SOME MODEST AND HUMBLE QVERIES Concerning a Printed Paper, Intitu­led, An Ordinance presented to the Honourable House of Commons, &c. for the preventing of the growing and spreading of Heresies▪ &c▪

ROM. 14. 5.
Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
ISA. 59. 9.
Therefore is judgement farre from us, neither doth justice over [...]ake us: we waite for light, but behold obscurity, &c.
JOB. 8. 1.
Who is this that darkneth counsell by words without knowlege?
HOS. 5. 1.
Heare ye this, O Priests, and hearken ye House of Israel—for judgement is towards you; because you have been a snare on Mispah, and a net spred upon Tabor,
HOS. 9. 8.
The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the Prophet is the snare of a Fowler in all his wayes, and ha­tred in the house of his God.
Quid prodest habere zelum Dei, & non-habere scientiam Dei? Orig. Quid ergo saviunt, ut Stulticiam suam dum minuere volunt, augeant? Longe diversa [...] carn [...] & pietas—Defendenda Religio est▪ non occidendo, sed moriendo; non savitiâ, sed patientiâ. non scelere, sed [...] illa enim malorum sunt, haec bonorum.
Lactant. De Iust. c. lib. 5 cap. 20.
Omnis Lex debet [...] suae equitatis.
Calv.

Published by Authoritie.

LONDON▪ Printed by Matthew Simmons for Henry Overton, and are to be sold in Popes-head Alley, 1646.

To the Reader.

BEing accidentally encountred by a vagrant▪ Paper, printed though without Authority, yet with this Inscription; An Ordinance presented to the Honourable House of Commons, &c▪ and conceiving partly by the frame and spirit of the discourse, partly from some un-clerk­like expressions in it, that certainly those worthy Gen­tlemen, whose names are specified in the said Inscripti­on, were more or lesse wronged by the publishing and spreading of it under their names; and that it was some other spirit that breathed in it, not theirs; I supposed that possibly I might doe the said Gentlemen some right, by a proposall of some Queries upon occasion of some particularities in it, by meanes whereof they may the better consider, in case it relates to them either in whole, or in part, whether it be not unworthy of them; or whether, and to what degree those have injured them, who issued the said undeserving Papar with such a badge of honour upon it, as the two names of two such well-deserving men.

QUERIES about the ORDINANCE.

WHether it be agreeable to the Spirit of Christ,1 (who came into the world, as himself saith not to destroy mens lives, but to save them Luk. 5. 56.,) to make snares of any of his Doctrines for the destruction of the lives of men?

Whether it be agreeable to the mind of 2 Christ, for men to inflict the heavie censure of death upon their Brethren, for holding forth such Doctrines, or opinions in Religion, suppose contrary to admonition, which, for ought the said inflicters know, ex­cept they make themselves infallible, may be the sacred Truths of God?

Whether it be agreeable to the will of Christ, for Civill Ma­gistrates 3 to compell men, upon paine of death, to call them Rab­bi, or Masters, when as he hath so expressely charged men, yea▪ his Apostles themselves as well as others, not to be called Rabbi, or Masters Mat. 23. 8. 10. ▪ or whether to injoyne and compell men (especially upon the penaltie of death,) to preach and teach in many the most weighty and difficult points of Religion, nothing but the dictates of their owne judgments and wills, be not much more then sim­ply to be called Rabbi, or Masters, i. then simply to connive at, & comply with those, who professe in all things to submit their judgements and Consciences unto them? yea, whether is it not, to threaten men, and that in the [...]orest manner of all other, if they will not call them Rabbi, or Masters, i. if they will not sin against the Commandement of Christ?

[Page 2]Whether is it Christian to maintaine that Religion, by putting 4 others to death, which (as Lactantius saith) men ought to defend, non occidendo, sed moriendo, i. not by slaying others, but by dy­ing our selves for it?

Whether is it not evident from Tertullian, Lactantius, and o­ther 5 ancient and Authentick Writers, that the Idolatrous Hea­then sought to maintaine their Idolatrous Religions, by the same Stratagems▪ methods, and wayes, which the said Ordinance proposeth, for maintaining the Religion of Christ?

Whether our best Records of later times doe not cleerely shew,6 that the Papacy, and Antichristian party in the world, have still gone about to uphold that false and abominable Religion, which they professe, by those very shores and props, wherewith the Ordi­nance we speake of seeks to support the true Religion of Christ?

