A CATECHISM FOR BISHOPS, DEANS, PREBENDS, DOCTORS, VICARS, CURATES, AND ALL PRELATICALS, FOR Them to Read in the Fear of the LORD GOD, and with a meek and quiet Spirit.

By WILLIAM SMITH.

LONDON, Printed in the Year, 1662.

A Catechism for Bishops, Deans, Prebends, Doctors, Vicars, Curates, and all Prelaticals, for Them to Read in the Fear of the Lord God, and with a meek and quiet Spirit.

THere is in man a Corruptible will, an Earthly wisdom, and a Carnal mind; and where these bear rule, there is a strong Enmity against God, and all things that be good; and un­der these Corruptible, Earthly, Carnal things, the Seed of God is in bondage, and groans under their burden; and in that state the understanding of all men is darkned and fast closed, that the things of God neither are nor can be perceived: And this is the ground of Error, when the understanding is so darkned, that the things of God cannot be perceived; and then not being known as they are in the ground, they are supposed to be what they are not, and so Opinions drawn concerning them, and Professions made of them, and a Wor­ship and Service set up in them, when they have no savour of God, nor agreement with the Scriptures of Truth; So, for Doctrine men set up Traditions, which rise from the many Inventions: And from this ground is risen all your Profession and Worship which in your Prela­tical Power is set up, and unto which you would compel a Conformi­ty, and impose it upon all Consciences, which is a thing of great weight, and needful to be truly tryed and examined, before it be so eagerly pursued, and so wilfully endeavoured to be imposed.

Therefore admit in coolness of a true Examination and Tryal by the Spirit of Truth, and from the Scriptures of Truth, and if your Practice and Worship be found to agree in one, without adding or diminish­ing, then you will be freely owned, without any Law to compel; but if your Practice and Worship be found contrary, then be not angry because it is denied and testified against; for in so doing, you will ma­nifest degeneration from reasonable men: therefore, hear your Exa­mination cooly and quietly, and if Truth prevail, then own it and submit unto it, and cease from your Traditions; but if you have any thing against it, then bring forth your strong Reasons, and prove them from the Scriptures of Truth, that it may be manifest to the under­standings [Page 4] of people, what is Truth, and what is Error: And for the better understanding of it, here followeth a short Catechism, which is given forth in love to the Simple, and for you to reade and peruse, ye Bishops, Doctors, Vicars, Curats, and all Prelaticals, wherein you may see Tradition and Truth moderately reasoning.

Tradition.

I have heard that there is a God, and that he is the maker of all things: and I have also heard that from Generation to Generation, this God hath been worshipped and served; and I think it but my reasonable duty to do as others have done before me.

Truth.

One onely true wise God there is, who is the maker of all things, and is over all things; but if thou hast no more knowledge of him, than by what thou hearest, thou art yet without him, and a stranger to him, and art an ignorant worshipper, and dost not know what thou worshippest; and what others have done in Generations past, will not make thy service accepted, though thou mayest wor­ship in the observation, and do all things in the custom of it; for it is only the present manifestation of God's Spirit in every man, in which God is truly served and worshipped, and in which the Service and Worship is accepted.

Trad.

But cannot I come to know God by hearing that which is reported of him? and, cannot I worship him and serve him, by ob­serving what others have done, and how they have worshipped in Ages past, and so following them for my Example?

Truth.

God is a Spirit, and makes himself manifest in Spirit; and that which is truly reported of him, is from the Spirit's manifestation, which all the holy men of God were inspired with, and made their Report from, and worshipped God in; and thou mayest hear this Report, and reade it, but being from the Spirit of God manifest in thee, thou canst neither know God, nor truly worship him; for God's Worship stands not in the observation, but in his living power, neither canst thou follow the Example of the holy men of God, but by the leadings of the same Spirit, which they were guided by, and lived in.

Trad.

But it is safe for me to minde the Scriptures, and that which therein is reported, and to endeavour to observe and do it, and then I question not but I shall know God, and be a true worshipper of him.

Truth.

That which all are to minde, is the manifestation of God's [Page 5] Spirit, for that is his own gift to every man that they might profit; and all that turn to it, and believe in it, their understandings are open­ed in the power of it, and then the Scriptures are truly known; and this is safe and will not deceive any, but will bring the assurance with it of Eternal Life: for, as thou standest in the Questioning, so also in Doubting and Condemnation, and all thy endeavours will not profit thee, or bring assurance of Eternal Life unto thee; for it is not in him that willeth, or in him that runneth, but, standing still in obedience to the present manifestation of God's Spirit, Salvation is seen and shewed in the Mercy of God: So thou must lay down thy life in thy obser­vation, which stands in thy Tradition, and come to Truths present ma­nifestation

Trad.

But I cannot know the Truth but by the Scripture, for it is the Scripture that makes the Truth manifest, and from the Scripture do I set up my Worship, and there ought to be a Conformity yeelded un­to it, and such as will not, to compel them by a Law.

Truth.

