very little.

N. C.

Pray try if you can make me understand more, since it seems you are so skilful.

C.

Hear me quietly then, and I will tell you what I have learn'd. For my skill is onely bor­row'd from such good men as our Parish Priest; whom you (I doubt) sometime deride, and scorn­fully call by that name.

N. C.

I am in no passion: speak your mind.

C.

Tell me then; when a man reverently ad­dresses himself to God, seriously acknowledges his Authority over all, his Power, Wisdom, and Goodness, professes to depend upon him intire­ly, dreads his Displeasure, waits upon him for his grace and favour, hungers and thirsts after Righ­teousness, and devoutly renders his Thanks to the Possessor of Heaven and Earth for all his bene­fits; hath he the Spirit of Prayer, or no?

N. C.

I cannot say but he hath, if his heart go along with his lips.

C.

Then our Ministers have the Spirit of Pray­er; for in all appearance, and as far as we can judge, they have an inward sense of these things when they pray. And as for their words and ge­stures, they are generally more reverent and be­coming than yours.

N. C.

Methinks you should not be of that mind.

C.

Truly I have heard such bold, and sometimes rude, things spoken by some of yours in Prayer, that I could not think they had any sense and [Page 84]feeling of God at all at that time. Their Gestures also were ridiculous. Nay, I have seen some of them look about upon the people, (to see, I sup­pose, how they were affected) when they should have turn'd their eyes toward Heaven. Which was an argument to me they had something else in their mind then, more than God.

N. C.

Then it seems you hear them sometimes.

C.

Not now. But I have heard them heretofore, when they preached in our Churches.

N. C.

O! but if you could hear them now, you would say they are full of the Spirit.

C.

Because they pour out such abundance of words.

N. C.

No, but they are more earnest than e­ver; and they plead with God after a more effe­ctual manner.

C.

You call Loudness of speech Earnestness, which I always took to be the ardent desire of our Souls after that good which we humbly beg of God. And as for their pleading with God, I think it is rather sauciness.

N. C.

Now you are bitter.

C.

If I thought so, I should condemn my self as much as you can do; for I have learn'd, that we ought to put away all wrath, bitterness, cla­mour, and evil speaking. Nay, if I thought I had done amiss, I would ask forgiveness, not onely from God, but from you too.

N. C.

That is a good mind. But why d [...]d you use such an harsh expression? Is it not one of Jobs words? Job 16.21.

C.
[Page 85]

Yes, but not in your sense. For he would willingly have maintained his innocency, and have had his Case argued, that he might make it appear he was not so guilty as his friends made him: Which is nothing to your purpose; who, I suppose, do not intend (though you call Jesus Christ, a Days-man between God and us) to stand upon your defence, and justifie your selves be­fore him. This you think too great a boldness, do you not?

N. C.

Yes.

C.

Why then may I not call it a Sauciness in you to do a great deal more; I mean, to questi­on God so much as you are wont, and to ask him over and over again what's the reason he doth not this or that, and why he suffers you to be so and so, and how he can deny you this or the o­ther thing?

N. C.

Doth not David sometimes ask questions?

C.

Yes, in a great agony of spirit, and upon some great occasion: which will not warrant you to take this unheard of boldness. So I call it; because things done in imitation of others, when we are not in that condition, and have not that occasion, and that spirit also which they had, are very fulsome; no better than the motions of a Monkey when he imitates a man. To do those things also commonly which those great men did now and then, is monstrously unbeseeming. Be­sides, his Psalms are pieces of Divine Poetry, in which Passions are wont to be expressed much [Page 86]otherwise than they ought to do in plain and fa­miliar speech. And yet you not onely venture to use their Figures of speech, but you go beyond them. Like a man that having light upon a good Figure in Rhetorick, will never have done with it but is always touching upon it. Then which no­thing can be more absurd, especially if he heap a great many of these Figures together, as your manner is, asking God over and over again, (as I said) why he doth not this or that, and when he will do it. Besides, that which in a great agony (as I said) is very decent to be spoken, doth not befit a man's mouth at another time; but they that go about to imitate it, do a thing unnatural. And the truth is, you seem to me to endeavour by these questions to put your selves and the people into a great passion, and a kind of agony; but they do not spring (I persuade my self) nor arise of themselves from any ardency of Devoti­on. But there is another thing that offends me more than all this; that having stirr'd up some confused passions in your selves by this and other such like means, you proceed to such an high de­gree of confidence in this bold way of Arguing with God, that you quite forget who you are speaking to. For some have told him that he little knew how his enemies insulted, (or some such thing;) and that if he did but know how desirous they were of such a thing, or how much they would prize it, he would not deny them.

N. C.

Pray, Sir, hold your peace, or I will [Page 87]stop my cars. You abuse good men.

C.

I tell you only what is credibly reported: and if it be not so, I shall be very glad. But I must adde, that they take such a liberty of saying any thing to God, which they would say to one ano­ther, that I conceive it not unlikely that some might fall into those unseemly (others perhaps will call them blasphemous) expressions. Are not you of the same mind?

N. C.

I cannot deny but that they use great familiarity with God.

C.

Familiarity do you call it? would the world had never known it: For it is such a one as hath bred in mens minds a contempt of God and Re­ligion. It hath taught every body to let that Member loose which ought to be always bridled, especially in God's presence. They vent all their foolish Opinions to him; they tell him News, and inform him how things go abroad; which they have received many times upon a false report: which hath brought such a scandal upon Religi­on, that it cannot but grieve any good man's heart to think on't.

N. C.

It is such as you that have brought Re­ligion into contempt, and not we.

C.

How so, I pray you?

N. C.

By despising the Spirit.

C.

It is false We reverence that Spirit which was in the Apostles; and if we could see such an one again, none would entertain it with great­er gladness. We acknowledge also the power of [Page 88]the Spirit of God still in the hearts of men, espe­cially of those who are good; and we bless God continually for it. But that which we deny is this, That either you or we are able (as I told you) to pray by the Spirit.

N. C.

Do you not then despise the Spirit?

C.

No; we suppose there is no such thing as Prayer by the Spirit: if there were, we should reverence it.

N. C.

Would you would tell me your meaning.

C.

I mean a prayer immediately dictated by the Holy Ghost, as some were in the Apostles day.

N. C.

I understand you not.

C.

Such a prayer, in which by the Inspiration of the Holy Ghost a man conceives those things which he speaks to God. Or (in plainer terms) I mean, that the Spirit of God doth not now sug­gest to any of us (when we pray) the very matter and words which we utter. If you pretend to this then those prayers are as much the Word of God as any of David's Psalms, or as any part of the Bible; and (being written from your mouths) may become Canonical Scripture.

N. C.

But we do not pretend to this.

C.

I wish then you would not talk as if you did. I am sure, your discourses of Prayer are com­monly such, that one would think you took your selves to be full of the Holy Ghost. And this I must tell you hath made a great many scorn Re­ligion, when they saw the Spirit of God intitled to such pitiful stuff as they heard many vent with the greatest confidence.

N. C.
[Page 89]

This is their own fault.

C.

And yours too.

N. C.

I cannot believe that our Prayers ever had any such effect.

C.

But I can; and I will tell you how. You constantly tell us that the Bishops by prescribing a Form limit and stint the Spirit. By which Spirit you mean the Spirit of God, not your own. From whence it follows, that you think (or would have the world think) that the Spirit of God speaks in you when you pray, and that you utter its mind and words. Now many men hearing you pray so inconsiderately and wildly, uttering most absurd (if not impious) things, yet with a mighty zeal and confidence, have been tempted to think that whatsoever is said of the Spirit, even in the Apostles days, might possibly be no more than such an Extravagance and Fury as this.

N. C.

A most sensless conceit.

C.

I think so too. But you have given occasi­on to such conceits in those that are inclined to Infidelity.

N. C.

I hope not. For we onely mean, when we say we pray by the Spirit, that the Holy Ghost assists us

C.

With what? Doth it furnish you with words?

N. C.

No, with devout and ardent affections.

C.

This indeed you should mean; but your brags of the Spirit import more.

N. C.

Pray, Sir, use no such reproachful words: we boast of nothing.

C.
[Page 90]

Well, pardon me that word. But if you do not brag, yet you say that you can pray by the Spirit, and we cannot, at least do not. In which you ascribe something more to your selves than is to be found among us.

N. C.

Yes.

C.

Then you mean more by praying by the Spirit than being inspir'd with devout Affecti­ons. For those you cannot deny we may have as well as you; and unless you will take upon you to search the heart, you must grant we feel them, since we protest that we do. From whence I con­clude, whatsoever you say, that your men would have you believe that it is the Spirit which speaks in them and by them when they pray. Which is a thing that reproaches not only them, but the very Spirit of God, and (as I said before) hath at least confirm'd men in their Atheistical or unbelieving inclinations.

N. C.

Well, I will not dispute this with you any longer. But tell me seriously, do you think that men could pray with that readiness and elo­cution, and lenght, if they were not mightily assisted by the Spirit of God?

C.

Yes indeed do I. Their own spirits will serve them for this purpose; if they be but in­dued with good phansies, and a sufficient measure of boldness. For it is a great vertue (I assure you) in this case not to be modest; though we reckon it a singular vertue to be so.

N. C.

I cannot think it possible.

C.
[Page 91]

Why? Neighbour, you may take my word for this. There are many of our men could out­do you in this Gift (as you call it) of Prayer, if they would give themselves the liberty; and yet you would not think them inspir'd, I am sure. I mean, they are able to speak so readily and flu­ently so earnestly and passionately of all manner of things, and to continue this strain so long, and that without humming or hawing; that if you did not know them, perhaps you would admire them above most of your own.

N. C.

Then I should conclude they had the Gift of Prayer but suppress it.

C.

So they have; but it is both in you and us onely a Natural gift, or acquir'd by Exercise, and Practise, and Imitation—

N. C.

Now you speak prophanely.

C.

I speak the sense of the soberest of your own Party, (as I verily believe) who would say the same, if they durst but deal plainly with you. And (as simple as I am) I dare undertake to justi­fie the truth of what I say against any of them, if they have the face to contradict it.

N. C.

I see you leave the Spirit of God no­thing to do in our Prayers.

C.

Would you would see how you forget your self. Did I not tell you what the Spirit of Pray­er was? how that God bestows it upon us, when he gives us a sense of himself and of our needs, and stirs up in us holy desires, and passionate longings after his Righteousness; which we [Page 92]should express in such words as are becoming that Majesty with whom we have to do? And this is the reason that we take care to chuse our words, and not leave them to extemporary invention, especially in the publick Service of God.

N. C.

Do you think they will ever want Words whose hearts are full of Desires? or can great Affections ever fail to furnish us with plenty of Language?

C.

Yes, that they may. For all experience tells us, that very great and high Affections are too big for Words, and make a man at a stand for want of Expressions; which no man sure will think a seemly thing in a publick Congregation. And the passions of Admiration and Reverence of God restrain a mans forwardness of speaking to him, and make him like a few words best, which he is not then in a fit case to invent. A [...] for lesser Affections and superficial Heats; I grant they seldom let a man want words (if he have tolerable Parts) and make him speak more readily than he would do at another time: yet they are not able ever to furnish him with those that are fit, proper, and decent. Which me­thinks should make you not quarrel with a sober form of words, at least in our publick Devo­tions.

N. C.

Would you could perswade me that a Form of words is lawful to be used; it would go [Page 93]a great way to perswade me to come to your Church.

C.

Strange that you should be so inapprehen­sive! It is so lawful to use a Form of words, that I have shewn you it is in a sort necessary: that is, we can have no security that the Service of God will always be performed well without one.

N.C.

I confess I do not yet apprehend you.

C.

Observe then. I say, the best of men, though their hearts be full of good desires, may, from some cause or other, want such words as are fit and proper to express their meaning. In this case they must hack in an unseemly manner, or make a stop, or use such words as are too rude and slovenly, or speak broken and imperfect language, or at the best such as is too hard and obscure, and unintelligible by the Vulgar. None of which things are to be permitted in the pub­lick Worship, which ought to be performed with the greatest solemnity and gravity. And there­fore to prevent that Undecency, and secure the Service of God from all that is unhandsome; you must consent to a prescribed Form of words, wherein men shall address their humble and hearty Desires to him. For though some men, at some times, may pray well enough; yet other men, and the same men at other times, may be very confused, and full of Tautologies; and it's well if they endeavour not to supply these defects with rude Clamours, brutish Noises, [Page 94]and a deal of the Holy Scriptures wofully misapplied. Beside; how can you persuade any strangers to be of our Church, or to hold any Communion with us, if they do not know how we worship God? And how should they know that, unless you can produce something which by a general consent is own'd for his Service? This no doubt is one reason why all Churches in the world have had their pub­lick Forms of Prayer, that they may let every body know how God is served by them; and why the best men in Reformed Churches have wished those happy days might come of amity and friendship, that they might by a Common Coun­sel and Consent form a certain Liturgy, which might be as a Symbol and Bond of Concord a­mong them all. And truly I cannot advise how your Ministers can justifie themselves in separa­ting now from all the Reformed Churches, (as well as ours) with whom they covenanted to maintain an Uniformity, not onely in Doctrine and Discipline, but Worship also. To me they seem to live in an open breach of one branch of that Covenant, of which they are so tender. For they do not endeavour in their place and cal­ling to reform according to the example of those Churches.

N. C.

What should they reform now they have no power?

C.

Themselves and their Congregations, which they take the boldness to gather; who [Page 95]ought to serve God (according to the Cove­nant) after the example of the best Reformed Churches; all of which have an Order and Form of Prayer, and never imagin'd that those written Forms did bind up and stint the Spirit. This is a peculiar phansie of your own, who have no Form at all in any of your Conventicles or Meet­ings; though it is in the power of your Ministers to have one, as well as to hold such Meetings; and though they be bound by their League and Covenant to do their endeavor to imitate those that have. Nay, I much question whether they use the Lord's Prayer. They that do (I believe) have the least company; such is the prejudice which they (contrary to their Covenant) have sowen in peoples minds against Forms of Prayer, even that of the Lord's. Which thing considered, it makes me astonish'd at your impudence in pre­tending such niceness of Conscience, and fear to break your Covenant; when you break it every time you meet together without some Form of Divine Service.

N. C.

They onely covenanted to reform this Church of England according to the example of the best Reformed Churches: which they cannot do.

C.

Onely, do you say? Is that a less thing then to reform a particular Congregation? Me­thinks they should think themselves obliged to do what they can, when they cannot do what they would; and to do that in a part, which they [Page 96]cannot do in the whole; that is, bring in some Form of Prayer into your Churches, for so no doubt you esteem them.

N. C.

I do not think they can if they would.

C.

Why?

N.C.

Because most of us think Forms unlaw­full.

C.

That's their fault, who either taught you to believe so heretofore, or do not instruct you now to believe otherwise. Though it were a very casie thing for them to do it, and convince you of your errour, even from your own Practice.

N. C.

My Practice? I never use any, and I think never shall.

C.

It is a wonderful thing that you should be so blind. Do you never sing the Psalms of Da­vid, and that as they are translated into English Metre?

N.C.

Yes.

C.

Those are Prayers and Petitions as well as Thanksgivings, are they not? And let me tell you, the words are so mean and sometime uncouth, nay, the sense of the Prophet so often mistaken in that Translation which is commonly used; that if you had so much to except against the Common Prayer, as may reasonably be excepted against many things there, there would be no end of your Complaints; you would be ten times louder in your Clamours than you are.

N. C.

Indeed I did not think of this.

C.

Your Ministers do; but are not so smcere [Page 97]as to give you notice of it? lest you should be disabused, and they should lose your Custom. But pray think of it your self hereafter; and tell me why it is not as lawful to use a Form of Prayer in Prose, as to use one in Verse. You will be a marvellous man, if you can shew a Reason of the Difference.

N. C.

But this Form is not taken out of the Mass book as the Common Prayer is.

C.

Then you lay down your quarrel at a Form of Prayer; and onely scruple this Form now in use; and that because it hath been used in the Roman Church.

N. C.

Very right.

C.

Then pray lay aside your Bible too; at least cut the Psalter out of your book, for that's much in use in their Service.

N. C.

You go too fast; that is the Word of God, and therefore to be used; but any thing else used in the Church of Rome I think we should have nothing to do with.

C.

This is a foolish exception. For the Rea­son you gave me concludes against the use of the Psalms too, or else it concludes nothing: which I thus demonstrate. You lay down this Proposition, Whatsoever is used in the Service of the Roman Church must not be used by us. To this I adde another; The Psalms and other Scriptures are used in the Service of the Roman Church. Now do you draw any other Con­clusion if you can from these two, but this, [Page 98]That those Scriptures must not be used by us. If you like not this Conclusion, then you must mend the first proposition, (which is your own, and you may do what you will with it;) as for mine, it cannot be mended, for it is certainly true. Now how will you mend it, but by al­lowing us the use of whatsoever is good in their Service? And then you must admit of more than the Scripture to be used by us, even all that is according to the Scripture: As our Prayers certainly are; though some of them are but Translations of the Latine Prayers used in that Church.

N. C.

I will mend it in this manner: What­soever they use (except it be the Word of God) we are not to use it.

C.

It is meer Humour that makes you limit it in this manner. For there is something good be­sides the Scripture. viz. that which is writ, said, or done according to it. And why they should make any thing of this nature unuseful to us by their using it, since you confess the Holy Scri­pture, notwithstanding their use, nay abuses of it, is not prophaned thereby, is past my capacity to understand. But perhaps you will be more sensible of what I say, if I tell you, that upon these principles you must reject the use of the Creed, commonly called the Apostles Creed, because it is Professed there in Divine Service as well as here.

N. C.

I would not willingly go so far from them.

C.
[Page 99]

Not go? you must whether you will or no, if you will follow your Principles, which will carry you so far, and a great deal farther. For this is the very bottom on which your Dis­course stands; that whatsoever hath been in use by a bad company of men, must by no means be used by us in God's Worship; except onely such portions of Holy Scripture as shall be thought fit to be read in our Assemblies. From whence it follows, that you may not lift up your Eyes to Heaven, nor Kneel when you pray, nor—

N. C.

Now methinks you rave.

C.

Pray hear me a little, and you shall see it's you that are wild, and not I: so wild, as to pra­ctise that which you condemn. If we must not do what the Church of Rome doth in the Worship of God, then much less what Heathens have done and still do; for they are worse than the Roman Church.

N. C.

I think your Proposition is good enough; but who doth that which the Heathen Idolaters were wont to do?

C.

That did the Jewish Church, and that do you.

N. C.

Prove that.

C.

So I will; and you shall have Scripture for it. The Jews and you also Bow your Knees or Bodies to God, and the Heatheus bowed their Knees to Baal, and Bodies to Rimmon, 2 Kings 5.18. 1 Kings 19.18. You all list up your Eyes [Page 100]to Heaven when you worship; and the Hea­then lifted up their eyes to their Idols, as ap­pears by the practice in Israel, who imitated their Customs, Ezek. 18.12. and 33.25. You stretch out your hand to God, and so the Cu­stom was to do to a strange God, Psalm. 44.20. The Heathens sate down at their Feasts, when they eat of the Sacrifices in the Temples of their Gods, 1 Corinth. 8.1 [...]. Exod. 32.6. which is the very posture which you are so fond of when you come to seast with Christ, in the holy Sacrament of his Body and Bloud sacrificed for us.’ I would adde more, but that it would be tedious. And the truth of it is, good men use that every day well which bad men use ill: And therefore I see not but we may do so with many things practised in the Roman Church. Do not good men use the Name of God with Reverence, which wicked men continually blaspheme? Do we not refresh our selves with Meat and Drink, of which many Debauched persons take a Surfeit? Those fine Cloaths which some wear for pride, do not others wear because they befit their Quality? And, to come nearer our business, Those Prayers which some men mumble over, others read devoutly: and those Garments which some may use as holy, others use as decent. What should ail us then, I ask you once again, that we cannot rightly use those things which the Church of Rome abuses? say those good Prayers, for instarce [Page 101]in English, which they say in Latine? wear a white Garment without any Ceremony to con­secrate it, which they hallow with many Prayers, and Crossing, and Holy water? Nay, use the Sign of the Cross it self upon one occasion onely once, after the Sacrament of Baptism, and merely as a token the Child is already become a Servant of the Crucified Jesus; which they use upon all occasions, before and in Baptism, a great many times, and that also to drive away the Devil, and to make the Sacrament more efficacious? There are an hundred things more, present themselves to my thoughts about these matters; but I am ashamed to discourse any longer against so absurd a Principle as yours. For in my judgment you may as well do some things which the Church of Rome doth, as be­lieve some things which she believes; as I hope you do. Nay, you believe even what the Devil believes. And as it would be a very dan­gerous rule, if any one should say, Believe quite contrary to what the Devil believes; so it is no less (but rather more) dangerous to say, Do quite contrary to what the Church of Rome doth.

