Which things the Angels desire to looke into

1. Pet. 1.
‘The gates of Hell shall not prevaile.’
Armed prudence [...]agistratus Polits.

[...] can do nothing against the Truth but for the Truth.

The Sun of righteousnes with healing in his wing

Mal. 4. 2.
‘The Lord God is a Sun & Sheild’

HIERASPISTES A DEFENCE of the Ministry and Ministers of the Church of England by JOHN GAƲDEN. DD

I am set for the defence of the Gospel.

Phil. 1. 17.
[...]‘MAGNVM PIETATJS MYSTERIVM MINISTERJO EVANGELICO SACRVM VERIS ECCL ANGL: M [...]NSS. APOST. ORD [...] SVCCESSORIBVS: QVJ CHRJST. RELJG. CATHOL: REF: DJVJNA AVTOR: MVNI [...] VERBJ LUMJNE FJDEJ CLYPEO. VERJ [...] JS COLUMNA PROPAGARVNT. PROPVG [...] [...]NT. STATVMJNARVNT: REVSS. PAT. HARJSS. QVE FRAT. HOC PJETAS. ERVO [...] ON STAN MONVM. IN DEJ GLO L.M.P. JOHS. GAVDENTJꝰ [...] F.F.F.’

S. APOSTOLI.

LEX et PROPHETAE.

α IESVS CHRISTVS: ω

‘I will bee with you to the end of the world.’
Learned Pietie Minister Eccls.

Woe bee to mi if I preach not the Gospell.

HIERASPISTES: A DEFENCE by way of APOLOGY FOR THE Ministry and Ministers OF THE CHURCH of ENGLAND: HUMBLY PRESENTED To the Consciences of all those that excell in VIRTƲE.

By JOHN GAƲDEN, D. D. and MINISTER of that Church at BOCKING in ESSEX.

Mat. 28.19. Goe ye therefore, and teach all Nations, baptizing them, &c.

20. And loe, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.

Tit. 1.5. That thou shouldst ordain Presbyters in every City, as I had appointed thee.

Heb. 13.17 They watch for your souls, as they that must give an account, &c.

[...]. Clem. Pauli dis. Ep. ad Corinth.

Presbyteris qui sunt in Ecclesia obaudire oportet, qui successionem habent ab Aposto­lis, & cum successione Charisma veritatis certum acceperunt secundum Patris beneplaci­tum; Qui vero a principali absistunt successione, quocunque loco colliguntur, suspectos habere oportet, vel baereticos & malae sententiae, vel scindentes & elatos, & sibi placen­tes: Omnes bi decidunta veritate, Sophistae verborum magis esse volentes, quam disci­puli veritatis. Irenae. l. 3. c. 40. & l. 4. c. 43.

Printed for Andrew Crooke, and are to be sold at the Green Dragon in St. Pauls-Church-yard, 1653.

To the Reader.

THE ensuing Apologetick defence of the Ministry and Ministers of the Church of England, can hardly expect more Readers than severe Censurers; of whom some will be wearied with the length, others offended with the freedome: some despisers of the manner, others contra­dicters of the matter: In sum, it lookes for not many, or any friends; but such as are humble, judi­cious, and impartiall; And not a few enemies, of those that are proud, ignorant and biassed by secular interests. So pre­valent are our enemies grown even in matters of Religi­on, that few can bear, either their diseases, or their remedies. Albeit the age extreamly wants, yet it can hardly endure a plain and faithfull stile; though it keeps the medium between severity and flattery, bitternesse and dulnesse, morose antiquity and petulant novelty. It is some mens Religion to have none setled by education or profession; Others cavill at all that hath been taught or established: Many esteem their Levity in opinions, and inconstancy in profession to be a kinde of Empire and Soveraignty in Religion; Never thinking themselves to be, what they should be, till they are, what they list: judging that Liberty, which is Lawlesnesse, and that freedome, which is without fear of God, or reverence of man: calling that piety with peace, which is the dissolving and de­solating of all publique society, order, unity, and polity in Churches; crying up their later fragments, and broken meats; being all those loaves and fishes, with which Christ hath for so [Page] many hundred of years fed his Church and people in all the world.

Others of deeper reaches taking the advantage of such po­pular easinesse and credulity, which is lesse separable from the vulgar, than shadowes are from grosse bodies, study to variate and shift the extern forms and models of Religion, untill the sacred and eternall interests of Gods glory, and mans salvation are drawn to stoop to, or forced to comply with temporary designes, and secular policies; where Christ must be made to serve Belial; God to how down to Mammon; the Ark must become captive to Dagon; piety turn page to ava­rice; and Religion be onely entertained as a lackey for Am­bition; Where there are such abasings, distortings and de­formings of the beauty and rectitude of Christian Religion, (sowring the wine of Primitive verity, simplicity, and charity, with the vinegar of worldly jealousie, craft and cruelty) what can be expected, as to any thing written, in behalf of Reli­gion, and its holy Institutions, with a plain, free, and upright genius, but onely such fate and doome, as the severall humors, parties, prejudices, and worldly interests of men will af­ford? which being so divided, and thwarting each other, it will be hard to please any one, without displeasing many.

The Author therefore (who writes as addicted to no faction:) nor personally injured, or obliged by any novel parties, but stu­dying only to discharge a good conscience, as to men, so chiefly toward God, (the assistance of whose Heroick Spirit, and free grace he humbly begs through all this work) neither seeks, nor hopes to please any men, whose passionate adherence to any sidings either in civill or religious concernments, lesse inclines them to that calm, judicious, and charitable temper, which is Scripturall, Catholick, and truly Christian; This he onely studies, this he preacheth, for this he prayes, this he commends, this he admires: Not doting upon any rust or drosse, which ancient and venerable Episcopacy might in many hundred of years easily contract; and from which it may as easily be cleared, if men impartially sought the things of [Page] Jesus Christ, and his Churches prosperity, without gratify­ing any passion in themselves or others. Nor yet doth the Author any whit admire those rigid Reformations, which some rash, envious, or ambitious Presbyters drive on; who know not how to shave their Fathers beards without cutting their throats; nor to pair their nailes without cropping off their hands. They are unskilfull Chymists, who cannot re­fine from drosse without consuming what is pretious: And they are pitifull Empiricks, who cannot purge without cast­ing into Bloudy Fluxes. Nor in the last place doth this Apo­logist so far temporise, as in the least kinde to magnifie the vi­olent breakings, and hotter meltings of any bolder Indepen­dents; who make Religion and Reformation run to any new moulds, which they fancy; to Separating, to Seeking, to Sha­king, to nothing; that ownes any Ordinance, order, publique establ [...]shment, Christian communion, or holy profession; be­ing w [...]olly resolved into these two principles; the pleasing of themselves, and the confounding of others.

Amidst these sad distractions and various confidences of men in their opinions, and undertakings, there is no wise man, but discerns the pulse of mans Ambition equally beating in spirits Monarchicall, Aristocraticall, and Democraticall: as in civill policies, so also in religious administrations; some are for primacy and p [...]iority, others for p [...]ucity and parity, a third sort for popularity and vulgarity: where as indeed the best constitution in any government, is rather from the har­monious temperament and proportionate mixture of all three, than from the predominance of any one, so as to oppresse the other two. Men of eminent parts are prone to affect to govern alone; without any flatnesse or allay from inferiours: Men of moderate abilities are content to goe in a joint stock, mutually supplying those defects, to which singly they are conscious: Men of low and mean endowments are for hud­dles; one and all; where no one man is so much confident of himself, as indeed he is envious at all others; and impa­tient to see any thing done without him: Whereas in true wisdome, the eminency of the first, the mediocrity of the second, [Page] and the meannesse yet multitudinousnesse of the third, should be fairly modelled and composed, as the head, hands, and other members of the body are, to the common welfare. And certainly they did of old (in the best times and tempers of Christians) all meet in a most happy harmony, Church-order, and constitution; no lesse than the humours, bloud, and spirits doe in healthy and vigorous bodies: All experi­ [...]ience tels us that the disorder of any one of them, causeth sicknesse, weaknesse, or dissolution of Christian charity, society, and sweet communion, as to their extern polity and profession of Religion.

Which sad effects, or symptomes at least of them in this Church, this Author with grief and shame beholding, hath endeavoured with the greatest serenity and expeditenesse of soul (before he leaves this Bacha and Aceldama, this valley of tears, contention, and confusion) to ascend himself, and lead others, as much in him lies, to the height, and top of that Primitive verity, unity and charity, which made Chri­stians so much admired, and venerated, even when they were most cruelly persecuted. From which free and un-ingaged pro­spect, both he and they, may with a clear and full view be­hold the later and worser changes in extern matters of Reli­gion; wherein various opinions, and different designes of Christians have either strayed from, or quite crossed the great road of pious and plain hearted Antiquity, which no doubt best knew, beyond all the censorious Criticks, and fa­ctious Novelists of after times, what was the minde of the blessed Apostles, of the Primitive Martyrs and Confessors: who most exactly followed those methods, which the Apo­stolical wisdome and piety had prescribed to those Churches they planted, watered and preserved, chiefly aiming at the Catholick good, and common benefit of all Churches.

From which, private fancies, aims and interests, afterward varying, both in opinion and practise, occasioned those many uncomfortable, schisms, and uncharitable factions, which (in all times, and now as much as ever) so divide the unity, de­stroy the charity, and deform the beauty of Christian Religion; [Page] That many, if not most Christians, doe not onely read, and hear; write, and dispute; pray, and preach; but they believe, and repent; love, or hate; damn, or save; communicate with, or excommunicate one another, most-what, out of their natu­rall constitutions, as they are of more calm and cholerick tem­pers; or out of those prejudices and prepossessions, which custom and education have formed in them; or from adhe­rence to parties and mutuall agitations, whereby they hope to drive on some worldly and secular concernments; rather than from true and impartiall principles of right reason, Scriptu­rall precept, and Ecclesiasticall practise; which threefold cord, twisted into one, is not easily broken: And which, beyond all disputes, affords, both in doctrine and discipline, in opi­nion and practise, as to inward piety, and outward polity, the surest measures of Religion, and bounds of conscience; which are then most pure and unblameable, when they look direct­ly to those great designes and ends of every wise man and good Christian, the glory of God, the honour of Christ, the peace of the Church, and Soules eternall welfare; with­out any sinister squintings to secular ends, or warpings to worldly designes, which are the moths of Religion, the pests of society, the overlayings of charity, and the Incubusses of Conscience; easily seising upon Christians of weak judge­ments, and strong passions; for which we need not goe far to see many and unhappy instances.

For, what serious and well advised Christian sees not; how vehement drawings and impulses in matters of Religion are made upon men by weak, and at first scarse perceptible, byasses of opinions, and hopes of advantages: How, want of solidi­ty or sincerity is the greatest motion of violent affections in most men: How, the lesse they weigh those things, they call Religion and Reformation, the more eagerly they pursue and extoll them? (The most wise and gracious men being al­wayes the most grave and calm, the most serious and constant) Vulgar devotion and heats, like weak fires, and dubious flames, are usually kindled by light fewell, and fomented with fear materials; Blazing, like Comets, the more prodigiously, [Page] by how much they have more of grosse and earthly va­pours.

Hence, not onely the glory of outward successes, and world­ly prosperities, attending the number, policy, or prevalency of any faction, makes many Christians, (ere they are aware of it) turn Turkes, and secretly subscribe to Mahumetanism; (which for many centuries hath outvived Christianity in point of victorious progresses, military advantages, and latitude of Empire) The current of worldly events, like quick-tides, easily and undiscernibly carrying many Christians from that course of pious strictnesse, and conscientious exactnesse in truth, justice, and charity, which they ought alwayes to steere without any variation, according to the clear and fixed Word of God in Scripture; and not according to his dark permissions, or unsearchable workings in providence; which are alwayes just and to be admired, as from the divine wisdome and justice; but not alwayes to be approved or imitated, as from mans wickednesse and folly; which like poysonous drugs are in themselves deadly and to be abhorred: however the skill of the great and good Physitian, God, knows how to attemper and apply them as Physick and Theriacals, to purge, or punish; to cure, or correct the distempers of his Church and people.

Nor is it this temptation onely of events, (in which is a strong delusion, able, if possible, to deceive the very elect; which none but steddy judgements, and exact consciences can resist;) But even the smallest differences, the most easie and triviall considerations, which are but as the dust of the ba­lance in Reason or Religion, in piety or prudence, these, like motes, falling into some mens eyes, presently appeare as mountaines; and so possesse their sight, that they will owne nothing for Religion in any men, or any Church, which appears not just after that colour, figure and notion, which they are taken wi [...]hall.

How many peoples Religion consists much in the very ex­tern modes or dressing themselves, or others, in the fashion of their own or others clothes, for their plainnesse, or costlinesse; [Page] for their novelty, or Antiquity: yea in the length, or short­nesse; in the laying out, or hiding of their hair: Hence their censures, scandals, or approbations of others; their confidences, and oftentations of themselves, even as to piety, purity, and holinesse; (which are indeed seldome seen in ruffianly and dissolute fashions; yet, often in those proporti­ons of elegancy and decency, as to the outward garb, and fa­shion, which some mens rusticity, severity, or slovenliness cannot bear:) Because they doe not understand, that, in things of this kinde, not Scripture, but Nature gives rules to the Religion of them; which is their usefulnesse and their comelinesse, 1 Cor. 11.3, 14. And this, not by any morall innate principles, but by those (more gentium) customes of Countries, and dictates of sociall nature, which not by writ­ten Lawes, but by tacit consent and use doe for the most part prescribe what is agreeable to humanity, modesty, and civility; which customary measures and civill rules of orna­ment and outward fashions in any countrey, are not scrupulously to be quarrelled at; nor cynically neglected, nor morosely retained; but may with freedome, and ingenuity be used, and altered; according to the genius of all things, of ex­tern mode and fashion, as cloathing, dressing, building, planting, fortifying, speaking, &c. which depend much up­on the fancies of men; and so are mutable, without any sin, or immorality; as all things are, within the compasse of mortality.

How many mens Religion lies in their admiration of some mens persons, gifts, piety, and supposed zeal, in their being of his sect, way, body, fraternity, and confederacy? when yet many times they have but an Idol for their God, though they glory to have a Levite to be their Priest: Able men may have great infirmities; and learned men grosse errors; foul diseases oft attend fair faces: Doting sectaries will wor­ship the pudenda of their Priests, and magnifie what is most dishonest, and uncomely in their ringleaders. Yea, many silly souls we see are every where much taken with other mens ignorance, set off meerly with impudence; where the want [Page] of all true worth for ability and authority is attended with the want of all shame and modesty; Factious spirits in poor peo­ple makes them content to have their Religion hatcht under the wing and feathers of any foolish and unclean bird.

In how many Christians is their Religion blown up, (as the paper kites of boyes) meerly with their own breath, or other mens applauses; setting off all that is done in their way with the Epithites of rare, pretious, holy, gracious, spiritu­all, sweet, divine, Saint-like, &c. when yet wise men, that weigh their boastings, evidently finde, much of those mens Religion to be deformed with Mimicall affectations of words and phrases, with studied tones, scurrilous expressions, an­tick gestures, and ridiculous behaviours: Much in them is fulsome by the length, lowdnesse, tumultuarinesse, unprepa­rednesse and confusednesse even of those duties, which they count religious, holy, and spirituall: which are so far scan­dalous, and suspected to sober Christians, as they finde them not onely full of faction, but also destitute of that common sense, order, comelinesse, gravity, discret [...]on, reason and judgement, which are to be found in others: from whom they separate not out of scruple so much as scorn; not out of conscience, but pride and arrogancy; when yet they bring forth, after all their swelling and tympanies, nothing comparable to what others in an orderly way have done, either for the soul and essence of Religion, which is truth and charity; or for the body and ornament of it, so far as it appears to others in order and decency.

Many have little that they can fancy, or call Religion in them, but onely a fiercenesse for that side, to which they take, a morosenesse, censoriousnesse, and supercilious indifferency towards all, but those whom they count theirs. Vehement­ly opposing, what ever Adversary they undertake; abhorring all they doe, or hold in piety or prudence; branding all they like not with the mark of Antichrist; and crying downe what ever by any Christians is diversly observed in the fa­shion of their Religion: Hence many of the lowest form of Christians, place much of their Religion, in innovating [Page] Church government; contending for discipline; disputing against all Liturgies: in scuffling with ceremonies; in beat­ing the air, and fighting with the shadows of Religion: the measure of all which, as to piety, prudence and conscience, stands in their relation to the main end, Gods glory, the Churches peace, and the salvation of soules; which, where­ever they are with truth, holinesse, order, and charity car­ried on in any Church, Christians need no more scruple the extern form and manner, wherein they are decently set forth; than they need quarrell at the roome, table, or dish, where wholesome meat is handsomely presented to them; whether in a plainer or more costly way.

Others of more airy and elevated fancies, are altogether in Millenary dreams, religious fantasms, Apocalyptick rap­tures, Prophetick accomplishments; not caring much how they break any moral precept of Law or Gospel, if they thinke, thereby they may help to fulfill a Prophecy; which every opiniaster is prone to imagine strongly portendeth the advancement of his opinion, party, and way in Religi­on; untill they come to such a soveraignty, as may be able to govern and oppresse others; their Mopsicall humors be­ing never satisfied, but in fancying themselves as Kings, and reigning with Christ; Not in the inward power of his grace and spirit (which is a Christians commendable ambition) joined with an holy and humble subjection to God and man; which makes them conquerours over the lusts in themseves, and their love of the world; whence flows the greatest peace both to Churches and States: but in that extern worldly power and policy which enables them to rule others, after the same bloudy arts and cruel methods of government, which Zimri, or Herod, or Alexander, or Caesar exercised: and not the Lord Jesus Christ, who was meek and lowly, as one that served and obeyed. And herein not onely the weak, illiterate and fanatick vulgar are oft observed to act mad and ridiculous prankes in Religion; but even men of some learning and seeming piety, oft lose themselves in their wild, and melancholy rovings; which make all Pro­phecies [Page] sound to their tune, and to be for their party and opinion; though never so novell, small and inconsidera­ble: Nothing is more easily abused even by easie wits, than Prophetick emblemes, and allusions, which like soft waxe are capable of severall shapes and figurations, by which, no doubt, the Spirit of God aimed at the generall aspect and grand proportions of the Catholick Church in its visible pro­fession and outward estate: for whose use all Scripture is wr [...]tten, and to whose elevation, or depression, either in the Orthodoxie, or corruption of doctrine; in its integrity, or schismes; in its peace, or persecution, prophecies are gene­rally calculated; and in no sort to those lesser occasions, ob­scurer events, or alterations, incident to particular per­sons, countries, or Churches. It is hard to discerne the Star of Prophecy so over any one man, or place, or time, as that was over the house where Christ was in Bethlehem; Hence many meteors, falling Stars, and fatuous fires, are frequently discovered in the writings of fancifull and facti­ous men; as if all they did, or desired, or approved, were evidently foretold and commended in the Revelation; In whose Visions one sees this Princess; another sees that learned man; a third, that State or Kingdome; a fourth, that Commander and Conqueror, &c. according as men list to fancy themselves, or flatter others; whose sparks are far extinct, and their glory presently vanisheth, as no way proportionable to that fixed light and ample glory, which the spirit of prophecy holds forth, chiefly to the Christian world, in opposition to Heathens, Jews, or Antichrists. After the way of these Prophetick fancies, and passionate me­thods of some mens misinterpreting, and misapplying Prophecies; great Religion, we see, hath been placed by small mindes, in pulling down and extirpating the anci­ent order and government of Episcopacy, (which was in all Churches, as here in England, from the first plantation of Christianity:) Also in setting up the supremacy of an headlesse Eldership and Presbytery; or in dashing both of them into sheards, and small pieces by the little stone of In­dependency: [Page] How doe some glory in their dividing and destroying the ancient goodly frames of Churches, that they may new modell them to their popular way of calling, chusing, and ordaining of Ministers? Many boast much in their forsaking the calling and communion of all former Mini­sters and religious assemblies; in their despising and de­molishing the very places of publique meeting to serve God; (which, not conscience of any divine particular precept, but common reason and civility have presented Christian Religion withall, for its honour and its professors conve­niency.)

Some, here with us in England, (a place whose Genius much disposeth people to prophecies, novelties, and varieties) are (as Pygmalion with his Image) so inamoured with their (Corpusculo's) the little new bodies of their gathered Churches; that they deny any Nationall Church in any larger associatings of Christians, by harmonies of confession, and peaceable subordinations; yea, and many will allow no Catholick Church; nor any religious sense to that article of our Creed; denying any true Church at all to be now in the world. Some place all Church power in paucities, in parities, in popular levellings, and Independencies; o­thers contemn all those broken bodies, as schismaticall slips; having nothing in them of that goodly beauty, stature, strength, and integrity, to which the Church of Christ was wont to grow; and wherein it flourished and conti­nued conspicuous so many hundred of years; before these novelties were broached or brewed, either in England, or any other countrey.

The height of some mens Religion and Reformation is, to have neither Bishops, nor Ministers, of the ancient autho­rity, succession, and ordination; Others refuse these also of the new Presbyterian stamp; (which is not much older here in England, than the figure and superscription of the last coin) A third will have no Minister, but such as the common people shall try, chuse, consecrate, and judge. Some will have no Minister at all, by office, or divine mission: others [Page] will have any man a Minister or Prophet that lists to make, or call himself one. In like manner some will allow Baptism to no Infants; others to none but such, whose parents they judge to be Saints; a third baptize the children of all that professe they beleive the truth of the Gospell; a fourth sort deny the use of any water Baptism at all; By a Catabapti­sticall boldnesse, or blindenesse, magisterially contradicting, and sophistically disputing, against the expresse letter of the Scripture; against the command of Jesus Christ; against the practise of all the Apostles; and against the custom of all Christian Churches: Pretending, as a rare and warm in­vention; that the Baptisme of fire and of the Spirit, (which they now at last hold forth) will both supply and explode that colder ceremony of sprinkling or dipping in wa­ter. It is strange these Rabbies and Masters in Israel should be so silly, as not to know, that long before their brain brought forth any such blasphemous brood against baptizing by water, all judicious Christians ever esteemed baptism by water to be an extern sign and meanes, by which the wise­dome of Christ thought fit to administer to his Church on earth, not onely that distinctive mark of being his Disciples, but also the representation of his bloud, shed for their redemption, and the obsignation of that Baptismall grace, which his Spirit confers on those that are his by the cleansing of the conscience, and renewing of the inward man: 1 Pet. 3.21. Christians, must not after the short and more compendious methods of their fancies, therefore neglect the sign or ceremony, because they presume of the thing signi­fied; but rather with humble obedience doe the duty and use the meanes divinely instituted, that they may obtain the grace offered. On the same grounds, all outward Mi­nistrations among Christians may be despised and abolished, by those that pretend to the Spirits inward efficacy; which is never in any man that doth not obey the Gospell in its outward mandates, as well as the Spirit in its inward mo­tions: Proud, idle and ignorant fancies are dayly finding shorter wayes to heaven than the wisdome of Christ hath [Page] laid out to his Church; in following of which no good Christian can judge, that there is either piety, peace, or safety.

Some boast much of their popular and plausible gifts, for knowledge, utterance, prayer, &c. others slight all, but in­ward grace, and the Spirits dwelling in them. Some dote much upon their select fraternities and covenanting congregations; others are onely for private illuminations, solitary seekings, sublime raptures, and higher assurances. Some admire them­selves in their tedious strictnesses, and severer rigors, by which they gird up the loins of their Religion so strait, that it can hardly take civill breath, or the air of common courtesie: others joy, as much, in the Liberty they fancy themselves to have attained both of opinions and actions. Some make every thing a sin and errour, which they like not; others count nothing a sin, to which they have an impulse, and are free as they call it. Some tolerate all wayes of Religion in all men, till it comes to be private Atheisme, and publique confusion; others crack all strings, which will not be wound up to their pitch; damning and destroying all, that are not of their particular mode and heresie, though never so novel, and differing not onely from the Catholick practise of the primitive Churches, but also from the expresse rule of the Scriptures.

Whom would not these monsters of novelties, varieties, and contradictions among Christians in their Religion, as it is Christian, and reformed too, even amaze and greatly astonish? ready to scare all men from any thing, that wee in England call Religion, Reformation, Church, or Consci­ence; if judicious, choise and well grounded Christians did not (as they doe) seriously consider these things, which may establish them in that holy profession of this Church, wherein they have been baptized and educated?

First, the naturall levity and instability of mens mindes; 1 which can have no fixation (like the magnetick needle) but onely in one point, or line; where it is in conjuncture with its Loadstone, the Truth of God; from which, while [Page] the minde is wandering, and shaking, it is prone to love noveltie with lies, and detriment, rather than wonted things of religion with truth, and benefit. The itching humors of mens lascivient fancies and lusts, chuse to scratch them­selves to bloud and sorenesse, rather than enjoy a constant soundnesse; which distempers among those of the reformed Churches, never want vigilant and subtill fomenters; whose design is, to spread any infection among Protestants to the most pestilent contagions; that so they being sick and ashamed of themselves, under the scandals, and mad­nesses of that profession, they may, at last, seek to Rome for cure; and entertain forain Physitians; who will easily perswade such diseased Protestants, that those old sores and lingring maladies (with which the Romish party hath a long time laboured, and with which it is justly charged, however it refuse to be healed) are much safer for soules, than these new quick feavers, pestilent Agues, and desperate Apoplexies among us; which threaten utterly to kill all piety, to de­stroy all Christianity, to extirpate all charity, and dis­solve all society both as men, and as Christians: while neither morals, nor rituals of Christianity are observed; neither the superstructure of Catholick customes, nor the foundation of Scripture commands; neither truth, nor peace; things of p ety, or Christian polity, are inviolable: but all old things must be dissolved and passe away, that some men may shew their skill to create new heavens and new earths, in which, not order and righteousnesse, but all inju­riousnesse and confusion must dwell.

2 Secondly, besides this innate fondnesse of men, which is alwayes finding out new (evill, or vain) inventions, (as unwholesome bodies are ever breaking out) there are al­so crafty colourings, and politick affectations of piety, which grow as scurfe or scabs, over those prurient novelties of o­pinion: by which unwonted formes (as with severall vi­Zards and plaisters) hypocrisie seekes as to amuse the vul­gar, so to cover, and hide its cunning, and cruelty; its a­varice, ambition, revenge, and sacriledge: still avoiding the [Page] discoveries of its deep plots and wicked designes, by speci­ous pretensions of serving God in some more acceptable way, and better manner, than others have done; when in­deed every true factionist, who is Master of his Art, at last, winds up the thread of that Religion he spins, upon his own bottom, so as may best serve his own turn; nor is he ever so modest, so mortified, or so self-denying, with his pious novelties, but that he will possesse himself, and his party of any places for worldly profit, power or honour, to which he can attain; though it be by the violent and unjust ruining and outing of others: which is no very great symptom of an amended or heightned Christian.

Lastly, sober Christians doe, and ought to consider 3 those just judgements of God, either as diseases, or medi­cines, usually falling upon Christians, (as here in England) when they are surfeited with peace and plenty; cloyed with preaching and praying; wantonly weary of wonted duties, and wholesome formes of sound religion, though never so holy, and comely; Burthened with the weekly and daily importunities of Ministers doctrine, and examples, (where the sin and misery was; not that people had no true light, or no true Church, and no true Ministers, but that, having all these, they rejoiced not in them, they neglected them, and sinned the more provokingly against them;) Hence it is, that squeamish, nauseating, and glutted Christians, ea­sily turn, as foul stomachs and wanton appetites, all they take, (though never so wholesome) into peccant and mor­bifique humors, to pride and passion; to self conceit, and scorn of others; to ambitious lusts of disputing, contend­ing, and conquering in matters of Religion; endeavour­ing to destroy all, that they and their way may alone pre­vail and govern: which is the last result of all unwarran­table and unjustifiable commotions in Church or State. Nor doe men ever intend that such victories (which begin with the tongue or pen, and end in the hand and sword: com­mencing with piety and religion, but concluding with so­veraignty and dominion) shall be either inglorious or fruit­lesse; [Page] Seditious and schismaticall Champions for Religion will be sure (as soone as they have power) to carve out their own crowns and rewards; the determination of scruples in conscience, and differences in opinion, must end, not onely in imperious denying others, the liberties of consci­ence (at first craved or contended for) but in the outing others of different mindes, from their places, callings, pro­fits, and enjoyments: which is very far from that taking up the crosse of Christ and following him; from being crucified to the world in its lusts, pride and vanity, as be­comes those that will be Christs Disciples, in verity, ju­stice, and charity: To such mountains of changes and mighty oppressions doe little mole-hils in Religi [...] [...]ually swell, when the justice of God suffers piety to [...] both poyson­ed with policies, and Religion perverted with humane pas­sions. Little differences in Religion, (like Crocodiles egs) bring forth prodigies; which are ever growing greater, till they dye; adding fury to faction; passion to opinion; cru­elty to novelty; Self-interests to Conscience: Divine ven­geance oft punishing sin with sin; extravagancies of judge­ments, with exorbitancies of deeds; suffering the greater lust, or stronger faction (like pikes in a pond) to devoure the lesser; and one error to be both executioner and heir to another; Because men obeyed not the Truth in love, nor practised what they knew, with a pure heart, in an humble, meek, and charitable conversation, which alwayes chuseth rather to suffer with peacefull and holy antiquity, than to triumph with turbulent and injurious novelty.

From which have risen those many Church-Tragedies, as of ancient, so of later times, which make the bloud of Chri­stians, (yea of Jesus Christ too) so cheap and vile in one anothers eyes: Hence those unstanched effusions; those un­closed wounds; those irreconcilable fewds; those intracta­ble sores; those wide gaping gulphs of faction and division, malice and emulation, war and contention, which are en­larged and deep like hell, threatning to swallow up and exhaust whole kingdomes, flourishing Nations, and famous [Page] Churches; sometimes professing Christian, and reformed Religion, with order, peace, and truth. Where now coun­treymen, and neighbors, kindred and brethren, Ministers and people, teachers and disciples, are so far from that charity, sympathy and compassion becoming beleivers in Jesus Christ, (so as to weep with those that weep, and to rejoice with those that rejoice) that contrarily, there is nothing almost to be heard or seen, but such a face of cruelty and confusion, as a shipwrack, a troubled Sea, or Scarefire is wonted to present: The teares of some mingled with their owne, or others bloud; the cryes and sighes of some with the laugh­ter of others: smiles with sorrowes, hopes with despaires, joyes with terrors, Lamentations of some with the triumphs of others. The insolency of any prevailing faction hardly enduring the underling or suppressed party, to plead their cause, either by law or prepossession: to deplore their losses, de­feats, poverties, and oppressions; which they either feel or fear; nor yet to enjoy the liberty of their private consciences: And all this strugling, fury and confusion both in Church and State meerly to bring forth, or to nourish up some Pharez or Esau; some opinion or faction, which must come in by a breach, and prevaile by violence. After this hor­rid scene and fashion, and on such Theaters (of mutuall massa crings, fightings and wars) are divided Churches, broken factions, and uncharitable Christians always ready to act their sad and sanguinary parts of Religion; (if there be not wise and powerfull Magistrates, to curb and restrain them.) Some mens spirits are ever dancing in the circles of Reformations; trampling on the ruines of Churches and States, of charity and peace; lost in endlesse disputes, and wearied with restlesse agitations; starting many things, and long pursuing nothing: Ever hunting for novelties, and following with eagernesse and lowdnesse the game they last sprang, or put up, till they light on another: Still casting a­way all that is old, though never so good and proper, for any thing that is new, though never so bad and impertinent: being better pleased with a fooles coat of yesterdayes [Page] making, though never so fantastick and ridiculous; than with the ancient robes of a wise and grave Counsellour, never so rich, and comely; preferring a rent or piece of Christ coat before the whole and entire garment.

Thus, ever learning, fancying, cavilling, contending, disputing, and, if they can, destroying one another for mat­ters of religion, poore mortals and consumptionary Chri­stians tear others, and tire out themselves, untill (having thus wasted the fervor of their spirits, and more youthfull activity of their lives) at length the dulnesse of age, or the burthen of infirmities, or the defeat of their designes, or the decline of their faction, or the wasting of their estates, or the conscience of their follies, or the summons of death, so dispirit and appale these sometimes so great Zealots and sticklers, for what they call Religion, that they appeare like very Ghosts, and Carkuses of Christians; poor, blinde, naked, withered, deformed, and tattered in their Religion, both as to Conscience comfort, and credit; Far enough (God knowes) from that soundnesse of judgement, that setlednesse in the faith, that sobernesse of Zeal, that warmth of charity, that constancy of comfort, that sincerity of joy, that saint­like patience, that blessed peace, and that lively hope, which becomes and usually appeares in those, that have been, and are sincerely religious and truly gracious; that is, know­ing, serious, and conscientious Christians; who have, a long time, been entertained, not with splendid fancies, and specious novelties, wrested prophecies, and rare inven­tions; touching government of Churches, modelling of Religion, and Saints reigning: but with the treasures of divine wisdome; with the rivers of spirituall pleasures; with the fulnesse of heavenly joyes; with the sweetnesse of Christs love, and Christians communion: with the feasts of faith unfeigned; with the banquets of well grounded hope, with the marrow and fatnesse of good works; of an use­full holy life: which are to be had not in fantastique novelties, and curious impertinencies, in unwarrantable and self-condemning practises; but in the serious study of [Page] the Scriptures; in the diligent attending on the Ministry of the Word, and all other holy duties; in fervent and frequent prayers; in Catholick communion with charity towards all that professe to be Christians; in a patient, meek, order­ly, just, and honest conversation toward all men whatso­ever.

From which, whoever swerves, though with never so speci­ous and successefull aberrations, which vulgar mindes may think gay and glorious novelties of Religion, like the fly­ing of Simon Magus, or Mahomets extasies; yet they are to be pitied, not followed, by any children of true wisdome; which is from above, both pure and peaceable, Jam. 3.17. Whose lawful progenie, the professors of pure Religion, and undefiled, have in all times been, as in worth far superiour, so in number and power oft inferiour to the spurious issues, and by-blowes of faction and superstition; which, as easily fall into fractures among themselves, as they naturally con­federate against that onely true and legitimate off-spring of Heaven, True Religion: which is (as the Poets feigned of Pallas) the daughter of the Divine minde; the descent and darling of the true God; For, as it hath been won­derfully brought forth, so it hath alwayes been tenderly brought up, by that power, wisdome, and love, which are in those eternall relations, infinite perfections, and essenti­all endearements, wherewith the Divine Nature everlast­ingly happy, recreates and enjoyes it self; which are set forth to us under the familiar names, yet mysterious and adorable Persons of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; in whom is an holy variety with an happy Unity; a reall diversity, yet an essentiall identity: Who have taught the Church true Religion in a few words: Know and doe the will of God: Beleive and repent; Live in light, and love; in verity and charity; in righteousnesse and true holinesse: without which all Religion is vain; either fanstaticall, or hypocriticall, un­profitable, or damnable.

From which plain paths and grand principles of true Christian Religion the Author of this defence, having ob­served [Page] the great and confused variations of many Christi­ans, as in all ages, so never more than in this; his intent in this work must be, and is, (as he said) Not to gratifie any side or faction, never so swoln with plausible preten­sions, with pleasant fancies, with gainfull successes; or o­vergrown with splenitick severities, and melancholy discon­tents: but onely to make good by the impartiality of clear Scripture, sound Reason, and purest Antiquity, that station, and office, wherein the providence of God hath placed him, (and many others, far his betters) in the publique Ministry of that Religion, which as Christian and reform­ed, was established and professed here in the Church of England. Which, of any Reformed Church, hath ever since the Reformation had the honor, of being, both much admired, and mightily opposed: So that its miraculous peace, and prosperity for so many years past, as they were the effects of Gods indulgence; and of the great wisdome of governours in Church and State; so they were alwayes set off and improved by those many and smart oppositi­ons, both forain and domestick, which were made against it, both as to its truth and peace, its doctrine and di­scipline.

All which, men of excellent learning, and lives in this Church, have valiantly sustained, and happily repelled; to the great advancement of Gods glory, the prosperity of this Nation, the honour of this reformed Church, and the comfort of all judicious Christians; And this was chiefly done by the able and accurate pens of the godly and learned Ministers; who needed (in those times) no other defence on their part, either for order, government, maintenance, Ministry or doctrine; All which were then preserved from vulgar injuries and insolencies by the same power and sword, which defended those civill sanctions and lawes, which established and preserved all things of sa­cred and Ecclesiastick, as well as of civill and secular con­cernment.

Untill these last fatall times, which pregnant with civill [Page] wars and dissensions, have brought forth such great reve­lations and changes in Church and State; wherein Scholars and Churchmen, in stead of pens and bookes, have to contend with swords and pistols. Which weapons of carnall warfare, were unwonted to be applyed either to the planting, propa­gating, or reforming of Christian Religion; onely proper to be used for the preservation of what is by law establish­ed, from seditious and schismaticall perturbations; (For it was not the vinegar, but the oil of Christian Religion; not its fierinesse, but its meeknesse; not its force, but its pati­ence, that ever made its way through the hardest rocks, and hearts.) And by these strange Engines, these new armes of flesh, we have hitherto onely seen acted and fulfilled with much horror, misery and confusion, those things in this Church and Nation, which were foreseen and foretold by two eminent, and learned persons, yet of different opinions, as to the extern matters of Ecclesiasticall polity; Mr. Ri­chard Hooker, and Mr. Thomas Brightman; the one in the pre­face to his Ecclesiasticall polity: the other in his comment on the third chapter of the Revelations. Who many years a­goe in times of peace, and setlednesse in this Church of Eng­land foretold, not by any infallible spirit of prophecy, (for then the later of them would not have been so much mistaken in the fate of his dear Philadelphia of Scotland) but meer­ly out of prudence, conjecturing, what was probable to come to passe, according to the fears of the one, and the hopes of the other: in case the then spreading, though suppres­sed differences and parties in Religion, (which they then saw made many Zealously & boldly discontented) came to ob­tain such power, as every side aims at, when they pretend to carry on matters of Religion, and Reformation; wherein, immoderation being usually stiled Zeal; and moderation, lukewarmnesse; it was easie for sagacious men to foresee and foretell, what excesses, the transports of inferiours would in all probability urge upon superiours; if ever these mana­ged power so weakly and unadvisedly, that any aspiring and discontented party might come to gain power, in a way not [Page] usuall; which at the very first rupture and advantage, would think it self easily absolved from all former ties of obedience, and subjection to governours in Church or State; without which liberty and absolution, it is not possi­ble to carry on by force any Novelties and pretended amend­ments of Religion contrary to what is established in any Church or Nation.

Indeed, we see, to our smart and sorrow; that the deluge foretold would break in, hath so overflowed this and the neighbour Churches; that not only Mr. Brightmans blear-ey'd Leah, his odious Peninnah, his so abhorred Hierarchy, (the E­piscopall order and eminency) but even his beloved Rachel, his admired Hannah, his divine Presbytery it self; yea & the whole function of the Ministry feels, and fears the terror of that inundation, which far beyond his divination, hath prevailed, not only over his so despised Laodicea, which he made to be type of the Church of England, (truly) not without passion and partiality, (as I think with far wiser men) He not calmly distinguishing between the constitution and execution of things: between the faults of persons, and the order of places: between what was prudentiall, and what is ne­cessary; what is tolerable, and what is abominable in any Church, as to its extern form and polity: but also over his darling and so adored Philadelphia; which he makes to answer to the Scottish, Palatinate or Geneva form of Pres­byterian government and discipline; as if that Church of Philadelphia in its primitive constitution under the presi­dency and government of its Angell, had any thing different from, or better than the other neighbour Churches; which is no way probable, nor appears either in Scripture or Ecclesi­asticall histories; However, it might be commendable in its Angell or President, for its greater zeal and exacter care to preserve that doctrine, discipline, and order, which it had lately received from the Apostles; and which, no doubt, was the same in each Church, who had their severall An­gels or Overseers alike; which all Antiquity owned for those Pastors, Presidents, or Bishops, to whose charge they were respectively committed.

As for that evomition, or Gods spewing this Church of England out of his mouth, which Mr. Brightman so dread­fully threatens; It must be confessed that the sins of all sorts of Christians in this Church, and of Ministers as much as any, have made them nauseous and burthensome to the Divine patience; both in their lukewarm formalities, and fulsome affectations of Religion; in their empty pompes, and emptier popularities: So that Gods patience once turned into just fury, hath indeed terribly powred out his vengeance on all degrees and estates in this Nation: by suffering flouds of miseries, and billows of contempt to over­whelm (for a time) the face of this Church, (as of old wars, heresies, and schisms wasted the Asiatick, African, and Latin Churches) not more, it may be, upon the account of Ministers weaknesse and unworthinesse, than upon that of peoples levity, pride, and ingratefull inconstancy; which hath been a great means to bring on and continue these overflowing streams: Which nothing but the mighty power of God, by the help of good and wise men, can re­buke and asswage; so that the face of this Church and its Ministry may yet appear in greater beauty and true Refor­mation, after its so great squallor, and deformity: which is not to be despaired of, through Gods mercy; yet in a farre other way than ever Mr. Brightman foresaw.

But when, and by what means this shall be done, the Authour of this Apology doth not, as a Prophet, undertake to foretell; onely he observes the usuall methods of Gods Providence, in the midst of judgement to remember mercy: and after he hath sorely afflicted, to repent of the evill, and return to an humble penitent people, with tender mercies; so that we may hope his wrath will not endure for ever; nor that he hath quite forgotten to be gracious, or shut up his loving kindenesse in displeasure. Also hee considers the wonted vicissitudes of humane affairs, arising from the changes incident to mens mindes, who weary of those dis­orders and pressures necessarily attending all forcible changes in Church or State; and long frustrated with vain expecta­tions [Page] of enjoying those better conditions in things civill and religious, which are alwayes at first liberally promised and expected; at last they are prone with the same impetuosity, to retire, (as the ebbing Sea) from those fallacious or per­nicious novelties, to which the breath of some politick or passionate spirits had raised them, so much above the ordi­nary mark of true Christian religion, as to drown or threaten to carry away all those many happy enjoyments of truth, peace, order, government, and Ministry, which formerly they en­joyed: Not wholly (it may be) without; but yet with fewer and more tolerable grievances; which humble Christians ought to look upon in any setled Church and State, rather as exercises of their patience, duty, and charity; than as op­pressions of their spirits: Knowing that impatience usually punisheth it self, by applying remedies sharper than the sufferings; easily and hastily running down the hill, as from health to sicknesse, from peace to war, from good to bad, from bad to worse; but very slowly returning from evill to good, or recovering up the hill, from worse to bet­ter.

It is true, the Ministers of the Church of England, of all degrees, seem, now, to have an harder part to act, for their honor and wisdome, than ever they had under any Rulers, professing to be Christian and reformed. But they may not therefore weakly disclaim, or meanly desert their Or­dination and holy function; nor may they despair of Gods (if they have not mans) protection, who can soon make their very enemies to be at peace with them; and stir up many friends unexpectedly for them. It may be through the Lords mercy, this winters floud shall be for their mendment or fertility, and not for their utter vastation and ruine: This fire shall not consume them, but refine them; this winnow­ing will be their purging; and this shaking their setling: (As oppositions of old gave the greatest confirmations and polishings to those Truths, which were most exercised with the hammer, or file of heriticall pravity, or schismaticall fury.

If it be the mending, and not the ending; the reformation, and not the extirpation of Ministers, which their severe cen­surers and opposers seek for: why should not time of triall be given; and all honest industry used to improve these well grown and flourishing fig trees, before they be hewed down and stubbed up; which heretofore have not been either barren or unfruitfull to God and man?

If either Papall, or Anabaptisticall and Levelling ene­mies must at length after severall windings and turnings be gratified with their utter ruine and destruction, (which God forbid) yet while Ministers have leave and liberty to pray, to preach, to print, to doe well, and worthily, God for­bid they should so farre injure God, good men, and so good a cause, as not Christianly to endeavour its defence; which at worst is to be done by comely suffering: And who knows but that when these witnesses both against superstition and confusion in the Church shall seem to be slain, cast out, and buryed, they may live again, to the astonishment both of friends and enemies?

But if the sins of this Nation, and the decrees of divine Justice, doe indeed hasten an utter overthrow here of the reformed Ministry, and the reformed Religion: If Mini­sters of the ancient Ordination, lawfull heirs of the true A­postolick succession, are therefore accounted as sheep for the slaughter, because they are better fed, and better bred, than others of leaner soules, and meaner spirits: If they are therefore to the men of this world, as a savour of death unto death, because they hold forth the Word of Truth, and Life, to the just reproach of a lying, dying, and self-destroy­ing generation: If we must at last perish and fall, with our whole function and fraternity, after all our studies, char­ges, labours, and sufferings: Yet, it is fit some of us (and the more the better, lest our silence may argue guilt) give the world both at present, and in after ages some ac­count; why, and how in so learned, valiant, wise, and re­ligious a Nation as this of England hath been, wee as Ministers have stood so long; what pious frauds, and holy [Page] arts we had, whereby to impose so many hundreds of years, upon so many wise Princes; so many venerable Parliaments; so many pious professors of Christian and reformed Reli­gion: And lastly, upon so quick and high spirited a people, as these of England generally are; neither so grosse, as to be easily deluded, nor so base, as patiently to suffer themselves in so high a nature to be abused.

That so, at least if the world can lesse discern, for what cause the Ministry and Ministers are now to be destroyed, they may see upon what grounds of piety, or policy they were so long preserved in peace, plenty, and honour: And for what reasons they now seek (as their pious predecessors did) to maintain not their persons so much, as their office and function, in its due order and authority; that so they might have transmitted it in an holy and unblameable succession to posterity; as that, which in their consciences they ve­rily think to be a most divine and Christian Institution: Beneficiall for the good of the Church, and of all mankinde; which in former ages, was ever esteemed the glory, and blessing of this, or any other Nation; The setter forth of the light, wisdome, power, and love of the eternall God in his Son Jesus Christ for the salvation of sinners; and which thousands of Christians in all ages and places have experienced, and approved to be to their soules the Sa­vour of life unto life, the mighty power of God to salva­tion.

The Author easily observes the present face of our hea­vens; which are much darkned by those black, and lowring clouds, which chiefly hang over constant, true, and faithfull Ministers heads; menacing them above any rank or cal­ling of men; Nor is he ignorant of the touchinesse, and roughnesse; the jealousies, and timorousnesse, of many mens spirits in these times, whose highest pretentions to piety are set forth, either by fierce oppositions against the Ministry; or by such a weak pleading for, and wary owning of their succession and ordination, their calling and persons, as ra­rather invites opposition, contempt, and insolency, than any [Page] way gives credit or countenance to them and their function; whose remaining branches of Presbytery will hardly thrive by the watering of those hands which have been, and are destroyers of its root, the Primitive Apostolicall Episco­pacy; they are pitifull defenders of that, who are passion­ate opposers of this: who, of all men, have given the greatest advantages to those that seek to abrogate the whole function and calling, or to arrogate it to vulgar ignorance and impudence.

The grim and sad aspect on all hands upon Ministers, makes the Authour out of charity to himself and others, as willing to give a fair account of his profession, so loath to offend any sober and judicious Reader, or to contract the enmity of any others of ruder tempers, by any rash stroke or inconsiderate dash of his pen, to which he may be subject, and for which he begs pardon, both of God and man, if a­ny have escaped; which yet may be so far venial, as its in­nocent sharpnesse aims at no mens person, but onely at their supposed errors, which are grown in some so rough and in­solent, both in words and deeds, against poore Ministers, that they had need to meet with something, that hath good me­tall and usefull sharpnesse; and not with that phlegmatick and sanguine softnesse, which impudent men easily baffle and put both to the blush and silence: yet hee meddles not, save with great respect and tendernesse, with any thing of Civill Power; which no man may wisely dispute, that is not able to resist, (it is foolish to shake the pen against the sword, or oppose armed Legions with flocks of Geese;) No man may discreetly offend, while, as he must necessarily, so he may honestly and safely be subject: Prudence com­mands private men to leave the accounts of Ruling power to mens own consciences, and to the Supream Over-ruler; who best knowes, as by what means they obtain it, so to what ends, and in what manner they use it. It is enough for private persons at convenient distances to warm themselves by the light and heat of prevailing power; neither scorch­ing themselves by too neer approaches; nor consuming them­selves [Page] by indiscreet contestations with it: Modesty also for­bids such as are in subjection to dispute the actions, or dis­parage the counsels of any that are above them; who being many and so stronger, are commonly by esteem supposed wiser than any one man: and being successefull are usually esteemed blest and happy. Although it is most certain, That the many beginning from one, and combined strength or counsell being but the twisting of single feeblenesse (as so many hairs to­gether) the united many may be mistaken, as wel as the divided unites; Yea, one sick man may infect many whole: especially if his disease hath something catching and pleasing in it. But if there happen, by the Divine displeasure, pestilent airs, and noxi­ous breaths in any countrey, the strong, the wise, the great and the many, are as liable to contagion and destruction, as the weak, the few, and the foolish: yea to Epidemicall and contagious diseases, pestered cities, and crowds of men are more subject, than cels, and solitudes. No men are so wise, but they may have errors; And the sooner they see them to amendment, the wiser they will be: Nor is it the least part of wisdome in inferiours to shew to superiors their misappre­hensions and failings, rather by obliquely intimating than directly thwarting; by great reflexions, than rude affronts: Especially in those things wherein a private man may be competently versed, both by study and education; yet no way trenching upon that tender point of civill power and do­minion, which is not a fit subject for a pen and inkhorn.

Therefore this Author presumes, that the fair and free vindication of so publique an interest, as this of the Mini­stry (which is his proper sphear and calling) can displease no men, that have candor, wit, honesty, honour, good con­science, or true Religion in them: Nor will it anger sober men to be shewed what is amiss, and how it may be men­ded; which possibly they may be as unable, as willing to doe; Diseases may sometimes exceed the Art of Physiti­ans; violent Paroxysms are sometimes better left to spend themselves, than provoked and encountred with medicines. As for others of vain, violent, and foolish tempers, it is better to [Page] offend than to flatter them; and to suffer from them (if God will have it so) is more honorable, than to be rewarded by them.

The greatest danger indeed is, from those, that are (sto­lidè feroces) full of those boisterous, rude and brutish pas­sions, which grow as bristles upon hogs backs, from ig­norance, pride, rusticity, and prejudice; which make men, either unable to read, or impatient to bear, or unwilling to understand, the words of truth and sobernesse; trusting more to bestiall than rationall or religious strength: which most unmanly, and unchristian disorders in mens soules, how prevalent and epidemicall soever they may be, yet they must not be here either flattered, or fomented: By calling their darknesse light, or their evill good; their presumpti­ons, inspirations; their duller dreams high devotion; their dissolute licentiousnesse, Christian liberty; their sillinesse, san­ctity; their fiercenesse, zeal; their self-confidence and in­trusion, a divine call; their disorderly activity, speciall abi­lities; their jejune novelties, pretious rarities; or their old errors, and rotten opinions, extraordinary and unheard of perfections.

When, indeed, their root is for the most part nothing but an illiterate and illiberall disposition; neither learned to mo­rality, nor polished to civility; neither softned nor setled by good education or true Religion: being full of levity, vulgarity, unsatiate thirst and desire of novelties; their fruit also is little else, but malice, cruelty, avarice, ambiti­on, worldly policy, hypocrisie, superstition, loosenesse, and profanenesse; all conspiring, as upon untrue and unjust pre­tentions, so to evill ends; namely to abase and destroy the true and ancient Ministry of the Gospell in this Nation, and to bring into contempt all holy duties, and d [...]vine Mini­strations in this Church of Christ; to cry down all good learn­ing; to corrupt the mindes of men with error and ignorance; to debauch their manners by licentiousnesse, or superstition; to bring shame upon the reformed Religion here professed; to wilder the judgements, to wast the comforts, to shipwrack the conscience, and to damn the soules of poore people.

Where the Apologist meets with this black guard, these factors for error and sin, these agitators for the Prince of darknesse, these enemies to God, to Christ Jesus, to all good Christians, and to mankind, God forbid he should give place to them, or not charge them home, and resist them to their face: His duty and design is to detect their frauds and wickednesse; to countermine their deep projects; to frustrate their desperate counsels; to fortifie the mindes of all good Christians against their strong delusions, and op­positions; to pull down their high imaginations; to de­molish their self-conceited strong holds; to maintaine the honour of this Nation, the glory of this reformed Church, and the worth of its godly, learned, and industrious Mini­stry, against their envious cavils and ungratefull calumnies.

If any men, apart from fanatick presumptions, secular interests, popular applauses, rusticall clamors, and ignorant confidences, shall, upon rationall, prudent, and religious grounds, propound any thing in a more excellent way, ei­ther for kinde, or degree, whereby to advance the glory of God, the honour of Jesus Christ, the reall propagating of the Gospell, the exercise of usefull gifts, and graces of Gods Spirit in this Church r the encrease of charity, or com­forts among Christians; for the encouragement of learning, vertue and godlinesse; for the welfare of this Nation, or the serious reforming of Religion, and the Ministry of it, beyond what hath been, still is, and ever may be had, from the gifts and graces, the order and office, the labours and lives of those, that are the chief professors, preachers, and pillars of learning and religion in this Nation; which are the able, and faithfull Ministers of a due succession and right Ordination;

God forbid they should not, with all candor and impar­tiality be heard, with all chearfulnesse accepted, and with all uprightnesse be entertained; No good man or worthy Minister is so vain, as to fancy he may not be mended, and happily improved: But first let those alterations and no­velties, which beare this title of reformation, and amend­ment, [Page] be publiquely set forth; duly, seriously, and impar­tially be weighed in the balance of sober demonstrations, and sound reasonings, so, as becomes the honour, wisdome, and piety of this Nation; before they be injuriously con­cluded, and forcibly obtruded upon conscientious Ministers, or people. The English world (as other Protestant Churches) hath had enough of the Apes and Peacocks, which crafty Mer­chants have ever sought to vend to the vulgar: if they have any gold and spices; any commodities that are of reall use and worth; it is pity, the worlds wants have not been sooner supplyed, and their expectations satisfied; which being so long deluded, and oft frustrated, hath made sober Christians to suspect the whole fraight of some mens re­ligious novelties, to be nothing else but far fetcht and dear bought toyes, variating so much from the uniform judge­ment, and universall practise of all ancient and modern Churches, of the best note and account, no lesse, than from the worthy constitution, and wise frame of this reformed Church of England, whose honor and renown was justly great in the Christian world, for its piety and peace, its order, and its proficiency in all good learning, sound do­ctrine, and holy manners: which owed as much, as any Church under heaven, to the wisdome, piety, and imparti­ality of its Ministers and reformers (under God) as also to its establishers and defenders.

Nor have the effects of later offers and endeavours to mend or change their work, been yet so excellent or blest, as to give any cause to preferre these, before them; who no doubt could easily have reached those later seeming heights and raptures of Religion and Reformation, which some men so much boast of, in their hotter, yet looser tempers; but those learned, grave and godly men considered, in the extern polity and frame of Religion, what was then most necessary, and convenient for men and times, what latitudes of prudence and graines of charity are to be allowed by Christian piety: Not prescribing their plat-formes, then fitted to the pub­lique good, as the Non ultras of Reformation; but giving [Page] posterity a pattern; that, if we would indeed attain to further perfection, we should imitate their wise and charitable mo­deration; and tread in their humble, easie, and even steps; which were not slippery with bloud, nor rough with inso­lencies, nor unequall with factions, nor dark with policies, nor extravagant with varieties; but fairly laid out, and freely carried on by due authority, with publique and impartiall counsels, in a peaceable way, to a general uniformity, and satis­faction of both the most, and the best.

Whereas, among the many specious offers, and earnest importunities, either formerly, or lately made by some men in reference to Rel gion, and the Ministry of it in this Church, little hath hitherto appeared to have any uniform or well-formed face of further edification, or future bettering of Religion, in doctrine, government, discipline, or manners. Some few, it may be, of honest hearts have taken to them­selves a liberty to serve God in that way they best fancy and most affect; But thousands have run to errour, igno­rance, atheism and licentiousnesse, under that colour of free­dome; which besides the laxation and confusion brought among the bad, hath occasioned great heart-burning and distance and uncharitablenesse among those that seemed to be good. In some things indeed sober and wise men have offered good counsell; and propounded some things fit to be considered of and embraced; but the noise and violence of other (mens passions and interests) suffer not those mens calmer voices to be heard; Their rougher work seemes to be all with axes and hammers; not for building or repair­ing the Temple of God, without noise; but for beating all down, with the greatest stir, and clamour they can make; All is for demolishing Schools and Universities; for despi­sing all learning and sciences; for taking away all order, so­ciety, larger communion, subordination, and government in the Church; for casting away all ancient Ordination, and authoritative Ministry; that we may be left in the next age, like the Tohu and Bohu of the Chaos, void of light and full of confusion; without good learning or true Reli­gion, [Page] without any form, or power of godlinesse; So far are those lines, which the Antiministeriall fury and folly drawes, from running parallel to piety, or Christianity, to right Reason or true Religion; that they are most diame­trically opposite to all civility, prudence, policy, sense of ho­nour, and principles of humanity: Of which deformities and defects none are lesse patient to hear, than they that are most guilty; whose preposterous activity, rather than sit still, must needs imploy it self in pulling all down; which is in­deed the work of plebeian hands, and pragmaticall spirits; but to build or repair either Church or State, is the bu­sinesse onely of wise and well advised persons, such as ha­ving publique and generall consent, to deliberate of such things, may also have an universall influence in the reason and authority of their determinations: But such able men are hardly found in Countrey crowds, and illiterate heaps; nor are they very forward to obtrude themselves upon publique works, without a very fair call from God, and man; which they doe not think to be the either countrey­mans whistle, or the armed mans trumpet.

From neither of which, as this Author hath any invita­tion to this work; so he hath no temptation in it, to cap­tate favour with the giddy and uncertain vulgar; by seem­ing to adore their Diana's, or admire their many new ma­sters, and their rarer gifts; which make them worthy indeed of such soft and sequacious disciples.

Nor yet hath he any design to ingratiate with supercili­ous, and self-suspecting greatnesse; or to comply with the more solemn errors, and graver extravagancies of those, who study safety, more than piety; who think to flatter Magistrates by crying down Ministers, being more afraid of that sword, which can but kill the body; than of that, which proceeds out of the mouth of Christ, and is able to slay both soul and body.

He bespeaks no men further, than the truth, justice, and merit of this cause of the Evangelicall Ministry, made good by Scripture, Antiquity, and good experience among us [Page] here in England, may perswade them to look favourably, and friendly on the Authour and his endeavour: where­in, albeit every one, that ownes himself to be a Christi­an in this Church, is highly concerned; yet the underta­king seemes to have very little tempting in it, or inviting to it; as (now) the face of the Ministry of the Church of England seemes to appear besmeared, and disguised with in­finite odious aspersions; loaden with unmerited injuries and indignities; a wonder to its enemies and friends; a sad spe­ctacle to all good men and good Angels; (whom it can­not but afflict to see those that are the Brethren of An­gels in heaven, Revel. 19.10. and the fathers of Christians on earth, 1 Cor. 4.15.) thus treated and threatned by some men, who have this onely of proportion and equity in them, to pursue the greatest vertues, with the greatest hatred.

The Apologist therefore hath purposely declined to bring the odium or envy of Dedication upon any one particular person; lest this defence should seeme like a blazing Star, threatning with malignant influence any mans greatnesse, and honour, either of ancient or modern edition; which may be jealous, lest the patronising, or pleading for the distressed, and despised Ministry, should be the next way to their diminution; lest the dust and rubbidge of the so much battered and defaced Clergy, should deform or bury them. Besides, he thought it in vain to single out any one Patron to this book, and its Subject: For first how few persons of more ample conditions, splendider fortunes, and higher quality in civill estimation, doe much lay to heart the afflictions of these Josephs, godly Ministers and good scholars: Most are intent to their policy, profit, or pleasure; or to their sufferings, revenges, and reparations: Nothing costs a grosse spirited Gentleman, who lives like a great earth worm in a fat dunghill, lesse, either as to his purse, or his care, than the interests of Learning or Religion; The ignorance and dissolutenesse of many makes them in­different, if not enemies to piety and good education; as lights that reproach their deformities, or bonds that restrain [Page] their exorbitancies; Some are best pleased when least molested by any morall or gracious importunities: esteeming those their best friends, who suffer them to degenerate to beasts, or to devils; or to both, at once, in being Hypo­crites or Atheists: who have the stupidnesse of the beast, and the malice of the devill.

Not that I would diminish the honour of the Nobility and Gentry of this Nation, the good and gallant sort of whom none in the world exceeds for civility, fidelity, ju­stice, constancy, and piety. Though some be the shame of honour, and the stain of Gentry, as bags of chaffe, puffes of airy vanity, illiterate vice, insolent ignorance, and folly well fed: who have nothing to boast of but empty names of reproached ancestors and undeserved titles, which are comely when inscribed on the Escucheon of vertues, but deformed and ridiculous, when usurped by pultroones, and such, whom no worth redeems from being vile and de­spicable to wise and serious mindes. Yet there are not a few eminent persons of true honour and reall worth (which consists in just valour, judicious piety, usefull virtues, both to private and publique relations) whose purses have been as cruses, and their houses sanctuaries to many godly and learned men in the distresses of these times. Yet in stead of paying a respect and honour to any of these truly noble and generous persons it might be but an injury to single out a­ny one of them, in the cloud and jealousies of these times, to be as a publique refuge and Asylum to this work and its cause; which carries with it something more immense and ponderous, than ordinary occurrences in the world: And besides its high concernment to Church and State; to the temporall and eternall good of men; it hath vast difficul­ties attending it; rough oppositions, implacable odiums, and incorrigible malices to contend with: In the midst of all which there must needs be a very great deadnesse, and al­most despair, for any one man never so worthy and well-affected, to advance beyond honest desires, and sincere, but ineffectuall endeavours.