The understanding of Truth, is by the Spirit of Truth, and the Light of Christ in every man's Conscience makes it manifest; and this is reported in the Scripture, and is the sure Foundation, upon which the true Worship stands; and all that come to the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit, they are truly subject to it, and bow before it, and yeeld all obedience to the manifestation of it: and this is the true Worship, and the true Worshippers; and they▪ that come into this Worship, are not brought into it, or made conformable to it, by any National Law, neither do they seek after any such Law to force or compel others that differ from them, but commit it to the Power of God: And who comes into subjection to God's Power, and are made conformable unto that, they are the true Worshippers, and their service is performed unfeignedly, without any deceit or hypocrisie; and they appear not so much in an outward Conformity, as in Simpli­city and godly Sincerity, in which they are approved in the sight of God: So, thy Worship is found out of the Truth, and contrary to the Scriptures; and thy Law of men, to compel into a Conformity unto thy Worship, is found to be Antichristian, and to stand only in thy own Tradition, and not in the Power of Christ; so thou must either prove it from the Scriptures, or all thou canst say of it will not be re­ceived for Truth.

Trad.

My Worship is that which hath been accustomed through many Generations, and from many antient Fathers I have good proof [Page 6] of it; and though some things may be practised in Worship, which I cannot positively prove from the Scriptures, yet the continuance of them, and the National Law upholding them, makes them warrant­able and out of question.

Truth.

That which is accustomed and not in the Power of God, is out of the Truth, and an evil custom, and is to be abolished and not maintained; for that is the subtil ground from which many are de­ceived, who have nothing to say for their Religion and Worship, but what in thy bowels is generated; saying, It hath been good, and why is it not so now? and, our Fathers thus worshipped, and why may not we? and the Nations Law warrants and upholds it, and we must be subject to the Law. Thus do thy Children reason from thy de­ceivable working, by which their minds are blinded, that they cannot see the things that are, but lye groping after things that have been, which now are not, and from the continuance draw conclusions of their lawfulness; And because Laws are made to uphold them, there­fore are they subject to them; when the Nation's Law doth not reach, nor is not to meddle with things that pertain to God, or to the Con­science of any man: so that it doth not make the thing warrantable, or put it out of question, because it doth provide for the uphold­ing of it, seeing it hath not any thing at all to do with it, but the Truth doth call it in question; And if it cannot be proved to be a practice which the Scriptures do allow, and warrant the lawfulness of it, Truth doth reprove it, and also the Nations Law that doth provide for the upholding of it.

Trad.

I would know what those things are that the Scriptures do not allow, or bear witness to, which in my Worship is set up, and doth belong unto it in the custom of it, and if they be but ceremonial, I shall not stand so much upon them; but as for my Fundamentals I shall prove them from Scriptures, and the Saints practice, to be sound.

Truth.

Lay down thy Fundamentals and what they are, that they may be known, and, in their place, come to Tryal, and be proved.

Trad.

These be the Foundation-Principles of my Religion, and of which I have good ground to believe that they are sound, because I find in the Scriptures that the Saints performed them, and served God in them; and also such as were appointed for the performance of them, which in my Worship I do truly observe, as they did; for I have Chur­ches, [Page 7] and Preaching, and Praying, and Singing, and Bishops and Mini­sters to perform them, and also other Officers under them, which is for my Church-Order.

Truth.

These in their place must all be examined and tryed, and by the Spirit of Truth proved, whether they be right in the ground, and have their rise from the Power of God; But what thou canst not prove amongst thy Ceremonies, to be warrantable from the Scriptures of Truth, open thine eye and behold them, that thou mayest see what Monsters thou hast generated, and brought forth from thy adulterous womb, and behold thy Eldest son that sits in the highest seat in Rome, who hath preferred and set up all thy Children in great honour and dignity; and people in the Darkness have run after them, without any enquiry from whence they came, and they have been delightful to the carnal mind, and from thence have been highly esteemed; and so hath the birth of thy adulterous womb deceived the Nations, and the names that thou hast given them are not to be found in the Scrip­ture, as in any wayes to belong to the Saints Worship; thy Rails, thy Altars, thy Sacraments, thy Cross in Childrens foreheads, and sprink­ling Water in their faces, and calling it Baptism; thy Organs, thy Anthems, thy Singing-men and Boyes, thy Hoods, thy Surplices and thy Tipits, with many other things which by thee is observed in thy Service and Worship, that the Lord never commanded, nor the Saints never practised, neither is there any Scripture for them, but thou hast generated them and brought them forth in this dark night of Apostasie, and hast set them up in thy Worship, as things of great use, and from that perswasion that in thy self thou hast of them, thou wouldest com­pel by thy Laws all others to bow unto them.

Trad.

I am reasonably, satisfied from what hath been said, as to the Ceremonies belonging to my Worship, and I do see that they are not of such absolute necessity to be used, or by any Law to be imposed, there­fore I shall be willing to leave every man to his liberty in observing them, and shall not force or compel any. But as for my Church, Preaching, Praying, Singing, Bishops and Ministers, they must be duly observed, and every man by a Law compelled thereunto, who in himself is not made willingly subject; for all these are warrantable from the Scriptures, and I have their names from thence, and in these cannot be deceived.

Truth.

I shall try them in order, and if I find them right in the ground I shall approve them, but if not, I must testifie against them; [Page 8] for, I judge not by the appearance, or by the names, but in the ground and nature; therefore speak plainly what thy Church is, and also shew the Foundation it stands upon, that I may proceed to tryal.