N. C.

I have not much to say against your discourse; but we have a persuasion among us, that Nothing is lawful to be done by you or any body else in the Worship of God, but what is enjoyned by himself in his Word. And then what becomes of your Crossing and Chaunting [Page 102]and Kneeling, with all the rest of your Inventi­ons? are they not all Idolatrous?

C.

This is the wildest phansie that we have yet heard, as many of our Ministers have shewn by unanswerable Arguments. For it makes that unlawful which the Scripture allows; in which we find many Holy men doing those things (without any censure) in God's Wor­ship which he had no where commanded. Nay, it makes the Worship of God impossible; the Time, the Place, the Vesture in which it shall be performed being no where appointed. It condemns also the best Christians in all Ages till of late, who without any scruple used Forms of Prayer, and such Rites as those about which there is all this stir. And, which perhaps will most move you, I have heard our Ministers shew that this Principle doth condemn your selves, who (when you take an Oath) do not re­suse to lay your Hand upon the Book, and kis [...] the Gospel, according as the custom is. Now all agree that an Oath is a solemn act of Divine Worship, it being an acknowledgment of all God's Attributes, and he being invocated and call'd upon to be a Witness and a Judge in the case. And if that be an act of Worship, I am sure, Kissing the Book and Laying on the Hand are as much Ceremonies as Signing with the Cross; outward signs (I mean) accompanying the action of Swearing, though they belong not to the Essence of it. And I am as sure that [Page 103]you can no where shew me that God hath commanded this Religious action to be attend­ed with this Ceremony.’ Behold then, into what perplexities these men cast you! What Snares they intangle you and themselves in! Out of which they cannot set you free, but by acknowledging (as we do) that men may ap­point this Ceremony in taking an oath, though God hath not appointed it; according as in this very case, Abraham made his Servant put his Hand under his Thigh when he sware, though it were a thing no where commanded. But then consider again, that they and we may take the like liberty in other parts of Divine Wor­ship, and submit to such Usages as are appoint­ed by our Governours, provided they be no where forbidden. Or if, rather than condemn themselves, they will condemn good old Abra­ham, and say he followed the custom of the world too much: there is no way for you but to turn Quakers, and to condemn Clean cloaths when we come to worship God; to find sault with the Minister for standing in a Pulpit, for Preaching by a Glass, for wearing a Gown, yea, a Cloak or a Cap, especially with Ears: for none of these things are by any Divine Command.

N. C.

I see you have something to say to e­very thing. If I did not know you, I should suspect you for a Jesuit.

C.

That would be ridiculous. For if there [Page 104]be any of them in Lay-mens clothes, they do not persuade you to our Church, but from it; know­ing that is the surest way to gain you, if they can once unsettle your minds, and fill you with Phansies: of which they will at last persuade you there is no end, till you rest your self in the bosom of that Harlot which you so much abhor.

N. C.

I see one cannot weary you. But suppose these things be lawful in themselves; I am told they become unlawful when once they are en­joyn'd.

C.

This is an Extravagance wilder than all that went before. They are so far from being unlawful by being commanded, that they become necessa­ry; to be done, I mean.

N. C.

I thought you would say so. But that's the very thing makes me think them unlaw­ful when commanded; for it takes away Chri­stian liberty by making them necessary to be done.

C.

Goodly! what fine things do your Chri­stians make themselves, that must be restrain­ed in nothing, though for publick Orders sake! Nay, must over-rule the Laws of Christian Princes, and shew the power they have over their Commands? Do you think there ever were any Christians in the world before you that held themselves bound not to do a lawful thing, merely because his Sovereign would have it done? If he did command a thing un­lawful, [Page 105]there were good reason not to do it: but if he is like to be equally disobeyed whe­ther he command things lawful or unlawful; nay, and it be a duty to disobey him in both a­like; he is in miserable circumstances, and had better never meddle with the Worship of God, but leave it to be ordered as every body phan­sies.

N. C.

That's the best way.

C.

Nay, now I think on't, there's a way to make you do what he likes best; and you shall hold your selves bound to it.

N. C.

That's strange.

C.

Not so strange as true. For when a Prince hath a mind you should do a thing, if I were of his Council, I would advise him to make a Law that you should not do it. For then you would either shew that you are peo­ple of a humoursom Conscience, that is gui­ded by no certain Principles; or else, accord­ing to your own Rules, you would do what he for bids you. For as when he commands a thing about the Service of God, it becomes unlawful to be done: So when he forbids any thing, it becomes unlawful to let it alone; your Liberty being invaded by him either way. If he would but require therefore that no bo­dy should wear the Surplice, or use the Sign of the Cross; we should see all your Ministers with Surplices on their Backs, and all your Children crossed in the Fore-head: For else [Page 106]you would be restrained in your Liberty.

N.C.

I never knew any man fetch things about in this fashion as you do. The truth it, you intangle me, but you do not perswade me.

C.

I have not much hope of it, If you feell not the force of these arguments: Yet I'll try what a familiar Resemblance will do. We are agreed that the thing commanded by Authority, is not less indifferent in its own na­ture after it's commanded than it was before; but onely our use of it is not so indifferent and at liberty. We must needs be therefore agreed also that this Restraint comes not upon us from the things themselves, because still perfectly indifferent; but onely from the Law, which ties us up: Now we say, that to this Law we are to be subject, not regard­ing our own Liberty so much as the Prince's Authority. You say, No. But as the Law can­not alter the Nature of the things, so it ought not to Restrain your Freedom in the use of them; but leave that as indifferent as the things themselves. That is, that the King ought to make no such Law about those matters: If he do, then it is unlawfull to do what he com­mands to be always done; because he ought to leave you at Liberty to let it alone if you please, and you ought to maintain your Liberty, and by no means to part with it. Put the case then that you (being Master of a Family) will have [Page 107]your Children and Servants to come at a cer­tain time and place, &c. to worship God. It is indifferent indeed in it self, and all one to God, whether it be at ten, eleven, or twelve a clock, or in what part of your House they meet, or in what Cloaths they come, or what Postures they use: But you appoint the hour of meeting shall be twelve; and that they come into your Parlour, or Hall, or Chappel, if you have that conveniency: And beside, you require your Servants that they shall not come into your Parlour (suppose) in those Frocks wherein they just before rubb'd your Horse's Heels, (which you think not handsom or decent) but in their Liveries, or some such neater Ap­parel. And when they come there, you bid them stand some part of the time, and the rest you bid them sit, if they please, and at Prayers kneel, as you do your self. Let me ask you now, Do you really think that this is any such Restraint of their Liberty, as they have just cause to complain of it? Would you think you took too much upon you in making these Or­ders for your Family, of which you are Gover­nour? Or would you judge that Servant to be without fault, and guiltless of any Contempt, who should say, that he will come at ten of the clock, but not at twelve; because it matters not which, so the thing be done; and he will not be tied to any Order, but to do the thing? And suppose another should come and say, that [Page 108]he will pray, if you please to come into the Sta­ble, but he will not come into the Parlour; for it is indifferent where it is; and he must not be confined to one place more than another. And a third should come and tell you that he is rea­dy to joyn in Prayer, but then it must be in his Frock, otherwise he will not; for God may be served as well in that as any other Garment, and he must use his Christian Liberty, and not be bound to your Fashions. And the next should tell you, that he will sit in your presence, or else you shall not have his company: His rea­son is, because it is all one to God whether he sit or stand; and he is not to let you be Master of his Freedom in those matters. What would you say to these people? Nay, what would you do with them? Would you excuse them, and ac­knowledge your own guilt in making such In­junctions? Or would you not rather treat them as a company of saucy Clowns and ill-bred Fel­lows, not fit to be kept in any orderly family? If you should not, all the world would hold you as ridiculous as they. For every Master of a family is vested with sufficient authority to see such commands as those observed. And when they that will not observe them, yet acknowledge them to be indifferent things; truly I think no body will think them harshly used, if they be turned out of doors. If they be Fools and Blocks, that cannot understand common sense; then (I confess) they are to be pitied; and his [Page 109]good nature may work so far as to bear with their simplicity, if they be otherways good Ser­vants: But yet those Knaves that abused their simplicity, and instilled these filthy Principles into them; deserve to be punish'd, and put out of his Service, till they acknowledge their fault, and learn more manners. Just like this is the present case before us. The Church is but a lar­ger Family, a wider Society, in which the King is the Father and Supreme Governour. If he make some Laws for the more convenient, or­derly and decent Worship of God there, which in themselves are Lawful, and declared not to be in their own nature necessary, but onely pru­dent Constitutions; I cannot see but that those who refuse to obey them upon pretence of their Liberty, and that God may as well be wor­shipp'd without those things, do shew them­selves as unmannerly, rude, and refractory per­sons, as the Children or Servants in that suppo­sed Family, of which I bad you conceive your self Master. And I leave you to apply this case to that; and to make the parallel complete in your thoughts at your leisure. I hope it will be worth your labour, if you do it seriously.

N.C.

It gives me some light into the business already. But still I wonder that all our Ministers should hold your Forms and Orders unlawful. Sure they have some better reason for it than I have.

C.

Alas, good man! you are merely abused. [Page 110]For though they are willing you should remain in the opinion of their Unlawfulness; they do not think so themselves.

N.C.

What would you make of them? Do not I hear them constantly speak against them?

C.

Nay, do you make what Consequences you think sit from it. As for the thing it self, I will maintain, that those Ministers you hear (some in­deed think otherwise) are not of the mind, that it is unlawful to come to Common Prayer, or wear a Surplice, or kneel at the Sacrament.

N.C.

You cannot make good your confident Assertion.

C.

Why, Man? I have seen them at the Pray­ers; and many of them have professed they did not think the Ceremonies such great Bugbears that one need to be afraid of them. And if this will not do, I have a more convincing Argument of their Opinion in these matters.

N.C.

And do these very men now seem to dislike the publick Prayers?

C.

Seem? you confess they speak against Forms. And we see the open affronts they put upon our Service, by meeting at that very time when it is performed: the reason of which I ex­pounded to you before.

N.C.

Therefore I always thought they ac­counted it unlawful.

C.

No such matter. You should rather think something else; and (to help you a little) consi­der whether their Integrity be so great as you imagine.

N.C.
[Page 111]

Your meaning, Sir?

C.

I mean, they do not seem to me to deal sin­cerely with you, in suffering you to live in this dangerous perswasion of the sinfulness of Com­mon Prayer and the Ceremonies; when they know in their Consciences they are not sinful. And then to hear you call it Bibble-babble, Por­ridge, or such like vile names, without any re­proof, is still worse. But if you hear themselves speak against the Common Prayer and the Cere­monies; there is the greater reason to have a ve­hement suspicion of their Dishonesty; because they decry that which in their Consciences they allow.

N.C.

I am not fully satisfied of that.

C.

Why did many of them deliberate so long whether they should accept of Dignities in the Church, if they did not believe it lawful to hear the Prayers, and to put even the Babylonish Gar­ment (as you will needs call the Surplice) upon their backs; and more than that, to wear the very Rags of the Whore, the Lawn sleeves? If it was so plain a business, that their Conscience and their Covenant would not let them conform, one would think they should have professed it openly without any more ado. And therefore I conclude, that Pause and Deliberation was about something else; not about matters of Consci­ence, but of Interest and Policy. As, Whether the people would take it well, and not laught at them, as so many Magpies got upon a Perch: [Page 112]whether it would not be a scandalous thing, that is, not for their Credit and Reputation: whe­ther they could not hold such a Party with them in Non-conformity, as would balance the Episco­pal, and so force them at least to a Toleration. In short, whether they should not lose the Affecti­ons of their own party, which they had already made; and win very little upon the Affections of others, whom they had so much disobliged in the late Troubles. These were their secret De­bates in their Cabals, the weighty Points that were to be stated in those Consultations. You, Good man, think perhaps that they spent their time in Fasting and Seeking God to direct their Consciences. No, no; it was not their Con­science, but their Credit, which then lay at stake.—

N.C.

Why should you think so?

C.

Because I have heard some of them ac­knowledge they did not scruple what we do, but thought it unhandsom for them to do it. Some­times they put it in a more Religious phrase, and said, it would give a great scandal to the world, who would think the worse of the Profession of Christianity. But the meaning was in plain Eng­lish, that they were ashamed to confess their Er­ror, and to set up those things again which they had rashly pulled down.

N.C.

And would you not have men to con­sult their Credit?

C.

Yes, but not so much as the peace of the [Page 113]Church of God. We ought to deny our selves, and be content to be put to shame for God's sake; (which is indeed true Glory) and there is little of God among them that seek not Peace, though on those terms. Besides, there can no account be given of their Behavior since in cherishing this Fancy among you, (or suffer­ing it to grow) that Conformity is unlawful, un­less it be this that they think it will make more for their Reputation among you, if you believe it was Conscience, not care of their own Credit & Estimation, that kept them from Conforming

N.C.

You are the severest man that ever I knew, and love to search too far into the rea­son of things.

C.

Would you would do so too; for then you would soon be of my mind.

N.C.

No, not as long as one Scruple re­mains in my mind.

C.

What's that?

N. C.

I have heard some of them call yours, Will-worship, which the Apostle condemns, (Col. 2. ult.)

C.

Very likely they might, and not under­stand what they said.

N.C.

Do you believe they would, like brute Beasts, speak evill of things they know not?

C.

I will not censure them of that, but this I can tell you, that one of your Ministers confes­sed to a sober person of my acquaintance, that he had never so much as read over the [Page 114]Common-Prayer-book in all his life; and yet he was no Youngster. Perhaps there may be more such: and then if they speak against it, judge of them as you see Cause.

N. C.

I believe such men dislike it without looking into it; because, as I told you, it is Will-Worship, a meer invention of man.

C.

That's a word of S. Paul, whom no doubt they have read; but I question whether they understood him.

N. C.

Why should you doubt it?

C.

Because, if we take the sense of the Word, not from Fancy, but from the matter where­with it is connected, it makes nothing for your purpose, but rather much against you.

N. C.

Can you tell better than they?

C.

I do not say so; but I have heard one of our Ministers give such an Explication of the place as satisfied me, that you use a Weapon which wounds your selves.

N. C.

Let's hear it.

C.

If you look a little back, you will find the Apostle forbids Worshipping of Angels; (v. 18.) as a bold invention of men, for which there was no Revelation. And then he speaks against such superstitious people (whether Jews, or o­thers, the minister could not tell us) as made it unlawful to Marry, to eat some kind of Meats, to touch or come near some things; none of which God hath made sinful, but they were the meer Commandments of men, (v. 21.22.) [Page 115]Now those that were of this Humour he im­mediately after (v. 23.) charges with Will-Worship. Which must consist, therefore, one would think, in these two things.

First, In giving the Worship due to God to some Creature or other. Secondly, in enjoyning that as a thing necessary, and commanded by God as a piece of his VVorship and Service, which he hath left indifferent; or, in other words, when any thing is so enjoyned to be done or not done, as if it were the Will & Com­mand of God he should be so served, when it is a meer Constitution of the Will of Man, then a Will-Worship is erected. Now I am sure you will not make us guilty of the First fort of Will-Worship, because none are more against it than we. As for the Second; our Church hath declared to all the World, that none of the things you boggle at are imposed under the Notion of Necessary, or Religious, in themselves, or as commanded by God; but are of an indifferent Nature, and only used as decent and comely in the judgment of the present Governors, who can alter these things, and constitute something else in the room, if they see it fit; which they could not pretend to, did they think them necessary. But then, as our Church is not guilty of Will-Worship in the Apostles Sense; so, on the other side, I know not how to excuse those from that very guilt, who oppose what is ordained among us as un­lawful, [Page 116]and forbid us to use those Rites and Orders, because sinful things. For they make that necessary to be forborn and left undone, which God hath not made so, but left indiffe­rent; and so they in effect condemn those as Sinners whom God acquits from all blame. As those in the Apostle's Discourse, said, Touch not, Taste not, Handle not, so you say, Kneel not, Pray not by a Form, We are not a Surplice, &c. Now since you think (as those men did) to please God by not doing those things which he hath no-where forbidden; I do not see but you commit the very fault which the Apostle reproves: That is, you make that necessary not to be done, (if we will be true Worshippers of God) which he hath not made necessary not to be done, but left us at liberty to do it if we please. By which means you make a Religion of your own, and study to honour God by ab­staining from these things by which he never said that he was dishonoured. O that all ten­der Consciences would seriously consider this. For they would soon discern that your Ministers by forbidding these things now in dispute, lay greater burthens upon the Consciences of their Brethren, and clog them with more Duties, than God hath laid upon them. Whereas we, who think those things may be done, lay no o­ther burthen upon the Conscience than what God himself hath laid; which is, to obey our Governors in all things wherein he himself [Page 117]hath not bidden us to do the contrary.

N. C.

You will endeavor by and by to make me believe the Moon is made of green Cheese. All this discourse tends to prove that we are Superstitious, which you know in your Consci­ences we abhor; and are therefore so averse to your ways, because we judg them Superstitious.

C.

You begin to be sagacious and to smell things a far off. The very truth is, I think it is no easie matter to find more Superstitious peo­ple in the World than your selves. And your Clamours against Superstition prove nothing, but that a man may be guilty of some faults, and not know it.

N. C.

Phy for shame!

C.

You must not think to put me off with words and wry Faces. I will prove you grosly Superstitious, or else be converted to you.

N. C.

You will not make good your word.

C.

Yes, but I will. Tell me, what is Superstition?

N. C.

I am not well skill'd in Definitions.

C.

No, if you were, you would have smelt the foul Beast among you before this time. But your business is, only to get some ugly Words by the end, and then to throw them at every bo­dy whom you do not fansie, though they have less to do with them than your selves. We have been taught that Superstition is a great Dread lest God should not be pleased, unless we do some things which we need not do, and lest he should be displeased when we do some things [Page 118]in which there is no harm. Which Dread springs (as you very well saw) out of an o­pinion that such things are good or evil, (and so must be done or must not be done, else God will take it ill) which in truth are meerly in­different. Or, in shorter, and perhaps plainer, terms, It is a needless Fear in Matters of Reli­gion, which makes a man either not dare to do those things which he hath a liberty to do, or think he must upon pain of Damnation do those things which he may as well let alone.

N. C.

What then?

C.

What then, do you say? I would have you behold your face in this Glass, and see how wretchedly and superstitiously you look. For you think you must not, for fear of God's Dis­pleasure, use a Form, nor sign a Child with the Cross in Baptism, nor Bow in the House of God, nor go up to the Rails, nay, nor Kneel, nor hear Church Musick, nor uncover your Heads when you enter into a Church, nor call the Lord's-day Sunday, nor keep an Holy-day. Nay, it was a long time before you thought it lawful to let your Hair grow below your Ears. All which things we may do, and not displease God at all. On the other side. You imagine you are bound to propagate & spread all your little Opinions, though with the Ruin of King­doms: That you are tied to maintain your li­berty in indifferent matters, against all the Au­thority of a King, and to the disturbing a [Page 119]Church: That you have a Sermon or two on a Fasting day, or else you fear it is not kept; and two Sermons on the Lord's-day, or else you doubt it is not Sanctified. Nay, some of you (I remember) fansied heretofore, that it was no Sermon, if it were not in the Pulpit. And to such an height is your Superstition grown, that you scarce think a Prayer is acceptable to God, unless it be long. And you are afraid he is not served aright, unless we have a long Prayer before Sermon, after we have been pray­ing a great while for all manner of things. And such a Necessity you seem to lay upon extem­porary Prayer, that many well-disposed peo­ple, who have not that Gift, dare not pray at all, (at least in their Families) for fear they should not pray aright. And all these are things of such a nature, as that they may not be done, or done otherwise than you think they must, and God be never the less pleased with us.

N. C.

Now you have discovered the Naugh­tiness of your Heart, in speaking against Ser­mons in the Afternoon.

C.

If I should do so, I should speak against my self, and ran into your fault, I think they may be used, or they may be let alone, according as the Edification of the People shall require. But to make them so necessary as you do, ari­ses from a Superstitious Fansie, that God is not well served without them. Whereas in [Page 120]truth the Catechism expounded, or the Scrip­tures opened, would be as well, or rather better.

N. C.

I doubt there is something that is naught lies at the bottom of such Discourses.

C.