Furthermore to take a right scantling of things; what one mans shoulders, I beseech you, how potent soever, can bear the burthens, which are now cast upon the Ministry and Ministers of this Church of England? What hands can raise their declined state; what arms can support, or stay their tottering and threatning ruines? Alas, what private influence can be so benign, as to oversway, or counter­poise that malignity, which some men pretend to discover, not onely in the mindes of men on earth, but even in the very Stars and constellations of heaven, which, some say, fight against the Ministry now, as they sometime did a­gainst Sisera? If these Western wise men (who seem to be of a different strain and way from those Eastern Magi, that came to worship Christ in the Manger, with their persons, and presents) if I say they had not daily intelligence from heaven, and sat neer to the Cabinet Councell of that High Court; truly good Christians would hardly beleeve, or re­gard their reports; It being very improbable, that the Stars, either fixed or planetary, should be enemies to those, who bear their name in the Church; as Ministers doe, being called both Stars and Angels, Revel. 3.1. And who have ever been, as much brighter in their light, so more necessary to the Church, and more dear to God, than those are in the Firmament or visible heavens; by how much the intellectuall and eternall light of mens soules exceeds that which is onely sensible and momentary to their eyes: by how much reason and truth are above the beames and lustre of the Sun; which is infinitely short of the divine glory of Christ, and those spirituall benefits, which by his healing wings (the Ministers and Ministrations of his Church) are derived to the world.

Although the study, and knowledge of the Stars be very worthy of a wise and Christian man, because in their beauty, lustre, and numberlesse number, in their vast magnitude, and height, in their admirable motion, and various influences, the wonderfull glory of the Creators power and wisdome is eminently set forth, beyond what vulgar eyes discern: [Page] yet, experience tels the truly learned and religious Astro­nomer, (for such there are) that nothing is so blinde and bold as an hungry Astrologaster: who must flatter, that he may feed (starveling wisards like witches, threaten all that doe not give to them, or approve them:) But if wise men by their moral liberty of virtue and grace, may over-rule the Stars naturall inclinations upon them; sure they may (as the wisest of men, both Christian and heathen, ever did) despise those sorry Star-gazers and silly divinators, of whom Tacitus in the first book of his history writes; That they were oft banished from Rome, and yet could never be kept out; a verminly generation (ever destroyed, yet ever breed­ing) who owe their best education to their bellies; their wit and science, to the sense and knowledge of their wants: Who pretend to get their harvest out of heaven, and glean their food from among the stars, when indeed they have their greatest influence upon the spirits, and harvest from the purses of credulous and simple people. They are al­wayes fawning and unfaithfull to great men; Deceivers of all, that expect any great, or good matters from them; thus he, a learned Heathen: So that the insolency among Christians must needs be great and intolerable, to see Al­manacks dashing against their Bibles, and some Almanack-makers casting a generall and publique scorn upon their Ministers and Ministry: imputing both unjustly and indignly the folly and ridiculous impotency of some Ministers pas­sions and actions, which may be but too true to the whole function, venerable order and learned fraternity; without limitation or distinction of the wise from the foolish.

But the badnesse of the times, or madn sse rather of any men in them, makes this cause never the worse; Indeed it is so great and so good, having in it so much of Gods glory, and mans welfare, that it merits what it can hardly finde in secular greatnesse, a proportionate patron; who had need to be one of the best men, and the boldest of Chri­stians; And therefore is the addresse so generall, that be­sides our great Master the Lord Jesus Christ (the founder [Page] and protector of our order and function) this work might finde some pious and excellent Patrons in every corner; whither so great a Truth hath of late been driven to hide it selfe, by the boldnesse and cruelty of some; the cowardise and inconstancy of others: This book requires not the cold, and customary formality of patron-like accepting it, and laying it aside; but the reality of serious reading, generous asserting, and conscientious vindicating.

Who ever dares to countenance this Apology in its main Subject, The true and ancient Ministery of the Church of England, must expect to adopt many enemies, and it may be, some great ones: Whom he must consider, at once, as enemies to his Baptism, his Faith, his Graces, and Sacramentall seals to his spirituall comforts, his hopes of heaven; to his very being being a Christian, or true mem­ber of this, or any other sound part of the Catholick Church: Enemies also to his friends, and posterities etern­all happinesse; The means of which will never be truly found in any Church, or enjoyed by any Christians, under any Ministry, if it were not in that, which hath been enjoyed, and prospered in England; not onely ever since the reforma­tion, but even from the first Apostolicall plantation of Chri­stian Religion in this Island.

Of which blessed priviledge, ancient honour, and true happinesse, no good Christian, or honest English man, can with patience or indifferency suffer himself, his Countrey, and posterity to be either cunningly cheated, or violently plundered: Certainly there is no one point of Religion merits more the constancy of Martyrs, and will more bear the honour of Martyrdome, than this of the divine Institu­tion, authority, and succession of the true Ministry of the Church; which is the onely ordinary means appointed by Jesus Christ, to hold forth the Scriptures and their true meaning to the world; and with them all saving necessa­ry truths, duties, means, and Ministrations; wherein not onely the foundation, but the whole fabrick of Christian Religion is contained, which in all ages hath been as a [Page] pillar of heavenly fire, and as a shield of invincible strength; to plant and preserve, to shine and to protect, to propa­gate and defend the faith, name and worship of the true God and his Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

This makes the Authour not despaire to meet with some Patrons and Protectors of this Defence in Senates, Coun­cels, Armies, and on the house top, no lesse, than in clo­sets, and private houses; To whom it cannot be unaccep­table to see those many plausible pretensions, and potent op­positions made by some men against the Divine authority, and sacred Office, and peculiar calling of the Ministry, so discovered, as they shall appeare to be not more specious, and subtill, than dangerous and destructive, to the tempo­rall and eternall welfare of all true Protestants, sober Christians, and honest hearted English men; who, certain­ly, next the pleasing of God, and the saving of their souls, have nothing of so great concernment to themselves and their posterity, as this, The preserving, and encouraging of a true and authoritative Ministry, which is the great hinge on which all learning and civility, all piety and charity, all gracious hopes and comforts, all true Religion and Christianity it self depends, as much, as the light, beauty, regular motion, and safety of the body, doth upon its having eyes to see.

But if this freer and plainer, Defence should neither me­rit nor obtaine such ample measure of favour, and publique acceptance in the sight of judicious Readers, as it is ambitious of, and (at least) may stand in need of; yet hath the Author the comfort of endeavouring with all uprightnesse of heart to doe his duty, though he be but as an unprofitable ser­vant.

And (possibly) this great and noble Subject, the necessity, dignity, and divine authority of the Ministry of the Church of England, so far carried on by this Essay: (which sets forth, 1. The Scripture grounds established by the authority of Christ and his Apostles. 2. The Catholick consent and practise of the Church in all ages and places. 3. The con­sonancy [Page] to reason and order observed by all Nations in their Religion, and specially to the Institutes of God among the Jewish Church. 4. The Churches constant want of it, in its plantation, propagation, and perfection. 5. The bene­fit of it to all mankinde, who without an authoritative Mi­n [...]stry would never know whom to hear with credit and respect; or what to beleive with comfort. 6. The great blessings flowing from this holy function to this Church and Nation, in all kindes;) These and the like grand conside­rations and fair aspects which this subject affords to learned, judicious and godly men, may yet provoke some no­bler pen, and abler person to undertake it with more grate­full and successefull endeavours: whose charitable eyes finding the sometime famous and flourishing Ministry of this Church, thus exposed in a weeping, floating, and forlorn condition, to the mercy of Nilus, and its Monsters, (the threatning, if not overflowing streames of modern violent errors) may take pity on it, and from this Ark of Bul­rushes, which is here suddenly framed, may bring it up to far greater strength and publique honour, than the pa­rent of this Moses could expect from his obscurer gifts and fortunes.

To which although he is very conscious, as being of himself altogether unsufficient for so great a work, and so good a word; yet the confidence of the greatnesse and good­nesse of the cause; the experience of Gods, and (generally) all good Christians, attestation to it, in all former ages of the Church: The hopes also of Gods gracious assistance, in a work designed with all humility and gratitude wholly to his glory, and his Churches service: These made him not wholly refractary, or obstinate against the intreaties of some persons, whose eminent merit in all learning, piety, and vir­tue, might incourage by their command so great insuffici­encies to so great an un [...]ertaking: Which is not to fire a Beacon of faction or contention; but to establish a pillar of Truth, and certainty; Also to hold forth a Shield of defence and safety; such as may direct and protect, stay [Page] and secure the mindes of good Christians in the midst of straying, backsliding, and Apostatizing times, wherein many seek to weary God, his Ministers, and all men but themselves, with their variating wickednesse.

The weight and worth of this great Subject, the Mini­stry of this, and so of all true Churches, in which, as in No­ahs Ark all that we call Religion, all that is sacred, Chri­stian, and reformed, is deposited and embarqued, would have (indeed) required a more proportionate assertor: who might, out of the good treasure of his heart, have given more strength, and ornament to so divine and necessary an Institution.

But who sees not the methods and choices of Gods wise­dome and power; who (oft-times) makes his light and glory to shine clearest through the darkest Lanternes? He appears in a bush, when he purposed the great redemption of his Church out of Egypt: The skilfull hand of God can write as well with a Goose quill, as with a Swans or Eagles. The self-demonstrating beams of sacred Truths need no bor­rowed reflexions: By soft and easie breathings the Lord hath oft dispelled the grossest fogs and blindest mists, which rose in his Church; His fair and most orient pearles are fre­quently found in rough and unpolished shels; The excellency of his heavenly Treasure, and power doth best appeare in earthen vessels. The plain and main Truths of Christian Religion (among which this of an holy ordained Ministry is one) like soverain and victorious Beauties lose nothing by the meannesse of their dresse, or unaccuratenesse of their ha­bit; it is enough if they can but freely appeare like them­selves.

This fashion of writing by way of Apology (which re­quires a diffused and pathetick stile) was, indeed, judged the best and fittest, as for the Subject and the times, so also for this Author; considering the little leisure, the short time, the great variety of other businesse, and distractions upon him: besides the terror and precipitancy of the ruine, daily threat­ning the Ministry and Ministers; if God by the justice, [Page] wisdome, and piety of some men did not defend them and divert that mischief. For the preventing of which some o­thers have wrote in vindication of the Ministry after a more succinct and Syllogistick way of argumentation; But the Antiministeriall disease, having seised not so much the heads, as the hearts of men; and depraved affections having swer­ved many from the judgements; it was thought necessary to apply some remedy at once to both, setting Christians in the Truth, and exciting them to such a love of it and zeal to it, as may best encounter the heady boldnesse of those which oppose it.

If the Authour have in this larger way done any thing worthy so excellent a Subject, it must be first imputed to Gods gracious assistance, and the blessing of prayers, more than of studies; wherein it may be the charitable flames of many worthy Christians have greatly helped his infirmities; Next, it must be ascribed to the sacrednesse, dignity, and amplenesse of the matter, or Subject handled, which (as O­rators of old observed) like rich soile, and good ground raiseth to generous productions the weaker spirits of any thing sown, or planted in them.

It is true, the Authors ambition is in nothing more than to excell in the discharge of his duty, as a Minister of this Church; that he might finish his course with joy; and also to have equalled with height of abilities and industry, the excellency of this Cause, which is of so high concernment, to the glory of God; to the honour of his Saviour; (to the salvation of so many soules) to the happinesse of this Church; to the blessing of this Nation; to the preserva­tion of so many worthy men, his Fathers and Brethren of the Ministry, who make conscience not onely to discharge their duty, but also to preserve the divine authority, and holy succession of their heavenly calling as Christian Ministers; whom the blessing of God hath as much honored and con­firrmed in this Church of England, as in any other under hea­ven; having made them in every place, where they were planted, as the trees of knowledge and of life; bringing the [Page] desolate and barren wildernesses to become as the garden of God, by their good husbandry, their learned and godly in­dustry; which meriteth all incouragement and protection of all good men; to whose vindication and assistance if this Author hath come in either too late, or too weak, it will be his great grief.

And if he have not been able to adde any strength or honor to this cause, (which some others before him, have either fairly touched, or somewhat fully handled) yet he may adde to the number of the witnesses, who have or shall give testimony to this great Truth, holy Order, and happy In­stitution of Jesus Christ; who must not cease to prophecy, though they be clothed in sack cloth, Revel. 11.3.

To conclude; Nothing seemed, in honor and conscience, to him more vile and uncomely, than to see this Reformed Church of England, which hath brought up so many learned and valiant sons; which lately was so much praised and extolled by them in her prosperity; to be now so much de­serted by many of her children, both Ministers and others, in this day of her great agony and calamity; wherein igno­rant, mechanick and meritlesse spirits, think it not enough to endeavour to strip her of her ornaments, to rob her of her gar­ments, to deprive her of her dowry, to divorce her from her best friends, and faithfullest servants; but they must also cast dirt in her face; spitefully scratching her, wanonly rending her, cruelly wounding her, and most scornfully destroying her, as if she were an impure prostitute, a most abhorred Adulteresse; when indeed shee was, and is, a fair Daughter of heaven, and the fruitfull Mother of us all: Iustly esteemed by all learned, sober, and godly men, both at home, and abroad, as wise, grave, chast, and venerable a Matron, as any, in all the Christian, or reformed world. Nor doth shee cease to be comely, though she be now black and scorched; There ap­peares beauty amidst her ashes, and lovelinesse amidst her scratches: the Spirit of glory shines through her Sackcloth; still meriting, and therefore not despairing of the love, fa­vour, pity, and protection of all worthy persons who are [Page] considerable either for counsel or in power, and commen­dable either for honesty or Religion: Suffering indignities, and dayly fearing more from none but those that are ene­mies, as to all learning, order, and religion, so to all ho­nesty, modesty, and humanity; Her sad, deplorable fate and (by such men threatned) if this Author cannot hinder or help to recover, yet he shall, with Jeremie, heartily pity, deeply lament, and most passionately pray for her, and her children, so long as he lives; as thou wilt (O Christian and compassionate Reader) if thou beest of his minde, who bids thee Farewell.

HIERASPISTES: OR A DEFENCE BY WAY OF APOLOGY; FOR THE Ministry and Ministers OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND: Humbly Presented To the Consciences of all those that excel in Virtue.

I Am neither afraid,1. The Ad­dress. Dan. 6.3. nor ashamed to present to your view and patrociny, in whom is a more Excellent Spirit, this Apology: For which, as I have no encouragement, so I expect no acceptance, or thanks from any men, who carry on other designs, than those of Glory to God, Peace to their own Consciences, wel­fare to this Nation, and Love to this and other Reformed Churches of Christ. I know, That Secular Projects, and Ambitious Policies, have (for the most part) such jealousies, partialities, and unevennesses in their Counsels and Motions, as can hardly allow or bear that [...]. Chrys. Generous Integrity and Freedom, which is most necessary, as well as most comely, for the [Page 2] Cause of Christ, which I in my Conscience take to be this of his Faithful and true Ministers, of this Church, and of the Reformed Religion: Of which, in no case, and at no time, any true Christian, least of all a Minister of that sacred Name and Mystery, may with­out sin be [...]. H. Steph. Mark 8.38. ashamed, or afraid, to own before men, in the place where God hath set him, and after that maner which becomes Heavenly Wisdom, when she is justified by any of her Children. It is your Honor, and happiness to Excel, not onely in that Wisdom, which can discern, but also in that Candor, which cheerfully accepts, in that courage, which dares publikely, own what shall appear to be the Cause of God, the Institution of Christ, and his Churches Concernments, amidst the Contempts, Calumnies, and Depressions, which they meet with, from the Ignorance, Errors, Passions, Prejudices, Lusts, Inter­ests, and Jealousies of the World.

1 Cor. 4.5. The excellency of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (which you have attained by the blessing of God, upon his, and, for Christs sake, your servants, the able, faithful, and true Ministers of the Gospel, in this Church of England,) hath taught you to esteem all things in com­parison, Phil. 3.8. Tutiora sunt Christi pericula, quàm mundise­curitates. Jer. but as loss, and dung; to chuse to be with Christ in his storms, (if the will of God be so) rather than enjoy the worlds calms. There was never, I think, any time, or cause, since the Name of Christ had place upon Earth, wherein your real and commendable excellencies, had more opportunities to shew, or greater occasions to exercise them­selves, than now: This being the first adventure of some mens impu­dent Impiety, attempting at once to annul, and abrogate, the whole Function and Office, the Institution and uninterrupted Succession of the Evangelical Ministry: Which prodigious attempt, no antient Hereticks, no Schismaticks, none that ever owned the name of Christians, were so guilty of, as some now seem to be: So that now, if ever, you are expected, both by God, and good men, to appear worthy of your selves, and your holy Profession, either in Piety to God, and Zeal to the Name of your Saviour Jesus Christ; or in justice and gratitude to those your true Ministers, who have Preached to you the true way of eternal life; or in Pity and Charity, not so much to them, as to your selves indeed, and your posterity (the means of whose Salvation is disputed, and endangered;) or in any other Chri­stian Affections,2. True Saints Characters. and heroick Motions; such as are comely for those that are filled with holy Humanity; being therefore the best of men, because they have in them the most of Saints.

Saints, I say, Not because great, but good men; not as applauded by men, but approved of God; not as Arbitrators of outward, but en­joyers of inward Peace; not because Conquerors of others, by the arm of flesh, but more than [...]. Plat. de [...]ig. Dial. 1. Rom. 8. Conquerors of themselves, by the Graces of Gods Spirit; not as violent Rulers of others, but voluntary sub­duers [Page 3] of themselves; not because prospered; and encreased in Houses, Lands, Honors, and Vain Glories, by the ruine of others, but by be­ing mortified in Desires, crucified in Enjoyments, cautions in Liber­ties, modest in Successes, impatient of Flatteries,Acts 12.23. (which turn proud Herods into noysom Worms,) full of Self-denyings, where they most excel; coveting nothing so much, as to be nothing in their own eyes; to enjoy Christ in and above all things; to abound in every good word and work; to be humble in heights; poor in plenty; just in prevalencies; moderate in felicities; compassionate to others in cala­mity: Ever most jealous of themselves, lest prosperity be their snare, lest they grow blackest under the hottest Sun-shine lest they should have their portion and reward in this world; lest they should not turn secular advantages, to Spiritual Improvements, to holy Examples,Secundae res a­crioribus stimu­lis animum ex­plicant. Tacit. hist. 1. to the ornament of Religion, to the good of others, to the peace and welfare of the Church of Christ.

Such living and true Saints, I may humbly and earnestly sup­plicate (without any Superstition) who affect least, but merit most, that title upon Earth; who are Gods visible Jewels;Mal. 3.17. the Darlings of Jesus Christ; the Lights and Beauties of the World; the regenerate Honor of degenerate Humane Nature; the rivals and competitors with Angels, yet their care and charge; the candidates of Eternal Glory,Heb. 1.14. and Heirs of an Heavenly Kingdom;Phil. 4.1. the crown and rejoycing of every true Minister; the Blessed Fruit of their Labors, and happy Harvest of their Souls: The high Esteemers, the hearty Lovers, the liberal Re­lievers, the unfeigned Pitiers, the faithful Advocates, and the earnest Intercessors, for the distressed Ministers; the so much despighted, and (by many) despised Ministry of this Church. You,Rom. 8.11. in whom is the Spi­rit of the most Holy God, shining on your mindes, with the setled wisdom of sound Knowledge, and saving Truths; captivating all wandring fancies, and pulling down all high imaginations, 2 Cor. 10.5. which exalt themselves beyond the written Rule of Christ, and the Analogy of that Faith, which was once delivered to the Saints, Rom. 12.6. in the holy Oracles of the Scriptures, and continued to this day,Jude 3. by the Ministry and Fidelity of the Church; which is the pillar and ground of Truth; 1 Tim. 3.16. both propounding and establishing it, against all unbelief, and oppo­sition. You, whose wills are redeemed from the servitude of sinful lusts, slavish fears, secular factions; whose Consciences and Conversations are bound by the silver Cord of the Love of God and Christ, to all Sacred Verity, real Piety, unfeigned Charity, sincere Purity, exact Equity, comely Order, holy Policy, and Christian Unity;2 Tim. 2.16. [...], & [...]. from all prophane novelties, seditious Extravagancies, licentious Liberties, fanatick Enthusiasms, pragmatick Factions, and hellish Confusions. You, that are strengthned with all holy and humble Resolutions, which become the sober courage, and calm magnanimity of true Christians, either [Page 4] to speak and do, what honestly you may, for Christ and his Church, for his and your true Ministers, Heb. 11.25. or else to chuse with Moses, rather to suffer with them, than to be any way assistant to, rejoycing in, or compliant with, the ruine of them; that so in all things you may adorn the doctrine of Christ, Tit. 2, 10. and honor the true Reformed Christian Religion, established and professed in this Church of England.

To your judicious Zeal, sincere Piety, unbyassed Charity, holy Discretion, which have no leaven of sinister ends, or unworthy poli­cies, (being got above the vain hopes, fears, diffidences, and designs of meer men,) I do in all Christian Charity and Humility, present this Apology, in the behalf of those Pearls, the true Ministers of this Church of England, whose worth is not abated, though their lustre be obscured;Matth. 7.11. nor are they less precious when trampled by Swine under their feet; Rev. 2.11. nor less Stars in Christs right hand, and fixed in the Firmament of the true Church, when they are clouded by these Fogs and Vapors,Rev. 9.2. which ascend from the Earth, or from the bottom­less pit, from the malice and rage of men or devils.

Godly Mi­nisters suf­ferings are their Glory. Heb. 5.9. & 2.10. Luke 22.Nothing more adorned and perfected Christs divine Person, and meritorious Patience, than his being blinded, buffetted, scourged, mocked, reviled, stripped, crowned with Thorns, and Crucified;Inglerii & desormes esse non possumus, quocunque modo ad Christi ima­ginem confor­mamur; cujus nunquam magis enituit gloria quam quae sputo & sanguine & vibicibus operi­ebatur. Chrys. Isai. 53. 2 Pet. 2.6. 1 Cor. 4.13. Matth. 5.11. Phil. 1.29. Col. 1.24. 1 Pet. 4.14. Psal. 4. Acts 6.15. Jude 15. [...]. nor was he less a King and Saviour, when his Purple Robe was taken off, and his own Garments divided among the soldiers: He was not less the Messias, the sent, and anointed of God, the Great Preacher, and fulfiller of Righteousness, when he was the scorn and outcast of men; nor a less precious Foundation, and corner Stone, when refused by foolish builders, who dashed themselves against him, instead of building and resting by Faith upon him.

In like sort, the true Ministers of this Church, (whom the pride and wantonness of some men glories to account, as the filth and off-scouring of all things, to speak and do all maner of evil against them falsly and injuriously;) if they may be so far blest of God, and honored, as to suffer after Christs example, and to make up (to their measure) the remainder of the sufferings of Christ in his Body, the Church; there is no doubt, but the Spirit of Glory will more rest upon them, the power of Christ be more perfected in them, and the light of Gods countenance be more shining on them, than when their Corn, and Wine, and Oylincreased; their faces will then appear most, as Angels of God, when with Saint Stephen, they are beset with showres of stones; overwhelmed with all maner of hard speeches, and rude indignities. Thus it becomes the proud and petu­lant world to act; and thus it becomes learned, able, and humble Ministers to suffer. Who have then least cause to be ashamed, when they are most opposed, and oppressed for Christs sake: For, troden [Page 5] in the wine-press of mans displeasure, they may then yield the noblest juyce, and most generous expressions of their Zeal, Courage, and Constancy.

Wherefore I have adventured, although the weakest and unwor­thiest among many of my Fathers and Brethren, the Ministers of this Church of England, so far to satisfie the worlds curiosity, as to give them some prospect, and view of the Ministers of England, in their present distresses, feare, and afflictions; that men may see, with how stedfast countenances, they can look upon their adversaries,Acts 6.15. while they stop their ears against them, gnash their teeth at them, and threaten utterly to destroy them; that their causeless and implacable enemies may behold, with what divine comfort and assurance, they can walk, both cheerfully and uprightly amidst their fiery furnaces; Dan. 4. into which they are therefore cast, because they will not fall down and worship,As Idols, so are false Teachers, Dolores, Vani­tates, Labores, Stultitiae, Abo­minationes, [...] Mordii. Res vana, nihili. Mark 3.14. And Jesus or­dained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to Preach. Acts 25.11. Toto caelo di­stant benè ope­rari & despera­re. —Sibi conscia virtus Dat animos. those Idol-shepherds, those False-prophets, Zach. 11.17. those Meer-images of Ministers, which have set up themselves as gods in the Church of God; such, as neither they, nor their Fore-fathers, nor any Church of Christ for One thousand six hundred yeers, ever knew, or heard of; who were ever blessed, and thankfully contented in all times, either of persecution, or peace, with those true Ministers, who in a right way of due Ordination, descended from, and succeeded in the place, and ordinary power of the Apostles, and the other Disciples which were first sent and ordained by Christ: Which the true Ministers of the Church of England, being conscious to themselves, (as I shall after prove) that they have rightly received, they have this con­fidence still, That they are neither so forsaken of God, nor destitute of good Consciences, nor despised by good men, nor do they despair, but that they may have leave, be able, and permitted, with just free­dom, and modest courage, to plead their cause, before any Tribunal of men; not doubting, but they may have so fair an hearing, as St. Paul (their Great Predecessor, both in Preaching and Sufferings) hoped from Felix, Festus, Agrippa, or Caesar: Of whose piety the Apostle having no great perswasion, yet he charitably presumed to finde so much equity, and common humanity in them, as not to be condemned by them, being unheard; or to be acquitted, as to any crimes falsly laid to his charge; if he had but the favor of a fair Tri­al, and impartial Hearing. So hard it is for a good man ever to de­spair in a good cause.

And however my confidence be just, and wel-grounded,3. Reason of this Ad­dress. as to the merit of that Cause which I have (by Gods help) undertaken; yet when I consider my strength, which is small; my infirmities, which are many; my defects, which are manifest; my interest with men of place and power, which is very little; and the prejudice, against whatever I, or any other Minister can do in this kinde (which may [Page 6] be great and many) I have (as feeble Creatures, Quod deest vi­ribus, habent cautelâ. conscious to their weakness, are wont to do) fled to the refuge and assistance, first of Gods grace (which is sufficient for me, and which in the midst of threatnings,Acts 27. storms, and shipwrack, bids me be of good chear.) Next, to that of your mediation, (O excellent Souls) who are every where dispersed in this Nation; whose soundness of minde, and uncorrupted­ness of maners (yet remaining) hath hitherto preserved this back­sliding and unsavory age from utter rottenness and putrefaction: Possi­bly your mediation may so far prevail among all estates of men, as to allay those asperities, abate those animosities, remove those prejudices, satisfie those jealousies, under which, the Ministers and Ministry of this Church, do now lie in many mens mindes; and, it may be, in some of theirs, who are become men of power and renown.

Humble Monition to those in Power. In sublimitate positis tam de­scensus quàm ascensus perpen­dendus: Nec minus est quod terreat, quam quod placeat. Ambr. [...]. Chrys.Whose eminency, I hope, will not be offended, if I humbly put them in minde, That their glory and greatness is not more evident to others (who are prone to measure their hopes and fears, by the beams or shadows which they cast upon them) than most of all to be seriously considered by themselves; since, from those ruines, on which they are raised, and from that height, to which they are exalted, they may easily look down, and learn, in how slippery a station, and how tottering a posture all, humane glory, and excellency doth consist. That, the triumphs of such poor mortals carry their own deaths after them, as well as other mens before them; that, as bubbles, they have the same principles of frailty in them, by which others have suddenly disappeared, who lately swelled as big, and swam as high above the waters, as these now do. All religious experience tells the most subtile and elated spirits, the profoundest projectors, and the most potent actors, That they can have but a short time here, may have a sudden change or period, and must give a severe account of all actions they do, and all advantages they enjoy, in this present world: Of all which, they shall carry no more comfort with them, than they have made conscience to do the work of God, according to his will, re­vealed to mankinde in the sure and sacred Oracles of his written Word.

Zach. 11.It is manifest, That some men have been a staff of Bonds in Gods left hand, to punish the sins, or exercise the Graces of many in these three Nations; whether they shall be a staff of Beauty in his right hand, for the support of Piety, Peace, Order, and true Religion, the event will best shew. They have acted many things as Men, with great policy and power; it is now expected, they should act as truly Reformed and wisely Reforming Christians, with Piety and Charity; (if, at least, that may be hoped in the time of the Gospel, which was denied to Davids zeal under the Law: That such as have1 Chro. 22.8. Thou shalt not build an House to my Name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the Earth in my sight. shed much blood in Civil Wars, should be instrumental to build the [Page 7] House of God:) Peradventure they maybe means, if not to repair its great decayes, yet to hinder it from that total ruine, and utter vasta­tion, which by many and bad men are threatned; but, we hope by more and better men (with Gods help) will be prevented.

And truly, if I knew, how I might most acceptably make my Ad­dress, and fairly plead my excuse with men in place and power; if I understood what might most merit to Apologize before all great, good, and ingenuous men, for the boldness of now publishing this Apology, I would in the most soft words, and comely terms, bespeak their favor, and deprecate their offence, for so it becomes Candidates and Petitioners: But my integrity is beyond all oratory; [...]. Sy­nes. de Reg. The design of this A­pology. [...]. Vocat. Synes. and my plainness beyond all artifice or study; I having no design, but onely this, (which I take to be, as pious and just, so not altogether misbeseeming the station wherein God hath set me) That from the Country obscurity (where­in I am not wholly buried) I may crave leave to use honest Christian Liberty in this one thing, which relates, not so much to my Person, as to my Profession and Function; And in this, to appear in publick not as a Counseller, or Dictator, or Threatner, but as an humble Client and Suter, among those many, which always attend those who have power to save, or to destroy, to do good or evil. Nor in this am I pragmatically suggesting, what I might foolishly imagine fittest to be done in State affairs, (from which, as from Pitch and Birdlime, I am most willingly a stranger;) but onely propounding, in all hum­ble and due respect, what is by many men, much wiser and worthier than my self, [...]. Synes. ad Arcad. Im­per. conceived as most necessary for this particular Church of God in England: And wherein the fears of very many Excellent Christians are so urgent upon them, that it were better to offend by speaking in love, than by silence to act the part, both of an Enemy and a Coward. Yet in this freedom, I would not willingly offend any, that really are, or esteem themselves, my Betters, and Superiors, so, as to exasperate them by any rash or rude expressions. I earnestly deprecate all such failings in my self, and such suspitions in others. This restraint and caution, I have, not so much out of fear of men, (yet do I fear men, as far as fear is due;) but rather out of that fear of God, which is the beginning of Wisdom, [...]. Pythag. and that reverence I ow to my self, and my Profession, as a Christian, and a Minister, whom nothing less becomes, than the badge and livery of Passion; or the jaundice of Cholerick Diffusions, evident in the face of their writings. I love not (if they were safe) affectations of Language, which power may interpret Seditious, Turbulent, or Treasonable: I have learned to be patient under hard things, thankful for moderate, hopeful for better; Nor do I disdain to beseech mans favor, whose fury God can restrain, and turn the remainder of wrath, to his praise and his Churches good. Let others complain of their Civil Burthens, [Page 8] (which I feel, as well as they.) Let them agitate secular Interests, which never want their vicissitudes, crosses, and defeats: My sense and address in this Apology, is chiefly for those things which concern the true Ministry, and the Reformed Religion established in England; (In which, not custom, and education, but judgement and consci­ence, I hope, hath confirmed me by Gods grace,) And for those men especially, whose office and duty I think it is, by Preaching, doing and suffering, as Christian Ministers, according to the Will of God, to vindicate and preserve true Christian Religion, and to transmit it as Reformed, in an unblemished, and unquestionable succession to Posterity.

4. Why in way of Apology.Your Virtuous Excellencies, upon whose favor, chiefly, I have adventured this Address, to the view of the supercilious, and more untractable World, are not ignorant what noble Precedents may be alleged for my writing in this maner of Apology, (which is or ought to be aApologeticum scribendi genus est mixtura quaedam orato­ris disputantis & Dialectici deprecantis. Eras. twisting of Logick and Rethorick together; a Checquer-work of Arguments and Oratory; studying to cloth the Bones and Sinews of Syllogisms, with the smoothness and beauty of Eloquence) seeking at once, both to convince the Understanding, and to excite the Affections: For besides those lesser and obscurer pieces recorded by the Antients, of Aristides, Melito, Quadratus Apostolorū Dis­cipulum A [...]he­niensis Pontifex Ecclesiae, Adri­ano principi, librum pro Chri­stiana Religione tardidit. Et tan­tae admirationis omnibus fuit, ut persecutionem gravissimam illius exellens sedaret ingeni­um. Cant. 2.2. Jeron. ad Mag. de Aristide & aliis doctis Christianis. Quadratus, Apollinaris, Methodi­us, Johannes Gram. Themistius, and Apollonius; (this last, being a Roman Senator, wrote and recited in the Senate, his Apollogy for the Christians, and was after crowned with Martyrdom;) We have also extant those famous Apologies of Justine Martyr, who dedicated his first to the Roman Senate, and his second to Antoninus Pius Augustus; also that of Tertullian, who in the time of Severus the Emperor, see­ing Christians persecuted onely for the Vel solo nomi­ne, & ex prae­judicio dom­nantur Christi­am. Ter. Apol. Name, as a sufficient crime, (as many Ministers now are by some men) wrote his Learned, large, and accurate Apology, dedicating it to the Emperor and his Son. Saint Hilary also, wrote a Defence for the Orthodox, against the Arrians, presenting it to Constantius the Emperor. And of later times (in its kinde, inferior to none) is that Apology of the Learned, Pious, and incomparable Bishop Jewel Bishop Jew­els Apology.. The former wrote their Learned, Modest, and Eloquent Apologies for Christian Religion, as it then stood (like the Lilly among the Thorns) baited, persecuted, and condemned on all sides by the Heathen, who wanted neither numbers, nor arts, nor power to oppress; yet was it boyed up and preserved by Gods blessing on the learned Courage, and industrious Constancy of those, and other Holy Men: This last (our Renowned Countryman) vindicated the Reformed Churches (and particularly this of England,) for their not complying with, and submitting to the Councel of Trent; and for their necessary receding from the Church of Rome; so far onely, as this did in Doctrine or Maners from the Scripture Rules, and [Page 9] from the Primitive Judgement, Canons, and practise of the Fathers, the first Councils, and the Primitive purest Churches: That excellent Prelate, no doubt, would have then fully asserted (as he did other points then in dispute) the Order, Honor, Office, and Authority of the Ministry of the Church of England, if either the ignorance, or malice of those times had been so far guilty and ingenious, as to question or oppose it, which some men now do; who dare any thing, but to be wise, honest, and humble.

I know my self unworthy to bring up the rear of so gallant a Troop of Worthies, in all Ages;5. Why by this Author. nor is it from the ignorance of my own Tenuities, or other mens Sufficiencies, that I have thus far ad­ventured to list my self in the Army of Christian Apologists, or to march under the Banner of this Apology: Onely in some respects, I seemed to some men (if not to my self) to be signed out by providence to this duty (or endeavor, at least) in as much as I may be thought redeemed somewhat beyond the ordinary, from that grand prejudice, which is like a beam in many Readers eyes; or like a dead Fly ready to viciate the sweetest Confections, made by any Minister in this kinde: As if all were done, onely for that livelihood and estate which their Church-Livings afford them, that any Ministers so stickle, and contend to uphold their Function and Ministry, either by speech or writing.

Few men stand freer from the dashes of this suspition, than my self; in regard of either present benefit, or future expectation, by any imployment in the Ministry; which is such, as neither an idle man would undertake the work, nor a covetous man much envy the reward: Yet, I thank God, I want not either abilities or opportu­nities to exercise Piety and Charity among a company of poor (for the most part) yet good and orderly people; whose love, respect, and peaceable carriage to me in these times hath merited, that I should prefer the good of their souls, before any private advantages, so long as I am over them, in the Lord. I thank God, I have far less temptations of private interest, than would be required to put any discreet man upon so rough an adventure in a tempestuous Sea, where silence with safety were to be chosen, rather than publickness with peril; if I did not consciously and charitable look much more upon the publick; where taking a general view of the state and condition wherein most of my Brethren the Ministers, either are, or are like to be in this Church, (if some men may have their wills.) I cannot but with shame and sorrow behold in all corners of the Land, to how low an ebb, not onely their persons, but the whole profession of the Ministry, now is, or is like to be brought; for Government, Maintenance, Repu­tation, Authority, and Succession, in these Churches, through the dissentions of these times.

And truly in the midst of our dust and ashes, we the Ministers of England must confess, That with no less justice, than severity, the Lord hath poured upon us this shame and confusion of face, as well as upon other ranks and orders of men; since our many great spots, and foul stains, both in Doctrine and Maners, could not but be the more remarkably offensive to God and man, by how much, in the sacred­ness and eminency of that Calling, more exact holiness was expected from us, and pretended by us.

1. Whence the lapse of Mi­nisters in the love and re­putation they had?And here, I hope, I shall not give any my Betters, or my Bre­thren, any offence, while I humbly prostrate my self in the Porch and Threshold of this Apology; giving glory to God, and taking shame to my self, as well as others; Not by an uncharitable censuring of any man, but by a penitential searching and discovering the true cause, for which I think the Lord hath poured this contempt upon the Mi­nisters of this Church: Herein to begin aright with God, and our own Consciences, may best relieve us with men; the disburthening of a ship, [...]. Naz. orat. 15. Quicquid defis­it pietati aut charitati confes­sionis humilitas suppleat. Bern. 2 Sam. 12.13. is half buoying it up, when sunk or a ground. Ingenuous confession is a good part, and a great pledge of future amendment: Some diseases are half healed, as soon as well searched and discovered. It may be, we may finde the same readiness both in God and man, to forgive our fallings, as David did; who, no sooner had confessed, I have sinned against the Lord, but he heard that gracious reply, The Lord hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die.

In the first place, this for certain we may conclude; That it is not the galling and stinging of these flesh flies, 1. Peccator celando non facit nesci­um, at confi­tendo sacit pro­pitium Deum. Aug. (now our busie and bitter enemies of the Anti-ministerial faction) that first brought this sore and rawness upon us; but it is some foul and corrupt humor from within us, which first brake out to such putrified sores and wounds, which have invited those to feast upon our ulcers and de­formities.

In a matter then most fit for deep and serious repentings, I can­not be so superficial, Confessio fallax periculosior est quā procax & obstinata defen­sio. Nonnulli delosaconfessione se subtilius de­fendunt. Bern. de Humil. as some have been, who like Lapwings, cry out loudest, when furthest from their Nests; being severe censurers of all men, but themselves; loth to see and confess their bosom sins, or to own the deformities of their darlings; hardly perswaded to cast away to theIsa. 2.20. Moles and Bats (to the dark and deformed crew of Heretical novelties, and Schismatical vanities) those specious and gilded Idols, Teraphims of their own imaginations which their fancies have forged, and with Micahs devotion, set up to themselves as Divine.

2. Former due Conformity, not the sin of the Clergy.Sure, it is but a very poor and pitiful account (the product of Passion, not of Reason) which some men give; while their with a vulgar vehemency, accuse all the Clergy and Ministers of England for their former conformities and subjections to Authority in things [Page 11] to some men disputable for their nature and use; yet, then, according to Law; that is, approved, established, and enjoyned by theIn quibus nihil certi statuit. Scriptura divi­na, mos populi Dei vel instituta majorum prolege tenenda sunt. Aug. ep. 86. Rom. 14.1, 5. Let every man be fully per­swaded in his own minde; and whether they act, or act not, both are accepted of God in those things, where­of there is no precise com­mand. So 1 Cor. 10.30. Master Hooker ( [...]) in his Ecclesiastical Policy, with incomparable Learning, and gravity of Judgement, hath beyond any Reply, vindicated both the integrity of his own Conscience, and the honor of this Church, in things of extern order, [...]. pub­lick consent, wisdom, and piety of all estates, in this Church and State. And which things, very holy and learned men generally used; accounting them, If burthens to weaker consciences, yet to wise and stronger men, as lawful as it was for St. Paul to fail in the ship, whose sign was Castor and Pollux, Acts 28.11. Yea, and so far necessary, as (being agreeable to their judgements) the use and ex­tern observation of them was enjoyned in the Church by due Au­thority, and approved by their own personal subscriptions; being no way destructive to any thing of Christian Faith, or Holy Life: Cer­tainly, a sober and good Christian must not tear in pieces, or cast away his Bible, because it is not so neatly bound, as he would fan­cy: Nor would, I believe, any humble Primitive Martyr, or Con­fessor, have despised Salvation by Jesus Christ alone, duly exhibited in the Word and Sacraments, as they were in this Church; nor have refused Communion, with this, or any part of the Catholike Church, truly professing Christ Crucified, although theIpsa mutatio consuetudinis etiam qua adjuval utilitate, novitate pert [...]bat. August. ep. 19. nails of the Cross had been much sharper and heavier, than any thing was in the stablished Order and Ministry of the Church of England; which few Churches since the first hundred years, wherein the Apostles lived, ever enjoyed with more Purity, Order, and Simplicity, as to the main, than the Reformed Church here in England did.

So that many wise, and good men, begin now to think (since these unhappy disputes have by attrition been kindled, and far dri­ven on to fire and sword, seeming heretofore to have risen from hum­ble, meek, and charitably tender spirits) That the greatest sticklers against those things (which were oft declared to be, not any part of piety, duty, or devotion in themselves; But onely as matters of ex­tern order, decency, and circumstance,) were rather curious (for the most part) thanDiscipl [...] nulla est melior gravi prudenti­ (que) viro, in his, quae liberas ha­bent observati­ones, quam ut eomodo aga [...], quo agere vi [...]n ec­clesiam ad quam cun (que) fortè de­venerit. Quod enim ne (que) contra fidem, ne (que) contra bonos merit inju [...]gitur, indifferenter est habendum, & pro eorum inter quos vivitar sacittate servandum est. August. ep. 118. ad Jan. Cavendum est [...]e tempestate contentionis sermitas charitatis obnubiletur. August. ep. 86. conscientious; Dissenters being either very weak, or very wilful. And some have since sufficiently appeared, rather wantonly nice, loose, and given to change, than any way grave, fetled, or seriously solicitous in matters of Religious Order, and Pub­lick Ministrations. Possibly, it was not the least of our follies and sins, that we did not with more thankfulness enjoy the many rich [Page 12] mercies,Hinc in bella civilia praecipi­tamur, quod mal a mitiora nimium cave­mus. Eras. we then had; instead of that regret and querulous impati­ence, which was so loth to bear any such defects or burthens, as some men imagined; wherein (for the most part) ignorance, or easiness, or vulgarity of mindes and maners, madeQui in levi­bus à quotidia­na recedit con­suetudine, Magnus licet vir sit certis tan­tum horis illum sapere noris. Verulam. greater out-cryes, and aggravations, than either truth of judgement, or tenderness of well-informed Consciences. The after-instability in some men mindes, and stupidness of their maners, shews the Vertigo and Lethargy of their Brains: For many men, who, when it began to be in fashion, strained at those gnats, which formerly for many years, they had digested, yet afterward made no bones to swallow Camels of grosser innovations, such as no distinctions can mince or chew small enough for a good Conscience. And it is confessed by those, that have now attained their after-wits, that those former conformities enjoyned by Law, were but motes, in comparison of those beams, which now threaten to eclipse the lights of this English World, and to put out the very eyes of the Seers and Watchmen of this Church.

4 Many excellent Ministers, for Learning, Piety, and Industry, (besides innumerable other Christians) did in former times, grow up, to great thrift in sound knowledge, and all beauties of holiness, even amidst those so much suspected and decryed weeds of Conformity; which if they were not, as sweet Marjoram, very savory; yet sure, they were not as (mors in olla) Colloquintida or Hemlock, very hurtful, or death in the pot; being judged by the wisdom of the Church and State here, and by the most learned Divines abroad, to be within the liberty and compass of those things, of Order and De­cency, [...]: ut ordi­nata acies, As an Army with Banners, in Rank and File, where nothing may be deformed by being dis­orderly. which by that one grand charter, 1 Cor. 14.40. are allowed by God to be ordered by the prudence of any particular National Church; And in which, all Churches, in all ages and places, have esteemed their several Customs, as Laws to them, without any breach of Charity, or prejudice of Christian Liberty, or blemish of the Faith; yet never (perhaps) without the offence of some particular Members in the Churches, whose fancies easily finde fault with any things, whereof themselves are not Fathers, or at least Gossips. Humble Christians will thank God for moderate enjoyments; nor are they bound to contend for what they think best, to the perturbance of the publick Peace. Patience is a remedy always near, easie, and safe; nor is it likely, that the state of any Church on Earth will ever be so happily compleated, as to have nothing in it, which may displease any good man,Cato optimè sen­tit sed nocet in­terdum reipub­licae. Tacit. or which may not exercise his tollerancy, and cha­rity; which are generally more commendable and unsuspected vir­tues, than those of zealous activity, and publick opposition, which commonly draw somewhat upon the dregs of self, either as to Passi­on or Interest,Et multis utile bellum. Luc. Party or Concernment: For, who is so mortified, that doth not hope to get something of credit, profit, or honor, by [Page 13] adhering to any side or new faction, against the former set­lings?

How many learned and godly men are, and ever will be (till better grounds be produced, from Scripture, Reason, and practise of the Primitive Church) unsatisfied with the parity and novelty, yet pretended Divine Right, of the sole-headless-Presbytery; which chalenges to it self, as from Christ, such a supreme power, as is ex­clusive and destructive of all Episcopacy; that is, of the constant Presidency of one, among other Presbyters; so placed by their own choice and consent?

And no less unsatisfied are thousands of learned, and good Chri­stians, with that power of Lay Elders; (for so they are best called, for distinction sake; and not Ruling Elders; lest by that title of Ruling, they should fancy and usurp the sole power of rule to them­selves; which undoubtedly, is equally, if not eminently due to the Preaching Elders, who labor in the Word and Doctrine:) Touch­ing which point of Lay Elders in the Church, I have read two Books written above thirty years since, by a very, learned, godly, and impartial Divine, Master Chibald of London: In the first of which, he proved these Lay Elders to have no place, office, use,Mr. Chibalds two Books of Lay Elders. power, or maintenance assigned them by Scripture; nor ever in any Church of Christ; which he demonstrates in the second Book (which is full of excellent reading) as to the Fathers, Councils, and Histories of the Church: In none of which he findes them to have any foot­ing, as to office and power, upon any Divine Right, ever owned in the Church; nor can they now have in every little Parish, or pri­vate Congregation; where the Country plainness may afford care­ful Over-seers for the Poor, and Church-wardens; but not fit men to match with the Minister, and to fit as Rulers to govern their other Neighbors; who will hardly believe they have authority from Hea­ven to rule them, unless they see more abilities in them, than usually can be found. What use may be made of such Elders, in the way of Prudence among greater Representations of the Church, as in Synods and Councils, he leaves to the wisdom of those, that have power in such Conventions to call and regulate them: But he denies any thing, as of Divine Right, belonging to them; so, as to binde every Parish or Congregation to have them, which would be ridiculous, and most inconvenient. Both these Books being seven years since com­mitted to the hands of Master Coleman, as then a Licencer, were un­happily, either smothered and embezzled, or carelesly lost; to the great detriment of truth in that particular: For, truly, in my best judgement, and in other mens of far better, to whom I imparted them, never any thing was written, of that subject, more learnedly, more uprightly, more copiously, or more candidly; especially, con­sidering [Page 14] the Author was one that scrupuled some things of Con­formity.

In like maner, how few Christians in any Reformed Church are satisfied with those new, and strange Limbs, rather than Bodies of Independent Churches; (which word of bodying into small Cor­porations; is as a novel, so a very gross expression, and hath some­thing of a Solecism; not onely in Religion, which owns properly but one Body of Christ, Rom. 12.5. We being ma­ny, are one bo­dy in Christ. 1 Cor. 12.13. By one Spirit we are all bap­tized into one Body, which is Christs. which is his Catholike Church; whose com­munion with Christ, the onely Head, and one another, as Members in several Offices and Operations, is by the same Faith, the same Scrip­tures, the same Ministry, the same Ministrations, and as to the main and substance, the same Christian Profession:) But it is also incongruous and absurd in ordinary significancy of Language; while by such a singular Bodying, they mean a Spiritual Union of those, that pretend to be most Spiritual Christians: Which names, and novel inven­tions, about constituting and compleating Churches, in so many fractions, parcels, and places, a part from all others, by the means of an explicit Church Covenant, (as they call it;) how unscriptural; how unconform to the examples of all ancient Churches, how im­pertinent as to Piety; how dangerous and destructive to the Truth, Union, Harmony, and Dependance (which ought to be among all Christians,1 Cor. 12.25. That there be no schism in the body. (i. e.) In that one Body of Christ, the Catholike Church. and all Churches, to avoid Schism in that one Ca­tholike Body of Christ,) do they seem to many judicious and gracious Christians? who think themselves, and all others, that profess to be Christians, sufficiently added, and united to the Church, as the Primitive Believers, being once baptized, were without any more a do, yea, and declaredly bound by theirActs 2.42. They that gladly received the word, were baptized; and the same day there were added (to the Church) about 3000. souls. Baptism and Profession; to all Christian conversation, charitable communion, and holy walking, by these Publick Bonds; and Sacraments of Religion, which they own­ed; and of which, they were publickly partakers and professors.

So that, not onely in these, but in many other things, we see the remedies, which some men apply to former seeming distempers, do (to many men) seem worse than the diseases ever were: The little finger of grievances, scruples, disorders, and scandals, being far hea­vier than the loyns of the Law were in former-times; where, if there was less liberty by the restraints, which men had by Laws laid on themselves; yet there was also far less ignorance in names, fewer errors in judgements,5. Other weak conjectures of the causes of Ministers abating in their honor. blasphemies in opinions, brokenness in affecti­ons, dissolutions in discipline, undecencies in sacred administrations, and licentiousness in the ordinary maners of men: So that if those times were not the golden age of the Church, sure these cannot brag to be beyond the iron, or brazen.

No less superficial and unsearching are those Conjectures or Censures, which a late Writer makes of Ministers ostentations of [Page 15] reading, and humane learning in their Sermons, (of which, many men cannot be guilty, unless it be of making shews of more then in­deed they have:) Also, he allegeth, as an occasion of Ministers lapse in their love, and respect among the people, their small regard, and strangeness to godly people: When it is evident, many mens and wo­mens godliness, brings forth now no better fruit, than, first, quarrel­ing with; then neglecting; afterward, despising; next, separating from: after that, bitter railing against; and lastly, stirring up faction, not onely against that one Minister, but his whole calling. Certainly, some are become such godly brambles, and holy thistles, as are not to be conversed with more than needs must, and are never to be treated with bare hands. But in case some Ministers, by many indignities provoked, grow more teachy and morose to these mens thrifty, in­constant, and importune godliness; If they fortifie what they ass [...], by the testimonies of learned men, (which is no more than is some­times needful, among captious, curious, and contemptuous auditors,) yea, if they seem to some severer censor, something to exceed, in their particulars, those bounds of gravity, and discretion, which were to be desired; yet, what wise man can think, that such fleebites or scratches (in comparison) can send forth so great corruption, or occasion so ill a savor in the nostrils of God and man, that for these things chiefly, Ministers should be so much under clouds of obloquy and disrespect; that, although they have every seventh day, at least, wherein to do men good, and to gain upon their good wills, yet many of them are so lost, that there are but few can give them so much as a good word.

But,1 Sam. 19.12. some men are willing to mistake the Image and Goats-hair for David, and pretend with Rachel, infirmities, Gen. 31.34. when they sit upon their Idols. Alas, these cannot be the symptomes of so great con­flicts and paroxisms, as many Ministers now labor under, who were sometimes esteemed very pretious men, and highly lifted up on the wings of popular love and fame: In which respects, no men suffer now a greater ebb, than those that were sometime most active, for­ward, and applauded. The sticks and strains of lesser scandals, and common failings among Ministers, might kindle some flashes to singe and scorch some of them; but these could not make so lasting flames, so fierce and consuming a fire, as this is: In which, many, or most Ministers, that thought themselves much refined, and undertook to be refiners of others, are now, either tried, or tormented. Who sees not, that the fire and wood of this To [...]het, which God hath prepared,Isai. 30.33. is not (as some conceive) onely for Princes and Prelates, for Arch­bishops, and Bishops, &c. (In some of whom, what ever there was of want of zeal for Gods glory, of sincere love to the truth, of charity to mens souls, I cannot excuse, or justifie, since they could [Page 16] not but be as highly displeasing to God and man, as from both they enjoyed very great and noble advantages above other men, of glori­fying God, advancing Christian Religion, and incouraging all true holiness: Nor was the having of Dignities and Revenues their sin, but the not faithful using of them; no wonder, if of them, to whom much was given, Luke 12.48. much be required, either in duty, or in penalty.) But this Tophet is also (we see) enlarged, for the generality of Presbyters, and such as disdained to be counted the inferior Ministers; nor is this fire thus kindled in the valley of Hinnom, nourished onely by the bones and carkases of ignorant, profane, and immoral Ministers (who are as dry sticks, Jude 12. and trash; twice dead, to conscience, and to modesty; fit indeed to be pulled up by the roots;) but even those greater Cedars of Lebanon have added much to this pile, and fewel, who sometimes seemed to be Trees of the Lord, tall and full of sap; very able and useful in the Church; and, while within their due ranks and station, they were faithful, flourishing, and fruitful; whose very Children, and Converts, (their former disciples, followers, favorers, and beloved ones,Gen. 19.22.) now in many places, turn Chams, pointing and laughing at their Fathers real or seeming nakedness; Who drinking perhaps too much of the new wine of state policies, opinions, and strange fashions of reformations, possibly may have been so far overtaken with the strength of that thick and heady liquor, as to expose something of shame and uncomliness to the view of the wanton world; where, not strangers, open enemies, proud, and profaner aliens, but even Protestants, Professors, Domesticks, and near Allies, sit in the high­est seat of scorners; inviting all the enemies of our Church, our Ministry, and our Reformed Religion, to the theatre of these times; Where, among other bloody and tragical spectacles, this is by some prepared for the farce and interlude; to expose by Jesuitical engines and machinations, the learned and godly Ministers, together with the whole Ministry of this Church of England, to be baited, mock­ed, and destroyed, with all maner of irony, injuries, and insolency: And alas, there are not many, that dare appear, to hinder the project; or redeem, either the persons, or the function; yea, many are afraid to pity them, or to plead for them.

The merciful hearted, and tender handed God, who smites us, (whose hand we should all see,Micah 6.9. [...]. and return to him, who hath appointed this rod and punishment) doth not use to make so deep wounds and in­cisions for little corruptions, which are but superficial and skin-deep; nor to shoot so sharp and deadly arrows, in the faces of those that stand before him, as his Ministers; unless they first provoke him to his face,1 Sam. 2.22. by their grosser follies in Israel, as Eli's sons did. Where­fore, I conceive, a further penitent search and discovery ought to be made of Ministers sins and failings, for which the Lord hath brought [Page 17] this great evil upon them; which although it be a just punishment, yet it may prove a fatherly chastisement to us all; and at once, both purge us, as fire from our dross, and by exciting those gifts and graces, truly Christian and Ministerial in us, it may prepare us, both for greater service, and ampler mercies, than ever yet we enjoyed, as Ministers in this Church; who have always lain under, and contend­ed (since the Reformation,) not onely with the burthen of our own infirmities and defects, but also with the evil eyes, the envious hearts, the sacrilegious hands, the prophane maners, the superstitious and factious humors of many men, both open enemies, and seeming friends: Some mens innate leudness and pravity endures any thing easier, than an able and faithful Minister; others Cynical sourness grudges at any thing less, than to see Ministers enjoy either honor, or estate, beyond the vulgar: Both are ready to be severe censurers of Ministers faults, that so they may justifie their hatred or envy; but neither are likely to judge righteous judgement, nor shall we, I hope, ever stand to these mens sentence.

For my particular, I desire, both my self,6. What is con­ceived the true cause. and others of my minde and Profession, may by an ingenuous acknowledgement of our fail­ings, be fitted for Gods and mans absolution, both in present and after ages; that it may not be said, The Ministers of England erred greatly, and were punished sharply, yet knew not how to repent humbly, and truly; every one palliating their own errors,Nihil pudori esse debet paeni­tenti nisi non fateri. Ambr. de Poen. Of true Ho­nor. [...]. Plato de leg. Dial 5. [...]. Id. and trans­ferring the blame and guilt still upon others, when themselves were in somethings more blamable than any men, and merited, in their own censure, to be esteemed the chief of sinners.

You then, O excellent Christians, know (in general) That all true honor from man, is but the agnition or reflexion of those Vir­tues and Graces, by which men are, or appear likest to God; that is, truly good and useful to others: From God, honor bestowed on any men, is a testifying before men (in some way of his providence) his approbation of those graces and endeavors in us; by which we draw neerest to that resemblance of the Divine goodness, and holiness, which is lively set forth in the Word of God, and the example of Jesus Christ, who is the visible express image of the fathers glory: [...]. Plat. H. b. 1. 1. 2 Pet. 1.4. By the gracious imitation of which glory, human nature attains and partakes somthing of the divine; and by a kinde of transfiguration both of minde and maners (as Moses and El [...]as in Christs company on the Mount) both Christian Magist [...]ates and Ministers, acting in holy and good ways, cannot fail by sincere honoring of God,1 Sam. 2.30. Those that honor me, I will honor. to attain that honor which God hath promised; which consists, not so much in those pre­ferments and applauses of the world, (which are for the most part vain, like it self;) but in that holy wisdom, gravity, and constanc [...], which becomes a Christian, either in wel-doing, or in comly suffering, [Page 18] according to the clear will of God in his Word; which gives both precepts and paterns of all true excellencies. The robes of true honor are not made of the slight and thin Cob-webs of popular opinions and practises, but are (te [...]â crassiore) of more solid and substantial virtues, as Gonsalvo said. Worthy actions do always, not onely joy the soul, calm the conscience, and strengthen the heart; but also they make the face of good men to shine; conciliating such a ma­jesty to virtue, and such beauty to true holiness, that even those who hate, and persecute them, (as to the interests of their worldly lusts) cannot in their judgements, but approve, reverence, and esteem them, even in the midst of their sufferings;Phil. 1.29. [...]; To you it is given, as a free favor; not onely to be­lieve, but to suffer. Pati pro Christo, honorarium Christiani. Ber. which do not less honor and adorn them, than their wel-doings: For nothing discountenanceth a Christian, but the conscience of vile actions, and Gods displeasure. In the judicious and constant way of holy walking, and honorably suffer­ing, no man can lightly speak evil of another, without a secret shame, and reproach to himself; nor injure, or despight them, without some inward regret and pain.

And certainly, the Christian World here in England, (which owed and owned as much to their Ministers heretofore, and esteemed them as highly, and treated them as honorably and ingenuously, as any people under Heaven could do their Teachers in Religion) would never have so much opened their mouths, and withdrawn their love and respects from many, if not most Ministers; nor would some men have dared so far to meditate, and endeavor their total ruine and extirpation; if we Ministers had not in some things (be­yond the venials of common infirmity) either much exceeded, or come very short of those due bounds, wherein true Christian virtues, and especially Ministers excellencies do consist.