Trad.

My Church is that, which through many Generations hath been a place for my Worship to be performed in, and it is consecrated and set apart for that Service; and I have also looked many Ages past, and have found from antient Fathers that it hath been much set by and highly esteemed, therefore the Foundation cannot but be right, and I must uphold it and my Worship in it.

Truth.

Now I shall try thy Church, and the Foundation of it, and see upon what it stands: for if the Foundation be not right, the whole Building must fall; and there is no man can lay another Foundation than that which is layed, which is Jesus Christ, and that which is brought forth from his Power, that is of God; and this is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of Truth: And, if it be not in God, it is none of his, but an adulterated Harlot, covered over with the mystery of Iniquity. Therefore Tradition be silent a little, and Truth will shew thee thy Error, and let thee see the false Foundation thy Church stands upon, and also manifest the true Church, and thereby thou mayest see how far thou art degenerated from the Life and Truth which the Saints enjoyed and possessed, and upon which the Church of God hath ever been builded and stood. So, be cool, and hear what Truth saith, for now thy Church comes to tryal.

Thou hast perverted the right way of the Lord by thy Tradition and hast been setting up thy visible things in the stead of that which is spiritual, and hast given them a name out of the nature, by which thou hast deceived the Nations, and thy things that do appear are not the things of God; though thou hast made them very beautiful to behold, yet a sandy foundation they stand upon, and will not abide the day of tryal; for the Foundation of thy Church is of thy own lay­ing, and the Building is thy own handy-work, and thy Church hath been set up in the midnight of Apostasie, since the true Church hath been driven into the Wilderness; and the Consecration of it hath been performed by men of polluted lips, and thy Eldest son hath been the promoter of it, who himself hath lost the key of knowledge, and so promotes and sets up what thou generates in thy bowels; and this is come to pass since the dayes of the Apostles, the Spirit of Truth being lost and ravined from, darkness hath overspred, and gross darkness hath covered, and peoples minds have been blinded, that thy Witch­craft [Page 9] and Sorceries hath not been perceived, and so hast thou formed a false likeness, and given it a true name, by which thou hast deceived▪ in drawing the minds of people to believe that thy work is that which it is not: But the Foundation of God is more sure, and the true Church is built upon it, and receives its name from the nature, and not from any false conception; for, the Church is in God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this is the pillar and ground of Truth, and is laid upon Christ the living stone, in whom the building is fitly framed, and groweth up unto an holy Temple in the Lord, and it is presented without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; and there is the Conse­cration of it, received in the Holiness of his life, and he becomes the Head of it, and it is truly his own Body, which he takes to himself in everlasting Righteousness, and espouseth it in his Life for ever and ever; and this doth not decay nor wax old, but is the same, without any variableness▪ throughout all Generations. So is thy Church truly tryed, and the Foundation of it is found false, and the true Church▪ nature it hath not; therefore is the name to be blotted out, that from henceforth none may be deceived with it.

Trad.

This is strange, that my Church should be questioned, which through so many Ages hath been much esteemed and promoted; and, if it be not right, then what is become of those that are gone before, and did not know it otherwise?

Truth.

In thick darkness things seem to be that which they are not, but the day makes them manifest as they are, and the Light of Christ truly discovers in the ground, and being found amiss they must be questioned, and also denied. And what other Generations have observed, and how they walked, is not now the question; for, they knowing no more, and being faithful to what they did know, they have their reward: And this proves nothing for thy false Church and Wor­ship, which thou upholdest by thy Tradition, and not from the pre­sent manifestation of God's Spirit in this Age and Generation.

Trad.

I shall further consider of this; but for my Preaching, which is a chief thing in my Worship, I know that is sound, and there can be nothing against it.

Truth.

That Preaching which stands in the demonstration of Gods Spirit, and in Power, is sound Preaching, and pierces through the darkness unto that which lies in bondage, and revives and raises it in Power; But that Preaching which stands in the enticing words of man's wisdom, that is not sound: and this is the ground of thy Preach­ing, [Page 10] which is so chiefly esteemed by thee in thy Worship, and by which thou deceivest many people, having got good words, and in thy wisdom speakest them forth, and labourest in the strength of that wisdom to entice and draw disciples after thee; and so dost thou teach for Doctrine thy own Tradition, and other mens lines and labours are the strength of thy Preaching; and what Ambrose, Austine, Luther, Calvin, Gregory, and others have said, and what Expositions they have made of the Scriptures, thou canst say, they have well observed. And this is the ground of thy Preaching, O thou deceiving Tradition. And now is thy Preaching found to be out of Truths power, and contrary to the Preaching of those, that were made able Ministers, not of the Letter, but of the Spirit.

Trad.

But cannot I have sound Preaching in my Worship, though something from the Fathers may be quoted and observed? for, they have spoken good things, and have expounded the Scriptures plainly, and given true meanings of them, which is a great help in Preaching.

Truth.