You should rather suspect there are naugh­ty things at the bottom of such Opinions as yours. For the Fruit of your Superstition is this at the best; Rash and unjust Censuring of your Brethren, that do not the things which you make so necessary to be done, or do the things which you make so necessary to be for­born; and at last downright Schism and Sepa­ration from them, because you fansie they are out of the way of God.

N. C.

I must confess I have some fear you are so; who can be content without a Sermon in the Afternoon, and satisfied with Common-Prayer; which I could never feel my self so affected with, as I am with extemporary De­votions.

C.

That's because you had so low an esteem of it, and therefore brought no desires, nor used any Endeavours to be moved by it: but rather you set your self in a dull and sleepy Posture, as one that had no list to hear it. I could tell you something else besides this, but it would only vex you.

N. C.

I am not afraid of any thing you can say. Pray speak your mind.

C.

I believe if you would examine your self, [Page 121]you would find there is some part of your Mi­nisters extemporary Prayers, which do no more affect you than our Service.

N. C.

What part should that be?

C.

The Entrance or Beginning of his Pray­er: When he speaks very slow, as if he was studying what to say, and draws out his words with a low Voice, and with a small degree of Vehemence, and little or no Motion; then I say, I believe your Affections are low too, and you feel not your heart much moved. But when his Voice begins to rise, (especially, if he lift it up on a sudden, and it break out like a Clap of Thunder) and when he speaks more fluently, & his Zeal begins to kindle, and he lays about him, and is full of life (as you call it) that is, uses a great deal of Action; then is the time, if the truth were known; that your Affections stir, and begin to rise from the bottom of your Heart, where they lay heavy and dull before. Then you sigh and groan, and perhaps weep, and are put into many Passions, which lay quiet enough till his Breath blew lowder. Is not this the plain truth?

N. C.

What then?

C.

Then you are no more affected with the Prayers of your Minister, (as they are pious Petitions or Acknowledgments of God) than you are with our Common-Prayer; But only with the Voice, the Vehemency, the Action, the pretty Fancies and fine Phrases, which per­haps [Page 122]he lights upon when he is a little heated; which were it my case, 'twould make me sus­pect the Love of God was not in me. For why should he think he loves God, who is not mo­ved with Affection to him when he hears his Greatness, Goodness, Wisdom, and Benefits to us, soberly and gravely expressed, but is in a great Commotion when he meets with a new Word that pleases him, or a kind Phrase, or melting Tone, a sweet Voice, or some such thing?

N. C.

I hope it is something else that affects me.

C.

If it be, then pray tell me, why should not the Common-Prayer affect you, whose sense is good enough, only it is not varied and dressed up in new words every day? I beseech you try your Heart, by examining the Book, & considering whether those very things be not requested of God there, which you desire in your Prayers: and if they be, then demand of your self a Reason why they move you no more. I doubt you will find it is because they are not new, but old Expressions.

N. C.

I will consider of it at leisure.

C.

To help you a little take this along with you; which will go near to convince you, that if it be not the Voice and Tone, it is the No­velty which affects you. Suppose one of the Prayers of your own Ministers, which you think is indicted by the Spirit, was taken in short­hand [Page 123]writing, and afterward used every day in the Service of God, as often as our Prayers are: Tell me seriously, do you not think it would seem very flat at last, fuller of nauceous Repeti­tions and faulty Expressions than you conceive to be in the Common-Prayer?

N. C.

You put a hard Question to me.

C.

I see you are inclined to be of my mind; and therefore pray consider these two things. First, That since even a Prayer which you think so heavenly would not affect you alway, if it were alway used; it is to be feared you are moved only while Prayers are new, and indeed because they are new, not because they are good & pious Petitions. And Secondly, that since it is convenient, if not necessary, to have a Form of Prayer in the Church, and the Common-Prayer hath no other Imperfection but what those whom you so much admire would have, were they constantly used, as it is; why should you not like it as well as any, especially since it is established by publick Authority?

N. C.

I will consider of it, as I said before. But I wish you had seen a Book (as I perceive you have many of ours) newly come out, which supposes your Service-Book hath been a­bused to Superstition and Idolatry, and there­fore must be abolish'd.

C.

He doth well to suppose it, and not to un­dertake the proof of it. What is the name of the Book?

N. C.
[Page 124]

Nehushtan.

C.

I have had a short sight of it, as it creeps up and down privately.

N. C.

What do you think of it.

C.

I will tell you first what I think of you.

N. C.

Why what is the matter.

C.

You seem to be in a most dangerous con­dition; for you are infected, as I told you, already with the extravagant Fancies of a num­ber of other Sects, with whom you are blen­ded. And in all likelihood you will have such new Inventions, or rather Frenzies, every year, as will at last destroy your selves as well as us. Some of your Ministers, for instance, acknow­ledg that the Liturgy is lawful to be used, and can read it themselves. Others there are that think it lawful, but not convenient for men of their Parts and Gifts, whose Ministry (which it seems is of great Necessity & Benefit) they con­ceive would be thereby rendred less useful. Then there is a third sort who are gone farther and doubt of its Lawfulness: So that they dare not be present at it, though they are content o­thers should, who think it lawful. And now here is a man thinks no body ought to hear it, nor be suffered to use such a Form of Worship; but though the Magistrate ought to tolerate you, yet he ought not to tolerate us. For he saith, It is his Duty utterly to extirpate the Liturgy, as well as the Ceremonies. And every one of you in your places ought to do your parts towards the a­bolishing [Page 125]of it; and not sit still in the midst of such Defilements and Snares, but discover your hatred of them, decline their use, and in such ways as Prudence, Justice and Order do allow, Endea­vour the rooting of them out. Whether you will go next, God only knows. And God help the poor Children of the Church of England, who when all so boldly challenge Liberty and Toleration, must be the only Persons excluded from this Favour, and, according to this Gen­tleman, be denied the use of the Common-Prayer, when every body else may pray what he list.

N. C.

You must be content, if he have E­vinced (as he tells us he hath, in his Title page) That the Liturgy, Ceremonies, and other things used at this day in the Church of England, ought neither to be imposed, nor retained, but utterly extirpated and laid aside. And he pretends in his Epistle to have said more in this Argu­ment than ever was said before.

C.

He doth so, and imagins he can weild an old rotten Engine, that hath been long laid aside, better than former Workmen, who were but Bunglers in compare with this Ar­tist. For he doubts not to manage it so as to throw down the whole Fabrick of the English Church.

N. C.

What Engine do you mean?

C.

It is this Principle, That it is the will and pleasure of God, that such things as have been [Page 126]abused and polluted in Superstitions and Idola­trous Services should be abolished and laid aside (pag. 15.) Which I observe he contracts into these words, (pag. 21.) It is Gods will that things abused in corrupt and false Worship should be laid aside.

N. C.

And what have you to say to it?

C.

I will first tell you what he says to it, After he had told us a great many things (which every body knows) concerning the will of God that the Israelites should abolish the Images & Groves and Altars of the Cananites, &c. and thence concluded, that such things as have been imployed to corrupt ends and purposes must be abolished: at last he comes and tells us, that this principle must not be extended too far, nor made to serve against all things that have been so abused, and he excepts a great number. Nothing Commanded by God must be disused upon this account; none of Gods Creatures are to be refused; nay, no necessary and profitable Devices of men need be sent packing, though they have been so profan'd, & more than this, he says that things which are but in a competent degree useful, may be retain'd, if they have been abused to Idolatry only in a slight manner; that is, a little while. Nay, things that have been more grosly abused, in case there be no danger for the future of their being imploy'd, to Idolatry, he is content should be spar'd, and used either to Civil or Religious purposes. [Page 127]Now let any man, that can be Master of cohe­rent Thoughts but for one minute, tell me, if this be not as much as to say his Principle is not true; and that things are not to be re­jected merely upon this account, that they have been imployed in false Worship, but there must be some other reason for it. For if there be so many things, as he confesses, that may be abused; and yet may, nay some ought to be still used in God's Service, then the Abuse is not a sufficient reason for our throwing them away utterly, but there must be some other which makes it necessary. And if he had told us that reason plainly, and spent his Discourse in making it good; he had done like a man. But he saw (it's like) that this would not have done his business, for it would not for instance, have reached to the taking away of Common-Prayer; because it may be still useful, as much (sure) as his Pen, which, he tells us, must not be thrown away, if any man be so foolish as to bow down to it and worship it. (pag. 130.) And as necessa­ry I should think, as the Water-Pots in Cana of Galilee, which he confesses our Saviour used, though abused to Superstition and unlawful Puri­fications, And it is in no danger to be im­ploy'd to Idolatry, for the Papists hate it; and I hope he hath no thoughts that we ever intend to say these Prayers to Saints or Angels, any more than to bow to a Saint or Angel standing for a Sign at an Inn-keeper's door: And yet [Page 128]that is no such Profanation of the Sign in his judgment, but that the owner may let it stand, unless it become customary to bow to it.

N. C.

Well. Is not the Gentleman to be commended for his Honesty, in not concealing this from his Readers, that his Proposition or Doctrine is not to be understood univer­sally?

C.

He durst do no otherwise. For if by things abused which must be abolished, he had un­derstood all things abused, then he saw the Lord's-day would be antiquated, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper laid aside, nay, he him­self put out of his Ministry: the Christian Priests or Ministers having so much served Idols as he supposes. But since his Doctrine was to be limited, why was he not so honest as to do it at first; that so no Reader might be abused, who perhaps would not go so far as to come to his Limitations? Why did he not say, some things abused must be lay'd aside, and in some Case; for that's the sense of his Proposition? To make it plainer what I mean, I say, (mark it I pray you) by things abused, he understands only some things; and when he says they must be lay'd aside, he means in some Cases they must be lay'd aside; as ap­pears by his Exceptions afterwards. And there­fore he had done sincerely, if he had drawn up his Proposition thus, (and it had been a­greeable to his Text, 2 Kings 18.4.) Some [Page 129]things abused, &c. are in some cases to be lay'd aside. But, I conceive he saw that this would not so well serve his purpose; which was, to put people out of conceit with the Com­mon-Prayer and Ceremonies as much as ever he could. For the Doctrine would not have been so popular, nor so easie to declaim up­on. It would have put him to a great deal of pains, to specifie the things that must of ne­cessity be destroy'd, and then he must have undertaken an harder Task, to name the Cases wherein those things, that might otherwise be spared, must needs be abolish'd; and a­nother harder than that, to shew that, be­cause some particular things were abolish'd at one time, none of the like kind must ever be used. And then he must have proceeded to shew, which ought to have made the prin­cipal part of his Book, but now in a manner is taken for granted) that the Liturgy is in the number of those things that have been so abused; and that the case is so, that it can­not be tolerated, but must be destroyed by the King, as the Brazen Serpent was by Hezekiah. Which would have proved the most difficult labour of all. For supposing it had been e­ver imploy'd to Idolatry, (which can never be proved;) yet since Hezekiah, in all like­lyhood, would never have destroy'd such a Monument of God's mercies as the Brazen Ser­pent, had the people of a long time ceased [Page 130]to burn Incense to it, and been in no danger to do so again; why should we throw away the Liturgy, now that it is not abused to any Idolatrous purpose, nor in any likelihood so to be? Besides, it cannot be so abolish'd as the Brazen Serpent was, but the very same Form may be brought forth again upon occasion. And therefore any likelihood that may be fan­sied of its being used to Idolatry in future times can be of no consideration here, because it may be so used whether we lay it aside or no.

All these things considered, he very wisely waved this Method; and only tells the peo­ple in general terms that things abused in false Worship must be laid aside: Under which he knew the Liturgy and Ceremonies would be con­cluded by them, without any more adoe. For though his Instances or Proofs be all particular, and therefore he saw well enough his Propositi­on ought to have been so; yet the people he knew might not see it, but presently conclude the Liturgy must be packt away among the things abused. And though he makes limitati­ons and restrictions of this Proposition, to shew it is not Universal; yet they come a great way behind. And before there is any certainty what the abused things are, which must be laid aside; the Magistrate is told his Duty, and earnestly pressed to remove them: the people also are in­structed in theirs; who, he saith, are all con­cerned [Page 131]in one respect or other, as you may see Sect. 7. Then he spends another Section to shew the manner how it must be done; and another about the time; declaring, they must forthwith lay their hand to the work, even before they knew what they had to do, (for the time was not come to tell them that.) And then an­other follows, to give the Reasons of the Point: wherein these things are Represented as so odious and loathsom to God, that you may well think the Liturgy might be con­demned to the Flames by the Reader, before he came to consider whether it was not an ex­cepted thing; and he might be in such a flame to see execution done forthwith; as not to have patience to deliberate whether he ought to save it or no. Nor is the matter much men­ded when he comes to his Cautions: for, lest it should happen to be acquitted or reprieved, he doth not so much as bring it to a trial, much less bid his Readers take heed of passing rash judgment, without examining whether it were guilty of the aforesaid Crime or no; but fair­ly leaves it to take its chance, and to stand or fall in their opinion as it should happen. And therefore he did wisely intimate in the begin­ning of that Section, that it must be left to the Reader to compare his Cautions with what he had said; for there is not one in twenty that will take that pains, and fewer that are a­ble to do it to any purpose, without some [Page 132]assistance. In short, as far as I can judge, (for God only knows the Heart) he saw it was his best way to let his Restrictions alone till the last, and to propound his Do­ctrine in round and general words, because he knew the people would more readily swal­low it; whereas if it had been broken into parts, some of which were to be taken, and some left; they might prove more nice, when they saw there was a scrupulous difference to be made. But that we may see what force there is in his Principle to do such feats as he imagins, I pray, if you can, resolve me one thing.

N. C.

What's that?

C.

Whether a Roman Priest being truly con­verted (as far as we can judge) may not be made an English Minister.

N. C.

Yes, surely: what should hinder?

C.

I will shew you clearly that it must not be according to his way of Reasoning. He tells you (pag. 21.) that things abused in False Worship must be laid aside; Then (pag. 44.) he tells you, that under the word Things he comprehends Persons, and lastly, (pag. 49.) he affirms the Papists to be no better than Ido­laters. Now shew me how any Popish Priest, who in his language is a thing abused (so notoriously) in Superstitious and Idolatrous Worship, may ever be made use of more in the Service of God especially when you consider what a possibility there is, that he may be Serviceable [Page 133]in the false Worship again. For my part, I think, according to his Principles, that he ought not only to be laid aside, but to be kill'd.

N. C.

God forbid.

C.

Read his third Section at your leisure, and tell me what you think of it. For it's like you have such Books among you, though we see them but by chance.

N. C.

I have it not, nor know when I shall see it. Pray tell me briefly what he says.

C.

He tells you that God is so Impatient of gross and open Idolatry, and of such as are guil­ty of it, that he every where breaths forth Death against them.

N. C.

You have told me enough.

C.

Nay, since you have put me upon it, you shall have a little more. God peremptorily decrees he sayes that whosoever pleads for Idols, offers to them, or performs them any service, shall not only be look'd on as unfit to approach him, but also lose his life.

N. C.

Since you would not leave off when I would have had you, I will be even with you, and require his reason for this Assertion. Doth he bring any place of Scripture that contains so Universal a Decree, that Whosoever he is that pleads, &c.

C.

No: You know his way is to make his Pro­position Ʋniversal, and his Proofs Particular. He brings you above half a score Texts out of the [Page 134]Scripture, which speaks of the execution that was to be done upon the seven Nations of Ca­naan, or the Apostate Israelites and the Priests of Baal; and leaves you to be so kind as to suppose, (though he go not about to prove it) that God hath decreed the like against all Idolaters whatsoever. And then at last he thus concludes; How far this concerns the Papists, the knowledg of their ways and practice will inform us. That they are Idolaters the best Protestant writers affirm. And it will not relieve them to alledg that they worship the true God; for so did the Israelites when they worshipped the Calf, yet no body questions but they were guilty of Idola­try. I wonder he did not adde, from what went before, and you very well know Moses ordere [...] them to be slain.

N. C.

I must confess his Discourse ought to have ended so, if it be as you relate. And as I do not like it upon that account, so there's another thing that makes me think he is out of the way. There are many that scruple to call the place of your Assemblies a Church, and yet they would not have them pull'd down, (as they must be by these Principles) they being convenient Places to meet in for the Service of God. And for my part I would have the Ca­thedrals stand, if it were but to be an orna­ment to the Nation; though I plainly see his Engine, as you call it, will throw them all down, if we suffer it to go to work.

C.
[Page 135]

He saw this as well as you; and therein could not but discern his Principle was bad, because it prov'd more than he would have it. And therefore perceiving how it undermin'd the Foundation of all our Churches, (except some few lately built) and being loth such goodly Fabricks should tumble down, nay all the state­liest Buildings in Europe be laid in the dust; he, in great compassion quits his Principle, that he might support them. For he tells you, that those only are to be thrown down which in respect of their Situation and Figure or the like, are unfit for profitable Ʋses; and such as re­main deck'd with their Idols Attire; and stand among such people as are scandaliz'd with the use of them, and are in such places where there is danger of their return to Idolatry; which a man half blind sees is as much as to say, They are not to be laid aside because they have been imploy'd to Idolatry, but for other considera­tions. He himself confesses as much, when he saith, if they be in regard of their Situation and Figure, and the like; sit for profitables Ʋses, &c. they may lawfully be retain'd. That is, as if he had said, there is no necessity of laying them aside, because they were abused in false Wor­ship; and therefore my Principle is not true which I laid down at the beginning, that things abused in false worship must be abolished. Are you not amazed that he should be thus forced to forsake his Principle, and yet not mend it? [Page 136]Nay, as if he would demonstrate that men are carried by Humour and Prejudice when they talk of these matters, after all this, he would have Cathedrals pull'd down, as the High places were.

N. C.

Why? What difference is there?

C.

For any thing I can see there is none, but they have all the qualifications he mentioned to deserve his Favour. Neither the Situa­tion nor their Figure hinders but they may be fit for profitable Uses. I never saw any Idols attire with which they are adorn'd; nor do they stand among those who are scandaliz'd at them, unless it be such as himself, (and some other humoursome people) who first take of­fence at them without any reason, and then make this serve for a Reason why they should be pull'd down.

N. C.

No doubt he hath some Reason.

C.

If he have, he concealed it, or it must ly in their Figure and Situation rendring them unfit for profitable Uses, or in their remaining deck'd with their Idols Attire; from none of which can there be any thing alledged more against the Cothedrals than against other Churches; nor so much neither, in some re­gards. For they may be made to serve many more profitable uses than a small Church. But if his people's being offended at them, no body knows why, nor wherefore, must stand alone for a Reason; then mark unto what a fine pass [Page 137]he hath brought his business. He hath quitted his ground in this particular to no purpose, and done the Churches, he thought to save, no service at all; for he holds fast one Fancy which will not let them stand.

N. C.

What is it?

C.

I have told it you already; that if they stand among such as are scandaliz'd at them, they ought not to be retain'd. Alas poor Churches! To what purpose was all this care to keep them from Ruine? The Quakers and many other people are extremely offended at them, and could be content with a Gothish Barbarism to demo­lish them. Or if they were not, we know not when the Conceit will take men to be scan­daliz'd; and then they must be converted into Stables or Cow-houses, or what they please; or rather pull'd down, for fear they be con­verted to Churches again. And truly when I consider all things, I wonder they were not long a goe destroy'd upon this very score.

N. C.

When were they in danger: I pray you?

C.

Upon a Petition of the Assembly of Di­vines, July 19. there was an Ordinance (I re­member) of 28. Aug. 1643. requiring that all Monuments of Superstition and Idolatry should be demolish'd; which was repeated again, to make sure work, May 9. 1644. Now why Churches were not mention'd is hard to tell, for they were dedicated to the honour of some [Page 138]Saint or other at the first: and to those Saints there was then such an Abhorrence, that as they would not let their Images or Pictures stand, so, it should seem, their Coats of Arms, if they had any, were to be defaced. For thus a Proviso at the latter end runs: This Ordi­nance shall not extend to the taking down the Image, or Picture, or Coat of Arms, set up for any dead man, who was not commonly reputed a Saint. It seems they concluded, that none of the reputed Saints in their days would be thought so hereafter, (for then no Picture or Image at all should have been allow'd, for fear of being worshipped) and their words suppose, that any of those (either Image, Picture, or Coat of Arms) belonging to any ancient repu­ted Saints must not stand. The Churches there­fore that bore their Names, and were better Monuments and remembrances of them than any Coat of Arms, had good fortune they were not beaten down.

N. C.

They had so: But they were fit still for Use, and so were not Images and Pictures.

C.

Yet those in the Glass-windows were fit enough, and served still for the same use they had done before, where they had the wit to turn their Heels upward.

N. C.

It is like, some had no mind to take any notice of them, but were rather well pleased to pass them by.

C.