7. The ordina­ry failings of Ministers, not the cause of their lapse.Nor is it to be thought here, that the eyes of men are so severely fixt, onely, or chiefly, upon the ordinary defects of Ministers, either in gifts or industry, proper to their calling; Although (God knows) even herein too many of us may be justly blamed, and with­out injury despised; as either wanting those ministerial abilities, which we might by prayer and study attain; wherewith competently to discharge, and adorn that sacred Work, and redeem it from vulgar invasion, which brings the highest contempt of it. The ignorance, idleness, indiligence, and needless non-residency of some of us, from our charges, is not to be concealed. In others, the neglect of our studies, both in Divinity, and in all kindes of good learning, by which our profiting might appear to all men, 1 Tim. 4.15. is to be deplored: It is not expectable, that Ministers should increase in favor with God and man, Luke 2.52. unless (as Ch ist did) they grow in wisdom too, as well as in age or stature: And alas, what f uit of honor to Ministers, or glory to God, or good to mens fouls, can be reaped, either from those that [Page 19] Preach and Pray, chiefly for applause and popular air,Bonorum ingeni­orum insignis est indoles in ver­bis verum a­mare non verba. August. Planctum mab [...], quàm plausum. taking much pains to little or no purpose; or yet from that contrary descending of others in their preaching to such a popular flatness, which stretcheth forth dead sermons, and spiritless prayers meerly to an excessive length, (as if the Pulpits were their Coffins;) with so much insipidness, vain repetitions, vulgar flattery, senseless oratory; yea, and sometimes with strange figures of Blasphemies, which maner of somer mens preaching hath given (we see) the very meanest sort of hearers (who heretofore were wonted to more useful, and more sober preaching and praying;) if they have any thing of parts, or pragmaticalness in them, not so much a presumption, as a just confidence, that they can both preach and pray, as well or better, than such lazy, supine, superficial, and empty Ministers; whose duller plainness, and ruder fervency, is not that demonstration of the spirit, 2 Cor. 2.4. Conciones sacrae nec rudes esse debent, nec de­licatae, nec cin­cinnatae, nec impexae: Sim­plex quaedam gravitas & subtilis solidi­tas adsit, quae pondus & orna­tum deferat. Zanch. Orat. Sermonis vis & actionis vehe­mentia materi­ei pondere ae­quanda. Quint. Lucens [...]putrido, Scenae in cathe­dram translatio. which sets forth di­vine truths in their native Scripture-simplicity; which is their great­est strength and beauty (as the Sun's, when it shines freest from all mists and cloudings;) Nor are those mens rebust and deformed heats, that judicious zeal, which becomes g [...]ave Ministers, both as sober men, and holy Orators from God to the Church: For expressions ought always to be proportioned, in true oratory, to the weight of the mat­ter in hand: Yea, where the unaffected quicknings of a Ministers own spirit, or the dulness of his Auditors, requires more than ordi­nary vehemency; yet still it must be carried with very comly heats and emotions, either for voice or gesture; but all the whole Pagean­try of some mens preaching is, onely a gratifying their own fancies and passions, or else a miserable way of mocking God, and cheat­ing the poor peoples souls; who (some of them) are as well con­tent with chaff, as with good corn, or the bread of life; and if the flail be still going, they care not what grist ariseth: Others thirst­ing for the pure and wholesom waters of life, the idleness and poverty of these men, gives them to drink, onely of that ( [...]) water, which is at their doors; in the shallow plashes and foul pud­dles of their own dull inventions; where their sudden and confused thoughts are oftentimes sooner out of their mouths, than in their mindes: And this for want of either ability, or industry,Multi tadio in­vestigandae ve­ritatis ad proxi­mo [...] divertunt errores. Min. Fael. to dig to the depths of those sacred springs, the Scriptures; which chiefly af­ford that living water, which can refresh thirsting, wash polluted, and save sinful souls; which are not to be wrought upon by flat, or fine notions, by soft expressions, or by feminine insinuations; but by sound demonstrations, learned arguings, serious convictions, and mas­culine ways of expressions; 2 Cor. 5.20. such as become the Embassie and Embassa­dors of God to man.

But, as not these Ministerial defects, in their peculiar Function; so neither are they the private immoralities of their lifes (which [Page 20] usually attend the negligence of their calling, and bring many scan­dals upon both their persons, and their function. These are not the spots, or that kinde of leprosie, which could have thus made the whole body of their profession to be esteemed by many as unclean: For under these personal failings and deformities, (wherein some, and it may be too many of us, have been blamable in all times,) yet still, that abilitie, soundness, and diligence, which was found in many other worthy Ministers, both as to their learning and piety, was sufficient to preserve the dignity and venerableness of the functi­on, from general obloquy, and contempt; nor ever was it brought to that precipice, where now it seems to stand, both as to disrespect, and danger.

8. The main cause, as some con­ceive.Until, that those thick clouds, and grosser vapors (heretofore un­known among Protestant Ministers in England) like a Scotch mist, or Egyptian darkness, came over the whole Firmament (almost) of this Church; darkning, and turning into Blood, even many of those Stars of the second and third magnitude, at least; which formerly shined, without blemish, in the soundness of their judgement, wel-guided zeals, meekness of their spirits, and diligence in their places, to all exemplary holiness; who (good men) probably did not know, while their nails were pared, and kept short, by the Laws and Government above them, how much they could scratch (even till the blood came) if once the liberty of times suffered them to grow so long, that some mens secular projects might use them, as the Ape did the Cats paw. Then indeed it soon appeared, that though Mi­nisters might be well-gifted, and well-affected men, as to the Re­formed Religion, to the Laws, and all publick Relations, yet they were but men; yea, though they were able and useful, while fixed in their Ecclesiastical orb and sphere; yet when they came to be planetary and excentrick to that duty and modesty, which the Laws of God and man most exactly require of them, as lights and pa­terns to others, than did their beams and influences begin to grow malign, fiery, and combustive.

Hence too many Ministers are looked upon, (how justly God knows; and the World, with their own consciences, not I, must judge) as great incendiaries; full of violence, immoderation, tumul­tuary heats, and passionate transports; beyond, what was either comly, or just for grave men of their calm and sober profession; into which high distempers, it was as easie for men of learned parts, of zealous spirits, and little experience in humane publick affairs, especially that of a Civil war, to fall; as for constitutions of high colour, and sanguine complexion, to lapse into Feavers or Calentures; which by degrees, if not allayed, bring the wisest and strongest men to ravings, and fits of distraction: Such did those violent fits and [Page 21] inordinate activities seem to be (upon the second thoughts and cooler reflexions of people) wherein many Ministers, so much, and so busily, appeared in Senates and Armies; in Conventicles and Tumults; more like Statesmen, Politicians, and Soldiers; or what became onely light and vain persons, than like learned, grave, and godly men; such as were called to a spiritual, holy, and unbloody warfare: This forward­ness in sanguinary motions, rendred Ministers vile, and contemned, even to those, who were content to use their uncomly activities. The sound of Trumpets, the clashing of Swords, the thundring of Canons, were not a newer and greater terror to mens ears in England, than were those bold Philippicks, those bitter Orations, [...]. Plat. in Pericle. those sharp In­vectives, those cruel Railings, used by some Ministers, even in their Prayers and Preachings, against those, to whom they formerly shew­ed a fair compliance and subjection: Who, if they had deserved evil language, and railing accusations, yet of all men these did not become the mouths of Ministers; who should in publick appear, as the Angels of God; with such modesty, light, and beauty, as sets them farthest off from any passionate darkness of minde, or deformity of maners, or undecency of expressions. Since Christ hath commanded them most eminently to bless those that curse them; to pray for those that persecute them, &c.

After these, followed other vials of wrath, (poured forth from those, who should have been onely Pitchers with Lamps, Judges 7.20. filled with holy oyl, and fired onely with holy fire,) strange and new prodigies of opinions, in doctrine, government, and maners; sudden and violent changes (like wilde-fire) running even to all extremes; greater jea­lousies and impatiences of sufferings, than of sinning: Fierceness to be revenged upon any, by whom they sometimes thought themselves injured in the least measure, when it may be, it was not the man, as the Law, by which they suffered.

Yea, when some Ministers were gratified with such measures of revenge, as might move even envy it self to pity those persons, who suffered indeed justly from God for their sins; yet from man, they chose affliction, rather than sin: Yet still many Ministers followed with severe censures, and harsh declamings, even the miseries of those their Brethren, or Fathers; (who were in all true worth, equal to them, and in many things, as well as in an envied authority, above them;) Yet in those sad ruines of some learned, grave, and godly men, they seemed to glory; casting faggots of calumnies into their fires; shewing so little pity, and so much severity to them in cala­mities, Judges 1.7. That it will be no wonder to see many of their own Thumbs and Toes cut off; and themselves brought to creep under, even ene­mies tables, for their Bread; who helped or joyed so cruelly in maim­ing others, and bringing them even to a morsel of bread; Shewing [Page 22] less pity and humanity to their destroyed Brethren and Fathers, than the Israelites did to the wasted Benjamites; Judges 22.2. more rejoycing in the victory of a party, than deploring the sin, disorders, and miseries of the whole.

The mean complyings also of some Ministers, with those weak­nesses and extravagancies of some mens opinions and practises in Re­ligion, which they then knew, or suspected to be evil and dangerous; of which, they have since been forced oft to complain with bitterness of soul, for want of timely reproving, and resolute opposing: Adde to these, what is frequently observed, and with great scandal, Their shift­ings and variatings from one living to another, under pretence of Gods, or the peoples call, (where the greater benefice is always the louder voice, and most effectual call) being always deaf to any thing, that may in any kinde diminish their profit, or preferment: Still seising (like ravenous Birds and Beasts, or cunning Woodmen) on any prey they can espie; upon which they gain by a thousand windings, and wily ambushes, though never so injurious to the true owners, even their Fellow Ministers, and their whole Families.

These, and such like frequent publick passages, together with some Ministers most imprudent neglects of opportunities, sometimes offered, and much in their power, by which, to have brought differ­ences to an happy composure, especially in matters of Religion; which were neither great nor hard to have been reconciled by men of true Prudence and Christian moderation; (which virtues have great influence in things of extern form and policy in the Church of Christ:) The fatal omissions and rejections of fair offers; those cruel defeats also which have followed after, and the unsuccessful blastings of all those plausible projects, and specious designs, which many of them had, for some time, driven on (as Jehu) very furiously, and as they thought very triumphantly; These, I say, and the like notorious im­prudences, if not scandalous impieties, seem to many sober men, to have been among the chief mists and clouds, both of folly and infamy, which have risen from too many Ministers lives and maners, and so much eclipsed the glory and face of their whole Function, which they have rendred too many men suspected, as having more of the Jesui­tick cunning and activity, than of that meek and quiet spirit which was so eminent in Jesus Christ; That from a pragmatical fierceness (which sought to have an Oar in every Boat) many Ministers are by many thought so superfluous, both in Church and State, that they are ready to throw them all over-board; as thinking there is no use of them, neither in the sad solemnities of Christians burial (who beyond all men, dying in the Lord, and in hope of a blessed Resur­rection, ought not to be buried with the burial of an Ass, or an In­fidel) nor in the joyful celebrities of mariage, where there needs [Page 23] not onely much of humane prudence, as to choice; but more of di­vine benediction, as to the holy use, and happy success of mariage, which among true Christians, ought to be in the Lord; and so may, very well, bear the publick benediction of those, who are to bless the people in the name of the Lord; yea, even in matters peculiar to their office, and over so esteemed, and used in the Church of Christ, both as to the Church-Government, Discipline, and holy Ministra­tions, of Prayer, Preaching, and Sacramental Celebrations, are Ministers, by many, thought more easily to be spared, and dispenced, withal, as to any publick necessity; than any Bailiff in an Hundred,Praecept est vul­gi anim [...], & insa [...]o impetu à rerum abusis, adversus usum ipsum propellun­tur. Petrarch. or a Constable in a Village: And no wonder, for nothing is more or­dinary, than for the most excellent things, once degenerated to abuses, so far to lapse in the opinion and esteem of vulgar and passionate mindes, that they are ready, foolishly to wish, and greedily to wel­come, the total disuse and abolition of them.

I cannot write it, and I hope no good Protestant, 9. The dishonor cast by some upon the Ministers of England. or true Eng­lish heart, will read it, without grief and shame, That I have lived to see that verified and fulfilled in too great measure, whichCampian. 10. Ratio. Nihil Clero An­licano pu [...]idius. Campian, an Eloquent railer, sometimes wrote (not with more malice, than ap­parent falsity, at that time, when the state of the Ministry in England had not more of publick favor, than of true honor and merit, both for learning, piety, and order,) Nothing (saith he) is more putid and contemptible, than the English Clergy. O that this reproach were with truth now to be contradicted, or confuted; which hath so heavi­ly befaln us, and so justly; since too many Ministers became so trag­matick, so impertinent, so unsuccessful in State policies, in worldly pro­jects, in secular agitations, in counsels and actions of war and blood, which they have agitated more intensively, than Church affairs and matters properly religious. How odious must it needs be, when they are publickly seen so vastly differing from that Spirit of the Gospel, which they Preach? So disguised in their Habit? so degenerating from their Calling? so different from the rule and example of the Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles, of the blessed Martyrs, of the primitive Bishops, Presbyters, and Confessors? These might be seen (possibly) after the patern of their Saviour, riding meekly on an Ass, or, as Ignatius, on some vile beast, to be crucified; but they were never met, on red, and pale, and black horses; threatning blood,Rev. 6. and war, and famine, and death, to the Ages, and Churches, in which they lived: By the imitation of whose wisdom from above, Jam. 3.17. Church-men, by Civil and Canon Laws, were forbid­den to have any thing to do in matters of blood, though but in a way of Civil Judicature. Among the Romans, Pontifici non licuit quenquam [...]ccidere. Suet. in Vespas. which was pure, and peaceable, and gentle, and easie to be intreated; by walking in the good old ways of meekness, patience, gentleness, and Christian Charity, Ministers were heretofore so highly esteemed, in [Page 24] this Church, That nothing was thought too much, or too dear for them: But, when by worldly passions and secular engagements, they are found too light for the balance of the Sanctuary, (where onely learned humility gives weight, and an holy gravity to them;) when these sons of God court the daughters of men, and disguise themselves into the forms of Politicians; when they carry on vain and violent projects, and opinions, by pride, choler, fierceness, tumultuariness, faction, and sedition; or by rusticity, grossness, levity, and credulity, or in ways of scurrility, popularity, and cruelty; when to advance themselves to some shew of power, they cry up the Scepter andJohn 18.36. My Kingdom is not of this world; (i. e.) After the way and forms of the Kingdoms of the World. Luke 17.21. The Kingdom of God is within you. Rom. 14.17. For the King­dom of God is not meat and drink, (much­less, th [...] flesh and blood of Christians) but righteous­ness and peace, &c. Dan. 11.38. King­dom of Jesus Christ, to be carried on, after the fashions of this world, with Arms and Engines of War, to be erected upon the Bones and Skulls of their Brethren and Fathers; when Reformation of Religi­on must be squallid, and besmeared with the blood of Christians; when they make the Throne of Christ to be supported, as Solomons on both sides, with Lyons, or Tigers, Bears and Wolves, instead of Lambs and Doves: As if Ministers had changed, or lost, their meek, humble, patient, silent, crucified Messias, and had got some Manz­zim; a Mahumetan God of forces; who is to be served inLaudant Deum in tympano non in Choro. Classi­cum tenunt non pacem praedi­cant. Jonum aperiunt, quo clauso Christus natus: Bell [...]nae sacerdotes non eccl siae; Martis faces & [...]itiones non Evangelii lumina; Come­tae infausti, pestes & dira omina; non stella salutares Christ [...]m pra­nuncianter: Greg. Buff-Coats, and Armor, with the (Opima spolia) the goodly spoils and victims of slain Christians, their Neighbors, Brethren, and Fathers.

Alas, who is so blinde as not to see; who so dull, as not to consider, how destructive such distempers are (even in the justest se­cular conflicts) to the dignity; how contrary to the duty of true Mi­nisters of the Gospel: Whose honor consists, in meekness, patience, humility, constancy, diligence, charity, tenderness, and gravity in their Preaching, Praying, and Living, joyned to good learning, and sound knowledge? The want of these holy deportments conjured up those evil spirits of sacrilege, sedition, perjury, cruelty, contempt, and con­fusion, against them, and among them, which are not easily laid again: No man, ordinarily, being ashamed to offer that measure of scorn, evil speaking, ruine, and oppression; which they see, even some Mini­sters themselves have offered liberally to their Brethren, and Betters: Who can make conscience to destroy those, that make so little, to consume and devour one another? And this, at length, with the greater odium, because with the greater defeat: Honest meaning Christians expecting nothing less than such conclusions from the specious premises of zeal for Religion, and a through Reformation; when it is too evident, how much, not onely the mindes and maners of men, but the general form and face of the Christian and Reformed Religion, was never tending to more deformity, either in Doctrine, Government, or true Discipline, than now it is; as other where, so in England, through the miscarriages of many Ministers, as well as [Page 25] people. No wonder, if ordinary men (who naturally love not a Mini­ster of Gods truth) do easily disesteem those, who so little reverence themselves, and their holy Function: No marvel, if men make so little conscience to hear, or believe them, whose actions so contradict, and palpably confute, their former doctrine and maners: Yea, many now make conscience to neglect, despise, forsake, and separate from them; yea, some seek utterly to depose and destroy them; not onely as use­less, but as dangerous and pernicious creatures, who seem to have more of the Wolf and Fox, than of the Sheep and Lamb. Thus from Ministers of Gods truth, peace, and salvation, they are too much faln to be esteemed as State-firebrands, and by some as vessels of wrath, onely fitted for destruction: What was sometime cryed up as a com­mendable zeal (and who but Phinehas with his Javelin, was then thought fit to be a Priest to the Lord!) is now looked upon, as either miserable folly, or detestable fury.

And certainly,10. Ministers duty in civil dissentions. (in the calmest representation of things) if some warmth of natural zeal, and sparks of humane affections, were allow­able to Ministers (who are still but men) in civil and secular affairs; relating (as they thought) to the good and safety of their Country, their Laws, Religion, Liberties, Estates, and Governors; yet should these warmer gleams in Ministers hearts, rather have vented themselves in soft dews and sweet showres, than in lightnings and hot thunder­bolts, or coals of fire: Their politick Preaching, their earnest Pray­ers, their unfeigned Tears should have attempered, both their own and other mens passionate heats and propensities to civil flames:Vide Joel 2. v. 3, 10, 11, 13, &c. They should, asV. 17. Let the Priests, the Ministers of the Lord weep: Let them say, Spare thy peo­ple, O Lord, &c. the Priests of the Lord, have stood and wept be­tween the Porch and the Altar; crying mightily to Heaven, that God would spare his Church, and people; And with men on Earth, they should have interceded, that they would pity themselves, and one another. Ministers of all men, should have studied, preached, prayed, wept, and fasted, all sorts and degrees of men in this Nation, (who were so many ways neerly related to one another) into calm­ness, moderation, Christian temper, forbearings, mutual condiscend­ings, and proneness to reconciliation: If this would not do, they should haveEzek. 22.30. I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedg, and stand in the gap before me for the Land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Caecina cùm milites, nec antoritate, nec precibus, nec manis retinere possit, projectus in limine, miseratione demum, quia per legati corpus eundum erat, clausit viam. Tacit. An. l. 1. stood in the gap, or lain prostrate (as Caecina did) in the un­happy breach, and rather chose to be trodden under the feet of Armies, Men, and Horses, than to see the woful day, in which their King, and Country-men, and Fellow Christians, and Brethren, should rush into an unnatural war, to cut one anothers throats.

This I say, godly and tender-hearted Ministers should rather have done, than in the least kinde, have kindled or fomented such [Page 26] unnatural flames, and unchristian fewds; rudely intruding them­selves into all Councels; full of restless sticklings, State agitatings, politick plottings, cunning insinuatings, put [...]d flatterings, secret whisperings, evil surmisings, uncomly clamors, and rude exasperatings of fears to fewds, of jealousies to enmities, of misapprehensions to irreconcilable distances, especially in matters wherein their proper interests (as in those of Church-Government and Discipline) might seem any stop or difficulty to peace, or any occasion to war: Who concludes not, that in such violent deeds and demands, Ministers forgat and forsook the greatest honor and duty of their Function! which is,Matth. 5.9. 2 Cor. 5.20. to be blessed peace-makers, to beseech men to be reconciled to God, and for Christs sake to one another; by whose pretious blood, they, above all men, should shew they are redeemed from those fierce wraths, and cruel angers, which cannot but be cursed; and merit to be seriously and deeply repented, lest for them, Ministers be divided in Jacob, Gen. 49.7. and scattered in Israel. And however, many hotter spirited Ministers, might have honest hearts to God and man; yet it appears they had but weak heads, and were not aware, That se­cular policies and worldly interests, though they begin never so plau­sibly, and ascend like vapors from fair grounds, yet they presently thicken like mists into black clouds, drawing on jealousies and fears like strong winds: These drive men to new counsels; after they plead necessities; and from necessity obtain what indulgences and dispensations soever, either prosperity, or adversity require, in order to that great Idol Self-preservation; which even in the Church of Christ exalts it self above all that is called God; far different from primitive practises, which were in ways of self-denial, Christian patience, and civil subjection, losing their lives to save them; fol­lowing of Christ, in taking up his cross, Tert. Apol. de Christianis. cap. 37. Omnia vestra implevi­mus, urbes, in­sulas, castella, municipia, ca­stra, palatium, senatum, forum, &c. Et tamen libenter trucida­mur. Et Cap. 30. Prec [...]ntes sumus semper pro omnibus Imperatoribus, &c. when they wanted not numbers. All which holy Christian arts, by the unnecessary de­signs, precipitant counsels, and rash adventures, of some passionate, weak, or self-seeking men, are oft forced to vale, and give place to that, which is falsly called Reason of State; which loves not to be too straight-laced with any ties of true and self-denying Religion; whose passiveness is the best preservative, both of the Church, and of any true Minister whatsoever.

11. Ministers much [...]ow to themselves their shame.All true and wise Ministers teach, (and so they should practise) That it is better patiently to suffer Mûlta tolle­r [...]us quae non probamus. Aug. some deformities in Church, and pressures in State, than to be violent actors of any new ones, as a means to reform the old. And since the mindes of men are gene­rally prone to measure counsels, and purposes, by the events, they do easily conclude, That God never leaves a good cause (wherein his glory, and Churches good were said to be so highly interessed, so in the loss and lapse,) (as now the Presbyterian cause seems to be,) [Page 27] unless it were carried on by impure hearts, or unwashen hands; either hypocrisie levening the end, or iniquity defiling the means: Truly it is seldom, that God waters good plants with so last streams, as he hath done that, which some Ministers sought so resolutely to plant in the Garden of this Church, what pains or perils soever it cost them, or the publick.

So that the present dangers, distresses, and complaints of many Ministers seem to most people to be, but as the just retributions of vengeance upon the rude frowardness, and factious forwardness, of many of them in civil troubles, which was far different from the ten­der and wise charity of the good Samaritan. Luke 10.30. For these men finding this Church and State much wounded, as it was going from the Jericho of some grievances, to the Jerusalem of a through Reformation, (as was pretended) were too liberal of their vinegar, and too nigardly of their oyl; by rash infusions, by undiscreet and unskilful searching the wounds, they made them deeper, wider, more festred and incurable: (Clergy-mens hands usually poysoning those light hurts in State, which they touch, or undertake to cure, with neglect of their Spiritual cures and callings.)

Thus justly, and usually there follows the black shadow of shame and confusion, when Ministers of the Church had rather appear cun­ing active Statesmen, than honest quiet Churchmen; studying matchi­avel, more than the Gospel; as if they were ashamed of the stillMat. 12.19. He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any men hear his voice in the streets. Acts 2.2. voice and quiet spirit of Jesus Christ; which descended upon his Apostles, not in the shape of flaming and dividing swords, but offLingu [...] E­vangelica pro­pitiis ignibus, & mollissimo servore, poten­ter at suaviter illuminare & perpurgare de­bent mentes ac mores hominum. Greg. fiery cloven tongues: And this, not to set the world on fire, or to scorch and burn men, but softly to enlighten them; and by variety of gifts and graces, sweetly to warm them to a love of God, and mutual charity: Which is far from bringing in, either Christian Re­ligion, or any Reformations, with wilde-fires, whirl-winds, and earth-quakes; wherein Christians had rather quite cast off the cross of Christ from their shoulders, than bear it with any thing, which they count a civil burthen; and wherein the meanest Ministers are more ambitious to wear a peece of the Popes Triple Crown on their heads, in an imaginary parity of power, than either that of thorns, or that of olive branches; the one an embleme of their patience, the other of their peaceableness: When the very Novices and Beardless striplings, in the Ministry, which have but lately been manumitted from the rod and ferula, are more eager to rule and govern all in an absolute community, and Country parity, than either able to rule themselves, or patient to be ruled, even by those that are worthy to be their Fathers, as every way their Elders and Betters; whom Age and Nature, Custom, Law, Reason, Religion, all order and polity among men, would have set as over-seers over them; (howsoever, [Page 28] to some uses and ends, those, the yonger Preachers, may be fit to be set over others, as Ʋshers of lower Forms:) When the passions and exorbitancies of some Ministers, shall punish other mens failings and sins, with greater of their own; and exceed what was most blamable in others, by such defects of charity, or excesses of cruelty, as are most condemnable in such as hold forth the love of God, and mercies of Christ to the World. What stability can be hoped in mens esteem and love, to such as are of so variable tempers, that they are not double, Jam. 1.8. but treble minded men? sometimes Episcopal, then Presbyterian, after Independents, next nothing at all, unless it be something of an hobling Erastian; who runs like a Badger, with variating and unequal motions, yet still keeping where the ridg of secular power goes highest; who is ashamed, not to seem a Christian, but yet afraid to be taught and governed, as Christians were in pri­mitive times, when they had not the support of Civil Magistrates; whose protection in Government and duties religious, the Church willingly and thankfully embraces; but it cannot own the deriva­tion of either its Institutions, or its Discipline, from secular Powers and Laws.

12. Of changes in Mini­sters.Not, that all mutation is the companion of folly or weakness; there are happy inconstancies, and blessed Apostacies; from Error to Truth; from Heresie and Schism, to Verity and Catholike unity; from factious pride, to obedient humility; from impotent desires of govern­ing, to patient submissions under due and setled Government; fromA castris Dia­boli ad Dei ten­toria, Felix transfuga, & beatus Apo­stata. Luth. 1 Thes. 5.22. the Devils camps, to Gods Tents. But then truth, and not faction; piety, and not apparent self-interest; a change of maners to the bet­ter, as well as of side, and principles, will follow; and not the least ap­pearance once of evil: From which, Ministers of all men, must abstain. There must be no shew or shadow of worstings and decays in holiness; of greater indifferencies in Religion; of any licentiousness and im­moralities in maners; Phil. 3.19. any of which, discover their bellies, or this world, to be their god, more than Jesus Christ, or the true God.

And (which is most ridiculous and intollerable) many Ministers in their greatest rambl [...]ngs and shiftings, and separatings from them­selves, and from all gravity, order, and modesty; deserting their former Station, Ministry, and Ordination; or taking it up upon some fanciful new way; some easie account of popular calling to any place; yet still they are many times eager declamers against Sects and Schisms, Heresies and Separations, Errors and corrupt Opinions, &c. that is against all that are not of their party, way, and faction: Not considering, that like Gehazi, the leprosie of those Syrians, cleaves to many of their own foreheads, who carry their heads full high.

Now after all this, (which I reckon up, not in bitterness, but [Page 29] in charity, not for a reproachDum peccata aliorum confi­teor, ipse com­patiar, nec su­perbè increpo, sed lugeo; & dum alium fleo meipsum de fleo. Ambr. de Poen. l. 2. c. 8. [...]. Stobaeus., but for a motive to repentance, in my self, or any other, that may be guilty of any thing, unworthy and scandalous to our holy Profession;) It cannot seem strange, if Ministers are generally looked upon, as naked and ashamed of them­selves; since many of them, have wantonly sinned themselves out of that innocency and protection (together with that love, respect, estate, and honor) which formerly they enjoyed; when publicks Laws and Authority compassed them about; keeping them, as in subjecti­on and due obedience, so in plenty, safety, love, and respect. Which last, (preserving them from irreverence, affronts, and vulgar inso­lency) is easily obtained, when once the common people see that Power stands Centinel, and Civil Favor keeps a Guard, on any Men, or any Calling. Indeed, with the common sort of people, it matters not much, what straw and clouts the Scare-crow be made of, so it be set upon a Pole.

By these secular and worldly temptations, hath the Devil, 13. Ministers way of re­covery. in great part, beguiled the Ministers and the Ministry of England, of that favor, and those blessings which they once enjoyed; which to recover, by Gods help, must be the work, not of weak, heady, popular, passionate, factious, and clamorous men, who are resolved never to confess anyIncidere in errorem imperiti est animi, at perseverare, postquam agno­veris, contuma­cis est. Salvia. l. 5. error or transport, but to continue in that troublesome and rugged path of novel opinions, State projects, and secular ambi­tions; wherein they see they have lost themselves past all recovery, without ingenuous retractation and speedy amendment. The rash­ness and obstinacy of such Ʋzzahs, is not fit to stay the tottering Ark, who have almost quite overturned it; nor ever will they be able to bring back the pristine honor of the Ministry, or the majesty of the Reformed Religion: Their penitence, publick, real, and as bold as their sin and error, will more recover and recommend them, than all those murmurings and complaints, by which they scratch one anothers itch; and confirm each other in their erroneous obstinacy, and defeated novelties. Verè poeni­tentes pudoris magis memores, quàm salutis, esse non debent. August. Ingenuous confessings and forsakings of their follies, facilities, superstitious heats and immoderations, will best reconcile them, not onely to God and man, but also to them­selves: Who can have little peace, while they are pertinacious in their errors, and are impatient to recant any thing, either in opinion or practise, although never so much amiss and blasted, both by the disfavor of God and man. This opiniativeness and restiveness in extern Forms of Religion, is likely, to be the greatest obstruction, which will hinder the recovery of Ministers to unity, order, and honor; which was ever greatest, when for their painful preaching, and peaceable living, they were persecuted by others, Heathens, or Hereticks, or Schismaticks; who never wanted will to vex the Orthodox Christians, when ever they had power; were their begin­ings [Page 30] never so gentle, and their pretensions never so specious: But then is the regard to Ministers least, or none at all, when they turn Prag­maticks instead of Preachers; Persecutors instead of Peace-makers; and sticklers for, and with the world, rather than sufferers with, and for Christ. Since, being Ministers of Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain for the sins of the World, they are more comly on the rack, and at the stake; in the prison and dungeon, with bolts and chains, with wounds and brands for Christs sake, than with Buff-coats and Belts, and Banners, and Trophes, dipped in and defiled with the [...]. Naz. Orat. 40. blood of their People, and Neighbors, and Governors, in any case whatsoever. Sure, it is hard for Ministers of the Gospel, to pick out Letters of Mart from the Gospel, or to have any Commission to kill and slay, from Jesus Christ; in order to reform Religion, or to plant any of his clearest Institutions; much less to pull down any antient good orders in the Church, or to set up any new ones; which have so much of mans vanity and passion, that they cannot have any thing of Christs divine appointment,

Nor is this meek and passive temper, requisit in a true Minister, any softness and cowardise, but the greatest valor and magnanimity; which, having least of revenge, passion, self-seeking, humane faction, and worldly interest, (which are always dubious in their rise, and prone to be exorbitant in their progress, and most injurious in their success) have most of Love, Patience, and Christian Charity; which are indisputably commendable in the Christian,Psal. 15.4. though they be to the mans own hinderance.

It will not be asked of Ministers of the Gospel, at the last ac­count, who fought, and slew, and spoiled, &c. but who fasted and prayed, and mourned, for the sins and judgements on the Nation, and Church; nor will they easily be found in Gods Book of Martyrs, who died upon disputable quarrels in Civil Wars, while they neglected the indisputable duty of their Office and Ministery.

Levit. 10.19. Thou shalt not sow thy field with min­gled seed. Incongruam non probat mixtu­ram Deus, & bonitate simpli­cissimus & sim­plicitate opti­mus. August. Ministers never reap less crops of love or respect from men, than when they sow that forbidden mislane; the Tares and Cockle of passionate novelties, unproved opinions, and civil dissentions, among the seeds of Religion, and essays of Reformation: From which mixtures, those Ministers, whose gravity, wisdom, and humility, have most withheld, or soonest withdrawn their hearts and hands, are the likeliest men, by their piety, moderation, patience, and con­stancy, in holy and justifiable ways, to recover and restore the dignity of their Calling; Who in the midst of those great and wide inrodes, which have much broken down the fence, and occasioned the letting in all sorts of wilde beasts upon the Lords Vineyard of this Church; while others, like dead stakes, formerly making a great shew in the hedg, are found rotten, weak, and unsound: These are evidenced to all [Page 31] true Christians, to be as living standards; well rooted in their pious principles, and not easily removed from that stedfastness, and meekness of their practises in ways of judicious constancy; which they have hitherto with patience maintained, in the midst of those tempests, which have not so utterly overwhelmed them, but that in many places they appear fixed and unmoved in their pious integrity, and patient charity; which makes them looked upon with some eye of pity, love, and honor, by all ingenuous spectators; while yet, they gene­rally reflect with scorn and laughter, on many others; who in the publick storm, thought themselves gallant sailers and skilful steersmen; yet having made great waste of their patience, obedience, and discre­tion, they seem also much crackt in their conscience, credit, and re­putation; For seeking, inconsiderately, to pull down, or to possess themselves of others Cabins, (who as Pilots had a long time safely steered the Ship) they have almost split, and sunk the whole Vessel, wherein they and others were embarqued: Nor will they any way be able to buoy it up again, or stop the daily increasing, and threat­ning leaks, till forsaking those soft and shameful compliances with factious novelties, and immoderate ways of vulgar reformings, they return to that primitive firmness, and indisputable simplicity of the Antient (which were the putest and best formed) Churches, both as to Doctrine, Discipline, and Government; which no learned and un­passionate man needs go far to finde out, either in Scripture paterns, or in the Churches after-imitation; by which the dignity of the Ministry, and Holy Mysteries of the Gospel, always preserved them­selves, amidst the hottest persecutions, both in the love, and obedience of all sound and sober Christians.

So that in my judgement, who know how hard it is to play an after-game in point of Reputation, and who have no design but a Publick and Common good, (writing thus freely, as under the favor, so without the offence, I hope, of any good man) The Ministers of this Church will never be able to stand before those men of Ai, their many adversaries; who are daily scattering them into many feeble factions, and pursuing them every where (so divided) with scorn; and afflicting them with many affronts and injuries; until having taken a serious review of their late extravagancies, and making a serious scrutiny into their consciences; and finding (as they needs must, if they be not wilfully blinde, or obstinate) some accursed thing, some Babylonish garment, and wedg of Gold; some­thing wherein proud, or ambitious, or covetous, or revengeful or injurious emulations, or other more venial errors have tempted t [...] [...] to offend; they cast them quite away; and so humbly re'ally them­selves, to that Primitive Harmony, that Excellent Discipline, Order, and Government, wherein was the honor, beauty, and consistency [Page 32] of the Church and Christian Religion, even when least protected and most opposed by secular powers: Of whom Christian Bishops, Ministers, and People, never asked leave, either to believe in Jesus Christ, or to live after that holy form and publick order, wherein Jesus Christ, and the blessed Apostles after him, established and left them, which obtained universal imitation, and use in all Churches, for many hundred of years, from true Christians, both Pastors and People, in the midst of persecutions.

14. Jere. 6.16. Thus saith the Lord, Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk ther­in, and ye shall finde rest for your souls.Out of which old and good way of Primitive Ʋnity, Order, Government, Discipline, and holy Ministrations, if those immora­lities be kept, (as they may most easily) to which (we see) the lusts and passions of men are prone to run, even in allNon datur re­ditus ad unita­tem nisi per ve­ritatem, nec ad veritatem nisi per vetustatem; Quum illud est antiquissimum, quod verissi­mum. Cypr. novel forms and inventions, (pretend they never so much, at first, to glorious Refor­mations;) Nothing can be a more present and soverein restorative for this Church, and the true Reformed Religion, to settle with truth, and peace among us; both to the comfort of all able Ministers, and the satisfaction of all sober Christians; who study the truth, and unity of the Faith, not the power and prevalency of any faction: We need not go far to seek the root and source of our miseries pre­sent or impendent, which have brought forth so bitter fruits; where­by God at once would shew and satisfie vain men with their own delusions Isai. 66.4.. In which, heady and high-minded men, trusting more to their own wits or tongues, and to theJere. 17.5. Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. arm of flesh, in politick ma­chinations, than to the living God, in holy and humble ways of truth and peace, have soon found them to be, both vain and cursed things.

As it is evident at this day in the sad fate, which some Ministers folly, presumption, and precipitancy, together with other sinful frail­tiles, and excesses, have brought upon themselves and their whole Function in this Church. Who, first despising, then destroying the Antient and Catholike conduits of their Order and Ministry, (which, derived from Christ, by his Apostles; went on in an after constant succession of true Ministerial Power and Authority,) have digged to themselves, Jere. 2.13. empty broken cisterns, of novel and divided ways, which can hardly hold any water;Jude 12. but like wandring clouds without water, affecting Supremacy, or Parity, or Popularity in Church power, they have almost brought it to a nullity; through the in­croaching and over-bearing of Blebeian Insolence; who finding Mini­sters thus divided among themselves, and scrambling for Church power in common, without any order or distinction, either of Age, or gifts and parts; the common people (being the most) begin to conceit [Page 33] and challenge to themselves, first a share, next the supremacy and original of all Church power; as if in the illiterate heads, illiberal hearts, and mechanick hands of the common sort of Christians, (and, without reproach, the most part of them, and the forwardest of them, against the Function of the Ministry, have been and ever will be of no higher rank, breeding or capacity,) Jesus Christ had placed the Keyes of Heaven, the power eminent and paramount of all Church authority, and holy administrations; which Christ eminently, and his Apostles ministerially had, and exercised; afterward committing them to able and faithful men; such as (doubtless) were many de­grees raised above the vulgar, and distinguished in gifts and power Ministerial, both ordinary and extraordinary.

Thus from the head, and shoulders, and arms, (Jesus Christ, the Apostles, the succeeding Bishops and Presbyters) which were of Gold and Silver, Church power is by some forced to descend to the belly, thighs, and feet of the people, which are part of Iron,Dan. 2.32. and part of miry-clay: Most of whom, so much stickling to be controlers of Christs houshold (the Church) are not in any discreet and sober mans judgement, fit to be stewards, or scarce in any degree of ingenuous service, in a well ordered family; They may make good Gibeonites for the house of God, but very ill Levites or Priests.

Thus I have shewed how the sparks of many Ministers passion­ate opinions, and violent practises, flying up and down in their ma­ny disorderly breathings and extravagant Motions, both in Church and State; they at last, lighting upon the thatched houses, the combusti­ble stuff of common peoples mindes, and maners, have set their own houses on fire, to the deformity, discontent, and danger of all that dare own themselves, and their holy Function, as delivered to them from a better and diviner hand.

15 And indeed it is of the Lords mercies, that we have not been, ere this, utterly consumed both root and branch, for our follies and strange fires, by the malice, cruelty, and despight of those, to whose rage, as to the Seas, the Lord hath hitherto set bounds; who are our enemies, not for our sins and failings, but for the reformed truths, and Gospels sake, which we preach and profess. Amidst the sequestrings, plunderings, silencings, wastings, affronts, calumnies, indignities, and discouragements cast upon, or threatned by some, against those of the Ministry, above any other calling; as if the Crosses taken down from Steeples and Churches, were to be laid on the necks and shoulders of Ministers; It is a wonder, that any remnant of godly, able, and true Ministers, hath hitherto escaped, through the indulgence of God, and the favor or moderation of some in power; who know not (it seems) how to reprobate all those as Antichristian, by whose Mi­nistry, they may hope, themselves and others, either are, or may be [Page 34] brought to the saving faith of Jesus Christ, and to the hope of Gods elect: Exod. 2.8. Nor can they yet be perswaded, to act as Pharaohs, that knew not Joseph.

So that we cannot, but wonder (with thankfulness to God, and to those who now exercise civil power among us) that, the Reformed Ministers and Ministry in this Church, have not been made like Sodom and Gomorrah; when we consider, how many showres of fiery darts, from violent and cruel men, like thick clouds (pregnant with thunders and lightnings) hang over our heads.J [...]lian took a­way from the Clergy, all im­munities, ho­nors, and pro­visions of corn formerly by Emperors gi­ven to them; he abrogated all Laws in fa­vor of them. Sozonen. l. 5. c. 5. Who like Julian the Apostate, are impatient of nothing so much as this, That their should be any true Ministers or Ministry, in due order, holy Autho­rity, Evangelical succession, and setled maintenance, continued in this, or any other Reformed Church. Who seeking to joyn the Lyons skin to the Fox's, would fain leven Military spirits against the Mi­nistry, that so the Soldiery might use, or rather abuse, their Helmets as Bushels Matth. 5.15., under which they may put the Candles of the Ministry; thereby to overwhelm and extinguish those lamps of true Religion; pretending, that some Troopers flaming swords, as the guard of Che­rubims, will be more useful to keep the way of the tree of life, than all those burning and shining lights of the true Ministers, who are rightly called and ordained in the Church; whose learned labors, and patient sufferings in all ages, from the Apostles times, have undoubt­edly planted, watered, propagated, and (under God) preserved the true Christian Religion; either from Heathenish ignorance, Idolatry, Atheism, Prophaneness and Persecution, on the one side; or from Antichristian Errors, Superstitions, Corruptions and Confusions, on the other.

16. Politick and Atheistical Engines used by some a­gainst the Ministry.Yet are there now, not onely secret underminings, but open en­gines used, by which some men endeavor utterly to overthrow these great boundaries, firm supports, and divine constitutions of Christian Religion; the Authority, Office, Power, and Succession of the true Ministers, and Ministry of the Gospel: Which plots and practises can be nothing else, but the devils high-way, either to utter Atheism, Irreligion, and Prophaneness; or to the old grosser Popery, Error, and Superstition; or, at best, to those detestable and damnable formalities in matters of Religion, which our late Seraphick Sadduces, or Matchiavellian Christians have learned, and confidently profess. Some of whom (like Jezebel, Rev. 2.20. that made her self a Prophetess, or like the oldIrenaeus l. 1. c. 35. Carpecratis & Gnosticorum dectrina, per fidem & operationem salvari homines; reliqua indifferentia secundum opinionem hominum bona aut mala vocari; cum nihil natura malum fit. Gnosticks, Montanists, Moniehes, Carpocratians, Circumsellians, Valentinians, and the like rabble of wretches) have their wilde speculations, beyond what is written in the holy Scrip­tures, or ever believed and practised in the Churches of Christ; who [Page 35] teach men to think, say, and write, That God, Christ Jesus, the holy Spirit, good Angels and Devils; the Scriptures, Law, and Gospel, Ministry and Sacraments; the Souls immortality and eternity; the Resurrection and Judgement to come; all Virtue and Vice; Good and Evil; Heaven and Hell, all are but meer fanciful forms of words, fabulous imaginations, feigned dreams, empty names; being nothing without us, or above us. That all this, which men call Religion, is nothing else, but the issues of humane inventions; which, by the cunning of some, the credulity of others, and the custom of most men, serves, where seconded with power, to scare and amuse the world, so as to keep the vulgar in some aw and subjection.

And in their best and foberest temper, they hold, That no Reli­gion is, or ought to be other, than a lackey and dependant, on secu­lar power; that piety must be subordinate to policy; that there the people serve God well enough, where they are kept in subjection to those that rule them: From whose politick dispensations and allow­ances, they are humbly and contentedly to receive what Scriptures, Law, and Gospel, holy Institutions, Ministry, and Religion, those, who govern them, think fittest, whereby to preserve themselves in power, and others in peace under them. That, where the principles of Christian, or Reformed Religion (which hath so far obtained credit in these Western parts of the World) do cross, or condemn the designs, and interests of those in Sovereinty, (how unjustifiable soever they are for righteousness or true holiness;) yet are they, by Reasons of State, and the supposed Laws of Necessity, first to be dis­pensed withall, and actually violated: Next, by secret warpings, variations, connivencies; and tollerations, they are to be ravelled, weakned, discountenanced, and decryed. Thus gradually, and fuly introducing new parties and factions in Religion; which, cryed up by men of looser principles, profaner wits, and flattering tongues; also set off and sweetned with novelty, profit, and power, will soon bear down, and cast out, with specious shews, of easier, cheap­er, freer, and safer modellings, all true Religion, and the true Ministry of it; and all the antient, (if they seem contrariant ways) though never so well setled, and approved, not onely by the best and holiest of men; but, as to their constant preservation, even by God him­self.

Indeed, all experience teacheth us,17. Ambition the M [...]ch of true Religi­on. That no passion in the soul of man is less patient of sober, just, and truly religious bounds, thanLuctanter & agrè fert humana ambiti [...] Christi jug [...], am Dei Imperitur; nec libe [...]ter crutem gi [...] [...]ui sceptra captant & diademata aucupantur. Parisiens. Ambition; which will rather adventure, as it were, to counter­mand, and over-rule God himself, than fail to rule over man. Nor [Page 36] hath any thing caused more changes, tossings, and persecutions, in the Church, than this forcing religious rectitudes, and the immuta­ble rules of divine Truth, Order, and holy Institutions, to bend to, and comply with, theCupido domi­nandi cunctis affectibus do­minantior. Ta­cit. An. l. 15. crookedness of ambitious worldlyRegnandi cau­sa violandum est jus, caeteris aequitatem cole. Jul. Caes. Suet. interests, Insomuch, that very Reformations pretended, and by well meaning men intended, have oftentimes degenerated to great deformities; through the immoderations, and transports of those, who cannot in reason of State (as they pretend) subject themselves to, or continue to use those severer rules of righteousness; or follow those primitive examples of holy Discipline and Religious orders, which Christ and his Church hath set before them; but they must so far wrest and in­novate Religion, formerly established, and remove the antient Land­marks, which their forefathers observed, as they finde, or fancy ne­cessary to the interest of that party or power, which they have under­taken.

Hence inevitably follows by those unreasonable Pope Pius the fifth, could not with pati­ence hear of Ragioni di Sta­to, counting those pretensi­ons to be a­gainst all true Religion, and Moral Vir­tues, L. Verul. Reasons of State, (which, not the Word of God, nor his providence, nor any true prudence, but onely some mens fancies, passions, lusts, and fol­lies, make necessary,) That the antient established Ministry, and true Ministers, be they never so able, worthy, useful, and necessa­ry, must either be quite removed, and changed; or else, by degrees drawn to new Modellings and Conformities; which can never be done, without great snares to many, injuries to others, and discourage­ments to all, that have any thing in them of Religious setledness; whose pious and judicious constancy in their holy way and professi­on, chusing rather to serve the Lord, than the variating humors of any men and times, shall be judged pertinacy, faction, and the next step to Rebellion; how useful, peaceable, and commendable soever their gifts, and mindes, and maners be, in the Church of Christ.

18 To this Tarpeian rock, and precipice, by Gods permission, and the English worlds variation in Civil and Ecclesiastical affairs, doth seem to be brought (as to some mens designs and purposes) the whole frame and being of the Reformed Religion in this Church of Eng­land, as to its formerly established Doctrine, Discipline, Government, and true Ministry. Not, but that I know, the Lord Jesus Christ can withdraw this his Church and Ministers (as he did himself) from their malice,Luke 4.30. who sought to cast him down headlong from the browe of that Hill, on which their City stood: I know he is as willing, able, and careful to save his faithful servants, as himself. And who knows,2 Kings 5. how far God may be pleased to use (as he did the rela­tion of theSerment [...] [...]cilla sequitur heri sanitas; per servulam captivam liberatur leprosus Dominus: De parvo momento pendent res magni momenti; u [...] vel [...]xima Dei esper [...]ur. August. captive maid, in order to his mercy, both for healing and converting Naaman) this humble Intercession and Apology of [Page 37] the meanest of his servants? who ows all he is, hath, or can do, to his bounty and mercy. God oft hangs great weights on small wires, and sets great wheels on work by little springs. We know, that words spoken in due season, before the Monet Deus de proposito ut praeviniamus decretum; quasi à nobis poeni­tentibus poenitentiam discat dominus. Fulgent. decree be gone forth, Zach. 2.7. may be acceptable and powerful, even with God himself; how much more should they be as Prov. 25.11. Verba tam splendida quàm pretiosa, & pietate bona, & tempestiditate grata. Bern. Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver, to sober and religious men; and in the behalf of those, who (at least) have deserved to be heard, before they be condemned and destroyed?

I have read of Sabbacus, a King of Ethiopia, Herodoti Clio. who being by dreams admonished, that he could not possess himself of the Kingdom of Egypt, otherways than by Sacrilege, Servil. de Mirandis. l. 1. and the slaying of the Priests; he chose rather to lay aside his claim, and advantages of War, which he had gotten, and to refer the Government of that Kingdom to twelve Wisemen; who erected to the memory of that Princes piety, one of the stateliest Pyramids of Egypt, which yet re­mains: How much more will it become Christians in any way of Power and Magistracy, not to make their way upon the spoils, nor lay the foundations, or to carry on the fabrick of their greatness and dominion, upon the carkasses and ruines of such as are able, true, and faithful Ministers of the true God, and the Lord Jesus Christ?

However my own private comforts of life might other ways be, either secure, or satisfactory; yet how can I with silence, or as Nehemiah without sadness,Nehe. 2.2. behold the miseries of many my Bre­thren and Companions? For whose sakes, I cannot but have great compassion, even in worldly regards; well knowing, that many, if not far the most of them, have born the heat and burthen of the late days, or years rather, of great tribulation, beyond any sorts of men; to whom have been allowed some ways, either for reparation, or composition, or restitution, or oblivion: But not so to any Ministers; from some of whom hath been exacted the whole tale of Bricks, as to the necessary labors of their Ministry, and charges, when the straw of maintenance hath, in great part, been, either denied to them, or some way exacted from them; nor was ever any publick ease, or re­lief granted to them in that regard.

But it becomes neither them, nor me, in this particular, to plead or complain, as to any private interests, pressures, or indignities, al­ready sustained. The Lord is righteous and holy, though we be wast­ed, impoverished, and exhausted; yea, though we be accounted, as the off-scouring of all things (1 Cor. 4.13.) and as unsavory salt fit to be cast on the dunghil. (Matth. 5.13.) While there are so manyVel in hoc uno maximè inido­nei, quòd sibi idonei videntur tam tremendo Ministerio. Jeron. hasty intruders, and confident undertakers of the work of the [Page 38] Ministry, yet the best and ablest of us all, desire before the majesty of God, in all humility to confess, That we are less than the least of his mercies; that none of us are, as to Gods exactness, or the weight of the work,2 Cor. 2.16. 2 Cor. 4.7. Non thesaurus debonestatur vasculo, sed vas decoratur the­saur [...]. Prosp. sufficient for that sacred Office and Ministry.

Yet since this heavenly treasure hath been duly committed to such earthen vessels, who have wholly devoted, even from their youth, their studies, lives, and labors, to the service of Christ, and his Church, in this work of the Ministry; since the publick wages and rewards for that holy service, have by the order of humane Laws, by the piety, bounty, and justice, of this Christian Nation, been hitherto conferred upon them, and they rightly possessed of them; I cannot but present to the considerations of all men, that have piety, equity, or humanity in them, That there are no objects of pity and compassion, more pitifully calamitous and distressed, than those many learned and modest men, the godly and faithful Ministers of this Church of England, either are already, or are shortly like to be, if the malice of their adversaries be permitted to run in its full scope and stream against them; which will be like that flood, which the old Serpent, Rev. 12.15. and great red Dragon, cast out of his mouth after the woman, (the Church) which would carry away both mother and childe, old and yong, the sons with the fathers, true piety with the whole profession; the present Ministers with all future Succession, as to any right Authority, and lawful Ordination or Mission.

19. The cunning and cruelty of some a­gainst the Ministry.What I pray you (O excellent Christians, all whose other ex­cellencies are most excelled in your Christian pity and compassion) can be more deplorable, than to see so many persons of ingenuous education, good learning, honest lives, diligent labors, (after so much time devoted chiefly to serve God, their Country, and the Church of Christ, and the souls of their Brethren, with their Studies, Learning, and Labors) to be turned, or wearied out, of their honest and holy employment; to be so cast out of their houses and homes, together with all their nearest relations; to be forced to begin some new methods of life, in some mean imployment or dependance; and this in the declining and infirmer age of many? wherein they must either want their bread, or beg it; or, at best, with much contention, against the armed man, Pr v. 24.34. Poverty, in labor and sorrow, night and day, they must mingle their bread with ashes, and their drink with weeping; when they shall be deprived of all those publick rewards and setled incouragements, (which God knows, were neither very liberal in most places, nor much to be envied, ifMatth. 24.12. Desti [...]e cha­ritate [...]cess [...] est abundare nequitiam, quum non auferantur iniquitatis stercora nisi per charitatia fluenta, & [...], & gentem, & rempublicam, & ecclesiam validissi [...] purg [...]tia. August. Tep [...]to [...]ri [...] fervore friges [...] & rigoscunt conscientiae. Bern. charity did not grow cold, and iniquity abound) wherewith the whole labor of their lives, their [Page 39] learning and chargable studies, besides their industry, humility, and other vertues, were but meanly, yet, to them, contentedly recom­pensed, by those Laws of publick piety and munificence; which in­vested Ministers in their places and livings, after the sameMinisters have the same Right to their Ecclesiastick estates by Magna Charta, as others have to their Temporalities. Concessimus quod Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit in perpetuum, & habeat omnia jura sua integra, & omnes libertates sua [...] illaesas. Magna Charta, c. 1. See the Statute of 2. Edw. 6. and 19. for treble damages in case of not paying Tithes, where due. tenure for life, and good behavior, that any man enjoys his free-hold in house or land; keeping himself within the compass of the Law.

And that the barbarity, impiety, and monstrosity of the injury, may seem the less with the common people, all these sufferings of poverty and necessity (which either have faln upon some, or threaten other true Ministers in this Church,) must be attended with the black Pereuntibus (Christianis sub Tiberio) addita ludibria, ut se­rarum tergis contecti lania [...] can [...] interi­rent, & ubi do­fecisset dies in usum nocturni luminis flam­mali urebantur. Tac. An. l. 19. Luke 23.34. Joh. 11.48. & 18.38. shadows of all evil speaking and reviling; such as was used to their great master and institutor Jesus Christ; when he was to be thus crucified with contempt, lest the Romans come and destroy the City (though there was nothing found in him, by his Judge, worthy of death.) That so the proud mockers of the Ministry, may say with scorn, Behold, these men of God; these that pretended to preach sal­vation to others, let them now come down, and save themselves from that Jesuitick, Socinian, and mechanick Cross, to which they are with all cruel petulancy, either now, or shortly (as their malicious enemies hope and boast) to be fixed.

O what would the enemies of this Reformed Church and State, 20. Hoc Ithacus velit, & magn [...] mercentur Atri­de. Virg. whatever they are, have wished more to crown their envious desires; and consummate their malicious designs; than to see, that woful day, wherein this abomination (which threatens to make the Reformed Religion desolate, in this Church of England,) being set up, the whole Function and Succession of the true and lawful Ministry here, should be questioned, cashiered, triumphed over, and trampled upon, by the foot of Ignorance, Error, Popery, Jesuitism, Atheism, Profaneness, and all sorts of disorderly mindes and maners?

All which heretofore felt the powerful restraints, the mighty chains, the just terrors and torments cast upon them, by the convin­cing Sermons, learned Writings, frequent Prayers, and holy exam­ples of many excellent Ministers in England; before whom the de­vils of ignorance, error, profaneness, schism, and superstition, Luke 10.18. Vera fulgente luce flaccessit fulguris coru­scatio, terrore magìs quàm lu­mine conspicua. Chrysost. were wont to fall as lightning to the ground, from their fanatick Hea­vens.

Have all these Sons of Thunder and of Consolation too, (who were esteemed heretofore by all Reformed Christians in this Church, to be as Angels of God, Embassadors from Heaven, Friends of Christ, [Page 40] the Bridegroom of their Souls; more pretious than fine Gold; dearer, to humble and holy men, than their right eyes; the beauty of this Church, and blessing of this Nation,) Have they all been hitherto; but as Mahumetan Juglers, or Messengers of Satan, or Priests of Baal, or as the cheating Pontifs of the Heathen gods and oracles? Have they all been found lyers for God, and born false witness a­gainst the Truth, and Church of Christ? Have they arrogantly and falslyNumb. 16.3. Ye take too much upon you, since all the Congregation is holy, every one of them, &c. Wherefore lift ye up your selves above the Church of the Lord? Thus Korah and his company against Moses and Aaron. taken too much upon them, in exalting themselves above their line and measure? Or magnifying their Office and Ministry, above the common degree or sort of Christians?

And why all this art, fraud, and improbity of labor in Ministers! (Sure, with the g eater sin and shame learned and knowing men should weary themselves in their iniquity, Quò minor ten­tatio tò majus peccatum. A­quin. when they had so little tempta­tion to be, either false or wicked, in so high a nature:) Alas, For what hath been, and is, all this pompous pains, and hypocritical sweat of Ministers? Is it not for some poor living, for the most part; for a sorry subsistence, a dry morsel, a thred-bare coat, a cottagely con­dition? In comparison of that plenty, gallantry, superfluity, splendor, and honor, wherewith other callings (which require far less ability or pains) have invited and entertained their professors in this plentiful Land?Judges 8.6. Are not the gleanings of the grapes of Ephraim, better than the vintage of Abiezer? Are not the superfluities Merito à se­cularibus nego­tiatoribus & lucro, & prae­mio superamur, quum caelestia & aeterna à Christo expecta­mus munera. Jeron. of any ingenuous calling, beyond the necessaries of most Ministers? And all this, that after infinite studies, pale watchings, fervent prayers, frequent tears, daily cares, and endless pains, exhausting their Time, Spirits, Estates, and Health, they might, through many vulgar slightings, reproaches, and contempts, with much patience condemn themselves and their relations, first toGrave est pau­pertatis onus u­bi deest bonae conscientiae le­vamen; quâ sublevante gra­vescit nihil, quâ dulcante nihil amarescit. Petrach. poverty; which is no light burden, where a good conscience is wanting, or an evil one attending (as in this case malice doth suppose.)

And, now at last, (after more than One thousand five hundred years, and one Century and half since the Reformation) in all which time this Nation hath more or less enjoyed the inestimable blessing (for so our pious Ancestors esteemed the lights of this World, the true Ministers of the Church, in their Prayers, Preaching, Wri­tings, holy Offices, and Examples,) they should by some men be thought unworthy of any further publick favors or imployment, and to have merited to be counted as sheep for the slaughter Rom 8.16. For thy sake are we count­ed as sheep for the slaughter, and killed all the day long; Lani [...]na diaboli Christi victima. Leo. They are Christs Lambs, whom the Devil delights most to [...]utcher., in their persons: And as to their Function or Calling (which was ever esteem­ed [Page 41] sacred among true Christians) to be wholly laid aside and outed, with all disgraceful obloquies; as if they had been, but pious Im­postors, devout Ʋsurpers, and religious Monopolizers, of that holy Ordination, divine Mission, Power, and Authority, which Christ gave personally to the Apostles; and both by declared intent, and clear command, to their due and rightful Successors, in that ordinary Ministry which is necessary for the Churches good: Or at best they must be reputed, but as superfluous, burthensom, and impertinent, both in Church and State; chargeable to the publick purse; dange­rous to the publick peace; useless as to any peculiar power of holy Administrations; which some think may be more cheaply, easily, and safely, supplied by other forward pretenders; who think them­selves endued with greater plenitude of the Spirit, with rarer gifts, with diviner illuminations, more immediate teachings, and special anointings; by which, without any pains or studies, they are sudden­ly invested into the full office and power Ministerial: And as they are themselves led, so they can infallibly lead all others, into all truth; with such wonderful advantages of ease, and thrift, both for mens pains and purses, that there will be no need to entertain that an­tient form, and succession of ordained Ministers, as any peculiar call­ing or function, amidst so gifted and inspired a Nation. So much more sweet, and fruitful, do these self-planted Country Crabs, and Wild­ings, now seem to many, than those Trees of Paradise, which, with great care and art, have been grafted, pruned, and preserved by most skilful hands; which these new sprouts look upon, and cry down, as onely full of Moss and Missletow.

In this case then, O you excellent Christians, such freedom, as I now use, I hope may seem not onely pardonable, but approvable, and imitable to all good Christians, who fear God, and love the Lord Jesus Christ; who have any care of their own souls, any charity to the Reformed Churches, any pity to their Countrey, any tenderness to the religious welfare of posterity: And in a matter of so great and publick importance, it is hoped, and expected by all good men, That none of you, either in your private places, or publick power and influences, will by any inconsiderate, and mean compliance, gratifie the evil mindes of unreasonable men, in order to compass the Devils most Antichristian designs; who seeks by such devices, first to de­ceive you, next to destroy, and damn, both you and your posterity: YourBlasphemiae proximum est Christiani silen­tium, ubi Chri­sti causa agitur, & negligitur; quam filend [...] aquè prodimus ac Judas salu­tando, aut Pe­trus abnegando. Jeron. silence or reservedness, in such a cause, and at such a time, as this, will be your sin; as it would have been mine: How much more, if you use not your uttermost endeavors, in all fair and Christian ways, to stop this Stygian stream; but most of all, if you contribute any thing of that power you have, whereby to carry on this poysonous and soul-destroying torrent. Words are never more due, than in [Page 42] Christs behalf, who is the Incarnate Word; and for his Ministers, who are the Preachers of that Word.

22. The sense of the best Christians, as to the Ministers case. 2 Sam. 19.30.Non is this my private sense and horror alone, but I know you (O excellent Christians (who are (truly) men of pious and publick; not of proud, or pragmatick spirits,) cannot but daily perceive, That it is the general fear and grief of honest and truly reformed Christians, in this Nation; Who with one mouth are ready to say to those in place and power, as Abraham did to the King of Sodom, or Mephi­bosheth to David; Let those cunning, cruel, and covetous Zibas (whose treacherous practises, and ingrateful calumnies, seek to de­prive us of our Houses, Goods, Lands, and Liberties,) let them take all, so as our David, the beloved of our souls, our Christ, our true Religion, our glory, our true Ministers and Ministry, may be safe; Let others take the spoils and booties of our labors, Gen. 14.21. onely give us the souls of our selves, and our posterity, for a prey; which are like to perish for ever, unless you leave us those holy means, and that sacred Ministry, which the wisdom and authority of Christ onely could (as he hath) appoint; which the Churches of Christ have always enjoyed, and faithfully transmitted to us for the saving of our sinful souls. This request, the very Turks unasked, do yet grant in some degree to the poor Christians; who live under their dominion.

