By a Conformable Clergy-Man.

Let your moderation be known unto all men, the Lord is at hand,

Phil. 4.4.

But if you bite and devour each other, take heed that ye be not consumed of one another,

Gal. 5.15.

LONDON: Printed for Nathaniel Ranew, at the Kings Arms in St. Pauls-Church-Yard. 1681.

Some Additional Remarques on the late Book of the Reverend Dean of St. PAULS, &c.


I Have read the Reflections on the Preface to Dr. Stilling-fleet's late Book. You have imposed another task on me, and that is, to make some Remarques also on the Book it self.

The Learned Doctor had said in his Sermon, that he dared to say, That if most of the Preachers at this day in the separate Congregati­ons, were soberly asked their judgments, Whether it were lawful for the people to join with them in the publick Assemblies, they would not deny it. This Mr. Alsop says he believes they would flatly deny, and speaks it with confidence. To which the Dr. replies.

I think no man doubts of his confidence that ever looked into his book: but in this matter he is so brisk, that he saith, he doth not question that he should carry it by the poll; and is withall so indiscreet, as on this occasion to triumph in the poll of Nonconformists at Guildhall, as though all that gave their votes there, had owned these principles of separation; for which many of those Gentlemen will give him little thanks; and is a very unreasonable boasting of their numbers. Page 107.

This I think is one of the wildest conclusions that ever was infer­red from any assertion. The Dr. had said, that he dared to affirm, that most Nonconformist Ministers would acknowledg (if they were asked) the lawfulness of peoples joining in publick Assemblies. Mr. A. is of another opinion, and believes they (i.e. the Nonconform­ing [Page 2]Ministers) would flatly deny it; and says he, Let these men be brought to the poll, I question not they will carry it; and I suppose that though the Dr. preached in the Chappel, he never took the poll of the Nonconformists (i.e. the Preachers, in Guildhall) The meaning of all which is plainly no more but this: Mr. A. believes that more of the Nonconforming Ministers would deny, than affirm the law­fulness of joining in Parochial Churches; and that if they were numbred, those that are for the negative would carry it. And to rebate the Drs. confidence of the affirmative, he adds, that tho' he preached in the Chappel, yet he never took the poll of the Non­conformists in the Hall, and therefore may be out and mistaken con­cerning them.

How can the Dr. infer from hence, that Mr. A. doth indiscreetly triumph in the number of Noncon's in general, when he spake only of their Preachers? How can he infer that Mr. A. would suggest that all that gave their votes there, did own the principles of se­paration, when he spake not one word concerning them? Some men may want persons to libel and expose; but at this rate 'twill be hard to want pretences and occasions for it; and the Dr. deserves as little thanks for traducing Mr. A. as he would have deserved if he had reported the Gentlemen that gave their Votes at Guildhall, as friends to the principles of separation.

P. 114. The Dr. having discoursed the inconvenience of Separa­tion upon a conceit of purer administrations, and less defective ways of worship; and represented the ignorance, pride, injudici­ousness, and conceitedness of the ordinary sort of zealous profes­sors, and the ungovernable and factious humor of that sort of peo­ple, and the pernicious consequence of complying with them in the words of Mr. B. he enquires, And must the reins be laid on their necks, that they may run whither they please, because for sooth they know what is good for their souls better than the King doth; and they love their souls better than the King doth; and the King cannot bind them to hurt, famish, or endanger their souls?

To the Drs. question I shall reply, by asking another: Must the people be tied neck and heels together, because they are proud, ig­norant, and injudicious, or because they are inclinable to faction, and ungovernable? Is there no medium betwixt laying the reins up­on the neck, and tying that and their heels together? Betwixt per­mitting them a boundless liberty, and giving them none at all? Surely methinks 'twere not difficult to see an intermediate space be­tween extremes so vastly distant from each other.

And let me add, Do not the people know what Preaching and Preachers do them most good? what convinces their judgments, bows their wills, enlivens their affections, and creates upon their souls the clearest and most passionate resolutions for the service of God and their own salvation? If they do not know these things, they are not men, but brutes. Do not men know which meat and drink doth best strengthen and nourish, and is least offensive to their stomacks and digestive faculties? This I think will be granted: and may they not know what sort of preaching doth best edifie and build them in spiritual strength and stature? And is it any disho­nour to the King, that the people know these things better than he does? Or doth that person lay blame upon the King, that should af­firm it? And yet this is that which the Doctor seems to insinuate, for he enquires, Why must the King bear all the blame, if mens souls be not provided for according to their wishes? that is, if they have not such preaching and preachers as they would have.

But though the King be not to be blamed, that mens souls be no better provided for, there be men in the world that are to be blamed for it, and who they are, let the Doctor conjecture. There are Preachers in this Church that have the cure of Souls, to whom an honest Country Farmer would scarce commit the care of his Cows. 'Tis an expression of Causinus. And who gave these p [...]rsons admission into the sacred Office, every one knows.

But the Dr. proceeds, Doth the King do any thing in this matter, but according to the established Law and Orders of this Church? why did he not keep to the good old Phrase of King and Parliament?

This is raking into old fores, and looks like a malicious insinuati­on, and a design of representing Mr. B. as il-loyal, which to speak softly, becomes not the charity and candor of the Doctor. But what if he had kept that good old Phrase, as he pleases to call it, he had done no more than the Doctor himself doth in sense, in the lines preceeding, for he says, the King doth nothing but by established Laws, and Laws are the Acts of King and Parliament.

But the Doctor goes on, And why did he (i. e. Mr. B.) not put it as it ought to have been, that they know what makes for their own e­dification, better than the wisdom of the whole Nation, assembled in Parliament (i. e. according to the good old Phrase, the King and Parliament,) and the Governours of this Church.

This argument were good, if the wisdom of the Nation were in­fallible, or it were impossible they could be mistaken; but till that [Page 4]be proved, I feel not the weight of it. 'Tis the Popish argument, the Doctor knows, and was pressed against the Reformation by the Romanists. I venerate authority, and am not willing to suspect the wisdom of it; but I must openly profess, than I am much more mo­ved by the proofs that they make of the wisdom of their Determi­tions, than by their bare Authoritative Assertions. I value the an­cient Fathers and Councils, but 'tis not for what they say, but for what they prove: And the like I do say of more modern Determi­nations; and he is a stranger in History as well as Experience, that doth not observe, that many Laws and Constitutions are more the effects of Interest, Pride, Passion, and Revenge, than of Wisdom, Justice and Righteousness. The Determinations and Constitutions of the Council of Trent, are a sufficient proof hereof, and I wish the same might not be too truly said of some of the more ancient and venarable Councils, yea, and of some Laws that are of much later date than the latest of them.

Pag. the [...] 19th the Doctor quotes these words of Mr. B. in his Answer to his Sermon, How oft have I told you (saith Mr. B.) that I distinguish and take those for true Churches that have true Pastors; but I take those for no true Churches that have (1.) Men uncapable of the Pastoral Office. (2.) Or not truly called. (3.) Or that deny them­selves to have the power essential to a Pastor. For (says the Dr.) one or other of these, he thinks most, if not all the Parochial Churches in England, fall under, and consequently that the peo­ple may separate from them. That Mr. B. doth think so, he endea­vours to prove, because if the people judg their Ministers unwor­thy or incompetent, he allows them liberty to withdraw and sepa­rate.

'Tis a hard case, if people that have an ignorant, drunken, and malignant, sapless Teacher, may not go to the next Congregation, yea or to a Nonconformist that is a man of better abilities, and a bet­ter conversation, without being reputed Schismaticks; and methinks no man of p [...]ety, and that knows how much mens graces and virtues are actuated by serious, lively, and vigorous preaching, and how they languish and dwindle under that which is dry, trifling, luke­warm and unserious should doubt of it.

But sai h the Dr. p. 1▪2. God (saith Mr. B.) in nature and Scriptu e hath given the people that consenting power, antece­dent to the Prince's, which none can take from them.

I cannot tell how to believe that God hath given any Prince or Governour of Churches a greater power over their people than Parents have over their children in the choice of Employments, or disposals in Marriage. A Father may propose an Employment or Match to his Son or Daughter, but he may not impose them against their own consent, as is generally acknowledged. Again, if in such cases they chuse amiss, and to their apparent danger, they may for bid them; and thus much Magistrates may and ought to do; but whe­ther they may impose against the consent of the people, seems to me not so clear as some men imagine. And this is all that Mr. B. desires, which might be granted, and the right of Patrons preserved too, for ought that I can see.

But the Dr. adds, ibid. Mr. B. makes the people judg of the worthiness and competency of their Ministers, in case incompe­tent Ministers be set over the people, though it be half the Pa­rishes in a Kingdom, or only the tenth part, it is no Schism, saith he, but a duty, for those that are destitute, to chuse those that they judg most competent; and 'tis a duty for faithful Ministers, though forbidden by Superiors, to perform their Office to such people that desire it.