Perhaps so: For men can pass things by, [Page 139]or take but little notice of them, when they list; though they concern them very much: Of which we have an instance in this very Writer. For being to treat of things abused, first he tells us of Persons, then of Names, next of Times, and after that of Places which have been imploy'd to Superstitious or Idolatrous Uses. And of each of these he discourses in a secti­on by it self. Would not any man have ex­pected now to find one Section on purpose a­bout Books that have been so abused? Espe­cially since his greatest Spite is at the Litur­gy, and it is the prime thing he undertook to overthrow? And yet he thrusts this thing into a Corner, as some did their Glass-windows heretofore, not being desirous to meddle much with it, nor having much to say in this mat­ter. I mean, he crouds it in among many other things, at the end of that Section about abused Places; and there you find it under the Name of such Ʋtensils as have been devoted to Superstitious Uses, which are Altars, Images, Books, Reliques, Vessels and other Instruments that have been imployed in that manner. Now mark, I pray you, in what general terms he speaks of all these together, (for you must not expect to have them distinctly handled:) Though in themselves (saith he) they are never so innocent, rich and splendid; yet when once they have been Ser­viceable to such Wickedness, He would have them cast away, as things unfit to be retained by those [Page 140]that profess his Name. Would you look now to find any limitation of this, and to hear that things fit for God's Service may be retain'd? And yet in this very Section he allows this fa­vour to Places; and there is the same rea­son Books should enjoy it. And would you not expect a clear proof of this, that even Innocent things must be destroy'd, (and par­ticularly Books imploy'd in Idol-worship?) e­specially since he pretends to justifie his Assertion by Scripture, and saith, This appears by divers express Precepts which he gave the Israelites to this purpose?

N. C.

Yes, indeed, should I; and I suppose he produces them.

C.

Read but pag. 75. and try if you find a Syllable spoken to the Israelites about Books, or about innocent things either. I can see no­thing but what concerns their Altars, Images and Pictures. He tells you, indeed, that whole Cities in Canaan and every thing in them were to be destroy'd. But he would not take notice, at the same time, that this was only comman­ded concerning that Countrey; and that there is no proof can be made, that there were any innocent Books there imploy'd in their Idol­worship. No, we conclude rather all were Superstitious and Idolatrous in themselves, and such as could never be imployed in Divine Ser­vice. It is true, at last he comes to remem­ber us, that in the New Testament we read, [Page 141]the Christian Converts burnt their Curious Books, Act. 19.19. But what is this to the Precepts he promised to shew us given to the Israelites? And what is this to the business of Prayer-Books? Nay, why did he not shew us the Innocence of these Books, and prove that Conjuring was a very harmless Art?—

N. C.

I wish you would have done with this Book of his, which I think in one sense is innocent enough, and will do no harm a­mong considering people.

C.

I am content to make an end; for I fear I have been too tedious. But it was out of a desire to examine seriously whether there were such force as he conceives in this Engine, to batter down all the Fortifications that they who preside in the Church, or their Assistants, can erect, in defence of the abused Scandalous things (as he calls them) which with so much zeal we contend for, viz. the Liturgy and Ce­remonies. They are his words in his Epistle.

N. C.

He tells you a little after, that he will not offer to impose his belief on others. Let every body read, and then do as he finds cause.

C.

I commend his Ingenuity and Modesty, only I wish his Zeal was a little less in this matter, and that he would not think himself and others ingag'd to endeavour to the utmost of their power the Extirpation and abolishing of the Liturgy. For what is this but to impose his belief upon us, as much as he is able, in [Page 142]his place? Doth he only offer his Reasons, who solicites and perswades and intreats men to promote his Design? Doth he leave others to judge, who ingages their Affections, and stirs up their Passions, as if the Cause were alrea­dy decided according to his mind? This it is to be zealous to advance a private Opinion, He meant, it's like, as he spoke, when he told us in his Epistle, that he expected and desired [...] more but that we would candidly weigh th [...] case: but his zeal made him forget himself, and earnestly beseech us to be up and doing, as if judgment were already given on his side. This I make no doubt, was the thing that put him so much beside the Cushion, as to make him magnifie the Purity of those Doctrines, which in sober thoughts he saw were of perni­cious consequence. And I would willingly think it was nothing else that made him only pass his word, that the Liturgy is one of the things that God would have laid aside, with­out any Proof of it: For whatsoever he or the Assembly have been pleased to say, no body ever made an Idol of it, or were guilty of ado­ring it. These are but a kind of Conjuring Phrases and Magical words, which make a great Sound, and astonish the silly people, but signifie nothing, save only this, that men care not what they say to serve their cause. And therefore I hope you will not be afrighted by such Bug-bears, but come and do your Duty to [Page 143]God and man both together, in joyning with us in Common-Prayer.

N. C.

I will consider it as I have told you more than once: But I have had the less mind to come to it, because after it is done, your Minister prays so coldly him­self.

C.

That is, he doth not put himself into a Sweat. But are not his words lively, and apt to warm the Hearts of those who attend to them?

N. C.

Methinks not. And beside, his Ser­mons that follow are very dull, and nothing comparable to ours.

C.

Now you are got again to the Hole from whence I did drive you a good while agoe: you run in a Circle of discourse, and are re­turned thither where we first began. But since I have followed your motions thus far, I will ask you this question; Why do you not rather think your self dull than him?

N. C.

Because I am not dull in other places, and yet was so at your Church.

C.

You may be in the fault for all that. For perhaps you was disaffected to his Person, or to his method of handling things; or you had a greater Kindness for some other; and then, though S. Paul himself should preach, you would be apt to prefer that man before him.

N. C.

No; methinks his matter is dull and flat.

C.
[Page 144]

Why, what did you hear him treat of?

N. C.

I heard him preach about the neces­sity of Obedience to the Laws of Christ. And there he told us how we must do as we would be done unto, and love our Neighbours as our selves, and forgive Injuries, and make Resti­tution of ill-gotten Goods; with a great many other such like things, which every body knows already. And yet he spent I know not well how many Sermons about these common matters.

C.

Does every body know these things, say you? The greater shame then that they live not according to them. I am afraid they are not sensible of the necessity of these things, about which a man of any understanding and seriousness cannot well speak, and be flat and dull. I much suspect that you even set your self to sleep, or suffered your thoughts to run to other matter, or fell a reading in your Bi­ble, (as I have seen some do) when he begun to treat of such Arguments as these, thinking that you was little concern'd in them.

N. C.

I must confess part of what you say. For when I come to Church, I look not for Mo­ral, but Christian Doctrines.

C.

How now? Do you oppose Morality and Christianity? Is not the former a part of the latter? I mean; doth not the Christian Reli­gion teach us the highest Morality?

N. C.
[Page 145]

No I think it doth not meddle with it.

C.

Then you talk of this as you do of many other things, without understanding. Pray what is Moral Doctrine?

N. C.

Do you tell me, if you please.

C.

I always took it to be that Doctrine which teaches us how to regulate our manners, that is, to order and govern our actions, or our whole Behaviour in this World. Now I ap­peal to any man that reads the Gospel, whether this be not the very design of it, to teach us to live soberly, righteously, and godlily.

N. C.

Is this morality?

C.

Yes, that it is. And therefore I said that Christian Religion advances Morality to the greatest height; because it gives us the best and most excellent Motives to live soberly, righteously, charitably, and piously in this World.

N. C.

For all this, I think it were better if Jesus Christ were more preached.

C.

Still I see you deceive your self, and trouble the world with Phrases. Doth not he preach Jesus Christ that preaches his Doctrine? If you doubt of it, you shall have Scripture enough to prove it.

N. C.

But I mean that the Love of Jesus Christ to poor Souls should be more preach­ed.

C.

I cannot say it should be more preached; [Page 146]but it ought to be preached, and so it is; and perhaps better; than you would have it. For his Love is declared, to the end we may love him and keep his Commandments. This is that which the Grace of God teaches us, to live so­berly, &c. The Loving-Kindness of God to­wards mankind, in Christ Jesus was expressed for this very purpose. And therefore he that preaches both these together is the best and wisest Guide with whom to entrust our Souls; and that is the design of our Minister. He doth not tickle us merely with a soft Story of the great love of Jesus Christ towards Sinners; But labours to beget in us an ardent love to him. And lest we should run away with a pleasant Fansie, he makes us understand where­in this love consists, Viz. in Obedience to him to the very death; in Meekness, Humility, Pa­tience, taking up the Cross, and such like Gra­ces; which seem to be rough things, and have no amiableness in the eye of the World, but are as dear to all those who love our Saviour, as their very Lives. And this makes me think him the most sincere and honest, that he doth not seek so much to please us in his Preaching, as to profit us.

N. C.

Profit, Do you call it? I could never profit by him at all.

C.

Whose fault was that? Yours, or his? You are loth to suspect your self, and inclin'd to lay all the load on others. I believe it will be [Page 147]found at the great Day that he hath done his duty better than you.

N. C.

That's a thing, which neither you nor I know. But this I am sure of, that I can profit more by others, than by him.

C.

Let me try the truth of that, if you please, for I very much doubt of it.

N. C.

I am sure of it.

C.

If you profit so much, then your Mini­sters make you wiser and better than you were before: For there are but these two things that argue Proficiency. Now do as much as an­swer me the first. Wherein are you wi­ser than you were? What one thing do you know, that you did not understand before, or might have understood easily, when you pleased? What things do you now under­stand the Reason of better than formerly? Or what account can you give me of the grounds of Christian Faith, and of the Hope that is in you? What Rules of Prudence have you met withal? What explication of Scri­pture? I was going to ask what Point in Divi­nity you are able to state with Judgement and due Caution? But that's too hard a Questi­on.

N. C.

I am not able presently to call things to mind. But this I am sure of, that I get more good by them, than any men that ever I heard.

C.

That is, you are grown better: where­in [Page 148]I beseech you? Are your carnal Affections more mortified? Are your Passions more sub­dued to Reason? Are you more humble and lowly in heart? More meek, more merciful, more compassionate to all men, more affable, more courteous? I am afraid in this last Point you are grown better, as sowr Ale doth in Summer; that is more sharp and eager.

N. C.

Me-thinks I have much more Com­fort.

C.

That's strange, when you are neither wiser nor better, as far as I can discern. One would think you should suspect them to be foolish and deceitful Comforts, because they have so little ground, except it be in your Imagination.

N. C.

VVhy? would you have me fetch my Comforts from my self, and not from Jesus Christ?

C.

Now I see indeed how wise you are grown by this profound Question.

N.C.

Must not all our Comfort be fetch'd from Jesus Christ?

C.

Yes: But every body cannot fetch it. They are the weary and heavy laden, and such as take upon them his Yoke and Burthen, i. e. submit to his Commands, whom he in­vites and promises ease and Refreshment un­to. By which you may see, if you will that we must feel something that is good in our selves, (and more than good Desires, and [Page 149]Affections and Purposes) before we can feel that solid Comfort and Satisfaction you speak of.

N. C.

Then it seems we must fetch our comfort from our own selves.

C.

No. But it seems you are grown so wise, and taken up in such high Notions, that you cannot understand common Sense. Is there any other Comfort you dare give to an ungodly man besides this, that he may by the Grace of our Lord be made better, and so received into his Favour?

N. C.

I think not.

C.

Then before you can take that full Comfort in him which you talk of, you must feel that you are truly changed and converted to a love of Godliness, and a Life according to those good Affections. All the good, in­deed, that is in us, and all that we hope for, we derive from our Saviour Christ: but till we become good, and be made like him, we do but put our selves into a Fool's Paradise, if we fansie that we are in his Favour, and that he will carry us to Heaven. And on the contrary, when we are once made partakers of his blessed Nature and Spirit, how can we choose but be full of Joy, both in that Resemblance we find in our selves to him, and much more in the hopes he hath given us, that he will perfect those Beginings in eternal Life? But it is as plain, that though we cannot but rejoyce very [Page 150]much in that which we feel in our selves, (the Likeness of Christ and good Hopes) yet the Original of this Joy & Satisfaction is not from our selves, but him, who gave us that Partici­pation of his nature and those good Hopes.

N. C.

I do not well understand you. But this I know, that you all talk as if we were to bring something to Christ, and not to take all from him.

C.

Rather to talk thus is to be very ridicu­lous. For he invites us to come to him, i.e. to believe on him, and become his Disci­ples and Followers. And this we must do, or else be disown'd by him; though when we do it, we only obey his heavenly Call, and bring him nothing, but only all our Desires and Affections to be govern'd by him. Is there any body so absurd, as to imagine we must not give up our selves to be led and guided by him in his ways? and when we are in them, does any body think we came there without his Motion and gracious attracti­on? Would you have us without any more a do conclude, that all the promised blessings are our portion? or must we not first be per­swaded our Saviour tells us the truth of God, and then purpose to learn of him and obey him, and next set our selves with all our might to subdue every Thought and Passion to his o­bedience, and last of all, order all our actions (by the assistance of the same Grace where­by [Page 151]we do the rest) according to the Rule of his Laws? And must we not have a sense that we are sincere in all this, before we can reaso­nably expect that he should give us all the good things he promises? In short, must he not give us his Grace to will and to do, and must we not receive it, and effectually do there­by all that I have said, before we conclude our Sins are pardoned, and take the confidence to hope our Saviour will give us eternal Life?

N. C.

I perceive you pretend to have pro­fited very much by your Minister.

C.

Yes indeed; I think, I am grown wiser a great deal and much better.

N. C.

I wish you would tell me briefly wherein.

C.

I know God and his Attributes better, and perceive how all Religion depends on that Knowledge: I think also, I understand the na­ture of Religion in General, and of Christia­nity in particular more exactly, than I did. I know wherein Religion consists; with the grounds of Faith, and the Reason why I am a Christian rather, than of any other Professi­on. And withal, I hope I understand many places of Holy Scripture, and am able to give a clearer & soberer account of them than here­tofore; whenas I ingeniously confess, I was wont to expound the Word of God by fansie, and not by serious & attentive Considerations. And as for growth in goodness, I may truly [Page 152]say, I have learnt many things to be my Duty, which I scarce ever heard you speak of. As for example, to bridle my Tongue; especially when I speak of my Superiors; to reverence my Governors; to live in obedience to Laws, though they happen to hinder my private pro­fit; & for that end to look upon humane Laws, as binding the Conscience; to answer my Betters with great Modesty and Humility: in particu­lar, not to contend boldly and malepertly with the Priest, as if I were upon equal ground with him; not to be a Busy-body, & a Gadder from house to house; not to pry into every bodie's Secrets: not to rejoyce in iniquity, or take a pleasure in hearing of the Sins of the contrary party; to be very fearful of making a Schism in the Church; and to name no more, to take heed of itching Ears, and not to run from my own Church, out of a fansie that I can profit more in other places.

N. C.

Well, talk as long as you please, all the Godly will follow those men whom you would perswade me to forsake.

C.

I am heartily sorry to see your Arrogance and Uncharitableness. But it gives me to un­derstand how much you profit by your Mini­sters; not in the Graces of Christ, but in the peculiar unheard of Vertues of your Sect, Pride, Boasting, Good opinion of your selves, Contempt of others, and rash judging even of mens Spiritual estates.

N. C.
[Page 153]

I think you judge rashly of me.

C.

No such matter. Your Censoriousness & Rashness is apparent; and I do not commit the same fault, when I take notice of it. And I must let you know, that you commit another like this, when you make an Out-cry through the Nation and tell the people that all Ʋngod­liness hath over-flown it, only since Bishops and Common-Prayer came home again. Which is an arrant Lie; as will be made good, if need be, against the best of you. For it began to break in upon us when the Bishops & all good Order was thrown down, and the Kingdom put into Arms. Then men ran into excess of Riot, when their was no Restraint upon them. I will not say into so much Drunkenness, but into Whoring (I may add Atheism and Irreli­gion) and such like Wickedness, which are said now to be the reigning sins. And though men were not presently openly lascivious and profane (for the older Wickedness grows, the bolder it is;) yet then they got loose from their Chains, and these works of Darkness secretly lurk'd, and were privately practised.

N. C.

I do not believe you.

C.

You will believe the Assembly, I am sure, and they say so.

N. C.

Where?

C.

In their Petition to the Parliament of Ju­ly 19. 1644. where they desire (in the seventh Branch of it) that some severe Course may be [Page 154]taken against Fornication, Adultery, and Incest; which do greatly abound, say they, ESPE­CIALLY OF LATE, BY REASON OF IMPUNITY.

N. C.

I am not concern'd about this. But I affirm the Generality of the Godly people now follow us.

C.

Suppose they did; you will not allow it a good Argument in other cases to say that al the Godly for many Ages did such and such things, for instance, use a Form of Prayer, and such Ceremonies as ours; and therefore, why do you keep such a stir with it now? but where did you get a List of all the Godly, that you can tell so exactly the major part follow you? Were they ever brought to the Poll? And who were Judges, I pray you, in the Case? You do but still persist in your over-fond Love to your selves, and your own Party and way, whe [...] you talk in this manner: For there are many ways to shew, that they are far from being the Generality of the Godly that flock to you [...] Meetings.

N. C.

Then you allow that some Godly people follow us.

C.

Did I ever dispute it? Nay, does there any body doubt (except your selves and the Papists) but that there may be Godly people of every Sort and Party? But then it is an im­perfect sort of Godliness which we acknowledg in them; and we hope God will bear with their [Page 155]Defects, when they are sincerely humble and modest, and do not fansie themselves the only or the most godly people in the World. And if you will have me speak my mind plainly, and not be angry; I think I may say without any rashness, that your godly people are ge­nerally of the lowest Form in Christ's School, as I told you before. A great deal of their Re­ligion is of their own making, (as I lately shew'd you) and they want a great deal of God's Religion.

N. C.

You are very envious.

C.

No truly. I admire the Grace of God wheresoever I see it, for it is the most lovely sight that can present it self to me. But I can­not allow them to be such excellent Christians as you imagine: they rather appear to me with many Deformities. For they are ever wrang­ling about little Ceremonies. They break the Peace of the Church by this means, and seem to make no scruple about it. They are fro­ward and peevish, greedy of Riches, stubborn in their Opinions, and by no means can bear with any man differing from them in matters of Doctrine. In short, I see a strang Ignorance mixt with Presumption & Wilfulness, not without a high degree of Superstition, in those whom you admire for godliness. But then there is a sort of people who injoy that name among you, in whom I can see nothing but an humour of Despising and Railing at all ancient received Customs, [Page 156]how good soever; Together with a sullen De­votion, and such a turbulent nature, as will give no rest to themselves or others. And they have one peculiar Quality, proper to themselvs alone; which is to revile our Ministers even as they go along the streets: a thing which I could never observe our ungodly people to be guilty of towards your Ministers, who may pass peaceably enough: nay, I think is not com­mitted in any Country in the World, where they are of different Religions. Perhaps you will say, that ours would do it, did not the power of the Lord over-awe them and shut up their Mouths, that they may not reproach his faithful Servants. But this is only a cast of your skill in searching the Hearts of men, and gives us a taste of the opinion you have of your dear­ness to God.

N.C.

I doubt not but they are very dear to God; and that God will reprove even Kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my Prophets no harm.

C.

You have a strong Faith. But methinks before you suffer it to grow to such a Confi­dence, you should soberly consider whether some of those precious ones may not be anoin­ted—; that make godliness a pretence for their Disobedience to Kings, and Sauciness towards their betters; that flatter you into a conceit of your godliness, that you may flatter them with the title of the Prophets of the [Page 157]Lord, To me it is no mean argument of their want of Integrity, that they teach you no better, and connive at all this Wickedness, and never (that I could hear of) lay bare, and rebuke these Sins that reign so much among your Party. Tell me whence came all the scurrilous Pamphlets that are abroad? Out of what Shop do the venomous Libels fly about the Town? Who are they that not only despise our Clergy, but put open affronts on them as they quietly and soberly walk the Streets? That have the Poison of Asps under their Lips, and spit it in good mens faces? That in a fear­ful manner, scorn and revile their Holy Calling, and salute them every where with the ordinary name of Baal's Priests? Are they not all bred up in your Churches? Do they not all frequent your Meetings? And do not by-stan­ders of your Perswasion laugh and rejoyce when they see this Contempt poured on them? Do they not seem to encourage those by their Applauses, who are so rude and in­solent in their behaviour toward good men? And yet these stile themselves the godly, and take it ill if we do not think them so. These you are content to wink at, that your Con­gregations may be full. Your Ministers dare not preach down these Abuses; lest they should be thought to be friends to Baal.

N.C.
[Page 158]

There will be some bad people every where.

C.