Whether are errours and Heresies any other things; then some 7 of those strong holds and imaginations in men, which (as the Apostle saith) exalt themselves against the knowledge of God 2 Cor. 10.? Or whether can they be better throwne downe then by those weapons▪ which (as the same Apostle speaketh) are mighty through God▪ for that very purpose? And whether are these weapons carnall, or spirituall?

Whether to injoyn Ministers or others upon pain of death, im­prisonment,8 &c. not to teach or maintaine any thing, in many the greatest and most weighty points in Religion, contrary to the pre­sent sense and apprehensions of the said Injoyners, being but few in number, (comparatively) be not to quench proceedings; and to say (in effect) unto the holy Ghost, reveale nothing more unto others, then thou hast revealed unto us; or rather thus; if thou hast not revealed the Truth unto us, reveale it not unto any other men?

Whether they, who inflict the heavie sentence of death upon 9 men, for maintaining an opinion or Doctrine contrary to their sense and Interpretation of a Scripture, one or more, had not need be as infallible in their judgements, (at least as touching the sense and meaning of all such Scriptures) as God himself?

Whether did Luther (with divers other worthy Assertors of the 10 Truth in his dayes against the Papists) deserve death, imprison­ment, &c. for maintaining, and that publiquely, and against fre­quent Admonition, by Zuinglius, Calvin, &c. the erroneous opini­on of Consubstantiation; an error farre more grosse and dangerous then many particulariz'd in the Ordinance; besides many others [Page 3] not inferior in evill unto this, as concerning free-will, election &c?

Whether did Calvin deserve either imprisonment or death, for,11 teaching and maintaining publiquely by writing, that the observati­on of the Lords day, as it is injoyned by the Ordinances and Lawes of this Realme, is not according to the Word of God?

Whether doth a Minister, in case that in the performance of his 12 office in preaching the Gospel, he shall mistake the mind of Christ, or the true sense of a Scripture, one or more, cited, & interpreted by him according to the best light which God hath given him, deserve either death or imprisonment, for his mistake? or whether many of the opinions made liable hereunto by the Ordinance, be constru­ctively, any thing moe, or of any worse demerit, then a mistake, or misunderstanding of some Scriptures?

Whether a mistake in judgement, (as suppose a man verily and 13 in the simplicitie of his heart, judgeth that Infants ought not to be Baptized, or that Presbytery is unlawfull, or the like) joyned with a publique and free profession of his judgement in this kinde, be more sinfull, or more deserving imprisonment, death, &c. then an open and manifest deniall in works, of such Truths, which yet men professe in words; as when men professe that they beleeve Jesus to be the Son of God, and that the Scriptures are the word of God, &c. and yet live loosly, prophanely, in drunkennesse, riot, &c. Or whether the Ordinance maketh not the former denialls, which at most are but of Truths very questionable and obscure, yea and but of inferior consequence neither (at least comparatively) punishable by impri­sonment or death; whereas it inflicts no censure at all upon these latter denialls (except it be in the case of blasphemy) which are every whit as full & publique as the other, yea and of Truths both more generally received, and farre more easie to be proved; yea and of a far greater and more formidable consequence, then those other?

Whether Ministers, truly faithfull and conscientious, being fully 14 perswaded in their soules and consciences, that many of the opini­ons asserted in the Ordinance for Truths, yet are not such, but er­rors (of wch perswasion there are many such Ministers in England) shall doe well to comply with the Ordinance, (so called) against their judgements; and publiquely hold forth to the people those things for truths, which they are absolutely perswaded in their judgements, to be nothing lesse? Or whether the said Ordinance, threatening them with imprisonment or death, in case they shall [Page 4] declare themselves otherwise, be not a dangerous temptation upon them, to draw their foot into that snare of death?

Whether, the publicke holding of any such opinion, which 15 according to the doctrine of the Apostles themselves, deserves not excommunication from, or by a Christian Church, may yet deserve imprisonment, or a cutting off by death, by the civil Magistrate? Or are they, who are meete and worthy to live and converse as members in a Church of Christ, unworthy so much as to live in a politique or civill State? Or were there not in the Church of Corinth, (yea and in other Churches besides in the A­postles dayes) who publiquely held some opinions of farre worse consequence, then very many of those, which the said Ordinance censureth, either with imprisonment, or with death; Of whose excommunication, notwithstanding the Apostle is silent, even then when he argueth against, and condemneth their errors. Yea doth he not intreat them graciously, notwithstanding the danger of their error, calling them beloved Brethren 1 Cor. 15. 58. & admonisheth them to take heed of being deceived; to be stedfast & unmoveable? &c.