Let me beg leave to ask the Reverend Dr. whether there can be such a thing as an incompetent Pastor set over a people? If he grants it, as sure he cannot deny it, I would ask him again, what the people must do in such a case? if he says, they must complain, and use regular ways for his removal; I would again enquire, what if they be poor, and not able to bear the charge of such a proceed­ing? or if after all endeavours, they cannot remove him (and I will assure him, 'tis no easie matter to remove an incompetent Pa­stor) what must they do? must they starve at home, or be treat­ed as Separatists, if they go abroad to hear a Dissenter that Preaches in the Neighbourhood? If it be said, that the people are no capable judges of a Ministers abilities; and so the Dr. intimates in several places of his Book (page 123, 124. & passim). I answer, the Learned Dr. allows Separation, and thinks it duty too in cer­tain cases, viz. 1. In case of Idolatrous worship. 2. In case of false Doctrine, imposed instead of true. And 3. In case things indifferent be made necessary to salvation, page 213.214.

I desire to learn from this worthy Dr. whether the people in these cases are bound to separate? or whether the obligation lies only on the Pastors? if it lyes on both (and on both it must lie, or else the [Page 5]people are bound to be damned) then the people must judg, and if they may judg in these cases, I know not why they may not make a judgment of the competency of their Ministers. He is an incom­petent Pastor that Preaches false Doctrine or Heresie, that com­mends and practises Idolatry, and makes things indifferent necessary to salvation; and in these the people may judg by the Doctors own confession; and if they may judg in these, they may judg in some other cases, for ought that I can perceive.

In the mean time I am not about to deny that the people, at least of them, are ignorant injudicious, and rash; and do many times censure and condemn the innocent and worthy. All that I design is to make it a little evident, that there is a mean betwixt the two ex­tremes, and that should be enquired after. The people are neither the wisest among men, nor are they a herd of beasts. In some things they may and must judg, in others it may be denied them.

But the Dr. proceeds (p. 123.) and says, Mr. B. bids the people not think that he is persuading them to make no difference, but after he hath set aside the utterly insufficient and heretical (of which the people are admirable Judges) he lays down this gene­ral rule, Any one whose Ministry is such as tendeth more to de­struction than edification, is not to be owned, and consequently to be separated from.

And in good earnest, is no difference to be made of Ministers? then farewell all lawful as well as unlawful Separation. The peo­ple are not Judges of Insufficiency or Heresie, and therefore must swallow all that they propound, and go along with their Pastors to the Devil; and though they preach more for the encouragement of sin and vice, than they do for godliness and virtue, yet the people must not separate from them. This, to speak modestly, is something crudely spoken, and not with that usual judgment and caution as the Dr. expresses (or should express) his sentiments.

But the Dr. says, this is directly contrary to the principles of the old Nonconformists, and even to Mr. B. himself: for as a Ca­suist (says he, p. 124.) he thus determines, 1. That a Mini­sters personal faults do not allow people to separate from the Worship of God. 2. Nor ull Ministerial faults, but only those that prove him or his Ministration utterly intollerable.

Well, and where is the inconsistency of this determination with what the Dr. quoted from him in the page before? Did he there say that every personal or Ministerial fault would justifie Separa­tion? [Page 7]I can find no such thing, he only mentions the utterly insuffi­cient and heritical, such as do more hurt than good; and I think these are the same with such as prove Ministers, and their Ministra­tion utterly intollerable. But by this, and many other passages in this Book, a man would be tempted to think, that some others write in haste, and without the advice of their friends, as well as Mr. B.

Page 130. The Dr. says, that Mr. B. makes Conformity it self a scandalous thing, and then tells the people over and over, it is no sin to separate from scandalous Priests, especially when the scan­dal is notorious, as it is in this case. And Page 131. the Dr. adds, He chargeth us with down-right Lying, and Perjury, and tells me of Thirty tremendous aggravations of the sin of Conformity, among which are Lying, and Perjury, and drawing on our selves the guilt of many thousand Perjuries.

To this I answer in Mr. B's own words of his first Plea in the Preface, I write not this (says he) as accusing Conformists, or the Law-makers, but as answering their long and loud accusations and demands; and if telling what I fear, seem a telling what others are guilty of, it is a consequent which I cannot avoid. In his second Plea, having asserted the moral impossibility of bringing all good Chri­stians to believe Conformity lawful, he gives many reasons for it, and among others this, because Conformity looks like a horrid and frightful evil, being no less than deliberate Lying, and Perjury, and the justifying of thousands in it, and the publick renouncing en­deavours of Reformation. And then he adds, I am not saying, that all these, or any of them are such as they fear them to be, but on­ly, that they fear them to be such, pag. 173. And in his Answer to the Drs. Sermon, these are his words, I have only told you how many, and heinous the sins are which we fear we should be guilty of, should we Conform, pag. 52. Hence 'tis obvious enough by Mr. B's. words, that he accuses not others, but vindicates himself and his brethren from the imputation of keeping up a Schism against their own consciences; and in that very Chapter, where he reckons up the several agravations of Perjury and Lying, he doth not deter­mine, that the Conformable Clergy are guilty of them, but says, If they be so, such are the aggravations of their sin.

Now, I pray, let it be impartially considered, whether Mr B. hath not a difficult province to manage. If he gives no reason or [Page 8]account of his own, and his brethrens Nonconformity, he and they are unconscionable Schismaticks; if he do give some reason for it, and account of it, then he is interpreted to accuse the Conformists, and repute them scandalous, and perswade the people to Separation, though he renounced all such accusations, as is obvious from his words before-mentioned.

Yet after all this I have said on the behalf of this reverend man, I must add (for I am my self a Conformist) that I am not of his opinion in the interpretation of the Subscriptions, and Decla­rations imposed on the Clergy. They are of ambiguous sense and meaning; for what the sense of the Law makers and Imposers is, who can be sure? I cannot tell; and if you enquire, some will ut­terly refuse to give any sense or meaning of them; others will expound them, some in one sense, and some in another. The case being thus, I do not think my self obliged to understand them in the worst sense that can be put opon them, but in a sense of favour: and such a sense (Mr. B. says) is by the most judicious Confor­mists put on them, that he and his brethren themselves would sub­mit to them, if they could believe that were indeed the meaning of them. I am not satisfied as yet, that I am obliged to understand them in any other; which I speak in vindicatinn of my own and my brethrens Conformity, without reflection on those of other ap­prehensions, or justifying the Impositions. And upon this score there is a Paper Printed the last year as an account of the London Sheriffs holding their Office, Which, if any man doth honestly fear God, so as he would in good earnest Conform if he could, but can­not in point of scruple, I would commend to his perusal: who may perhaps see more to satisfy him in that one (but very full, and very much considered) single sheet, in regard to our present Conformity, than he hath found hitherto in other Books upon that Subject, though there be many which are, or which would make Volumes, that are written.

In Page 132. the Dr. charges Mr. B. with saying, that he over­throws all Religion, and sets up man in rebellion against God. To which I answer, all that Mr. B. intends in those words, is no more but thus, Such is the consequence of the Drs. Doctrine. Whether it be rightly inferred, let the Dr. and Mr. B. determine. But this I am sure of, that the Dr. infers many things from Mr. b's. Do­ctrine, which he detests and abhors, as truly as himself abhors the set­ting up man above God. Such are all Principles inconsistent with Go­vernment, [Page 9]and all Pleas which lay the foundation for disorder and confusion, whatsoever he says, page 137. and 139.

The Dr. had said in the Preface to his Sermon, ‘If it be lawful to separate on the pretence of greater purity, where there is an agreement in Doctrine, and the substantial parts of Worship, as is acknowledged in our case, then a bare difference of opinion, as to some circumstances of Worship, in the best Constitution of Churches, will be ground sufficient for Separation; and this, considering the variety of mens fancies, is to make an infinite di­visibility in Churches.’ To which Mr. A. makes this reply, That though some petty and inconsidrrable inconveniencies, some litlte trouble, may arise to a Church from the levity and volubility of mens minds, yet this is no reason why they should enslave their judgments and consciences to others. So the Dr. quotes him, but he expresses himself more at large, and with words of greater weight, as may be seen in his Preface.

From these words of Mr. A. the Dr. takes occasion to enquire, ‘what a rare advocate had this man been for the Novatians, Dona­tists, Luciferians, or whatsoever Schismaticks rent the Church in pieces in former times.’ And supposing St. Cyprian, and St. Au­stin, and other great opposers of the ancient Schisms, to be met to­gether: he gathers from these words, and the Principles of Sepa­ration, that he lays down elsewhere in his Books, how he would accost them. Page 198, Then forms an elegant Oration for him, supposing him haranguing it before them. Page 198, 199. And page 200. these expressions he puts in his mouth. ‘Why do you Austin and Cyprian, and other Reverend Fathers, cry out so of­ten of the Sacrilegiousness of Schism? We know no other Sacri­ledg, but the Sacrilegious desertion of our Ministry in obedi­ence to the Laws; this is a Sacriledg we often talk of, and tell the people it is far worse than robbing Church-plate, considering what precious gifts we have.’