I am glad to hear you say so. By and by you will confess that there may be also goo [...] people every where, and that some of our Mi­nisters may be good; though your Revilers make no difference, but if they see a man in a Cassock, presently throw dirt in his face, and call him a Limb of Anti-Christ, or some such thing. So bruitish and outragious are the Pas­sions of this Heady people. So wonderfully do they profit in your School in those new Ver­tues of Hatred to ancient Customs and Habits, though never so innocent, and Hatred or An­ger to all that are not of their Way. For such is the Fire, I have sometimes seen in their Eyes, when they meet one of our Ministers, that one would think they had a mind to burn them up. And I make no doubt they would call up­on your Prophets, if they were but like Eli­jah, to call for Fire down from Heaven to consume us. You may condemn their Folly per­haps; but whatsoever you are pleased to say, they are the most Zealous of your Party, and think themselves the most godly. And for any thing I can hear, they may think so still. It not being the manner of your Preaching, to meddle with such things as these; nor the time, I doubt, to be named when you heard a Sermon to reprove the scurrilous and railing language of some among you against the Eng­lish [Page 159]Clergy. No, the way hath been, and I doubt still continues, to declaim only against Superstition, and Formality, and Will-worship, and sometimes against Morality; and then to exhort the people to prize Ordinances, and seek after pure Ordinances, and admit of no humane Mixtures. But whilest the poor people are thus afrighted, and made exceeding timorous lest they should be righteous over-much, by fol­lowing vain Traditions of men; they have little or no fear wrought in them of being wicked over-much, by Schism, and Disobedience, and letting loose their furious Passions and un­ruly Tongues; by reviling God's Ministers, nay, by despising Governments, and speaking evil of Dignities.

N.C.

I think they should be taught to fear these things more than they do.

C.

I, and they should be taught not to think themselves godly too soon. Whereas the man­ner hath been quite contrary, to breed in them an opinion of their Piety, if they be but a praying people, and follow Ordinances, and frequent private meetings. And when they are taught on such easie terms to call themselves gracious and godly, then your Ministers make this an Argument against us, that all or most of the Godly are on their side. And now it comes into my mind, that this was the Pre­tence wherewith they countenanced the late Rebellion, as now I suppose, you will give [Page 160]us leave to call it. But to let you see how idle and frivolous such Arguments were, and that they might serve any bodies purpose; it was not long before you were numbred among the ungodly: For the Army learnt to call themselvs the only godly party, and in a manner excluded you. Though I believe You would have lik'd it well enough, if a Painter had drawn a man with his Eyes lifted up to Heaven and one hand on his Breast, with the other Hand in his Neighbors purse, or cutting of his Throat; and writ over it this Inscription, An Army-Saint. I mean, you thought them an un­godly & untoward generation. But whatsoever you thought, the Argument was as plausible & succesful for them as it had been & is for you: for the people were strangely drawn away by it. This cut off the King's Head; that it was for the safety of the godly. This was in a fair way to keep our present Soveraign from returning to us; that those that feared the Lord were against it, and would be undone by it. And I find that to this day this pretence of godliness hath left an impression on some peoples minds, and excuses all those impieties. For not long since I heard one commending them for a very gracious people: and when it was soberly objected, that they were unjust, & even Cruel, and False, and Turbulent, and Dis­obedient to their own Governors, and Trou­blers of the Nation; it was answered, that not­withstanding [Page 161]all these things, there was more Grace among them than there is to be found now-adays. Meaning, I suppose, by their Grace, that they were a praying people, and much in seeking God. As if S. Paul did not understand himself when he told us, that the Grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and all Worldly Lusts; and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the World. And to deal Freely with you; I am much afraid there are many of this kind of Godly people whom you associate your selves withal, I am sure, some of those who were Patrons to their wickedness, and allow­ed, if not justified, the killing of the KING, and were Army-Chaplains; and now private Preachers, and not a little adored.

N.C.

Well, no more of this. For I am sa­tisfied we are not the only Godly. But yet I am still inclined to think there is more of the Power of Godliness to be found among us, than any where else.

C.

I alwayes thought the Power of Godliness did not consist in words, but in a great deal of Humility, and a great measure of Charity; to­gether with exact Justice and Meekness, and Peaceableness, and purity of Heart. Now, me-thinks, there is not such store of this among you as one would expect; at least, not more than we see in other people.

N.C.

Do you call this the Power of Godli­ness?

C.
[Page 162]

Yes; and so doth the Apostle, as will ap­pear, if you think good that we consider seri­ously together the Character he gives of those that deny the Power of Godliness, and content themselves only with the shew or Image of it, which he calls the Form of Godliness.

N.C.

With all my heart. For that will be a better way of spending our time, and edify­ing one another, than the continuing Dispute will be.

C.

You say very well, and I love you for that sense of Piety which you discover. Let's take the Book then, and read what S. Paul teaches us in 2 Tim. 3.2, 3.4, &c. concerning them that want the Power, and have only the Form of Godliness. First, he tells us, they are lovers of themselves, i. e. as I understand it, study above all things, their own Profit, Credit, Honour, and Pleasure. From which (as the Root of wickedness) they grow to be Covetous, or Lovers of Money; and then Boasters, that is, people who magnifie them­selves, arrogating to themselves more, than is their due, and bragging they can do that, which they are not able to perform. From whence it follows that they are Proud, that is, Con­temners and Despisers of others; who perhaps are better, than themselves: Blasphemers, i.e. of Magistrates & Dignities, (upon a pretence, perhaps, that they have nothing of God in them, or are Antichristian: Disobedient to [Page 163]their Natural Parents, (as some now are, be­cause they say, they are unsanctified and unre­generate people:) Ʋnthankful to their Bene­factors: Ʋnholy and impure Wretches, or, as some have expounded it to me, such as make no difference between things Sacred and Pro­fane: without Natural Affection, viz. to their Children or Kindred, as well as Parents: Truce-breakers, or perfidious people, whom no Bond or Tie can hold to their Promises or Duty: False-accusers, or such as calumniate, and tell false and devised Stories, to the pre­judice of those whom they do not love, or set themselves to oppose: Incontinent, which I have been told, signifies such as have no Power over themselves and their Passions, and as are inconsistent with themselves: Fierce, that is, Blou­dy-minded men, and such whom no Kindness, no Benefits can reconcile to Society, Friendship or Modesty, Despisers of those who are good, (i. e. that have no Kindness for men who are solidly Good,) or, as our Translation seems to take it, such as contemn true Vertue, as a mean thing: Traitors, that is, such as will betray their best Friends and Companions, for to serve their own Interest: Hea [...]y, that is, rash, inconsiderate, impudent and bold peo­ple; ready for any bad Design: High-mind­ed, or men puft up and swoln with an Opini­on of themselves, of their own Knowledg, suppose, or Piety: Lovers of Pleasure more [Page 164]than lovers of God, or such as pretend to God, only to have a better opportunity to satisfie their desires of pleasure. And in conclusion, he tells us that they were of this number who in those days crept into folks houses, and insinuat­ed themselves into the Favour of silly Women; having a design either upon their Wealth, or their Chastity. And Women they were for their turn; being led away with divers Lusts, ever learning, and never coming to the know­ledge of the truth; that is, always frequenting Christian Assemblies, but getting no good by them: or else opening their Ears to every Wind of Doctrin, desiring still to hear some new thing, running from place to place where any novel Teachers were: but remaining just as wise as they were before, and not a whit the better for all the Sermons they heard.

N.C.

Me thinks you have made me a short Sermon; at least I have heard the Doctrinal part of it: would you would come to the Use and tell me what you gather from hence.

C.

I gather two things, and leave you to ga­ther the rest.

N.C.

What are they?

C.

First, that all this Wickedness which I have described from the Apostle will consist with a Form or shew of Godliness. For that's a part of the character of these very men, vers. 5. Having a Form of Godliness, &c. Secondly, I collect from hence, that, those men have the [Page 165] Power of godliness who are of a disposition quite opposite to them now named: Such, I mean, as deny themselvs for God's and their Neighbor's sake; that set not their hearts upon getting Rich­es; that are humble and modest; that reverence their Governors, and study in word and deed to preserve their Authority; that honour their Pa­rents, though not of their Opinion, or perhaps ungodly; that are sensible of Benefits, and grate­ful to their Benefactors; that study Purity and Chastity; that are kind and tenderly-affected to their Relations; that keep their Faith, and perform their Promises, though to their own damage; that are easily reconciled, if they have been grosly inju­red; that speak well if they can, of their Neigh­bours, and are not ready to believe every Story of them; that endeavor to preserve an even Temper; that command their passions, are steady and uni­form in their Actions; that are meek and submis­sive; peaceable and sociable; that love Vertue wheresoever they see it, and do not despise or re­proach it under the name of meer Morality; that are faithful to their Trust; sober, advised and considerate in their Ʋndertakings; that have no high Opinion of themselves, and love God above all things; that choose rather to keep at home, and mind their own Concerns, than to be prying into the Secrets of their Neighbors Houses; that have no other Design upon any, either Man or Woman, than to make them good; and further their increase in true Wisdom. These, and such [Page 166]like men in whatsoever place you find them, undoubtedly have the Power of Godliness, though they should not talk of it so much, as others?

N. C.

I see you are able to preach, if you list.

C.

If I should think so, I should run into the company of those proud and high-minded men, whom I now spake of. I can only repeat a good Sermon to you, which I have heard.

N. C.

You would have me preach, or at least make a piece of a Sermon; for you told me you would leave me to gather the rest from your discourse.

C.

It's profitable to Preach to your self such things as you read and hear, and to press upon your Heart such Truths, as you cannot but ob­serve plainly follow from them, though they were not named.

N. C.

And what do you think I should ga­ther from what I have heard you say?

C.

I told you it would be best to leave you to consider what farther Use is to be made of this Character. But if you would have me direct you; then you may be pleased to consider, when you are alone by your self, whether any part of it belong to those, whom you call Godly or to those whom we esteem so: or, which is all one, you may consider whether those oppo­site Qualities, wherein I told you the Power of godliness consists, be to be found most among your, or our Godly. Always carrying this in your mind, that we do not call all them Godly [Page 167]who are of our Party, as you are wont to do. Our Ministers, I assure you, will not allow them to enjoy this name, who are Lovers of themselves, Covetous, Boasters, Proud, False, Fierce, Heady, &c. But whether many such do not pass with you for Godly men, and cry out against the Form of Godliness, while they have little else, I leave you to judg.

N. C.

Truly, I thought once that the Power of Godliness had consisted in keeping the Sab­bath, in repeating Sermons, having a Gift of Prayer, and using it in our Families, treasuring up and communicating Experiences, and meet­ing together to exercise our Gifts. And, now it comes into my mind on a sudden, this is a thing which hath made me fear you want at least a great deal of the power of Godliness, that you never keep a Day together.

C.

Strange! I thought on the Contrary, that this had been one of our Accusations; our keeping too many days.

N. C.

Really, I never heard that any of you kept one.

C.

What did you never hear, that we have a Holy-day at lest once a Moneth, and some­times more, which we always observe?

N. C.

Pish! I perceive you understand not my Language. I mean, that we keep a private Day together, which we set apart for Prayer, and humbling our selves before God, and hearing the Word.

C.
[Page 168]

Alas! How should I guess at your mean­ing! when as I thought you would have kept no Days but that of God's appointing.

N. C.

Yes, we can keep other Days, and think we ought, at least that there is much Re­ligion in it.

C.

Why then will you not keep those which your Governors appoint? Have you power to appoint Days, and not they? I am sorry to see your partiality, and that you are so full of Humour, as not to do things when you are bidden, and yet to do the same when you are not bidden, nay, when you are forbidden.

N. C.

O, but we do not keep days, as you do.

C.

What's that to the Purpose? Seeing what we do is good, why should you not joyn with us in it? You pray, and so do we: You read the Scriptures and so do we: you give thanks to God, and that's part of our Business. Only we do it in publick, and you in private; we when our Governors would have us, and you when it pleases your selves.

N. C.

We not only pray, but hear a Sermon also, when we keep our Days.

C.

So you may at some of our Churches, if you please, every Holy-day. But what a foolish Conceit is this, to think that this makes a Day not to be well observed, if we want a Sermon? This is a piece of the Superstition I told you of. For was it not always the chief Design of those Days we observe, to acknowledg God, to [Page 169]praise him in all his wonderful Works, to me­ditate on his admirable mercy in sending his Son, in giving him to dy for us, in raising him from the dead, in sending the Holy Ghost, and after that the blessed Apostles to preach the Gospel? And is not this sufficient work for one Day? Or cannot we meditate upon the holy Scriptures the read, or on the Sermon we heard the Lord's Day before; but we must needs have a new Sermon, or else think God is not glorified, nor well pleased? I am amazed at the gross Absurdity of such Fancies.

N. C.

You may be so; but we shall never leave them, nor come to Church, till you have more than Common prayer on those Days.

C.

I cannot understand any Reason for that Re­solution. For if you be not satisfied with our Ser­vice, but yet must needs have something else; why do you not come to the publick Prayers & Praises first and then make up their Defects (as you conceive) in your private Meetings? Or why do you not seek and endeavour that these dayes may be kept more Religiously, seeing publick Praising God is far better than private, and doth him more honour in the World? For my part, I verily think (and I speak it sincerely) that if you would come to Church, and there joyn in the publick Service of God, and then go home, and spend some other part of the Day in Catechising your Children, instructing your Ser­vants, teaching them among other matters, how [Page 170]to use the Liberty You then allow them dis­creetly and soberly, and in visiting, inviting or relieving your poor Neighbours; it would be a thing far more acceptable to God, and more for the honour of Christian Religion, and the good of Souls, than a whole day of Prayer and hearing Sermons.

N. C.

I am not yet of that mind.

C.

Why? look over all the Families you know, and see if many of them be not misera­bly neglected, whilst their Masters and Mi­stresses are keeping Dayes, as you call it. And then tell me, whether they spend their time to so much Profit and true Comfort as I would have them.

N. C.

I think some may be too negli­gent.

C.

Why do not your Ministers chide them, and exhort the good Women to keep more at home, & not, under a notion of Religion, neglect their necessary Duties? It were easy to tell you of some who are the worst Wives, and Mothers, and Mi­stresses, in the Parish, meerly upon this account, that most of their time hath been taken up in gadding about to those private Exercises. Some­times you are mightily offended at our Holy­days upon this account, that they take up too much of mens times from their Business; & yet you can be content to see a Day set a-part every Week, if not oftner, by your selves, to the great Dammage of many Families. And so, [Page 171]when the Fit is upon you, we are told that Ma­gistrates ought not to bind the people to ob­serve Days, which is to make that necessary which God hath left free: But yet notwithstan­ding you your selves stick not to lay such a ne­cessity upon men of observing Dayes, now and then, as if there were a Divine Commandment for it; for you think they have no Religion, or want the Power of it, that do not. And what a stir do you keep to have Lectures on the Week-days; as if we were dead, and had but a Name to live, unless we hear a Sermon or two, then? whereas very good Christians, perhaps, have no more time to spare from their honest Imployments, than they ought to be­stow in private Prayer and Meditation; digest­ing of what they heard the Sunday before; searching seriously into their Consciences, and constant Examination of their Lives and Acti­ons; in conferring with their Ministers about their Doubts, or those Indispositions, or, per­haps, ill Inclinations, which they find in their Souls; in Comforting the poor and the sick; in Endeavouring to reconcile Differences a­mong Neighbors; in consulting how to advance the publick Good either of the City or Town where they live, and discharging the publick Office well, to which they may be called. If af­ter all this done, they can find any leisure to hear a Sermon, who is there that forbids it? We are only afraid, lest whilst the necessi­ty [Page 172]of that is so much urged, things more neces­sary should be neglected.

N. C.

You say a great many notable things; but yet to me you seem a man of a slight Spirit, which you betray when you speak of these weighty matters.

C.

If you mean that I slight many of those things which you think matters of great weight and moment; I cannot contradict you. But why you should thence conclude, I have a slight Spirit, I see no cause: For therefore I slight them, because I have throughly consider'd and examin'd them, and find there is nothing but Fansie or Superstition at the bottom of them. Mistake me not; your honest Affections I do not slight, but the things to which you are so affected. As for instance, you abound in insig­nificant Phrases, and Scripture-Expressions mis­applied: You have a great many Superstitious Conceits & Opinions, and oftimes alledg your Experiences very absurdly—

N. C.

Nay, now you discover your self. Doth not this argue a profane Spirit, to slight Experi­ences, when the Apostle mentions Christian Experience as a part of our Rejoycing and Glory? Rom. 5.4.

C.

I do not slight his Experiences, but yours; and not all of yours neither. For if by your Experience you meant, that you had made a proof of your Constancy and Faithfulness to Christ, by patient enduring of any Affliction for [Page 173]Righteousness sake; and made a Trial also of his Faithfulness, in performing his promises of giving us Strength, Support, and Comfort, (which I conceive is the Apostle's meaning:) I should accuse my self of great Profaneness should I slight it. But when you will needs give me this word for a proof of a thing of which I know you have no Experience, and perhaps can have none; and when you alledg your Experi­ence in a matter of Reason, and in effect say no more than this, I pray believe me: you must not take it ill, if I make light of it. As for example, when you will tell us, you find by Experience that you are in the right way; it is a thing that may be entertain'd with a smile. It is in truth no better than to say, you may take my word for it. For whether you be in the right or no, is not to be known by Experience, but by Reason. In like manner, if you tell me you find by Experi­ence your Minister is a good man because he doth you good; it is a frivolous Argument, and I may be allow'd to slight it; for it cannot be known by your Experience, what he is. You can only know by your Experience, that you are made better; but he may be bad enough not­withstanding. As the Quakers were reform'd of Cheating and Cousenage in some places by those, who there is great reason to suspect, were cheating knaves themselves.

N. C.

But I may know by Experience whether the things he preaches be true or no.

C.
[Page 174]

It will deceive you, if you rely upon that Proof. For you may have some good done you by false Principles. Nay, those very Principles may make you do some things well, which shall make you do other things ill.

N. C.

That's strange.

C.

Not so strange, as true. For what Prin­ciple was it that led the Quakers to be just in their dealing?

N. C.

That they ought to follow the Light within them.

C.

This led them also to be rude and clown­ish, and disrespectful to Governors. For all is not Reason, that is in us: there is a world of Fansie also: and the Flashes of this now and then are very sudden and amazing; just like Light­ning out of a Cloud. By this they find they were mis-led in many things, which they have now forsaken; being content to wear Hat­bands and Ribbons too, which they so much at the first abominated.

N. C.

I take them to be a deluded people.

C.

And yet they are led, they will tell you, by Experience. For they found themselvs amend­ed by entring into that Religion, whereas they cheated and cousened in all other Forms wher­in they were before. And therefore do not tell me any more of the good you have got by your private meetings, nor make it an argument of their Lawfulness. For the same Argument will be used against your selvs by the Quakers; who [Page 175]will tell you, God is in no private Meetings but only theirs, for otherwhere they could never find him. Take your choice: and either let it alone your selves, or else allow it them. It will either serve both, or neither.

N. C.

But I have seen you smile, if one bring his Experience to prove the truth of Christian Religion.

C.

Yes, and very deservedly: Because the Ground upon which we believe it to be true, cannot be known by Experience; nor is your Experience of any thing in it a Ground for any other man to believe it. You cannot know, for instance, by your Experience, that our Saviour was born of a Virgin, that the Holy Ghost came upon him at his Baptism with a Voice from Heaven, saying, This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. You cannot know by that means that he dyed, that he rose the third day, that he went to Heaven forty dayes after, and after ten dayes more gave the Holy Ghost; and that S. Paul was struck blind with the Glory of our Saviour, whom [...] saw and heard, and was sent by him to preach the Gos­pel.

N. C.

Yes, I feel that he and the rest of the Apostles speak the very truth.

C.

They say all these things; and do you know them by your feeling? The Apostles in­deed, felt, or saw, or heard them; but we can­not do so, nor know them by any other means than their Testimony.

N. C.
[Page 176]

I feel that their Testimony is true.

C.

What? Do you feel that they say true, for instance, when they tell you that our Savi­our turn'd Water into Wine, and that he raised Lazarus from the dead?

N. C.

No, I know these things other­ways.

C.

Then you must know the rest by the same means that you know these, viz. by believing Eye-witnesses of these things, who you find are persons worthy to be credited.

N. C.

But I feel the Commands of Christ are exceeding good, and agreeable to humane Nature, which the Apostles have delivered to us.

C.

That is, you find it good to live soberly, and peaceably; to be charitable to others, and to take up your own Cross with Contented­ness and Patience—

N. C.

Yes.

C.