Whether is it not very possible, that persons, who may hold,16 and upon occasion publiquely maintaine, many of the opinions condemned as errors, by the Ordinance, may yet be as full of grace and goodnesse, as precious in the sight of God, as fruitfull in every good worke, as serviceable to the State, and Common­wealth, as those who are of another judgement and practise? O [...] what repugnancy is there in either of those things, unto any of these? if so, whether can it be a thing well pleasing unto God, or of any good accommodation to the State, to make a Law for the punishing or afflicting of such persons?

Whether is not such an Ordinance, (were it an ordinance in­deed)17 in the very nature and direct tendency of it, likely to prove a grand discouragement unto many from taking the calling of the Ministery upon them, (the Kingdome suffering at present so extreamely for want of able and faithfull men in this calling,) and especially such, who are most ingenuous, and most eminently qualified by God for this great worke? or whether are not men of greatest worth for parts and abilities, especially in conjuncti­on with good and tender consciences, (the most absolute compo­sition for the Ministery,) more like then other men to decline that imployment, wherein they are so much the more like to suf­fer [Page 5] for a good conscience sake, then other men; by how much the more likely they are to discover the common errors and mis­prisions of the present age in matters of Religion, then they?

Whether is not the said Ordinance, in the example of it, a direct 18 incouragement and confirmation to Popish Magistrates, to perse­cute the faithfull servants of God, who live in their territories with fire & sword, for professing the truth of God amongst them? And whether doe not they, who here seeke to plucke up the tares, by such an Ordinance, plucke up the wheat also there, by the same?

Whether was there ever any such Ordinance, or State act, e­ver heard of, or knowne, in any the Reformed Churches? I 19 meane, which was so apparently bent against the faces, if not of the greatest part, yet of so considerable a part of the best and most conscientious men amongst them, as this is?

Whether was there ever any thing done in the Bishops times,20 or any thing attempted to be done by this generation of men in the day of their greatest interest and power in the Kingdome, of that bloudy consequence to those godly persons, Ministers, or o­thers, whom they most hated, and sought to crush, as this Ordi­nance, if once established, is like to be, to surre greater numbers of truely pious and conscientious men?21

Whether the said Ordinance ministreth not an advantage, of opportunity to the worst and wickedest of men, who commonly hate the best and faithfullest Ministers most, to accuse them un­duly of such things, which according to the ordinary course of Law, may touch their lives, or otherwise bring much affliction, and vexation to them?

Whether twelve simple Countrimen, such as our ordinary 22 Juries usually confist of at Countrey Assizes, who (alas!) are far from being versed, or any wayes judgemented in the profound questions in Divinity, (unto many of which the Ordinance rela­teth) and who are generally uncapable of such equipollencies, proprieties, and differences of words, upon the understanding, or right discerning whereof, the innocencie or guiltinesse of the person indited is very likely to depend, be of any competent facul­ty or interest, to passe upon the life or liberty of a studious, learned, and conscientious man, in such cases, which the greatest and ablest professors of Divinitie in the world, are not able cleerly, or with any competent satisfaction to the scrupulous (many times) to re­solve, or determine?

[Page 6]Whither an ordinary Judge of Ass [...]e, who either doth not pre­tend,23 or (at most) in most cases, doth but pretend to any thorough­nesse of search or inquiry into the deep things of God in the ab­struse and disputable points of Religion, as that of free will, of the Trinity, of the hypostaticall union, concerning the death of Christ, the condition of the soule after death, &c. be a competent Judge in such Questions and cases as these, especially over, and against such men (to the bereaving of them, either of life or libertie) who are knowne to be men of able parts, and to have made the study of Di­vinity, their sole imployment all their dayes, being otherwise, grave, and sober, and conscientious men in all their wayes?

Whether these two opinions, (both of them attainded for errors,24 and made equally punishable by the ordinance,) 1o That the mor­rall Law contained in the ten Commandements is no rule of a Christi­an life. 2o That the observation of the Lords day, as it is enjoyned by the Ordinances and Lawes of this Realme, is not according, or contra­ry to the word of God; can possibly be both errors, or justly punish­able; since the Observation of the Lords day, as it is enjoyned by the Ordinances and Lawes of this Realme, is no where to be found in the Morall Law contained in the ten Commandements; this Law requiring the observation of another day, differing from that, the observation whereof is injoyned by the Ordinances and Lawes of this Realme? Or if the Law contained in the ten Commandements be the rule of a Christian life, whether doe they walke Christianly, who doe not conforme themselves unto it? nay, who place a great part of their Christianity, in walking, if not contrary to it, yet quite beside it? as all they doe, who observe the Lords day, as it is injoy­ned by the Ordinances and Laws of this Realme; and celebrate the two Sacraments, Baptisme, and the Loods Supper, mentioned likewise in the Ordinance?