These last words are, I am afraid, a prophane jeer, and look more like words dropt from the pen of Ben. Johnson, or Fletcher, than that of Dr. St. Hath not God endued Mr. B. (for 'tis on him he reflects) and other Nonconformists, with precious gifts (for 'tis a Scripture-word, and I'le make bold to use it, though I be thought to cant)? and can the Dr. deny it? or doth it become his gra­vity to deride them? If he must use his Sarcastick faculty, I wish he would chuse some common objects to employ it on, and not on [Page 10]things that are sacred and divine; for such are the gifts wherewith Mr. B. and others of his Brethren are blessed of God; and I be­lieve the Dr. in his conscience can't deny it, however he takes li­berty to deride them.

And when, I pray, and where did Mr. B. or any of his brethren say, they knew no Sacriledg but that of the Sacrilegious desertion of their Ministry? Let this be proved, or else it must be reputed a defamation. But peradventure the Dr. will say, That when men play the Orator, they are not obliged to speak exact truth; but where will he find any thing in Scripture to patroniz [...] it? He en­deavours to justifie an ugly sarcasm that he made use of in his S [...]r­mon, by these words of our Saviour, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; but I am not very certain they will serve his purpose; for some men that the Dr. values, as well as some that he despises, give another interpretation of them, as he very well knows; but where he will find any to justifie this Catechrestical scoff, I cannot tell: but may be he may find, or make one do it.

But why doth the Dr. add, in obedience to the Laws? Do all Laws oblige so far, as for Ministers upon that account to desert their Office? If so, then may not only the three children go to the fiery Furnace, and Daniel to the Lyons, but all Protestant Preachers to the flames, if they continue to exercise their Ministry against the prohibition of Popish Laws? If not, then 'tis not Laws, but the equity and justice of Laws, that lays an obligation on them; and that is the controversie between him and his Nonconformable Brethren, in which I will not interpose. But this is not the only place where the weight of the Drs. Arguments is little for want of distincti­on, restriction, and limitation. And this is an infirmity and weak­ness of discourse, that runs through a great part of his Book, and which renders it invalid to his Adversaries, and especially Mr. B.

But the Dr. enquires, Whether it be not a sin to break the Chur­ches Communion? p. 198. To which I answer, Yes doubtless, all unnecessary Separation is a sin, and such I do esteem much of the present Separation in England. But what then? Are all that are Schismatical, unworthy to live upon the earth? Must they be pro­secuted by Laws to Imprisonment, Banishment, and Death? Is there no way of curing a wound in the arm or leg, but by amputation? Are not Drunkenness, Adultery, Lying, and Swearing, sins? Yes surely, 'twill not be denied. But must all these Criminals be injured, proscri­bed [Page 11]and sent to the Indies? This would be thought unreasonable. And why persons of some Schismatical Principles (provided the main of their doctrine be sound, and consistent with Christianity) may not have as much favour as drunkards and other immoral men, I know not.

But are there no other ways of reforming the Schismatical bu­mors of men, but Gaols and Confiscations, and other like Argu­ments? Are there no methods of reclaiming Schismaticks, but by Rods and Axes? Are not personal instructions and kindness more agreeable to the nature of the Pastoral Office, and the spirit of our Saviour, whose servants we are, and whose work we are to do in the world? Methinks no man that hath read the New Testament, should doubt of it; and I do confess that I hate these Military me­thods of converting Dissenters, and I never saw any good come of them.

I live in a Town where there are some Dissenters; I have al­ways treated them with kindness, and have avoided to exasperate them either in my publick or private discourses; and by this means they will come sometimes to hear me, and will grant me to be a Minister of Jesus Christ; whereas had I railed at them, or prose­cuted them at Law, or encouraged others to do it, they would ne­ver have come at me, but accounted me a Limb of Antichrist, and a Factor or Agent for the Devil. And I must and do openly avow, that 'tis more easie to my mind to think, that when they are ab­sent from my Congregation, they are serving God elsewhere, than it would be to think they were some of them in prisons, their Fa­milies wanting bread, and others crying to God for vengeance on me as a persecutor; and which is most easie to my mind living, I doubt not will be so dying. They are persons of holy lives and upright conversations, at least some of them; and I would not have a hand in persecuting and undoing them, for all the Preferments this Church or this World affords.

Let me add thus much on the behalf of Mr. A. I do not believe that he either desires or pleads for universal Toleration, or would defend all the ancient Schismaticks, or that he would open his mouth on the behalf of Socinians, Arrians, Anti-Trinitarians, Quakers, or other like Sectarian Infidels: all that he pleads for, is liberty for peaceable and Christian Dissenters; but I do think that the Rever­end Dr. hath wrung from his words such a sense as he never intend­ed, or did once enter into his thoughts.

Pag. 273. The Dr. says, ‘I do not see but the objections made against the Discipline of this Church, might be removed, if the things allowed and required by the Rules thereof (that is, Confir­mation of children by the Bishop, when they are able to give an account of the necessary points of Christian faith and practice, and Certificate be made thereof by the Minister of the Parish) were duly practised, and might attain to as great purity as is ever pre­tended to by the separate Congregations, who now find so much fault for our want of discipline.’

I wish with all my heart the Rules of the Church were reduced to practice, which I am sure they never can nor will be, whilst the Diocesses in England are of the present dimensions. He that thinks any Bishop can confirm all the children in his Diocess, doth but dream: were he never so desirous of it, and diligent in it, 'twere impracticable; and the neglect and impracticableness of this thing, is one great reason of the ignorance and wickedness of our Pa­rishes and Congregations; and thus 'tis like to be, till Diocesses be lessened and the number of Bishops encreased, and some effectual care taken that children be instructed and confirmed.

Page 275. The Dr. asserts a power in the Presbyters of this Church to reject and deny the holy Sacrament to the scandalously wicked, provided he give notice of it to the Ordinary within four­teen days; and for this produces the Rubrick before the Commu­nion.

I grant what the Rubrick allows: but is not the Minister like to have a sine time of it, if he must be bound to inform and prosecute all at Law that are scandalous and unfit to come to the holy Table? The Dr. knows that all above the age of sixteen are bound to take the Sacrament three times a year by the Orders of this Church; and in some great Parishes the number of the scandalous and wick­ed is so great, that if the Minister be bound to prosecute all whom he accounts himself obliged in conscience to refuse, the life of a Ken­nel-raker were more elegible than his; for he must spend his time in perpetual travel and attendance upon Courts, which is a very sine Employment for a man of piety and conscience, and that desires to spend his time in his study, and teaching and instructing the peo­ple committed to his care.

But the Dr. enquires What, would you have every particular Pa­stor have an unaccountable power? Or would you not have them bound to justifie what they do, and prosecute the person for those faults for [Page 13]which they exclude him from the Communion?

I answer, 1. I think it were not amiss, if the excluded person were obliged to complain if he thought himself wronged, and the Ministers were excused from doing the Office of an Apparitor; but this I insist not on. Therefore I add, I plead not for an unaccounta­ble power in particular Pastors, but for such a power as they may account for; which I am sure they can never do for this in great parishes, and where the Diocesses are so large and wide; and there is no man that will give himself the liberty to think, can deny it. The number of the scandalous is so great, the distance from the Bi­shops Court in many places so far, the tediousness and corruption of the Officers so abominable, that it is a thing utterly impracti­cable. 'Tis impossible that any man can justifie himself in refusing to prosecute according to Canon all the scandalous that he may justly reject. In brief, either to talk or think of exercising Disci­pline, or reforming this Church, till we have more Bishops or Suf­fragans, and other things altered (which might be done if our Su­periors pleased, without altering the Constitution) is to build Ca­stles in the air, and to dream of Rocks to set them on, among the clouds of heaven.

Page 278. The Dr. quotes these words of Mr. B. If a Mini­ster doth publickly admonish a person by name, not censured by the Ordinary, the Lawyers tell him he may have his Action against him. To which he replies: ‘What need this publick admonition? Doth the nature of Church-discipline lye in that?’

To which I answer: No man ever dreamt that the whole na­ture of Church-discipline consisted in publick admonition by name. There are several intermediate acts of Discipline; Publick admo­nition by name is not to be attempted till others have been essay­ed and tryed in vain. And this publick admonition (after the fruit­less use of that which is private) is that which Mr. B. says can­not legally be performed by the Presbyters of this Church.