But may not these things be felt by Hea­thens as well as you? And may not they by Experience commend the practice of these Vertues to us?

N. C.

I think they have done it.

C.

Then this Experience of the goodness of Christ's Commands is no proof of our Creed, by which we are distinguished from Heathens. No, nor will your Experience prove to any man that Christ's Commands are excellent, any farther than he believes that you say true, [Page 177]when you tell him what trial you have made of the best kind of Life, and that you are a person fit to judge of the Difference of things.

N. C.

Methinks I feel that Jesus Christ is in the Heavens, and in great Power and Glory there.

C.

Whatsoever you feel in this matter, it is the Effect of your belief, not the Cause of it. I mean, you first believe, that he is in Glo­ry; before you can feel any good hopes in your Soul of immortal Life. And you believe his being in Glory upon good Reasons; else you do not know but entertain your self with a pleasant Dream, both of his Glo­ry and yours. And lastly, whatever you feel it is no proof of the truth of the thing, but only of the truth of your Belief. It is to be proved otherwise that Christ reigns gloriously in the Heavens, and is able to bring us into his everlasting Kingdom: only your being so mightily affected with it, proves that indeed you believe it. But you had best look you have good Reasons for your Faith. For all the Seve­rities of the Religious men among the Turks, prove likewise that they believe strongly in Mahomet: though I hope, if they quote their Experiences never so much, you will not be a Disciple to their Prophet, and hope he will take you by the hair of the head, and pull you up to Heaven.

N. C.
[Page 178]

I find that you are able to talk more rationally than I can in these matters. But yet I find likewise, there is another kind of Spirit in our people than in yours. For they delight more in Heavenly Discourse, and are al­wayes talking of Religion when they are toge­ther: which argues they are not of so slight a Spirit as others, who love to discourse of unprofitable things.

C.

Do you and I talk frothily, (as your phrase is) and spend our time in unprofitable Chat? Is this Discourse earthly, and not at all pertain­ing to Religion? And, deal sincerely with me, do not you sometime, when you are together, pass the time away in speaking against Bishops and Common-Prayer, and the Government? Do you not know some that are ever complain­ing of the Times in which we live, and saying the former Dayes were better than these? And are the Reasons of this murmuring so Heavenly as you suppose? Do they not say the Nation was in more Credit; and had a better Reputation abroad, and they a better Trade at home, and such like things?

N. C.

I cannot deny but I have heard some Professors talk thus. But there are a great num­ber that you shall scarce ever hear talking of any thing else but Heaven, and Jesus Christ, and the business of their Souls.

C.

And such people there are in all Parties and Sects in the Christian World; who [Page 179]perhaps are never awhit the better for that.

N. C.

How irreligiously you talk?

C.

Not at all. For unless they take a true delight in God, and in that Heavenly Dis­course above all other things, and unless they understand what they say, and delight also to do God's will in all things: I think they had as good be talking of, or doing something else.

N. C.

Can they possibly be better im­ploy'd?

C.

Yes, that they may. For if they only tumble out a great many words and Phrases which they have learn'd, they had better be Studying what the Religion of Jesus Christ is. And if they talk of those matters meerly as it is a Duty, and be not so heavenly-minded as that, whensoever they have leisure, it is the greatest joy that can be to be thinking or dis­coursing of them; they will do this after a very bad fashion, when some other good thing they might have done better; as, visited the Sick, inquired after the Wants of the Poor, or ordered some Parish-business. And again, unless they be very prudent, and do not think they must needs draw the Company wherein they are (who are ingag'd, perhaps, in other necessary Business) to hear their discourse; I think their room, as we say, would be bet­ter than their company, or, that it were bet­ter [Page 180]that they would hold their peace. For if a man take himself to be bound in Conscience to be always speaking of these things, (as I doubt many do) it is the effect of Superstition, which makes Religion a great burthen to a man's self and others. For whether he and the Company be disposed or no, this he thinks is his Business which he often manages very dully, and without any Taste: thereby ren­dring Christianity Contemptible, and making himself also still more flat and indisposed for all honest imployments. All which considered, I leave you to judge, whether that man had not better have bestow'd his time otherways; for then he might at the end of it have been good for something, whereas now he is good for nothing at all; but mopishly sits bewailing himself, and complaining of the deadness of his heart.

N. C.

Ought not a man to be always think­ing of Heaven?

C.

No: He may and ought sometime to think of other things. And he should do it without any Scruple, not fearing that he is ill imploy'd, when he doth not break God's Commands.

N. C.

He may be meanly imploy'd.

C.

That is, he is but a Man, and not yet come to the degree of an Angel.

N. C.

But when others are recreating them­selves, [Page 181](as you call it) ours are talking of Hea­ven.

C.

If it be their choice, and if they do not neglect any necessary Business, nor censure others that do not as they do; I have nothing to say against them. But, as I told you, there are so many such like people in all Religions, that you must not imagine this is a thing pe­culiar to yours. And if they think they offend God, if they do otherwise, and if they condemn those that now and then innocently recreate themselves, and sigh over them as if they were lost; they trouble the World and themselves, to say no worse, a great deal too much with their Superstition.

N. C.

You give liberty to your people even to go to see Plays.

C.

Did you ever hear any of our Ministers commend Plays for a good Divertisement to their people?

N. C.

No, But they do not discommend them, and shew how unlawful it is to use such pastimes.

C.

How should they, when they never yet saw it prov'd that they may not be lawfully used? But they preach against all undue and in ordi­nate use of lawful pleasures, among which they number this for one. And in this business, they are as faithful as your Ministers could be, were they in their places, and perhaps a great deal more discreet.

N. C.
[Page 182]

These discreet men have spoil'd Reli­gion.

C.

You should have said indiscreet men, for that is the truth; who declaim so violently a­gainst innocent things, that they are not at all regarded when they speak against things Sinful. Their Zeal is equal against things in­different and things unlawful; and so the peo­ple easily imagine; there is no more reason against the one than against the other. Besides, they lay Burthens upon men which are not ne­cessary, and make Christ's Yoak heavier than in­deed it is, which is a great Discouragement and Hindrance to some, making them un­willing to submit themselves to him. And a­gain, they intangle Religious People in a world of Scruples, which make their lives very un­comfortable.

N. C.

Then your Ministers, belike, al­low your Religious people to go to a Play.

C.

You have put a good word in my mouth; they do I believe, allow it in due measure; In­courage them to it they do not; but yet cannot say, if they be ask'd the question, that they sin, if they do.

N. C.

They might tell them, they may be bet­ter imploy'd.

C.

What Authority have they to pronounce that in general terms? Sometimes they may, [Page 183]and sometime, perhaps, they may not. And beside this, if we be always bound to do that which is best, (which you suppose) we can ne­ver tell whether we please God or no; but shall be ingag'd in endless Doubts. For it is an hard matter sometime to discern which is best: and one thing may appear best, when I consider such and such things; and another will seem best, when I reflect upon other mat­ters. And I may verily be perswaded, look­ing but at a few things, that this thing is best for me to do, which indeed is rather bad, and should not be done. As, I may conceive it best to wear no Lace, no Ribbans, no fine Cloth or silk, but give all the money I spend in such things to the Poor: whereas this may prove very pernicious, though it have a shew of great piety; and maintain many poor in idleness, that love not Work; and spoil the Labors and Trade of many others, who would not live idlely. Farther, how much time must we pass in resolving which is best in every action we do? as whether it be best to eat now, or stay a while longer; to drink this Cup of Wine which is offered me, or refuse it; to talk with a Friend or to part with him: to visit a Neighbour, or to stay at home? And while we are deliberating in this fashion, the thing might be done which we had a mind unto; and we might be return'd to that which [Page 184]possibly we thought would be best. It is suffici­ent, therefore, that we be well imploy'd; and we ought not to torment our selves, and mis­pend our time in fears, lest we have not done the best. Let us but consider, whether no necessary Duty toward God or Man, that we are capable of, will be neglected, when we go to divert our selves; and then we should not spoil our innocent Delights with needless Jealousies.

N. C.

But surely this liberty you give, will do people hurt, for they are apt to take too much of it.

C.

Many will take it, whether we give it them or no. But I can assure you there are many ex­cellent persons of extraordinary piety (whom I know) who will not take it, though we give it. Not that they think it an unlawful thing, as you do; but they have no use for that Liberty. They are above such pleasures, and can find imployment or ingenious Divertisement that is far more sweet to them. I know others that scruple not the thing at all, and yet judge it not so expedient for them in their place and relation; and so wholly forbear it: which is a far greater Vertue than that which you boast of; as much as it is more noble to abstain from those pleasures we think lawful, than to be restrained only from those which we think are sinful, I am acquainted with others also that [Page 185]go to Plays, but very rarely, only for a harm­less Recreation when they are dull, or to ac­company a Friend, that earnestly importunes their company. And these, methinks, are as much above those, whose Piety you so much admire; as it is an harder thing to abstain from the pleasures of which we have tasted, and find to be very agreeable to us, than to forbear those, to which we are strangers, and know nothing of. Besides these, I know o­thers that go oftner; and yet I dare not say, they are not pious, because I see by all their actions that they love God and Man. And I have heard them say, that the time they spend on that fashion, doth not hinder them in any Christian Duty that they know of, (and yet they are not negligent to inform themselves) and is a great deal better spent than in talking against ones Neighbours, or hearing others rail upon the ill management of Affairs, and find fault with the times, or such like things.

N. C.

None of those things need be done neither.

C.

It is true. But they want company, & they can find little of any fort, where those things are not their entertainment. And it is very con­siderable, that such people pass for Godly a­mong you, who spend many hours in talk of that nature now mention'd, and therefore we would fain know why we may not with better reason [Page 186]call those Godly that go to Plays, and other­ways are unreproveable. I say with better Reason; both because this is at least more in­nocent (if it be not perfectly blameless) than backbiting ones Neighbours; and our Godly do nothing but what they allow, whereas yours do that which they cannot but condemn. I am also of the opinion, that our Ministers speak as often (if not more frequently) against the excessive use of that Recreation; as yours do against all Bitterness, Wrath, Anger, Back­biting, and Evil-speaking, which are altoge­ther unlawful.

N.C.

I did not think you would have justi­fied these things so far as you do.

C.

You need not have a worse opinion of me for that, because I do it not to justifie my self. For I am one of those that never saw a Play in my life, nor ever intend to see one. I could wish also there were not so many acted, because they invite men, perhaps, too often to them. But tell me, I pray you, why one may not as well look upon a Picture, as upon the man himself whom it represents? or, why a Painter should be commended, and a Player condemned?

N.C.

I understand you not.

C.

A Play doth but present mens Actions be­fore you, as a Picture doth their Faces. And since you see such things done every day as they [Page 187]there represent, why may you not see both the things and the Representation of them, if you have a mind? Nay, tell me why they that do, should not be thought to spend their time as well as you, that can hear long Stories of the Bishops, or of such and such a Parson, (as you in scorn, though very foolishly, call our Ministers; for some of them are but Vicars, and you your selvs would be glad to hold a good Parsonage, as many Lay-men do) or of some of your Neigh­bors; whose Life and (perhaps) domestick and private Affairs, you having pry'd into, can be talking of half a day together? This is, in truth, no better than hearing of a Play; only you do not see it. That is, you hear the same things, that others both hear and see acted in a Play; and there is a great deal of Art, and Wit, and Fancie, and you have none.

N.C.

I think our time ought not to be spent in either of these, as I told you before.

C.

I am well content it should be so. But let our people be as Godly as yours, (if this be all you have to say against them) since you confess they do both alike, or are not much dif­ferent. Do not cast them out of the House of God meerly because they go to a Play-house; But hope, that though you are gilt more glori­ously, yet they may be as good Metal as you. And therefore let them stand upon God's Cup­board no less than your selves.

N.C.
[Page 188]

How come you to talk thus Metapho­rically, and indeed obscurely? For though I guess at your meaning, yet it is not so plain as you pretend to speak.

C.

A great deal plainer than W. B. speaks; who, in one of the Ten Sermons I told you of, informs us, that God is departed from the Na­tion, but will return again, because he hath left a great Cup-board of plate behind him. Believe it Christians, says he, God hath a very great Cup board of plate in this Nation, Christ hath much plate in England, as much as in any Nation in the World; and he will not lose his plate. But he will not tell us how he is gone, nor when he went, nor what drove him away, nor what his Return will be, no nor what mark there is upon the plate, whereby we may know it. And I doubt you would not be well pleased, if I should go about to guess what he means by all this.

N.C.

Nothing but what is good, you may be sure.

C.

Let the King look to that, and get it expounded; for I believe he is concern'd to know, whether the time when God went a­way was not when he came into England last, and so whether he must not be gone and pack't away, when God returns again to you.

N.C.

I do not like this Discourse.

C.

Do you mean of mine, or of his?

N.C.

Of neither.

C.
[Page 189]

It's well you do not approve of his; but why you should dislike mine, I know not. For if you your self was a King, you would look up­on them as dangerous people, who should sup­pose God had forsaken your Kingdom since you came to it.

N.C.

He means, perhaps, no more but that God hath deserted them, who are his people, and once enjoy'd more liberty than now they do.

C.

You cannot excuse him so; for the Title of his Sermon tells you that it relates either to a Soul, or to a Nation. And in the body of the Discourse (if it deserve that name) he of­ten applies it to this Nation, saying, What shall we do that God may return to this Nation?

N.C.

He would not have you think that he is quite gone, for he only saith, God is much departed, and gone in great measure.

C.

True: But his meaning is plainly this; that he would be quite gone, but that he and such like are here. Were but they removed, God would have no dwelling among us. It's they that lay hold on him, and will not let him totally depart. They are his Plate, and as long as that remains, he hath something to ingage his affections, and so will not perfectly abandon the Nation. But for all that, he complains some­times, as if the Lord had abhorred and cast us off; telling us, that Christ is offended, his Go­spel [Page 190]Institutions trampled on, and that it is not an easie thing to bring him back. And it is very like­ly, if he had thought of it, he would have told you, That the Plate upon the Cup-board is thrown down, the Plate is batter'd and bruised, the Plate is abused and soil'd. For he tells his Congrega­tion, You are in a suffering day, p. 478.

N.C.

What if he had said so?

C.

Then, to make the Play compleat, one need only have added this, that the Plate must be at least well scoured, if not a little beaten.

N.C.

That is, you would have us persecu­ted.

C.

Not I; but since you fansie you are perse­cuted, when you are not, it would not be amiss if your Folly were a little chastised, in order to make you thankful for the Liberty which, even by Law, you enjoy.

N.C.

To me your words are as bad as a Per­secution, which compare good Sermons to a Play.

C.

Why! that Sermon hath more of Fiction in it than many of the Plays. For they are some­times grounded upon an Historical truth: but he entertain'd the people in his Theatre with a plea­sant piece of his own pure Invention; telling a Story of God's Departure, and of his coming back again, & their excelling other men as much as a Cup-board of Plate doth common Furniture and of their remaining here as a pledge of his [Page 191]Return; when as there is no such thing, but only in his and their Fancy. Only one thing, I observe, he very wisely conceals, lest it should happen to prove in their conceit a plain Trage­dy. For having said, in order to assure them of God's Return, that if a man have left Plate and Jewels in his House, he will either come back to them, or send for them away to him; this pleasant Gentleman, supposing his Hearers (together with his Truth and Worship, i. e. their Opinions and way of serving God) to be the Plate; would not disturb their Fancies by telling them that, according to the state of that Resemblance, God will either return to them, or send for them to him, but tells them absolutely, he will return again to them. Read his words, (p 477.) Such Plate the Lord hath much of here, and he will not lose his Plate; therefore he will return again, though he may afflict, and afflict sorely, yet he will return again. And a little after (p. 482.) As sure as the Morning is after the Night, so sure will God return. His going forth is pre­pared as the Morning: as certain he will return as the Morning doth. This I must needs say, was kindly said, and like a Poet; who can invent what he pleases, and leave out what makes not for his turn.

N.C.

Methinks you invent what you please. And since you are so good at it, I pray let me know what invention you have to excuse your [Page 192]Playes, which have so much Obscenity in them.

C.

It's more than I know if they have any at all. And should there be any, assure your self, the Ears of those whom we esteem Godly, are no less chast than yours, and would not en­dure it. But did you ever hear that any of our Ministers spoke things so nearly approaching to immodesty as W. B. doth?

N. C.

I shall stop my ears, if you offer to rake into such matters.

C.

I did not intend it, were you never so wil­ling to hear it. I would only have you know, that if I should present you with all the filthy Expressions and Allusions that I have met with­al in such Books as his, I should make you re­pent that ever you led me to this Discourse.

N.C.

I cannot conceive that they should fall into such Errors, since they are the strictest sort of men, as you very well know, and love to preach very plainly.

C.

Now I understand what you mean by plain preaching, (which you so much talk of) viz. to use rude and broad expressions. As when W. B. saith, a little Estate is but a Mess of Pot­tage, and a great Estate, a great Bowl of Pottage. Have I not hit your meaning?

N.C.

No.

C.
[Page 193]

Then it is very hard to know what it is. And, indeed, the Assembly of Divines, when they direct men how to perform their Mini­stry, and among other things, tell them they must preach plainly, do not speak plainly them­selves in their Directory, i. e. not so as to be understood. For these are their words, pag. 17. The Servant of Christ is to perform his whole Ministry, &c. Plainly, that the meanest may un­derstand, delivering the Truth, not in the en­ticing words of man's wisdom; but in Demonstra­tion of the Spirit and of Power, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect. Now since you acknowledge they cannot prophesy, nor speak with Tongues, nor Demonstrate their Doctrine by Miracles, as the Apostles did; I would gladly know what they mean by the Demonstration of the Spirit, and of Power. I am apt to think it would puzzle a new Assem­bly, to tell us in plain words, what they intend­ed by that Phrase.

N.C.

If you were taught of God, as they are, you would easily know.

C.

We are all taught of God by the Apo­stles, who have revealed his Mind to us, and that in a Divine manner. And therefore by pretending you are taught of God more than we, when you cannot prove it, you only shew that you are taught to Cant in Scripture-phrase. Pray let's see if you understand any better, another Direction of theirs, which is, [Page 194]to preach painfully, not doing the work of the Lord negligently. Whom do you account a painful Preacher.

N. C.

One that takes a great deal of pains.

C.

It is just as plain as it was before; and you give me a very good demonstration how well you are bred to a clear and plain under­standing of things. But that which you mean, I believe, is, one who preaches of­ten.

N.C.

Yes.

C.

That's the way to do the work of the Lord negligently, as common experience hath taught us.

N. C.

Not, if they take pains to consider what they say.

C.

But you would see them so often in the Pulpit, that you do not allow them time for that, and other Ministerial Duties. Hence it is, that upon all occasions they apply the Holy Scriptures, very impertinently, and interpret them negligently, and alledge that for a Proof, which is nothing to the purpose, nay, quite contrary to that which they maintain. Wit­ness W. B. who from that place in Hosea 6.3. (his going forth is prepared as the Morning) would have his people believe, that God will as certainly return to them, as the morning is after night. Whereas that is only spoken to the Ten Tribes, and the Prophet doth [Page 195]not give them an absolute assurance that they shall return to their own Land; but only in­vites them to Repentance, and on that condi­tion promises; God in a little time will revive them. Nay, he requires not only that they should begin to know God whom they had forsaken; but that they should continue and persevere to know him: and then, saith he, his going forth is prepared as the Morning, i. e. he was ready to comfort them, as the Morn­ing-light doth those that wait for it; and would come upon them as the Rain, which quickens and calls back the Corn to life, which otherwise would have lain dead in the Earth. It is true, W. B. saith a little be­fore, if you desire God should return to you, re­turn you to him; as if there were some conditi­on in the business. But this is only his usual way of saying, and unsaying; of granting promises to be Conditional, which he would have his people believe shall be performed absolutely. And, indeed, so much he had told them before this, that they might not be dis­comforted, though they did not return to God. Friends, saith he (pag. 478.) there is a time when God will deliver his people for his Names sake, and with a notwithstanding, i. e. notwith­standing all their Sins, and notwithstanding all his Displeasures, as he explains himself. Now if you would know when that time is, he tells us, When a people suffer for God's [Page 196]Name's sake, then God will deliver for his Name's sake, then God will deliver with a not­withstanding, And this he would have them believe is their present state and condition. How is it with you now? (they are his words) you are in a suffering day; but are not all your sufferings for the Name of Christ? Be of good comfort then; though God may be departed, and your City destroyed, yet he is not quite gone, but will return again: that is, notwithstanding all their Sins, he would not leave them. Do you not see how confident he is? This it is, for men to fansy themselves at the Fathers knee, and to be in his arms, and held in his Embraces, held in his Smiles, (as he speaks, p. 469.) They say even what they please, when they are full of this conceit; and think it is the Oracles of God. They tell you their own mind, and be­lieve it is the mind of the Lord. And when they tell it you in such delicate Expressions as these, or such rude and gross ones as those be­fore mentioned; you call it plain Preaching, and powerful Preaching.