Sound Preaching is in the Power of God, and not from any Exposition or meaning that from others is given upon the Scrip­tures; for, who run thither, and speak from that, they stretch themselves beyond their own measure, which the true Preachers dare not do, but keep to the gift of God; and as it moves in the measure, so it is preached, and so believed: For true Preaching is a declaration of the Truth of God, as it doth arise and make it self manifest to the under­standing; and so there comes to be a true witnessing of it in the Ex­perience, through the operation of the Power of God, from which it is preached as it is known: and this is not found among old Authors and Expositors, nor in thy Rhetorick and Logick, or in thy made Doctrines, Uses, Reasons, Helps, Motives, Arguments, and Appli­cations, but in the Spirit's Demonstration and in Power.

Trad.

What is it I can say that will be received, and not opposed? Those things that I have long observed, and Ages past have looked at them to be very good, now are denyed; but for my Praying in my Worship, that I know is right and without exception, for it is mentioned in the Scriptures, and was practised very much by the Saints; and I have the Lord's Prayer, and have made many other good Prayers, and have set them forth, which be very useful and comfor­table for all conditions, and upon all occasions; and I have put them together in a Book, which I call the Book of Common-Prayer, and make use of it in my Devotion and Worship.

[Page 11] Truth.

Prayer in the Spirit the Saints practised, and their Service was accepted; but from this thou art degenerated, and in thy Tra­dition hast made and formed such Prayers as the Lord hath not requi­red, neither doth he open his ear to hear them, though thou makest many of them; and that which thou callest the Lord's Prayer, which is so often set down in thy Book of Common-Prayer, and with mouths and lips so often repeated, be thou silent, and make no mention of it, for thou hast nothing to do with it; and though thou hast the words to speak, yet thou dost not perform the duty of Prayer, being from the Spirit that maketh Intercession with groans that cannot be uttered: For Prayer stands not in words but in power, and the breathings go forth in secret, and the Father that seeth in secret he rewardeth open­ly; and the Babe receives a supply of what it stands in need of; and this is performed in the Spirit that knows the need, and makes requests with sighs and groans unexpressible, and also moves unto words and expressions: and here is the unlimited Power, which worketh according to the good pleasure of its own Will, which thou hast limited in thy set Forms and made Prayers, having given forth thy Directions what must be said, and how much at a time; and people must say no more, nor go no further; and sometimes thy Minister must say, and sometimes the People must say, and some­times the Clerk must say: Is not this thy practice in thy Common-Prayer-Book-Worship? hast thou not made Epistles and Gospels, and Collects, and appointed them for their dayes and times? and hast thou not made a Letany, for thy Priest to say a part, and the People to say a part? and hast thou not given directions how People must be Married, and hast set a Form and made Prayers for the per­formance of that Service; and also how People must be Buried, and what is to be said and done in that Service; and what the Priest is to say, and what the Clerk is to say? And hast thou not set a Form and made many Prayers when Bread and Wine is to be received, which thou callest a Sacrament? and hast thou not set a Form of words for the Priest to say unto the People when he gives it, and how it must be received, and what words the Priest must speak kneeling, and what standing; and when he must turn his face to the People, and speak with a loud voice, and when he must turn his face another way? And hast thou not set a Form and made Prayers for Women to be Churched, and what the Priest must say, and how he must pray in that Service? And hast thou not set a Form and made Prayers for [Page 12] Children when they are sprinkled with Water, which thou callest Baptizing? and hast thou not ordered that there shall be some people provided to undertake for them? and hast not thou given them the names of Godfathers and Godmothers? and hast thou not ordered that for a Male-Child there must be two Men and one Woman, and for a Female, two Women and one Man? and hast thou not set a Form in words, what the Priest must say unto them, and what they must say unto the Priest? And hast not thou ordered, that after all these things performed which thou hast invented, then the Priest to pronounce the Peace of God, and the Blessing of God upon all the Congregation, and then the Service is concluded? And is not this thy Common-Prayer-Book-Worship, in which thou art limiting the Ho­ly One, through thy Tradition; and teaching people to ask and pray, when the Spirit is not felt to help them? And have not people been long asking in thy formed words, but have not received, neither are they satisfied? Oh thou adulterous Tradition, what monstrous births hast thou brought forth? and what names hast thou given them? and how like are thy names unto that which is true? Thou hast given thy formed words the name of Prayer, and canst say. Come, let us pray, when thou neither feelest the movings of God's Spirit, nor his Power, but in thy own words, which thou hast made and formed, canst speak in thy own will, and in thy own time, and give it the name of Prayer: and with thy names hast thou deceived the Nations, who have not understood the nature; and thy named Church, and Preach­ing and Praying, hast thou vailed over with coverings of thy own making, which are now rending off from thee; and thou canst not hide thy self any longer under the Names, for now is the Nature seen in the pure Light of Christ, which makes all things manifest; and thy Common-Prayer-Book is seen to be conceived in thy adulterous womb, and to branch forth from the Pope thy Eldest son, and thou art made manifest to be out of the Truth, and thy Service and Wor­ship contrary to the Scriptures of Truth, and to the Saints Practice, who prayed with the Spirit and with the Understanding.

Trad.

But what if my Common-Prayer-Book do not fully agree with the Scriptures and the Saints Practice, yet there are many good things in it, and many Scripture-sentences, which may edifie and comfort?