But the Dr. makes a second Reply to those words of Mr. B. ‘If a restraint be laid on Ministers by Law, the question then comes to this, Whether the obligation to admonish publickly an offender, or to deny him the Sacrament if he will come to it, be so great, as to bear him out in the violation of a Law made by publick Authority, with a design to preserve our Religion?’

To which I answer, I do not think that Ministers are obliged to admonish publickly all offenders after the unsuccessful tryal of pri­vate [Page 14]means and endeavours, though no Law forbad it. Pearls are not to be cast before Swine. If the person or persons be such as will mischief, wound, or kill the Minister that should so admonish him or them, I think he is not obliged to do it: but whether out of that case, and others of like nature, a Minister may not be obliged to do it, is another question, yea, though the Law should forbid it. And 'tis another question, whether he be obliged to give such a person the holy Sacrament, though the Law should command it: Mans Laws are not valid against Gods. If God obliges Ministers to publick admonition of scandalous and incorrigible offenders, and to refuse them a participation in the holy mysteries of our Reli­gion, no man can take off the obligation.

Page 281. The Dr. says, ‘The due exercise of discipline is a work of so much prudence and difficulty, that the greatest Zealots for it have not thought it fit to be trusted in the hands of every Parochial Minister, and his particular Congregation, and for this he quotes Calvin and Beza.

To which I answer: I believe there are very few Parish-priests in England that are ambitious of having the exercise of discipline committed to their care and conduct; and indeed very many of them have neither piety or prudence sufficient for the manage­ment of it. But withall I must add, I should be very sorry (and some are very worthy of blame if it be so) if most Parish-Mi­nisters be not as capable of it as Chancellors, Commissaries. Offici­als, and Surrogates, who are the people that exercise what Discipline is exercised in this Church; and 'tis sufficiently known, that many of them are persons of none of the greatest understand­ings, the best prudence, the tenderest consciences, or the severest lives, which yet are qualifications, hugely necessary in persons that manage the Discipline of the Church.

In brief, I condemn not the prudence of the Church of Eng­land, in not committing the exercise of Discipline to every Parish-Minister; but then I would humbly move, that we might have Bi­shops enough to do it. The Dr. appropriates to Bishops, Govern­ment, Ordination, and Censures, and I am very well content they have them, provided they will, or can discharge them. But of the impossibility of that, I am past doubt; for though the Diocesses of our English Bishops be not so great as that of the Pope (which the Dr. acknowledges to be too great and spacious) yet I think they are too large for their management, and that the duty incum­bent [Page 15]on them, with respect unto them, is utterly impracticable. Mount Athos, Polion, or Ossa, are neither of them so great as the Globe of the earth, yet they are all burthens utterly insuppor­table.

Whether the Dr. will allow this multiplication of Bishops (or Suffragans rather, that the name Bishop may not become too com­mon, and so become less venerable), I cannot tell. I find him in many places of his Book, and in his Preface, very jealous of the ho­nour of our Reformation, and positively resolved, never to con­demn the Constitution of this Church, nor the lawfulness of the Ceremonies hitherunto practised in it, vide Pref. p. 89.

I have my self a very great esteem for the Reformation of this Church, and a mighty honour for the great and incomparable Hero's, that were the Reformers of it; but 'tis no disparagement to say, they were but men (though the greatest men); nor is it any Re­proach to the Reformation to say, it was imperfect, The Learned and Pious Dr. Burnet hath observed divers defects, and imperfecti­ons in it (and I know not how they can be denied); and to speak the truth concerning it, is not to reproach it. And what if it should be said, that among others 'twas an imperfection in our Reforma­tion, that the number of Bishops was not increased so far, as that they might be sufficient for the work and duty incumbent on them? Can a Bishop inspect the Clergy in a Diocess of the present dimen­sions? can he exercise the Censures of the Church upon all the cul­pable delinquents in it? can he confirm all the Children in it? can he ordain Priests for all the Parishes therein, with that circumspe­ction, wariness, and care, which was observed by the primitive Bi­shops, and which the honour of this Church, the Christian Religi­on, and the salvation of souls doth require? Doth the Reverend Dr. think those things can be done by any, the most diligent and in­dustrious Bishop on earth? I dare say, he cannot think it possible; and if he doth not think it possible, I would enquire further of him, whether he does not think it very necessary and desirable, that all this work were put into more hands, that they may be capable of performing it? for till then, I am much assured it can never be done, however necessary or desirable it may be?

These things being said, I will now add, I shall never desire the Dr. to condemn the Constitution of this Church (nor will I brlieve many of the Nonconformists desire him to do it), but I would hum­bly desire him, to put to his helping hand, for the amendment and [Page 16]perfecting of it; and to perfect and compleat it, is not to condemn it; 'tis only to confess it a little short of that perfection that it may attain; and what great work is perfect of a sudden, at its birth into the world? In brief, Diocesan Episcopacy I like (and that's the Constitution of this Church), and so doth Mr. B. for ought that I can see: but I would fain have more Bishops, not to controul Episcopal Power, but to assist in the performance of Episcopal Duty.

Page 301. The Dr. undertakes to confute what Mr. B. had said, (viz.) that wherever there is the true notion of a Church, there must be a constitutive regent part (i. e. a standing governing pow­er) which is an essential part of it, and this he promises to do from Mr. B. himself.

How well he hath done it, let the Reader judg, by what the Au­thor of the Peaceable Design hath replied to him upon this Subject. But the Dr. infers from what Mr. B. had said of the necessity of a Regent Head to every Church, as followeth:

And so Mr. B's. Constitutive Regent part of a Church, hath done the Pope a wonderful kindness, and made a very plausible plea for his universal Pastorship. But there are some men in the world, who do not attend to the advantages they give to Popery, so they may vent their spleen against the Church of England.

To which I answer, Mr. B's Constitutive Regent part of a Church, hath done the Pope no kindness at all; for another visible Head may be assigned to the Catholick Church, and that is the ho­ly Jesus; he is both the visible and invisible Head thereof; he is un­to it both a Head of government, and a Head of influence; he go­verns it by his Laws, and by the influence of his Spirit, and hath ap­pointed inferiour officers for the government and direction of it, according to his own institutions: and though he be not seen by mortals here below, yet he is visible, and that is enough to consti­tute him the visible Head of the Catholick visible Church. There are some Kingdoms that never see their Prince, and in all King­doms, multitudes of Subjects that never lay their eyes on him, and yet he is never the less their Civil visible Head.

But there are some men in the world, that will take very small occasions to signifie their displeasure against Mr. B. and what hath he done to deserve their lash? and why must he be the Subject of these most twinging Satyrs? they are the words of a late Author: and what is the spleen that he vents against the Church of Eng­land, [Page 17]that makes their choler to ferment and boyl?

'Tis true, Mr. B. doth, with a brave and generous courage, re­buke what he thinks amiss in the gnvernours and government of the Church of England: he speaks plainly, and without respect of persons; he flatters none, nor fawns upon none, but indifferently reproves whatever he thinks worthy of it, in whomsoever it be. And if this be to vent his spleen against the Church of England, I think he hath very venerable patterns and examples for it, both in the Old Testament and the New, as this Learned Dr. very well knows.

If it should be said, that Mr. B. reproves where there is no fault, I answer, I should much rejoice if this were true, and I believe so would Mr. B. as well as I: but he must shut his eyes against the mid-day light, that thinks there is no fault in the Government of this Church, or nothing worthy of the plainest and most keen re­proofs therein. 'Twere very easie to name many things, if a man delighted to rake in Sinks and Kennels, I mean, the proceedings in the Spiritual Courts.

Page 302. The Dr. tells us, that Mr. B. had said in his Answer to his Sermon, that he would fain learn of him, what those rules and ties are which make a National Church, whether divine or humane? If it be a divine rule, we (says Mr. B.) are of the National Church as well as you; if humane, he enquires how consent in these makes a National Church? and how they come to be of the National Church which do not consent in them? and objects the differences among the Conformable Clergy, in the exposition of some of the Articles of this Church.

To which the Dr. answers three things. I shall take notice only of the last of them, (viz.) There is no difference among us con­cerning the lawfulness of the orders of our Church, and duty of submission to them; if there be any other differences, they are not material▪ and I believe, are no other than in the manner of explaining some things which may happen in the best society in the world, without breaking the peace of it; as about the dif­ference of orders, the sense of some passages in the Athanasian Creed, the true explication of one or two Articles, which are the things he (i. e. Mr. B.) mentions. A multitude of such diffe­rences will never overthrow such a consent among us, as to make us not to be members of the same National Church.