N.C.

The Assembly told you (if you would have observ'd) what plain Preaching is, in that very place which you quoted; where they re­quire Ministers to forbear unprofitable use of unknown Tongues, strange Phrases, Ca­dences of Sounds and Words, and to cite Sen­tences out of Writers sparingly, though never so Elegant.

C.
[Page 197]

By your favour, this is only one part of that which they call plain preaching. For first, they say a Minister must preach in the Demonstration of the Spirit, and of Power: and then it follows, Abstaining also from an unprofitable use, &c. So that still we are to seek what that Preaching with Power means. And as for this sort of plain preaching now mention'd, either your Ministers do not un­derstand it, or do not mind it. For who hath more strange Phrases than W. B.? Or, (to pass by him, who it's like regards not the Directory) who is there that stuffs his Ser­mons with more Shreds of Authors, and more affects little Sayings and Cadences of Sounds and Words, than T. W. As for his Power in preaching, I shewed you before how unable it is to Rouze and Shake an Hypocrite, and bring him to Repentance. For he studies rather to please him with the enticing words of mans Wisdom, (though after a poor fashion) than to make a plain Representation of his Wretched State and Condition to him. If many of those, whom you despise, had had the handling of him, they would have turn'd his inside outward, and set it before his eyes: They would have ript his very Heart, and discovered his Entralls; that he might have beheld how he stands di­vided between God and the World. He should have seen how many secret Sins he [Page 198]suffers to lurk in his Breast: Nay, in what a detestable manner he reserves a kindness for many of the vilest Sins; such as are Covetous­ness, Oppression, Hard dealing, Unmerciful­ness, Malice, Revenge, Bitterness, Wrath, Implacableness, and such like; which are the Sins of too many Religious people, that is, of Hypocrites, that are not intire and uni­form in their Religion. For an Hypocrite is not a meer Player in Religion, as T. W. fan­sies▪ but one that concerns himself with a mighty Zeal for some good things, and, per­haps, would rather die, than not do them, but hath no Affection for the rest of Christs Com­mands. He doth not only put on a Garb of piety to deceive others; but there are a num­ber of men that love some part of piety, and by that means deceive their own Souls. And let you and I, my good Neighbour, look to it, that we be not of that number.

N. C.

Our Ministers, you may well think, give us such Cautions. For you must ac­knowledge, as I intimated before, (but you would pass it by) that they are the strictest people in the World, and teach us so to be.

C.

So were the Pharisees: For that Sect was more curious and exact in many things than any of the rest. But these two things among many others you shall observe of them. First, that they were very desirous of [Page 199]the peoples Favour and Esteem: the desire of pleasing, whom I doubt sometimes betrays your Preachers into such rude and unhand­some speeches, as I have heard and seen from them. And secondly, the best of them (as appears in S. Paul) were carried with a blind preposterous Zeal, even against the Truth of Christ; which arose from their high Esteem of themselves, and a Confidence they were very dear to God above all others. I wish the like Heat, and Conceit of your infallible spirit do not now make you violently oppose many things which have Christs Stamp upon them. And then you had best examine whether you are not strict people, just as they are plain Preachers.

N.C.

Your meaning.

C.

I mean, not strict. For as to me those are very obscure Speakers, and hard to be under­stood, whom you call plain: So it is possible those may take too much Liberty, especial­ly in their Tongues, whom you call strict.

N.C.

O, Sir, there are no people so serious as they.

C.

If you mean that they look solemnly, and will not laugh, nor be merry; it is like it's true of some of them. But whether this be the effect of their Religion, or their Natural Temper, it is no great matter, for it doth not much commend them. Otherwise, [Page 200]if you mean, that they long consider things, and come not to a Resolution till it be late; that they ponder all their words and actions, and weigh well what they are going about; I doubt you will find but few of these serious persons. For to me, the Zeal of most of you seems to make you heady and rash. I have ob­served, for instance, that they are apt presently to condemn those that are merry; or at least to shake their Heads, and express their fears as if they were too vain and light-Spirited. This, Cen­sure hath a shew of Seriousness, but in truth, proceeds from a want of it. But if you mean, that they are in good earnest in their Religion: So are many of the Nuns and Friars, and other devout people among the Papists, who seriously say their Ave Maries and Pater Nosters, and would not omit them for all the World. And so were the Pharisees a very se­rious people, especially upon a Sabbath, and would not neglect their Devotions, in which they were earnest and long, for any good. And assure your self, a man may be serious in Religion, and yet be an Hypocrite: That is, he may in good earnest do many Duties, and love to Pray, and Hear, and Repeat Sermons, and the like; And all the while he may in as good earnest love the World very much, and (to say no more) love the praise of men, and Desire to be better thought of than his Neigh­bours. In short, he may love Money and [Page 201]Esteem, being Covetous and Censorious as the Pharisees were.

N.C.

You love to compare us with the Pha­risees. Were they such a tender-conscienc'd people?

C.

Yes indeed were they, in many things. They would rather dy than break the Sab­bath: They made a great Scruple of walk­ing above so many Paces upon that day, and had infinite Ceremonies and Superstitions a­bout its Observation; of which they were so tender, that they could not endure any body else should break them. The like Tender­ness they had about Idolatry, and many other things. But yet they made no bones (as we say) of a Widdow's house, which they could devour at one bit as soon as the Sabbath was done: They were horribly Covetous and de­sirous of Riches: They made no Conscience of Oppression and Extortion: They were monstrously Uncharitable and Proud: They thought themselves the wisest and the best men in the world, and despised all others, as men that knew not what Religion meant. And lest you should think they wanted Zeal to increase their party, (which they called Love to pure Religion) they compassed Sea and Land (as Christ tells you) to make a Proselyte, who, when he was gain'd, became twofold more the Child of Hell than them­selves. Which thing I would have you ob­serve, [Page 202]because it shews us that men may be converted from gross Prophaneness to Sins of a more Spiritual and invisible nature; to Di­abolical Pride, and Malice, and rage against all that oppose their Sect. And therefore you would do well to consider again, whe­ther there be not many such Converts now that hate us as much as they do Common-Pray­er, and are zealous for little else but to make men Non-Conformists, and to disgrace those that are not.

N.C.

I did not think you would have plead­ed so hard for all the Superstitions and Super­stitious people of your Church. And, to tell you all my mind, I should love your Minister better, if he did not seem to love the Com­mon-Prayer so well. For he reads it with as much Devotion as he expresses in his own pray­ers; and besides, he maintains the Use of it, and the things appointed by it, (as you do) in his private discourses.

C.

In my mind, you ought to like him the better for this, because he is not an Hypocrite, and doth not that to get a Living which he in­wardly dislikes, nor approves that by publick practice, which he disallows or discommends in private talk. And methinks it argues too much insincerity in your selves, that you could be content, nay glad, that another man should do contrary to his Conscience and Profession; either in using those Prayers [Page 203]which he inwardly disaffects, or in speaking against them (at least silently hearing them reproached) when he is convinced of their goodness. Above all, I wonder how any honest-hearted man can endure him that mut­ters over the publick Prayers (which he pre­tends by his use of them to like) without any Spirit or life, on purpose to disgrace them and bring them into contempt; at least to make his own prayers better accepted, and preferr'd be­fore them.

N.C.

Well, but what need he justifie and maintain the use of Common-Prayer, where­ever he hears it disputed of?

C.

He thereby doth but justifie himself and his own practice. It seems you would have him stand like a Fool with his Finger in his Mouth, Meerly to Humour you. And withal, you would fain have it thought, that all Consciencious men are of your mind; if they had but Heart and courage to profess it.

N. C.

Well, Neighbour, I think we had best leave of this Trade of talking one against the other, and finding out one anothers faults; which I see is the business both of you and us.

C.

To say the truth, it would be more for the Interest of Christianity, if we did. But though you seem very desirous, in a good mood, that we should cease to undermine [Page 204]each the other, and both joyn together to promote sound Religion and true piety; yet this Fit holds not long. For commonly you labour nothing more than to overthrow the Religion established; nay, many of you glo­ry in your hopes of this: as if it were a migh­ty matter to pull down a Building, and bring things to Ruine; which is the easiest thing in the world; the work of Ignorance and Con­fidence, and, as one of our Ministers said, the Pastime of the Devil, and the Imployment of his Children; of whom we may speak in the Apostles words, Rom. 3.16. Destruction and misery are in their wayes, and the way of Peace have they not known. In order to this, you disgrace the Bishops; undervalue, if not des­pise, all our Ministers; revile the Common-Prayer; accuse us of Superstition, Popery, Anti-christianism, and what not? You every­where divulge and spread abroad the Faults of any of the Clergy; and rejoyce to hear or tell a Story of any drunken Parson, as you are wont to call the best of them by way of derision. Nay, you have more Favour and kindness for wild and Phanatick people, who undermine the very Foundation of Religion, than for us.

N.C.

No more of this, I pray you.

C.
[Page 205]

I should rather say to you, Let us hear no more of this: and I shall rejoyce and be ready to correspond with you in all offices of Love and Kindness.

N.C.

Belike, you can love one of our way.

C.

Yes, very heartily. And therefore I would not have you expound any thing I have said, as if it were meant against the humble, the modest, the charitable, and such as are af­flicted and mourn for our present Differen­ces: but as intended to check the pride and presumption of many among you, who, though full of Folly, think they know the Mind of God more than all the Bishops and Priests in the World; and by their Confi­dence and bold pretence of the Spirit would over-bear all sober Reason, and impose all their fond Opinions on us; making the poor people believe that they are God's only Fa­vourites, and fit to teach and rule the whole Nation. These we cannot well suffer to strut as they do, and not endeavour to display their Vanity: Nor can we approve of those who for the sake of their party, are content to dis­semble it, if not favour their impudent pre­tences. For we know well enough how like they are in many things to S. Paul's formal Christians; especially in this one part of their Character, that they are Despisers of those that are good. A thing I would by no means [Page 206]be guilty of, and therefore hope you will not suspect my esteem of you.

N. C.

I am glad you are so charitably dis­posed; and am the more pleased, because I thought you had look'd upon us with the greatest Detestation in the world.

C.

I have already told you, that we do not think you all of a kind, though now you flock together. There are some (of your Mini­sters for instance) who I believe are of an humble Spirit, quiet and peaceable in the Land, desiring Unity and Accord, grieving for the Breach of it; and are so far from condem­ning those, that are satisfied to do what the Law requires, that they are sorry they cannot contribute to the common Peace by doing the same. Upon which account they go as far as they can, and conform to publick Order in all things wherein they are satisfied, and are tender of breaking any Laws; and when they cannot obey them, do not rail upon them and their Makers, but silently and without any noise omit to do what they enjoyn. These we cannot but love; and are sorry that in so great a number we can find so few of this good temper. For there is a second sort (with which the Kingdom swarms) who are of an haughty Humour, of a furious and facti­ous Disposition, puft up with a conceit of their Gifts to such a height, that they will scarce allow any man to know any thing of [Page 207]God, who is not of their Party. Sowr and crabbed they are above all other men, cross and peevish beyond all expression: they ne­ver speak well of our Governors or Govern­ment; they are always reviling Bishops and Common-Prayer; and talking like men in­spired: it is an easy matter for them to dispa­rage all our Ministery, and beget an ill opini­on of them in the minds of their credulous Followers. Which we conceiving to be their Business, no wonder if our men seek to pre­serve themselves, not by disgracing, but by rightly representing them to the World. They ought not to betray the Church where­in they live, by a base and unworthy Silence. Even the meanest Child of us ought to speak, when you are about to kill our Mother. Your long Nails wherewith you now scratch her Face must be shewn the people; who see them not, while they behold your hands lift­ed up to Heaven. But besides these two, there is a third sort between both, who are dissatisfied only with a few things; allow our Ministers to be good men, and wish for Peace, but yet for private respects hold fair corres­pondence with the Furies now named; keep up the Separation; hold Conventicles; suf­fer the people, without reproof, to be fierce and violent against us; connive at a great many of their false and absurd Opinions; let them alone in their rude and insolent beha­viour; [Page 208]take not sufficient care to instruct them in the Truth, to bring them to a modest and peaceable temper; In short, to qualifie them for Compliance with us. Do not smile at the word, for I can demonstrate it might soon be brought about, if they pleased.

N. C.

How, I Pray? Can you do more than all the men in the Kingdom?

C.

Let them perswade their people but to be of their mind, and the business is done.

N. C.

Do you think they do not?

C.

No, I warrant you. If they did, the people would conform, though they cannot. For that which keeps this sort of Ministers from Conforming, is not any thing to which the people are bound, but something particu­larly required of them.

N. C.

You have revealed a Secret to me.

C.

It is easy for any body to find out, that hath a mind to it. There being nothing plainer than this, that they would have read those prayers which I would have you hear, if something else had not been in the way, which you are not concerned in; and that is, renouncing the Covenant. Let them then but perswade you to do all that they can do themselves, and in order to that give you Reasons why it should be done; and then I may hope to see you and I go to the same [Page 209]Church together: And for them that do not stand upon the Covenant, (for there are some such) they ha [...] the greater reason to exhort you to come, nay, to come themselves, and bring you along with them. But lest they should not do their duty, give me leave to speak to you in those very words which they have writ to others; and, if you think they have now any weight in them, (as I believe you once thought they had) we shall not be long separated.

N. C.

What have they writ?

C.

In a Book call'd A Vindication of the Presbyterial Government, &c. You will find a speech of your Ministers and Elders in the Pro­vince of London, to those that had left their Communion, and stood in divided Congrega­tions from them: Which if it had any force then in your opinion, ought to prevail with you now to come and joyn your self a­gain to us, whom you have forsaken. I will cite you some Passages of it in their own words. And let me begin with those which you find pag. 130. in a distinct Character, (as the strength, I suppose, of what they had to say) If we be a Church of Christ, and Christ hold Communion with us; why do you separate from us? If we be the Body of Christ, do not they that separate from the Body, separate from the Head also? ‘We are loath to speak any thing that may offend you; yet we intreat [Page 210]you to consider, that if the Apostle call those Divisions of the Church of Corinth, (wherein Christians did [...] separate into divers formed Congregations of several Communion in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper) Schisms, 1 Cor. 1.10. may not your Secession from us, and professing you cannot joyn with us as Members, and setting up Congregations of another Communion, be more properly called Schism? Thus they plead for Unity and Uniformity in those dayes, (1649.) And we say the very same now. Be just, I beseech you; and either pronounce that they had no reason on their side when they wrote those words, or that we have rea­son too, who use the same to you. Hear also what they say a little after, and think one of us speaks it to you. You gather Churches out of our Churches, and you set up Churches in an opposite way to our Churches; and all this you do voluntarily, and unwarrantably, not having any sufficient cause for it. For you acknowledge us to be the true Churches of Jesus Christ, and Churches with which Christ holds Communion. This, I dare say, is the Judgment of every true Fresbyterian, that the Church of Eng­land is a true Member of Christ's Body, and that Christ holds Communion with her, and hath not cut her off (because of any Ce­remonies she uses) from him the Head of the Church. If so, consider, I beseech you, as [Page 211]they intreat their Brethren of the Separation, How dare you refuse to hold Communion with those, whom Christ Jesus holds Communi­on withall? How can you with a safe Con­science thus separate your selves from those who are not separated from Christ? Is it no­thing to make a Schism in his Body? Do you not rend your selves from him, when you thus rend your selves from it? Think seriously on it, before you sleep; that you may, at least in purpose and resolution, presently unite your self to us, from whom you have depart­ed.

N. C.

But I am told that every Separation is not a Schism.

C.

To this they answer in that Book, and pray mind it: The godly Learned say, that eve­ry unjust and rash Separation from a true Church (that is, when there is no just, or at least no sufficient cause of the Separation) is a Schism: And that there is a negative and a positive Schism. The former is, when men do peaceably and quietly draw from Communion with a Church, not making a head against that Church, from which they are departed: The other is, when persons so withdrawing do conso­ciate and withdraw themselves into a distinct and opposite Body, setting up a Church against a Church; (which let me tell you by the way, is your Case, my good Neighbour) which Camero calls a Schism by way of eminency; and [Page 212]farther tells us, there are four Causes, that make a separation, from a Church, lawful. First, when they that separate are grievously and in­tolerably persecuted: Secondly, when the Church they separate from is Heretical: Thirdly, when it is Idolatrous: Fourthly, when it is the Seat of Antichrist. And where none of these four are found, there the Separation is insufficient, and Schism. Now we are fully assured, that none of these four Causes can be justly charged up­on our Congregations; therefore you must not be displeased with us, but with your selves, if we blame you as guilty of positive Schism. What say you now, my Neighbour? Was this good Doctrine then, or no? If it was, it is so still; and I beseech you, make good use of it.

N. C.

Some think it is a sufficient cause to separate, in that there are such sinful mixtures tolerated among you; and that your Congre­gations are miscellaneous Companies of all Gatherings, and all sorts are admitted even to Sacramental Communion.

C.

That's the very Objection which your Ministers and Elders saw framed against them by the Separatists. And what they answer to them; we return to you. First, That this Charge is not true; the Rule of the Church of England being as full and strict for Church-Members, that shall come to Commu­nion, as that of the Assembly there cited, [Page 123] pag. 133. which is this: That they must be visible Sainst, such as, being of age, do profess Faith in Christ, and obedience to Christ, ac­cording to the Rules of Faith aud Life, taught by Christ and his appostles. Secondly, Suppose there were some sinful Mixtures (say they) at our Sacraments; yet we conceive this is not a sufficient ground of a Negative, much less of a Positive Separation. The Learned Author fore­mentioned tells us, that Corruption in Manners crept into a Church, is not a sufficient cause of Separation from it. This he proves from Math. 23.2, 3. and he adds also this Reason for it; Because in what Church soever there is Purity of Doctrine, there God hath his Church, though overwhelm'd with Scandals. And therefore whosoever separates from such an Assembly, separates from the place where God hath his Church; which is rash and unwarrantable. The Church of Corinth had such a profane Mixture at their Sacrament, as we believe few (if any) of our Congregations can be charged withal; and yet the Apostle doth not perswade the Godly party to separate, much less to gather a Church out of a Church.

N. C.

What do you tell me of the Doctrine of a Forreign Divine?

C.

They have made it theirs, by approving what he says, in their Book. And besides they tell you, there were many Godly and Learned Non-conformists of the last Age, that were per­swaded [Page 214]in their Conscience they could not hold Communion with the Church of England in re­ceiving the Sacrament kneeling, without Sin; yet did they not separate from her. Indeed, in that particular act they withdrew, but yet so, as that they held Communion with her in the rest; being far from a Negative, much more from a Positive Separation from her. Nay, some of them, (mind the words) even then, when our Chur­ches were full of sinful Mixtures, with great Zeal and Learning defended them so far, as to write against those that did separate from them. who these Good and Learned men were, they tell you in the Margin; Mr. Cartwright, Mr. Dod, Mr. Hildersham, Mr. Bradshaw, Mr. Ball.

N. C.

Then we shall communicate with men in their sin [...]; and we must not be led to that by the greatest Examples.

C.

To prevent that, they will advise you, that if any Brother offend you; you are not to sepa­rate from him, (for this is not the way to gain, but to destroy his Soul;) but to tell him of it privately, and in an orderly way to bring it to the Church. And when you have done your Duty, you have freed your Soul, and may safely and comfortably communicate in that Church with­out Sin.

N. C.

I perceive you are read in our Wri­ters. And, trely, you have now told me so much from them, that I shall not have so [Page 215]hard an opinion of you, as I had before. And I hope this will preserve me from being guil­ty of the sin of Schism, because the Nature of that consists in an open breach of Christian Love.

C.