Whether doth the Ordinance, making this a punishable errour,25 to hold that a man by nature hath free will to turne unto God, by this expression, of having free will to turne unto God, intend to grant any will at all in men by nature to turne unto God, though much in­cumbred and oppressed with corruption, and indisposition to such an act, and in that respect, meaneth that it is not free; or else to de­nie all, and all manner of will in men, in respect of this act; so that when God purposeth to make men willing to turne to him, he must create a new facultie of will in him, as also a new disposition or pro­pension in this will, whereby it may be freely carried upon this act of conversion?

[Page 9]What does the Ordinance mean, by blasph [...]ming the name of God, 26 or any of the Holy Trinity? doth it mean any kinde or degree of sin, against the third Commandement? or any, and every kinde of swea­ring▪ as by Faith, Troth, or the like; so that upon the second of­fence committed in this kinde, after, and contrary to admonition, the party offending is to suffer death? or doth it by blaspheming the name of God, &c. intend onely the highest kindes of Blasphemy, as the cal­ling of God, or of Jesus Christ, accursed, wicked, unjust, unfaith­full, &c?

What doth the Ordinance mean, by impugning the word of God? 27 doth it mean, the opposing by way of argument and discourse, eve­ry truth contained and delivered in the Word of God? or onely the proposall and inforcement of such reasons and grounds, the tendency whereof is, to prove it, indefinitly taken and considered, not to be the Word of God?

In what sence doth the Ordinance make it erroneous and punish­able,28 to hold, that God seeth no sin in the justified? inasmuch as there is a sence, (if not more then one) wherein it is most certainly true, that God seeth no sin in such persons (Numb. 23. 21. Jer. 18. 23. Psal. 32. 1. &c.)?

In what sence doth the Ordinance adjudge it an error, worthy to 29 be punished, and that with no lesse than perpetuall imprisonment, in case it be not abjured; to hold and maintain▪ that a man is bound to beleeve no more, than by his reason hee can comprehend? Doth it in­tend to make men of this Faith, that they are bound in conscience to beleeve more than they can comprehend, that is, cleerly and fully conceive any reason why they should beleeve? If so, then how much, or to what proportion of object are they bound to beleeve, beyond what they are able to comprehend by reason, sufficient & cleer grounds of beleeving? Are they bound to beleeve in this kinde (I mean, be­yond what they are able to comprehend by reason) without measure, bounds, or limits? If so, are they bound to beleeve all things with­out exception, that shall any wayes, or by any hand be presented unto them? Or, if Reason ought not to regulate or limit men a­bout the object or matter of their beleeving, then are they bound to beleeve those things, concerning which, there is no ground or reason at all, why they should be beleeved? If so, whether is Divine Revelation, or the asserting of things by God, any ground or rea­son, comprehensible in that relation, by that faculty of Reason, or [Page 10] [...] [Page 11] [...] [Page 10] understanding in a man, for the beleeving of all things so revealed, and asserted? If so, whether is not Reason, able to comprehend and judge of all things required by God as necessary to be beleev­ed, so farre, as they are necessary to be beleeved, i. e, as farre as they are revealed by God? Or is any man bound to beleeve that, con­cerning which it is unpossible for him, or any man, to comprehend, or conceive any reason, why it should be a Truth; and consequent­ly worthy or meet to be beleeved? Or what instance can be given in any particular branch of the object of Faith, which ought to be beleeved, and yet is unpossible to be comprehended by Reason, that it is a Truth? Or whether ought any man (at least, in sensu composito,) to beleeve the deepest or highest mystery in Religion, any further, or any otherwise, then as, and as farre, as he hath Rea­son to judge it to be a Truth?

What doth the Ordinance mean, by publishing Doctrines with ob­stinacy? 30 Doth it mean a publishing of them, contrary to the will, pleasure, or prohibition of the Assembly of Divines, or of any par­ticular man, whether they shew unto the Assertors or Publishers of such Doctrines, any sufficient reason to convince them, or no? Or what kinde, or manner of Reasons doth it intend those shall be, up­on the tender whereof, either by the said Assembly, or others, the publisher of the Doctrines shall be judged obstinate, in case he shall still publish them? Or if, by publishing with obstinacy, be meant, a publishing contrary to the desires, or injunctions of men, without any sufficient reason given of their desires, or injunctions in this kinde; then in what sense or notion doth the Ordinance under­stand the word Obstinacy? or how many desires, prohibitions, or injunctions of men to the contrary, must precede and be admini­stred, before a man shall according to meaning and intent of the Ordinance, be said to publish a Doctrine obstinately?