Truth.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that is against the Spirit, and can neither edifie nor comfort, though good words [Page 13] and Scripture-sentences may be spoken: for it is not speaking the words of others that doth make a true Prayer or a living Sacrifice, but the receiving a measure of the same Spirit of Prayer and Suppli­cation, and to feel it poured forth, by which Intercession is made, and a living Sacrifice performed, holy and acceptable, which is not in thy Common-Prayer-Book to be found; therefore it is made of none effect, because thy bowels bring it forth, and the Pope gives life and breath unto it, and from his loyns it draws its strength, and not from the Power of God.

Trad.

I see it is a very hard matter to be owned and received in this day; for I could not have been believed that I should have ever been opposed, or my Church, Preaching or Praying denied; but my Singing, which is another part of my Worship, that is so plainly ma­nifested to be the Saints Practice, that certainly there is none can deny that.

Truth.

Singing is owned where it is rightly used and practised, and who are raised out of the day of mourning by the Power of God, and have a Psalm given them in the Spirit, they may sing and make melody in their hearts unto the Lord; and this is a Spiritual Song which is put into the mouths of the Babes, who sing with the Spirit and with the Understanding: but David's words being rimed, and then tuned, and the mouths of Hypocrites filled with them, is such a practice as the Saints never used; so that the mouths of all thy Singers must be stopped, who have never mourned, nor have not learned to sing with the Spirit and with the Understanding.

Trad.

But there may be some that are joyful in the Lord; and though all cannot witness that state, yet they may sing whose right it is.

Truth.

None in the Fall have any right to sing; but the Ran­somed return with Songs; and these Songs are not David's words put into meeter, and then tuned, and sung with a vain mind; but the living Praises of the Lord sounded forth of the Babes mouth: So thy Singing must come into silence, and there sink down, untill thou hast passed through the day of mourning to receive a Psalm in the Spirit, and with the Spirit, and with the Understanding to sing it.

Trad.

What can I say to be received for Truth? my Ceremonies they are all denied and disproved; and my Fundamentals they are strongly opposed, yet I shall not be out of love with them, though [Page 14] much hath been said against them, for I know my Bishops and Mini­sters set much by them, and chiefly by my Common-Prayer-Book, for it is a great help unto them, and with the use of it, their Ser­vice is made easie to them. And there can be nothing said against my Bishops and Ministers, the Scriptures speake so plainly of them.

Truth.

He that desires the Office of a Bishop, he desires a good thing; and he that is a Minister of Christ, and laboureth in the Word and Doctrine, he is worthy of double honour: and here was the Power of God in Timothy and Titus, who were true Bishops, and the Power of God set them in that Office: and the desire of this is a good thing; and by the Power of God they were Re­deemed out of the Earth, and were not covetous nor greedy of filthy lucre, nor proud and lifted up; but with all meekness, gentleness and patience, they were instant in the Word. And it may be read in 1 Tim. 3. what Paul did write concerning a Bishop, and what manner of person he ought to be, and how he is to behave himself. And there is nothing spoken of an Arch-Bishop, or a Lord Bi­shop, or of a Diocess, or hundreds a year for their maintenance; but he he saith,they must not be Novices, lest being lifted up with Pride they fall into the Condemnation of the Devil. So it is not the name of a Bishop, but the Power of God which is to be desired, in which the Office standeth, and is a good thing; and this makes a Bishop, and sets him in his Office, and to see to his Place with di­ligence. And he that mindes the Power of God, and desires the Power of God, he desires the Office of a Bishop, and so comes into the good work, that is wrought in the Power of God, where he is rightly ordered in his Office, and in which his Office stands: And such a one is not a Novice, nor lifted up with Pride, but stands in the Power and Wisdom of God, and rules in his Office with all meekness and humbleness of mind; and he stands ready to watch over the whole Flock of God, and to instruct the younger in the Power of God, in which he bears his Office: and who comes to the Power of God, they come to the true Ministry, and are true Labourers for God, and are instant in season and out of sea­son, that they may gather People to God: and as they receive the Gift of God in the power, so they minister, as good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God: and such are true Bishops and true Ministers, who are born not of the will of man, nor of flesh, nor of [Page 15] blood, but of God, and receive their Office and Ministration in the Power of God.

And now, Tradition, hearken what Truth saith, and give thy Answer to what is demanded of thee. Who made thy Arch-Bishops and Lord-Bishops? and who gave them those Names? and who first divided unto them their several Diocesses, and appointed them to rule within their own Diocess? And who first made Deans and Prebends, Doctors, Vicars, and Curates? and who gave unto them their Names? And who first set up certain places for Schools? and who gave the name of Universities? and who set up the several Col­ledges? and how came they to be called Christ's Colledge, and Em­manuel Colledge, and John's Colledge, and Jesus Colledge, with other names severally for them? and who gave them such Names? and who first ordai [...] that men should be made Ministers at these Schools and Colledges, and no where else? and who first ordered, that if he have not been so many years at those places, and com­menced to his Degrees, he cannot be approved? and who set up such Commencements and Degrees, that a man must be made a Batchellour of Art, or a Master of Art, before he can be approved to be a Minister in thy Order? Who first brought up all these things, and from whence have they sprung? And who first ordained that the Tenth part of things increasing unto people, should be paid to thy Colledge-Ministers? and who first made that Law which forces and compells the payment of the Tenth part of things increased, unto such a Ministry? and whether are such the Ministers of Christ, who make use of that Law to force their Maintenance, contrary to the freedom of people; and to proceed against such as cannot give it them freely, by suing and imprisoning their bodies, and spoyling their goods? Are these thy Bishops and Ministers, which thou sayest there can be nothing said against them? Open thine eye, and be­hold them, for they are Monsters, which from thy adulterous Con­ception are brought forth, and they are stamped with thy Image, and not with the Power of God; and all thy Abominations are de­nied and testified against, being seen in the Eternal Spirit of God to be out of the Truth of God, and contrary to the Scriptures and practice of the Saints; and thou hast no proof for the law­fulness of any of them, but Continuance and Custom, through which thou hast brought in thy Tradition, which hath received strength from the Pope thy Eldest son, who hath set it up for Doctrine and [Page 16] Worship within the bowels of England, and hath made Laws and Statutes in the dark night of Apostasie for the upholding of it, and compelling all people unto a Conformity to it. This is a Charge against thee; and if thou hast any thing to say for the clearing of thy self, Truth will hear thee.