To the first lines of this Paragraph, which concern the agreement of the Members of this Church in the lawfulness of its orders, and the duty of submission to them, I shall reply nothing. To the rest I say, I am perfectly of the Dr's. opinion; and were it reduced to practice, it would heal the most of the divisions, and put a period to most of the separations that have rent and torn this Church in pieces for many years. Why might not the Dissenters among us have been permitted to have continued in the Ministry, and in the Church, though they differed in some things in their judgments from the Conformable Clergy? Would it have broken the peace thereof, any more than the various apprehensions that are at present among themselves? They are not all of a mind in the five points; some of them understand and believe them after the sense of Calvin, and others after the sense of Arminius; and I might mention ma­ny others wherein they differ among themselves, but the thing is sufficiently known, and there is no need of it: And are the differences among the Conformists themselves reconcilable with peace; and those wherein the Nonconformists differ from them (though they be no greater than the other) irreconcilable with it? What strange partiality is this? Conformists may differ in multitudes of things, without breaking the peace of the Church; but if those that are Dissenters, differ from them in a few impertinent and uncer­tain, things, the peace of the Church is subverted, and all things put into confusion thereby. The Conformists doubt (at least some of them) whether Bishops and Presbyters do differ in order or in degree, some are past all doubt concerning it, and do affirm they differ in order and not barely in degree. This breaks no peace▪ The Nonconformists cannot find that Word of God, whereby 'tis cer­tain that children indefinitely) which are baptized, dying before they commit actual si [...], are undoubtedly saved: and they are not very sure, that all children that are baptized, are regenerate by the [...]irit, or that they may safely say of all that they bury, that God of his great mercy hath taken to himself the soul of the deceased per­son, and give him hearty thanks that it hath pleased him to deliver him out of the afflictions of this sinful world: and these are such dreadful and formidable things, that the Church cannot be safe, if the Members, or at least any of the Preachers in it, dispute the truth of them, and therefore out they must go; and if they at­tempt to exercise their Ministerial Office after they are ejected, they are immediately the most damnable Schismaticks that ever [Page 19]the world did know, and Prisons, Fines, Confiscations, Banish­ments, and all that is evil, is beneath their sin and trangres­sion.

Why a difference of opinion in these things might not be consi­stent with peace, as well as in others that are of as great, and some­what greater import (at least in my apprehension) I am not able to divine; if nothing but Reason and Religion were to determine concerning them: but if spight, malice, and revenge, and some o­ther of those Antichristian passions, be called to counsel, and per­mitted to judg of them, 'tis not difficult to give a reason of the dif­fering natures of these differences, why some are judged consistent with peace, and others utterly inconsistent with it. But enough of this paragraph. I shall conclude with one supplication to all the Conformable Clergy in England on the behalf of the Dissenters; and 'tis this, That they may be permitted to differ from them in things of no greater moment than those in which they differ among themselves. If it be said, 'tis not in their power to permit it: I an­swer, Time was when it was very much in their power to have done it; and I think they might do well to use some endeavours to re­trieve it; or at least give some evidence that they wish well to it. This I think is no unreasonable request; how it may be resented, I know not; 'tis the love of this Church, and the peace thereof, that hath caused me to propose it, and that shall satisfie my mind.

But having said this on the behalf of the Dissenters, I must add a word or two on my own behalf, and that is, That a fair and pas­sable sense may be, and is put upon these passages mentioned from the Rubrick and Liturgy, by the Conformable Clergy, and amongst them by my self; but what is that to those whose judgments and consci­ences will not permit them to put that sense upon them? All mens minds are not cast in the same mould; all cannot admit that lati­tude of sense, and exposition in those and many other things, that some men do and can without offence and neglect to their consci­ences; and must they therefore be shut out of the Vineyard of the Lord, and denied the liberty of working there? Certainly this is a severe method of proceeding, and hardly reconcilable with the Laws of Christianity.

The Learned Dr. in several places of his Book represents Mr. A. as unlearned, unread, and very weak in his reafoning and argumen­tations. Page 174. he accuses him of childish trifling about [...] a Canon; and in the same page, and that next to it, he mislikes his ex­plication [Page 20]of the words [...], leaving out [...], which he observes from Grotius is not found in one Manuscript, the sense whereof he thus expresses; What we have attained, let us walk up to the same; and that Greek phrase [...], which he says implies no more than minding that very thing, viz. v. 14. pressing to­wards the mark: and then adds; But if he had pleased to have read on to Phil. 4.2. he would have found [...] to signifie una­nimity; and St. Paul, 1 Cor. 12.25. opposes the [...], th t there be no schism in the body, but that all the members should take care of [...] one for another; and therefore the [...] is very aptly used against schisms and divisions: and adds, I should think that St. Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophilact, all understood the importance of a Greek phrase, as well as our Author, and they all make no scruple to interpret it of the peace and concord of Christians. And although Austin did not understand much Greek, yet he knew the general sense of the Christian Church about this place, and he par­ticularly applies it to the peace of the Church in St Cyprian's case. By this tast now (says the Dr.) let any man judg of the depth of this man's Learning, or rather the height of his confidence, who dares to t [...]ll the world, that the Universal stream and current of all Expositors is against my sense of this Text; and for this uni­versal stream (besides Grotius) who speaks exactly to the same sense with mine, quotes only Tirinus and Zanchy, and then cries, in a word they all conspire against my interpretation. And with­in a few lines he adds, But had it not been fairer dealing, in one word to have referred us to Mr. Pool's Synopsis; for if he had looked into Zanchy himself, he would have found how sharply he applied it against Dissenters in the Church.

And in p. 203. after he had made him Advocate-General for Schismaticks, by an Oration put into his mouth, and pronounced be­fore St. Austin, Cyprian, and other great opposers of Schism, thus he speaks, Judg now, Reader, whether the Causes of the present Sepa­ration, as they are laid down [...]y my Adversary, do not equally defend the Donatills in their Schism; and his making so light of Schism, doth not give encouragement to men to make more. But I shall not send him so far back as Austin and Cyprian for better instruction in this matter; but I shall send him to one whose Writings he is better ac­quainted with, even Mr. Baxter.

And in page 304 the Dr. compares him with Andrelinus, of whom Erasmus says, That he was a good Poet, but his Verses [Page 21]wanted one syllable, and that was [...] in English brains; and this because Mr. A. had said, That National Churches destroy the being of other Churches under them; which (says the Dr.) I utterly deny; and there wants nothing but proof.

To all this I shall reply as followeth: If Mr. A. do intermix any pleasantness in his discourse, 'tis presently condemned as trifling, and he compared with Carmen and Porters. If he give his Readers any divertisement, by intermingling some Wit and Fancy with his Reasonings, he is scurrilous, and compared to Martin (an Author I confess that I never had the misfortune to read; but [...]e is suffici­ently famed for railing). If he intersperse a little saltness among his Ratiocinations, he is ungentile, and a Buffoon, which is the Title wherewith a Gentleman hath lately graced him in a Reply to his Book. What shall Mr. A. do in this case? and how shall he please these Gentlemen? Would they have him turn fool to humour them, and lay aside his Wit (which makes his Writings the more savoury and grateful) to do them a pleasure? I do not find that those that have replied to him, have laid any obligation upon him to do them such a kindness; and I think he will be loath to purchase their favour and good will at so dear a rate.

But Mr. A. hath interpreted the Greek Phrases, before mention­ed, otherwise than Chrysostome, Theodoret, Theoplylact, and St. Au­stin: and what then! is he the only person that hath interpreted Texts of Scripture, contrary to the opinion and judgments of those Fathers? do not all Expositors almost do the same? do not the Pa­pists (though otherwise obliged by the Decrees of the Council of Trent) do it? does not the admired Hugo Grotius do it? and I dare say, this excellent Dr. himself understands very many Texts of Scripture in other senses than the ancient Fathers did expound them. Whether Mr A. have rightly interpreted the Texts in Con­troversie, I will not determine; but this I will say, he may be a Learned man, though he may have expounded them otherwise than St. Chrysostome, St. Theodoret, &c.

Whether the universal current of all Expositors be against the Dr's sense of his Text, as Mr. A. affirms, I know not (for my Li­brary is not furnished with all the Commentators in the world) nor will I say, that Mr. A. did look into lanchy himself, and not transcribe what he quotes from Mr. Pooles Synopsis; but this I think I may say, that I see no convincing evidence that Mr. A. did not peruse that Author himself, and transcribe the words from [Page 22]him, and not from Mr. Pool; and therefore I humbly conceive the Dr. hath affirmed, or at least insinuated more than he hath proved, viz. that Mr. A's quotations are transcribed from the Synopsis Cri­ticorum, and not from the Authors themselves. But if Mr. A. must be a Pigmy in Learning, what honour is it then for the very great and learned Dr. to beat and overcome him?