Whereas the said Ordinance maketh it an error, and the publish­ing 31 of it punishable with imprisonment, to hold, that Government by Presbytery is unlawfull; whether doth it mean, that Government by Presbytery which the Parliament hath established, or that Go­vernment by Presbytery, which is so importunely desired and de­fended by the Ministers; because there is (it seems) a strong op­position, and vast difference between the one and the other, at least in some things? Or doth it intend, all, and all manner of Govern­ment by Presbytery, in what sense or notion soever?

[Page 11]What doth the paper mean, by blaspheming the Name of God, or im­pugning 32 the Word of God, wittingly, and presumptuously, considering, that (as Mr. Prynne informes us at Truth Tri­umphing over falshood, p. 109▪ large) the word, presumptu­ously admits of a strange variety of significations? And since the sin of blaspheming the Name of God (with the other) must be committed wit­tingly, and presumptuously, or contrary to Admonition, before the Or­dinance (so called) takes hold of it, or maketh it punishable; upon what testimony, evidence, or indication, one or more, shall the said sins be adjudged to be committed wittingly?

Again, inasmuch as the said sins committed contrary to Admonition, 33 are made so severely punishable by the Ordinance; by whom is it in­tended that this Admonition must be given, to bring the said sins under the dint and stroke of the Ordinance? whether by a Magistrate only, or by a Minister, and that either in his publique Ministery, and in ge­nerall, or in private, and in personall addresse, or by any man, of what rank or quality soever?

God having appointed an expresse punishment (by way of remedy 34 and cure) of blasphemy, in the New Testament (whom I have delive­red up unto Satan, saith Paul, that they may learn not to 1 Tim. 1. 20 blaspheme,) whether is it either reasonable or Christian, to decline this punishment of so sovereign a nature for the healing of the sin, and to preferre a pu­nishment mentioned onely in the Old Testament, which, though ap­pointed by God for those times, yet hath no such Evangelicall vertue or property ascribed unto it?

Whether the Ordinance, in ordering the Delinquent or party accu­sed,35 to renounce his error in the publique Congregation of the Parish-Church whence the complaint comes; intends onely this renunciation, when the complaint of the error Preached or maintained, comes from, or out of such a publique Congregation? or in case it comes from, or out of ano­ther Congregation, viz. which is not Parochiall, or held in a Parish-Church, whether then doth the Ordinance intend any such Renuncia­tion at all? or in what Congregation doth it intend it? Or whether is any complaint of an error published or maintained, admittable by the Ordinance, but onely those, that come from some publique Congrega­tion of a Parish-Church?

In what sense desireth the Paper to be understood, when it maketh 36 an action punishable with imprisonment, to publish, that it is not law­full to teach children to pray? or whether doth it measure children, by [Page 12] age, or by understanding? If by either, at what age, or under what line or scantling of understanding must they be, when it shall be pu­nishable by the Ordinance, for any man to affirme, that it is not law­full to teach them to pray? For doubtlesse it is not lawfull to teach chil­dren, or whosoever, to pray, unlesse we can reasonably judge them ca­pable of our instruction in this kinde, and of learning how to pray.

The Scriptures not having cleerly determined or defined, what is er­roneous,37 or hereticall, in many (if not in the most) of the particulars mentioned in the said Ordinance; who, or of what capacity or Inte­rest ought they to be, that are meet to be constituted judges or deter­miners of such cases and questions? whether those, that already are profoundly ingaged on the one hand? or those who as yet stand un­declared in either? Or who have any power or authority from God to appoint Judges in such cases as they please?

Whether did God ever give any power or Authority to civill Ma­gistrates,38 or others, either in the Old Testament or the New, to make any controverted exposition of any clause or clauses in the Law, con­trovertible between Priest and Priest, Scribe and Scribe, though pub­lished and declared, or any matter whatsoever of doubtfull disputati­on between grave, learned, pious, and conscientious men on both sides, punishable either with imprisonment or death? And whether are not many of the points condemned by the Ordinance, matters of this na­ture, controvertible (I mean) yea, and actually controverted between persons of equall worth, parts, learning, judgement, conscience, on both sides?

FINIS.

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