Trad.

I have esteemed very much of my Bishops and Ministers, and looked upon them to be exceeding serviceable in my Worship; and having elected them into such Places, and put them upon such Offices, I judge it but a reasonable thing to provide well for their Maintenance; and there is not a more equal way that I could find out, than by requiring the Tenth part of things encreased unto people, and providing a Law to compel it from such as will not freely pay it; and I have setled them in certain Places, and over certain People, which in their respective Pla [...]s, are to maintain them, by yeelding and paying that part of their Increase as I have appointed for them; and though I have not Scripture for the War­rant of it, yet I have brought it forth as a thing that is decent and orderly.

Truth.

That which is decent and orderly, is brought forth in the Power of God, and that brings forth all things justly and equal­ly, and orders one man to do to another, as they would have another to do unto them; and this doth not compel any man to pay or part with any of his Increase, contrary to his own freedom, or else to sue him, and imprison his body, and spoyl his goods; for he himself would not be so done unto: So that what thou hast provided for the maintenance of thy Bishops and Ministers, is not according to the Truth of God, nor answereth not to the Maintenance of Bishops and Ministers in the Primitive times, who first gathered people unto the Spirituall, before they reaped their Carnall; and they had no need to compel the Carnall by a Law, after they had gathered them to the Spirituall, and brought them to taste of that; there was then an openness and a freeness begot­ten in their hearts to minister their whole Substance, and to lay it down at the feet of them that had begotten them into the Truth, and laboured amongst them in the Service of God; and here was no se [...]ing out any part of what was encreased, and a Law to compel it, either of the Ninth or Tenth, or any other part; but the whole Substance freely offered, and so much taken of it as there was need. And this is as truly trusted in the hands of true Bishops [Page 17] and Ministers now, and they receive what they need, and no more: and whether it be the Tenth, or Twentieth, or Thirtieth part, If it supply their need, they are truly contented; and so they gather Flocks, and feed upon the Milk of those they have gathered; and plant Vineyards, and eat the Fruit of them; but do not compell by any outward Law, Milk to be given them out of another Flock, nor Fruit out of another Vineyard: So that thy decent Order which thou speakest of, is proved Confusion and Disorder, being out of the life and power of Truth; and all thy vain Tradition is seen with the pure Light of Christ, in which all things are made manifest, and with the Light and Truth thou art reproved.

Trad.

Certainly this thing which makes such discoveries of my practices, and with such boldness reproves me for them, it is of God; for it is not in any fear of me or my Power, which now is strong and in great authority, and unto which I had thought all would have bowed, without disputing or questioning; but I see there is that risen that appears against me, and makes such discoveries of me, that I cannot keep hid any longer; therefore I shall let it alone, and deal with others that I can cause to be subject; for, the more I deal with this Manifestation of Truth, the more is my Tradition discovered and opened unto all People; so that it is safest for me to be quiet and let it alone, lest by striving to uphold all, I come to lose all, and so be rejected and disesteemed; and all my Honour and Dignity, wherein I now stand, be laid in the dust, and trodden upon: And if I had thought that there had been such a thing made manifest in this Age, as the Truth, I should have been more reserved and retired, but I had thought I might have boasted and gloryed in my own handy-work, and that it would have passed without being questioned, as heretofore it hath done; but now I see it is otherwise, therefore I shall be silent.

Truth.

That which doth discover thee and thy deceitfull practice, that is a Manifestation of God, and is the Truth of God, which was before thou hadst a name, and will abide when thy name is lost; and it doth boldly reprove thee, and is without any fear of thee or thy power, and hath opened thee, and ript up thy bowels, and dis­covered thy adulterous womb, and all the false conceptions that have been conceived therein; and it hath made manifest thy first-born and eldest son, unto whom thou hast given a name, and calls him [Page 18] the Pope of Rome; and thy younger Children are also by the Truth discovered, and the names which thou hast given them, by which thou hast deceived the Nations.