And if it may seem to be our error and fondness, thus to prise our true and faithful Ministers, Illos nimis di­ligere non possu­mus Christiani, quorum Mini­sterio & Deum diligimus, & à Deo diligimur. Cypr. and that onely divine Authority, which is in their Ministry; yet vouchsafe to indulge us in the midst of so many epidemical errors, this one pious error, and grateful fondness; which not custom and tradition, but conscience and true judgement have fixed in us; since we esteem, nextƲnicus est modus diligendi Deum nescire modum. Aug. God, and our blessed Sa­viour, and the holy Scriptures, the true Ministry of the Church, as that holy necessary ordinance which the divine wisdom and mercy, hath appointed, whereby to bring us to the saving knowledge of God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, by the Scriptures; That, as we ow to our parents, under God, our Natural and Sinful Being (whom yet we are bid to honor;) so our Christian, Mystical, and Spiritual Be­ing,1 Cor. 4.15. Though you have ten thou­sand teachers in Christ, yet you have not many fathers; For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel. we ow to our true Ministers, as our holy and spiritual Fa­thers; by whose care we have been truly taught, and duly Baptized, with divine Authority, in the Name of the blessed Trinity; both in­structed, and sacramentally confirmed in that faith, which is the onely true way of eternal life.

By their study, pains, love, and diligence (when we would have been otherwise willingly ignorant, and wholly negligent of our souls good) our darkness (by Gods grace and blessing on their labors (chiefly) hath been dispelled; our ignorance enlightned; our dead­ness enlivened; our enmity against God, and our Neighbor, removed; our hardness softned; our consciences purged; our lusts mortified; [Page 43] our lives, (as to an holy purpose, prayer, and endeavor) reformed; our terrors scattered; our ghostly enemies vanquished; our peace and comforts obtained; our souls raised and sealed to a blessed hope of eter­nal life, through the mercies of God, and the merits of our Redeemer; whose Embassadors, our true Ministers are [...]. And indeed, we have no greater sign, or surer evidence of our faith in Christ, and love unfeign­ed to God, than this, That we love and reverence those, and their calling, as men who onely have authority in Chriss name to admi­nister holy things to us.

And however others (who have lately sought to come in,23. Of Pra [...]end­ers to the Ministery. not inSeducunt è via incautos viatores, ut se­curius ipsos per­dant lenocinan­tès lairenes. Greg. by the door, but ever the wall; who seek also likeJohn 10.8. All that came before me, (i. e. as Messias, or Christ) are theeves and robbers. John 10.1. He that enter­eth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth some other way, is a thief and a robber. Vers. 7. I am the door of the sheep. We can neither come to be of the sheep of Christ, but by faith in him; nor shepherds of those sheep, but by that door of authority, which Christ hath set open in the Church by Ordination. Bishop Downam Serm. theeves and robbers to lead us plainer people out of the right way, that they may the better rob and spoil us,) pretend they are so rarely gifted, that they will teach us the same, or higher truths; and administer the same holy things in a new and more excellent way, than ever the best ordained Ministers of this Church have done: Yet truly, (saving the confident boasting of these new masters) we could never, hitherto, discern in any of them, either by their much speech, or writing (with which they may make a great sound, and yet be very empty) any such sufficiencies as they lift every where so much to boast of: Much­less have they ever produced any shew of Scriptural power, Divine authority, Mission from Christ, or footstep of Apostolical succession in the Church; in which, every one that can speak tollerably, we cannot think is presently sent of God, for a publick Minister of holy things; no more than every well-spoken Traveller, or diligent Factor, or Carrier, is a Publick Agent, Herauld, or Embassador to any Prince, or State, or City; although they may know their Princes, Masters, or Neighbors minde, in many things. We know it is not, what waters men fancy, but what God appointeth, which will cure the blinde or leprous.

And we finde by daily sad experience, that they, whose pride or peevishness forsakes, or scorns to use the waters of Jordan (the means which Christ hath instituted, and the Ministers, which by his Church he hath ordained) do commonly get noSacra mysteria non vi naturalī, sed voluntate dei supernatu­rali perficiun­tur. August. In sac [...], sine mandato Divino vel maxima virtus deficit; cum illo vel minima valescit. Jeron. more good by their padling, 2 Kings 5.12. or dipping in other streams, (which they fancy better) than Naaman would have done if he had gone to his so much extolled Rivers of Damascus, and had forsaken Jordan: They may a little wash over, and for a while seem to hide mens leprosies of Ignorance, Error, Pride, Levity, Schism, Licentiousness, and Apostacy, but they cannot heal [Page 44] them; yea, rather they provoke the itch of novelty, and increase the leprous scurff of obstinacy; by which men refuse to be healed, and glory in their despising, and conquering all remedies:Levit. 10.1. They offered strange fire before the Lord. V. 2. And there went out fire from the Lord and de­voured them. Strange fires we know (of old) would burn, as well as holy, in a natural force; but it was neither acceptable, nor safe to be used in the solemn service of God; nor did it consume the sacrifice so much, asIllorum temeritas irâ divinâ meritò castigatur, quorum autoritas sacro ordi [...]e non con­secratur. August. kindle the wrath of God, to blast and destroy the presumptuous offerers: How­ever, good men might use it lawfully in their private hearths and houses, yet not at the Publick Tutus est in privatis aedibus pietatis & charitatis ignis; quô nec rite nec tutò in pub­licis Dei officiis uti possumus, quia non sine peccato, & ideo non sine peccato, quia sine Dei mandato. Zanch. Altars, or in the Temple.

So that indeed we cannot hope, that those whom the Lord hath not sent by his authority (which hath been commited to, and derived always by the hands of the Governors and Pastors of his Church) either can, or will take care to guide, or keep us and our children, in that true, Rom. 12.2. [...]. holy, and good way of reasonable and acceptable serving God; since themselves are (for the most part) such unreasonable per­sons; of so silly, blinde, weak, wandring, vain, and various spirits; abounding in nothing so much, as in their ignorance, pride, confidence of themselves, and contempt of others: And what they pretend to do, as to any holy Ministrations, is not, as of any duty, consci­ence,1 Cor. 9.16. Va negligenti officium, quod debuit, & arro­ganti, quod non debuit. Bern. necessity, (as St. Paul, (who applies that) Wo to me if I preach not the Gospel, &c.) but meerly, as of courtesie; as arbitrary and spontaneous; as of novelty and curiosity, when, where, what, how, and as far, as their own sudden fits, humors, and interests; or others flatteries and vulgar applauses move them; while the novelty, curi­osity, and admiration of these mens boldness, more than of their rare gifts, 2 Tim. 4.3. They will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they keap up to themselves Teachers, ha­ving itching ears. works upon the itching ears, not the humble hearts of their gaping, or giddy hearers.

Such Ivy and Country Garlands, as these men hang out in their private Cells and Conventicles; or in their more Publick Fairs and Taverns; are no temptations to us, to think their unseasoned new bottles; or their flatuous and unrefined Wines, (which have fumed so much into their own, and their auditors weak heads, that many of them every where reel and stagger, and vomit out their own shame, and wallow in their filthiness, like drunken men) are any way compara­ble to our old bottels, Matth. 9.17. Vetus vinum mulso longè de­faecatius; & gustu suavius, & spi [...]itu lenius, & aetate moll [...]us, & sanitate salubrius, & cerebrum minus movet, & co [...] magis reficit, Greg. and veterane Wines; which are found, sweet, well-refined, and full of spirits. Nor will these new patches of gifted, but unordained Preachers, ever be suitable with, or comparable to our good old Garments Matth. 9.16. Ecclesiae vestem (ordinem scilicet & decoram politiam) & deforminovitate lace­rant, & [...]urpiter lacerando magis deformant novatores. Prideaux., the learned, ordained, and true Ministers, either [Page 45] for durableness, comliness, or comfort; being heavier in the Summer of prosperity, and colder in the Winter of adversity. So that they are rather a shame, an oppression, and deformity to us, to our re­formed Christian Religion, and to our Church, and Nation; as if we had chose, rather to be clothed with a ridiculous pybald fools-coat, or a beggars cloak, checquered with infinite rents and patches, than with that holy and comly Garment of order and unity which Christ left to his Church and Ministers (like his own) without any rent or seam: That is, An uniform, compleat, constant way, John 19.23. Qualis Christi vestis inconsu [...]i­lis, inconsissa, talis esse debet ecclesiae constant ord [...] & politia uniformis. August. and order of holy Ministerial power, derived in a right and successive Ordination: These new short jumps of unordained Teachers, are to the Churches and Religion's proportions, like the coats of Davids Messengers, 2 Sam. 10.4. when they had been shamefully and spightfully treated by ungrateful Hanun; exposing indeed our Nation, and our Religion, to allQuantum deest autoritati, tantum adest pudori, aut in­verecundi [...]; Nihil enim impudentius, quàm injussum muneri, aut officio cuicunque sese immittere. Gerard. reproach and scorn; when all round about us shall see such feeble and uncomly parts, as indeed these gifted men, for the most part, are, in the body of our Church, thus discovered, which were far better concealed and hidden.

Yea,24. Boldness of unordeined Teachers. Num. 22.28. although they may (with truth) in somethings justly tax and reprove, some failings, or faults in some, yea, all our Ministers; yet we do not think presently they are to intrude into their places, and Ministry; no more than Balaam's Ass might presume to become, presently, a Prophet; because it sometimes spake and reproved its masters madness. 2 Pet. 2.16. Nor do we see any reason, that men should wait upon the lips of such animals for Instruction, who cannot justifie their speaking without a miracle; no more indeed, than these new Teachers can their chalenging the publick place, and constant office of Christs Ministers, to which they have no ordinary Call or Mission.

Indeed we have rather cause, greatly to suspect these intruders, as for many other things, so for their boldness and forwardness: Since, such as have been ablest for that great service, So Moses, Isai­ah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. have always beenSt. Jerome tells of Nepo­sianus: Eò dig­nior quo se cla­mabat indig­num, fugiebat, dum populus quarebat; Humilitate sa­perabat invidiam. Ep. ad Heliod. So Socrates of Ammenius, when he was sought to be made a Pastor of the Church. Lib. 6. c. 30. modestly slow, and humbly reserved: That these mens undesired promptitude is like that malicious readiness of Satan, who, uncall'd, presents himself among the sons of God Job 1.6. & 2.1. 2 Cor. 11.13.; so are the ministers of Satan most prone to transform themselves by their hypocrisies, into angels of light; in order to advance hellish darkness, and damnable doctrines. And the times are much injured by reports, if it be not in some de­gree true, That many of these Mushroom Ministers, the most for­ward Teachers of this new race and mechanick extraction, are such [Page 46] persons in disguises of vulgar plainness, Nunquam peri­culosi es fallit t [...]neb [...]arum & mendaciorum pater, quàm cùm sub lucis & veritatis specit delitescit. Jeron. and simplicity, who have had both their learning and their errand from the vigilant Seminaries be­yond Sea: Out of which Galliles can come little good to our Re­formed Church and Nation. Satan is not less a Devil, when he will seem a Doctor; nor more a dangerous tempter, than when he would appear a zealous teacher. Whence soever they are, sure we are, That many of these, who are so suddenly started up into Pulpits, are not ashamed to vent by word and writings, such transcendent blasphe­mies; That they teach whatever they think or say, of the Majesty of God, of Christ, of the holy Spirit, of the Divine Nature, though never so irreverent, profane, and ridiculous; yet it is no blasphemy, but sublimity; So Irenaeus, l. 1. Tertul. de prae. ad Hae. Austin. de haer. & de unitate Eccles. c. 16. Tells us of the Partantil [...]quia Haeraticorum. Vid. p. 204. no profaneness, but getting above, and out of all fornis; Whatever they contradict of the clear literal sense, and ra­tional scope of the Scriptures, though it seem, and be never so gross a lie and error, in the common significancy of the words, yet it is a truth in the spirit; Whatever they act, never so disorderly, brutish, horrid, obscene and abominable, yet it is no sin, but a liberty, which God, and Christ, and the Spirit exercise in them, who cannot sin.

Nor is this the least cause we have to suspect, beware of, and abhor these new Modellers and Levellers of the Ministry; That, how different soever their faces and factions are, one from another, (though they go one East, and the other West; whether they sepa­rate, or rank, or seek, or shake,) yet still they meet in this one point, No Ordination, no Function, or peculiar Calling of the Ministry: The Serpents tail meets with his head, that he may surround truth with a circle of malice;In hoc unifor­mes esse solent errantium de­formitates, quod rectè sentientes odi [...] habent. August. As Herod and Pilate, they agree to crucifie Christ; as Samsons Foxes, though their wily-heads look several ways, yet their filthy tails carry common fire-brands; not onely to set on fire the sometime well-fill'd and fruitful Field of this Church; but also to consume the very laborers and husbandmen. Their eyes and hands are generally bent against the best and ablest Ministers; and their spirits most bitterly inconsistent, with that holy Ministry, which Christ once delivered, by the Apostles, to the Church; and which, by the fidelity of his Church, hath been derived to us; of which, we and all the true Churches of Christ, have in all ages had so great, and good experience; which no malice of devils, or per­sonal infirmities of men, have been hitherto able so to hinder, as wholly to interrupt; much less so to corrupt it, that it should be, either just, or any way necessary to abolish it, according to those tragical clamors, and tyrannick purposes of some unworthy men; whose malice and cruelty, Esther 5.9. (as our modern Hamans) doth hope, and daily with eagerness expect, when the whole Function and Calling (which is from God, though by man) of the ordained and authori­tative [Page 47] Ministry (which hath succeeded the Apostles to our days) shall be trussed up that fifty footed Gallows, which malicious and un­grateful envy, or sacrilegious covetousness, or vulgar ambition, or Jesuitick policies, hath erected for the whole Nation of the antient and true Ministers; And all this, because (like Mordecai) they will not; nor in any Reason, Law, and Religion, can bow down, or pay any respect (such as the pride and vanity of some men expect) to those high and self-exalting gifts; whereto their Antiministerial adversaries pretend; and which they seek to cry up in their meetings and scriblings; with which they say, (and onely say) They are di­vinely called, and more immediately inspired, not onely above their fellows and brethren (who are still modestly exercised in their first mechanick occupations) but even above those, that are much their betters, every way; and, who merit to have been, (and possibly have been to many of them) as Fathers in Religion; by whose pains and care, with Gods blessing, the true Christian Religion in all ages hath been planted, propagated, and preserved, or (where need was) reformed, and restored to its essential lustre and primitive dignity.

So that the cruel contrivances and desperate agitations,25. Sober mans greatest sense. Revel. 12.4. carried on by some men against the true Ministers and Ministry in this Church, (like the looks of the great red Dragon, upon the Woman of the Revelation) have a most dire and dreadful aspect; not onely up­on all good learning and civility, but also upon all true Religion, both as Christian, and as Reformed. Threatning at once to devour the very life, soul, beauty, honor, [...]oy, and blessing of this Nation; on which we may well write Ickabob, 1 Sam. 4.21. the glory is departed from our Israel; so soon as the fury of these men hath broke the hearts and necks of our Elies, the Evangelical Priests of the Lord, the true Ministers of Christ, who are as the chariots and horsmen of our Israel.

Civil changes and secular oppressions have their limits, confined within the bounds of things mortal and momentary, with which, a­wise and well setled Christian is neither much pleased nor displeased,Quadratus cùm sit vir bonus ad omnem fortuna jactum aqua­bilis est & sibi constans. Sen. Tanto satius est esse Christianum quàm hominem, quanto praestat non omnino esse hominem quàm non & esse Chri­stianum. Bern. because not much concerned, nor long: (For no wind from the four corners of the Earth, can blow so cross to a good mans sails, but he knows how to steer a steddy course to Heaven, according to the com­pass of a good Conscience.) But what relates to our souls eternal wel­fare, to the inestimable blessing of present times and posterity; What more concerns us in point of being true Christians, (that is rightly instructed, duly baptized, and confirmed in an holy way) than any thing of riches, peace, honor, liberty, or the very being men can do; (for without being true Christians, it had been good for us, we had never been men;) what evidently portends, and loudly proclaims [Page 48] Darkness, Error, Atheism, Barbarity, Profaneness, or all kinde of An­tichristian tyrannies and superstitions, to come upon us and our chil­dren; instead of that saving truth, sweet order, and blessed peace; instead of those unspeakable comforts, and holy privileges, which we formerly enjoyed, from the excellency of the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, declared to us by the labors of our true and faith­ful Ministers: We hope it can offend no good Christians to see us, more piously passionate,Sancta & lau­dabilis est in re­ligionis nego [...]io impatientia. Jeron. Judges 18.24. and more commendably impatient against those who seek to deprive us of all those divine blessings, than Micah was against those, who stole away his gods, and his Priests; in as much as our true God, and true Saviour, and true Ministers, infinite­ly exceed his Teraphins, his Ephod, his Vagrant, and idolatrous Le­vite, who yet was as a father to him: Who can wonder! if we, or any other, who have any bowels of true Christians, or tenderness of Consci­ence for our Reformed Religion, 1 Kings 3.26. Viscera genui­nam matiem in­dicant: Ex vero dolore verus amor dig­noscitur. Ficti­tius & [...]er etri­cius animus fa­cilè patitur in­fantem dividi. Greg. Jude 1. 2 Cor. 4.7. do (as the true Mother did) passi­onately yern within themselves, and earnestly cry to others, lest by the seeming liberty of every ones exercising his gifts, in Preaching and Prophecying, their eyes should behold the true and living childe of Re­ligion reformed, cruelly murthered and destroyed, under pretence of equable dividing it; to gratifie thereby the cunning designs of an impudent and cruel Harlot. It is the least, that we as true Protestants in this Church of England can do, earnestly by prayers to contend with God and man, for the faith once delivered to the Saints; that we may neither craftily be cheated, nor violently robbed, of that onely hea­venly treasure of our souls; nor of those earthen vessels, which the Lord hath chosen and appointed, both to preserve it, and dispence it to us; namely, the truly ordained and authoritative Ministers; the original of whose office and power, as of all Evangelical Institutions, is from our Lord Jesus Christ, and not from the will of man, in any wanton, arbitrary, and irreligious way.

26. Who are the Antimini­sterial ad­versaries most, and why.Thus then may your Virtuous Excellencies easily perceive, That it is not as mine, or my Brethren, the Ministers, private sense alone, but it is as the publick eccho of that united voice, which with sad complaint and doleful sound, is ready to come from all the holy hills of Zion; from every corner of the City of God in our Land; through the prayers and tears, sighs and groans, of those many thousands judicious and gracious Christians, who are as the remnant that yet hath escaped, the blaspemies, extravagancies, seductions, pollutions, and confusions of the present world; occasioned by those, who nei­ther fearing God, nor reverencing man, seem to have set up the de­sign and trade of mocking both. [...]uci nimi [...]um adversantur m [...]ritò, qui tene­b [...]arum opera operantur. Aug. None bear the true Ministry with less patience than they, whose deeds will least endure the touch-stone of Gods Word: Whose violent projects against this Church and State, (being wholly inconsistent with any rules of righteousness and god­liness) [Page 49] makes them most impatient to be any way censured, crossed, or restrained, by those precepts and paterns of justice and holiness, which the true Ministers still hold forth out of Gods Word, to their great reproach and regret; no more able to bear that freedom of truth, than the old world could bear Noahs, or Sodom Lots preaching of righteousness. To these mens assistance comes in (by way of cla­moring or petitioning, or writing scandalously against the Ministers, and Ministry of this Church) all those sorts of men, whose licentious indifferency, profane ignorance, and Atheistical malice, hath yet never tasted, and so never valued the blessings of the learned la­bors and holy lives of good Ministers; both these sorts are further seconded by that sordid and self-deceiving covetousness, which is in the earthy and illiberal hearts of many seeming Protestants; who either ingratefully grudg to impart any of their temporal good things to those of whose spirituals they partake; Rom. 15.27. 1 Cor. 9.11. or else they are always sacrilegiously gaping to devour those remains of Bread and water, which are yet left, as a constant maintenance to sustain the Prophets of the Lord in the Land.

And lastly, not the least evil influence falls upon the Ministers and Ministry of this Reformed Church, by the cunning activity of those pragmatick Papists, and Jesuitical Politicians, (for all of the Roman Profession are not such) who make all possible advantages of our civil troubles, and study to fit us for their sumation, and a re­covery to their party, by helping thus to cast us into a Chaos, and ruinous heaps, as to any setled Order and Religion: The most ef­fectual way to which, they know is, To raise up rivals against, to bring vulgar scorn and factious contempt upon, to foment any scan­dalous petitions against Ministers, and the whole support of the Mi­nistry, that so they may deprive that function, of all the constant maintenance, and those immunities, which it hath so long and peace­ably enjoyned, by the Laws, (which are, or ought to be, as the re­sults of free and publick consent, so the great preservers of all estales in this Land.) Thus by starving, they doubt not, speedily to destroy the holy function, divine authority, and due succession of all true re­formed Ministry in England; Solicitously inducing all such deformities, as are most destitute of all sober and true grounds, either of Law, Rea­son, Scripture, or Catholike practise in the Church of Christ; Thus shortly hoping, that from our Quails and Manna of the Learned and Reformed Ministry, and true Christian Religion, we may be brought back again to the Garlick and Onyons of Egypt, to praying to Saints, to worshipping of God, in, or by, or through Images, to such implicite Faith and Devotion, to trust in Indulgences, to the use of burthen­ed, or maimed Sacraments, to those Papal Errors, Superstitions, and Ʋsurpations, which neither we, nor our Forefathers, of later [Page 50] ages have tasted of; which, however somewhat better dressed and cooked (now) than they were in grosser times; yet still they are thought (and most justly) both unsavory and unwholsome, to those serious and sounder Christians, who have more accurate palates, and more reformed stomachs:Si canonicarum Scripturarum autoritate quid­quam firmatur, sine ulla dubi­tatione creden­dum est: Aliis verò testibus ti­bi credere vel non credere lice­at. August. ep. c. 12. Hoc prius credi­mus, non esse ultra Scripturas quod credere debeamus. Tertul. de prae. ad Hae. l. 3. Sacris Scripturis non loquentibus quid loquetur? Ambr. voc. Gen. l. 2. With whose judgements and consciences, nothing will relish, or down, as to doctrine, and rule of Faith, or Sacramental Administrations, and duties in Religion, which hath not Scripture for its ground; to which, no doubt, the primitive and purest Antiquity did consent: To whose holy rule and patern, this Church of England in its restitution or reformation of Religion, did most exactly, and with greatest deliberation, seek to conform both its Ministry and holy Ministrations, using liberties or latitudes of pru­dence, order, and decency, no further, than it thought might best tend to the edification and well-governing of the Church, 1 Cor. 14.40. Wherein it had (as all particular National Churches have) an allowance from God, both in Scripture, and in Reason.

27. Things of Religion ought first and most to be considered by Christian Rulers.But, as if nothing had been reformed and setled with any wis­dom, judgement, piety, or conscience in this Church, nor hitherto so carried on by any of the true and ordained Ministers of it; infinite calumnies, injuries, and indignities, are daily cast upon the whole Church, and the best Ministers of it: The cry whereof (no doubt) as it hath filled the Land, so, it hath reached up to Heaven, and is come up to the ears of the most high God.

And therefore, I hope, it will not seem rude, unseasonable, or importune to any excellent persons of what piety or power soever, if it now presseth into their presence; who ought to remember, that they are but as Bees in the same Hive; as Ants on the same Mole-hill; and as Worms in the same clods of Earth, with other poor inferior Christians, whom they have far surmounted in civil and secular re­spects. The swarms and crowds of worldly counsels and designs, we hope, have not (as they ought not) overlaid or smothered all thoughts, care, and conscience of preserving, restoring, and establish­ing, truth, good order, and peace, in matters of Religion: Which are never by those publick persons, who pretend to any thing of true Christianity, to be so far despised and neglected, that those above all other matters of publick concernment, should be left, like scattered sheaves, to the wastings and tramplings upon by the feet of the Beasts of the people;Meritò à Deo negliguntur quires Dei secula­ribus post ponunt negotiis. Cypr. [...]. Primum quod sanctum. Plat. Matth. 6.31. Hag. 1.4. Is it time for you to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste. V. 5. Now therefore, saith the Lord of hosts, consider your ways. [...]. Arat. Phainom. ungathered and unbound by any civil san­ction and power, agreeable to holy order, divine method, Christian charity and prudence. Possibly it had fared better with all estates in this Church and State, if they had learned and followed, that [Page 51] divine direction, and grand principle in Christian politicks, First seek the Kingdom of Heaven, and the righteousness thereof, and all these things shall be added to you: The neglect of Gods house, (the Church) and its beauty, holy order, and ministry, hath been a great cause of overthrowing so many seiled houses, which were covered with Cedar, and decked with Vermilion and Gold.

Certainly no men employed in publick power or counsel, have any business of so great concernment, or of so urging and crying necessity as this, The preservation of the true Evangelical Ministry, in its due power and authority; Upon which, without any dispute among sober and truly-wise men, the very life, being, weight, honor, and succession of our Religion doth depend, both as Christian, and as reformed: For it is not to be expected, that the ignorant prating, and confident boasting of any other voluntiers, will ever soberly a­dorn, or solidly maintain our Religion, which hath so many very elo­quent, learned, and subtile enemies, besides the rude and profaner rabble, besieging it; both learned and unlearned oppose true Religi­on, as the right and left-hand of the Devil; the one out of ignorance, the other out of crookedness; the one as dark, the other as depraved; the one cannot endure its light, nor the other its straitness. Against neither of them can these afford help,Anserum clan­gere crepitu (que) alarum excitus Manlius capito­lium propugnat, Gallos detur­bat, &c. Livi. Dec. 1. l. 5. any more than the confused cackling of a company of Geese, could have defended the Roman Capitol: Which noise is indeed, but an alarm to sober and good Pro­testants, intimating the approach or assault of enemies; and should excite the vigilancy and valor of all worthy Magistrates, conscien­tious Soldiers, and wise Christians of this Reformed Church, to re­sist the invading danger; as by other fit means, so chiefly by esta­blishing and incouraging a succession of learned, godly, and faithful Ministers.

Nor in any reason of State, or of Conscience, should those who exercise Magistratick power in this Church and State, so far neglect him, who is Higher then the highest Eccles. 5.8. He that is higher than the highest, re­gardeth; and there be high­er than they. John 19.11 Thou couldst have no power, except it were given thee from above. Christ to Pilat 1 Cor. 12.1. 1 Pet. 4.10. Stewards of the manifold grace of God. Luke 1.16.; by whom all power is dis­penced; or so far gratifie the irreligious rudeness, the boisterous igno­rance, and violent profaneness of any, (who are but Gods executi­oners, the instruments of his wrath, and ministers of his vengeance;) as for their sakes, and at their importunity, to despise and oppress those who are by Christ and his Church appointed to be Ministers of Gods grace, and conveyers of his mercy to men: The meanest of whom, (that do indeed come in his name) the proudest mortal may not safely injure or despise; because not without sin and reproach to Christ and God himself. For he that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me, and him that sent me; is signally and distinctly spoken in favor to true Ministers, and for terror to those that are prone to offer insolency to their worldly [Page 52] weakness, and meanness. Such as despise and oppose the Ministers of Christ, are more rebellious than the devils were; for of these, the seventy returning testifie, Luke 10.17. Lord, even the devils are sub­ject to us in thy Name.

If then we have immortal souls (which some mockers now question,) sure they are infinitely to be preferred before our carkases; and the instruments which God hath appointed,1 Cor. 1.21. It pleased God by the foolish­ness of preach­ing, to save them that be­lieve. as means to save them, are proportionably to be esteemed beyond any, that are oft the destroyers, at best, but the preservers of mens bodies, and outward estates.

Who can dissemble, or deny, That the banks of equity, piety, modesty, and charity, yea, of common humanity, are already by some men much demolished, through the pride, presumption, insolence, scur­rility, and profaneness of some spirits, who are set against the Reform­ed Religion, the Ministers and Ministry of this Church? Who sees with honest and impartial eyes, and deplores not, to behold; how the deluge of Ignorance, Atheism, Profaneness, and Sottishness; also of damnable Errors, devilish Doctrines, and Popish Superstitions; together with Schismatical fury, and turbulent Factions, are much pre­vailed (of later years) both in Cities and Countreys here in England: And this,Gaudet in malis nostris diabolus, latatur in mise­riis, dilatatur augustiis, de­lectatur angori­bus, triumphat ruinis. Bern. since men of Antiministerial tempers, have studied to act the Devils Comedy, and this Churches Tragedy; endeavoring to render, not onely the able, godly, and painful Ministers, but the whole Ministry it self, and all holy Ministrations (rightly performed by its Authority) despised, invalid, decryed, and discountenanced: In many places affronting some, vexing and oppressing others, menacing all every where, with total extirpations: For, they who pretend to have any man a Minister that lists, intend to have none, such as should be; (As they that would have every man a Master or Magi­strate, mean to have none, in a Family or State;) but onely, by specious shadows of New Teachers and Prophets, they hope to de­prive us of those substances, both of true reformed Religion, and the true Ministry; which we and our Forefathers have so long happily enjoyed, and which we ow to our posterity.

28. The great and urgent causes of complaint.Nor is this a feigned calumny, or fictitious grief, and out-cry: Your piety (O excellent Christians) knows, That the spirits of too many men, are so desperately bent upon this design against the Fun­ction of the Ministry; that they not onely breathe out threatnings against all of this way (the duly ordained Ministers;) but daily do (as much as in them lies) make havock of them; and in them, of all good maners and reformed Religion; while so many people, and whole Parishes are void and desolate of any true Minister, residing among them: I leave it to the judgements and consciences of all good Christians to consider, how acceptable such projects and [Page 53] practises will be to any sober and moralized professor; to any graci­ous and true Christian; to any reformed Church, or to Christ, (the Institutor of an authoritative and successional Ministry) or, last of all, to God, whose mercy hath eminently blessed this Church and Nation, in this particular, of able and excellent Ministers; so that they have not been behinde any Church under Heaven; That so exploded Speech then, Stupor mundi clerus Anglicanus, The Mini­sters of England were the admiration of the Reformed World, had no [...] more in it of crack and boasting, than of sober Truth, if rightly considered; onely it had better become (perhaps) any mans mouth, than a Ministers of this Church, to have said it; and any others, than believers of this Church, to have contradicted and sleighted it: Since to the English Ministers eminency, in all kinde, so many forein Churches, and Learned Men, have willingly subscribed; as to Preaching, Praying, Writing, Disputing, and Living.

On the other side, How welcome the disgrace of the Ministry will be to all the enemies of Gods truth, of the Reformed Religion, and of all good order in this Church and State, it is easie to judge, by the great contentment, the ample flatterings, the unfeigned gloryings, the large and serious triumphings, which all those that were here­tofore professed enemies to this Church and our Reformed Religion, (either such as are factious and politick Factors for another Supre­macy and Power; or such as carry deep brands of Schism and Here­sie on their foreheads; or such as are professedly Atheists, profane, idle, and dissolute mindes) discover, in this, That, they hope, they shall not be any more tormented by the prophecying of these witnesses, Revel. 11.10. They that dwell on the earth, shall rejoyce (over the dead, and unburied bo­dies of the witnesses) and make merry, because these two Prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. the true and faithful Ministers of the Church of England; Than whom, none of that order, in any of the late Reformed Churches, and scarce any of the Antients, have given more ample, clear, and constant testimony, to the glory of God, and the truth and purity of the Gospel, by their Writing, Preaching, Praying, Sufferings, and holy Examples, Living, and Dying; which I again repeat, and justi­fie against those, who swell with disdain, and are ready to burst with envy, against the real worth, and undeniable excellency of the Mini­sters of the Church of England.

All which makes me presume, That you (O excellent Christians) can neither be ignorant, nor unsatisfied in this point of the Evangeli­cal Ministry, both as to this, and all other Churches use, benefit, and necessity; as also, to the divine right of it, by Christs institution, the Apostles derivation, and the Catholike Churches observation, in all times and places; as to the main substance of the duties, the power, and authority of the Function; however, there may be in the succession of so many ages, some Variation, in some Circumstantials: The peculiar office, and special power, were seldom, (as I have said) [Page 52] [...] [Page 53] [...] [Page 52] [...] [Page 53] [...] [Page 54] if ever questioned, among any Christians, until of late; much less, so shaken, vilified, and traduced, as now it is by the ungrateful wan­tonness, and profane unworthiness of some; who, not by force of rea­son, or arguments of truth, but by forcible sophistries, armed cavil­ings, violent calumnies, and arrogant intrusions, have (like so many wilde Bores) sought to lay waste the Lords Vineyard; Pretending, That their brutish confidence is beyond the best dressers skill;Psal. 80.30. The Boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wilde Beast of the field doth de­vour it. Et atroces insi­diatores, & a­perti grassatores, Ecclesiam diva­stare conten­dunt, tam marte quàm arte. Aug. Matth. 9.38. Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his har­vest. Matth. 8.32. The whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the Sea, and perished in the waters. Im­mundi illi Minist [...]i, & inordinati Doctores, per ignorantiae, temeritatis, & superbiae praecipitia feruntur in ( [...]) profunditates Satanae (Apoc. 2.24.) in errotum, blasphemiarum, & confusionum omnium abyssum. Chemnit. that their irregular rootings are better than the carefullest diggings; that their rude croppings and tearings are beyond any orderly prunings, or wary weedings; that their sordid wallowings, and filthy confusions, are before any seasonable manurings; that there needs no skilful Hus­bandmen, or faithful Laborers of the Lords sending, the Churches ordaining, or the faithful peoples approving; where so many devout swine, and holy hogs, will take care to plant, water, dress, and propa­gate the Vine of the true Christian Reformed Religion; to which, the hearts of men are naturally no propitious soyl. Nor is the event, as to the happiness of this Church, and its Reformed Religion, to be expected other (without a miracle,) (if once those unordeined, un­clean, and untried spirits, be suffered to possess the Pulpits, and places of true and able Minishers) than such, as befel those forenamed cattel, when once Christ permitted the devils to enter into them: All truth, order, piety, peace, and purity of Religion, together with the Function of the Ministry, will be violently carried into, and choaked in the midst of the Sea, of most tempestuous errors, and bot­tomless confusions.

29. AbsurditiesThe impious absurdities, enormious bablings, and endless janglings, whereby some men endeavor to dishonor, and destroy the whole Fun­ction of the reformed and established Ministry in this Church; and to surrogate in their places, either Romish Agitators, or a ragged Re­giment of new and necessitous voluntiers, 1 King. 13.33. Jeroboam made of the lowest of the people, Priests; who­soever would he consecrated him, and he became one of the Priests. V. 34. And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, to cut it off and destroy it from the face of he earth. (whosoever lists, not to consecrate, but desecrate himself, by an execrable boldness; or else is elected and misordained by that zealous simplicity, schismatical fury, and popular madness after any novelty, which is ever, in any meaner sort of people.) These no doubt are sufficiently known to you, to­gether with those learned solutions, those sober, and to wise men, satisfactory answers, which have by many worthy Pens, both long since, and lately been made publick, both as to the calumnies of the [Page 55] adversaries, and the vindication of this Church, and its Ministry; Which is conform, not onely to our wise, excellent, and antient Laws; but to all right reason; common rules of order and policy; dictates of humane nature; practise of all Nations: Also, to the Precepts, Institutions, Paterns, and Customs of God, of Christ, of the Apostles, and of all the Churches; and ever was so esteemed and reverenced, until the sour and unsavory dregs of these perilous, last,2 Tim. 3.1. and worst times, came to be stirred and drawn forth: Wherein, under pretences of (I know not what) special calling, gifts, and privileges, (but really to advance other fruits, than those that use to grow from the Spirit of truth, peace, holiness, and order,) some men are resolved to ascend to that desperate height of impiety, which counts nothing a sin, a shame, or a confusion.

I shall not so far distrust the knowledge, memory, or consciences, 30. Ministers unheard, ought not to be condemn­ed. Quod rationi­bus non possunt fustibus sata­gunt; defici­entibus scriptu­ris succurrant gladii. Aug. de Circumcel. Lunam è calo quum non pos­sunt deducere, allatrant canes. Sen. of wise and worthy Christians; as to abuse their leisure, by a large, exact, and punctual disputing every one of those Particulars, Argu­ments, and Scriptures, which have been well and learnedly handled by others; who have put the heady rabble of their opponents, to so great disorders; as from Arguments, to threaten Arms; from shews of Reason, to flie to Passion; from sober Speaking, to bitter Railings, Scoffings, and Barkings at that Light, which they see is so much above them.

Onely I cannot but suggest in general, to all good men, That it seems, not to me onely, but to many, much wiser and better than my self, a very strange precipitancy, which no Christian wise Magistrates will permit, (more like tumultuary rashness, and schismatical violence, than either Christian zeal, or charitable calmness) That the whole Order and Function of the Ministry of the Gospel in this Reformed Church, so long owned by all good men, both at home and abroad; so long, and largely prospered here with the effects and seals of Gods grace upon it; so esteemed necessary to the very Being of any Church, and Christianity it self, by all sober and serious Christians; (For, there can be no true Church, where Christ is not; who pro­mised to be with his Ministers to the end of the World: So, that where no true Ministry is, there can be no presence of Christ, as to outward Ordinances, Matth. 28.20. which is spoken to those that were sent to Teach and Baptize, &c.) Lastly, This Calling so never opposed by any, but erroneous, seditious, licentious, or fanatick spirits of later times; That (I say) this antient, and holy Function, should without any solemn publick conference, impartial hearing, or fair consultation, even among Professors of Reformed Christianity, be at noon day, thus vilified, routed, and sought to be wholly outed; by persons, whose weavers beams, or rustick numbers, and clamorous crouds; not their reason, learning, piety, or virtue, renders them, [Page 56] either formidable, or any way considerable; further, than to be ob­jects of wiser, and better mens, pity, and charity, or fears, and re­straints.

Is it that there are no Ministers of the true and good old way, worthy to be heard, or comparable to those plebeian pieces, who by a most imprudent apostacy,Et osores & de­sertores sui or­dinis. Sulp. Sev. becoming haters and desertors of their former holy orders, and authority Ministerial, have taken a new Commission upon a popular account? Are none of the antient Mini­sters fit to be advised with, or credited in this matter, which concerns not themselves so much, as the publick good, both of Church and State? Are they all such friends to their own private interests (some poor living, it may be) as to have no love to God, to Christ, to the Truth, or to the Souls of men? Have they no learning, judgement, modesty, or conscience, comparable to those, who being parties, and enemies against them, hope to be their onely judges, and to condemn them? Is wisdom wholly perished from the wise, and understand­ing hidden from the prudent? Is Religion lost among the Learned; and onely now found among simple ideots? Or rather, are not the Antiministerial adversaries, so conscious to the true Ministers learn­ed piety, and their own impudent ignorance, that they are loth, and ashamed to bring the one or other, to a publick test and fair trial; resolving with the Circumcellions with more ease to drive them,Circumcelliones inter Donatistas furiostores, cùm [...], i. e. Continentes se vocitabant, jus fas (que) omne ever­tenies sacerdoti­bus & Mini­stris Catholicis vim inserebant, omnia ditipien­tes, &c. Calcem cum aceto in oculos piorum ingerebant. Vil. August. c. 9. 1 King. 18.21. than to dispute them out of the Church; aiming not to satisfie any by their reason, but to sacrifice all to their passion, if they can get power? Who doubts, but that if the learned and godly Ministers in this sometime so famous and flourishing Church of England, who seem now in the eyes of their enemies, (as if they had been taken by Pi­rates or Picarooms) onely fit to be so thrust under Hatches; not worthy to be spoken with, to appear, to be trusted or regarded, if they might have so much publick favor, (which they despair not of, and do humbly intreat) as by solemn tryal and dispute, to assert their Station and Function, against their adversaries, (as some have in private ways done,) Who doubts, (I say) but by Gods assistance, (whose mercy hath not, will not, ever forsake them) they would make the halting and ungrateful people of this Church, to see, whether the Lord or Baal be God? Whether (I say) the Primitive Order, and Divine Constitutions of Christ; (which have on them, the Seal of the Scripture, the Stamp of Authority, and carry with them all the beauties of holiness: For right reason, due order, decen­cy, peaceableness, and proportionableness, to the great ends of Christian Religion; together with their real usefulness, confirmed by the happy experience of the Primitive times, the purest Saints, the best Christi­ans, the constantest Confessors, holy Martys, and most flourishing Churches;) Whether (I say) these should continue in their place [Page 57] and power, wherein God hath set them, and out pious Predecessors have maintained them in this Church and Nation; or these yesterday-novelties, the politick whimseys, and Jesuitick inventions of some heady, but heartless-men, should usurp and prevail in this Church, after sixteen hundred years prescription against them; and which are already found to have in them (besides their novelty,) such empti­ness, flatness, vanity, disorder, deformity, and unproportionableness to the great end of right ordering Christian societies, of saving of souls, by edifying them in truth and love; Eph. 4.10, 11, 12, 13. that they have been al­ready productive of such dreadful effects, both in opinions and practi­ses, Mirabutur & ingemuit. [...]h [...] se tam citò fieri Arianum. Je­ròn. cont. Lu­cif. John 14.16. The Comfort­er, even the Spirit of Truth, he shall ab [...]de with you for ever. that they make the Protestant and Reformed Churches stand amased, to see any of their kinde bring forth such Monsters of Re­ligion, as seem rather the fruit of some Incubus, some soul and filthy spirits, deluding and oppressing this Reformed Church, than of that blessed and promised Spirit, whose power, whose rule, whose ser­vants, have always been the most exactly and constantly, holy, [...]ust, and pure. For any true Christians then, to allow and foster such prodigies of Protestant Religion, as some are bringing forth, seems no less preposterous, than if men should resolve, to put out their eyes, and to walk both blindfold and backwards; or to renverse the body by setting the feet above the head: Indeed it is putting the Reformed Religion to the Strapado, and crucifying Christ again, as they did Saint Peter, after a new posture, with his head down­wards; As if in kindness to any men, they should take away their souls, and make them move (like Puppets) by some little springs, wyars, and gimmers; or by the Sorcery of some Demoniack pos­session.

For want of the favor of such a publick tryal and vindication of the Ministry, 31. Therefore this Apology endeavors the Mini­sters defence. Gen. 41.14. Zach. 3.4. I have adventured to present to the view of all Ex­cellent Christians in this Church, this Apology; By which I have endeavored to take off from the Josephs and Josedecks of this Church, those prisons and filthy garments, wherewith some men have sought to deform them; and to wash off from their grave countenances, and angelike aspects, the chiefest of those scandals and aspersions, under which (for want of solid reasons, or just imputations against their persons and calling) by some mens unwashen hands, and foul mouths (whose restless spirits cast out nothing but dirt and mire against them) they are now so much disfigured to the world;Isai. 57. The wicked is as a troubled sea, when it cannot rest; whose waters cast up mire and dirt. Tertul. Apolog. 2 Cor. 10.10. His bodily presence is weak, and his speech contempti­ble; so the false apostles, the ministers of Satan, 2 Cor. 11.13. The deceitful workers reproach­ed St. Paul behinde his back. That so, odious disguises (as of old to the Christians) may render them less regarded, and more abhorred by vulgar people: This art of evil tongues, and pens, serving to colour, excuse, or justifie the injustice, [Page 58] cruelty, barbarity, unthankfulness, and irreligion of those; who seek first to bait them in the Theatre by all publick disgracings, and then to dispatch them.Veri criminis defectus falsis supplet calumni­is; & factis innocentes, ver­bis deturpat ma­titia. Sulpit. Docratistarum antesignanti B. Augustinum seductorem & ani marum deceptorem clamitabant; & ut lupum occidendum; & tale facinus perpetra [...]i remistionem peccatorum obventurum. Possid. vit. August. For against these Beasts (as Saint Paul sometime at Ephesus) whom no reason, learning, gravity, merit, parts, graces, or age doth tame or mitigate, the true Ministers of the Gospel, even in this Reformed Church of England, have now to contend, for their Calling, Liberties, and Livelihood; yea, for their lives too, if the Lord, by the favor and justice of those that have wisdom, courage, and piety, answerable to their places and power, do not rescue and protect them.

32. What Ministers I plead for. 2 Cor. 2.17. Not as many which corrupt the Word of God. 2 Cor. 11.13. Tit. 3.10. Nihil deformius est sacerdote claudicante; qui non aequis & rectis pedibus incedit in viis Domini. Greg. Plus destruit s [...]nistra pravae vi [...]ae, quàm a­struit dextra sanae doctrinae. Bern. Non confundant opera tua sermo­nem tuum. Proditores su [...] non praedica­tores Christi, quibus factis deficientibus vi [...]a crubescit. Jeron. ad Ne­pot. Nisi prae [...]es quod praedicas mendacium non Evangelium videbitur. Lact. Inst. lib. 3. cap. 16. Exemplum operis est sermo vivus & efficatissimus. Bern. U [...] sumenti cibum & non digerenti perniciosum est; ita docenti & non facienti, peccatum est. Id. Animata virtus est quae factis honestatur: Cada­verosa, qua verbis tantum macrescit. Leo. Mysterium Theologiae non ut olim Philosophiae, barba tuntum & pallio celebratur: Sed doctrinae sanitate & vitae sanctitate. Lact.If in any thing, as weak and sinful men, any of the true Mini­sters of this Church, are (indeed) liable to just reproaches, either of ignorance, or idleness, factiousness, sedition, any immorality, or scan­dalous living, (and what Church of Christ can hope to be absolutely clear, when even in Christs family, and the Apostles times, there was dross and chaff in the floor, by Judas, and Demas, Simon Magus, false Apostles, deceitful workers, Ministers of Satan, &c?) I am so far from excusing, or pleading for them (as to their personal errors and disorders) that I should be a most severe advocate against them, (if after two or three admonitions, they should be found incorri­gible.)

And this, upon the same ground, on which now I write this Apology; namely, in behalf of the honor of the Gospel, the dignity of the true Ministry, and the glory of the most sacred name of the Christians God, and Saviour; which, idle, evil, unable, and unfaith­ful Bishops, and Ministers, beyond all men, cause to be blasphemed; when they pull down more with the left hand of profaneness, than they build with the right hand of their preaching; betraying Christ with their kisses, and smiting the Christian Reformed Religion under the fift rib, when they seem with great respect to salute and embrace it. Confuting what they say, by what they do; and hardning mens hearts to an unbelief of that doctrine, which they contradict by the Solecism of their lives and maners; either rowling great stones upon the mouth of the Fountain; or poysoning the emanations of living waters; or perforating the mindes and consciences of their hearers, to such liberties and hypocrisies, that they retain no more of true Religion, and serious holiness, than sieves can do of water: As [Page 59] Salvian, lib. 4.Facta & verba sivi occinant: Ambr. de Bo. m. Verba vertas in opera. Jeron. ad Paulinum. Qua docrit Christus prae­ceptus, fi [...]avit exemplis. Chrysost. Facta ostende te possibilia do­c [...]re. Chrysost. Catholici in pro [...]ndo, h [...]etica in ope­rando. Bern. Salvian. l. 4. Gub. Scientia nostra nihil a­liud est quàm culpa; quod, lectione & card [...] novim [...], libi­dine & despe­ctione calcamus, &c. Ho [...]orius the Emperor is commended by Theodo­ret; for re­moving those from being Bishops and Presbyters, whose lives were not a­greeable to the dignity of their calling, and exactness of their duty. Theod. l. 5. c. 28. Non loquamur magna, sed vivamus. Cyp. de B [...]. Patien. Honor sablio [...] & vita de formis. Ambr. [...]. Nis. de Perf. [...]. S [...]crat. in Plato. Phile. [...]. Cl. Al. [...]. 215. Et quotidionae incursiones, & vastantia c [...]nscientiam facinora à sacerdote Christiano evilanda. Bern. [...] Mu'cae Dominus in Morch. Nehuchim. Ramham. Ambr. offic. l. 2. c. 2. &c. 12. & 17. [...]. Is. Pel. l. 2. Who observes out of Levit. 4. There is as great a sacrifice for the Priest, as for the whole people. Ebrierat in quovio vicium à sacerdote sacrilegium. Chrys. Praceptis Christi detrabit pondus sacerdotum levitas. Lact. Luke 6.46. Why call ye me Lord, and do not the things I say? de Gub. sometimes, complained of Preachers and Professors too in his time.

No, I beseech you to believe, That I am the most rigid exactor of all holy exactness from Ministers (of all degrees) beyond all other sorts of men; That they who are the Evangelical Priests to the Lord, should have no blemish from head to foot, Levit. 21.17, 18, 19. Neither defective in intellectuals, nor deformed in morals; sound in doctrine, sacred in deeds; the want of which, makes them, (as Eunuchs, Levit. 21.20.) forbidden to serve before the Lord; as un­fit for spiritual-generation. That they bear on their brests before God and all men, the Ʋrim and Thummim, Light and Perfection, Truth and Charity; in both Integrity. That none of this holy Ministration, be either incurably blinde, or incorrigibly lame; that they may be worthy to stand before God, as to their sincerity; before men, as to their unblamableness; and between both, as to their unfeigned fer­vent love, both of God and man. For I well know, That not onely gross offences in them, as in Eli's sons which made people to abhor the offerings of the Lord, 1 Sam. 1.17. must be avoided; but the very flies of common frailties, must be kept off from their sacrifices (as Abraham did the fowls of the air from his oblations, Gen. 15.11.) And as the Jews affirm, That natural flies were never seen on any sacrifices of the true God, or in his Temple; which infested all other Temples of the Beelzebuls, gods of flies. Ministers motes, as well as beams, must be kept out of the worlds eyes; which are prone to look with a more prying curiosity, and pitiful censoriousness, on Mi­nisters smaller infirmities, than on other mens grosser enormities: This being one of our happinesses, That being compassed about with many sinful frailties, which easily beset us, we have as many savore censurers; which may help to keep us in a greater exactness, both before God and man: In whose account, drunkenness and riot, which in all men, is a sin; in Ministers, is as sacrilege: Rash and vain oaths in them, are as so many perjuries: Any profaner levity in them, is as the blaspheming that God, whose Word they Preach, whose Name they invocate, whose holy Mysteries they celebrate: Their illiterateness, is barbarity and brutishness; their factiousness, and [Page 60] fury in secular motions, is such a madness of pride, and vain-glory, as possessed him, who in all things else very obscure, set the Tempe at Ephesus on fire;2 Tim. 1.15. Study to shew thy self a workman, that needs not to be ashamed. Non impudentem vult, ut non erubescat; sed diligentem ( [...]) ut non mereatur vere­cundari. Amb. 1 Tim. 4.15. [...]. Give thy self wholly to these things, that thy profiting may appear to all men; so 16. [...]. Quò longius aberrant, tò ve­hementius agi­tantur. August. that he might be remembred for something their laziness and negligence in their studies and preaching, is supine slothfulness, and sinful slovenliness; while they content themselves with any raw and extemporary hudlings; in which, is nothing of holy reasonings, and Scripture demonstrations, mightily convincing; nor of right method, duly disposing; nor yet of any grave and pa­thetick oratory, sweetly converting, and swasively applying; but onely a rudeness, and rambling next door to raving; which hath partly occasioned (indeed) so many new undertakers to preach; who, thinking some Ministers stocks of divinity quite broken and spent, by their so little trading and improving in any good learning, or solid preaching; have adventured to serve the Country credulity with their Pedlars packs, and small wares; not despairing to preach and pray, at that sorry rate, and affectated length, which they hear from some that go for Ministers; resolving (at worst) to colour and cover over those real defects of parts or studies, to which they can­not but be conscious, by excessive confidences, loud noises, immoderate prolixities, and theatrick shews of zealous activity; (even as Coun­try Fidlers are wont to do, when they play most out of tune,) A­busing the vulgar simplicity, with their bold, yet unharmonious melody.

What can be more fulsom and intollerable, even to the worst, as well as the best of Christians, than to see Clergimen study more the gain and pomp, than the life and power of godliness? To con­tent themselves, and delude others with the husk and shells of Re­ligion?Sicarii anima­rum. Naz. or. de Sacerd. [...]. Is. Pel. l. 2. [...]osi­men. profano Presbytero. What more unreasonable, than for Shepherds to starve, or tear and worry the flocks? For Physicians to infect their patients, by not healing themselves? for Builders to pull down the holy Fabrick of Truth and Charity? or to build with the untempered morter of Passion, Fancy, and Faction? For Embassadors, either through idle­ness to neglect, or through baseness to corrupt, or through cowardise not to dare to declare and assert the message, and honor of their So­vereign sender? which should with all courage, fidelity, and con­stancy, be discharged, even to utmost perils; so as to be ready with St. Paul, not onely to be bound for Christ, but to lay down his life also. Acts 20.

Ʋnicus rectoris lapsus per est totius populi fl [...]gitio. Chrys. Levit. 4.3, 14. The sacrifice for the sin of the Priest, is as much as for the sin of the whole Con­gregation.I know that in Ministers any spot of pride, levity, affectation, popularity, pragmaticalness, timorousness, or other undecencies, below a wise, holy, grave, constant temper, and carriage of a worthy minde, [Page 61] is a foul deformity, a putid futility, a pueril vanity, scarce a venial madness; so much the worse in them, by how much the contagion of their folly is prone to infect all that look upon them;Non solum ipse cùm malè agit dignè perit, sed & alios secum indignè perdit. Ambr. de Sa. dig. Praepositorum vitia imitari obsequii genus videtur ne sce­lera ductoribus ex probrare vi­derentur, si pie viverant. Lact. Inst. l. 5. for the plague and leprosie of a Ministers life, cannot be kept within his private walls. There is nothing more delicate and abhorring all sinful sords, than the Ermine of Christian Religion, and its true Ministry, which sets forth the Lamb of God, without spot or blemish, who came to take away the sinful stains of mens souls, by the effusion of his pre­tious blood. The care of all good Ministers, is so to live, as shall not need the impotent severities of those Reformers, who joy as much to finde faults in others, as to mend none in themselves, and are always eloquent against their own sins in other men. Allow us onely to be, as Ministers of the Gospel for the Churches good, we desire no in­dulgences, farther than the duty and dignity of our Calling doth al­low, and the strictest Conscience may bear: No men shall more welcome mens favors, than we shall do their just severities; nor do we desire greater testimonies of mens loves to us, than such, as we use for the greatest witness of ours to them; by never suffering them to sin, through our silence or flatteries. Let the righteous smite us, and it shall be a kindness; let them reprove us, and reform us, and it shall be a balm, which shall not break our heads;Psal. 141.5. but our prayer shall ever be, That we may not taste of the new dainties of those supercilious censurers, and envious reformers of Ministers; who are their enemies, because they tell them the old truths; and make them offenders for a word, Isai. 29.21. because they will not forbear to reprove their wickedness; who heretofore seemed to hear them gladly, till they touched their Herodiasses. Mark 6.20.

The less scandalous Ministers are, the more that Hypocritical generation (who have set themselves against them) are bent to destroy them: I intercede onely for such, whose greatest offence is,Eò acriores sunt odii causa quò magis iniquae. Tacit. An. 1. That they give lest offence to any good Christians, and do most good to this Church; preserving still the purity and honor of their Calling, and the Reformed Religion, against the many policies of those, who lie in wait to destroy it; who are honored with, and are an honor to the Function of the Ministry; whose competent, and (in some) ex­cellent learning, and holy lives, Eò gratiori lu­mine, quò spis­siores tenebrae. Tert. makes them still appear like bright stars in a dark and stormy night, amidst the thick and broken clouds of envy and calumny, which rove far beneath them; however they are sometime darkned by their interposing.

If, as to these mens holy Function, Ordination, and Authority, I may be happy to give you (O excellent Christians) or any others, any satisfaction; as a Calling useful, and necessary to the Church; as of Divine Institution, and Catholike practise in all setled Churches, I shall then leave it to any men of good conscience to infer, how [Page 62] barbarous and Antichristian a design it is; how bad and bitter con­sequences it must needs produce, by any arts and ways of human [...] power and policy, to destroy and exautorate these men, and their Ministry; in whose lives and labors, the glory of God, the honor of Jesus Christ, and the good of mens souls are so bound up, that the [...] cannot without daily miracles be separated, or severally preserved. And for the persons of the Ministers, which I plead for, I ho [...] to make it appear, That for their casting thus into the fiery furnace [...] mechanick scorn, and fanatick fury; or into the Lyons den of publick odium and disfavor, there will be found, by impartial Reader [...] of this Apology, Acts 4.18. Gal. 4.16. Am I there­fore become your enemy because I tell you the truth. no more cause, than was against Daniel, or the thre [...] children; no more than for beheading John Baptist, or stoning St. Stephen; for beating and imprisoning the Apostles, and charging them to speak no more in that Name of Jesus; or for the Galatians hating St. Paul, or the Beasts slaying the witnesses; or the Jews seeking to stone, and after crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ.

33. Ministers infirmities do not abro­gate their Authority or Office.Not, but that the very best Ministers of this Church own them­selves still to be but poor sinful men; and so not strangers to the common passions and infirmities of humane nature: Men must not be angry, that Ministers are not Angels, or such Seraphins and flaming fires, as admit no dross or defects, incident to sinful mortality: Though they oft fail, as men, yet have they not forfeited the Authority of their Calling as Ministers; though they have dispenced the Gospel in weakness, as earthen vessels, yet hath the Treasure of Heaven, and Power of God, been manifested by them, and in them: Take them with all their personal failings, yet they will hardly be match­ed, or exceeded by any order of men, or any Clergy in any Church under Heaven; for they have not been behinde the very chiefest of true Ministers; and far beyond any of these new pretenders; Inso­much, That I have oft been ashamed to see the necessity of this Apo­logy, Pro desensione samae licita est. laus proptia. Reg. Jac. 2 Cor. 12.11. and such like Vindications of the Ministry, which ungrateful and impudent men extort from the Ministers of England; when in­deed (as St. Paul pleads for himself; instead of thus being compelled to an unwelcome, yet just glorying) they ought rather to have been commended and encouraged by others.

Truly, it is to me a great trouble to finde out by any of their con­fused Pamphlets and obscure Papers, what these Modellers of a new Ministry would be at, in any reason of piety or prudence, more to the advantage of this Church, or the Reformed Christian Religion, than hath been heretofore, and may still be effected and enjoyed, by the true and antient Ministry: Would they have better Scholars in all kindes of good learning? Acuter Disputants in controversies? Clearer In­terpreters in Commentaries upon the Sacred Texts? Better Linguists? More solid Preachers? More pathetick Orators? more fervent Pray­ers; [Page 63] higher Speculatists in all true Devotionals? Exacter Writers in all kindes of Divinity? Would they have more grave, comely, pru­dent, and consciencious dispencers of all holy Mysteries? Or nobler examples of all piety and virtue, than those, which have every where abounded in the Ministers of the Church of England, according to the several measures of their gifts and graces?

No, I finde their enemies envy, is more than their pity; Non laudabisi pietatis aemula­tione, sed im­proba virtutis invidia ferun­tur, qui virtu­tem aspiciunt intabescunt (que) relicta. Casaub. For one century of scandalous Ministers, (which, I fear, was not so made up by exact sifting the pretio [...] from the vile; but that it hudled up, and kneaded some finer flowre with some bran;) How many hun­dreds were there then, and are still of unblamable, of commendable, of excellent, and most imitable Ministers in this Church? As weigh­ty, as fair, and as fit every way, yea, far beyond what any new stamp is likely to be, for all holy admistrations! But I finde, it is not any new Truth, or Gospel, or Sacraments; or Gifts, or Graces, or Virtues, or Morals, or Rationals, or Reals, which these new Ministers require; or can with any forehead pretend: All is but an affectation (for the most part) to have the same things, in a new, and worse way; which because it is of their own invention, they so eagerly quarrel at the former order, maner of our Church and Mini­stry. Many would have the same meat (else they must starve, Multi novitatis amore in veri­tatis odium & praejudicium fe­runtur. Quum illud pulcher­rimum quòd ve­rissimum; id verissimum, quòd antiquissi­mum. Tert. [...] Eurip. Hel. or feed upon the wind) onely it must be new dressed, and dished up to the mode of Familistick hashes, and Socinians (Quelques choses) Keck­shoes; by more plain and popular hands, than those of the learned Ministers. They would have a generation of Teachers rise up un­sown, out of the dust; whose father should be corruption, and whose sister, confusion: More vulgar, submiss, precarious, facile, dependent Preachers; who should more consider an act or ordinance of man, than a command of Scripture, or dictate, and stroke of Conscience; be more steered by the events and various successes of Providence, than by the constant precepts and oracles of Gods written Word: Whose common places of divinity must fit any Eutopian Common­wealth, what ever any power and policy shall form to their new fan­cies, and interests; whose Preaching and Praying, shall make Christ, and the Scriptures, and the Sacraments, all holy things, and the Ministry it self of the Church, meanly servile and compliant to any State design, and secular projects; Just as the sorry Almanack-makers do, who command the Sun, and Moon, and Stars, and the whole host of Heaven, to assist any party whom they list to flatter, or hope to feed upon: Such planetary Preachers, all true Ministers abhor to be; and such their enemies deserve to have, or to be; who observing the winds of worldly and State variations, Eccles. 11.4. shall never sow the good seed of true Religion; nor ever serve the Lord, while they slavishly and sinfully serve the times: Not, but that all good Ministers [Page 64] know, as wise and humble men, how to be content in what Sta [...] soever they are; and to be subject to civil powers in all honest things, Phil. 4.11. Rom. 13.5. with gratitude and due respect; yet not so, as to prostrate God, to level Christ, to subject Conscience, to debase the glorious Gospel, its due Reformation, and its true Ministry, and divin [...] Au­thority, to the boundless lusts, and endless designs of violent and rest, less mindes.