Let it be granted therefore for once, that Mr. A. is not the most learned or best-read man in the world, and that there are some, yea many that have learned and read much more than he; but what then? he may be a Master of Reason, and a man of some tolerable judgment, not withstanding those defects (or else many great men, and some that are in great reputation for wisdom, must be num­bred among Dolts, and sit in the Classis of Fools) he may be able to understand the sense of a Text of Scripture, and the dependance and connexion of it with the precedent and consequent Verses, and the scope and design of the Author therein. These things may be done by men of competent understanding (and I think that will be granted to Mr. A.) though they never read all the Books in the Bodleian Library, or in some that are more meanly furnish­ed; and 'tis some mens opinion, that the greatest Readers are not always the most judicious men; and that if some very worthy men had read less, they might have understood more. Hence I think I may infer, that though Mr. A. should not have read St. Chryso­stome, &c. nor many modern Commentators, yet he may be ca­pable of expounding a Text of Scripture with the probability of truth, as well as those that have read them all.

And whereas it hath pleased the Learned Dr. to entitle him Ad­vocate-General for Schismaticks, I am not satisfied that Mr. A. hath given any just reason for it. 'Tis true he hath said, that some little and petty inconveniences arising from the levity and volubility of mers minds, is more eligible than the enslaving mens judgments and consciences, and surrendring their reason to naked will and plea­sure, even as 'tis better to have a rational soul, though subject to mistakes, than the soul of a brute which may be managed with a strong bit and bridle, as you please. This is the sense of Mr. A's words in his Preface; and what hurt is there in them? Do not all Protestants speak the same language? And is it not better that men e [...]r in some things, than that they put out their eyes, and see with those of other men, blindly following their conduct, and sub­mitting and assenting to all their Impositions?

But the Dr. will say, Is Separation by reason of the levity of mens minds only, a small or petty inconvenience? In answer whereunto, I would distinguish of Separation. There is a Separa­tion that proceeds upon reasons apparently true, and such is the Se­paration of Protestants from the Church of Rome; and this is a great and necessary duty: There is a Separation that proceeds up­on probable reasons, which sometimes are not cogent nor conclu­sive, and yet they may be such as honest and upright minded men may not be able to free themselves from being entangled and fetter­ed by them. This is an inconvenience, and whether it be great or small, I know not how 'twill be avoided in this state of weakness and imperfection, but by remedies worse than the disease. But that which to my apprehension seems the best way of avoiding it is, Let nothing be made necessary to Communion in Churches, but a few plain necessary things, and this would certainly put an end to the most of those Divisions and Separations that have, and do vex the Christian Churches, and the Church of England especially and particularly: But there is a Separation that proceeds upon reasons apparently false; such is the Separation of the Socinians from the Reformed Churches, and such is the Separation of many in the Church of England. This is intollerable, and by all prudent and Christian means and endeavours to be repressed. By Separati­on here, I mean not barely refusing Communion, but setting up new Churches in opposition to those they have forsaken.

But it may be enquired further, Whether Separation upon pro­bable, weak, and unconcluding reasons, be not sinful? I answer, Yes: but what if it be? there is some difference in sins, as most men believe, and I see no great reason to doubt of it; and 'tis my opi­nion, that neither all Sinners, nor all Schismaticks, that are truly such, must be sent to the Mines, or to the Galleys. In brief, God will make a difference between Sinners at the day of Judgment; and I do believe, that the Governours of Churches, both Civil and Ecclesiastical, should make some difference between them here. In the mean time, I would not be thought either to excuse, or encou­rage unjustifiable Separations. I would that the sinfulness of such Separation should be laid open with all its just aggravations, and that all just means be used by the Ministers of the Gospel, to pre­vent and hinder it, yea, and something by the Magistrate too; but if Separation cannot be prevented (I mean such as proceeds up­on probable, but not concluding reasons) by those endeavours, it [Page 24]must be endured, an inconvenience being more eligible than a mis­chief; and many things are, and must be suffered in all societies, that are not, nor ought not to be approved. Such was divorce in the Jewish Commonwealth, and some things else in that, and other societies of men.

If it be said, that the Church of England doth not impose any thing upon its members by meer authority, as the Church of Rome doth, nor doth it force them to resign their reason to naked will and pleasure, nor command belief of those notorious falshoods which that imperious and Apostate Synagogue of Satan doth. I answer, 'tis readily granted (and we bless God for it), that this Church doth impose nothing that is apparently and grosly false; it commands no Idolatrous Worship, no opinions contrary to the common sense of mankind, no invocation of Saints, Prayers for the dead, no Pilgrimages to Shrines, no ridiculous or sottish Su­perstitions: but though it impose nothing grosly false, foolish or Superstitious, yet some men think (and I know not how to confute them), that it imposes some things dubious, uncertain, and unnecessa­ry, from which the Clergy cannot dissent, but thereby they shut them­selves out of their office, and become uncapable of exercising their Ministry with the countenance and protection of the Laws. And if the Laity doubt the truth of any of its Impositions, and do pub­lish their doubts, and will be pertinacious in the defence of them, they are liable to excommunication, and all that is consequent unto it: and in these things this Church is peremptory, and admits of no indulgence; Subscribe, or Preach not the Gospel; speak nothing to the disparagement of any thing in the Doctrine, Discipline, or Liturgy, or you shall be excommunicated, and given up to the Devil. Thus it speaks, and this is its Language.

I do easily grant, that this Church pretends not to Infallibility, as the Church of Rome doth; but in whatsoever it determines, it avows it self not mistaken or deceived: And what is the diffe­rence in effect, between a Church that assumes to it self the title and approbation of Infallible, and a Church that says, I am not mistaken in my Determinations and Impositions? Suppose two persons, one a Nestorian, the other an Eutichian; the one propo­ses in certain Articles, his Doctrine, so as confounds Christs Na­tures, and withal tells you, he is Infallible, and you must subscribe to, and acknowledg the truth of it, or prepare your self for the Axe or the Gallows: the other proposes his Doctrine, so as he [Page 25]divides Christs Person, but pretends not to be Infallible, but says, his Doctrine is true, and he is not mistaken in it, and 'tis at your pleasure, and in your choice either to subscribe it, or pre­pare your self for the Mines of Peru and the Indies. The Ap­plication is obvious, and every one can make it without my manu­duction, or direction.

But let me not be said to defame this Church. I have said al­ready, that it imposes nothing grosly and apparently false, but only some things unnecessary, and uncertain. I will add here, the penalties imposed upon those that refuse to own, and ac­knowledg, or do defame its determinations, are not so severe, nor sanguinary, as in the Roman Church, nor peradventure so certainly and severely executed; but whether the peremptory imposing things doubtful, controverted, useless, and unnecessa­ry, upon the legal and established penalties, be not tyrannical and imperious, would deserve a little consideration. Why must all Ministers be obliged to subscribe to all things in the 39. Arti­cles, Liturgy, and Book of Ordination, as containing nothing contrary to the Word of God? Why must they subscribe the 20th Article, concerning the power of the Church to or­dain Rites and Ceremonies? Why must they assent to the 8th Article, where 'tis said, that the Athanasian Creed ought throughly to be received and believed? why must the salvation of Infants being baptized, and dying before the commission of actual sin, be acknowledged as certain by the Word of God? and why must they assent to, and subscribe the lawfulness of the use of the Cross in Baptism, with more that might be menti­oned? Are these things certain, and so clear and obvious, that an honest man can't doubt of them? Are these things necessa­ry? Cannot a man be a Minister, or a Christian that doth not, nor cannot believe them? This cannot, or at least ought not to be imagined or affirmed; why then doth the Church of England require Ministers to subscribe unto them? and why must none of the Laity dispute the truth of them? What rea­son can be alledged for it, but its own good will and pleasure? I know no other that can be given of it, thither it must be referred at last. And whether this be not to exercise an Em­pire over the judgments and consciences of men, and to command the surrender of their reason to naked will and plea­sure, I leave to consideration. It hath the likeness and appear­ance [Page 26]of it; and how the Church of England will fairly free themselves of it, I do not yet discern; I would be glad to see it done; for the exercise of Empire over the consciences of men in uncertain and unnecessary things, is a very evil and mischievous thing, an Engine of the Devil, by which I do believe he hath done more mischief in the Church of God, than by all the Heathen persecutions; and I know no end is served by it, unless it be to choak conscientious men; for all men of con­science are not Latitudinarians, nor like to be in my apprehen­sion.

The sum of what I have said in these three last Paragraphs▪ is this; Mr. A. hath said, some little and petty inconveniencies arising from the levity and inconstancy of mens minds, is more eligible than the prostituting mens consciences, and resigning them to the naked wills of men, which is no more than most Protestants have said before him.

Separations are various; some proceed upon reasons apparent­ly true, and these are a necessary duty; some proceed upon reasons apparently false, and these are greatly sinful and intol­lerable; others proceed upon probable reasons, which though specious and fair, yet are not concluding, these are not without sin, yet must be endured, an inconvenience being better than a mischief: And this, I conceive is the separation which the Dr. says. Mr. A. makes very light of, which yet I do not beileve, unless it be comparatively, and for the sake of which I do not think him worthy of the appellation of Advocate-general for Schis­maticks.