Now, behold ye Arch-Bishops, Lord-Bishops, Deans, Prebends, Doctors, Vicars, Curates, and all Prelaticals, here is the womb of your conception opened, and that made manifest from which you draw your breath, and prolong the length of your dayes, with all your Service and Worship, which you so much esteem and promote, and labour to compel a Conformity to; It is here discovered in the Power of Truth, and you may see, by perusing this Catechism in mo­deration, your great degeneration from the Life of the Prophets, Christ and the Apostles, and how the Names invented, and the Worship by you practised, differ in the ground from the Practice and Worship that the Saints performed in the Power of God's Spirit. Where have you from the Scriptures, or the Saints Practice, any Precept or President for your builded Church of Wood and Stone, your Bells hanging in the end of it, and to toul and ring them when you would have people come together to your Worship; your set-time before mid-day, and your set-time after mid-day to meet toge­ther, and perform your Worship, your Common-Prayer-Book and your Letany, and your Prayers, divided and appointed when and how to be said; your Preaching in your methods and forms, your Text taking, and your Doctrines raising, with your Uses, Reasons, Helps, Motives, Arguments and Applications; your Singing in the riming and tuning; your Bishopricks and Diocesses; your Deanries and Prebendries; your Doctors, Vicars and Curates; your Tithes and set Maintenance; your great Livings and lesser Livings; your Parishes, and places of Settlement; your Mattens and Evensong; your Organs, Rails, Altars, Fonts, Sacraments, Crossing Children in their foreheads, and sprinkling Water in their faces, and calling it Baptism; your Anthems, and your Singing-men and Boyes to sing them; your Hoods, Surplices and Tipits; with many other things which by you are observed in your Service and Worship, that the Lord never commanded, nor the Saints ever practised, nor any Scripture to prove the lawfulness of them? Therefore consider the rise of them, and the truth of them, before you pursue so eagerly to impose them, or compel a Conformity to them; for tender people, who are come to the least manifestation of Truth, they cannot bear such [Page 19] an Imposition upon their Consciences; though by Laws and Statutes you may strive to impose them, and proceed against them as trans­gressors, if they deny submission to them, yet will not your Cruelty bring tender People into a Conformity to your Traditions; and if you will but consider coolly, and pursue this Catechism soberly, you will see that it is not reasonable, to compel a Conformity unto those things that you are setting up and practising in your Devotion and Worship, or to impose them upon the Consciences of any people, but rather leave all to stand in their own liberty, and to chuse or re­fuse as they are perswaded in their own Conscience; which is but a reasonable thing to be granted: for, if you see no further in your selves than that which Tradition hath brought in, and set up, and you in your Conscience be perswaded of its lawfulness, and perform it as a matter of Conscience; would you think it reasonable to be compelled from that unto another thing, and have another thing imposed upon your Consciences by any outward power, which you do not feel a perswasion in your minds unto? And if this seem hard unto you if it should be so done, Then is it not the same unto another, And will you not do unto others, as you would have others do unto you? And why cannot you be con­tented in your own perswasion, and your own liberty in it, without imposing it upon the Consciences of others who are otherwise per­swaded? And this is not reasonable in the sight of moderate men; therefore leave off exercising Lordship, that all people may stand in their Liberty, and walk as they are perswaded in their own Con­science, and impose not your Observations and your Traditions up­on any, who are not in themselves perswaded of their lawfulness; for that makes many Hypocrites, but can never make one Chri­stian. So, there must be first a perswasion wrought in the Consci­ence, and a belief in the Truth and Lawfulness of what is to be observed, or the heart can never stand right unto it, though it be in great strictness imposed: And this brings people but into an ap­pearance, and to make a shew of the thing outwardly, when the heart is not after the thing which is imposed upon them; and when a Conformity is not yeelded, as by your Law is required, then to proceed in your Cruelty to imprison and persecute the tender-hearted, who cannot for Conscience-sake bow to your Traditions; This is not reasonable before moderate men, nor approved in the sight of the living God. Therefore, hear and consider, ye Bishops, [Page 20] Deans, Prebends, Doctors, Vicars and Curates, with all Pre [...]ti­cals, and let your moderation appear, for the Lord is at hand, and in his Eternal Power your way he is trying, and you must come up to the Bar of his Judgment-Seat, and give an account; and think it not strange to be catechised, for you have need to be taught what the first principle of the pure Religion is; and if you will but soberly peruse this Catechism, you may know and learn that which your Universities could never give you the knowledge of, nor all your Learning and Wisdom could ever teach you; And in love to the Simple hath Truth opened it self plainly and simply, that you might come to know that which in the darkness hath from your eyes been hid, and that you might no longer oppose it, and persecute those that walk in it, but leave Truth to its operation, which brings forth true and perfect Freedom; and if you did but know the Truth, and the Freedom that is begotten in it, you would not be so envious against it, and set up your Tradition in opposition to it: But this is done that the Scripture might be fulfilled, they hated me without a cause. And this is your honour and worldly glory, which lifts you up in pride, which God is staining. And now, do you believe that your Foundation is right, and your Building safe? I tell you, Nay; for, God will destroy both it and you▪ if you do not speedi­ly cease from it, and repent of it, and do not busie and throng your selves so much to promote it, and to finish it; for God hath deter­mined to overthrow it for ever. Oh ye deceived men, who have no strength but in your Tradition, nor no comfort but from the milk of her breast; you have been long drawing and sucking, and yet are dry and lean, and your immortal Souls receive no refreshing nor satisfaction. Why are ye so blinded, and so much deceived, and cannot otherwise be perswaded but that Tradition is the right way, and from that Conclusion, endeavour an Imposition upon every Conscience, when their Faith stands not in the same thing, nor are not so perswaded of it as you are? and what have you to do to im­pose Tradition upon the Consciences of others, more than others to impose their Opinions and Judgments upon your Consciences? And, would you judge it reasonable that any should so do unto you? And if it belong unto you to do it on your parts, more than others to do it on their parts, then make it manifest how, and from whom you have received that power? For moderate men are now satisfied, that Schools and Colledges cannot give it you; and they are also satis­fied, [Page 21] that Christ doth not give it you, and also that there is no Scripture to warrant you; therefore Truth enquires moderately of you, from whence, and from whom this Imposing Power▪ upon the Consciences of others you receive, seeing it is made manifest that you walk by Tradition and not after Christ: For Imposition and Persecution are an evident Testimony against you, and fully open and make you manifest to be of a contrary spirit unto the Apostles, who were hated and persecuted, yet they loved and blessed; and here they manifested their love unto Him, who commanded that they should love their Enemies, and do good to those that hated them; and they were his Disciples, and kept his Commandments. And all that truly follow him in this day, he begets in them the same mind▪ and they keep his Commandments with joy, and dare not persecute any people upon the Earth for their Opinion and Judgment in matters of Religion; nor dare they impose any thing upon the Consciences of others by any outward Law, but leave it to Him that judgeth righteously, who hath the Ruling Power over the Conscience; and as he is believed in, he works a perswasion in the Conscience un­to the Truth, as he makes it manifest; and then the Truth is joyned unto, from a true Perswasion, and not from an outward Imposition; and you are not to judge in these things, for in so doing you take his Right from Him, and set up that which is not his; and when you have done it, then you labour to impose it upon every Conscience: And this is a quite contrary thing to the Saints practice, who durst not set up any thing that did not stand in the Power of God: and when the Power had brought any thing forth, they did not impose it upon the Conscience of any by an outward Law, that they there­by might compel a Conformity to it, but they preached it in the Power, and so commended themselves unto every man's Conscience in the sight of God. Therefore, behold your degeneration, and what hath happened unto you in this apostatizing night of darkness, in which you have erred from the right way, and gone astray from the leadings of God, and from the Power of his living Spirit, and so have brought forth your own dead works, and are serving the li­ving God in them: And what you have sought out in your Tradition, that you have set up for Doctrine and Worship, and would bring all people to bow unto it; but now the day declares you, and in the Land of Tradition the Light hath found you, and the habitation of your dwelling-places is seen under the Groves and green Trees of [Page 22] your own planting, and moderate people cannot come unto you, nor inhabite with you; for your Rest is polluted, and sudden de­struction is coming upon it.