Against all which, and chiefly against those plots and practises which aim to overthrow the Reformed Christian Religion of this Church, and its Ministry, I desire this Apology may be as a Pillar and Monument to posterity of my perfect abhorrency, That when I am dead ( [...]f it hath any spark in it of an immortal spirit, or living genius) it may testifie for me, and my Brethren, the Ministers of my minde,Luke 23.50. in after ages; that, as Joseph of Arimathea, we neither gave counsel, nor consent to those wilde or wicked projects, which the ages will afterward see, attended with most sad and deplorable effects; either of Atheism, Profaneness, Ignorance, and Barbarity; or of Popish superstitions, Heretical oppressions, and Schismatical confusions, which will follow the alteration and rejection of the antient, true, and Catholike Ministry of this Reformed Church; which cannot but be attended with the subversion of many souls, as to all stability or soundness in true Religion; with the unsatis­faction of many, and with the unspeakable grief and scandal of all those good Christians, who love and wish the prosperity of this Church; which I shall now endeavor to prove to be of a most Chri­stian and Evangelical constitution; chiefly by answering what is alleged by those, who look upon both Church and Ministry as repro­bate; and would fain have power to damn them both, without re­demption: And this they endeavor with as much justice and truth, as Satan accused Job, Job 1. and would have provoked God to destroy him without a cause.

OBJECTION I. That we have no true Ministry, because no true Church-way in England.

I Finde there are many and great things objected, by the Anti­ministerial party, through ignorance, weakness, mistake, or malice; not onely against the Ministers, and the peculiar office of the Mini­stry; but also against the whole frame of our Religion, especially as to the extern social maner of our holy Administrations: Some of them deny us to be any true Ministers, because not in any way of a true Church; not having any true Religion owned or established, and exercised among us, in any right Church-way, as they call it. So that it is not onely the main pillars of Christianity, the learned and godly Ministry, which they would change: But the whole model of our Church, and frame of our Religion, is that, which these men would remove, either pulling it down by force, or undermining by fraud: Therefore, I have thought it necessary, in the first place, to countermine against these Moles, and to establish against these Shakers, and Subverters of the very foundations of our Church and Religion.

Here I must crave leave of you,Answ. 1. to whose favor I have dedicated this work (whose highest excellency is your Christian Reformed Re­ligion; who esteem it your greatest glory, with the Emperor Theo­dosius, That you are Members of this Reformed Church, and in this of the true Catholike Church,) to give these fanatick, and cavilling disputers against our Ministry, some account of that Religion, which we profess; and of that so much disputed, and by some despised Church-way, wherein we take our selves to be; as upon surer grounds of divine truth, so with much more order and decency, as to antient patern and prudence, than themselves: That so, as good Christians may be comforted and confirmed in their holy Profession, so the world may see, That we are neither ignorant our selves, nor willingly de­ceivers of others, in so great a matter as Religion is,Of true Re­ligion. Vera est religio, quae uni vero Deo animas no­stras religat. Aug. de Relig. Micah 6.8. James 1.27. which we pub­lickly have professed and preached in this Church, both with science and conscience, with judgement and integrity.

First then, We esteem True Religion to be the right perform­ance of those duties, which we ow to the One onely true God; or to any Creature for his sake; That is, upon such grounds, to such ends, and after such maner, as God requires them of us, in the several re­lations, wherein we stand obliged to him, or them.

Internal. Lux est religi­onis in consci­entia, lumen in conversatione. Bern. 1 Cor. 2.11. 1 John 1.3. & 3.19. Nec deest Chri­stus ubi est fides, nec ecclesia ubi Christus, nec societas ubi cha­ritas, nec tem­plum ubi cor sanctum. Cypr.This Religion is discharged by us; first, Internally; in the Re­ceptions and Motions of an enlightned and sanctified Soul; to which none can immediately be conscious, but onely God, and a mans own spirit: Herein, we conceive the very soul, life, and quintessence of true Religion doth consist, so far as it is to be considered apart, from all outward expressions, visible Form, Society, or Church Commu­nion; onely as having spiritual inward converse and fellowship with God and Christ, by the graces of the holy Spirit; although Christians should be in desarts, dungeons, prisons, solitudes, and sick beds; amidst all forced sordidness, disorders, and dissolutions of any shew and profession of Religion, as to the outward man. This sin­cerity wants nothing of extern fashion, or ornament to compleat its piety; but is satisfactory both to God, and a mans own conscience, by that integrity of a judicious, holy, and devout heart; which hath devoted all its powers and faculties, to the knowledge, meditation, a­doration, imitation, love, and admiration of God; according as he was pleased in various times and maners to reveal himself to it:Heb. 1.1. As, partly (yet, but darkly) by the light of reason, in rational and moral principles seconded with fears and strokes of Conscience, which is a beam and candle of the Lord in the soul of man;Prov. 20.27. Lucerna Domi­ni: Scintillans in intellectu, ra­dians in volun­tate, ardens in affectu, fumans in desiderio, flammans in a­more, scrutans i [...] conscientia, exhilarans in virtute, torquens in facinore. Bern. 2 Tim. 3.16. 2 Pet. 1.19. Matth. 10.26. Gal. 6.1. Et solidè fun­danda, & ad a­mussim Scriptu­râ aedificanda, & veritate sta­bilienda, & charitate con­summanda reli­gio. August. Eò pulchrior est anima, quo ad summam Dei pulchritudinem propius accedit. Bradward. [...]. Greg. N. s. but more clear­ly by supernatural manifestations, in dreams and visions, in audible voices, prophetical revelations, or angelical missions: By all which, religious light was onely occasional and traditional; but now most evidently, compleatly, and constantly, in that declaration of his will to mankinde, which is contained in the lively oracles of his now written and perfect Word; the onely infallible rule of a good Con­science, and foundation of true Religion: According to which, onely, we measure it; both as to its internals, which are summarily com­prehended, in the love of God; and its externals, which are com­pleated in that charity, which for Gods sake, we bear, and really ex­ercise toward all men; but chiefly to the houshold of faith, that is, the Church, or Society of those, who profess to believe in Jesus Christ, as the onely Saviour of sinners.

This well-grounded and well-guided Religion (as it is then an Internal, Judicious, and Sincere devoting of the whole soul to God, as the supreme good, offered us in Jesus Christ) We esteem the high­est honor and beauty of the reasonable soul; the divinest stamp or character on mans nature; the noblest property and capacity of the immortal spirit in us; demonstrating, not onely its common relation to the Creator (which all things have,) but the Creators peculiar fa­vor, and indulgence to man; whom he teacheth to fear, enableth to serve, and encourageth to love him above all: As also mans capacity, [Page 67] to attain that knowledge of the divine wisdom, and that fruition of the divine love, which onely can make it truly, and eternally happy.

For true Religion, thus seated in the soul of man,2. True Reli­gion not barely specu­lative, but also practi­cal. is not barely a speculative knowledge of God, according to what his wisdom hath revealed of himself, in his works, and word; As, that he is; what he is not, as to any defects; what he is, in all positive excellencies in himself, (which yet is a great and divine light, shining upon mans understanding from experience, and from the historick parts of the Scripture.) But further, it also shew us, what God is to us, in Na­ture, Grace, Law, Gospel, Works, Word, Creation, [...]. Niss. de prof. Chr [...] stians. and Christs Incar­nation; what we are to God in Christ, for duty and dependance; what all things are to us, as they are in God, (that is, in his wisdom, will, power, providence, &c. either making, or preserving, or dispo­sing them for our good and his glory.) According to which light, we come to desire, to love, to enjoy God in all things,Eph. 1.23. and all things in him; that is, within those bounds of honor, order, and those lesser ends, which he hath set in reference to the great ends of our good, and his glory, which are as a lesser circle in a greater; having both the same centres. At length God becomes the joy, life, beauty, ex­altation, and happiness of the believing soul; by its often contempla­tions of him, and sincere devotions to him; whence we come to have an humble sight, ingenuous shame, penitential sorrow, and just abhor­rence of our sinfulness, vanity, deformity, vileness, and nothingness compared to God, and apart from him.

After this our wills come to be enclined to him (as the most excel­lent good and perfecting Beauty) drawn after him, and duly affected with him; to fear him for his power and justice; to venerate him for his excellent majesty and glory; to admire him for incomprehensible perfection; to love him for his goodness in himself, in all things; and in Christ above all; (in whom his love, grace, and bounty is most clear­ly discovered, and freely conveyed to us;) We come to believe him for his veracity or infallible truth in his Law and Gospel; to be guided by his unerring wisdom, and directions, which are discerned in the mandates of his Word to us, and agreeable motions of his Spirit in us (which are always conform to each other:Virtus Spiritus sancti in m [...]ti­bus, & veritas verbi in man­datis suavissi [...] & inseparabili nexu conjuncta sunt; nec ma­gis ab invicem distrahi possunt quàm calor solis à nativo lumine: Quum à Spiritu sit veritas, ut inveritate sit Spiritus necesse est. August.) We come also to obey him in all things for his soverein Empire and Authority; to trust in him at all times for his faithfulness and immutability; to hope in him, and to wait patiently for the consummation of his rich and pretious promises, 2 Pet. 1.4. both in grace and glory. All which we believe upon the divine testimony of the written Word; however we cannot by bare humane reason, comprehend or demonstrate them; [Page 68] oftentimes praying to God, as all sufficient, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent: supplicating for that, from his grace, power, and bounty, which we have not, deserve not, nor can attain otherways, in this lapsed, corrupted, and cursed estate of our nature.

Eph. 2.5. By g ace ye are saved.Which owes all its reparations onely to the free grace of God, manifesting himself in his works and words; also in those secret in­ward operations of the Spirit upon the conscience, and whole soul, by illuminations,Blanda violen­tia, victrix de­lectatio. Aug. restraints, terrors, convictions, conversions; sweet, yet powerful, attractions; victorious, yet delectable prevailings, a­greeable to the nature of the soul, and the liberty of the will; which then recovers its true liberty, Quò strictius ad Deum liga­mur, eo perfecti­us liberamur, & à peccatorum pondere, & pra­vitatum vincu­lis; nec reatu, nec terrore, nec infirmitate am­plius detinemur, aut opprimimur. August. Non dii facti sumus sed divi­ni; non in Dei essentiam trans­mutamur, sed in sanctam, hoc est, divinam na­turam repara­mur; quantum satanae lapsi, tantum Deo reparati, confirmamur. Prosp. when by the cords of Gods love, its un­willingness is bound up; and its chains of violent lusts are taken off: Whence such great impressions, and real changes, are made upon every rational faculty in the soul; as those from darkness to light, from captivity to freedom, from death to life; according to the several representations of Gods excellencies in nature, in morals, and in mysteries; wherein, the exceeding great riches of his free-grace, and love to us in Christ, Ephes. 1.9. & 2.7. hath the most softning, melting, and transforming influence; which, fully received upon the soul, the whole-man, in minde and spirit, in fancy, understanding, judgement, memory, will, appetite, affections, passions, and conscience, becomes partaker, through grace, of a divine nature, 2 Pet. 1.4. (compared to what he was) and becomes a2 Cor. 5.17. new creature, not as to its essence; but as to all ends, principles, motions, and actions; which are begun and continued, designed and ended in holiness; that is, in humble and unfeigned regards to the glory of God, and exact purposes of conformity to the will of God, in his written Word. New creatures by a newness of grace; in which, we remain what we were, Men; but are made, what we were not, Saints.

3. Scripture the only rule of true Re­ligion. 1 Tim. 3.15. Heb. 4.12. Acts 7.38. Rom. 3.2.To which Word of God in the Scriptures, we being guided and directed by the constant and most credible testimony of the Church of Christ, (that pillar and ground of Truth) so as to receive, and re­gard them, They at length, by Gods grace on the heart, demon­strate themselves (by their native and divine light) to be the very Word of God; those lively oracles, which set forth most divine pre­cepts, paterns, prophecies, histories and mysteries; proffers also and pro­mises of such good things, as the soul would most desire, most wants, and onely can truly delight in living and dying; and to eternity.

Religion consists in no fond fancies.BeyondHoc prius cre­dimus; non esse ultra Scriptu­ras, quod credere debeamus: no­bis curiositate non opus est post Christum, nec inquisitione post Evangelium. Tertul. de praes. ad Hae. [...]. Niss. [...] Cl. Al. [...]. 1. Nos tantum Scripturas sa­cras habemus, plenas, invio­latas, integras; eas vel in puris­simo fonte, vel in pura transla­tione bibimus. Sal. de Gub. l. 5. Tantummodo sacris Scriptu­ris canonicis hanc ingenuam debeo servitu­tem, quà eas solas ita sequar, ut conscriptores earum nihil omnino in eis e [...]rasse, nihil fallaciter posuissè non dubitem. August. ep. 19 ad Jeron. Si canonicarum scripturarum authoritate quidquam firmatur, sine ulla dubitatione credendum est: Aliis verò testibus tibi credere vel non credere liceat. August. ep. cap. 12. these Scriptures, which we justly call The Word of God, understood in their true sense and meaning; we do not own any thing for a ground, rule, or duty in Religion: N [...]r are we at all moved, by those bold triflings, and endless janglings about Religion, [Page 69] Grace, Spirit, and Inspirations, which weak and vain men, (looking to their own foolish fancies, and not to the divine Oracles) do scatter too and fro, as chaff, to blinde the eyes of simple and credulous people; which would make Religion, a matter of novelty and curio­sity; of cavilling meerly and contending, of censuring and con­demning others of self-confidence and intollerable boastings, of se­quaciousness and feminine softness, of custom onely and paternal example, or of ease and idleness; where, out of a lazy temper, neglecting all ordinary means, Ministry, and duties, some men ex­pect by special inspirations and dictates, to have their defect of pains and industry supplied: Or else they place their Religion, in the adhering to some party and faction; in popular and specious in­sinuations, and pretensions; or in admiration of mens persons, and gifts; or in the prevailencies of power and worldly successes; or in unjust gain and sacrilegious thrift; or in great zealotries for some new form and way of constituting, disciplining, and governing Churches; or in boldness to affirm, to deny, and to do any thing; or in meer verbal assurances, and loose confidences of being elected and predestinated to happiness, of being called to be Saints, and Preach­ers, and Prophets, in a new and extraordinary way; to advance such opinions and practises, as no holy men of old, ever knew, acted, or owned for Religious; or lastly, in railing upon, despising, and seeking to destroy all those, that approve not, or follow not those self-conceited confidences and violent extravagancies, which some men affect in their rude and unwarrantable undertakings. Such were the fanatick, mad, and at last, sad, Religion of those Circum­cellions of old, and those Anabaptists, and other later Sects in Germany Sleidan. Com. l. 10. ad an. 1535.; who wanted nothing but constant successes and continued power to have made all men, as wilde and wicked as themselves, or else to have destroyed them.

Alas, who sees not, how far different and much easier to sinful flesh and blood, to vain ambition, and proud hypocrisies, these pretty soft fallacies, these froths and fumes; those great swelling words, 2 Pet. 2.18. and titles of vanity, That God is their Father, that they are Saints, and spiritual, inspired Prophets, sent of God to call the World to repent­ance; to reign with Christ: Those rotten sensualities of Religion (as some blasphemously call it;) those libidinous excrescencies; those lying prophecies, &c. How much easier (I say) these are, than those humble, sober, exact, and constant tyes of Conscience, and duties of [Page 70] true Religion; by which holy men and women, in all ages, have given all diligence to make their calling and election sure, 2 Pet. 1.10. Non est vera aut firma certi­tud [...] gloriae, sine diligenti indu­stria gratiae? Chrys. Phil. 2.12. 1 Cor. 15.32. I die daily. Verè Christum sequi, est omnia perpeti, indies crucifigi, jugi­ter [...]i [...]ri. Prosp. 2 Pet. 1.6. 1 Pet. 4.18. Non vult Deus ut delicato iti­nere ad caelum perveniamus. Jeron. Aut hoc non est Evangelium aut bi non sunt Evangelici. Luth. Vana est religio quae sceliri lo­cum facit. Aen. Syl. Van [...] est religio quae vera non est; nec vera esse potest nisi certa sit, & fir­t [...]a, & aequa­bilis, & sibi semper constans, & in omnibus una. Tertul. Hoc primum in­venimus, quod perditissimi sumus; nec nisi quaerendo Deum salvari possumus. August. to work out their salvation with fear and trembling; by hearing, reading, searching and meditating on the Scriptures; by repenting, fasting, praying, watching, and weeping; by examining, trying, judging, and condemning their sinful self, even in the most specious and suc­cessful actions. Thus by mortification and self-denial, coming to the Cross of Christ; taking it up; bearing it, and fastning themselves to it, as to all just strictnesses, holy severities, and patient sufferings; still endeavoring to abound in all exactness of justice, charity, meek­ness, temperance, and innocency, before God and man. Thus going with some holy agony, through many difficulties the narrow way, true Christians (having done all) enter in at the strait-gate, which leads to life, and are scarcely saved.

These were harder disciplines, and rougher severities of piety, than our delicate novelists; our gentle Enthusiasts; our smiling Seraphicks; our triumphant Libertines; our softer Saints can en­dure; which makes them so impatient (as Ahab to Eliah, and Micaiah) to hear, and bear the words of faithful and true Ministers; which seem as hard sayings; when they recommend and urge these Scripturals and Morals of truth and holiness, [...]ustice, mercy, and humi­lity, Micah 6.8. to be the onely reals of Religion: In which, the duty, rule, end, comfort, and crown of true Religion, do consist; whose greatest and surest enjoyment, is self-denial; bringing the lost soul, to finde it self lost, and to seek after God; and having found him, to follow him with all obediential love; with a pious, impatient, pant­ing and thirsting after happiness in him, by the ways of holiness; as having none in Heaven or Earth comparable to him; still earnest­ly pressing toward him; as always, and onely wanting him, in the fullest enjoyments of all things here; unsatiably satisfied with his unsurfetting-sweetness; ever filled with him, yet ever longing more to partake of him: The soul in this its excessive thirst, and spiritu­al feaver, being confident, it can drink up that Jordan; that ocean of divine fulness; which alone, it sees, can give it an happy satisfaction to eternity.

4. The Souls search after, and discove­ries of God.The devout and pious Soul, thus intent to God, and content with him, is not always sceptically wandring in endless mazes and laby­rinths of Religion; either groping in obscurities, or guessing at un­certainties, or grapling with intricate disputes, or perplexed with various opinions, or shifting its parties, or doubting its profession, or confounding its morals, or dazeling its intellectual eye, by looking to prospects of immensity, and objects of eternity; (which are so re­mote [Page 71] from it, and far above it, that it onely sees this, [...]. Dionys. Quod est omni creaturà melius, id Deum dici­mus. Aug. Re­tract. That it can see nothing of that transcendent Good, which we call God. (Who is indeed, that superexcellent excellency, which we can least know as he is; and can no way comprehend in his ineffable essence, and most incomprehensible perfections.)

But, the Soul in its religious search after, and devout applica­tions to, this supreme Good, which it esteems, as its God, stayes and solaces it self (as Miners do, who still follow and chiefly intend the richest Vain) with those lesser grains and sparks of divine goodness and beauty, which it findes every where scattered in its passage among the Creatures; which are as little essays, pledges, and tokens of that divine glory and excellency, which must needs be infinitely more admirable, and delectable in God himself.

The pious (which is the onely wise and well advised) Soul, Habet Deus te­stimonia totum hoc quod sumus & in quo su­mus. Tert. l. 1. adv. Mar. Psal. 111.2. Psal. 8. Dei opera sunt quotidiana mi­racula, consueta vilescunt. Aug. Rom. 1.20. so soon as ever it seriously searcheth after God, findes him in some kinde or other, every where present; and in every thing lovely, yea, admi­rable, both within and without it self; yet still it conceives him to be infinitely above it self; and all things. Something of God it dis­covers, and accordingly admireth, adoreth, praiseth, loveth, and ex­alteth him, in the order, goodness, greatness, beauty, variety, and constancy of his works, which are every day visible; something it perceives of his sweetness and delectableness in the sober, moderate, and holy delectations, which our senses afford us, when they enjoy those objects, which are convenient, and fitted for them; something it observes of divine wisdom, power, benignity, and justice, in the experiences of Gods providence, bounty, and patience, which the histo­ries of all times afford; something it discerns of God, in those common beams and principles of reason, which shine in all mens mindes, and are evidenced in the consent of all Nations. Amplissin a mer [...] est bona conscientia. Hic murus ahe­neus, &c. — Prima est bac ultio quod se Judice nemo nocens absolvi­tur, &c. Juv. Matth. 1.6, 8. If I be a fa­ther, &c. Offer it now to thy Prince, &c. Tam pater, tam pius, tam bene­ficus nemo. Tert. de Deo. Sometime also in the reflexions, terrors, or tranquilities of its own, and other mens con­sciences; which, are as the first Heaven or Hell, rewarding the good, or punishing the bad intentions and actions of every man: More ful­ly it sees God in the manifestations of the divine Word; in the ex­actness of the Moral Law; in the rules of Justice given to all men; of which, their own reason and will is the measure and standard. Being commanded to do to other men, as we would have them do to us, Matth. 7.12. yea, and to do to God also; in the relations whereby we stand obliged to him, for duty, love, and gratitude, as we would have others do to us; when we are as fathers, or masters, or friends, or benefactors, or well-willers; against which, to offend, is by all men thought most barbarous, unjust, and wicked; how much more against God, who hath the highest merit upon us? Yet further, the Soul searching after God, findes his wisdom and prescience in all those prophetical predictions, and many prefigurations of things to [Page 72] come;Idoneum est di­vinitatis testi­monium veritas divinationis. Tert. Apol. c. 20. which, from several hands, and at several times derived, have yet punctually been fulfilled; chiefly in the coming of the Messias, the sum, center, and consummation of all prophecies and promises; which setting forth the nature, love, life, and death of Jesus Christ, were all most exactly accomplished in him, and by him; on whom were those notable signatures and characters of the divine wisdom and power, John 1.14. that his glory appeared to men, as the glory of the onely begotten Son of God, full of grace, and truth.

The freeness and fulness of this Evangelical grace and truth by Jesus Christ, the faithful Soul further discerns in the sacred emblems and seals of the holy Sacraments; by which the divine goodness is represented and conveyed to us under the notions and efficacy of those things, which are most necessary to our lives; either for Be­ing, or Ornament; to nourish us, to cleanse us, and to chear us. Moreover, the pious Soul sees God in the exemplary patience of the holy Martyrs; in the miraculous constancy of the heroick Confessors; in the humility of true Penitents; in the purity and amendment of real Converts; in the contentedness of true Believers; in the mer­tifulness and charity of true Christians; in the mortifyings, and self-denyings (as to this world) of all true Saints, which are follow­ers of Christ; and lastly, in that holy ordination and succession of the Evangelical Ministry; which as Christ instituted for the Churches good, so he hath through all the vicissitudes of times, a­midst all oppositions, preserved it to these days; and by it, the know­ledge of God, and the faith of Christ in the World.

The devout Soul still guided and going on by the light of the Ministry, discerns something of God; which is yet more retired, secret, and ineffable, in the enlightnings, softnings, serenities, en­largements, calmings, and comforts, which are made by a divine power and supernatural influence upon it self; where it beholds the brightest glimpses of divine glory, through the face of Jesus Christ, and by the efficacies of his most sweet and holy Spirit, who is both God and man; subject to our infirmities, sensible of them, and victo­rious over them: Him the Soul answerably loves; as man, with a love of union and complacency; as God, with the love of admiration and extasie; as both God and man, with a love of adherence and satisfaction: Heb. 7.25. As one, that hath undertaken, and is able to save it to the uttermost; reconciling it with preparing it for, and uniting it to, the supreme Good, God.

All these excellencies of Christ, it sees diffused and derived to it by convenient means, instituted and continued in the Church; which as pipes laid into the Oceans unexhaustible fulness, draw from it, not to what measure it can give, but to what we want, and can receive.

At length this devout Soul, by this daily confluence of many heavenly Meditations, holy Motions, and happy Experiments, flow­ing (like lesser rivolets) from all parts of the Creation, from Scrip­ture, and from its own, with others experiences, to this stream of the knowledge of God; It findes it self by degrees advanced, like Ezekiels Ezek. 47. waters, from vulgar and shallow conceptions, and answer­able affections, to mighty and profound contemplations; which, gathering strength by their daily increasings, like an imperious, and irresistible torrent, carry away the devout Soul in its holy propen­sities, and impetuous fervencies toward God: Impatient of any stop or hinderance, till, at last, it comes (as all Rivers into the Ocean) to be wholly resigned, and happily resolved into its Alpha and Omega, its principle and perfection, its fountain, and its fulness, God.

So then, when the Soul in ways of true Religion comes to know, and love, and serve God, it is not conversant in vagrant fancies, in uncertain speculations, in in-significant notions; but it so far really enjoys him, as it loves him; and loves him, as it sees him; and sees him, as it seriously and deliberately observes him; (there being nothing of true Religion in volatile spirits, and transient glances;) which it doth most evidently, though not perfectly; darkly, yet truly, in those glasses of the Creatures; in the Scriptures, 1 Cor. 13.12. and in its own Conscience; in all ways of Goodness, Truth, and Holiness; in lights Natural, Moral, and Evangelical; by all which, the Soul, as the Eye, sees somewhat of the divine glory of that in­visible Sun, in the descents, scatterings, and aptitudes of its beams; whose infinite, and intire brightness it cannot, without injury to it self, fully, and immediately, behold.Exod. 33.20.

So that herein (we see) true and solid Religion, both by its light and holiness, its truth and practise, abundantly discovers, the fanci­fulness, levity, pride, vanity, fondness, and futility, of all those giddy opinions and pretensions, by which some men seek to amuse the world, and to abuse honest hearts: And also it shews its own real worth, beauty, dignity, fulness, usefulness, wisdom, and power; by all which it fits and fills the Souls various faculties and vast capacity: And in so doing it gives the devout Soul, the greatest evidences and surest demonstrations of its own immortality,Malunt impii extingui, quàm ad supplicia re­parari. Mi. Fael. Souls im­mortality discovered in true Religi­on. beyond what any ar­guments drawn from ordinary reason and philosophy can do: All which the Atheistical impudence of some men easily e [...]ude, having no experimental knowledge of God; and living without God in the world, they are content to imagine an utter extinction of their souls.

Whereas the sanctified Soul concludes, and glories in its immor­tality; which it endeavors to improve to a blessed eternity; when it [Page 74] considers seriously, and alone; whence can those high and holy en­largements, desires, and designs arise, so far above, and beyond all worldly objects and enjoyments? whence that unsatisfiedness, which carries the soul of man, with ambitious impatiencies, to this height of coveting after a blessed eternity, Rom. 2.7. and the supreme Good, God blessed for ever? Whence this magnetick tendency and divine traction of love to God, and to his infinite goodness; but onely from the Father of our spirits, and Fountain of our souls, God? And why all these medi­tations, desires, and motions, planted in us by so good and wise a Creator, if never to be enjoyed by us, in those satisfactions, which onely can flow from some divine and perfective object? Sure it is all one to omnipotent goodness, to fill us with the perfect good desired; as to endue us with the desires of that good; which are but our tor­ments and imperfections, if never to be in completion: Our very de­sires of Heaven, would else be our Hell; and our longings after hap­piness, our misery. Nor is it agreeable to the methods of divine wis­dom and goodness, to plant frustaneous and vain desires, or Tantalising tendencies in mans nature, which he hath done in no other Crea­ture; who attain whatever they naturally covet, or have innate pro­pensities to. The same divine power having prepared the object, hath also implanted the desire. This unproportionableness of the Creators dealing with man, is less to be imagined, when we consider in the sacred story, That man had most of divine counsel and deliberation in his Creation; Gen. 1.26. (not as needful to God, who can work by omnisci­ent and omnipotent power, in an instant) but, implying to us, those most exact and accurate proportions observed by the great and all­wise Creator, in his formation of man: All other Creatures rising up, as bubbles on water, so soon as the formative Word of God, in its several commands, fell like distinct drops from Heaven, on the face of the great deep, the Chaos, or Abyss; But man, as a signet or seal, was graven by a special hand, and deliberate method of God, with the marks and characters of his own holy image, in spirituality, wisdom, righteousness, purity, liberty, eternity, and a proportionate capacity to enjoy whatever felicity he can understand and desire.

5. Mans im­provement.That, if we raise man to the highest glory and perfection, which he covets, and is capable of in this world of vanity and mortality; we shall see something in him of a little god, like the figure of a great monarch expressed in a small model or signet: For, bring him from the sords of his nativity, [...]. Plat. from his infant infirmities, from his childish simplicities, from his youthful vanities; redeem him, by the politure of good education, from his rustick ignorance, his clownish confidences, his brutish dulness, Stolida ferocia. Tac. his country solitude, his earthy ploddings, his beg­garly ind [...]gences, or covetous necessities; rack him off further, and [Page 75] refine him from the lees of sensual and inordinate lusts, from swelling and surly pride, from base and mean designs, [...]. Plat. de Cupiditat. from immoderate affecti­ons, violent passions, unreasonable impulses, and depraved temptations, from within or without: Then furnish him with health, procerity, and beauty; fortifie him with competent strength, both single and social; endue him with all wisdom, both divine and humane, which the minde of man is capable of; compass him with all fulness and plenty; invest him with that publick honor, which (as beams of the Sun, concentred in a Burning-glass,) arising from the consent of many men, to unite the honor of their protection and subjection in one man, makes up the lustre of a majesty, something more than earthly and humane; coming neerest to the resemblance of what is divine and heavenly. Adde to these endowments of power, opportunity, and place to do good; those real and useful graces, those charitable and communicative virtues, which enlarge the nobler soul, to a love of the publick good, and a zeal for the common welfare of mankinde, in works of humanity, gentleness, pity, patience, fortitude, justice, mercy, benignity, and munificence: [...]; Clem. Alex. è Menandro. How goodly a creature is a man, while he continues a man? Exod. 22.28. Psal. 82.6. John 10.34. Magistrates are called gods. Paternum est docendi munus. Psal. 34.11. Jer. 9.34. Beatitudo est in­terminabilis vitae perfecta possessio. Boet. What can more lively express to us a terrene visible Deity? whom we may (without Idolatry) own and reverence so far, as, without blasphemy, we may call such a man a God; while he wisely teacheth and instructeth others (a work worthy of a Parent, a Prince, a God;) or he powerfully pro­tects, or he bountifully rewards, or justly punisheth, or mercifully pardoneth, or graciously loveth others, and rejoyceth in their well-do [...]ng and happiness, without any design or interest of his own. Yea, what do we ordinarily wish, and expect, or fancy more from God, than all these excellencies (of which, we see there are some sparks and beams, even now in mans nature) sublimated to infinite perfections; and extended to us, with eternal durations? is not this, that estate of full enjoyment, which we call Heaven? Wherein we hope never to want those divine and immediate communicatings, with the all-sufficient bounty, and unenvious benignity of God, is, as well able; so, no less, well pleased, to impart to the soul, than its necessities do require, and its desires ambitiously, and unsatiably covet to be suppli­ed by them: Not one [...]y in order to this natural and politick Being; which as men we have with men, for a moment (which is daily press­ed upon with the fatal and inevitable necessity of dying, which is a ceasing to enjoy God, by the mediation of the Creatures, in this visi­ble world) but also, in reference to that rational, religious, spiritual, gracious, perfect, and unchangeable Being, whereto we naturally aspire; (for, who would not be ever happy?) by enjoying himself, in the wisdom, strength, beauty, fulness, love, and sweetness, flowing for ever from the excellencies of the Creator: The fruition of whom, is onely able to exclude a [...]l defects, and fears; to satisfie all desires, to [Page 76] reward all duties, to requite all sufferings, to compleat all happiness, to crown and perfect all true Religion; which in Heaven shall be no other, than what we desire it to be here on Earth; that is, a right knowledge, and a willing performance of that duty, which the reasonable creature (Man) ows for ever to God: First, as his Crea­tor, Conservator, and Redeemer, by Jesus Christ.

6. True Re­ligion inter­nal instates the Soul in Christ, and in the true Church. 1 Cor. 2.10, 11. John 15.5. He that abid­eth in me, and I in him, &c. 2 Tim. 2.19. The Lord knoweth them that are his. Extra ecclesiam non est salus.This then we look upon, as the Religious frame and temper of a reasonable Soul, in its internal dispositions and private devotions toward God, it self, and others: By which it is daily preparing for a glorious and blessed immortality; of which holy frame, it self onely can be conscious, with God; and the greatest evidence is, That sin­cerity of heart, which hath no other rule, but Gods Word; no other end, but Gods glory; and no other comfort, but in the constancy of this disposition; which is the fruit of Gods holy Spirit in it. Cer­tainly, such a Soul cannot, but be in, and of the true, and to man, in­visible Church of God; so far as it hath a mystical, spiritual, and invisible life; which consists in the union to Christ, as the head, by faith, love, and all other obediential graces of his Spirit, which are common to every true believer. Out of this Church, its most true, There is no revealed salvation, possibly to be had for any that live to be masters of their own reason, will, and actions.

Yea further, such a religious soul, hath a capacity of, and right unto that external, visible, politick, and social communion with the Church of Christ, where ever Christians enjoy outward fellowship, with one an­other, in publick profession: Which communion, however such a soul, solitary it may be, and sequestred from all Christian company, may not actually enjoy; being forcibly denied that happiness (of which, many do wilfully and peevishly deprive themselves by proud or peevish, and uncharitable separations,) through banishment, prison, captivity, sick­ness, &c. Yet, that Christian belief, love, and charity, which such an one bears to Christ, and to the Catholike Church of Christ, scattered in many places, and different in many ceremonial rites, and observa­tions; These (I say) do infallibly invest this solitary Christian, in communion and holy fellowship with the whole Church of Christ, in all the World; as brethren and sisters are related as near kinred, when they are never so far a sunder in place; which owns the same God, believes the same common salvation by the same Lord Jesus; useth the same seals of the blessed Sacraments; Ephes. 4.5. Jude 2. professeth the same ground of faith, and rule of holiness, the written Word of God; and bears the like gracious and charitable temper to others, as sanctified by same Spirit of Christ, which really unites every charitable and true believer to Christ, and so to every M [...]mber of true Church; how­ever it may want opportunities to express this communion in actual, and visible conversation, either civil or sacred; by enjoying that [Page 77] society, as men, or that ordinary ministry, as Christians, which is by Christ appointed in the Church; as well for its outward profession, distinction, and mutual assistance; as for its inward comfort, and communion with himself.

The willing neglect of all such extern communion, and the cause­less separation from all Church-fellowship in Word, Sacraments, Prayer, Order, and charitable Offices, must needs be inconsistent with any comfort; because against charity, and so far against true Religion, and the hopes of salvation: For, those inward graces, wherein the life and soul of Religion do consist, are not ordinarily attained or maintained, but by those outward means and ministra­tions, which the wisdom of God in Christ hath appointed for the Churches social good, and edification together: In the right enjoy­ment of which consists that extern and joynt celebration or profession of Christian Religion, which gives Being, name, and distinction to that society, which we call The Church of Christ on Earth. And this indeed is that Church properly, which is called out of the World; which as men, we may discern; and of which, both in elder and later times, so many disputes have been raised, which we may describe to be,

An holy company or fraternity of Christians, who being called by the Ministry of the Gospel, to the knowledge of God in Christ, do publickly profess in all holy ways and orderly institutions, that inward sense of duty and devotion, which they ow to God, by believing and obeying his Word: Also that charity, which they ow to all men, e­specially to those that profess to be Christs Disciples, and hold com­munion with his Body, the Catholike Church.

Herein I conceive, That the social outward profession of Religion, 7. Of the Church as a visible socie­ty of Pro­fessors be­lieving in Christ. Ea est Catholica ecclesia, quae u­nicam & can­dem semper & ubique fidem in Christo veram & Scripturis sundatam pro­fitetur. V [...]n. Lyrin. Eph. 2.9. As Fellow-Citizens of the Saints, and of the houshold of God: Ye are built upon the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone, &c. as it is held forth in the Word of God, in its Truths, Seals, Duties, and Ministry, makes a true Church among men: And the true Church as Catholike, yea, any part or branch of this true Catholike Church, (whose Head, Foundation, Rites, Seals, Duties, and Ministry, are for the main of the same kinde, in all times and pla­ces,) cannot but make a right profession of true Religion; as to the main essence and fundamentals; which consists in truth, holiness, and charity: However there may be many variations, differences, and deformities in superstructures, both of opinion and practise: For however particular Churches, which have their limits of time, and place, and persons, (circumstances which necessarily circumscribe all things in this world) are still, as distinct arms and branches of a great Tree, issuing from one and the same root Jesus Christ; [Page 78] and have the same sap of truth and life conveyed in some measure to them,1 Cor. 3.12. If any man build upon this foundati­on gold, &c. st [...]bble, &c. V. 15. If his work be burnt, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved. Eph. 4.4. There is one Body, and one Spirit, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, &c. V. 16. The whole body is fitly joyned together, ac­cording to the effectual working in the measure of every part, &c. U [...]us Deus unam sidem tradidit, unam ecclesiam toto orbe diffu­dit; hanc aspi­cit, hanc dili­git, hanc d [...]fen­dit: Quolibet se quisque no­mine tegat, si huic non societur alienus est, si hanc impugnet inimicus est. Oros. 7. c. 35. Joh. 15.2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, my Father taketh away. 2 Pet. 2.1. 2 Tim. 2.18. 1 Cor. 12.25. That there should be no schism in the body. 2 Joh. 9. Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God: He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, hath the Father and the Son. by the same way of the right Ministry of the Word, Sacra­ments, and Spirit, (so that in these respects, they are all of one and the same Catholike Body, communion, descent and derivation;) yet, as these have their external distinctions and severings in time, place, persons, and maners; or any outward rites of profession, and wor­ship; so they usually have distinct denominations, and are subject to different accidents, as well as proportions: Some branches of the same Tree may be withering, mossy, cancred, peeled, broken, and barren, yea, almost dead; yet, old, and great, and true: Others, may be more flourishing, fruitful, clean, and entire, though of a latter shooting for time, and of a lesser extension for number and place; yet still of the same Tree; so far, as they have really, or onely seem­ingly, and in the judgement of charity, communion with, relation to, and dependance on the Root and bulk; being neither quite broken off, and dead, by Heretical Apostacies, denying the Lord that bought them, or damnable errors, which overthrow the Faith; nor yet slivered and rent, by Schismatical uncharitableness, proud, or peevish rents and divisions: Which last, although they do not wholly kill, and c [...]op off from all communion with the Church of Christ; yet they so far weaken and wither Religion, in the fruits and comforts of it; as each Schism pares off from its sect and faction, that Rinde and Bark (as it were) of Christian love, and mutual charity, through which (chiefly) the sap, and juyce of true Religion, with the graces and comforts of it, are happily and most thrivingly conveyed to every living branch of the Catholike Church; so as to make it live, at least, and bring forth some good fruit, however it be not so strong, fair, and ample, as others may be: As the Church of Sardis, which had aRev. 3.1. name to live, and was dead in some part and proportion; yet is bid to watch, and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die, &c.

8. Of the Church, as called Catho­like. See learned Dr. Field of the Church. [...].In this point then. Touching the true Church of Christ, in re­gard of outward profession, and visible communion (to the touch of which part, my design thus leads me) I purpose not so far to gratifie the endless, and needless janglings of any adversaries of this Church of England; as to plunge my self, or the Reader, into the wide and troubled Sea of controversie, concerning the Church: Considering, that many good Christians have been, and still are, in the true Catho­like Church, by profession of that true faith, and holy obedience, which [Page 79] unite to the Head, Jesus Christ; and by charity, which combines the members of his Body together; although they never heard the dispute, or determination of this so driven a controversie; As many are in health, and sound, who never were under Physicians hands, or heard any Lecture of Anatomy: Yea, although they may be cut off, and cast out of the particular communion of any Church, by the Anathemaes, and excommunicating sentences of some injurious and passionate Members of that Church; yet may they continue still in communion with Christ, and consequently with his Catholike Church; that is, with all those, who either truly have, or profess to have communion with Christ.

My purpose is, onely to give an account, as I have done of true Religion in the internal power of it; so also of the true Church, as to the external profession of Religion: That thereby I may establish the faith, and comforts of all sober and good Christians, in this Church of England: That they may not be shaken, corrupted, or rent off, by their own instability, and weakness; or by the fraud and malice of those, who glory more in the proselytes they gain to fanatick factions, by uncharitable rendings from this Church, than in any communion they might have in humble and charitable ways, with the Catholike Church; or any of the greater, and nobler parts of it; which they (most impertinently) deny to be any Churches, or capable of any order, power, joynt authority, larger government, or ampler communion.

For the Catholike Church of Christ, (that is,Ignat. ep. ad Phil. Cypr. de unitate Eccl. Solis multi ra­dii, unum lu­men. August. lib. de unitate eccle­siae. Et omnes patres. Eph. 1.22. Christ the Head over all things to the, Church. 1 Tim. 3.15. The Church of the living God; the pil­lar and ground of truth. Heb. 12.23. The Church of the first-born. Tot ac tanta ecclesia una est illa ab Apostolis prima, ex qua omnes. Tertul. de prae. ad Hae. c. 30. Eph. 3.10, 21. & 5.23. Christ the Head of the Church, and the Saviour of the Body. V. 32. Christ and the Church. Col. 1.18. Christ the Head of the Body, the Church. 1 Cor. 12. The Body is not one Member, but many, &c. vid [...]. the universality of those, who profess to believe in the name of Jesus Christ, accord­ing to the Scriptures;) That this is primarily and properly called a Church, often in Scripture, there is no doubt: As the whole is called a Body, in its integrality or compleatness of parts and organs; whose every limb and part is corporeal too, and of the Body, as to its nature, kinde, or essence. This Church, which is called The Spouse and Body of Christ, is (as its Head) but one; in its integrality or compre­hensive latitude; as the Ark containing all such, as profess the true faith of Christ: And to this are given (as all powers and faculties of nature to the whole man) primarily and eminently those powers, pri­vileges, gifts, and titles, which are proper to the Church of Christ; however, they are orderly exercised by some particular parts or mem­bers, for the good of the whole. The essence, integrality, and unity, of this Catholike Church consists, not in any local convention, or visible communion, or publick representation, of every part of it; [Page 80] but in a mysterious and religious communion with the same God,Ecclesia in uni­versum mundi disseminata u­nam domum habitans, unam animam & cor & os abet. Iraen. l. 1. c. 3. Eph. 4.4, 5. Jude 2. [...]. Just. M. Dial. cum Tryphone. by the same Mediator Jesus Christ; and to this Mediator Jesus Christ, by the same Word and Spirit, as to the internal part of Re­ligion; also by profession of the same Truth and common Salvation, joyned with obedience to the same Gospel, and holy Ministry, with charity, and comly order, as to the external.

In this so clear an Article of our Faith, I need not bestow my pains, since it is lately handled very fully, learnedly, and calmly, by a godly Minister of this Church of England Mr. Hudson of the Catholike Church Tot & tantae ecclesiae una est illa ab Apostolis prima, dum unam omnes praebent veritatem. Tert. de prae., to whose Book I re­fer the Christian Reader.

9. Of a Nati­onal Church, or distinct and larger part of the Catholick.This name of Church, being evidently given to the universality of those, who by the Ministry of the Gospel, are called out of the way of the World; and by professing of it, and submitting exter­nally to its holy Ministry, Order, Rules, Duties, and Institutes, are distinguished from the rest of the World: It cannot be hard for any sober understanding to conceive, in what aptitude of sense, any part of this Catholike Church, is also called a Church; with some additi­onal distinctions, and particular limitations, visible and notable among men, and Christians; by which some are severed from others in time, place, persons, or any other civil discriminations of policy and society: Which give nearer and greater conveniences, as to the en­joyment and exercise of humane and civil; so of Christian communi­on, and the offices or benefits of religious relations.

1 Cor 1.2. To the Church of God, which is at Corinth. Acts 13.1. The Chu ch of Antioch. [...]. Acts 14.23. Tit. 1.5. [...]. Rev. 2. & 3. Ecclesiam apud unamquamque civitatem con­diderunt Apo­stol [...], à quibus traducem fidei & semina do­ctrinae caeterae ecclesiae mutuatae sunt. Tertul. de Prae. c. 20. Consuetudo est certissima loquendi norma. Quin [...]il.The Spirit of God in the Scripture gives sufficient warrant to this stile, and language; calling that a Church (as of Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, Jerusalem, Antioch, &c.) which consisted of many Con­gregations, and Presbyters in a City, and its Territory, or Province: So the Apostle Paul in his Epistles to several Churches, distinguish­eth them by the civil and humane distinctions of place, and Magi­stracy; and the Spirit of Christ to the Asiatick Churches, calleth each a Church distinctly, which were in great associations, of many faithful, under many Presbyters: And these under some chief Pre­sidents, Apostles, Angels, or Bishops, residing in the prime or Mother Cities; where Christianity was first planted, end from whence it spred to the Territories, or Provinces about.

One would think, besides common speech, among all Christians, (which is sufficient to justifie, what word is used to express our mean­ings to others,) That this were enough to confute the simplicity or peevishness of those, who, to carry on new projects, dare aver, That [Page 81] they know no such thing as a National Church; 1 Pet. 2.9. Ye are an holy Nation, a pe­culiar people; may be said of any Christi­ans. and with much coyness, disdain to own, or understand any relation of order, duty, subordination, or charity, they have to any such Church: Of which, they say they know no virtue, no use, no necessity, no conveniencies, as to any Christian and Religious ends. Which so wilful and affect­ed ignorance, was never known, till these latter and perilous times had found out the pleasure of Paradoxes; by which, men would seem wiser, and more exact, both in their words and fancies, than either pious antiquity, or the Scriptures: Hoping by such gross and unexpected absurdities, (which would fain appear very shie and scrupulous in language) to colour over Shismatical and Anarchical designs; and under such fig-leaves to hide the shame and folly of their factious agitations and humors; which makes them unwilling to be governed by any in Church or State, without themselves have an oar in the Boat, and a share in the Government. This poor concernment of some mens small ambitions, makes them disown any Church, but such a conventicle or parcel as some men fancy to collect and call; which they infect with the same fancies of sole and full Churchship, and separate Power. Whereas the Lord Jesus Christ always first called men by his Ministers to his Church; and by Baptism admit­ted them; and by meet Governors, whom he sent and ordained, ruled them, as his flock, in greater, as well as lesser parties;Gen. 32. as Jacob did his distinct flocks in the hands of his sons.

By the same Cynical severity, these men may deny, they have re­lation to any other men, being themselves compleat men; or at most that they are to regard none, but their families where they live; and so cast off all observance to any greater Societies in Towns, or Cities, or Commonweals; yea, and all sense of humanity to the generality of mankinde, whom they shall never see together, or be acquainted with. Who doubts, notwithstanding this morose folly, but that, as in all right reason, equity, and humanity, every man is related by the common nature to all mankinde; so also, to particular polities and societies of men greater or smaller; according to the distinct combinations, into which providence hath cast him with them, either in Cities, or Countreys? With whom, to refuse com­munion, and disown relation, is to sin against the common principles of society, order, and government, which are in mans nature; which God hath implanted, Reason suggests, and all wise men have ob­served, for the obtaining of an higher and more common good, by the publick and united influence of the counsel, strength, and autho­rity of many, than can be obtained, in scattered parcels, or small and weaker fraternities.

In like maner, to be in and of the Church, is not onely to be a true believer (which gives internal and real union to Christ, and to [Page 82] all true Christians in the Church Catholike, Ecclesia una est quae in multi­tudinem latius incremento fa­cunditatis ex­tenditur. Cyp. de Eccl. unit. 1 Cor. 2.11. What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him.) of which, no man can judge, because he cannot discern it, save onely in the judgement of charity) But it implies also to have and to hold, that profession of Christian Religion, in such external polities, and visible communion with others, as the providence of God, both offers and requires of us; according to the time, place, and opportunities, wherein he sets us; so as we may most promote the common good: Which study and duty we own in humanity, as men, and more in charity, as Chri­stians to any Church, or society of Christians; To whom our coun­sel and power, or our consent and subjection, may adde a further au­thority, a more harmonious and efficacious influence, than can be from small or ununited parcels: So that a National Church, that is, such a Society of Christians, as are distinct by civil limits and relati­on, from other Nations, may not onely own, and accordingly act, as they are men related in things civil; but also as Christians, they may own and wisely establish such a Church power, relation, and associa­tion in matters of Religion, as may best preserve themselves in true Doctrine, holy Order, Christian peace, and good maners by joynt counsel, and more vigorous power; The neerness which they have, affording greater opportunities to impart, and enjoy the benefit of mutual counsel and charity, and all other communicable abilities, to a nobler measure, and higher proportion, than can be had in lesser bodies or combinations. This joynt, publick, and united authortiy of any Church, in any Nation or Kingdom, is so far from being slighted, as some capricious mindes do, that it is the more to be venerated and regarded by all good Christians; who know, that duty enlarges with relations; and a greater charity is due from us to greater communi­ties, both of men, and of Christians.

Odia quo ini­quiora eo magis a cerba. Tacit.The greatest vexation of these new Modellers, is, That they have so little with truth, modesty, or charity, to say against this famous National Church of England, and its Ministry: For they daily see, notwithstanding all their specious pretensions, and undefatigable agi­tations; the more, as winds, they seek to shake and subvert well-rooted Christians; the more they are confirmed, and setled in that Christian, communion,9. Charity ne­cessary in any true Church and Christians. [...]. Ca­mer. de Me­lan. which they have upon good grounds, both of Reason and Religion, Polity and Charity, with this Church of England, as their Mother: Which blessing, all wise Christians, and well ordered Churches, ever owned and enjoyed among themselves, as parts of the Catholik, in their several distinctions and society.

In these points of the true Church, and true Religion (however I covet to be short) yet I shall be most serious, and as clear as may be; writing nothing to other mens Consciences, which I do not first read in mine own; and of which, I know account must be given by me, at Christs tribunal. And truly, I am as loth to deceive others, [Page 83] as to erre my self, in matters of so great concernment,Nulla erro­ris secta sam contra Christi verit atem nist nomine cooperta Christiano ad pugnandum pro­silire audet. August. ep. 56. as true Re­ligion, and the true Church are: Both which, every Sect and Party of Christians chalenge to themselves; and those, no doubt, with most right and truest comfort, who do it with most charity to any others, that have for the foundation of their faith, the Scriptures, and the Sacraments for the seals, and a true Ministry for the ordering and right dispensing of holy things; professing such latitudes of charity always, as exclude no such Christians from communion with them: (Notwithstanding, they have many and different superstructures in lesser things.) Without this Christian charity, it is evident, all ostentations of true Religion, of Churches purity, and of Reforma­tion, though accompanied with tongues, miracles, and martyrdoms, 1 Cor. 14.1, 3, &c. are in vain, and profit men nothing.

As it is not enough to make men of the true Church, to say, They are the onely true Church, and in the onely Church-way; or to censure, condemn, and exclude all other Christians, who may be in the same path-way to Heaven, though the paving be different; of grass, or gravel, or stone, &c. So it is enough, to exclude any party, sect, or faction of seeming Christians, from being any sound part of the true Church, to say, in a Schismatical pride, and uncharitable se­verity, That they are the onely true Church; Excidisti ab ec­clesia, ubi à charitate exci­deris; quum à Christo ipso inde excidisti. Aug. (as the ring-leaders of the Novatians and Donatists did;) excommunicating by malicious, proud, and passionate principles; or in any other novelizing ways, vexing and disturbing the quiet of those Christians, and Churches, who have the true Means and Ministry; the true Grounds, and Seals of Faith; with other holy and orderly Ministrations, though with some different rites, yet professing holiness of life, and this, with Christian charity to all others;Col. 3.14. which is the very bond of perfection: The want of which, cannot consist with those other graces of true faith and love, repentance and humility, by which men pretend to be united to Christ. The ready way, not to be any part or true Member of the Catholike Church, is,Isai. 65.4. They eat abo­minable things; yet they say, Stand by thy self, come not neer me; for I am holier than thou. These (saith the Lord) are a smoke in my nose, and a fire that burneth all the day. To chalenge to be the onely true Church, and to separate from all others; both by non-communion with them, and a total condemning or abdicating of them: As the way for any branch to wither, and come to no­thing, is, To break it self off by a rude Schism, or violent fraction from the Tree, that it may have the glory to grow by it self; and to say with a Pharisaick pride to all others, stand by, I am holier than you; Thus parting from that Root and Body, Christ and the Catho­like Church; in the communion with which, by Truth and Charity, its Life and Beauty did consist.

However then, the unholy love of novelty, proud curiosity, cold charity, and distempered zeal of some men, dare cast off, unchurch, and anathematise, not onely single persons and private Congrega­tions, [Page 82] [...] [Page 83] [...] [Page 84] but even greater associations of Christians; bound together, by the bonds of civil, as well as Church societies, in Nations and King­doms; yea, and to despise that Catholike form of all the Churches in the World,2 Cor. 10.12. They measu­ring them­selves by themselves, and comparing themselves among them­selves, are not wise. of antient, as well as present times: Yet this vain-glorying, through a verbal, ignorant, proud, and uncharitable con­fidence of themselves, and contempt of all others, seems to have more in it of Belial and Antichrist, than of Jesus Christ; more of Luci­fer, than of the Father of Lights; who also is the Father of Love; who hath therefore shined on men with the light of his grace, and love of Christ, that he might lead them by this powerful patern of divine love, to love one another, as men and as Christians, with all meekness and charity; with all good hope, forbearance and long-suffer­ing; toward those, especially, that profess to be of the houshold of faith; who hold the foundation, Christ crucified; though they may have many additions of hay, 1 Cor. 3.15. straw, and stubble; since, Those may save, though these suffer loss. God will easily discern between his gold, and our dross, between the errors rising from simplicity, and the truths joyned with charity, and humility; He will easily distinguish be­tween the humble ignorance of many upright-hearted Christians, who are seduced to wandrings; and the subtilty, pride, or malice, of Arch-hereticks and Schismaticks, who seduce others for sinister ends.

All wise, humble, and charitable Christians, should so order their judgements, and censures, if at any time they are forced to de­clare them, that they must above all things take heed, that they nourish not, nor discover any uncharitable fewds, or distances, and, antipathies, against any Churches or Christians, after the rate of those passions, which are the common source both of Schisms and He­resies; whose ignorance and pride, like water and ice, mutually a­rise from, and are resolved into each other: Therefore proud, because ignorant; and the more ignorant, because so proud. Nor yet may they follow those defiances and distances in Religion, Tantum distat à vera charitate quorundam ze­totarum praeceps & intemperatus [...]d [...], quantum maligna sebri­citantium flam­ [...]ae à native & vitali corpo­ris calore. Cas. which Rea­son of State, or the Interests of Princes, or Power of Civil Factions, or the Popular fierceness of some Ministers, and eager Sticklers for sides and parties, do nourish; and vulgarly commend, as high ex­pressions of zeal, and the onely ways of true Religion; Where there is scarce one drop of charity in a sea of controversie, or one star of ne­cessary truth in the whole clouded Heaven of their differing opinions and ways; which set men as far from true Christian temper, as burn­ing Feavers do from native heat, and health.

10. Extremes touching the Church.I know no point hath used more liberal and excellent Pens, than this, concerning the true Church, as it is visible, or professional before men; which is the proper subject of this dispute. Some mens Pens flow with too much gall and bitterness; as the rigid Papists on [Page 85] the one side; and the keener Separatist on the other: Denying any to be in a right Church-way, save onely such, as are just in their par­ticular mold and form: Either joyned in communion with the Roman profession, and being subject to its head, the Pope; pleading anti­quity, unity, universality, visibility, &c. or else embodied with those new and smaller Incorporations, which count themselves the onely true, and properly so called Churches; pretending more absolute Church-power, more exact constitution, and more compleat Scrip­ture-Reformation, than any antient, National, dilated, and confede­rated Churches could, or ever did attain too.

Herein, there is a strong excess on both sides,1. By the Romanists. Baron. Anno Christi 45. p. 376. Haereticum esse qui à Romanae Cathedrae com­munione divisu [...] sit. So Bellarm. d [...] Rom. Pont. l. 2.12. Vetusta co [...]sue­tudo servetur; ut hic (Episco­pus Rom.) sub­urbicaniarum ecclesiarum soli­citudinem ger [...]. Ruffin. hist. l. 1. c. 6. Concil. Nicen. both Papal and Popular: First, The Romanists extend the cords of their Churches power, and its head or chief Bishop, so far, as if it were properly Catho­like, and Oecumenical; that is, by divine appointment invested with sovereign Authority, to extend and exercise Ecclesiastical polity and dominion over all other particular Churches, in all ages, and in all parts of the World: So that it is (say they) necessary to salvation to be under this Roman jurisdiction, &c. Whereas it is certain, That the Roman Church, antiently was, and still is (properly speaking) distinct from others in place, as well as name, and had antiently its limited power, and jurisdiction, extending to the suburbicanian Pro­vinces; which were Ten, seven in Italy, and three in Sicily, Corsica, and Sardinia: Acco [...]ding to those (like) bounds, which occasionally from civil titles, both named and distinguished all other Churches from one another; in both the Asiaes, in Africa, and in Europe; as the Gallican, German, British, &c. Nor hath ever any thing, either of Reason, or Scripture, been produced by any (more than of true Antiquity) whereby to prove, That we are bound to any com­munion (that is, (in the true meaning of proud and politick Roman­ists) to that subjection to the Pope, and his party; which may be most for his and their honor and profit) with the Church of Rome, further, than the rule of Christian charity obligeth every Christian, and every part of the Catholike Church, to communicate in truth and love, with all those, that in any judgement of charity, are to be counted true Christians, so far, as they appear to us, to be such.

Nor is it less evident, That many Churches and Christians have scarce ever known, much less owned, any claim of subjection upon them, by the Roman Church: Which, however they had antiently a priority of order and precedency, yielded to it, and its chief Bishop, for the eminency of the City, the honor of the Empire, and the excel­lency of the reputed Founders and Planters, Saint Peter, and Saint Paul; also for the renown of the faith, patience, and charity of that Church, which was famous in all the World; Yet,Rom. 1. [...]. all this Primacy [Page 86] or Priority of Order, which was civilly by others granted, and might modestly be accepted by the chief Bishop in the Roman Province, as to matter of place and precedency, or Votes in publick Counscis and Synods: This, I say, is very far from thatGreg. Mag. ep. 30. ad Mauri. Aug. Fidenter dico, quia quisquis se universalem sa­cerdotem, vel Episcopum vo­cat, vel vocari desiderat, in elatione suâ Antichristum praecurrit; quia superbiendo se caeteris praepo­nit. De Cyria­co, Constanti­nop. Episcope, hunc frivoli nominis & su­perbia typhum affectante. Greg. M. l 4. ep. 32, 36. Antichristian Supremacy of usurped power, tyrannick dominion, and arbitrary jurisdiction; the very suspition and temptation to which, the holy and humble Bishops of Rome were ever jealous of, and avoided; especially Gregory the Great; who was in nothing more worthy of that title, than in this, That he so greatly detested, protested against, and re­fused the title of Ʋniversal Bishop, when it was offered to him by the Councel of Chalcedon: Which both name and thing was in after times gained and chalenged by the pride, policy, covetousness, and ambition, of those Bishops of Rome, who by some of their own sides confession (asBaronius, an. 912. tom. 10. Foedissima nunc Romanae eccle­sia facies, cùm Romae domina­rentur potentissi­ma ac sordidis­sima mer [...]rices. Baronius, See Gene­brard. ad Sec. 10. Pontifices per an. 150. à virtute ma­jorum prorsus desecerunt. Genebrard, and others) were suffi­ciently degenerated from that Primitive humility and sanctity, which were eminent in the first Bishops of Rome, in those purer and primitive times; who never thought of any one of those Three Crowns, which flatterers in after ages have fully hammered, and set on the heads of the Bishops of Rome; in a Supremacy, not of Order, but of Power, and plenary Jurisdiction, above all Christians, or Churches, or Councils in the Christian World; which hath just­ly occasioned so many parts of the Catholike Church, in that regard, to make a necessary separation (not from any thing that is Christian among them, but) from the usurpation, tyranny, and superstition of those bishops of the Roman Church, and their Faction, who un­justly claim, and rigorously exercise dominion over the Consciences and Liberties of all other Churches, and Christians: With whom, the Roman pride now refuseth to hold such peaceable communion, as ought universally to be among Christians, (in respect of order and charity) unless they will all submit to that tyranny and usurpation, which hath nothing in it, but secular pride, vain pomp, and worldly dominion: Yet still those of the Roman Church know, That all the Reformed Churches, as well as we of England, ever did, and do hold, a Christian communion in charity with them, so far, as by the Word of God we conceive they hold with the head or root of the Church, Christ Jesus; with the ground and rule of Faith, the Scriptures; and with all those holy Professors, in the purest and primitive Churches: Of whose faith, lives, and deaths, having some Monu­ments left us, by the writings of eminent Bishops, and others; we judge, what was the tenor both of the Faith, Maners, and Charity of those purer times, which we highly venerate, and strive to imi­tate.