The Church of England doth not pretend to be infallible, but is as peremptory in its determinations as if it were. It impo­ses nothing grosly false, and against common sense and reason, but it requires things unnecessary and uncertain, with an un­yielding rigour, and this looks like tyranny; and if the Church of England think it self defamed by that insinuation, it may vindi­cate it self if it can.

To the Drs. insinuation, that Mr. A is not much acquaint­ed in the Writings of Cyprian and St. Austin, and that he hath been more conversant in those of Mr. B. I might en­quire where is the Proof? and what evidence doth this Learn­ed man produce for the confirmation of it? I have looked his Book all over, but I can find none, nor do I imagine what [Page 27]hath given occasion to the Dr. to think so: 'tis true Mr. A doth not quote those Fathers in his Book; but doth it follow from thence, that he never read them? There are many Books which the Excellent Dr. himself hath never quoted in any of his writings; but he that should infer from thence, that he ne­ver read them, would certainly injure and traduce him, But Mr. A. is a Dissenter, and peradventure for that reason must be an unlearned and unread man, whose reason must be as weak therefore as his reading is small, and there must be no more ar­gument in his discourse, than there was of Wit or Brains in Andrelinus his Poems; which, to speak modestly, is a scurrilous comparison, and not becoming the Pen of the Reverend Dr.

Mr. B. had said something in his Answer to the Drs. Sermon, of the Peoples Power, or right of choosing, or at least consenting to the choice of their own Pastors; whereupon he says, that Mr. B. is very tragical upon this argument, and keeps not within tollera­ble bounds of discretion, in pleading the Peoples Right or Cause against Magistrates, Patrons and Laws, p. 307. And p. 329. he says, Mr. B. is unsatisfied with any Laws that are made in this matter: and in the same page he says, that one would think by Mr. B's Doctrine, all Laws about Patronage are void in them­selves; and all Rights of Advouson in the King, Noblemen, Gen­tlemen, and the Ʋniversities, are meer usurpations, and things utter­ly unlawful among Christians, since he makes such a personal ob­ligation to choose their own Pastors, to lie on the People, that they can­not transfer it by their own Act.

To which I reply, Mr. B. will be well enough satisfied, if the People may have the liberty of consenting to the Pastor that by the Patron is presented to them; and what is there of un­reasonableness in such a design or proposal? Blessed be God there are in England many worthy Gentlemen that take care of the disposal of their Livings, and present sober and learned men unto them; and in my observation, such persons are usually ac­ceptable to the People, and they consent to them without objecti­on or opposition; but then it must be acknowledged, that there are many others that take no care of the disposal of them, some are Papists, and give their Livings to the nomination of their Ser­vants, and they sell them to whomsoever will give most for them; others are prophane Sensualists, and such men will present vitious, debauched persons. Piety and a sober Conversation may preclude, [Page 28]but will never commend a man to their presentation. And what if for these reasons, and more that might be mentioned, the people had a consenting power permitted to them? are the Rights of Pa­tronage invaded or abdicated, injured or destroyed thereby? Hath not the Bishop power in some cases to refuse the Clerk that is pre­sented to him for institution? and is the Patrons right evacuated by it? Surely no, I never heard any such thing affirmed, or pre­tended; and if the Patrons right may be preserved with a power of just and reasonable dissent and consent in the Bishop, it may be also preserved with the same power in the people: Are not Pa­trons right preserved, unless they may impose upon the people ig­norant and scandalous Ministers, that are neither able nor willing to Preach the Doctrines of Faith and Godliness? are not their rights preserved unless they have the liberty of presenting whom they list, and sending them such Preachers, as instead of being en­samples to the flock in Piety, Justice, Charity, and Sobriety, shall be ensamples of Impiety, Cruelty, Injustice, and Intemperance un­to them?

If it should be said, that such cannot procure Orders, nor Insti­tution from the Diocesan: I answer, 'tis in vain to dispute against sense and experience; and men will never believe that cannot be done which they see done before their eyes; and the Bishops are cheated by Certificates and Testimonials, for there are few men so bad, that cannot find others as bad as themselves, to vouch for them.

And if this liberty were granted to the people, I am not appre­hensive of those evil consequences that the Dr. seems to fear, who tells us, Where a Parish is divided in their opinions about Religion (as we know too many are at this day) all the several parties, Anabap­tists, Quakers, yea and Papists, as well as others, will put in for a share in what concerns their souls, and consequently chuse a Pastor each party to themselves, and the Incumbent that is legally intitled to the pro­fits of the Living, may possess them, and the people may follow the con­duct of other Guides, even such as themselves have chosen.

For I would propose that this Liberty might be legally granted to the people, and that their consent and dissent should be limited by just Rules, and upon equitable Reasons, and that our Superiors might superintend them in the exercise of it, and see that they do not abuse it. For surely there is some difference between the use of Power▪ Liberty, and Priviledg, and the abuse of it; and one may [Page 29]be restrained, without taking away the other. The abuse of the peoples liberty in the choice of a Quaker or Socinian, or a Papist for their Teacher, may be restrained without depriving them of the liberty of refusing a wicked, scandalous, ignorant wretch, or chu­sing an honest, pious, learned, and sober man. Cannot the Learned Dr. restrain his Daughter from chusing a prophane Sensualist (whose God is his belly, and hath nothing brave or generous in his soul) or her Husband, without depriving her of the liverty of chusing a [...] honest, worthy, brave, and virtuous man? And this I think is all that Mr. B. desires, at least this would satisfie him; and I know not why the Learned Dr. represents this opinion or desire of Mr. B. in so monstrous and odious a manner, unless it be to make him an offence to Noblemen, Gentlemen, Universities, and all such as have right of Patronage belonging to them.

Page 371. The Author of the Letter out of the Countrey (says the Dr.) lays the foundation of the Separation upon the force of scruples, mighty scruples, scruples of a long standing, and of a large extent; scruples that there is no hopes to remove, without some very o­verpowering impressions on mens minds. To which the Dr. replies, I am so much of another mind, that I think a little impartiality, and due consideration, would do the business.

I cannot be so uncharitable as to believe, that none of the Dis­senters do impartially consider the things in controversie between them and the Church of England, and which are the grounds of the present Separation, when they do solemnly profess the contrary, with appeals to God who searcheth the hearts, and trieth the reins; and 'tis severe to give them the lye in such a case, where 'tis certain we are no competent or capable judges. But suppose they (at least some of them) should not impartially consider (and 'tis no easie matter either for Consenters or Dissenters to lay aside all partiali­ty) what will be inferred from thence? Must they not be endu­red upon the earth? Are they insufferable in the Land? If all were banished, imprisoned, or hanged, that are guilty of no greater sins than a little partiality in consideration, there would be few Confor­mists or Nonconformists left in this Nation. But peradventure it may be no great fault to be partial in the consideration of other things, when to be partial in considering the grounds and reasons of the present Separation, is an unpardonable sin, and not to be for­given [Page 30]in this world, whatever it may be in the world to come.