Now all Bishops, Deans, Prebends, Doctors, Vicars, Curates, and all Prelaticals, turn to the Truth, and lay hold upon it, and let Tradition go; for Truth was before Tradition, and the Truth will bring Tradition to an end. So your Foundation is not safe, nor your Building steadfast, but stands in the unstable waters of your own humane Inventions, and not upon Christ the Rock of Ages. And now Truth hath moderately enquired after you, and having found you out of the Life of the Prophets, Christ and the Apo­stles, it warns you all to Repentance, that the Judgment may be diverted, and the hand of Severity stayed, which certainly is haste­ning down upon you, without speedy Repentance. So escape for your lives, that the stroak may not fall upon you, and smite you down into the Death for ever.

Now all you High and Mighty, Wise and Learned Ones, give ear and hear Truth's Testimony, and see if you can reade the Parable, and learn what it means.

Truth. ‘I was a stranger in a far Country, and amongst a strange people, and under the Government of a strange King. I was in great Captivity and a great distance from the Land of my Nati­vity; and I had many heavie Yokes laid upon me, and the strange people did evil entreat me, and the strange King did sorely oppress me, and laid heavie Burdens upon me; and when I had any de­sires towards the Land of my Nativity, then did the strange King rise up against me, and sorely afflicted me, and was cruel to­wards me. I sought how I might get forth of his Country, that I might be freed from his Cruelty. I sought, but I could not find; I travelled in sore pain, but could not find a man to give me ease. Then my sorrow did much encrease, and my anguish was sore upon me, so that I was near unto fainting and despairing; yet a secret hope sometimes rose in me, that I should be delivered and set free: Then I came into a stillne [...], and in quietness stayed, and in patience waited, though I was desolate and sore afflicted; and being brought to stand still, add in patience to wait, a Deli­verer I found near at hand, and from the Land of my Nativity a pure Light did shine, and in it I see the way opened which passed [Page 23] through the Land, and I presently joyned to the Light, and it went forward towards the place from whence it came, and I fol­lowed it diligently: Then did the King and People rise to pursue me, to have taken and to have kept me; but the Light took my part, and smote the King with his People, and discomfited them, and brake the Yoke, and removed the Burdens from me; it was my guide, and led me by the hand and from the wicked King and People it me redeemed: Then w [...]s my sorrow turned into joy, and my mourning into songs of praises; for Deliverance came by an out-stretched Arm, and my Freedom was wrought by an in­visible living Power, unto which my Testimony stands for ever.’

TRƲTH.
THE END.

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