Possibly we might now subscribe to that Letter, which the Abbot and Monks of Bangor sent to Austin, (whom some report to [Page 87] be a proud and bloody Monk) when he came to this Nation, and re­quired obedience of them, and all Christians here, to the Pope; (which Letter is thus translated out of Saxonick, by that grave and learned Gentleman, Sir Henry Spelman, Sir Henry Spel­man, Concil. Brit. Anno Christi 590. out of the Saxon Manu­script. a lover and adorner of this Church of England, by his life and learned Labors.) Be it known to you, without doubt, that every one of us are obedient, and subject to the Church of God, and to the Pope of Rome, and to every true godly Christian; to love every one in his degree, in perfect charity; and to help every one of them, by word and deed, to be the children of God; and other obedience, than this, we know not due to him, whom you call Pope; nor do we own him to be Father of Fathers.Isca, one of the three Metropo­lis in Britain. Caerusk, in Monmouthshire, Antiq. Brit. This obedience we are ever ready to give, and pay to him, and every Christian, continually: Beside we are under our own Bishop of Caerleon upon Usk, who is to oversee us under God, and to cause us to keep the way spiritual.

Nor will this benefit of the Popes pretended Infallibility, 11. The pretend­ed Infallibi­lity in the Pope or Church of Rome. Primatum suum non objecit Pe­trus, nec inerra­bilitatem, sed Paulo veritatis assertori cesset: Documentum patientiae & concordiae. Cyp. ep. 71. (for deciding controversies of Religion, and ending all Disputes of Faith, in the Church Catholike) countervail the injury of this his usurpa­tion, and oppression: Considering, that nothing is more, by Scrip­ture, Reason, and Experience, not so much disputable, as fully to be denied by any sober Christians, than that of the Popes Infallibility; which, as the Church never ye enjoyed; so, nor doth any Church, or any Christian indeed want any such thing as this infallible judge is imagined to be; in order to either Christian course, or com­fort: If indeed, the Bishop of Rome, and those learned men about him, would, without faction, flattery, partiality, and self-interest, joyn their learning, counsels, and endeavors, in common, to reform the abuses, to compose the rents and differences in the Christian World, by the rule of Scripture, and right Reason, with Christian humility, prudence, and charity, (which look sincerely to a publick and com­mon good) they would do more good for the Churches of Christ, than any imaginary Infallibility will ever do; yea, and they would do themselves no great hurt in civil respects; if they could meet and joyn, not with envious and covetous, but liberal and ingenuous Reformers; who will not think as many, the greatest deformities of any Church, to be the riches, and revenues of Church-men.

Certainly, in points of true Religion, to be believed, or duties to be practised, as from divine command, every Christian is to be judge of that, which is propounded to him, and embraced by him; ac­cording to what he is rationally and morally able to know and attain; by those means which God hath given him, of Reason, Scripture, Ministry, and good examples: Of all which, the gifts or graces of God in him, have inabled him seriously and discreetly to consider. Nor is he to rest in, either implicite, or explicite dictates, presumptions, [Page 88] and Magisterial determinations of any frail, and sinful men, who may be as fallible,Magnum inge­nium magna tentatio. De Orig. & Tert. Vin. Lirin. 1 Cor. 8.7. Knowledge puffeth up. 2 Pet. 2.19. [...]. Rom. 6.17. Ye have obey­ed from the heart, that form of do­ctrine which was delivered to you. Eph. 4.15. [...]. 2 Thes. 2.10. Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. as himself: For, whereas they may exceed him in gifts of knowledge, they may also exceed him in passions, self-in­terests, pride, and policy; so that he may not safely trust them on their bare word, and assertion; but he must seek to build his faith on the more sure Word of God, which is acknowledged (by all sides) to be the surest director, what to believe, to do, and to hope in the way of Religion. Nor may any private Christians unletteredness, that cannot read; or his weaker intellect, that cannot reason and dispute; or his many incumberances of life, that deny him leisure to read, study, compare, meditate, &c. These may not discourage him, as if he were a dry tree, and could neither bear, nor reap any fruit of Christian Religion, because he hath no infallible guide, or judge: Since the mercy of God accepts earnest endeavors, and an holy life, according to the power, capacy, and means a man hath; also he par­dons unwilling errors, when there is an obedience from the heart, to the truths we know; and a love to all truth, joyned with humility, and charity.

In order therefore to relieve the common defects of men, as to the generality of them, both in Cities and in Countrey Villages (where there is little learning by the Book, or Letter; and great dul­ness with heavy labor) the Lord of his wisdom and mercy hath ap­point d that constant holy order of the Ministry, to be always con­tinued in the Church; that so learned, studious, and able men, being duly tryed, approved, and ordained to be Teachers and Pastors; may by their light, knowledge, and plenty, supply the darkness, simplicity, and penury of common people; who must every man be fully perswaded in his own minde, Rom. 14.5. in matters of conscience; and be able to give a reason of that faith and hope which is in him, beyond the cre­dit of any meer man, or the opinion of his infallibility, 1 Pet. 3.15.

However they may with comfort and confidence attend upon their lips, whom in an holy succession of Ministry, God hath given to them, as the ordinary and sufficient means of Faith; And how­ever a plain-hearted and simple Christian may religiously wait upon, and rest satisfied with those holy means and mysteries, which are so dispenced to him by true Ministers, (who ought above all, to be both able and faithful; to know, and to make known the truth, as it is in Jesus;) Yet, may he not savingly, or conscientiously relie, in mat­ters of Faith, nor make his last result upon the bare credit, or person­al veracity of the Minister; but he must consider and believe every truth, not because the Minister saith it, but because it is grounded on the Word of God; and from thence brought him by his Minister; which doctrine he judgeth to be true, not upon the infallibility of [Page 89] any Teachers; but upon that certainty which he believes to be in the Scripture; to which, all sorts of Christians do consent; And to which, the Grace and Spirit of God so draweth and enclineth the heart, as to close with those divine truths, to believe and obey them; not for the authority of the Minister, but of God the Revealer; whose excellent wisdom, truth, and love, it discerns in those things which are taught it by the Ministry of man. So that, still the simplest Christian doth savingly believe, and conscientiously live, according to what himself judgeth, and is perswaded in his heart, to be the Will of God, in his Word; and not after the dictates of any man: Which either written, or spoken, have no more authority to command or perswade belief, as to Religion, than they appear to the believer, (and not to the speaker onely) grounded on the sure Word of God, and to be his minde and will to mankinde.

And as it is not absolutely necessary to every Christian, in order to Faith and Salvation, to be able with his own eyes to read, and so to judge of the Letter of the Scripture; so it is the more necessary, that the reading and preaching of the Word should be committed to able and faithful men; not, who are infallible,2 Tim. 2.2. [...]. but who may be apt to teach, and worthy to be believed: Of whom, the people may have great perswasion, both as to their abilities, and due authority, to teach and guide them in the ways of God. We read in Irenaeus, Irenaeus, l. 3. c. 4. that in One hundred and fifty years after Christ, many Churches of Christians, toward the Caspian Sea, and Eastward, were very sound in the Faith, and setled against all Heretical or Schismatical insinua­tions; when yet they never had any Bibles or Scriptures among them; but onely retained that Faith which they at first had learned, and were still taught by their Orthodox Bishops, and Ministers; which they never wanted in a due succession: Of whose piety, honesty, and cha­rity, they were so assured, as diligently to attend their doctrine, and holy ministrations; with which the blessing of God (opening their harts, as Lydia's) still went along; so as to keep them in true faith, love, and holy obedience.

Since then, no man or men can give to others, any such sure proofs, and good grounds of their personal infallibility, as the Scrip­tures have in themselves, both by that more than humane lustre of divine truths in it; which set forth most excellent precepts, paterns, and promises; excellent morals and mysteries; excellent rules, ex­amples, and rewards, beyond any Book whatsoever: Also, from that general credit, regard, and reception, which they have, and ever had with all (and most with the best) Christians, in all ages; as the Oracles of God, delivered by holy and honest men; for a rule of faith, and holy life; also for a ground of eternal hope: Since that from hence onely, even the Pope, or any others, that pretend to any [Page 90] infallibility, or inspirations, do first seek to ground those their pretensi­ons, of which, every one that will be perswaded, must first be judge of the reasons or grounds alleged to perswade him; It is necessary, that the ( [...]) infallibility of the Scriptures, must be first received, and believed by every Christian; in order to his being assured of any truth, which thence is urged upon him to believe, or do: Which great principle setling a believer on the certainty or infallibility of the Scriptures, as a divine rule of Faith and Life, is never to be gained upon any mens judgements and perswasion (be they either idiotick or learned) unless there be such an authoritative Ministry, and such Ministers to preach, interpret, open, and apply the Scrip­tures, by strong and convincing demonstrations, which may carry credit and power with them. The succession then of rightly ordained Ministers is more necessary to the Church, than any such Papal in­fallibility; in as much, as it is more necessary to believe the Scrip­tures authority, than any mans testimony, which hath no credit but from the Scripture: Which while the Pope, or others, do seek to wrest to their own secular advantages and ends, they bring men at length to regard nothing they say; nor at all to consider, what they endlesly wrangle, and groundlesly dispute about true Religion, or the true Church.

12. An able and right Ministry, is beyond any pretended Infallibility.So absolutely necessary and sufficient in the way of ordinary means, is a right and duly ordained Ministry, which Christ hath ap­pointed to continue, and propagate true Christian Religion; which ever builds true Faith, and the true Church upon the Scriptures; That, as there is no infallibility of the Pope, or other man, evident by any Reason, Scripture, or Experience, so there needs none, to carry on that great work of mens salvation; which will then fail in any Church and Nation, when the right Ministry fails, by force or fraud: If we can keep our true Christian Ministry, and holy Ministrations, we need not ask the Romanists, or any other arrogant Monopolizers of the Church, leave to own our selves true Christians, and a part of the true Catholike Church of Christ; which cannot be but there, where there is a profession of the Christian Religion, as to the main of it; in its Truths, Sacraments, holy Ministrations and Ministry, rightly ordained; both for the ability of the ordained, and the authority of the ordainers; although all should be accompanied with some humane failings.

Where the now Roman Church then, doth (as we conceive) either in their doctrine, or practise, vary from that Catholikely received rule the Scriptures, which are the onely infallible, certain, and clear guide in things fundamental; as to faith, or maners; we are forced so far, justly and necessarily to leave them, and their infallible fallibility in both; yet charitably still, so as to pity their errors; to pray for [Page 91] their enlightning, their repentance and pardon, which we hope for: Where no malice or corrupt lusts makes the additional errors perni­cious; and where the love of truth makes them pardonable, by their consciencious obeying what they know, and desire to know, what they are yet ignorant of. Yea, and wherein they are conform to any Scriptures, doctrine, and practise; or right reason, good order, and prudent polity; there, we willingly run parallel with, and agree­able to them, both in opinion and practise: For we think we ought not in a heady, and passionate way, wholly to separate from any Church, or cast away any branch of it, that yet visibly professeth Christian Religion; further, than it rends and breaks it self off from the Word, Institution, and patern of Christ, in the Scriptures; and so either separates it self from us, or casts us out from it, uncharitably violating that Catholike communion of Christs Church, which ought to be preserved with all possible charity. The constancy and fidelity of the Church of Christ is more remarkable in its true Ministry, holding forth in an holy succession the most Catholike and credible truth of the Scriptures; which at once shews both the innate di­vine light in them; and the true Church also, which is built by them, and upon them. The truth of which Scriptures, while we with charity, believe and profess, both in word and deed, we take it to be, the surest and sufficientest evidence to prove, That we are a part of the true Church, against the cavils and calumnies of those learneder Romanists; upon whose Anvils, others of far weaker arms, have learned to forge the like fiery darts against this Church of England.

For, on the other side, the new Models of Independent, 13. The contra­ry extreme reducing all Churches to small and single Con­gregations. or Con­gregational Churches, (which seem like small Chapels of Ease, set up to confront and rob the Mother Churches of Auditors, Com­municants, Maintenance, and Ministry) winde up the cords, and fold up the curtains of the true Church, too short, and too narrow; Shrinking that Christian communion, and visible polity, or society of the Church, to such small figures, such short and broken ends, of obscure conventicles, and paucities, that by their rigid separatings, some men scarce allow the whole company of true Christians, in all the world, to be so great, as would fill one Jewish Synagogue: Fancy­ing, that no Church or Christian, is sufficiently reformed, till they are most diametrically contrary in every use and custom to the Ro­man fashion; abhorring many things as Popish, [...] Naz. In vitium ducit culpae fugasi caret arte. Hor. and Superstiti­ous, because used by the Papists: When indeed, they are either pious, or very prudential; yea, many count it a special mark of their true Churchship, to separate from all, to cry down every thing, to rail at, and despise (with as little charity, as much passion, and no reason) all Churches and Christians, as Antichristian, and not [Page 92] yet sufficiently reformed, which are not of their new Bodying, and Independent fashion.

Which novel practises seem nothing else, but the effects, either of secular polity, or prejudicating and preposterous zeal; by which, some men, for their interest, or their humor, seek to bring back the Churches of Christ, to that Egypt and Babylon of strife, schism, emulation, sedition, faction, and confusion, to which they were running very early,St. Paul, 1 Cor. c. 3. Clem. ad Cor. epist. Thirty years after. Postquam u­nusquisque eos quos baptisave­rat suos esse pu­tabat, non Chri­sti, in toto orbe decretum est, ut unus de Presby­teris electus superponeretur caeteris, ad quem omnis ecclesiae cura pertineret; & schismatum semina tolleren­tur. Jeron. in Tit. as the Apostle Paul tells us; and St. Clemens in his Epistle to the Corinthians: From the rocks of which inconveniencies, Saint Jerom by express words, and all Churches, by their antient Catho­like practises, do assure us, That the wisdom of the Apostles, and Apostolike-men in the Primitive times, even from St. Mark in Alexandria, and St. James in Jerusalem, redeemed and brought the Church; by setling those large and publick combinations, by Episcopal Government; and in ways of ampliated communion, and Catholike correspondencies (as much as might be) by Synods and General Coun­cils; which might best keep particular Congregations, from scatter­ing and crumbling themselves into such Factions and Schisms; which all wisdom foresaw, and experience fulfilled, would be the onely means, First, to break the bond of Christian charity, and the Churches communion (which consisted much, as in the verity of the Faith, so in those larger fraternities, holy confederacies, and orderly sub­jections,) and afterward to overthrow the very foundations of Faith and Truth: As those every where did, who at any time corrupted any part of the Church, affecting singularities, and chosing rather to fall, by standing alone in a separation of Opinion or Government, than to seem to have any support by the association with others, in a more publick way of common relation, unity, and subjection: Which undoubtedly carry the greatest strength and safety with them, both in Ecclesiastical, and Civil polities; twisting many smaller strings into one cord, and many cords into one cable; which will best preserve the Ship of the Church, as well as the State, from those storms and distresses, which are prone to fall upon it, in lesser bottoms. The good effects of which larger communion among men, and Christians, all reason and experience demonstrate to us in civil societies, which are the conservatories of mankinde, by way of mutual assistance in publick combinations; while single persons, which alone are feeble, and exposed to injuries, grow strong by making one family, and many families grow into a Village, Town, or City: Many Villages, Towns, and Cities, arise to one potent Principality or Commonwealth; which as a threefold cord, is not easily broken.

It is in all Church Histories most evident, That, as soon as the Gospel spred from Cities, where it was generally first planted (there being the greatest conflux of people) and from thence derived to the [Page 93] Territories, and Countreys adjacent, which were called the several ( [...] or [...]) Parishes or Diocesses: So, those Christians, which grew up in the Countreys and Territories about, to small Con­gregations, continued still in a fraternal subjection, and a filial sub­mission, both Presbyters and People, to that Bishop and Presbytery, which were in the Mother City; who, there residing, (where the Apostles or Apostolike-men had placed them) took care so to spred the Gospel to the Countreys about, as to preserve Religion once plant­ed, in peace, unity, and order. Nor did those particular Congrega­tions in Cities or Vi [...]lages, turn presently Acepalists or Independents; nor set up any ( [...]) heady or headless bodies, in every corner and meeting-place: For, however Christians in some places, might at first amount to but so small a number, as would make but one convenient Society, or Congregation, under one Bishop, or Presbyter, with the Deacons; and so might for a time continue in private bounds, not corresponding with, or depending on any other company of Christians, as to lesser concernments, which might easily be managed among them: Yet, where the number of believers increased, as in Antioch, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, &c. both in the Cities, and their Territories, all Histories of the Church a ver; That, as by those dictates of religious Reason, which first guided the Apostles or Apostolike-men, to cast themselves and believers, into such lesser bodies, and distinct societies, as might best serve for the con­venience of meeting together in one place, according as neighbor­hood invited them: So still (as growing parts of the same body, and increasing branches of the same Tree) they preserved the first, great, and common relation, of descent and extraction, from the Mother City; So as to correspond with, to watch over each other; yea, and to be subject (in every particular Congregation, as well as families) to those, who were the original of their instruction and conversion; and who by a kinde of paternal right, together with Apostolical ap­pointment, and common consent of Christians, had the chief power and authority for Inspection and Government over them, within such precincts and bounds; yea, all Christians were thus subjected, and united in greater and diffused Churches, not by any civil necessity; such as compels men by the sword and force; but by that necessity of gratitude, sense of priority, prudence and charity; which bound by love, humility, and wisdom, particular Christians first to one Society or Convention: And these particular Congregations to greater frater­nities; and these to a more ample and Catholike communion; for the mutual peace, and good order of the whole Church of Christ; which sought to preserve it self, even in the eye of the world, as one entire body, under one head, Christ Jesus. 1 Cor. 12.25, &c. Eph. 4.4, &c.

So that the imaginary pdtern in the Mount, the primitive practise [Page 94] which some men love to talk of (by which they would force all large and ampliated Churches, (which have now received (as they did at first) distinctions and denominations by the Cities, Civil Jurisdictions, Kingdoms, or Nations, wherein they are) to those lesser Forms, wherein they fancy (and not unlikely) a single Con­gregation of Christians, in any place, at first enjoyed themselves un­der some Apostle, or one of Apostolike appointment, who was their Bishop or Overseer over them,) This, I say, seems to be so childish a fancy, so weak, and unreasonable an imagination, That it is all one, as if they would needs reduce themselves to their infant coats, now they are grown men.

And what I pray doth hinder (save onely the novel opinions and humors of these men,) that, Christian Religion (which sanctifies reason, to serve God and the Church, in all comely ways) may not use those principles and rules, for order, unity, peace, and mutual safe­ty of Christians, in their multiplied numbers and societies; which we are taught, and allowed to use in all civil associations? Yea, and not onely allowed, but enjoyned to observe in Ecclesiastical polity and Government, by that great and fundamental Canon of the Apo­stle, 1 Cor. 14.40. Let all things be done decently, and in order; which must hold, not onely in private and lesser parcels, but in the more large and in­tegral parts of the Church of Christ.

But Reason then, and Religion sufficiently discover, the vanity and impertinency of those novel fancies, which are obtruded, as ne­cessary for all private Congregations; when indeed they are, and ever have been, and will be destructive to the more publick and gene­ral good of the Church; whose tranquillity, honor, and safety, consists in such dependencies and subordinations, which may be furthest re­mote from those fractions and disunions, which arise from that Church-dividing and Charity-destroying principle of Independent Congrega­tions; Rom. 16.5. Greet the Church, which is in their house. 1 Cor. 16.19. The Churches of Asia salute y [...]u. which was never used in any times of the Church, further than the minority and infancy of the first planting; while either Christians were not encreased much in number, or not enlarged in place: But when the first small company of believers multiplied from a Church in one Family, to a Church in many Congregations, (which could not now with conveniency all meet together in one place,) they yet as branches, still continued both united to the root, Christ Jesus; 14. The Church of England, not blamable for its Na­tional com­munion. and also to the main body and bulk of the visible Church, by union to that part whence they descended, and to which they related; and they were not as Colonies or Slips, so transplant­ed and separated, as to grow Independently of themselves, apart from all others: Of which, there is no example in Scripture or Antiquity.

It follows then, That what was setled in this or other like Christian Churches, was no whit blamable, as any thing of meer [Page 95] humane invention, or any superfluous and corrupt addition to any precept, patern, or constitution, either of Christs or the Apostles; who never prohibited the ordering of Churches in larger associations or Governments; extending to Cities, and their Territories, to great Diocesses, Provinces, and Nations; Since there is no precept or practise, limiting Churches power, and society, to private and single Congregations: Yea, there are such general directions, and examples in the Scripture, as command, or at least commend rather than con­demn those analogous or proportionable applyings of all orderly and prudential means for union and communion, according as the various state, and times of the Church may require; which still aym at the same end, the peace and welfare of the Church, both in the lesser and the larger extents; which are justly so carried on by the wise Governors and Protectors of the Church, according to the general principles and rules, or paterns of pious and charitable prudence, set down in the Scriptures; beyond which, in this case of the Churches outward order and polity, there neither is, nor needs, other directions; no more, than on what Text and Subject; or in what method and place; or how long time, and how often a Minister must pray, or preach; and people must hear Sermons, or attend holy duties.

That antient and excellent frame then, of this Church in Eng­land, which in a National union, by civil, religious, and sacred bonds, was so wisely built, and for many ages compacted together, and which hath been lately so undermined, so hackt and hewn, with passi­onate writings, and disputings, and actings, that it is become not one­ly a tottering, but almost a quite demolished and overthrown frame; This Church, I say, hath suffered this hard fate, rather through the iniquities of times, malice of men, and just judgements of God on the Governors and governed, (who we may fear improved not so great advantages of union, order, power, peace, and protection, to the real good of the Church, and furtherance of the Gospel) rather, I say, by these personal failings, than for any, either mischief, deformity, defects, or Antichristian excess in the way and frame it self, as to its grounds and constitutions: Which were setled and long approved by very wise, holy, and learned men; carrying with them, (as much, as any Christian, or Reformed Church did) the lineaments, feature, beauty and vigor, of those famous Primitive Churches; which in the midst of heresies and persecutions kept themselves safe, as to truth and charity, not by the shreds of Independent Bodies, but by the su­tures of Christian Associations; in Provincial, National, and Oecu­menical enlargements: Such ample and noble platforms of religious reason, and sanctified wisdom, as not ambitious policy, but Christian charity, and prudent humility, embraced; which, as our new models and projections will never mend, so they much commend those antient happy [Page 96] models, and paterns, by those multiplied mischiefs ensuing inevitably upon the presumptions of posterity; which have rashly adventured thus to remove and change the antient limits, marks, and orders of the Church, which Primitive Fathers and Apostles had recom­mended and setled.

15. Seekers thence. The Eutychian Hereticks re­fusing to sub­scribe the Ca­tholike Faith, confirmed by the Council of Chalcedon, called them­selves [...], Ambi­gentes, Dubi­tantes; and after run out to all corrupt opinions. Aug. de Haere. Nobis qui sam credimus aliud non quaerendum. Si enim semper quaerimus, nun­quam invenie­mus, nunquam credemus. Tert. de Praes. ad Hae. c. 10. Quemadmo­dum Atheorum pars maxima, non tam credunt quam cupiunt non esse Deum. M n. Fael. Non facile inve­nient veram ec­clesiam, qui illi­benter quaerunt. Melancth.Which temerity of thus mincing and crumbling, or tearing any Church National (being the issue of no Synod, or Council in the Church, but onely of private fancies, and most-what mechanick ad­ventures) hath, we see, made some poor souls turn Scepticks and Seekers after true Religion, and a true Church; being wholly un­satisfied, either with the abolition of the old way, or the various in­ventions of new ways. These profess, whether out of weakness, pure ignorance, passion, or policy (God knows,) That they are Christians no further, than to see, that all Christian Churches are now, and have been, ever since the Apostles times, adulterous, impure, deform­ed, and Antichristian; That, they are wholly to seek for any true ground, or way of Christian Religion, Church, and Ministry, even among so many Christians, Ministers, and Churches: That is, they cannot see wood for trees, nor light for the Sun at noon-day. And this may easily be, either by reason of wilful blindness, or for want of that charity and humility, which keeps the hearts and eyes of Christians, open and clear; or from that darkness, and blear-eyedness, which prejudice and perversness carry with them; hindring Christians from discerning even those objects, that are round about them; yea, it is to be feared, That some men, from Atheistical, profane, ranting, and licentious principles, seek for a true Church, as Hypocrites do for their sins, and cowards for their enemies, loth to finde them, and studying most to be hidden from them. They complain of this, and other Churches, as defective, as impure, as none; when indeed, it may be feared, they are sorry there are any such; and wish there were none of these Christian societies, Ministers, or godly people, in the world; whose doctrine and examples are their restraints, re­proaches, and torments; being most cross to their evil designs, and immoderate lusts. They complain they cannot finde a true Church, when they are unwilling so to do; and satisfie themselves (as the Cynick in his Tub) morosely to censure, and Magisterially to finde fault with all Christians, that they may conform to none in an holy, humble, and peaceably way; but rather enjoy that fantastick and lazy liberty of mocking God, and man; till they finde such a way of Church and Religion, as shall please them: Which they would not be long in finding, as to extern polity and profession, if they did but entertain that inward life, and power of Religion, which I formerly set down; which, by a principle of charity, as well as of truth, strongly flowing from belief of Gods love in Christ [Page 97] to mankinde, and specially to the Church; doth powerfully binde, and cheerfully encline every humble believer, 1 Cor. 14.33 God is not the Author ( [...]) of unsetledness, commotion, or confusion, but of peace, as in all Churches of the Saints. Heb. 12.14. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, &c. Rom. 12.18. If it be possi­ble, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. to have peace and communion (as much as may be) with all Christians; as internal, in judgment and good will, so external and social; both private and publick; amicitial and political, in regard of example, comfort, and encouragement; as also of Order, Subordination, and Government; so far, as we see they have any fellowship with Christ Jesus, in those holy mysteries and duties, which he hath appointed; whereby to gather and preserve his Church, in all Ages, and places, and Nations.

Thus we see some mens Pens serve onely to blot the face, even of the Catholike Church, and all parts of it in their visible order and communion; affecting to write such blinde and small Characters, in describing new Church ways, and forms of Religion, that no ordinary eyes can read their meaning, either in their shrinking and separating into small ruptures of Bodies; when they were related to, and combined with, Churches large and setled; or in their Seraphick raptures, strange Enthusiasms, secret drawings, and extraordinary impulsions, which they pretend to have in their ways, above, and without; yea, in the neglect, and contempt of all ordinary means, and setled Ministry in any Church: Their many high imaginations, and fanatick fancies, are (no doubt) above their Authors own un­derstandings, no less than above all wiser, and soberer mens capacities; twinckling much more like gloworms, under the hedges of private Conventicles, and Factions; than shining with true and antient light of the judgement or practise of any Churches. Therefore they need no further confutation from my Pen, having so little, yea, no confirmation, from any grounds of Scripture, or arguments of common Reason, or custom of Christians; nothing indeed worthy of any rational, godly, and serious mans thoughts; who list not to dance after the Jews-trump, or Oaten-pipe of every Country fancy, rather than listen to the best touched Lute, or Theorbo,

These Syrens, wise Christians may leave to sing to themselves, and their own melancholy, or musing thoughts; no sober-man can understand them, further than they signifie, that ignorance, illite­rateness, idleness, pride, presumption, licentiousness, and vanity; which some like spiritual Canters affect. The rarities which they boast to enjoy, are without any discreet mans envy, that I know: However, they carry it with a kinde of scornful indignation against others; every where pitying (as they say) the simple diligence, and needless industry of those poor Christians, who are still attending on those thred-bare forms (as they call them) of old readings, and catechisings, and preachings, and prayings, and Sacraments, &c. in the publick Liturgies, and orderly assemblies of Christians: [Page 98] Despising as much the antient and true way of Ministry and Duty, as they would the moldy bread, and torn bottles of the Gibeonites; abhor­ring to own any relation to other Christians, or Church, or Ministry, or Governors, in any Catholike bond of communion and subjection; nor can they endure any Christian subordination, or prudent, and necessary restraint of just Government.

Jeron. Ep. ad Eustoch. Qui­bus os barba­rum & procax, & in convicia semper arma­tum. Isid. H [...]spal. lib. de offic. eccles. c. 15. Ubicunque va­gantur venalem circumferentes hypocri sinus­quam fixi, nusquam stantes, nusquam sedentes; quae non viderunt confingunt: Opiniones sua [...] habent pro Deo. Honores quos non acceperunt se habuisse protestantur, &c.Which makes them look very like the old Circumcelliones, a company of vagrant Hypocrites; of whom, Saint Jerom, and Isi­dore Hispalensis, make large and satyrical descriptions: The first sayes, they were impudent straglers, whose mouths were always full of barbarous and importune reproaches; The other tells us, that they every where wandered in their mercenary hypocrisie, fixed no where; feigning visions of what they never saw: Counting their opinions and dreams for divine; and protesting to have received those emi­nencies, which they have not: Impatient to be confined to any place, order, or way; but had rather like vagabonds continue in their beggar­ly liberty, than fix to a sober industry, and enjoy a setled compe­tency.

2 Pet. 2.14. Beguiling un­stable souls.These unstable spirits, who turn round, till they are giddy, and fall from all truth and charity, into all error and faction; who shut their eyes, that they may say, they grop in the dark; and complain of all mens blindness, but their own; These (I say) have of all others, least cause to blame the Religion, and Ministry of the Church of England; since they own themselves to be in no Church-way: Which, of all sides, is most blamed and condemned, and so need not to be confuted any more.

16. Several quarrels against the Church of Englands frame.Some others there are, who flatter themselves to be less mad than these seeking fellows; who glory most in this, That they have broken all the former cords, and shaken off all bonds, of any National Go­vernment, Order, and Discipline, whereby they were formerly re­strained in this Church: Which, first, they deny to be any Church, purely, and properly so called; or in any way and frame of Christs institution; but onely such an establishment as ariseth from meer civil polity, and humane constitution. Secondly, These charge us, that we fail in the matter of a Church, the faithful and holy. Third­ly, In the essential Form, an explicite Covenant, or Church agreement to serve the Lord in such a way. Fourthly and lastly, In our chusing, ordaining, and appointing Ministers, and other Church Officers: In whom (they say) Church power is onely executively, (as to the exercise or dispensation) but it is primarily and eminently in that Body of the people, never so small, which is so combined together: [Page 99] Yea, they complain, that we in England have neglected, and de­prived the people of that glorious power and liberty, by which, every Christian is to shew himself, both King, and Priest, and Prophet.

Thus the Tabernacles of Edom, and the Ismalites; Psal. 83.6, 7, 8. Nunquam deo­runt hostes ubi adest ecclesia, nec inimici ubi veritas ag [...] ­scitur. Tert. of Moab and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Ammaleok; the Philistims, and they of Tyre, Assur also, Men of our own Tribes, all conspire against the true Religion, the antient orders, and holy Ministry of the Church of England: And finding this Church forely torn, bruised, and wounded, they either leave it, and its Ministry, to die desolate, by separating wholly from them; or else they seek by their several instruments of death, wholly to dispatch it, as the A­malekites did King Saul; But blessed be God, though this Church, and its true Ministers, be thus afflicted and persecuted, yet are they not quite forsaken of God, or of all good Christians;2 Cor. 4.8, 9. Though we be cast down, yet we are not quite destroyed. There want not many sons of Sion, to mourn with their Mother, and to comfort her, if they cannot contend for her, Although, the Lord is righteous, Lam. 1.2. Isai. 30.19. who hath smitten us, and to whom we will return, and wait till he be gracious to this Church: Yet these sons of Edom, our unnatural Brethren,Micah 7.8, 9, 19. are very injurious and uncharitable; who seek to enflame the wrath of God more against her; rejoycing in her calamities, and crying, now she is faln, let her rise up no more. But the Lord will remember his compassions of old, which have not failed, and will return to build her up; nor shall this furnace of affliction be, to consume this Reformed Church, but onely to purge her from that dross, which she had any way contracted.

As to these mens first quarrel,17. Of Religion as establish­ed and pro­tected by Laws in England. against the frame of our Church and Ministry, as setled and defended by Civil Laws and Politick Constitutions; They seem in this, rather offended at the clothes and dress, or the defence and guard, than at the body and substance of the Church: Possibly, they are angry that they had not power or permission, sooner to deform and destroy that flourishing polity of this Church, which by the princely piety of nursing fathers and mothers, hath been so long preserved to the envy of enemies, and admiration of friends. We never thought, that any civil sanctions (which were in favor of our Reformed Church, Religion, and Ministry) ever constituted the Being of our Church; which is from Christ, by the Ministry; but they onely established and preserved it, in its Ministry and polity, from those abuses and insolencies, to which, we see them miserably exposed; if they should want Magistrates to be pro­tecting fathers, and indulgent mothers to them: Every rude and un­clean beast delights to break in, and waste the field of the Church; when they see the fence of civil protection is low.

But this defence and provision made for this Church and its [Page 100] Ministry, by Humane Laws, doth no more lessen the strength and beauty of it; than the Laws for property and safety do diminish any mans wisdom, valor, or care to defend his own: Christians, as men, ought to be subject to Magistrates, as men; although they were Heathens, Rom. 13. 1 Pet. 2.13. Tit. 3.1. Hereticks, or Persecutors; that so, in honest things, they might merit their civil protection: How much more (as Christians) ought they to be subject to Christian Magistrates, that are Patrons and Professors of true Religion: Isai. 49.23. Whose civil protection and govern­ment is so far from being a blemish to it, that is the greatest temporal blessing, that God hath promised, or the Church can enjoy in this World; as it was in Constantine the Great's time, and some others after him.

And however, we see, that oft-times this sweet wine, of civil favor, is prone to sowre to the vinegar of factions, even among Chri­stians; And the honey of peace, plenty, and prosperity, easily turns to pride, envy, anger, ambition, and contention, through the pravity of mans nature; who, (contrary to the temper of the most savage beasts) grows most fierce and offensive to God, when he is best treated by him;Omnia com­prebantur sacti­onibus, seditio­nibus, querelis, odiu, invidiis. Suspi. Sever. de s [...] tempor. Ep [...]s. & Pres­byteris, Hist. Pace ecclesiis undi (que) concessâ, caepit invidia totius orbis com­munis inimica in media episco­porum frequen­tia tripudiate. Eus. in vit. Const. lib. 2. c. 60. as Eusebius, and Sulpitius Severus, tell in their times; Yet we must not refuse or cast away all good things, because evil mindes abuse them; much less may we mistake the Being of a Church, for its well-being; That cannot turn, in any reason, to this Churches re­proach, which was the favor of good men, and Gods indulgence to this Church: Nor do we think these querulous Ob [...]ecters, are there­fore like to be, by so much the sooner, weary of their new ways, by how much they more enjoy connivance, protection, or countenance from any men; The obtaining of which, is the thing they so much court and solicite: Sure the shining of the warm Sun on men, need not make them therefore ashamed, or weary of Gods blessing.

18. The matter of a Church, Saints.2. As for the matter of a Church, which those Ob [...]ecters say, must be onely Saints in Truth, as well as shew; denying ours to be such; I answer, We wish all our people were such Saints, as are former­ly described, in truth and power; we endeavor to make them such, as far as the pains, prayers, and examples of Ministers may work with the grace of God; 2 Cor. 6.1. But we do not think, that these severe censurers of this Church of England do believe, That all the Churches menti­oned in Scripture (which were the best that ever were) consisted onely of true Saints. That, in Christs family, did not; not that, to which Ananias, John 6.70. Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a Devil? Acts 5.3. Peter to Ananias, Why hath Satan filled thy heart, to lie to the Holy Ghost? Acts 9.13. Simon Magus believed, and was baptised, and continued with the Apo­stles, &c. V. 23. I perceive thou art in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity. Saphyra, and Simon Magus, were joyned in pro­fession; nor all those in Corinth, Galatia, Laodicea, and the rest mentioned in the Epistles, and Revelation; who are commended, or [Page 101] blamed, not so much as to the internal temper of their graces, as to the external peaceableness, order, and purity of their profession in truth and unity. Neither is this real Saintship of every Member, necessary to the Being of a visible Church; nor is it to be concluded really of all those, whom the judgment of charity calls or esteems Saints. We charitably hope well of all those, who though they may have per­sonal errors and failings, by reason of frailties or temptations, yet they have not renounced their covenant with Christ in Baptism, and who make still some profession of Christianity; who attend the Ordinances of the Word preached, and prayer; who testifie their faith by desiring to have their children baptised; which we do, as of duty to them, to whom Christ hath a federal right, and of whom we have a Christian hope; though we approve not their parents in all things: Much more do we esteem those as Members of the Church, who have competent knowledge, and lead an unblamable life, as many of ours do. If any be children, ignorant, or profane, yet we think them not presently to be excluded from all Church Fellowship; no more than such a Jew was to be cut off from Gods people; Since they have Gods mark and seal still upon them, and are in outward relation and profession, distinguished from those that are not of the Israel of God; yet we do, not willingly, or knowingly allow every Ordinance to these, while they appear such; but onely those, of which they have a capacity: In others, we forewarn and forbid them, when we actually know their unfitness or unpreparedness: Yet still in Gods name, not in our own; in a way of charity, or ministerial duty; not of private, or absolute authority; wishing, that a more publick way of joynt-power and authority were duly established (as in all reason it ought to be) in the Church; both for tryal and restraint, of those that have no right to holy Mysteries; yet still we endeavor to instruct even the worst in the Spirit of meek­ness, and to apply what remedies in prudence and charity we may: But if piety, purity, equity, charity, humility, peaceableness, &c. If these may denominate men to be Saints in any Church, sure, I be­lieve, the Church of England can produce more of these, out of her orderly and antient Professors, than these new Modellers will easily do of their own forming; besides, many of those now gone from us, have not cause so much to boast of their beauty and faces shining, since they left us; as to cover their faces, and with their own tears to wash away those black spots, with which they appear terribly dashed; which we are sure are not the spots of Gods holy people.

What is further urged against our Parochial Congregations, 19. Of Commu­nicants in Parochial Churches. (which are as parts and branches of this Church of England, stand­ing in a joynt relation to the peace, polity, and welfare of the whole; and to that end, under Publick Order, and Authority) as to the use [Page 102] and partaking of the Sacraments, (specially that of the Lords Supper;) That our Communions are so mixed, as to confound the pretious with the vile; the ignorant with the knowing; the scandalous with the unblamable; the prepared with the unprepared; the washed Lamb with the polluted Swine; so that even this holy Ordinance, which is the touchstone, sieve, and shreen of true Christians, and true Churches, is profaned and polluted among us; while Congrega­tions are as lumps full of leaven; 1 Cor. 5.7. and no order taken to purge it out: That so the pure and faithful may eat the feast with comfort, and childrens bread not be given to dogs.

Answ. I answer, first in general; That, although Christians, as to their Consciences, have no right to this Sacrament, or comfort in it, fur­ther than they have Sacramental graces, fitting and preparing them for it; yet as to men, in outward visible society, every Christian hath such a right to it, as he makes a Profession of the true Faith; and is in such an outward disposition, as by the orders of the Church, for age, and measure of knowledge, and conversation, is thought meet: In which, there are no precise limits in Scripture expressed; either what age, or how oft, or what measure of knowledge, and what preparation is required; but much is left to the wisdom, care, and charity of the Ministers, Luke 22.14. Christ sate down, and the twelve Apo­stles with him. V. 19, 20. He took the bread and the cup, and gave it to them. V. 21. Behold the hand of him that be­trayeth me, is with me on the Table. Veneranda, sa­cra, tremenda, myste [...]ia. [...] Chrys. ad Oly. ep. 2. [...]; Basil. [...]. Clem. Al. [...]. N [...]s. [...]. Ignat. ep. ad Eph. [...]. Naz. or. 14. If any of you be a blasphemer, and adulterer, in malice or envy, or any other grievous crime; bewail your sins, and come not to his holy Table, &c. See the Exhortation before the Communion. and Governors of the Church: And in this sense, though Judas the Traytor had no internal gracious right to the Sacrament of the Passover, or Supper; yet he had a professional right, which our Saviour denied not to him, and which is all that mans judgment can reach to.

Secondly, As to some mens practise in the Church of England, we deny not, but that many and personal abuses may have been in that holy Mystery (which the antients justly called dreadful, vene­rable, adorable, most holy, admirable, divine, heavenly, &c.) through negligence both of some Ministers and people; much less do we justifie them; we rather mourn for them, and pray heartily, they may be reformed every way; yet, as to the constitution, order, and designation of the Church of England, in the celebration of that holy Sacrament, we affirm,

1. That the piety, wisdom, and charity of this Church, did take care, and by express order declared, That no such ignorant, pro­fane, impenitent, or unprepared person (though not known to the Minister, or people to be so,) should come to the Sacrament; as in Conscience he ought not: And, together with these (thus onely con­scious to themselves) all others, if known and notorious, were by [Page 103] the Minister publickly, and solemnly forbidden, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, not to presume to partake of those holy things.

Every Minister was commanded by preaching, catechising, ex­amining, and praying, to prepare (as much as in him lay) the Re­ceivers: Which every good Minister, as he ought, did, in some sort endeavor; yea, and he might refuse any young or old, that offered to receive, if they had not some good assurance of their competent know­ledge in the Mysteries; or, if he found them defective in those fundamentals which the wisdom of the Church thought necessary, and whereof it set forth a Summary in the publick Catechism. So that a Minister in England, both in the name of the Church, and in the name of Christ, and by the highest authority of God, did pro­hibite, denounce against, and, as it were, excommunicate (by that part of the power of the Keys, which is denunciative and declara­tive) both from the comfort, and grace of the Sacrament; and from the outward partaking of it, every one, that presumed (being unwor­thy in any kinde) to offer himself to it: If after this,Communio ma­lorum non ma­culat aliquem participatione sacramentorum, sed consentione factorum. Aug. ep. 152. See the Rubrick before the Communion, concerning scandalous offenders. 1 Cor. 11.29. He that eateth and d inketh unworth [...]ly, eateth and drinketh dam­nation to him­self; not to any other, who having exa­mined himself, Verse 28. is bid to eat and drink, &c. See the Ru­brick before the Commu­nion, The Minister may admit the penitent, but not the obstinate, in cases of private offences, &c. any one un­worthy, did adventure to come, yet (sure) the Minister had done his private duty, as far as God, or man required it of him; having both vindicated the honor of the Sacrament, as to the divine Insti­tution, and intent; also declared the care and order of the Church; and so freed both the Congregation, and his own soul, from stain or blame. Who so came after this prohibition unworthily, came at the peril of his own soul, and not at the sin of either Minister or people, that were worthy; whose work and duty is, not by force of arms, to thrust men out by head and shoulders; which is a military and mechanick power; but by the sword of Christs mouth to smite them; and in his name to cast them out from any right to, or comfort in, the Sacrament; which is the power, properly ministerial, spiritual, and divine. Where either ignorance or scandal were gross, and notori­ously known to the Minister, in any that offered to come, The Minister might, and oft did, not onely privately, but publickly, and personally admonish, reprove, forewarn: And in some cases, if the impudence of the offender obtruded himself, the Minister might re­fuse to give him the Sacrament; yet this not with passion and rough­ness, as by empire; but with meekness and discretion, as in charity: Which present denial, or abstention of such an one from receiving the holy Sacrament, might afterward be examined by publick and lawful authority (which was setled in this Church) in case that party had cause or confidence to complain, as of an injury.

20. Good Mini­sters not de­fective in their duty, if they make not them­selves Judges.But where such authority is not se [...]ed, or not suffered to be ex­ercised in any Church, which might and ought to judge in such cases best The party denied, and the Minister thus denying, (upon pregnant, and to him notorious causes, not upon probabilities, suspi­ [...]ious, or general complaints from others onely,) There, matters of publick debate requiring audience, and proofs, and witnesses, and judge; and all these, due authority; It cannot be expected from any private Minister, that he should do more than God hath commanded, and due authority empowred him; which is onely to instruct, admonish, forbid, and in some cases to deny, &c. according to the duty of his place, and the authority he had, both from the Church, and from the Word of God: But he hath nothing to do, to assume the publick place of a Judge among his Neighbors; or to deny Communion to all those that are by any accused, as unworthy or scandalous: Luke 12.14. Who made me a judge, or a divider over you? No Reason allowing, or Religion commanding every private Minister, or any private Christians to be Judges in those cases, wherein they may be parties; and through passion do injury, and by faction oppress any man.

A right Discipline, and due Authority in the Church, most desirable.It were to be desired indeed, that such Authority were restored to the Church, as might judge and decide all cases of publike scan­dal; but while this is denied, we must not deny Ministers, or people, to do their duty, in celebrating the Lords Supper, according to the Institution, though there be defects in discipline, as to that particular. We must not forbear holy duties, when we may rightly enjoy them, in point of gracious disposition and claim; because they are not so asserted and ordered in point of pol [...]ty and extern Discipline, as we could wish, and as it were convenient; but is not absolutely necessary, so as to exclude the Minister, or others from it, who desire and pre­pare for it, by examining themselves; whom no Reason or Religion can forbid to partake of their due comforts, because of others faults, whereof they cannot be guilty, because they are no way accessary; not failing in any private duty of charity, wherein they stand re­lated to another; as teaching, admonishing, reproving, forewarning, &c. 1 Cor. 11.28. The same Apostle, who blames the unworthy receivers, for not examining themselves, and forbids them so to eat, &c. Commands others to examine themselves, and so to eat, &c. Without regard to any others unworthiness: The contagion of whose sin cannot have influence on anothers grace; any more, than grace can make an­others sin less, What sense can there be, That children should be starved, because there is not power sufficient to keep away all dogs, from the childrens bread? Yet all men are not presently to be called or counted dogs, that are not ever in actual preparedness for the Sa­crament; Luke 22.32. or, who may fall into gross sins, as Peter did, whose Faith did not fail, when he denied Christ after the Sacrament; and since [Page 105] they have still relation to the Church, and may be penitents.

I should be glad to see (which I heartily pray for) this Church so ordered by due order, power, and authority established in fitting Church-Governors and Judges, in such cases,Exod. 18.21. Judges ought to be able men, such as fear God; men of truth, ha­ting covetous­ness, &c. That none might be admitted to the Lords Supper, but such as are both by the Minister, and chief of the Congregation, (who are in the Rowl of Communi­cants) allowed and approved, for knowledge and conversation; yet so, as such allowance or denial may, if need be, have further hearing, and appeal, from this private Minister and Congregation; which is but just, to avoid the factions, injuries, partialities and oppressions, which may fall, and oft do, among those Neighbors and Rivals, who are seldom meet to be Judges of mutual scandals, being so oft parties; and besides their weak judgments, have strong passions, and are full of grudges and emulations against each other; which if not soberly taken up, by other able and indifferent Judges, (who have authority so to do) it brings Congregations to those difficulties, which the Independent bodies finde, for want of this prudent and orderly remedy of grievances and offences; which, in a short time (as the pitch, and fat, and hair, which Daniel put into the Dragon) break them in pieces; one part rending from the other, as impatient to submit to their censure; and so they come to Non-Communion, and to make new Colonies of lesser Churches, and Bodies; till they break and shiver themselves to such useless shreds, such thin and small shavings, as have neither the staff of beauty, nor of bonds among them: Every one by the light of nature concluding,Par in parem non habet impe­rium. Authority sup­poseth an emi­nency. That there can be no power over others, where there is parity among them; nor can those have authority over each other, which are in an equality.

Nothing would be more welcome to good Ministers, and faith­ful people, than to see that just power setled in the Church, as might by the wisdom, gravity, and integrity of such, as are truly fit to go­vern, best repress all abuses and disorders in the Church, as to matters purely religious: Mean time, we think it better to bea [...] with patience those defects, which we cannot hinder or amend; and to supply them (what we can) with private care, industry, and discretion, than either wholly to deny our selves the comfort of this Sacrament, which the Lord hath afforded us; or else to usurp to our selves an absolute power and jurisdiction over others, which neither the Lord hath given us, nor the Church; and which we see men do easily despise, as a matter of arbitrary usurpation, not of authoritative constitution: And which is subject, as to many tyrannies and abuses, so to infinite private janglings and divisions; which no Minister hath leisure to hear, if he had abilities to compose and judge them, being oft very spightful, tedious, and intricate; yea, and himself, possibly, a party, or witness, and sometimes the accused; who being (for the most part) [Page 106] the ablest in a Country Congregation to judge of matters, must yet himself be judged according to some mens weak Models of Church-Government and Discipline, both as to his doctrine and maners, by his High-shoe Neighbors, (which he counts his body,) nor may he have any appeal from them in an Independent way.

21. Of the peo­ples judging in the Church. 1 Cor. 5.12. 1 Cor. 6.1, 2, 3, 4. Do ye not know, that the Saints shall judge the World, and Angels: How much more the things that pertain to this life.To that grand Charter and Commission, which some plead; by which every Saint is made a Judge in all things of this life, with­in the pale of the Church, and is after to be judge of Angels; I answer, The wise and holy Apostle doth not give to every one in the Church any such power, nor to the majority of Christians in any Congregation; but rather reproves their folly, that laid any judicative works on those that were least esteemed in the Church, Vers. 4. Whence arose that unsatisfaction as made their differences greater, and drove them for remedy to go to Law before the Civil Tribunals of unbelievers, V. 6. to the great scandal of Religion, and shame of the Church of Corinth; where being many Christians, and (no doubt) in many distinct Congregations, for conveniency of meeting, the Apostle wonders they could not be so wise for their own credit and quiet, as to finde out some wise and able men, who might be fit to judge and end their controversies; as having both real abilities internal, and outward reputation in the Church, also a pub­lick consent and orderly appointment to the work; a [...]l which makes a compleat and valid Authority to judge others; which can never be promiscuous, in whole bodies, or rabbles of simple and mean men, without both contempt and confusion; which imprudent way a­mong the Corinthians, the Apostle counts both a fault and a shame.

Of Commu­nicants to be admitted. 1 Cor. 5.7. 2 Cor. 6.15, 16.What places are further urged for purging out the old leaven; for not eating with such an one; for the non-communion, between Christ and Belial, light and darkness, &c. They are all fulfilled by every private Christian, when both in conscience and conversation, he keeps himself from concurring, or complying with any wicked and scanda­lous persons, in their sins; reproving and repressing them, as much as morally lies in his place and power: But the bare view or know­ledge of anothers sin,Ʋnumquemque alienis peccatis maculari, omnes impiae seditionis autores solam causam separa­tionis sibi assu­munt: Contra disputat. Cypr. de unit. eccl. & August. ep. 48. must not hinder him from doing his duty, or enjoying his privilege and comfort by the Sacrament; which de­pends, not on what is in anothers life, or heart, of sin; but on what he findes of grace and preparedness in his own; As to the publick honor, and purity, or unleavenedness of the Church, the special duty, and care executive lies on those, (not who are private Christians in common, but) who have publick authority in special, to do it, by censuring, restraining, or casting out scandalous offenders; whereto every Christian is not called, because not enabled, either by God or man, by gift or power, to discern or judge, and determine cases; [Page 107] which is a matter of polity, power, and order in the Church, and not of private piety, or charity: Nor is it indeed of absolute necessity, so as to deprive good Christians of any holy ordinance, in case such power is obstructed, or hindered, or not established in the Church.

Neither Minister nor People then ought to refrain from doing their duty in the holy celebration of this Sacrament, upon any such defects of external polity, and power, for well-ordering of the Church; but rather, with the more exactness and diligence, exhort one another, and prepare by inward graces, for those holy Mysteries; whose insti­tution hath no such restriction, either by Christ, or the blessed Apo­stle Paul; who enjoyns Ministers and Believers to do this,1 Cor. 11. holily and worthily, in point of personal preparation; but no word of either usurping a power to re [...]ect others, as they list, which belongs not to them; or else, to abstain wholly from the duty, for want of having their will, as too many do, both People and Ministers; to the great grief of many good Christians, and to the exceeding slighting and disuse of that holy Ordinance in this Church,1 Cor. 11.25. [...] denotat [...]. As oft as ye drink it: which was wont to be much frequented, which the words of Christ import, or enjoyn to be done oftentimes in the Church.

For that new coyned form, image and superscription of a Church, 22. Of Church-Covenant. that Congregational Church-Covenant, which no Synod or Council, but onely some private men have lately invented, and in formal words magisterially dictated (when yet they cry down all other prescribed forms of administrations, prayer, or devotion in the Church,) By which, some men fancy they onely can be rightly made up into one lump or Church-fellowship: This they accuse us in England for the want and neglect, when they have set us in every corner so many copies of it.

I answer, We have indeed in the Church of England, from its first Christianity, been wholly without this covenanting way; and I think, both happily and most willingly we had been so still, since there appears no more ground for it in Scripture precept, or Churches paterns; nor is there any more need of it, as to the peace and polity of the true Church of Christ, than there is of rents and patches in a fair and whole Garment. Who knows not,Jon [...]h 4.10. [...] that like Jonah's gourd it is (filius noctis) the production of yesterday; risen from the dark­ness and divisions of mens mindes: The fruit of discontent, separa­tion, and self-conceit, for the most part; though, it may be, nursed up by devout and well-meaning Christians; yet it looks very like those bastard brats which the Novatians and Donatists of old be­gan every where; which were like Ismaels to Isaac, mockers and contemners of the true Churches Communion, Order, and Peace.

VVe do not think this Covenant any more essential to the Be­ing of a true Church, than John Baptists Leathern girdle was to his being a Man, or a Prophet: It is an easie and specious novelty, therefore pleasing to common people, because within their grasp and reach; which its Proselytes, that forsake and abhor the English Churches Order and Communion, do wrap and hug themselves in as much, as any Papist doth in his adherence to the Roman party, or in his hopes to be buried in a Monks Cowl: Besides, it carries this great temptation with it, of gratifying the common professor with some shew of Power and Government, which he (once covenant­ed into that Church-way) shall solemnly exercise: But (in good-earnest) to sober Christians, who have no secret byas of discontent or interest to sway them, this new fashion of their Church-Covenant, seems to have, as no command or example in Scripture, so no prece­dent in antiquity; nor is it recommended for any excellent effects of prudence or peace, which it produceth, either to private Christians, or the publick welfare of the Reformed Churches. Some look on it as a mark of Schismatical confederacy, which carries in its Bowels viperine principles, which are destructive to the quiet of States and Kingdoms, as well as of Churches.

If any finde any good or contentment in it, as a tye, or pledge of love, in private fraternities; yet they vastly overvalue it, to cry it up, as a matter, no less necessary to the Being of a Church, or well-being of Christians, than the skin is to the Body; when, alas, it is but a cloak lately taken up, which never fell from Elias his should­ers; and serves rather to cover some mens infirmities and discontents against this Church of England, than much to keep them warm, or adorn them as Christians. VVe shall give a poor account of former Churches or Christians, if this covenanting invention should be of such concernment to Christianity. To which it seems to many wise and good men as superfluous, as it were to binde a man with wisps of straw, when he is already bound with chains of gold; with more firm and pretious tyes.

For, every true and conscientious Christian knows and owns himself to have upon his Conscience, far more strict and indissoluble tyes, not onely of nature and creation, but of the Law and Word of God; yea, and of Christian covenant, and profession, by his baptis­mal-vow; besides, that of the other Sacrament; also his private vows, promises, and repentings, &c. All which strictly binde the conscience of all good Christians to all duties of piety and charity, according to the relations, (private or publick, civil or sacred) where­in they stand to God or man.

And further, we see by daily experience, That these sorry withs of mans invention, obtruded as divine and necessary upon Christians [Page 109] and Churches, binde not any of these new small bodies or bundles, so fast, but that they continually are breaking, separating, and scatter­ing, into as many fractions and subdivisions, Error sibi sem­per dispa [...] est & discolor, quantò magis à veritate tantum ab uni­tate discedit. August. Eph. 3.17. as they have heady mindes, fancies, and humors among them. And this they do, with­out any sense of sin or shame; yea, for the most part, with an angry glorying, despising, and defying of one another; when, but lately, they boasted in how rare a way they were of Church-fellowship, and Saintly-communion; not, as Members of Christs Body, the Catho­like Church, grounded and grown up in truth and love; but onely as pieces of wood, finely glued together, by reciting a form of words, which they call a Church-Covenant, which a little spittle, or wet dis­solves: Nor do they make any scruple to moulder and divide, if once they come to dispute and differ in the least kinde. So hard is it for any thing to hold long together, which is compacted of weak judgements and strong passions.

Last of all, It is evident in the experience of all wise Christians, That this narrow and short thong of private Bodying, Church-cove­nanting, cannot extend so far, as is necessary for the Churches gene­ral peace, order, and welfare, in reference to its more publick relati­ons, and necessities; which oft require stronger and more effectual remedies: Yea, these small strings and cords binding each particular Congregation apart (as if it were a limb to be let blood) makes them at length grow benumed, and less sensible of that common spirit of love and charity, by which, each Member is knit to the larger parts, and so to the whole Body of the Church; to whose common good, they ought wisely and charitably to be more intent, than to their particular Congregations; which are, but as the Pettitoes or little Fingers of the Church: Which may not act, or be considered, other­ways, than as they are, and subsist; which is, not apart by them­selves, nor onely in relation to an hand or foot, to which they are more immediately conjoyned; but, as in an higher relation to the whole Body, of which, they are real parts, servient to the whole; and as much concerned in the common good and preservation of the whole (if not more) than of themselves, or any particular part or Member. A Christian must not deal out his charity, by retail and small parcels onely, as to private Fraternities, and Congregations; but also by whole-sale, to the ampler proportions of Christs Church; according as he stands in large and publick relations; the due regard to the peace, order, and welfare of which, is not to be dispenced withal, nor shuffled off, by saying,1 Cor. 12.21. I am of such a Congregational-Body, or Covenanting Church; no more, than the hand may say, I am not of the head, nor neer it; and so will have no care of it.

We are therefore so far from being admirers of the small talents and weak inventions of those men, in so great a matter, as the con­stituting [Page 110] and conserving of a true Church, by so poor and feeble an engine, as this of private compacts and covenantings; (by which, they threaten with severe pens, and tongues, and brows, to batter and demolish the great and goodly Fabrick, and Communion, of this and all other National Churches; which are cemented together by excel­lent Laws, and publick Constitutions, so as to hold an honorable union with themselves, and the whole Catholike Church,) That we rather wonder at the weakness and simplicity of those inventers and abetters, who in common reason cannot be ignorant, that as in civil respects, and polity, so in Ecclesiastical, no private fraternities, in families, nor Corporations, (as in Towns and Cities) can vacate those more publick and general relations, or those tyes of duty and service, which each Member ows to the Publick, whereof it is but a part; and it may be so inconsiderable an one, that for its sake, the greater good of the publick, ought not in Reason or Religion, to be prejudiced, or any way neglected: No more ought it to be in the Churches larger concernments, for Peace, Order, and Govern­ment.

Nay, we dare appeal to the Consciences of any of those Body­ing Christians, (whom charity may presume to be godly and judici­ous;) Whether they finde in Scripture, or have cause to think, That the blessed Apostles ever constituted such small Bodies of Covenanting Churches; when there were great numbers, and many Congregations of Christians in any City, Province, or Country; so as each one should be thought absolute, Independent, and no way subordinate to another? Whether ever the Apostles required of those lesser handfuls of Christians, (which might, and did, convene in one place) any such explicite Forms, or Covenants; besides those holy bonds, which by believing, and professing of the Faith, by Baptism, and Eucharisti­cal communion, were upon them? Or, Whether the blessed Apostles would have questioned, or denied those to be true Christians, and in a true Church, or have separated from them, or cast them off, as not ingrafted in Christ, or growing up in him, who, without any such bodying in small parcels, had professed the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the due use of Word, Sacraments, and Ministry? who endeavored to lead a holy, and orderly life, themselves, and sought by all means, which charity, order, or authority allowed them, to re­press the contrary in others? No doubt the Apostles wisdom and charity, was far enough from the wantonness and uncharitableness of some of these mens spirits; who do not onely mock our Church, and its Ministers,2 Kings 2.23. as the children did Elisha, the Prophet; but they seek to destroy them, as the she-bears did the children. Sure enough, the Apostles, instead of such severe censures, peevish disputes, and rigorous separations, would have joyned with, and rejoyced in the [Page 111] Faith, Order, and Ʋnity of such Churches, such Christians, and such Ministers, where-ever they had met with them, in all the World, without any such scruple, or scandal, for their not being first broken into Independent Bodies, and then bound up by private covenantings; which are indeed no other, than the racking, distorting, and disloca­tions of parts, to the weakning and deforming of the whole.

VVe covet not a better or truer constituted Church, than such, as we are most confident,Col. 2.5. Joying and be­holding the order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. the wisdom and charity of the Apostles would have approved in the main; however in some lesser things, they might gently reprove, and reform them, as they did divers famous and flourishing Churches. And such a Church, we have enjoyed in England, (by Gods mercy) before ever we knew those mens unhappy novelties, or cruelties, who seek now to divide, and utterly destroy us, unless we conform to their deforming principles and practises. And however, we have not been wholly without the spots of humane infirmities; yet we have professed Jesus Christ, in that truth, order, purity, and sincerity, which gives us comfort and courage, to claim the ( [...]) privilege of being true Christians, and a true Church; that is, a very considerable, famous, and flourishing part, branch, or Member of that Catholike Church, which professeth visibly, or be­lieves savingly, in the Name of Jesus Christ, the Head of the whole Body, and of every part; to whom we are united, by the same com­mon Faith, and by Charity, to one another. Certainly, the best Churches and Christians, were antiently like the goodly bunches of Grapes, Numb. 13.24. which the Spies brought between them (as an emblem of Christ crucified) hanging on a staff; so fair, so full, so great and uni­ted clusters: From which, no small slips did ever willingly divide, or rend to Schism, but presently they became, not as the fruit of Ca­naan, but as sowr Grapes, fit onely to set mens teeth on edge; whet­ing them to bite, and devour one another.