Though the Dr. seems to think it a thing of no great difficulty to cure mens scruples, in the words above-mentioned, and in some others in the following page; yet he speaks to a contrary sense, p. 48. of his Preface, where he tells us of the almost invincible igno­rance of some weaker people, and the uncurable biass of some mens minds. Is the almost invincible ignorance of weak people easily re­moved? yes, faith the Dr. Honest men may be cured of their errors and mistakes. But how is it to be done? why, by bringing them to a better temper, and to more judgment, p. 372. I thought so; but how shall we do that? Are the almost invincibly ignorant, made judici­ous upon easie endeavours? And are those that have incurable byasses upon their minds, brought to a better temper of mind with a wet finger? I know not what the Drs. experience is, but I am sure 'tis otherwise in mine, and in many others. I find it impossible to re­move the ignorance, and take off the prejudices and byasses of some peoples minds, humanely speaking, as the phrase now is; and the reason is obvious, I can bring them light, but I cannot give them eyes. I can propound reason and evidence sufficient, as I think, to remove their fears, scruples, and prejudices; but I cannot give them understandings to apprehend and perceive the cogency, weight and sufficiency thereof. Mens understandings are of as many differ­ing degrees and sizes, as their faces are of differing shapes and fea­tures; and what one man can perceive and understand, another can­not do. One man can see the smallest needles or hairs, another can­not see them, though it were to save his life. Besides, there are pe­culiarities in the understandings of men; how they came there, I will neither enquire nor determine; but that there are such things, cannot be denied. The Doctrine of Calvin in the five points, to some men seems utterly irrational, and contrary to the common sentiments of mankind, and all that they read and hear for the alteration of their apprehensions, makes no impression or change up­on them. Others there are that have the same apprehensions of the Doctrine of Arminius in those points; and the like I might say of many other Controversies in Religion. Mens minds seem inclined to embrace one part of the Controversie, by a peculiarity of frame, temper, and disposition; and in this case 'tis a mighty difficulty to prevail with such men to alter their apprehensions, if not impossi­ble. Which things being premised, and certain, I think not those words of Mr. B. so severe as the Dr. seems to imagine them, viz. [Page 31]That he that thinks his own or others Reasonings will ever change all the truly honest Christians in the Land (as to the unlawfulness of the things imposed) knoweth so little of matters, or of men, or of con­science, that he is unmeet to be a Bishop or Priest: for is not he fit for that Office, or those Employments, that doth not know, that the measures and degrees of mens understandings are almost infinite; and that they will never agree, unless it be in a few plain, great, and necessary things, and that in multitudes of lesser things they will dissert for ever; and that in this diversity of understandings 'tis impossible it should be otherwise; and that under this diversity of apprehensions, there will be some diversity of practises too, where men fear God, and have a value for their own Consciences. and the suggestions thereof? is he fit to bear the Office of a Bi­shop, or a Priest, that is ignorant of these things? surely he is very little acquainted in the great variety and imperfections of humane minds, that thinks, that all Christians will ever be of one mind in many lesser things: and he is as little acquainted with the Consci­ences of men, that thinks honest Christians will be of the same practice, where their judgments are so much divided. I will con­clude this Paragraph with the following Story, which will serve to evince the incurableness of some peoples jealousies and scruples; and I'le do it in the words of the person that sent it to me. I know a Gentlewoman whose Parents were of the Congregational persuasi­on, and such was her education; n [...]vertheless after her marriage (her husband being conformable) she accompanied him to the publick worship of God, and this she did for some years; but all this time her scruples, and her fears, and the jealousies of her Conscience did so plague and torment her, that she had little or no comfort in her life, yea, he [...] bodily health was very much weakned, and impaired by the perturbations of her mind: this having been her condition for some years, at length she forsook the publick and established worship, betook her self to a Congregational Church, and now lives in peace, and tollerable heath. The Gentlewoman, I do believe, is truly pious and conscienti­ous, and doth avow, that could she be satisfied of the lawfulness of attending on the publick way of worship, she would do it with all her heart. Her reason and arguments may be easily answered, and she may be silenced, and, one would think, her judgment satisfied; but her scruples return again like a Torrent, and she cannot resist them; [Page 32]and, in plain English, are incurable, without some very great and transforming impressions from above. And this is no rare or single case, but what often occurs, as those men know that converse with the consciences of Christians.

The Dr. returns again to the Author of the Letter out of the Countrey, pag. 376. and thus he speaks concerning him, The main force of what he saith (i.e. the Author of that Letter) lyes in this, that those that cannot conquer thier scruples as to Com­munion with our Church, must either return to the state of Paganism, or set up new Churches, by joining with the ejected Ministers. To which the Dr. replies, This is new Doctrine, and never heard of in the days of the old Puritans; for they supposed men obliged to continue in the communion of this Church, although there were some things they scrupled, and could not conquer those scruples; and this they supposed to be far enough from Paganism.

The old Puritans did suppose, that those that scrupled Mi­nisterial communion, were obliged to continue as Lay-men in the communion of this Church: But what is this to those that scruple Lay-commuion, which is the case of many now in Eng­land? And what shall these people do? they must either com­municate against their Consciences, or joyn with the ejected Ministers, or live as Pagans; and which it is the Dr. will ad­vise them to, I cannot tell; but 'tis possible we may know here­after. If he should say, they must put off their scruples, and communicate with the license and approbation of their consci­ences; I say so too. 'Tis their duty to endeavour it: but what if after all the endeavours they can use, they cannot dis­entangle their minds from them, what shall they do then? I beseech the Learned Dr. to give some directions to these scru­pulous persons in this case.

In the same Page the Dr. desires to know, whether as of­ten as men do scruple joyning with others, their separation be lawful?

And I do desire to know, whether all unlawful separati­on be intollerable? and whether all Schismaticks, that are tru­ly so, must be imprisoned, ruined and undone, or sent to Can­casus, and the Caspian Mountains? When the Dr. hath an­swered this enquiry, peradventure he may receive and Answer to the other, if he cannot answer it himself.

The D. adds in the same, and the following Page, If it be lawful to separate as often as men scruple the lawfulness of joyning in communion with out Church, 'tis in vain to talk of any setled Constitution, whether Episcopal, Presbyterian, or Inde­pendent; for this Principle overthrows them all.

To which I answer, I do not think it lawful to separate as often as men scruple joyning in communion; yet I do be­lieve it lawful to tolerate some unlawful separations, yea and necessary too; but let no unnecessary occasions of scru­ple and separation be given. Let no separations for the sake of undoubted truths, and the great essentials, of Faith and Godliness be allowed. Let the Congregations in the Na­tion be furnished with pious and holy Ministers, and some disci­pline exercised in them, and 'twill be found that the number of Separatists will not be great, and a stop will be put to the pro­gress and encrease of them, and a few years will reduce them almost to none: for if the Causes of Separation be looked in­to, they will be found to be the imposing and requiring of unnecessary and doubtful things, ignorant and scandalous Preachers, and undisciplined Churches. Whether these things will justifie it, I will not say; but that they are the main Causes of it, cannot be denied by any considering man. And if these be not removed, Separation will be continued, unless the Popish method of Cure be undertaken, (viz.) Fire and Faggot, Racks and Tortures, Confiscations and Punishments, which certainly are Remedies that were never taught by Christ Jesus, the Lover and Saviour of mankind; but by the Devil, the great enemy, hater and destroyer of them.

And let me add further, that I see no reason to infer, that tolera­tion of Separation upon tolerable scruples, will destroy all Go­vernment in the Church: for I think there was a Government in the Church, when the Novatians were tolerated both at Rome and Constantinople for some hundreds of years, as the Do­ctor very well knows; and I hope we have a Government in the Nation, though some men transgress the established Laws thereof, yea and are permitted so to do with impunity. Yet I would distinguish between Separation in the bud and blos­some, and Separation ripe and grown, as 'tis with us in Eng­land; and I would say, that some things may be done, and some severities used to crush and prevent the encrease of it when budding; which may not be done to extinguish and root it out when its grown and encreased, and the number of those that separate, is very great and numerous. Some few single Schis­maticks (not that are made such by unnecessary Impositions, but such as make themselves such by unreasonable and unwar­rantable scruples and objections) may after the use of admo­nition, teaching, and instruction, and a patient waiting for the success of them, be treated with some rigor and moderate harshness. But thousands and ten thousands are too many ei­ther to be laid in Gaols, or sent to the barren deserts of A­rabia, or other Countreys at lesser distance from us.

Page 378. The Learned Dr. wonders that none of those who have undertaken to defend the cause of Separation, have taken any care to put stop to it, or to let us know where we may fix and see an end of it: which scruples are to be allowed, and what not; and whether it be lawful to separate, as long as men can go on in scruples, and say they cannot conquer them

Mr. B I suppose, is one of them which the Doctor be­lieves hath undertaken to defend the cause of Separation; and I wonder the Doctor should not observe that he hath taken care to put a stop to it, and let us know what scruples are to be allowed, and what not. Hath he not said over and, over, [Page 35]even to times without number, That a difference is to be made betwixt tolerable and intolerable scruples and errors; betwixt scruples that may be defended by probable reasons, and such as have nothing to be pleaded on their behalf, but apparent and obvious falshoods; betwixt scruples about unnecessary and dis­putable things, and such as are about necessary and undoubted truths, and so owned and confessed by all Christians? and in say­ing this, he hath told us what scruples are to be allowed, and what not; and where to put a stop to Separation. 'Tis true these are but general rules to direct us by, in judging of allowable and unallowable errors and scruples, and where and when to put a stop to Separations; but the application of them to particular cases, is not difficult; and since errors and scruples are infinite, I hope the Dr. will not, nor doth not expect that Mr. Baxter should name all particularly that are tolerable and intolerable; this were to set him and Employment that might last to the worlds end, if he could live so long, and would prevent his writing of Books to the offence of his Conformable brethren; but, I think, would please many of them very well, who are willing to be rid of him and his Books.

But Sir, I have, in obedience to your commands, put my Sic­kle too far into other mens Harvests; and therefore will here put a period to my Remarks. Besides, I hear Mr. B. hath replied to the Learned Dr. and that his Book is abroad in the world, though I have not seen it as yet, living as you know, at a great distance, and in a small Village that hath little commerce wit London. I know you will pardon all the faults and imperfections of these hasty Lines; and when you have read them, do what you please with them. I am,

Your very true Friend and Servant,

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