This will not serve your turn, but you must come and joyn in Communion with us again. For they tell you, that as he, who de­nies a Fundamental Article of the Faith, is guil­ty of Heresie, though he add not Obstinacy thereto, to make him an Heretick: So he that doth unwarrantably separate from the true Church is truly guilty of Schism, though he add not Uncharitableness thereunto, to denominate him a compleat Schismatick. You may read the words, if you will, pag. 137. And afterward they tell you that to make a Rupture in the Bo­dy of Christ, and to divide Church from Church, and to set up Church against Church, and to gather Churches out of true Churches, and be­cause we differ in some things, therefore to hold Church-Communion in nothing; this, we think, hath no warrant out of the word of God, and will introduce all manner of confusion in Chur­ches and Families; and not onely disturb, but in a little time destroy the power of Godliness, Purity of Religion, Peace of Christians, and set open a wide Gap to bring in Atheism, Popery, Heresie, and all manner of wickedness. Thus they. And how fast all this is a doing by your means, who now will have no Communion [Page 216]with us in any thing, because we differ in some things, is apparent to all the world. For the love of God, and of the Church, nay, of your own Families, consider of it in time, and repent; that so they may not be brought to utter Confusion, but the Gap may be stopt, which you have opened too wide already, to Atheism, Irreligion, and all the rest of the Wickedness which comes, powring in it self upon us. Do not continue that Separation a­ny longer, which you have rashly begun; lest you be found guilty of that very thing your selves, which you condemned so much in others, and profess is by all good men to be abhorred. Read what I have now said over and over again, and seriously lay it to heart: lest your own Books be opened at the day of Judgement, and Sentence be pronounced against you out of them. Nay, desire your Ministers to read it, and to expound the reason to you, why they should ssparate now more than Mr. Dod, Mr. Hildersham, Mr. Ball, and such like, did here­tofore. Intreat them to let you know, how they excuse thewselves from the guilt, not only of withdrawing themselves from our Com­munion, (which they call Negative Schism;) but also of making an head against us, and drawing themselves into a distinct and oppo­site Body, and setting up a Church against a Church which they call Positive, and Schism by way of Eminency, Ask them which of the [Page 217]four Causes of Separation they alledge to make their Departures from us necessary: What we have done that should make it unlawful for them to communicate with us; or rather, How we have separated our selves from Jesus Christ, and made him disown us. If they be not able to give you very good satisfaction in this, and in all the rest, I hope, you see what you are to do, according to their own Advice and Coun­sel.

N. C.

I suppose they will say that they are persecuted, which will justifie their separati­on.

C.

I cannot imagine what they should pre­tend, unless it be this. But bid them shew you what hath befalen them, that should de­serve that name. And likewise shew, that the Persecution is grievous, nay, intolerable, (for else they have told you it will not warrant a Separation:) and one thing more desire to learn of them, which is, whether those things that any of them have suffered, be not the Effect and Punishment of their separa­tion, and not the Cause of it. As for any Re­straints the Law hath laid upon their Liberty, they are nothing comparable to those that were laid on us, when they were in Power: and yet they will take it ill if they should be call­ed Persecutors. For if you look into an Ordinance of Parliament of 11. August 1645. for putting in execution the Directory, you will [Page 218]find these words: That if any person or per­sons whatsoever, shall at any time or times, here­after, use, or cause the aforesaid Book of Com­mon-Prayer to be used in any Church, Chappel, or publick place of Worship, or in any private place or Family, within the Kingdom of Eng­land, or the Dominion of Wales, or Port and [...]own of Berwick; every such person so offending [...]herein, shall for the first offence, pay the sum [...]f five pounds, of lawful English money; for the second offence, ten pounds; and for the third, shall suffer one whole year Imprisonment, with­out Bail or Mainprise. Can you name me any Law now extant so severe and cruel, as this was? Do we abridge the poorest Trades­man so much of his liberty, as then they would have abridg'd all the Nobles in the Land, nay (for any thing I see) the KING himself, at least his Family, which were for­bid the use of Common-Prayer under such great Penalties? Are you not all allow'd to worship God, just as you please your selves in your own Families? Nay, may not some of your Neighbours joyn with you, if you and they be so minded? For shame do not com­plain of Persecution, when you are so kindly used, who endeavoured in such a manner to oppress others. And blush to think that you should separate upon this account; which yet is all that you can have the face to pretend, to excuse the Schism you have made. The Com­mon-Prayer [Page 219]you see was never imposed with such rigor, as your Directory was▪ And whereas you now take what liberty you list to preach, and Write, and print what you think good against the Common-Prayer; it was then ordain'd, that none should do so against the Directory, or any thing contain'd therein, (which is a great deal more; and in case any man was so bold, he was to forfeit such a sum of money, as should be thought fit to be imposed on him, by those before whom he had his Trial; provided it was not less than five pounds, nor more than fifty. Who should try him no body knew; but he was sure to meet with little fa­vour, if the Directory-men met with him, and were to handle him; who would tolerate no Dissenters from them. And their reason is given, (in the London Ministers Letter to the Assembly) because they were bound by the Covenant to extirpate all Scism; and to in­deavour the Lord should be one, and his Name one, in the Three Kingdoms, i. e. that all should subscribe to the Directory. And there is another thing which to me seems something hard, (I am sure you ought to judg it so,) viz. an Ordinance of 2. June 1646. requiring, that all people who were come to reside in the Parliament-Quarters, should take the National League and Covenant, and the Ne­gative Oath, notwithstanding any Articles that had been made by the Souldiery. Why should [Page 220]you complain of the late Oxford Act (as it is commonly called) who could endure hereto­fore that men should be used so severely? Compare that and this Ordinance together, and tell me which of them is most moderate; that which banished men out of many Coun­ties, or that which only prohibits their near habitation to a Town or two? that which made void the promises which their own Of­ficers had made, or that which was against no ingagements at all? I wish you would consider these things, with a great many more of like nature; for, though your prejudices are strong, I hope sometime they may serve to convince you. And the mention of the Covenant, just now brings a considerable thing to my mind, which if it would not be tedious, I would wil­lingly propound, and desire you to enquire a­bout it.

N. C.

I pray, say on; for your discourse be­gins to be pleasant to me.

C.

I wish you would ask your Ministers, why they themselves heretofore not onely appro­ved of certain Ceremonies in the Worship of God, but also were well pleased they should be enjoyn'd; and yet now cry out upon our Ceremonies, or, at least, would have them left at liberty.

N. C.

What Ceremonies and Worship do you mean?

C.
[Page 221]

Was not the taking of the Solemn League and Covenant a piece of Reli­gion?

N. C.

Yes; it was an Oath.

C.

‘Read then an Ordinance of 2. Febr. 1643. and you will find it is ordain'd, among other things, that during the time that the Mini­ster read the whole Covenant to the peo­ple, the whole Congregation should be uncover­ed: There is one Ceremony, which now you will by no means indure should be imposed on you at the hearing of Sermons. Then, at the end of the Reading it, they appoint that all shall take it standing: There is another Ceremony. And, lastly, that they should lift up their right hand bare: That's another, if not two Ceremonies more. For they enjoyn them to lift up the right Hand, not the left; and that it should be bare, not covered with a Glove. And this very Ordinance touching the Manner of the taking the Covenant, they desired might be confirm'd by Act of Parlia­ment;’ as you may see in the Propositions sent to his Majesty at Newcastle, July 11. 1646. Pray tell me, if you can, or else make enquiry, why they did not leave men to their way and manner of doing this Religious Act; seeing they would have no body tied to a Posture now in the Worship of God.

N. C.

I will enquire; For I know no reason of it.

C.
[Page 222]

If you please, ask them another thing; which is, why they do not take their own Advice which they give about the Covenant? For if they would, the Covenant need not keep them from doing that, which otherwise many of them profess they could do.

N. C.

You must be at the pains to inter­pret your self; for I know not what you in­tend.

C.

The Parliament, in the Ordinance now mentioned, desire the Assembly of Divines to prepare an Exhortation for the better taking of the Covenant, which should be read to­gether with it. Now in that Exhortation (which was voted to be printed, Febr. 9. 1643.) the Assembly intreat the Episcopal Clergy, (who said they could not take the Covenant, because it was against their for­mer Oaths) to consider this, which is the thing I would have them consider now; That if any Oath be found, into which any Minister or others have entred, not warranted by the Law of God and the Land, in this Case they must teach themselves and others, that such Oaths call for Repentance, not Pertinacy in them.

N. C.

I know what you are going to in­fer. But they will not yield that this Cove­nant was unwarrantable by the Laws of God and the Land, and therefore they will not re­pent of it.

C.
[Page 223]

It was plainly against the Laws of the Land, and those reasonable and good Laws: from whence I conclude, it was against the Laws of God, which would have us obey hu­mane Laws, (that do not contradict them) and not combine together to destroy them.

N. C.

They will never grant, it was against the Laws of the Land: and I think you cannot prove it.

C.

Did they not Covenant to endeavour to preserve the Reformed Religion in the Church of Scotland in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline and Government?

N. C.

Yes, its the first Barnch of the Cove­nant.

C.

And did they not next of all Covenant to indeavour to reform Religion in these King­doms of England and Ireland, in all Points ac­cording to the Examples of the best Reformed Churches?

N. C.

Yes.

C.

Then they were bound to reform us ac­cording to the Pattern of Scotland: For that Church must needs be the best Reformed, which needs no Reformation; as it seems the Church of Scotland did not, being to be pre­served by them just as it was.

N. C.

What of all this?

C.

Then I will prove they bound them­selves in an Oath against the Laws of the Land. For our Laws make the King Supreme [Page 224]Governour over all persons and in all causes: But the Presbyterial Government as it was in Scotland, (and was intended to be here) though it allow the King to be Supreme Go­vernour over all persons, (as they are his Sub­jects) yet will not subject all Causes to his Government; because Christ according to the Discipline, is the only spiritual King and Governour over his Kirk. As much as to say, they are subject onely to Christ in some things.

N. C.

This is onely a Collection which you make from several things compared to­gether, in which you may be deceived. Sure they never intended to set up such a Govern­ment here.

C.

That you may not be left therefore to my uncertain Reasonings (as you will esteem them) in this particular; You may be satisfied about the Mind of the Assembly, if you be at all acquainted with the History of the late Times. By that I am informed, they intended to bring the same Government among us that was in Scotland: And, Secondly, they thought the Parliament was obliged to set it up by ver­tue of the Covenant. When these two things are proved, I believe you will be of my mind, that they took an Oath against the Laws, and therefore ought not to persist in it, but repent of it.

N. C.
[Page 225]

I shall be glad to hear them proved.

C.

You must know then that the Parlia­ment declared for Presbyterial Government, and passed most of the particulars brought them from the Assembly without any material alteration; saving the point of Commissioners; as they tell us in a Declaration of April 17. 1646.

N. C.

What's the reason it was not set up?

C.

Have patience, and I will tell you. These ugly Commissioners stood in the way, which the Assembly would not admit of; as the Parlia­ment would not admit of their Arbitrary Go­vernment.

N. C.

Why do you call it so.

C.

The title of the Declaration tells you, that the intention of it is, among other things, to secure the people against all Arbi­trary Government, viz. in the Church, which they spoke of before. But that you may be sure of it; they let you know, when they come to that part of it, which concerns Church-Government, that the Presbytery challeng'd an Arbitrary Power, which they could not grant. The reason was, because they would have set up ten thousand Judica­tories within the Kingdom which should have had a supreme Authority over us in many things. And this was demanded in such a way (as they proceed to tell us) as is not consistent with the Fundamental Laws and Government [Page 226]of the same, and by necessary consequence excluding the Power of the Parliament of England in the ex­ercise of that Jurisdiction. This was the very cause (as they farther inform us) why they had settled no Government since their sitting, because they could not subject themselves and the People of the Land, to so vast a power as the Presbytery challeng'd; which, they tell us a little after, would have been for the Civil Ma­gistrate to part with some of his Power out of his hands. Now before we go any farther, I pray tell me, who was the supreme Civil Magistrate then, but the KING? And how will you excuse these men from going about to rob him of a part of his Power, and wrest it out of his hands?

N. C.

Sure they did not Covenant to do this.

C.

We shall try that by and by. But that you may better know how they meant to go to work, and to over rule the Supreme Power in many Causes; you must understand these things. That it being resolved by both Houses, that all persons guilty of notorious and scandalous Offences should be suspended from the Sacrament of the Lords Supper; the Assembly likewise resolved, that these two Powers lay in the Eldership or Presby­tery, and only in them. First, the Power of judging and decluring what are such notorious and scandalous offences, for which persons guilty [...] [Page 229]Power out of his hands, which is contrary to the Law of God: And therefore they ought not any longer to hold themselves bound by it; but rather should repent, as they advise o­thers to do in that case. To sum up the whole business. An Oath that is not warrant­ed by the Laws of God and the Land ought to be repented of. Your Ministers took an Oath not warranted by the Laws of God and the Land, but contrary to them. There­fore they ought to repent of it. The for­mer Proposition, is their own. The latter is partly theirs, and partly the Commons of England. For your Ministers expounded the Covenant as it obliged them to set up the Presbytery in an absolute Power; and the Commons declared the exercise of such a pow­er to be against the Fundamental Laws of the Realm, and the Authority of the Su­preme Magistrate. (I might add, but that you little regard, that His MAJESTY in his Proclamation declared it an unwarrantable Oath, October 9, 1643.) And therefore do you and they see, whether the Conclusion do not unavoidably follow, and make a good use of it, I beseech you before it be too late.

N. C.

As Paul said to Agrippa, that he al­most perswaded him to be a Christian; so I must say to you, that you almost perswade me to be a Conformist, and come to Church.

C.
[Page 230]

I wish, as S. Paul said then, that you were not almost, but altogether, such as I am. I mean, that you would not only come thither, but with such reverence and seriousness as becomes the Service of God. But to come and sit, or [...]oll, or look about, or whisper and talk, as many do, methinks is as bad as staying away. Nay, it seems to be far worse, because it is a more publick Affront to God, even while we are in his presence; an open Scorn of his Worship, and a Contempt of all his people that devoutly joyn in it. There­fore, for the love of God, never involve your self in this guilt, as I see too many, even of the Great ones do; who shew not half so much Reverence before God in the time of Divine Service, as the people do before the meanest Justice of Peace, Nay, in his absence, before his Country-Clerk. Lord, lay not this Sin to their charge. And as I would desire you to pray with Reverence, so to hear the Sermon also with due Attention, and without any Prejudice or Passion. Lay aside all naughty and corrupt Affections, which blind the Un­derstanding, and will not let it discern the clearest Truth. Witness the Pharisees, who could not see the most necessary things con­cerning everlasting Salvation, though mani­festly delivered in Holy Scripture, and plainly proved by many illustrious Miracles: and all because they were Covetous, Proud, Self-con­ceited, [Page 231] and loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. For what was more clearly set down in their Books than the time of Christs Coming; together with the Cha­racters or Marks of his Person, when he should appear? And what was more neces­sary to be known than him when he came a­mong them? In what were they so much con­cern'd every way, as to receive and acknow­ledge him? And yet, notwithstanding, they could not see him, even when they saw him. They resisted the Holy Ghost it self, in the Prophets both old and new. They could not endure such a Christ as taught them to be humble, and pure in heart, and heavenly-min­ded, and meek, and merciful, and peaceable, and patient under all injuries, and obedient to Government; and that would not oppose Caesar, and advance them to Power and Do­minion. From whence you see how necessa­ry it is to follow the Counsel of S. Peter, 1. Ep. 2.1, 2. and laying aside all Malice, and all Guile, and all Hypocrisies, and Envies, and Evil­speakings; as a new-born Babe desire the sincere Milk of the Word, that you may grow there­by. Do not think I take too much upon me thus to instruct you. I do but repeat what I have heard from some of my Instru­cters. And our Minister told us the other day, that some render the last words thus: Desire the reasonable (or rational) Milk, with­out [Page 232]mixture; it being the same expression, which is in Rom. 21.1. where we read of rea­sonable service. But that I find is a thing few care for: As little reason as you please will suffice them. So their Fancies or their Affecti­ons be but tickled, they care not whether it be with Reason or without. Any little Toy takes them; and if the Exposition of Scrip­ture which is given them be but pretty, they never mind whether it be solid or no. Now this, I have been instructed, proceeds from a Vicious Affection; from a lazy, slothful, dis­position of mind; from a lothness to be at any pains to understand the Truth; nay, sometimes from all evil Affections; from a love of the Flesh and Sensual things, and a too great strangeness and aversness to all the Concerns of a Soul. And assure your self, there is no ignorance so black and dark as this which proceeds from corrupt affecti­ons. That which is the effect only of Weak­ness of Parts; want of Opportunity, ill E­ducation, or bad Instruction, may find some help, and be in great measure cured. A man of very mean natural parts, that hath an honest. Heart, may come to understand much. But this that I am speaking of, being chosen and affected, is in a manner incurable. Men love it and are concerned to maintain it; and will not understand the clearest Reasons, but shut their eyes against them. And therefore [Page 233]if you would profit by any Sermon, come with a free and unprejudiced mind, with an upright and true heart; and so you may be convinced of your errors, or grow in wis­dom and understanding, and, finally, think your self as happy in our Company, as any where else.

N. C.

You speak very reasonably and dis­creetly. But if I still remain unsatisfied, I hope you will love me, as one Neighbour should do another.

C.

Make no doubt of it. And the greatest act of Charity I can express to you is, to ad­vise you how you should behave your selves while you continue to dissent from us. You were wont in the beginning of these Diffe­rences, to call your selves the weak Brethren, This was the Language of your Fore-fathers, who begg'd that they might be forborn, and treated gently, and, like the tender Children of Jacob, driven no faster, than they were able to go. But now none drive so furiously, as you. Nothing will serve your turn but to be the foremost, I mean, the Leaders of all: You would be Masters of the Law; you would Rule and Govern, as if you were the wisest and strongest Christians, nay, illuminated with a more singular degree of Knowledge, than any body else. It doth not suffice you to let alone what is enjoyn'd you, but you arreign it before all your Neighbours; you [Page 234]judge and condemn it; nay, you thwart and oppose it; you would fain do Execution upon it, and having pull'd it down, set up your own Fancies in the room. And so far hath this Confidence carried you, that you would fain set up your Fancies in all the World, if you were able. For you know very well where you invited all Reformed Churches, and that in a way of Prayer, that they would associate themselves with you in your, or the like Covenant. I must desire you therefore, as you love your own and the Kingdom's Peace, to have a lower opinion of your selves and Gifts; and so to abate of your Confi­dence, and your Forwardness and violence to impose upon others. Set not so high an esteem upon your own Models and Draughts of Government. Be content to obey, rather than rule. Let nothing of Pride, Ambition, Vain-glory, and love of popular Esteem, bear sway in your hearts. And oh that we could see all these evil spirits cast out by your Prayers and Fastings! Approve your selves to be Tender-conscienced, by your tender care in all your actions to be void of offence to God and Man. Shew that nothing in the world but your fear to displease God keeps you from us, by your humble carriage; by your speaking well of all, as near as you can; by saying nothing against the establish'd Re­ligion; by honouring your Superiours; by [Page 235]meeting very secretly, (if you must needs as­semble in greater Companies, than the Law allows) that so you may not give a publick Offence. And I beseech you never meet in time of Divine Service. Pray your Ministers to search and examine, as much as they can, whether none of their Auditors come to them only out of humor and love of Novel­ty; and that they would exhort all that can, to go to the publick Ordinances. For which end let them acknowledge in plain terms, that the Worship of God among us is lawful, and far from being Anti-christian; that there are many godly men among us; that they them­selves have received benefit from their La­bours. Let them express their sorrow, that they are not enlightned enough to see the lawfulness of using some Ceremonies; and desire the people not to follow their Example without their Reasons. Speak well of your Governours, and reprove those that do not. Believe not Rumors and Reports, and take care you be not the spreaders of them. Keep a day of Humiliation for this Sin among others, that you have been the Authors or Abettors of so many false and scandalous Stories con­cerning the Bishops and others. And do not excuse your selves by saying that some Stories are true; for I can demonstrate, if need be, that it is not the manner of your people to ex­amine carefully whether things be true or no, [Page 236]before they divulge them, but presently they run away when they have got a Tale by the end, and carry it about the Town. By which means, right Reverend persons (which is a horrid shame) have been openly charg'd in publick Assemblies with things notoriously false, without any ground at all. All which proceeds from your unmortified Passions of Anger, Hatred, and Uncharitableness; which make you hastily believe any thing that's bad of those you do not like. Let these things therefore be bewailed and reformed: As also your wresting of the Scripture, and bold, but vain, pretences to the Spirit; in which, I be­seech you, hereafter shew greater Modesty. It would do well also, if you thought upon all the Contempt which hath been poured by you, or by your means, not only upon the Bishops, but their Order and Function; and consequently upon all the Antient Churches, who flourished so happily under that Govern­ment: upon all the present Ministery also, for whom no name could be found bad enough: nay, and more than this, upon all Civil Go­vernours, for whom there is scarce left any such thing, as Honour and Reverence. And now I speak of them, let me again intreat you not to oppose their Commands, if you can­not obey them; but only let them alone, and forbear to do them. And let this For­bearance, be with much Modesty, Humility, [...]

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