For the maner of each particular holy Administration in our Church, to answer all the small cavils, which men list to make,23. The great shield of the Church of England. is to encourage too much their petulancy; and to make them too much masters of sober mens time and leisure: Onely this great and faith­ful shield, See those Re­verend and Learned Wri­ters, Bishop Bilson, Bishop Cowper, Doctor Field, Master Richard Hooker, Master Mason, and others. Learned men heretofore have, and we do still, hold forth, to repel all their darts and arrows, That both in the Ordination of our Ministers, and in their celebration of holy things, and in its Government, Order, and Harmony, the Church of England hath followed the clearest rules in Scripture, and the best paterns of the antient Churches; onely enjoying those Christian liberties of pru­dence, order, and decency, which we see the gracious wisdom of Christ hath allowed his Church; and which particular Churches have always used and enjoyed in their extern rites and customs, with variety, yet without blemish, as to the Institutions of Christ, or to [Page 112] the soundness in the Faith, or to any breach of Charity, or any prejudice and scandal to each others liberties in those things.

So that those busie flies upon the Wheels of this Chariot, the Reformed Church of England, (in which the Gospel of Jesus Christ hath hitherto been carried among us, for many years, with great triumph and success) have stirred up very little dust; so as might blinde any eyes (that are not full of motes and beams, or blood-shot­ten) from seeing clearly, and evidently, a true Christian Church, a true Ministry, and truly religious Administrations among us. Blessed be God, though these sowr Momusses finde or make some faults and flaws in lesser matters, the mending of which they most oppose and hinder; yet their strength cannot shake the foundations of our Jerusalem, which are of pretious pearls, and solid stones; nor can their malice overthrow our grand and goodly pillars; the true and able Ministers, and their holy Ministrations, of Word and Sacra­ments, among Professors of the Faith; who do, as unquestionably constitute a true Church, as a reasonable soul and body make a true man.

Essentials of a true Church in England. 1 Tim. 6.3.It is well, some of their charity, is such that they allow us (for they cannot shift it,) thus much: First, That we have the onely true ground, and sure rule of Religion, the written Word of God; that, beyond this, we hold nothing as a matter of faith, or Christian duty: Secondly, That we celebrate the holy Sacraments according to the sum and substance of the divine Institution: Thirdly, That our conversation aims to be such,Phil. 1.27. as becomes the Gospel in all maner of holiness, to the saving of our own, and others souls. What can these Aristarchusses carp at in the ground of our faith, the Scrip­tures; the Seals of our Faith, the Sacraments; the life of our Faith, 1 Pet. 1.9. holy conversation; and the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls? Is it not strange, That all these sweet and fair flowers of Christs planting and watering, should grow so well in that, which some call Babylon? in Antichrists Garden? or on the Devils dung­hil? That, it should be no true Church of Christ, which owns no­thing for Religious, but what is according to the truth of Jesus; either commanding or permitting, instituting or indulging; of pious necessity, or of prudent liberty.

We should put these rigid Catoes too much to the blush, for [...]heir unnatural ingratitude to the Ministers, and Church of England, if we should ask them: Whence they had this privilege, by which they own themselves to be Christians? whence this power to cast, or call themselves into Bodies or Churches, as Believers? (which is by them presupposed;) whence they had (till of late years) their instruction (for the most part) in the knowledge of Jesus Christ? Sure these holy leaves or fruits grow not, but in the Pale and Garden [Page 113] of the Church of Christ; not in our own rude mirdes and untill'd natures; not among desolate Indians, obstinate Jews, o [...] barbarous Turks; and not often in private closets and corners; which nourish a neglect and contempt of Publick Ordinances. But if these men were self-taught and converted, yet sure, not self-baptized too; nor their Teachers, self-ordained too: If they had nothing of their Chri­stianity from the Ministry of the Church of England [...]; It is no wonder they prove such Scholars, such Christians, and such Preach­ers, as some of them seem to be; having been their own Masters, Ministers, and Baptizers: They are indeed, onely worthy of them­selves, and of wiser mens pity.

For that ( [...]) the retreat, 24. Of pretensi­ons to be a­bove any Ministry, as taught of God imme­diately. or reserve of some men (by which, as Eaglets they would seem to soar out of sight, and to build their Nest on a Rock, that is higher than our ordinary Reason, Re­ligion, and Experience can reach;) as if they were immediately in­spired, specially called, and taught of God, baptized by his Spirit, without any Minister, or outward Ministry, they must give us leave, not to believe them upon their bare word, (which hath not always been so sure,) till they demonstrate, and prove it better, by Gods Word, and their better maners; For which, we will give them time enough. Mean while, we are sure, the best Christians among them, were made such, by the ordinary Ministers of this Church; and these made Ministers by no other means but that Ordination, derived from, and ascending up to the blessed Apostles; whom Christ first chose to be Disciples, and after ordained and sent them as Publick Ministers; not onely, as to personal discharge, but as to successional descent. These were Eagles indeed, who flew high in their knowledge and piety, yet stooped low in their humility and charity: Those others of a new brood, are more like yong Cuckoes, which devour the Bird, in whose nest, and by whose fostering, they were hatched. Some of them have knowledge; I would they had more humility and charity, they would not disdain to own the parents that begat and educated them; even this (now) so poor, desolated, beaten, torn, and wasted Church of England, and its (Antichristian) Ministers, as they please to call them.

Be it so; some mens tongue is no slander: If we neither adde to, nor detract from the Scriptures, as Jews, Papists, and Euthu­siasts do; If we erre in no fundamentals of faith, or maners; if we refuse no duty divinely required; if we allow no error in our selves, or others; if we drive on no worldly designs injuriously, or hypocritically; but study to approve our selves in all godliness and honesty, with meekness of wisdom to all men; we need no more fear the drops of peevish tongues, or dashes of malicious pens, (as to the honor and comfort of being a part of the true Church of Christ) [Page 114] than a cloth dyed in grain, need to fear stains by the aspersions of dirt, cast on it by unclean and envious hands.

25. Of the power of the People in Church affairs.4. But it is objected against us in England, That neither Church nor Minister of England, did, or do own that high and mighty prin­ciple of all Church power, which some call, The People.

Answ. True indeed: Although we highly love and esteem as Brethren, the faithful and humble people, for whom Christ hath died; yet we are not of so spungy and popular a softness, as to own any part, or Congregation, or Body of People, to be the original, or conduits of any Spiritual or Church power; which no learned and wise men ever esteemed to be Popular or Democratical, but rather an excellent Aristocracy; where many able men were in Counsel, and some one eminent in order and authority among them. We do not dig, or descend to these low valleys, for these holy waters; nor do we seek for the flowings of it through such crazy and crooked pipes; nor do we hope to draw it forth out of such broken Cisterns, which can hold no such waters: We have them from higher fountains, and derive them in straiter channels, Matth. 28.19. and conserve them in fitter vessels, than the vulgarity of even honest Christians can be presumed to be: That is, from the ordinary Power, and constant Commission, which from Christ was derived to the Apostles, Matth. 16.19. Matth. 18.18. John 20.23. and from them to their Successors in their ordinary Ministry, and Church power, in after ages; who had this peculiar power of the keys of Heaven, to binde or remit; [...], Pas­cere cum impe­rio, & pastor inde ut princeps. To feed and rule. Revel. 12.5. & 19.15. Acts 20.28. 1 Pet. 5.2. Vulgus ex veri­tate pauca, ex opinione multa aestimat. Tul. pro. Ros. Com. to gather, to guide, to feed, and to govern the several parts of the Church in Christs stead, and name, orderly committed to them.

People may rudely wrest these keys out of true Bishops and Ministers hands, but it is evident, they were never committed to them, by the great Master of the House, Jesus Christ; nor do they know how to use them, unless it be to break their heads with them, whom Christ hath set as stewards in his houshold: These rustick and rash undertakers to reform, and controul all, are onely probable to shipwrack themselves, and many others, and the whole Ship of this Church, by driving the skilful Pilots, (the true Bishops and Ministers) from the Helm, and putting in their places every bold Boatswain, and simple Swobber.

Yet are the populacy flattered by some, to this dangerous in­solency and error; who putting fire to this thatch, instead of the Chimney, do but provoke the poor people to their own hurt; to forsake their own mercies; and to injure both their own, and others souls: Mean time, sober and wise Christians cannot but smile, with shame, sorrow, and indignation, to see, how some Plebeian Preach­ers, who are new risen, as from the slime of the earth, (in whom no Prometheus hath breathed any spark of heavenly fire; of spiritual, [Page 115] divine, and truly ministerial power;) to see (I say) how these Teachers have brought themselves by a voluntary humility, to de­pend on peoples suffrages and charity; not onely for maintenance, but for their very Ministry; being now sunk so low, as to flatter their good Masters, with this paradox or strange principle, That they (as the people, or body, be they never so few and mean) have a reciprocal power, to beget those, who are to be their Spiritual Fathers; that by a more than Pythagorean Metemphycosis, the Power, Spirit, and Authority of Jesus Christ, who was sent by his Father, John 20.21. and so sent his Apostles, and they others, in the same Spirit, to be Fathers, Pastors, Rulers, Stewards, &c. That at length, this Spirit and Au­thority, should transmigrate (we know not how, nor when) into the very mass and bulk of common people, if they be but Christians of the lowest form; animating them in the whole, and in every part, or parcel of them, with such plenitude of Church power, as enables them to be all Kings and Priests, Pastors and Teachers, Prophets and Apostles, if need be; and if they list; and if they have leisure; or, if not to act so in their own persons (having more profitable em­ployments,) yet they have virtually, and eminently in them, as much power, as Christ had, and used, or left to any men; whereby to consecrate and ordain true Ministers; to try and teach those that are to teach them; to rule their Rulers; to discipline their Shepherds; to govern their Governors; to turn, not onely Religion out of doors, but even all Reason, Order, and Civility, upside down, rather than not exercise this imaginary power, especially, if it serve to secular advantages: And all this, because they are told, they are the Church; and so may erect all Church power, as in them, and from them. This fancy is able to make a plain Country-Christian stand on his Tiptoes; and to bring all his family to see him and his other-like members, making up this glorious Body, which he calls his Church; that they may be witnesses, with how much folly, and sim­plicity, and clamor, and confidence, he with his Neighbors, exa­mines, approves or reproves, refuseth or chooseth, and ordains all officers, and some new fashioned Minister or Pastor: Who (poor-man) must neither Preach nor Pray, not eat, nor look otherways, than pleaseth these sad and silly, yet very supercilious pieces of popular pride, and itching arrogancy; nor can such an hungry and timorous Pastor ever be setled, or safe in this Pastoral Authority, 26. Common people not fit to manage Church power in chief. unless he have the trick of Faction; which is still to ingratiate with the major part of this his flock; who will (otherways) as easily push and beat him out of this fold, or break all to pieces; as ever they admitted him by a profane easiness, and popular insolency.

But I must with less flattery, and more honesty, tell this Gene­ration of perverse Usurpers, this truth, (which is not unwelcome to [Page 116] sober spirited Christians,) That the weight of Christianity doth not at all hang on this popular pin; which is no where to be found, but in their light heads, [...]. Naz. Or. 25. [...]. Clem. Al. [...]. 1. [...]. Id. [...]. 1. and heavy hands; neither Reason, nor Religi­on, (since men were redeemed from the barbarity of Acorns, Naked­ness, and Dens,) ever thought the plebs, or common people ought to be all in all, if any thing at all; either in conferring or managing, either Civil or Church power; but least of all, that part of Church power which is proper for the making of a Minister, in the way of due Ordination, (of which I shall after give a fuller account;) For this is that, to which they generally have least proportion, either of know­ledge, learning, holiness, or discretion: Besides, it would thence fol­low, that, so soon as any Sect or Faction of people can get but num­bers, and courage, they may do what they list, in this plenitude of power, without the leave of Magistrates or Ministers, in Church or State. These are pestilent principles, which are not onely pernici­ous to the Church, but to any civil Societies; threatning not our faith onely, but our purses and throats.

Nor did ever any wise men (what ever is pretended, at any time, to amuse the people, and to serve an occasion) intend, or suffer the community, or vulgar people (with their massie bodies and numerous hands) really to attain, use, or enjoy, any such supreme power in civil administrations: If once soverain power be gotten, though by the means of such credulous assistants; yet, whatever the populacy may flatter themselves with, it never is, nor can wisely and happily be managed by them, but rather without them, above them, and many times against them.

Power precarious, that is such as depends upon a popular principle, or plebeian account, such as sometime was among the Grecian State, and Romans, is, for the most part, but an Empire of beggery, or flattery, or falsity; Where (at best) wise and valiant men may oft be forced to prostrate themse ves to the arbitrement of the vulgar; who are injurious esteemers and ungrateful requiters even of the most publick merits. But (oftentimes) the peoples pretended power, and in­terest, is made use of in specious terms, and cunning agitations, one­ly to serve the turn of turbulent, ambitious, and factious spirits in Church and State; whose envy or ambition easily teacheth the cre­dulous community to esteem the over-meriting of the best men, and Magistrate [...], to be their greatest oppression, and most deserving (Ostracism) banishment, or disgrace.

Per paucorum hominum vir­tute crevit Im­perium. Salust. Rom. 13.4.The Life of Government, and Soul of Dominion, is, that real power and resolution, which is in the hand of one or more wise and potent men; who are always intent to deserve well of the people, yet always able to curb and repress their insolency and inconstancy. Without this authentick power of the Sword, (which is not to be born [Page 117] in vain, Prov. 30.31. and against which there is no rising up) Government or Em­pire, is a meer carkass without a soul; like dead beer, or evaporated wine, or a rotten post, which every one despiseth. It is indeed one point of wisdom and true honor, to deserve well of the people, so as to gain their love; but the highest and safest principle of policy is to command them by power to just fear: For their love is no longer to be trusted, if once they cease to fear, and revere their Governors. The goodness and gentleness of Magistrates must not flaken or m [...]th-eat their power; nor their power oppress and wire-draw their good­ness: Princes and Governors are lost, if they presume common people at any time to be such Saints, and so good natured, that they need not power effectual and soverain to command and restrain them, as Beasts; to set banks and boundaries to them, as to great waters; whose force is not seen, but in their eruptions and disorders; and they are then best and most useful, when kept and directed in such a course and chanel, as restrains them from shewing how great a pro­pensity and fury they have to do mischief, if once they get liberty; which soon turns the flattering smoothness of it former smiles, to threatning tortuosities, and dreadful over-whelmings.

And so on the other side, Governors are not safe, if they so apply and use rigid force and severer dominion, as if they forgat that they ruled men (and not beasts) who are sensible of gentleness, and may be obliged to quietness by humanity. 1 Kings 12. Rehoboam might have con­tinued the heavy yoke of his wise Fathers taxes and burthens, if he had but so lined it with soft words, and courtly blandishments, as it should not much have galled their necks; which custom will harden, and kindness make unsensible of what they bear. It is not imagina­ble, how much common people will bear, if they see they must; nor how little they will bear, if they see they may rebel; their complain­ings or tumultuary petitionings, are menacings; when they declare, that they cannot longer undergo legal burdens, their meaning is, they will not; and onely want power to act. Necessity and force makes the vulgar tame, with their strength, and patient, as Asses; but wanton and presumptuous fancies makes them, as the Ʋn [...]corn, Job 39.9. [...]. Thucid. impatient of the most honest subjection: No condition of Govern­ment ever pleased all that were Subjects; and most are prone to be unsatisfied with the present; whatever it is, they fancy and hope change may be better for their interest. Therefore, the calmest tem­pers of people must not be trusted; no more than the smiles of Hal­cion Seas. Wise Pilots know, there is no point of the Compass, whence a tempest may not come; nor is there any commotion, or inclination to troubles, whose impression the vulgar will not easily receive and raise to a storm: They are like a weighty baody kept up with engines, on the top of a hill; if once it be free, it falls; [Page 118] and falling downward, it drives it self; Motion adding an impetu [...] to its weight; the ( [...]) many, or multitude, are always the more dangerous, by how much less suspected: Necessity of obeying, is in most men but the cover of hypocrisie; except in some few, whom conscience makes subject;Rom. 13.5. and who upon Christian principles, chuse rather with patience to suffer under any lawful Magistrates, than to contest with them, although they were sure to conquer: Fearing no oppression or tyranny so much, as that of sin; as no sin so much, as that of rebellion, 1 Sam. 15.23. either against God, or those that are in Gods stead, and authority over them. Factious spirits, which possess most men (though they are not a war of it,2 Kings 8.13. more than Hazael was of his) easily make surprizes upon slackned, weakned, or over-confident power; whose security as to mens peaceful tempers, makes it less vigilant.

The true temperament is, where just and indisputable power, is so wisely managed, [...]. Muson. ap. Stobaeum. as renders Governors, rather august than dread­ful; rather venerable as Parents, than formidable as Masters; though the Body Politick seem never so fairly fleshed with love, and skinned over with kindness, yet there is neither strength nor safety in it, un­less the sinews and bones of majesty, real and effectual power, be maintained. It is enough, and as much as is safe for common peo­ple, to have the fancy and imagination of that power and liberty, which their deputies, representatives, or Tribunes tongues may take in publick Conventions and Parliaments: But it is dangerous for them­selves, as well as for their Magistrates, ever to let them tamper at the lock of majesty and sovereinty, with the Key of Power; for if they cannot fairly and easily open that door, through fury and im­patience they will break it open by violence; if they be not over­awed. There is no (Arcanum) Mystery or Secret of Empire, like to that of keeping such power, as evil men may fear, and good men will love; because they know it is for the publick good; and though it should lie heavy on subjects, yet it is not so terrible, as to be ground between two milstones of rival powers in civil dissentions.

No wise Magistrate therefore, either in policy or conscience, that is once invested in due authority soverein, will ask the people leave, either to have it, or to use it: The softer formalities sometime used to ask the peoples consent, (not in their bulk and heard) but in their proxies and deputies, is but a complement; and where prevalent power asks, it is never denied; nor is it ever asked, but where con­quering or hereditary power knows men dare not refuse it. No per­sonal title or pretension to sovereinty is so unjust, which people will not confirm by their consent: In which, their worldly wisdom looks more to their own safety, and the publick peace, than to any par­ticular mans right and interest; as they are wasted and ruined by [Page 119] contesting with those, that are to strong for them; so they would soon be too hard for themselves, and most their own enemies, if they should be left to arrogate, or exercise power according to their own various fancies, brutish motions, and preposterous appe­tites.

Therefore, God who is ( [...]) a lover of mankinde, hath so ordered in his providence; that, where any people are blest, some one or few men, who are wiser than the people, become also stronger, by an orderly and well-united strength; thereby preserving them­selves, and the publick, from those impetuous furies, to which this Leviathan, the people, is as naturally subject, as the Sea is to waves and storms, both in Civil and Ecclesiastical affairs; for they are no whit calmer in matters of Religion, than in those of secular regards; every man in Church matters, being confident of his skill, or at least his will and zeal, thinks it a shame to seem ignorant, or if he be conscious to his ignorance, seeks to cover it over, and set it off with forwardness.

Therefore the wisdom of the Lord Christ, upon whose shoulders the Government of his Church is laid,Isai. 9.7. hath set bounds to mans acti­vity and unquietness, by another way of Church power; which is setled in, and derived by fewer indeed, but yet, wiser and abler per­sons, than the community of Christians can be presumed to be; who in all affairs of Church or State, have ever given such experi­ments of their follies, madnesses, and confusions; where-ever they ar­rogate power, or have much to do, beyond ciphers in a sum; that all wise men conclude, That people are then happiest, when they have least to do in any thing that is called Government: Nor is it to be believed, that Jesus Christ hath ordered any thing in his Churches polity, that is contrary to the principles of true wis­dom; which in man is but a beam of that Sun, which is in God.

But the Bodying men say,28. People not fit to judge of doctrine or scandals in Religion. They must and ought to have a Church, not onely visible in the profession of Faith, but palpable and maniable, so as they may at once grasp it, and upon every occasion convene it, or the major part of it, into one place; that so they may complain of what they think amiss, and remedy by the power of that small fraternity, what ever faults any of them list to finde in one another, as Fellow Members and Brethren; yea, and in those too, whom they have made to be their Pastors, Rulers, and Fathers.

Answ. That the best Men and best Ministers may erre, and offend in religious respects, by error and scandal, we make no doubt: Nor is it denied, but they may and ought both by private charity, be ad­monished, and by publick authority, be reproved and censured. Where [Page 120] this Authority is (as it ought to be) in the hands of those, whom the Lord Christ hath appointed, as wise, able, and authorised by the Church, to judge of Doctrine, Maners, and Differences, incident among Christians, as such. But I appeal to all sober and judicious Christians, whether they can finde or fancy almost, that venerable Consistory, that judicious Senate, that grave and dreadful Tribunal (which the antients speak of among Christians of those first and best times) which is necessary for the honor, and good order of Religion, and peace of Christians; Whether, I say, there be any face or form of it, among those dwarf Bodies, those petty Church lets, those nar­row Conventicles, whose Head and Members, Pastors and Flock, are for the most part not above the Plebeian size; of a meer mechanick mould; either ignorant, or heady, or wilful, or fierce, under words and semblances of zeal, gravity, and an affected severity.

I make no quaere, Whether these sorts of men be fit persons, to whom all appeals in matters of Religion must be made; and by whom they must be finally determined; to whose judgements, pru­dence, and conscience, all matters of doctrine and scandal must be referred: By whom Religious concernments must be ordered and re­formed; by whom Ministers must be examined, tryed, and ordain­ed,In eo quisque judex recti con­stituitur, in quo peritus judica­tur. Reg. Juris. first; afterward, judged and deposed. Whether it be fit, that those, who are guilty of so little learning, or experience in divine matters, should solely agitate these great things of God, which so much concern his truth, his glory, and Christians good, every way▪ which matters both as to Doctrine and Discipline, are able to exercise and fully imploy the most learned, able, and holy men.

Who dreads not to think, that all saving truths stand at such mens mercy; the honor of Christ, and the good of mens souls too; while all degrees of excommunication, and censures, are irrepealably transacted by them; Among whom its hard to finde two wise men; and scarce any ten of them (if they be twenty) of one minde, while they boast they are of one Body?

Again, who will not sadly laugh to see, that, when they differ (as they oft do) and break in pieces; yet like quantitative substan­ces, they are always divisible; like water and other homogeneous bodies, they still drop and divide into as many new Churches and Bodies, as they are dissenting or separating parties? The miracle is, that when like Hypolitus his Limbs, they are rent and scattered by Schisms into Factions, yet still every leg, or arm, or hand, forms presently into a new distinct, compleat Body, and subdivided Church: Each of which conceives such an integrality of parts, and plenitude of power, that it puts forth head, and eyes, and hands; all Church Officers, Pastors, Elders, Deacons, by an innate principle of Church power, which they fancy to be in any two or three godly people. At [Page 121] this rate, and on this ridiculous presumption, they run on as water on a dry ground, till it hath wasted it self; till they are in small chips and slivers, making up Bodies at six and sevens; and Churches of two or three Believers: These ere long losing one another in the midst of some new opinion, some sharp subtilty, or some angry curio­sity (which they cannot reach,) then, and not before, this meteor or blasing Star of a popular, Independent, absolute, self-sufficient Church power in the people, which threatned Heaven and Earth, and stri­ved to out-shine the Sun, and Moon, and Stars, of all antient com­bined Churches, Order, and Government, for want of matter, quite vanisheth and disappears, by its Members separating from, and ex­communicating, or unchurching of each other; Then the solitary re­licts turn Seekers, whose unhappy fortune is never to finde the folly of their new errors, nor the antient true Church way; which they proudly, or passionately, or ignorantly lost, when they so easily forsook communion with the Catholike Church, and with that part of it, to which they were peaceably, orderly, and comlily united; as was here in England: Whose way of serving the true God, was privately with knowledge, faith, love, and sincerity; publickly, with peace, order, humility, and charity: Which might still with honor and happiness to this Nation, be continued, if the proud hearts, and wanton heads, and rude hands of some novel pretenders, had not sought to make the very name of Christian Religion, the Reformed Church, and Ministry of England, a meer sport, and may-game, to the Popish, profane and looser world; by first stripping us of all those Primitive Ornaments of gravity, order, decency, charity, good government, unanimity; and then dressing us up, and impluming us with the feathers of popular, and passionate fancies, which delight more in things gay and new, than good and old.

But, how shall we do (say these Bodying-men, 29. Of Church Discipline, in whom the Power. Matth. 18.17. Tell it to the Church.) to fulfil that command Dic Ecclesiae, for such a Church as may receive complaints, hear causes of scandal, speedily reform abuses, restore defects, exe­cute all power of the Keys in the right way of Discipline? without which, there is no true, at least, no compleat and perfect Church; for these men think, Christians can hardly get to Heaven, unless they have power among them, to cast one another into Hell; to give men over to Satan, to excommunicate, as they see cause; to open and shut Heaven and Hell gates, as they think fit: Must all things that concern our Church (say they) lie at six and sevens, till we get such Bishops and Presbyters, such Synods and Councils, such Repre­sentatives of Learned men, as are hardly obtained; and as hard to be rightly ordered, or well used, when they are met together? They had rather make quicker dispatches in Church work; as if they thought it better for every family to hang and draw within it self; [Page 122] and presently punish every offence, than for a whole Country to at­tend, either general Assizes, or quarter Sessions.

Answ. Truly, good Christians in this Church (at present) are in a sad and bad case too, as well as their Ministers, if they could make no work of Religion, till they were happy to see all things of extern order and government duly setled: Yet sure we may go to Church, and to Heaven too in our worst clothes, if we can get no better; nor may we therefore wholly stay at home, and neglect religious duties, because we cannot be so fine as we would be. Both Ministers and people must do the best they can in their private sphears, and particular Congregations, to which they are related, whereby to preserve themselves, and one another, as Brethren in Christ, from such deformities and abuses, as are destructive to the power of godliness, the peace of conscience, and the honor of the Re­formed Religion; until the Lord be pleased to restore to this Church, that holy Order, antient Government, and Discipline, which is ne­cessary, not to the being of a Christian, or a true Church, as its form or matter (which true Believers constitute by their internal union to Christ by Faith, and to all Christians by Charity;) but onely, as to the external form and polity, for the peace, order, and well being of a Church; as it is a visible society, or holy nation, and fraternity of men,1 Pet. 2.9. professing the truth of Jesus Christ. Yea, and Christians may better want (that is, with less detriment or deformity to Religion,) that Discipline (which some men so exceedingly magnifie, as the very Throne, Scepter, and Kingdom of Christ) under Christian Magistra­cy, (as they may the office of Deacons, where the law by Overseers takes care for the poor) where good laws by civil power punish publick offences, and repress all disorders in Religion, as well as tres­passes in secular affairs; Better, I say, than they could have been without it in primitive times; when Christians had no other means, to repress any disorders, that might arise in their societies; either scandalous to their profession, or contrary to their principles; of which, no Heathen Magistrate, or Humane Laws, took then any cognisance, or applied any remedy to them.

Not, but that I do highly approve, and earnestly pray for such good Order, comely Government, and exact Discipline, in every Church, both as to the lesser Congregations, and the greater Associ­ations, (to which, all reasons of safety, and grounds of peace, invite Christian Societies in their Church relations, as well as in those of Civil,) which were antiently used in all setled, and flourishing Churches; Much after that patern, which was used among the Jews, both in their Synagogues, which they had frequent, both in their own Land, and among strangers in their dispersions; and also in their great Sanhedrim; which was as a constant supreme Council, for [Page 123] ordering affairs, chiefly of Religion; to one or both, which (no doubt) our Saviour then referred the believing Jew, in that of, Tell it to the Church; that is, after private monition, tell it to the lesser Convention or Consistory in the Synagogues; which might decide matters of a lesser nature; or to the higher Sanedrim, in things of more publick concernment; both which were properly enough cal­led [...], Coetus congregatio, [...], a Church, [...].Philo. Jud. calls them [...]. Nihil hic à Christo novum praecipitur, sed mos rectè in­troductus pro­batur. H. Grot. in loc. Ecclesiae, i. e. [...]. Theoph. [...]. Plato Every polity hath in it power e­nough to pre­serve it happi­ness. Coimus in co [...] ­tum & congre­gationem, Ibi­dem orationes, exhortationes, castigationes, & censura di­vina: Praesident probati quique seniores. Tert. Apol. Solebant Judaei res majoris mo­menti ultimo loco ad [...] multitudinem referre: i. e. ad eos qui ea­dem instituta sestabantur; quorum judicia & conventus seniores moderabantur, tanquam praesidet. Grot. [...], Ign. Bas. in Chrys. Be­yond this sense, none could be made of Christs words, by his then Auditors, to whom he speaks, not by way of new direction, and institution of a Soverein Court, or Consistory, in every Congregation of Christians to come; but by way of referring, to a well known use, and daily practise, then among the Jews; which was the onely and best means wherein a Brother might have such satisfaction, in point of any offence, which charity would best bear, without flying to the Civil Magistrate, which was now a forein power. When Jews turn­ed Christians, its very certain, they altered not their Discipline, and order (as Christians) in Church society, from what they used before in their Synagogues. Proportionably, no doubt, in Christian Churches, of narrower, or larger extensions, and communion, among the Gentiles, the wisdom of Christ directs, and allows such judica­tories and iurisdictions, to prevent or remove all scandals and offen­ces among Christians, to preserve peace and order, as may have least of private or pedantick imperiousness, and vulgar trifflings of men, unable and unfit to be in, or to exercise any such holy and divine authority over others; (who are easily trampled upon, and fall into reproach, and the snare of the Devil, by reason of divers lusts, passions, weaknesses, and temptations;) but rather Christ commends such grave Consistories, solemn Synods, and venerable Councils, as consisting of wise, and able, and worthy men, may have most, as of the Apostolical wisdom, eminency, gravity; so of Christs Spirit, Power, and Authority among them: Such, as no Christian with any modesty, reason, conscience, or ingenuity can despise, or refuse to submit to the integrity of their censure; when it is carried on, not with those heats, peevishnesses, and emulations, which are usually among men of less improved parts, or ripened years; especially, if Neighbors. Such a way, wisely setled in the Church, might indeed binde up all things that concern Religion, in private or more publick respects, to all good behavior, in the bonds of truth, peace, and good order, by a due and decent Authority; which, for every two, or three, or seven Christians in their small Bodyings, and Independent Churches (exlusively of all others) to usurp and essay to do, is, as if, of every chip of Noah's Ark, or of every rafter of a great Ship, [Page 124] they would endeavor to make up a very fit vessel to sail in any Sea and any weather.

30. The best method of Church Dis­cipline. [...].But take the true and wholesome Discipline of the Church, in those true proportions, which pious antiquity setled and used; and which, with an easie hand, by a little condescending, and modera­tion, on all sides, might have been long ago, and still may be happily setled in England: Nothing is more desireable, commendable, and beneficial to the Church of Christ; As a strong case to preserve a Lute or Instrument in; that so the Church may not be broken, dis­ordered, or put out of tune by every rash and rude-hand, either in its truth, or purity, or harmony; either in Doctrine, or Maners, or Order. But this is a blessing, as not to be deserved by us, so hardly to be hoped, or expected, amidst the pride, and passions, and fractions of our times: Nor will it be done, till Civil powers make as much conscience to be good, as great; and to advance Christian Religion, no less, than to enlarge, or establish Temporal Dominion.

When such Magistrates have a minde, first to know, and then to set up a right Church polity, power, and holy order, in every part and proportion of it: They need not advise with such as creep into corners; or seek new models out of little and obscure conventicles; nor yet ought they to confine themselves to those feeble proportions, which are seen in the little Bodyings of these times; which begin like Mushrooms, to grow up every where, and to boast of their beauties, and rare figures; when nothing is more indigested, and ill compact­ed, as to the general order, and publick peace, of this or any other noble and ample branch of the Catholick Church. Pious and learned Men, who reverence antiquity, and know not yet how to mock either their Mother the Church, or their Fathers, the true Bishops, Elders, and Ministers of it, can soon demonstrate, how to draw forth that little chain of gold, (that charity, communion, and orderly subordination among Christians) which at first (possibly) might onely adorn one single congregation of a few Christians, in the primitive paucity and newer plantations; to such a largeness, amplitude, and extension, as by the wisdom of Christian charity, and humility, shall extend to, and comprehend in its compass, by way of peaceable union, and har­mony, or comly sub [...]ection, even the largest combinations, and furthest spreadings of any branch of the Cathol ke Church: Both as to its greater and lesser conventions; in several places and times; as the matters of Religion, and occasion of the Churches shall require; ac­cording to its several dispersions, and distinctions by place, or civil polity.

Matth. 18.19.Which greater, yet orderly conventions, must needs be as pro­perly a Church; and may meet, as much in Christs Name; and hope for his presence and assistance in the midst of them, as any of [Page 125] those Churches could among the Jews; [...]. 2 Cor. 2.6. Pun [...]shment inflicted by many. [...]. Rebuke be­fore all. 1 Tim. 5.20. Synodas Antio­chena Paulum Samosetanum ab ecclesia, quae sub coelo est uni­verso seperabat. Eus. hist. eccl. l. 7. c. 28. Autoritas est eminentia quae­dam vitae cujus gratia dictis factisve eujus­piam multum deferimus. Tul. to which Christ properly re­fers in that place: Yea, they must needs be far beyond any thing imaginable in the narrow confinements of Independent Bodies.

Such Churches then, of most select, wise, and able Christians, (who have the consent and Representation of many lesser Congrega­tions,) must needs do all things with more wisdom, advice, impartia­lity, authority, reputation, majesty, and general satisfaction; than any of those stinted Bodies of Congregational Churches, can possibly do; yea, in all right reason they are as much beyond and above them, as the power of a full Parliament, is beyond any Country Committee. Those may with comly order, and due authority (which ariseth from the consent of many men, much esteeming the known worth of others) give audience, receive complaints, consider of, examine, re­prove, reform, excommunicate, and restore, where there is cause, and as the matters of the Church, more private or publick, require in the several divisions; extending its wings as an Eagle, more or less, as there is cause; with infinite more benefit to the community of Christians, than those Pullets, the short winged, and little bodied Birds of the Independent feather, can do: Where without any war­rant (that I know) from God or Man, Religion or right Reason, Law or Gospel, Prudence or Charity, a few Christians, by cluck­ing themselves into a conventicle, shall presently seem a compleat body to themselves, and presume to separate and exempt themselves from all the world of Christians, as to any duty, subjection, order, or obedience; and pitching their Tents, where they think best, within the verge of any other, never so well, and wisely setled Church, presently they shall raise themselves up some small brest works of absolute Authority, which they fancy both parts from, and defends them against all Churches in the World; planting their Wooden or Leathern Guns of imaginary Independent power; and casting forth their Granadoes, or Squibs rather, of passionate censures, angry abdications, and severe divorces against all Christians,Ibidem (i. e. praesidentibus probatis Senio­ribus) exhorta­tiones, castiga­tiones & censu­ra divina. Nunc & judicatur magno cum pondere, ut a­pud certos de Dei conspectu; Sumumque fu­turi judicii prae­judicium est, si quis ita deli­querit, ut com­municatione o­rationis, & conventus, & omnis sancti commercil relegetur. Tertul. Apol. c. 39. Qui ab ecclesiae corpore respuuntur, quae Christi corpus est, tanquam peregrini & alieni à Deo, Dominatui diaboli traduntur. Hil. in Ps. 118. Inobediens spirituals mucrone truncatur, & ejectus de ecclesia rabido Daemonum ore discrepitur Jeron. Ep. 1. but those of their own way and party: Afterward they turn them, it may be, against their own body and bowels, when once they begin to be at leisure to wran­gle and divide; As if (alas) these were the dreadful thunder-bolts of excommunication, antiently used with great solemnity, caution, deliberation, and publick consent: The great forerunner of Gods ter­rible, hast judgment, exercised with unfeigned pity, fervent prayers, and many tears, by those, who had due eminency and authority, as presidents in chief, or seconds and assistants, to judge and act in so weighty cases and matters. In which transactions and censures, Churches Synodical, Provincial, and National, were interessed, and accordingly being duly convened, they solemnly acted in Christs Name, as the offence, error, or matter, required remedy; either for [Page 126] errors, or publike disorders and scandals; which it concerned all Christians and Churches to see repressed, or amended.

Of Excom­munication and cen­sures. Praesident pro­lati quique se­niores, honorem islam non pretio sed testimonio adepti. Tertul. Apol. c. 39. The [...]do. Hist. Eccl. l. 1. c. 10. Quod sacris Episcoporum conciliis consti­tutum fuerit id ad divinam voluntatem est referendum. Const. M. di­ctum. Euseb. vit. Const. Episcopi in Sy­nodo Sardicen­si. Dei aman­tissimi Reges adjuvant [...] di­vina gratia nos congregaverunt. In illa concilla totus desiderio feror, in istis devotione immoror, amore condele [...]tor, inhae­reo consensu, emulatione persisto: in quibus non hominum traditiones obstinatius defensantur, aut super­stitiosius observantur, sed diligentur humiliterque inquiritur, quae sit voluntas Dei bona & bene placens. Bern. Ep. 19.The wise and excellent Discipline of the Church, and the pow­er of using and applying of it, which so many now either vainly arrogate, or ambitiously Court, was not of old as a bodkin put into every mechanicks hands; or as a sword committed to every brawny arm; nor yet, was it such a (brutum fulmen) a thunder-bolt which the confident hand of every factionist might take to himself and Grasp, or use to his private revenge, or to the advantage of his party and design: But Discipline, together with Government, in the Church, was only committed and concredited, after the example of the A­postolic̄all times, by the wisdom, humility, consent, and subjection of all good Christians in their severall stations, either as Princes or Subjects, to those learned, grave, and godly men, Bishops and Pres­byters, who were ablest for gifts, eminentest for their labours, and highest in place and Ministeriall authority in the Churches of Christ; whose assemblies or convenings, were greater or smaller, and their influence accordingly obliging valid and effectuall, for the good of those Churches over which they were; ascending from the first and least Country Congregations (as the smallest yet considerable branches of a visible Church,) till it arose, like Ezekiels waters, from the Anckles, to the Knees, and Loyns, and Head, to such large, plenary, and powerfull an Authority, as represented many famous Churches; and sometimes the greatest and conversable parts of the Catholick Church throughout the whole world; as in generall Councils called Oecumeniall.

Of Synods and Coun­cils.Out of which Synods and Councils however disorders and in­conveniences (as Nazianzene and others complain) cannot be who­ly kept out (they still consisting of sinfull, and so frail men,) yet they were subject to far less evils,Cyp. Nazi. orat. 19. Ruffin Hist l. 1. c. 19. & 18. In causa Athenasii. Fa­ctionis macula sociavit concili­um: non judi­candi sed op­primendi causa agebatur, sub Constantio. Con­cil. Nicae. secun­dum ab Artia­nis coactū terrae motu impedi­tum. Theod. l. 2. c. 19. and Errataes, than attend the small scattered and separate bodies of there later decimo sexto editions: In multitude of Counsellors there is wisdom, safety and honour. Prov. 11.14. Nor may we cast away, those goodly large Robes, which the prudence and piety of the antients made, because they are sub­ject to be soyled, or rent, by the hands of folly. It is better for the Church to enjoy the gleanings of the antients Integrity, Wisdom, [Page 127] and Charity, in ordering of the Church, than to have the whole harvest of later mens sowings: which have large straw of pro­mises and shews, but little grain of solid benefit; yea much cockle too, and many thistles of most choaking and offensive consequences. The very rags of true antiquity, doe better cover the nakedness, and more adorne thee body of any Church; than any of those cobweb-garments of later making; which are torn in pieces, while they are putting on, and fitting to these new bodies of odd shapen Churches. All reason and experience teacheth, that those grand communicative wayes of Christian Churches in the joynt Coun­sels of grave, learned, and Godly men, drawing all into union, har­mony, and peace, for the publike and generall good, were far more probable (though (perhaps) not absolutely necessary means) to preserve both the doctrine of Faith and good manners unblameable among Christians, than any of those small and broken Potsheards of private Independency can be; which carry little ability, and as little authority or vertue with them: appearing like the Serpents teeth, sown by Cadmus, every where rising up in armed parties, divided against, and destroying one another; till they have cleared the Field, as of all such new, and angry productions; so of all those antient and excellent constitutions of Christian Churches; which were bound up as Bibles in greater, or lesser volumes.

It being so naturall to all men, to affect, what they call liber­ty and power; if once mean men can by any arts obtein any sha­dow of them, they are (out of the shew of much zeal and consci­ence) most pragmaticall; And first begin to think no Church well reformed, unless they bring them to their models; Then their mo­dell must be new; lest their Authors should seem to have been idle; being alwaies more concerned for the reformation of any men, than of themselves; God grant that while temerity and confidence pretends to plant none but new and rare flowers, and to root up all old ones as ill weeds, in the Church, that themselves and their odd inventions, with their rash abolitions, prove not at last the most noxious plants that ever pestered the Garden of this Church.

To what some men urge (by abusing that text against the good Orders, Canons, and Constitutions or Customs of the Church,31. Of prudence in ordering the Church affairs. Mat. 15.13.) That every plant, which the Father hath not planted, shall be pulled up; therefore say they, nothing of humane prudence is tolerable in the ordering of any Church; I answer; first, none of those that quar­relled at the Church of Englands Motes, but are thought by many learned and Godly men to have beams in their own eyes; if Scripture, right reason, and antiquity may judge: for nothing is al­leged as more different from any of these amongst us; than what may be found among the new Modellers; who as they were in [Page 128] number and quality much inferior, so they were never thought more wise, or learned; nor so calm and composed; nor so publike and unpassionate in their Counsels and determinations; as those many excellent men and Churches were, both antient and modern; to whose examples, agreeable to the Canon of the Scriptures, the Church of England was conformed. n his rebus in quibus nihil certi statuit Scriptura, mos populi Dei, vel instituta ma­jorum pro lege tenendi sunt. Aug. Ep. 89. Disciplina nul­la est melior gravi pruden­ti (que) viro in his quae liberas ha­bent observa­tiones, quam ut co modo agat quo agere vide­rit Ecclesiam ad quam cun­que forte dive­nerit. Quod e­nim neque con­tra fidem ne­que bonos mores injungitur in­d [...]fferenter est ha­bendum, & pro corum, inter quos vivitur socie­tate observan­dum est. Aust. Ep. 118. ad Jan. Salvà fidei re­gula de D sci­plina conten­dentibus su­prema lex est Ecclesiae pa [...]. Blondel sent. Jeron. praef.

Furthermore, The great Motor of some mens passion, zeal, and activity against this Reformed Church, was, that one Error, against the judgement, liberty, and practice of all antiquity, which is fundamentall, as to the Churches polity and extern Peace; name­ly, That nothing may be used in the Church as to externals, which is not expresly and precisely commanded in the word; Which yet themselves observe not, when they come to have pow­er either to form and act; some things they take in upon pruden­tiall account, as their Church-Covenant, of the form and words of which they are not yet agreed, which they urge; so their requiring each Member to give an account, not of the historicall belief of the truth, but, of the work of grace, and conversion, which no Scripture requires, or Church ever practis'd: That of St. Au­stin hath been often inculcated by many learned, quiet, and godly men in this Church of England, and elsewhere, as a most certain truth; That however the Faith, Doctrine, Sacraments, and Mi­nistry of the Church, are precisely of divine Institution; rising from a divine Spring, and conveyed in a like sacred Current, which ows nothing to the wisdom, policy, power, or authority of man; yet the extern dispensation of this Faith, Sacraments, and divine Ministrations, together with the fence and hedge of them, the ne­cessary Government, Order, and Discipline of the Church, in its parts and in the whole, these doe fall much under the managing of right reason, rules of good order, and common prudence, all which attends true Religion; So that they neither have, nor needed, nor indeed were easily capable of such positive, precise and particular precepts or commands, as these men fancy; and by this pertinaci­ous fancy they have cast great snares on the consciences of many; great scandals on the Churches, both antient and modern; and great restraints on that l berty, which Jesus Christ left to his Churches in these things; according, as various occasions and times might require.

Sumus & ho­mines & ci [...]es cum fimus Ch [...]i­stiani. Salv.None but foolish and fanatick men can think, that when men turned Christians, they ceased to be men; or being Christian men, they needed not still to be governed, both as Christians, and as men; by reason joyned to Religion; which will very well agree; car­rying on Re igious ends, by such prudent and proportionate means, and in such good order, as is agreeable to right reason; and the ge­nerall [Page 129] directions of Religion; which never abandoned, or taught any Christian to start at, and abhor, Naturae l [...]en, & rationis ra­dios, non extin­guit sed excitat Religio, quae non vera tantum sed & decora postulat. Aust. Phil. 4.8. [...], &c. [...], &c. Whatsoever things are true, honest, or comly, just, pure, lovely, of good re­port; if any vertue, any praise, think on these things; or meditate with reason and judgement. [...]. what is taught by the very light of nature, and those common principles of reason, and order, or polity; which teach the way of all Government and subjection; either of yonger to the elder (whence is the very ground of all Presbytery) or of weaker to the stronger; or of the foolisher to the wiser, or of the ignorant to the learned; or of many to some few, for the good of all: None of which methods can cross Religion; nor being observed in some due measure, can be blamed; nor ought factiously to be altered, by the members of any setled Church; in which there is, neither Apostacy from the Faith, nor recession from the Scriptures, nor al­teration of the substance of Christs holy Institution; which this Church of England not-being guilty of, but apparently professing, and fully adhering to the Scriptures, as the ground, rule, and limit of Faith, and holy Mysteries; We doubt not, but, however it used the wisdom of learned, wise, and holy men; and followed the war­rant of the Primitive Churches, in the extern maner and methods of holy Administrations, Government, and Discipline; yet it may, and ought still, as it doth, lay claim to the right and honor of an eminent part of the true Catholike Church of Christ, having a true Ministry, and true Ministrations: In which, I believe, all the Apostles, and Primitive Martyrs, and Confessors in all Ages, would most willingly have owned and approved; yea, the Great God from Heaven hath attested it, and still doth to the consciences of thousands of excellent Christians, which have had their birth and growths to Religion, in this Church of England.

So that the out-cryes, abhorrencies, and extirpations, carried on so eagerly against the main constitution, frame, and Ministry of this Church, by many, (who now appear to be men of little cha­rity, and strong passions, and very weak reason,) as if we were all­over Popish, Superstitious, Antichristian, altogether polluted, intolle­rable, &c. Those calumnies and clamors, wanted both that truth, that caution, and that charity, which should be used, in any thing, tending to disturb, or discourage any true Christian, or Church of Christ; whose differences in some small external things from us, in judgment or practice, we ought to bear upon the account of those many great things, in which we agree with them, as Christians: Nor ought poor men, of private parts and place in Church and State, so to swell, at any time, with the thought of any Liberty and Power in common, given them from Christ (to reign with him, or to reform, &c.) as to drive, like tipsy Mariners, those rightful Pilots from the Helm; or to break their card, and compass, of antient design, draught, and form, by which they steered as they ought, or as they could, in the distress of times. And this onely, That these new under­takers [Page 130] may try, how they can delineate new carts, or maps; and how soon they can over-whelm or over-set, so fair, rich, and goodly a Vessel, as this Church of England once was in the eye of all the World, but our own. This Iland was not more nobly eminent, than the Church was great in Britany: The leaks, chinks, and decayes, which befal all things in time, might easily have been stopped, calked, and trim­med, by skilful and well-advised hands; when once it was fairly and orderly brought upon the Publick stocks, and into a Parliament Dock; which good men hoped, of all places, would not prove either a quick-sand, or a rock to the Reformed Church, or the Learned Ministry of England.

But the Lord is just, though we should be confounded in our con­fidences of men; though neither mountains, nor hills, nor valleys can help, yet will we trust in God, who is our God in Christ; who (we doubt not, but) in mercy will own us, with all our frailties and defects, as his true Church, and true Ministers: And if in any thing we have failed, as men; yet we are assured, the merciful eye of Heaven will look more favorably on our failings, to pardon them, than some Basilicks do on our labors, to accept them;Jere. 1 8. Be not afraid of their faces, for I am with thee, to deli­ver thee, saith the Lord. V. 18. I have made thee a defenced City, a brazen Wall, and an iron Pillar, &c. Ezek. 2.6. Be not afraid of their words, though thou dost dwell among scorpions; be not dis­mayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. who seek to destroy this Church, and discourage all its true Christians and Mini­sters, if they could, with their dreadful aspects, and spightful looks; if they had not the defensative of Gods protection joyned to their own innocency; and the favor of many excellent Christians; whom I have endeavored to settle and satisfie, as briefly and clearly, as in so short a time I could, in these many, and to me very tedious, and almost superfluous objections, against this true Reformed Church of England; these first and lesser calumnies, which lay in the way of my main design, I thought it my duty to remove.

32. Want of Cha­rity our greatest de­fect. In the Coun­cil of Carth [...]ge, An. 401. The Orthodox Christians send Messen­gers to the Do­natists: [...]. So after, they send (An. 404.) Orators for unity and peace; without which, say they, Christian Religion cannot consist.Where, I see, in all our disputes and differences, so cruelly car­ried on, the greatest ingredient is Uncharitableness; which knows not how to excuse small faults, to supply lesser defects, to interpret well what is good, to allow others their true Christian Liberty, and to enjoy its own modestly; to keep communion amidst some easie differences, and union with harmless varieties. We have had on all sides truth enough to have saved any men; and uncharitableness enough to have damned any angels: Nor is it meerly a privation, or want of charity, but an abounding of envy, malice, strife, wrath, bitterness, faction, fury, cruelty, and whatever is most contrary to the excellency of Christians, which was the excellency of Christ; [Page 131] love and charity. The want of which,Basil. Mag. de Sp. S. deplores, [...]. So Naz. Or. 12. [...], &c. [...]. Naz. Or. 28. [...]. Clem. Alex. [...]. 5. sayes, Religion, as a Tripos, hath three feet, Faith, Hope, and Charity; and cannot stand if any one be wanting. I cannot but here deplore in a pathetick digression; craving the Readers pardon, since I cannot go further in answer of uncharitable objections, till I have first sought for our lost charity: The recovery of which one grace would end all the differences, and heal all the distempers, not of England onely, but of all the Christian World. You, O excellent Christians, will, I know, joyn with me in searching after charity, as they did after Christ, sorrowing, Luke 2.48. In mourning for, as some of the de­vout antients did, the sad distances, and wasts of Christian charity, among all sorts of Christian Churches, and Professors. Alas, we glory, and swell, and are puffed up one against another, in the forms of being called Churches and Reformed; when we lose the very power of godliness, the soul of religion, and the peculiar glory of Christianity, which is charity. Joh. 13.35. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, &c.

O sweet, divine, and heavenly beauty of Christ, and all true Christians (Charity:) Whither art thou fled, from Christians brests,33. Pathetick for Charity. [...]. Greg. Niss. [...]. Clem. Al. [...]. l. 3. c. 1. Salvian com­plains. Quis plenam vicu [...] exhibet charita­tem? Omnes à si etsi loco non absunt, affectu absunt, etsi ha­bitatione ju [...] ­guntur, mente disjuncti sunt. Lib. 5. de G [...] ­berna. Non Albiniani, non Nigriani sumus, sed Chri­stiani, Hoc u­num flu [...] nullarum par­tium fludiis [...]bripi. Tertul. Acts 1.26. lives, hearts, and Churches? In which was wont to be thy Nest, thy Palace, and thy Temple: Where thou wert received, wel­comed, and entertained, by wise and humble Christians, either as the Spouse of Christ, in thy purity; or as the Queen of graces, in thy beauty; or as the Goddess of Heaven, in thy majesty. O whither art thou gone? where art thou retired? Art thou to be found in the cells of Hermites, in the Cloysters of Monks, in the solitudes of An­chorites? (Probably, there may be most of thee, where is least of the world; which like full diet, begets most of cholerick and foul humors:) Dost thou reside among the pompous Papists? The graver Lutherans? the preciser Calvinists? the severer Separatists? or, the moderater English Christians? May we finde thee at Rome, or Wittemberg, or Geneva, or Amsterdam, or London? Dost thou dwell in the old Palaces, and Councils of venerable Bishops? or in the newer Classes of bolder Presbyters? or in the narrower corners of subtile Independents? Alas, I fear these very colours and names, which are as ensigns and alarms to factions, sound ill in the ears of Charity, and are unpleasing to its sight; which onely loves the first common title and honor of Disciples, to be called Christians. These faces and forms, seem as if they were divided, and set one against an­other; and when they want a common adversary, each party is ready [Page] to subdivide, and seeks to destroy it self; the hand of every faction in Religion, is as Ismaels against his Brother, or it self. Smiting oft with the fist of violence, as Factious; where they should give the right hand of fellowship, as Christians; and strangling each other, instead of embracing.

Or are all these divisions, but the disguises of Charity? and under visords of factions, a meer pageantry is acted of zealous ignorance, or proud and preposterous knowledge; both carried on with holy partiali­ties, fraternal Schisms, zealous cruelties, sacred conspiracies; so far onely, as to destroy all other Christians; That each sect alone may remain, as the onely Church; which then fancy themselves suffici­ently built, polished, and reformed, when they are but as heaps of rubbish, in their several ruptures; as unpolished lumps in their un­charitable sidings; so far weak and deformed limbs, as they are passi­onatly and violently broken from the intireness and goodly fabrick of the well compacted Catholike Church, of which they were sometime a comly and commendable part: Onely then in beauty, safety, and symmetry, while in order to, and in unity with the whole; which is as the Body and Temple of the Lord, in its various parts, making but one goodly structure, which was antiently the [...]oy, and glory of the whole Earth. Now, nothing seems best, but deformed ruines, and desolate parcels, of battered, broken, and almost demolished Churches, like Hospitals, in which, are most-what wounded, and maimed, and halting Christians; when of old, the Foundation of one,Rom. 13.10. Love is the fulfilling of the Law. Quicquid defi­ciunt aliae, unica supplet charita­tis gratio, qua in aeternum non de ficiet. Bern. [...]. Nis. Prius chari quā proximi. Min. Fael. [...]. Just. M. T [...]ypl. o. and all Churches, was Scripture Truth, the Cement Charity, the Beauty Unity, and the Strength, orderly and social Govern­ment.

O thou fairest of ten thousands (Christian Charity) which were the wonder of the World in the Primitive times! Which didst so spread thy wings over all the Earth, like the Spirit of God, on the face of the great deep, the ocean of mankinde, that every man might, and every Christian did enjoy, the vital heat, and diviner influence of thy fosterings on their souls; So far, that what weaker Christians came short of in believing, or failed in understanding, or were de­fective in doing, they made up in loving of Christ; and for his sake one another: Yea, what the very enemies and persecutors of Chri­stians wanted, of that humanity, (which is as the morn, and dawn­ing of Christian Charity,) true Christians sought to relieve them by their prayers, and to cover their horrid cruelties with their own kind­ness to them, while killed by them; and devotions for them, while they were dying under them, as the b [...]essed Martyr Stephen did, and the Crown of Martyrs, Christ Jesus. They forgat not to pray for those that persecuted them; which made Christians in their furthest dispersions, greatest distances, and grievousest sufferings, still admired [Page 133] by all men, though hated by them; still endeared, well acquainted, and united in love to each other, before they had seen, or were per­sonally known to each other.

O thou potent flame of celestial fire, which the love of Christ,Charitas est ole­um unde clara virtutū omnium lampas susten­tatur. Religio sine charitate est lampas sine oleo. Bern. ep. 42. [...]. Naz. Or. 28. So Just. Mar­tyr, Ep. ad Diog. [...]. Naz. Or. 14. stronger than death, had kindled in the souls of the first and best Christians! No Seas, no solitudes, no poverty, no pains, no suffer­ings, no torments, no offences, no injuries, were able to damp, or quench thee of old; but still thou didst gloe to so fresh an heat, that it warmed and melted the hardest Rocks of Heathen persecutors and tormentors: Who before they believed the Gospel, or love of God in Christ, covered to be of that Christian society, where they saw men love one another so dearly, so purely, so constantly, as to be ready to die with, and for each other. Alas, now every small drop of fancy, every novelty of fashion in Religion, every atome of Invention, every dust of Opinion, every mote of Ceremony, every shadow of Reformation, every difference of Practice, damps, rakes up, buries, puts out thy sacred sparks and embers, in Christians hearts; yea, and kindles those unholy, cruel, and dreadful fires of contrariety, jealousies, scorn, hatred, enmity, revenge, impatience of union, and zeal for separation; to so great heights of all-devouring flames, that nothing but the flesh of Christians will serve for fuel to maintain them; and nothing but the blood of Believers to extinguish them: So that no Christians now love further than they conspire and contend to destroy and conquer all, but their own party and faction.

Thus the want of this holy grace of charity, wastes us by the fires of unchristian fewds; and even presages the approaching of those last dreadful conflagrations, which shall consume the world; and those eternal flames, which shall revenge this sin of sins among Christians, the want of charity; which sins against the love of God, the blood of Christ, the Churches peace, and our own souls: How shall we uncharitable wretches, not dread the coming of our Judge? or how can we love his appearance in flaming fire, who have thus singed and burnt that livery of Christs love, wherewith we were clothed? which was dipped and died in his own blood; that so it might stanch the further effusions of blood among Christians; and cover the stayns of that bloud, which had been passionatly shed among them? How can we hope our souls should be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, when we spend our dayes in damming and destroying each other? and scarce suffer any to possess their souls in patience, or in any degree of charity, amidst the wasts and trou­bles of this conflicting and tottering Church; Which, like a great tree, whose roots are loosned round, and almost cut through, stag­ger too and fro; threatning to fall on every side; being nothing [Page 134] now, but weakness over-laden with weight; and labouring with the burthen of it self, is ready to destroy both it self and others by the suddenness and violence of its fall: O you excellent Christi­ans, hasten, as Lot should have done out of Sodom, to withdraw your selves from the interests, designs, zeal, devotion and Religion of this uncharitable and self destroying world; wrap your selves in the mantle of charity, peaceableness and patience, hasten to hide your selves in the holes of this rock, the love of Christ your Redeemer, till he come, who is at the dore and will not tarry.

Charitas san­ctitatis Custos. Chrysol. ser. 94. O pretious and inestimable grace of Charity, the only Jewel of our lives; the viaticum for our Deaths; the greatest ornament of a Christian profession; the sweetness of our bitterness, the Anti­dote of our poysons, the Cordiall in our infirmities, the comforter under our dejections, the supplyer of our defects, the joy in our sorrows, the witness of our sincerity, the Crown of our graces, the Seal of our hopes,1 Joh. 3.14. the stay and Pillar of our Souls, amidst the tears, tossings,Dilectio sūmū fidei sacramen­tum, Christiani nomini the­saurus. Ter­tul. lib. de Pa­tientia. Mat. 5.44. Humanum est amicos, Christi­anum inimicos diligere. Hilar. [...]. Naz. de Christian. dissid. or. 14. fears and conflicts of our mortall Pilgrimage; In which we then only joy, when we either love, or are loved by others; but then we have most cause of pious joy, when being hated, and cur­sed, and persecuted by others, we can yet love them, and pray for them, and bless them for Christs sake. Thou that madest Martyrs, and Confessors, and all true Christians, more than Conquerors, of death, and enemies, men, and Devils; O how have we lost thee? how have we banished thee? how have we not injured thee? yea, how have we grieved thee more in this, that we are loth to find thee; But most in this, that we seek thee among He­resies, Schisms, Apostacies, seditions, furies, perjuries, tyrannies, superstitions, sacrileges, causeless disputes, endless janglings; yea cruell murthers of bodies, and Anathemaes of souls? But the high­est indignity, and greater than the greatest insolency offerd thee, is, That we boast, and proclaim we have found thee, in what we have most lost thee; that we have raised thee, by what we have ruined thee; that we are most Churches, when we are least Chri­stians; or most Christians, when we have least of a Church; in our preposterous zeals, our hypocriticall charities, our deformed refor­mings, our distorted bodyings, our distracted communions, our di­vided unions, our fanatick dreams, our blasphemous raptures, our prophane enthusiasms, our licencious liberties, our injurious indul­gences, our irrationall, and irreligious confusions; our cruell tole­ratings of any thing, rather than sober abiding, growing, and flou­rishing in truth, which is thy root; in humility, which is thy flower; and in well doing, which is thy fruit.

Praecipuum di­lectionis munus [...]retiostus quam agnitio, glorio­sius quam pro­phetia. Irenae. l. 4. c. 63. Gratia est & fortissima, & mitissima; ge­nerosa suavi­tate omnia a­git, tolerat, vin­cit Charitas, Semper sibi lex severissima. Bern. Charitas est motus animi ad f [...]uendum Deo propter se­ipsum, & se atque proximo propter Deum. Aust. de Doct. Christi. l. 3. c. 9. 1 Joh. 4.8.20. Ps. 133.1.2. [...]. Cl. Al. [...]. 6. 1 Cor. 14.4.5.6.7. Charitas est sibi maxime impe­riosa. Jeron.Thou wert wont to come to us Christians, and by us to others, in the cool of the day, in a still voice, in meek intreatings, in gen­tle [Page 135] beseechings, like the sweet dew on herbs, or soft rain on the tender Grass; so that, however Christians might be exceeded by other men, in strength, beauty, learning, eloquence, and policy, yet none equalled them in Charity; which hath the greatest cou­rage joyned with the greatest kindness; and only knows how to crucify it self, that it may spare others; to deny it self, that it may gratify others: Hast thou now chosen to come in Earth-quakes, in Whirl-winds, in Thunders, and Lightnings, and Fires, in tumults, in hideous clamors and Wars? dost thou delight to wrap thy self in the Garments of Christians rowled in blood? to besmear thy fair and orient face with the gore and dust of fratricides and patricides? Is it thy pleasure to hide thy self in the thick clouds and darkness of Religious plots, reforming pretensions, and then to break forth with lightnings and hot thunderbolts, with Hailstones and Coals of fire? As if the inseparable twins of the love of God and our neigh­bour were now parted, or had slain and devoured one the other; Are all thy sweet perfumes, thy fragrant Oyntments, (which were wont to be diffused from the head of our Aaron Christ Jesus, to the skirts of his Garments, the lowest and meanest Christians) are they now all distilled and sublimated by our hotter brains and Chimicall fires, into this one drop of self preservation? Hast thou lost those Cha­racters, which the blessed Apostle sometime gave thee, for long suffering, for kindness; for not envying, not vanting, not being puffed up; for not behaving thy self unseemly, not seeking thine own; not easily provoked, thinking no evill, rejoycing not in ini­quity, but in the truth; Bearing all things, believing all things, ho­ping all things, enduring all things? Is thy purity embased with the love of the world, of mony, of honour, of pleasure, of applause, of victory, through self-love? Thou that wert wont to be that pure Christalline and celestiall love of God, and of man for Gods sake; art thou now degenerated to sordid, sensuall, and momentary lusts? Thou that didst feed among the Lillies, on the mountains of Spices, in the Garden of God, on the tree of life, the love of God in Christ, with eyes and hands intent to Heaven, praysing God for his love to thee, and praying for the like love to others; art thou now condemned to the Serpents curse, to goe on thy Belly, to feed on the dust; to make gain thy godliness, 1 Tim. 6.5. and to turn even piety it self into the poyson of meer self-preservation, in worldly interests? How is thy voice changed from that of a Lamb, to the roaring of a Lion? thy hands from Jacob's smoothness, to Esau's roughness?

Or is this rather none of thy voice, which we daily hear? Are these none of thy hands, O most unchangeable Charity, who art alwaies the same in thy self, and to others? Are they not the voice and hands of thy disguised enemies, tempting us with the Serpents [Page 134] [...] [Page 135] [...] [Page 136] subtilty; beguiling us with the fallacy of ravening Wolves, covered in Sheeps cloathing, and bleating instead of howling, yet with no less purpose to devour? whose bowels are of brass, their hearts of Ada­mant, their Fore-heads of Flint, their Teeth and Claws of Iron; There Feet are swift to shed blood, yea they are dipped in the blood of Christians? Thou that wert wont to have but one Head, the Lord Jesus Christ; and but two Hands, the right Hand of affiance, leaning on God; the lest of pitty, supporting the weak Bro­ther; art thou now grown monstrous like Hydra, with many Heads, and as many stings? like Briareus, with many Hands, and as many Swords? mutually fighting, though seeming to branch from, and adhere to the same body of Christianity? Is thy God now to be appeased with humane sacrifices, or will he drink the blood of Christians,Mat. 5.23. 1 Cor. 13.3. who would not accept a gift at the al­tar, till the offerer had first reconciled himself to his Brother? will he now accept the heads of those that are slain by us,Nec Martyrium absque chari­tate coronandū. B [...]c. Ep. 7. who would not Crown Martyrdom it self, if the Garland of Charity had not first adorned it on earth, and so fitted it for suffering; and by pa­tient suffering, for glory in the Heavens?

Gratia est quod vivimus, quod val [...]mus, quod pugnamus, quod coronamur. Chrysost.O let not the Christian world thus mistake thee; rather let them never speak or think of thee, than thus injure thee, while they pretend to advance thee; we know, O blessed Charity, that thou art wholy made up of the love and free grace of God, by the merits of Jesus Christ, and the liberall effusions of the holy Spirit; having in thee as no ingredients of humane merits, so less of hu­mane passions, secular ends, and partiall interests; O shew thy self in thy own innocent sweetness, in thy pious simplicities, in thy lovely lineaments, with thy harmless hands, with thy beautifull feet, which carry the message of good tydings, the Gospell of Peace, which have the marks of the Lord Jesus on them; which art who­ly made up of softness and sweetness; warming us by the light of the Truth, and melting us by the warmth of Christs love; set forth thy self in thy sober smiles, [...]. thy modest eyes, thy soft and silken words, thy silent-tears, thy clean hands, thy tender steps; How can we love thee, unless we see thee, like thy self? How can we not love thee, if once we be happy to see thee, as thou art! O hide not thy self from us, though we have abused thee and mocked thee, and scourged thee, and crowned thee with thorns, and clothed thee with Purple rayment, died in the blood of Christians; though we have pierced thy heart, and almost destroyed thee, so that thou art forced to fly from us naked and wounded; Though we have not on­ly forsaken thee, but driven thee from us; not only lost thee, but are loth to find thee, and joy in thy loss, and are afraid of thy re­turn: yet since thou art Charity, that is, all divine sweetness, kind­ness [Page 137] and goodness, doe not utterly forsake us, the scattered and torn remnant of surviving Christians; Are our distances more un­reconcileable, than those were between God and Sinners? yet these thou hast composed, by that blood of attonement, which Christ the Son and love of God shed for us, to redeem us out of all Nations tongues and people; who hath given us this badge of his Disci­ciples, to love one another; Joh. 13.35. not with private and Schismaticall factiousness, but with publike and Catholick affections, which reach as far as the Name of Christ is owned: Thou art not only an Angell ascending up to Heaven in the love of God, but also descending down to men, chiefly to the fraternities of Christians; Nor is the stream of thy sweetness, which flows with Milk and Honey, only diffused upon the Church triumphant, the blessed An­gels, and Souls of just men made perfect, who are ever bathed in an Ocean of thy Nectar, which is infinite love; but thou hast also re­ceived gifts for men; and hast effusions of love to soften our hard hearts, to supple our brawny hands, to clear out polluted conscien­ces, and to chear up our Cainish countenances.

Better we had been among the slain,Procellae, tene­brae, mortes, tor­menta, Gehen­naein sunt ani­mae in qua cha­ritas non rema­net, & regnat. Fulg. that are gone down to the Pit, and covered in darkness, with the dust of death, than, to live without thee; whose presence makes our moment here to be Heaven, and thy absence makes our after eternity to be Hell; O let not the cruell, factious, profane, and Atheisticall world say, That thou, the Charity of Christians, wert never beyond a fable, a meteor in their fancies, a morning dew falling from their lips; or a melancholy softness, a pusillanimous pitty, a devout cowardise; As if Christians were kind no longer, than they wanted power to be cruell; and humbly obeyed no longer, than they wanted oppor­tunity to be proudly rebellious against those, whom they feared more as slaves, than loved as Christians.

Is there nothing in thy ingenuous wisdom (which delightest to doe best, and most, where men merit least) by which to bring back those (Theriandri, Anthropophagi, or Lycanthropi) those men, that are become savage of civill; those Christians, that are turned Tygers, and Lions, and Bears, and Wolves, degenerated far from the pristine shape and forms which they had, of meek Lambs and Sheep? O bring forth those excellent eye salves, by which thou didst of old open the eyes of the blind, and barbarous Heathens. Shew to the deformed Christians of this metamorphosed age, thy primitive beau­ties; the attractives of thy meekness, the charms of thy gentleness, the trophies of thy patience, forbearances, and brotherly kindness; bring forth the Magazins of thy mercies, bowels of pitty, tender­ness, tears; use thy honest frauds, thy pious crafts, 2 Cor. 12.16. thy Dove-like arts, thy Saint-like policies, of self denyall, courtesy, modesty, [Page 138] giving and forgiving;Quanto magis regnum cupidi­tatis destrui­tur, tanto cha­ritatis augetur. Austin. de doct. Christiano. [...], de Christianis. Just. M. ad Diog. [...] Just. in Apol. Mark. 13.22. by which means Christians ever flourished in grace, abounded in comforts, and though they were destroyed and persecuted, yet still they were emulated and renowned; (O remove the paints, and veils, and masks, and shadows, the deceits and dawbings, which are upon the face of Christian Religion; which is indeed nothing without thee; a meer mockery of graces, a pageantry of virtue; a phantasm of courage, a delusion of zeal, a shadow of reformation; fitted only to deceive, if it were possible, even the very elect,) If thy torments and blood-sheds, and deaths of old, will not serve to moysten and enlarge the dryed and contracted bowels of modern Christians, to mollify their hearts, to calm their spirits, and to sweeten their looks to one another; O shew them thy later foul scratches, thy fresh wounds, thy grievous reproches, thy many bleedings, thy deep stigmatizings; thy prisons, thy pier­cings, thy dyings, thy crucifyings, all which thou hast received in the house of thy friends, by the hands of thy friends, even such as are called Christians, but can hardly be counted, charitable: which have brought thee and us to these fears, and tremblings, and pale­ness, and despairs, as if God, and Christ, and Gospell, and Ministry, and Heaven, and salvation, and true Religion, were all departing with thee, which are thy inseparable companions.

1 Pet. 1.29. Obstinati animi & adamantina corda, minis duriora, & monicis pejora, solo Christi sanguine con­spersa emolliun­tur. Bern. O duri, & in­durati & ob­durati filii A­dam; quos non emollit tanta benignitas, tan­ta flamma, tam ingens ardor, tam vehe­m [...]ns amator; quem nec agon, [...]e crux, nec mors terruit, quin te amaret. Acts 3.15. & 19. 1 Joh. 3.16. 1 Joh. 3.19.If these will not move Christians to look after thee, or at least to pitty thee, and to pray for thee (or rather for themselves in thee:) yet hast thou one holy Relique of infinite merit, incomparable worth, and inestimable valew; set forth this to the blood-shotten eyes of the Christian world; even Jesus Christ crucified for them, and pro­fessed by them to be their common Saviour: Possibly his precious bloud sprinkled on their consciences, may (as water on lime) slake, and dissolve, that firy Spirit, and flinty Heart, which is among them; Nothing can work such miracles, as this age wants, but only the cross, and wounds, and agony, and sweats, and tears, and blood, and death of Jesus Christ; whose love used the malice and cruelty of his enemies, for an instrument to kill him, that he, being slain by them, might merit life for them; that by this act of high­est uncharitableness in man, to kill his Saviour, Christ might set forth his other-wayes unexpressible Charity toward men, by sa­ving his destroyers; his love being stronger than death; and giving us hereby a patern how we should be disposed to one another, not only when friends, but also when enemies; Rather to dye for them in away of charity, which is a beam of divine mercy; than to kill them, even in away of equity, which is but a stroke of humane ju­stice; but least of all should we destroy our Brother, in away of po­licy, passion, and malice, which is devillish cruelty; Since to hate our Brother, is murther, as he is a man, sure not only to hate, [Page 139] but even for Religion sake to kill our brother, a Christian, must be a crucifying afresh the Lord of Life; who died for his Church: So then, uncharitable destroyers of Christians, are rather Deicides, than Homicides.

If all this move not those, that are called Christians,1 John 3.16. Hereby we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the bre­thren. [...]. Naz. Or. 16. Isai. 32.2. Beatitudinum omnium beatis­sima beatitudo charitas. Nien­burg. to lay down their malice, factions, and arms, against each other; for whom Charity and Christ bids them lay down their lives; O let it move all excellent Christians, (and me, who am less than the least) that truly love thee, and long for thee, to mourn to see the generality of Christians so little moved by thee, or to thee: Let our heads and eyes, be as Fountains and Rivers of Waters, running with tears night and day, for those thousands, whom justice; and those ten thousands, whom uncharitableness, schism, and superstition, have slain among Christians, even in these Nations and Churches. O let our humble hearts be thy retirement; our sighs, and prayers, and tears, thy refreshment, in the heat and fury of these times; and be thou to us, as the shadow of that great Rock in a weary Land.

O blessed Blessing of all other blessings, Charity; what words, what tears, what prayers, what sighs, what Sermons, what Writings can recover thee, or recal thee, or perswade thee to look back, and return to these, and others pitifully broken, wasted, forlorn, and divided Churches? But alas, our words are sharp swords, daily whet­ing, and clashing against each other; our tears are, as the drops of revengeful and impatient spirits, which cannot have their wills; our prayers are the bitter effusions of hearts troubled and disquieted, not with sin, but with choler and unkindness; so far from praying for our enemies, that we pray nothing but enmity; and are impatient that any should pray for their friends, if we esteem them our enemies; our sighs are but bellows, to excite the languishing flames of decli­ning factions, against their opposers; our Sermons oftimes are as fire­brands tossed up and down by incendiaries; and the breath of our Pulpits, are like the Eructations of Aetna, Vesuvius or Hecla, scat­tering coals of fire, and blasting all things neer them with sulphureous exhalations: So that many Preachers are, indeed, as voices crying in the wilderness; sounding alarms to Religious War; and preparing a way for zealous desolations, both in Church and State; And for our Writings, they are in great part but Pamphlets, which serve as Paper to wrap up squibs, or to kindle to quicker flames, those smoaking jealousies and secret discontents, which are smothered in our brests: That even we Christians, and reformed too, speak, and act, and pray, and Preach and Print, in great part, so, as if we had not one God, and one Lord Jesus, one Spirit, one Faith, and one Baptism, &c. Ephes. 4.4, 5. But, as if we had no God, no Faith, no Word, no Sacrament, no common relation to one Saviour, no common salvation in One, and by [Page 140] One; as if we were Christians, onely to be crosses, and to crucifie one another: As if we were all turned Canaanites, scourges in the sides, and thorns in the eyes of one another.

Charitas deus est substantivs, & dat nobis deitatem acci­dent [...]lem. Bern. de dil. Deo. O thou flower and fragrancy of all graces and virtues; which hast little of a Man, nothing of a Devil, and most of God, of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit in thee; which carriest all sweetness, serenity, and tranquillity with thee: If thou abhorrest the crowds of Christians, and such as glory so much in their being gathered into Churches after new and uncouth ways; If thou darest not trust their smiles and kisses, their fervors and reformings, who have so oft, under the speci­ous pretences of Religion, sheathed their swords in thy bowels; If thou art afraid, not onely of religious rabbles, and zealous multitudes, but even of sacred Synods, and Armies listed for holy Wars, whose faith hath often failed thee and them too; who while they thought to contend earnestly for the truth, have crushed thee, O Charity, al­most to nothing, by their violences, and divisions; each novel faction seeming to strive for thee, pull and tear thee in pieces, ready by violent halings of thee to their sides Sects, utterly to destroy thee;

O yet prepare a place for thy self among some humble and honest hearts, some meek and quiet spirits here in England; that so thou maist retire and hide thy self, from thy friendly enemies, from their cruel courtesies, their dangerous importunities, their deep agitations, and designs. O disdain not the broken hearts and contrite spirits, of [...]hat remnant of truly Reformed, Catholike, and charitable Christians, which yet have escaped in this Church. These value thee, these long fo [...] thee, these are sick of love to thee, and weary of life without thee. To thy honor and restauration, to their comfort and establishment, these lines are chiefly consecrated: O do thou cover them,James 3.6. Psal. 120.7. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war. and this thy suppliant Orator, under the shadow of thy wings (till this calamity be overpast) hide us from the strife of tongues which are set on fire with the fire of hell; which burn most, whe [...] cool drops, and calm pleas for charity, are sprinkled on them.

In the great and sad ruines of Churches, and dissentions of Christians, O be thou our refuge and protection; teach us to live by divine love; and so to love thee, that we may live a divine [...] with thee: Learn us that highest lesson of a Christian to love our enemies, and persecutors; while others learn to hate their friends, and their Fathers.

1 Cor. 13.8. Charity never be faileth.O Sempiternal Grace, which are fitted for immortal souls; let us be (as Ruth to Naomi) unseparable from thee, while we are on Earth; as thou art the onely remaining grace in Heaven; being the crown and consummation of all other gifts and graces; which, like stars, then disappear, and are willingly swallowed up, when thy lustre, [Page 141] like the Suns, is risen to its full strength, and shines in an eternal Noon, making the soul at once infinitely happy, while it sees an object infinitely lovely, and loves it with an infinite love. Rather than we should fail of thee in this life (O thou beloved of our souls) carry us with thee, from Cities, to solitudes; from company, to de­serts; from the unsociable societies, and uncharitable Churches, to creeping cottages, to weeping solitudes, and howling wildernesses; where we may enjoy thee in our own oft sighing, and smitten brests, rather than dwell in Palaces, and Cities, and Temples, and where we see thee daily despised, profaned, and mangled; tormented, torn, and trampled under the feet of Christians, in Villages, in Towns, in Cities, in Senates, in Armies, in Seats of Justice, and in Pulpits. Give us the wings of a Dove, even thy wings (O holy Charity) by which thou ascendest at once to God in love, and descendest for Gods sake in love to man; that we may make haste and flie away, and be at rest for ever; that we may ascend from this valley of our confusions, to the mountain of thy felicities; Which is the glorious vision of thy self in the great mirror or glass of Gods perfections; who is in him­self, and to us perfect light, that we may see him to be perfect love, and is perfect love, that we may enjoy his perfect light. 1 John 1.5. God is light. Chap. 4 8. God is love. O Father of Lights, and Fountain of Love, whose immensity and eternity are filled with truth and peace, verity and charity; whose love hath sprinkled our souls with the blood of thy beloved Son, the promised Messias, our blessed Jesus! O let our moment here, be sincere lo [...]e to thy self, perfect charity to thy Church, and holy humanity to all men; that our eternity may be blessed with thine, and our Saviours, and our Fellow Saints love for ever.

You, O excellent Christians (whose excellency is chiefly in this,Col. 3.14. Supplementum, munimentum, ornamentum omnium gratia­rum una chari­tis. Amb. Jer. 5.1. that above all things you have put on charity, which is the bond of perfection) yo [...] will not onely excuse, but (it may be) kindly accept this little digression; wherein my Pen, like Jeremies, hath shed some few drops of lamentation, mingling tears with the blood of Christians, which hath been so profusely shed in these self-desolating Churches; mourning for the loss of charity, the extirpations of unity, and the ruines of harmonious order, which are forced to yield to contention, cruelty, and confusions. Nature reacheth you to la­ment the loss, or forced absence, of what you love; and Christian Religion teacheth you, to love all graces in charity, and this one above all. You have learned to suffer with patience, (and in some cases, with joy) the spoiling of your goods, the sequestring of your revenues, the imprisonment of your persons, the scattering of your neerest relations, the withdrawings of your wary friends, and the great alterations of civil powers, and secular affairs; These are but scenes and parts of the same Tragedy, which hath always been act­ing [Page 142] on the Worlds Theatre; in which, it is safer to be Spectators, and Sufferers, than Actors; nor may your sufferings in secular matters disorder your charity; onely, the plundrings of your true Christian Religion, which some men aim at; the sequestring of this Church of England, from its glory and reformation; the dividing, and so de­stroying of it; the restraining you from enjoying the great seal of charity, the Sacrament of Christian Communion; the scattering of your able faithful Ministers into corners; the changing and contemn­ing of your antient and excellent Ministry; the underminings of your comforts, and the hazards of your consciences; the many con­fusions and miseries threatning your posterity in matters of salvation, if the malice of some men may be suffered to abuse your charity, and impose upon this credulity;

These, your zeal (mixed with charity) teacheth you, to endure with an impatient patience: Therefore patient in some degree, be­cause you yet hope better things from God, and all good men; there­fore piously impatient, because you earnestly wish better for Gods glory, and the good of your Countrey. Your humble zeal hath taught you to be discreetly charitable; as to your own souls, so to all others; but specially to this Church of England, and the true Mini­sters of it; to whom, you cannot but willingly bear that tender re­spect and love, which pious children are wont to do to their distressed, yet well-deserving parents; from the care and support of whom, no Corbans, no imaginary Dedications and Devotions of your selves to any new Church ways, and forms of Religion, may justly alienate your affections; nor dispence with that respect, justice, gratitude, and charity, which you in conscience ow to those, to whom in some sense you ow your own selves, and the best of your selves, your souls: Whose divine Authority, and holy Calling, I shall now further endeavor to prove, having thus first establis [...]ed the truth of our Religion, and of our Church; whose greatest waste and want, is that of charity; whose dying embers, and almost extinguished sparks, I have (by the way) endeavored to revive in the hearts of true Chri­stians; that so they may without passion or prejudice, embrace that truth which I chiefly design to vindicate in this Apology: Name­ly, The holy Calling, divine Institution, and Function of the Ministry of this Church of England; which will best be done by answering the chief Objections, Calumnies, and Cavils, brought against both the Ministers and their Ministry, by their many-minded Adver­saries.

OBJECTION II. Against the peculiar Office and Calling of Evangelical Ministers.

SUppose we grant (say they) true Religion, and a true Church in England, with some defects; yet these may be without any distinct office, or peculiar calling of Ministers, which you challenge, as of divine appointment: Where as, we conceive, every Christian may and ought to dispence, in an orderly way,1 Pet. 4.10. all such gifts of know­ledge, as he hath received in the Mysteries of Religion, to the Churches good. So that the restraining of holy Administrations to some persons, as a peculiar Office and Function, seems but the fruit of arrogance and usurpation in some, of credulity and easiness in others, and is not rightly grounded upon the Scriptures.

Answ. Not that, I believe,1. Of Catholike testimony, and practise or custom in the Church. 1 Cor. 9.2. Your are the Seals of mine Apostleship. your well-grounded and well-guided piety, (O excellent Christians) (who know, in whom, and by whom, you have be [...]ieved,) needs other satisfaction in this, or the other fol­lowing Objections, touching the peculiar, divinely-instituted Function of the Ministry, than what your own solid judgments, and exacter consciences, and clearer experiences, sealing your comforts, and our Ministry, afford you; who are no novices in matters of Religion, either as to the outward form and order, or the inward power; But onely to let you see, that neither I, nor my Brethren the Ministers, do plead for that, in a precarious way of meer favor and indulgence, for which, we have not good grounds, clear proofs, and mighty de­monstrations, both divine and humane, from Scripture, pious Anti­quity, and right Reason, I shall more largely and fully answer thi [...] first grand Ob [...]ection, which strikes at the very Root and Foundation, both of the Ministry, and all holy Ministrations.

1. I may first blunt the edge of this weapon (which strikes against the peculiarity of the Ministerial Function) by the clear and con­stant acknowledgment (both as to judgment and practise) of all excellent Christians, and all famous Churches, in all Ages,Illud est Domi­nicum & verum quod prius tra­ditum, id extra­neum & fal­sum quod poste­rius imm [...]ssum. Tertul. from the very first birth and infancy of Christianity, and any Churches, to our times: Of which, no sober or learned Christian, can with any plausible shew, make any doubt; so far as God in his providence hath continued to us any Monuments or Witnesses of the Churches estate, succession, and transactions in former times. In all which, we finde there ever was a peculiar Office of the holy Ministry, and a peculiar Order of Persons, both ordaining, and ordained to be Ministers; [Page 144] and both so used and so esteemed, by all good Christians, in all setled Churches. Clemens, in Saint Pauls time, after him, writing from Rome to the Corinthians, where faction was kindled, Exhorting people and Presbyters to peace, tells them, That the Apostles ap­pointed some in all Countreys ( [...]) trying and approving them by the Spirit, to be Bishops and Deacons, for those that after should believe, Pag. 54. Edit. Pat. Jun.

Id sine dubio te­nendum, quod ecclesia ab Apo­stolis, Apostoli à Christos▪ Chri­stus à Deo susce­pit. Reli [...]ua omnis doctrina de mendacio praejudicanda, quae sapit contra v [...]ritatem eccle­siae, & Aposto­lorum, & Chri­stu, & Dei. Tertul. de prae. ad Hae. c. 21. Omnes praepositi Apostolis Vica­ria Ordinatione succedunt. Cyp. l. 4. ep. 9. Jer. Com. in 1. cap. ep. ad Gal. Isidor. Hispal. off. eccle. l. 2. c. 5. Radix Christi­anae societatis per sedes Apo­stolorum & successiones E­piscoporum certa per orbem pro­pagatione dif­funditur. Aug. ep. 42. The Lord, sa [...]th Clemens, will have us to perform our ( [...]) of­f g ings and services ( [...]) none rashly and disorder­ly, but in due time and sea­son, ( [...]) where also, and by whom, his w [...]ll and supreme pleasure, hath appointed. [...]. The Faction or Schism began in Saint Pauls time, then renewed, or had continued, which Clemens shews, citing the Apostle Pauls Epistle to the Corinthians, and telling them, That the Apostles setled approved Ministers, Bishops, and Deacons after them, and ordered for a succession to follow, when those were dead, whom they ordained imme­diately, p. 57. Edit. Pat. Jun. Clemens R. ep. ad Corinth. Ignat. ep. ad Hieron. & in aliis ep. Just. Mar. Apol. 2. Tertul. Apol. & lib. De Baptismo. Cyprian, l. 1. ep. 2, 9. l. 3. ep. 5. Eis, qui sunt in Ecclesia, Presbyteris obaudire oportet, his qui successionem habent ab Apostolis; qui cum Episcopatus succ [...]ssime charisma veritatis certum secundum beneplacitum patris acceperunt: Reliquos vero, qui ab­sistunt à principali successione, & quocunque loco colliguntur, suspectos habere, vel haereticos, & malae sententiae; vel quasi sciudentes, & elatos, & sibi placentes: Aut rursus ut hypocritae quoestus gratia & vanae gloriae hic operantes; omnes autem h [...]decidunt à veritate, ut Nadab, & Abihu, & Koram, & Jeroboam, &c. Irenaeus, l. 4. c. 43. Agnitio vera est Apostolorum doctrina & antiquus Ecclesiae status in universo mundo secundum successiones Episcoporum, quibus illi eam, quae in unoquoque loco est Ecclesiam, tradiderunt, Iren. l. 4. c. 63. Chrysost. de Sacerdotio. Basil. Mag. Symoni Mago comparat illos, qui [...], Who take money for Ordination; and calls that gain, [...], Conduct money for Hell, Ep. 78. And in his 181. Epist. cha­lenges to himself the power of Ordination from the Corepiscopi. So Epist. 187. [...], &c. The antient custom of the Church receives none to be Ministers, but with strict examination, in their Ordination. Epiphan. Hae. 79. Jeron. Dialog. ad Lucifer. St. Ambrose. De Dignitate Sacerdotali Liber. St. Austine, Ep. 42. and in many places. St. Gregory the Great, De Cura Pasto­rali, lib. Quomodo valebit secularis homo sacerdotis magisterium adimplere, cujus nec officium tenuit, nec disciplinam agnovit? Is. Hisp. off. eccl. l. 2. c. 5. [...], &c. Nullatenus nobis Christianis permissum est, ut quis in ecclesia, sen publicè Scripturas explanet, nisi, qui in clericalem ordinem adscitus suerit. Suid. in l. [...]. Greg. Thaumaturgus, juvenum quendam pium & Philo­sophum sub forma carbonarii obscurum in sacerdotem ordinavit. [...], juxta solemnes ritus, Greg. Nis. in vita Theum.Which Catholike practise and judgment, as it is a great satisfacti­on to all sober Christians, who itch not after novelties; so it must needs be a vehement prejudice, with any wisemen, against those yesterday novelties, raised by some few men of great passions and pre­sumptions, but of no great reputation (that ever I could learn) for either such learning, piety, or impartiality, as may be put into the ballance against the clear and concurrent Testimonies of all the An­tients, and the universal practise of all Churches, which all Histories, all Fathers, all Councils, all Learned and Godly men, both Antient and Modern, do with one Spirit, and one Mouth abundantly testifie; agreeable to that of Saint Jerom, St. Augustine, Isidore Hispal. and many others: Who, speaking of the Calling of Ministers, (from those words, Called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ) reckon up four sorts;

First, Some, that are sent immediately from God, and not by men; as Moses, many Prophets, the Twelve Apostles, and Saint Paul.

Secondly, Some by Gods appointment, yet by Mans hand, and Ordination; as Aaron, Joshuah, Elisha, Timothy.

Thirdly, Others in the ordinary way, and succession of the Church, (as it is appointed by Jesus Christ) are by men onely or­dained Ministers, either according to real merit, partial favor, and vulgar affection.

Fourthly, There be some whom neither God, nor man sends, but they run of themselves.

Such (saith St. Jerom) were, and are false Prophets, and false Apostles, deceitful workers, Ministers of Satan, transforming them­selves into Angels of light; who say, Thus saith the Lord, when the Lord hath not spoken to them, or sent them. To this sense Saint Je­rom, St. Austine, and accordingly all the Antients, before and after them, as they have occasion to speak of the office, duty, and dignity of Ministers in the Church: Which Catholike Testimony, and Tradition, or Custom of the Church, for any Christian to contradict without shew of reason, is intollerable impudence; and not to be­lieve it, is most inhumane, and unchristian uncharitableness; to dis­parage, and causlesly to derogate from it, can be no other, but [Page 145] profane and perverse insolence; unless there can be produced such clear testimonies from immediate divine revelations, confirmed by miracles, or from the received Written Word of God, to the contrary; as will easily, and ought justly to overweigh all after inventions or constitutions, which are built meerly upon humane custom and au­thority; as that was of giving the Lords Supper to Infants, and to the dead sometimes.

Which counterbalancing of Custom by Reason or Scripture, is not yet in the least kinde done, by these men, that are the opposers of the Ministry of England; Who, by the same proud or peevish incredulity, by which they oppose the Catholike consent, and practi­cal Testimony of the Church in this great point of the holy Ministry, do overthrow, by a sceptical folly, and disputative madness, the very foundation, and all possible means of Historical belief or faith among men; For which, the wisdom and providence of the Creator, hath afforded to mankinde, no other ordinary ground or inducement, but onely that, of a charitable and rational perswasion, which we have, That neither the most, nor, to be sure, the best ablest, and worthiest men, in all Ages, and these in several places, would conspire in a lie, or give testimony to a falshood; contrary to their own consciences, [Page 146] and the evidence of things, as to matter of fact; whereof them­selves, and their forefathers, were eye-witnesses, beyond any possibi­lity of ignorance, or mistake: Nor can any thing be alleged, or sup­posed, as matter of self-interest, or partiality; there being in the first Three hundred years, no temptation of secular profit, or honor, to blinde, or corrupt their judgment and testimony; whereby they should not either fully and clearly see, what was judged, and acted in the Church; or that any thing should so bribe their tongues and pens, as not to give a true record, and faithful report to posterity: Since many of them sealed their love to the truth, and charity to mankinde, by their blood in Martyrdom.

At the same rate, of obstinate disbelieving, and supercilious deny­ing, whatever is delivered by writing or tradition to after Ages, men may foolishly, and madly question the works of every Author; the facts and records of all former times,Ubi charismata domini posita sunt, ibi discere oportet verita­tem; apud quos est ea, quae ab Apostolis suc­cessio, & id, quod est sanum & irreproba­bile sermonie [...]nstat. Iren. l. 4. c. 45. Edant origines Ecclesia [...]um suarum, evol­vant ordinem Episcoporum suorum ita per successiones ab initio decurren­tium, ut primus ille Episcopus aliquem ex Apostolis vel Apostolicis viris habuerit autorē & antecesso [...]em. Tert. de prae. ad Hae. c. 32. left us in History: Christians may doubt of their Baptism in their Infancy; yea, and question their own Natural Fathers and Mothers, refusing to own, or pay any duty and obedience to them; since of these they can have no other assurance, than what is told them by others; as also of all their forefathers and predecessors; from whom these Sceptical Infidels are certainly descended, although they never saw them; and (possibly) they enjoy the benefit of their forefathers labors and estates to this day, which from those is derived in an orderly succession, to these their ungrateful successors: Nor is indeed the Series and Genealogy of Natural Parents, more necessary and certain in reason, that they have been, and are gone before us (however their several names and successions may be unknown) from Noah, or from Adam; than is the constant and uninterrupted succession of Spiritual Fathers, and Predecessors in the Ministry of the Church; derived by the holy Apostles from Jesus Christ, the second Adam; the Everlasting Father of a better Generation: Of which, there are (besides the ap­parent, present succession in this Church of England, and all other Churches-Christian, now in all the World, which lately had or still have a peculiar order of Bishops and Presbyters, as holy Ministers in the Church) so clear, and constant, and undeniable Histories, from those that were ( [...]) of all men or writers, the most worthy to be believed, for their love to God, their zeal for the truth, their charity to all men; but especially, for their care of the houshold of Faith, the Church of Christ.

Non fides ex pe [...]sonis sed per­sonae ex fide sunt probandae. Ter. lib. de prae. ad Haer. c. 3. Cum Episcopa­tus successione Charisma ve­ritatis certum accipiunt. Iren. l. 4. c. 43. Catholici [...] ­verint, se cum Eeclesia docto­res recipere; non cum Doctoribus Ecclesiae fidem deserere debere. Vinc. Lirin. c. 23. Haeretici sunt posteriores Epis­copis quibus Apostoli tradi­derunt Ecclesias. Irenae. l. 5. Audivi à quodam Presbytero qui audierat ab his qui Apostolos videra [...]t. Irenae. l. 4. c. 45. Eph. 4.11. 1 Cor. 12.28.Wherein, however it be most true, that a bare descent, or suc­cession of persons, following each other in time and place, be not sufficient to carry on the being and honor of a true Church Christian, (which title is not entailed to any place, or any race of people,) un­less, withal, there be a succession in Christian Doctrine and Institu­tions, [Page 147] according to the Scripture; yet it is as true, that the custody and tradition of the Scriptures, the succession of true doctrine be­lieved in the Church, and divine Institutions celebrated, never have been, nor ever can possibly be in Christs ordinary way to his Church carried on to after generations, but only by such a personall succes­sion of Bishops, Pastors, and Ministers in the Church; such as were in the beginning of the Go [...]pell appointed by Christ, and ever since hath been orderly and constantly derived from one to another, a­greeable to the divine constitution; Nor are C [...]ristians to expect or presume of daily miracles, speciall revelations, or Angelick missions, to carry on Christian Religion; but humbly to content themselves with that once setled Ministry and holy order, which God by Jesus Christ hath given to the Church, after which example some are still duly tryed, ordained, set apart, and sanctified to this office, the dispen­sation of the Gospell, and those mysteries which goe with it.

Indeed I cannot but esteem, as all good, wise,2. The esteem to be had of the Catho­lick custom in the Church. Vincent. Lyr. Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omni­bus tenetur Ecclesiis id de­mum Catholi­cum. cap. 3. Pro magno te­ste vetustas Cre­ditur acceptam parce movere fidem. Clau­dian. Ratio & veri­tas consuetu­dini praeponen­da sunt, sed si consuetudini veritas suffragatur nihil oportet firmius retineri. Aust. l. 4. cont. Donat. de Bapt. c. 4. In his de quibus nihil certi statuit Scriptura divina, mos populi Dei & insti­tuta majorum pro lege tenenda sunt: si nec fidei nec bonis moribus sint contratia. Aust. ad Casulan. Tra­ditiones Ecclesiasticae, quae fidei non officiunt, ita observandae ut à majoribus tradita [...] nec aliorum con­suetudo aliorum contrario more subvertenda. Jeron. ad Lucian. Si nulla Scriptura determinavit certe con­suetudo roboravit: quae sine dubio de Apost. traditione manavit. Tertul. de cor. M. Sanctae Ecclesiae sacer­dotes Catholicae veritatis haeredes Apostolica decreta & definita sectante, maluerunt se ipsos, quàm ve­tustae universitatis fidem prodere. Vinc. Lyrin. c. 8. Si quid hodie per totum orbem frequentat ecclesia hoc quin ita faciendum sit disputare insolentissimae st insan [...]ae. August. ep. 118. [...]. Bas. M. Cont. A [...]ium Sabel. &c. Otherways, [...]. Greg. Naz. de Apoll [...]nario. Post sacrarum Scripturarum canonicam autoritatem Ecclesiae Catholicae consensus tantum apud m [...] semper valuit, ut quae cunque ab hoc consensu confirmata videam mihi sacrosancta & immutabilia videantur. Bishop Carleton. de Consen. eccles. cap. 11. cap. 277. and humble Chri­stians do, and ever did, the constant, clear, and concurrent (which is the truly Catholick) testimony of the Church (in which so much of the truth, Spirit, and grace of God, hath alwaies appeared amidst the many cloudings of humane infirmities) to be far beyond any meer humane record, or authority; in point of establishing a Chri­stians judgement or conscience, in any thing, that is not contrary to the evident command of the written word of God: However some mens ignorance and self, conceited confidence (like bogs and quagmires) are so loose and false, that no piles never so long, well driven, and strongly compacted, by the consent and harmonious te­stimonies of the most learned writers in the Church, can reach any bottom, or firm ground in them, whereon to lay a foundation of humane belief, or erect a firm bank and defense against the invasion of daily novelties; which blow up all, and break in upon the anti­ent and most venerable orders, practises and constitutions of the Church, where ever they are yet continued: which being evidently set forth to me, by witnesses of so great credit, for their piety, dili­gence, fidelity, harmony, integrity, constancy and charity, I know not how with any face of humanity or Christianity to question, disbelieve, or contradict.

Under which cloud of unsuspected witnesses, I confess, I can­not but much acquiesce, and rest satisfied in those things, which o­thers endlessly dispute, because they have not so literal and precep­tive a ground in Scripture; Quod universa tenet ecclesia nec consiliis in­stitutum sed semper retentum est, non nisi au­toritate Aposto­lica traditum rectissimè cre­ditur. August. cont. Donat. l. 4. In Concil. Lo­odic. Melito Episc. Sard. missus ut auto­grapha ubique decernat, &c. Constabit id ab Apostolis tradi­tum, quod apud ecclesias fuerit sacrosanctum. Tert. ad Mar. l. 4. however they have a very rational, ex­exemplary, analogical and consequential authority from thence, which is made most clear, as to the minde of God, by that sense, which the Primitive Doctors and Christians, who lived with, or next to the Apostles, had of them; and by their practise accordingly, in the ways of Religion: Thus the Canonical Books of the Scripture, especially those of the New Testament (which no where are enume­rated in any one Book, nor, as from divine oracle, any where com­manded to be believed or received, as the writings of such holy au­thors, guided by the dictates or directions of Gods Spirit) we own and receive, as they were after some time, with judgment and dis­cretion (rejecting many other pretended Gospels, and Epistles) an­tiently received by the Catholike Church, and to this day are con­tinued. So also, in point of the Church Government: How, in right Reason, Order, and Religion, the Churches of Christ, either in single Congregations and Parishes, or in larger Associations and Fraternities ought to be governed; in which thing, we see that sud­den variations from the Churches constant patern in all ages and places, hath lately cost the expence, not onely of much Ink, but of much blood, and have both cast and left us in great scandals, defor­mities, and confusions, unbeseeming Christian Religion. The like confirmation I have for Christians observing the Lords day, as their holy Rest, or Sabbath to the Lord, and their variating herein (upon the occasion of Christs Resurrection) from the Seventh day or Jewish Sabbath, which is not so much commanded by Precept, as confirmed by Practise in the Church; so in the baptising of the In­fants of Christian Parents, who profe [...]s to believe in Jesus Christ onely for the means of salvation, to them and their children; which, after Saint Cyprian, Saint Jerom and Augustine affirm to have been the custom of the Catholike Church, in, and before their days; so as no Bishop, or Council, or Synod began it, Cypr. ep. ad Fidum. Aust [Page 149] ep. 28. And no less, in this of the peculiar distinct calling, order, [...]. Can. Afric. in Con. Carth. 1. an­no 419. Some things in the Church are setled by Canon, o­thers by cu­stom. [...]. Con. Ni­coen. of­fice, and succession, of the Ministry Evangelical.

In all which, if the Letter and Analogy of Scripture were less clear than [...]t is, so that the doctrines of those particulars (which are among Christians counted divine) were ( [...]ike Vines, and Honey­suckles) less able to bear up themselves in full authority, by that strength and vertue which they receive from the Scripture Precept, (where undoubtedly their root is; and from whence they have grown, shooted out so far, and flourished in all Churches;) yet the constant judgment and practise of the Church of Christ (which is called the pil [...]ar and ground of truth,) are stayes and firm supports to such sweet and usefull plants, which have so long flourished in the Church of Christ, whose custom may silence perverse disputes of corrupt and contentious minds: And indeed doth fully satisfy and confirm both my believe, and my religious observation of those particu­lars, as sacred and unal [...]erable.

Nor hath any of those things, Eucharistia sacramentum non de aliorum manu quā pra­sidentium sumi­mus. Ter­tul. de Coro. Mil. Impositionem manuū qua Ec­clesiae mini­nistri in suum manus initian­tur ut non in­vitus patior vocari Sacra­mentum ita inter ordinaria Sacramenta non numero. Calvin. Inst. l. 4. c. 14. sect. 2. Amb. l. 5. ep. 32. ad Valentin. Commends that sentence, which the Emperours Father had wrote touching judicatories and Judges in Church matters. In causa fidei vel Ecclesiastici muneris eum judicare debere, qui nec munere impar, nec jure dissimilis, constanter assero. more clear evidence from Scrip­ture or Catholick practice, than this of the calling and succession of the Ministry of the Gospell hath, wherein some men, after due tryall and examination of their gifts and lives, made by those who are of the same function, and are in the Church indued with a derivable Commission and Authority, to ordein an holy succession of men in the Ministry for the Churches use, are by fasting, prayer, and solemn imposition of hands in the presence of the faithfull people, pub­likely and peculiarly ordained, consecrated, set apart, sent and au­thorised in the power and name of Christ, to preach the Gospell to all men, to administer the holy Sacraments, and respectively to dis­pense all those holy duties, and mysteries belonging to Christian Religion, among Christian people, that is, such as profess to be­lieve, that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of Sinners.

Which holy and most necessary custom of ordaining some fit men, by others of the same function, to be Ministers in the Church, hath not only the unanimous consent and practise of the Orthodox Christians, and purest Churches in all ages, from the Apostles times; But, no Hereticks or Schismaticks, who owned any relation to the Gospell of Jesus Christ, did ever so much as dispute, or question the power and succession ministeriall, as to its calling peculiar, and divinely appropriated, to some men in the Church, Till of later dayes in Germany, and some otherwheres the pride of some mens [Page 150] parts, and conceit of their gifts, or the opinion of their raptures and Enthusiasms, mixed with other lusts and secular designs, tempted some weak and fanatick men of the Anabaptistical leaven, to ad­venture the invasion and vulgar prostration of the office; before e­ver they broached their reasons against it;Confessores glo­riae Christi. An. 1543. When they after pro­ved to be Pasto­ricidae, Vi­lains which conspired to destroy all the Ministers of the Gospel in Germany, hanging and drowning ma­ny of them, casting them into wells, An. 1562. Cl. San­ctesius de temp. decept. Irenaeus, l. 4. c. 43. Qui absistunt à principali succession [...] (Episcoporum & Presbyterorum ab Apostolis) quocunque loc [...] relliguntur suspectos habere oportet, vel haereticos, vel scindentes, vel elatos & sibi placentes. O [...]e [...]i decidunt à veritate. Sophistae verborum magis esse volentes, quàm discipuli veritatis. Iren. lib 3. c. 40. which presumption and disorder the Swenckfeldians, who called themselves Confessors of the glory of Christ; afterwards the Socinians and others intending to in­troduce new and heretical doctrines with their new Teachers, studied to set forth with some weak shews of reason and Scripture. Where­as in all former ages of the Church, such as should have abrogated the antient Catholick way, or have broached any new way of E­vangelical power and Ministry, would have been as scandalous, as if he had broached a new Messias, or a new Gospel, and made the old one of none effect; as many of those strive to do, who seek to cry down the former way of Ministers right Ordination, Successi­on, and Authority. Who if they had not met with a giddy, and credu­lous, and licentious age, would have needed new miracles to have con­firmed their new and plebeian ways of Ministry; or to cashier the old one; which was first began, and after confirmed (as the Gospel was) for some years, with many infallible signs and wonders, wrought by the Apostles, and their Successors, in that Order and Function.

3. What can be the design of any to go contrary, or innovate?What can it be then, but an exceeding want of common under­standing, or a superfluity of malice, or a transport of passion, or some secular lust, either to deny credit to the Testimony of the best Chri­stians, and purest Churches in all times, or to go quite contrary to their judgment and practise, by seeking to discredit and destroy the Authority and peculiar Function of the antient Catholike Christian Ministry, in these or other Churches? And since in primitive times, it could be no matter of either profit or honor in the world,In ea regula in­cedimus quàm Ecclesia ab Apo­stolis, Apostoli à Christo, Christus à Deo accepit. Tertul. de Praes. c. 37. Radix Christi­anae societatis per sedes Aposto­lo [...]um & suc­cessione [...] [...]pisco­porum certa per o rbem propagatione diffunditur. August. ep. 42. to be a Bishop or Presbyter in the Church (who were the first men to be persecuted or sacrificed;) What motive could there be then, but onely Religion, Duty, and Conscience, to undertake and per­severe in that holy and dangerous Calling, that so the Gospel might be continued? And since, now in England, it can be no great temp­tation of covetousness or ambition (unless it be in very poor and necessitous man) to be a Preacher of the Gospel, upon the new account of the peoples, or self-ordaining (which is as none;) what can it be that provokes so many in a new, and pitiful way, either of egregious ignorance, and popular simplicity, to undertake to be Preach­ers? [Page 151] Or in a more refined way of devilish malice and deep design, to seek to level, cast down, and trample under foot all Ministerial power whatsoever, (which is none, if it be common, and not peculiar to some men by divine Sanction:) Certainly, this can arise from no other aim, but either that of destroying us, as a Reformed Church; or desolating us, quite from being a Church, or Christians: Which our posterity will easily cease to be, as to the very form (as many at present are,1 Cor. 15.14. as to any power and conscience of Religion) if once they cease to have, or begin to think they have not had, any true Mini­sters in this, or any Church: So that all Preaching of the Gospel, all Sa [...]aments, all the Faith of so many Christians, Professors, Con­fessors, and Martyrs in all Ages, together with the fruits of their Faith, in Patience, Charity, and good Works, must be in vain. Alas, these poor revenues and encouragements which are yet left to the Ministers here, (considered with their burdens of business, duties, taxes, and envy) are scarce worth the having or coveting, even by vulgar and mechanick spirits; who may make a better shift to live in any way almost than now in the Ministry.

The design then of levelling the Ministry, must needs be from greater motives, such as seek to have the whole honor and authority of the Reformed Religion here in England, utterly abolished; or else, taken up upon some such odde, novel, and fanatick grounds, which will hold no water, bear no weight, or stress; being built upon the sands of hume­rous novelty, not on the rock of holy antiquity, and divine verity: That so this whole Church may, by the adversaries of it, be brought to be a meer shadow of deformed and confused Religion; or else, be onely able to plead its Christianity, upon meer Familistick, or Anabaptistick, or Enthusiastick, or Socinian, or Fanatick Principles; Upon which must depend all our Christian Privileges, Truths, Sacraments, Ministrations, Duties, and Comforts, Living and Dying; all which will easily be proved, and appear, to a considerate soul, as profane and null, when he shall see they are performed, or administred by those,Agnitio vera est Apostolorum doctrina, & antiquus ecclesia­status, in uni­verso mundo, & charactere cor­poris Christi, secundum suc­cessiones Episco­porum quibus illi [...]am, quae est in unoquoque l [...]ci Ecclesiam, tradiderunt. Ire. l. 4. c. 6 [...] who can produce no Precept, Scripture, or Practise from Antiquity, for their ways, either of Christianity, or of Ministry, but onely their own, or other mens wilde fancies, and extravagant furies; nor can they have better excuses for their errors, in forsaking the right and Catholike way, but onely a popular levity, credulity, and madness after novelties.

So that, as to this first part of my answer, touching The peculiar Function of the Ministry, I do aver upon my Conscience, so far as I have read, or can learn, That there is no Council of the Church, or Synod; no Father or Historian; no other Writer, that mentions the affairs of the Church; no one of them gives the least cause to doubt, but wholly confirms this assertion, That no part of the Catholike [Page 152] Church of Christ, in any age, or place, was ever setled or flourished without a constant peculiar Order, and Ordination of Ministers; who were consecrated to the receiving and exercise of that power in the Church, as from Christ, although by man, which have continued to this day.

Theodoret. hist. l. 1. c. 22. De Aedesio & Frumentio apud Indos, d [...]vina Ministeria [...]bie­runt Laicii cum erant; Frumen­tius postea ab Athanasio ep. factus. Cap. 23. Cap­tivamulier apud Iberos Evan­gelium praedica­bet, & miracula edebat. His Const. M. Epis­copos misit.There are indeed three or four examples (in cases extraordinary) of some private unordained Christians in the Primitive times, who occasionally trading to Heathens, were means first to teach them the Mysteries of Christ, so as they desired to be baptized, which was after done by such Bishops and Ordained Ministers, as were sent them upon their request, from other Churches. To produce particul [...]r testimonies out of each Author, Father, Council, and Historian, in every age, to prove the constant succession, the high veneration, and the unfeigned love, which was every where conferred upon the Bishops and Ministers of the Church; also, to shew forth that de­vout care and religious regard, which the ordainers, the faithful people, and those to be ordained to the office, had, in their several relations and duties, when Ministers were to be ordained and consecrated, such allegations were easie, being very many and obvious; but I hold the pains needless, considering, that to learned men they are so well known; and all ingenuous Christians will believe my solemn asseveration, that, as in the presence of God, what I write, is Truth: As for those weak or wilful men, who are in this my onely opposers, I know, they consider not any heaps of authorities, which they ac­count onely as humane; which they cannot examine, nor do they value them, when convinced of the certainty, and harmony of them; were there never so sweet, and many flowers gathered from the testi­mony of Antiquity and Authority of the Fathers, these supercilious novellers will not vouchsafe to smell to them: It is well, if I can make them savor any thing well out of the Scriptures, which favors the Function of the Ministry.

4. Catholike custom con­firmed by Scripture, as to the Office of the Mini­stry.2. So then, in the next place, This Defence of the Churches clear, constant, and Catholike Testimony, in this point of the peculiar Office of the Ministry (as in any other) becomes a brazen wall, an impregnable bulwark, able to break in pieces, or to retort all engines and batteries made against it; when it appears to be exactly drawn, according to the scale, line, and measure, set down in the holy Scrip­ture; which are therefore much sleighted by some, who despise the Ministry; because, like well-planted Canons, they defend the Church, and its constant Ministry; as on the other side, the Churches fide­lity and constancy, are the ground-work and platforms, on which the Scriptures are planted;1 Tim. 3.15. The Church of Christ bearing up as the ground, and holding forth as a pillar, that divine Truth, Power, and Authority, which, from God, they have in them; of which, the [Page 153] Church is the Herald or Publisher, but not the Author or Inditer; Conferring nothing to their internal Truth, which is from their re­vealer and inspirer, God; but much to their external credit, and historick reception, which we have tendered to us daily; not as im­mediately from God, or Angels, or inspired Prophets, but by the ve­racity and fidelity of the Church, chiefly in its publick Ministry; which in this point of so necessary, constant, and universal practise, for the good of all faithful people, in all Ages and Churches, cannot be thought in any reason, either to have had no rule divinely appoint­ed; or that all Churches have been wholly ignorant of it, or know­ingly have so wholly swerved from it, that never any Church, either in its Teachers and Pastors, or in its people and believers were fol­lowers of the Scripture-Precept, and Patern, till these last and worst days; whereas, the clear and pregnant light of the Scripture, is in this point of a setled Ministry, so agreeing with the use and practice of the Catholike Church; that, as no error can be suspected in the one, so no obscurity can be pretended in the other, by any Christians, who will allow the divine Authority, and infallible Truth of those Scriptures, which we call the New Testament.

In all which, nothing is more evident,Christ sent of the Fa­ther, as a Minister of Righteous­ness. 1 Pet. 2.25. Heb. 12.2. Matth. 17.5 J [...]hn 4.34. & 5.36. & 6.57. & 7.16. Heb. 5.4. No mantaketh this honor to himself but he that is cal­led of God as Aaron. V. 5. So also Christ glori­fied not him­self to be made an high priest, but, &c. Matth. 3.17. and self-demonstrating beyond any cavil or contradiction, than, That our Lord Jesus Christ, the promised Messias, the beloved Son of God, the Angel of the new and better Covenant, the Minister of Righteousness, the great Apo­stle, the chief Bishop and Father of our souls, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, the supreme Lord and King, the eternal and compassi­onate High Priest, the unerring Prophet of his Church, whose voice we are onely to hear and obey in all things he commands us; That, I say, this Lord Jesus Christ, was sent by the Father, to a personal accomplishment of all Prophecies; fulfilling of all righteousness; to a visible Ministration of holy things for the Churches good; That he came not in his own Name, as a man, to be Mediator and Teacher; nor did he as a man take this honor of Prophet, Priest, or King of his Church upon him; but had his mission or appointment from his Father, God; who gave evident testimonies from Heaven of him; not onely before, and at his birth, but afterward, at his solemn and publick inauguration by Baptism, into the Work of his Ministry, where a voice from Heaven was heard, and a visible representation of the Holy Spirit was seen, testifying him to be the beloved Son of God; the anointed, with the gifts of the Spirit, above all, as Head of the Church: These, after, were followed with infallible signs and wonders, while Jesus went about doing good; teaching the Myste­ries of the Kingdom of Heaven; instituting holy rites, for the di­stinguishing of his Church from the world, and for the comforting of the faithful in the world; by those seals, pledges, and memorials [Page 154] of his love, in dying for the Church, and shedding both water and blood upon the Cross.

Christs send­ing his Apo­stles as Mi­nisters. Acts 1. Phil. 2.9.Christ having thus personally finished the suffering and merito­rious part of his Ministry; after his Resurrection, being now no more to converse in a visible humane way of presence, with his Church on Earth, but ascending (as was meet) to that glory of the Father, which, as God, he had ever with him; as man, he had merited of him, by suffering on the Cross, and enduring the shame, for his Churches salvation; yet he left not his Disciples comfortless, but, as he promised, sent his Spirit publickly and eminently upon the Twelve principal Apostles, Acts 2. John 20.21. whom he had formerly chosen, and ap­pointed, in his, and his Fathers Name, to Preach the Gospel; to whom he gave the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, as to the Stewards and chief Deputies, or Ministers of his houshold in his ab­sence; instructing them, what to do; on what foundation of faith in him, [...], All Authority, i. e. Legitima poten­tia. Matth. 28.18, 19, 20. Mark 16.15. to build his Church; by what Sacramental seals to confirm believers; giving them full power and commission, to go into all the world, by Teaching and Baptising to make Disciples; confirming this power to them, by breathing on them, and conferring farther Mini­sterial gifts of the Spirit upon them; promising also to be with them to the end of the world, which could not be meant of their persons, who soon died, but of their successors in that Office and Ministry; that the same power, authority, and assistance, should be with them, in that holy way, to which he thus ordeined and sent them, by a di­vine charter, and durable commission. After all this, for further pub­lication of this great Authority and Ministerial power, given to the Apostles, and their Successors; and for the confirmation of it, both to their own consciences, John 14.17. Acts 2. and to all the world, the holy Spirit, as was promised, came upon them in the shape of fiery cloven tongues, filling them with miraculous gifts, and all Ministerial power, both extraordinary in their persons, and ordinary, derivable to their Suc­cessors; such, as the wisdom of Christ thought most fit, both for the first planting of the Church with miraculous gifts, attending the Mi­nistry of the Gospel; and the after propagating of it, by the same Mini­stry, confirmed by the constancy of the Martyrs and Confessors, which were in stead of daily miracles.

This whole frame, polity, and divine constitution, of the order, power, and Ministry, that should succeed Christ Jesus in his Church, was no other, than the proper effects of Christs prophetick power, and wisdom, for the instructing his Church; an act or ordinance of his Kingly power, for the governing of it; and a fruit of his Priestly power, and care, for a right Liturgy, or officiating, to be continued in his Church; thus furnishing it with an holy Succession of Evangeli­cal Priests and Ministers, in his name and authority, who might [Page 155] always teach, guide, and govern; also supplicate for, consecrate and offer holy things with the faithful, and for them, namely, the sacri­fices of prayers, thanksgiving, and praises; especially,Heb. 9.14. & 10.12. that Eucha­ristical memorial of that one great oblation of himself once made, on the Altar of the Cross, for the Redemption of the World; which is the great accomplishment of the Jewish Prophecies, the abolishing of their Types and Ceremonies, the main foundation of the Christians Religion, and the chief subject of that Evangelical Ministry, which Jesus Christ himself hath thus evidently instituted and sealed in his Church; For whose sake, he hath given those Ministerial gifts, with a distinct power and authority; making some (not all) either Apostles, or Prophets, or Evangelists, or Pastors and Teachers, Eph. 4.11, 12. 1 Cor. 12.4, 5, 21, 28. For the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, &c. And this, by as manifest a distinction, both for gifts, and place, and use, as is in the parts of the body, between the eyes and the hands, the head and the feet;Vers. 29. So that all are not Apostles, nor Prophets, nor Teachers, that are Be­lievers, and Members of the Body of Christ his Church; no more than every part is an eye in the natural body; however it partake of the same Soul, as Believers do of the same Spirit, 1 Cor. 12.6, 7. yet in different manifestations; of which difference of gifts and office, those onely are to judge, whom the Spirit of Christ hath enabled with gifts, and indued successively in the Church, with power from Christ to judge of them, and accordingly to invest them, 1 Cor. 14.32. The spirits of the Prophets, are subject to the Prophe [...] V. 33. For God is not the Au­thor of con­fusion, &c. by solemn and holy ordi­nation, into the orderly power of exercising those gifts, which they are judged to have received from the Spirit of Christ, for the good of the Church, both for Instruction, and for Government of it. Without which divinely-constituted Order and Office of Ministry began in Christ, by him derived to the Apostles, and by them, and their suc­cessors constantly and duly observed to these days, the Church of Christ had long ere this been a monster made up of confused excre­scencies; a very heap and huddle of Ignorance, Heresies, Schisms, all maner of erroneous blindness, and extravagant madness; like those mishapen prodigies, which we may often see among those, who having cast off the lawful succession, the sacred and antient order of the Ministry, do in their varieties exceed, even the mixtures and pro­ductions of Africa.

After Christs Ascension, 5. The Apo­stles ordain and com­mand other to ordain Ministers. we have no less evidence of Scrip­ture, for the undoubted practise of the blessed Apostles, when they had by a divine lot, first filled up that place and part of the Ministry, from which Judas had faln, Acts 1.25. For having received power Ministerial immediately from Christ, they did, duly, conscientiously, orderly, and effectually fulfil their own Ministry; and also took care to ordain others that might do so too, both in their times, and after [Page 156] them; distributing their own labors into several Countreys, and to several sorts of people;Gal. 2.7. some to the Circumcision of the Jews, others to those of the uncircumcised Gentiles; Among whom they exercised their Office and Ministry, 1 Co [...]. 5.20. As A [...]sadors [...]o [...] Christ, as though God did be eech you by us; we pray y u in Christs stead, be ye recon­ciled to God. 1 Cor. 3.9. 2 Cor. 11.2. Esth. 7.8. Eph. 4.11. Acts 14.23. And when they had or­dained them Presbyters in every Church, in Lystra, Ico­nium, Antioch, &c. Acts 20.28. Take heed to your selves, and to all the flock, over which the holy Ghost hath made you Bi­shops, or over­seers, to feed the Church of God, &c. Pauls speech to the Pres­byters of the Church of Ephesus. V. 17. 1 Tim. 3. & 5.22. Lay hands (i. e.) by way of ordination to the Ministry. 2 Tim. 2.2. The things thou hast heard of me, commit thou the same to faithful men; who shall be able to teach others also. Tit. 1.5. I left thee in Creet, that thou shouldst ordain Elders in every City, as I had appointed thee. Non tam solicitus de cura Timothei, sed propter successores ejus; ut exemplo Timothei ecclesiae ordinationem custodirent. Ambr. in 1 Tim. 6. not arbitrarily and precariously; but as a trust and duty, of necessity, out of conscience, and with all divine power, authority, and fidelity; as Ambassadors from Christ, for God; as Heralds, as Angels, or Messengers sent from God; as Laborers together with God in his Husbandry the Church; as Woers and Espousers, having Commission or Letters of credence, to treat of and make up a marriage, and espousals, between Christ and the Church; which sacred office of trust and honor, none without due authority delegated to him from Christ, might perform, any more, than Haman might presume to court Queen Esther, before the King Ahasuerus.

During these Primitive times of the Apostles Ministry of the Gospel, before they had finished their mortal pilgrimage, we read, them careful to ordain Presbyters in every City and Church, to give them charge of their Ministry, to fulfil it; of their flocks to feed and guide them, in Christs way, both for truth and orders, over whom the Lord had made them over-seers by the Apostles ap­pointment; who, not onely thus ordained others to succeed them immediately; but gave command, as from the Lord, to these (as namely to Timothy and Titus) to take great care for an holy successi­on of Ministers; such as should be apt to teach; able, and faithful men; to whom they should commit the Ministry of the Word of life, so as the Word, or Institution of Christ, might be kept unblamable, till the coming of Jesus Christ, 1 Tim. 6.14. by an holy order and office of Ministers, duly ordained, with the solemn imposition of hands; as a visible token to men of the peculiar designiation of them, and no others but those, to this Office and Function; who must attend on the Ministry, give an account of their charge, and care of souls to God.

Thus we finde, beyond all dispute, for Three Generations after Christ, (First, in the Apostles; secondly, from them to others (by name to Timothy and Titus;) thirdly, from them to others; by them to be ordained Bishops and Deacons,) the holy Ministry institu­ted by Christ, is carried on in an orderly succession, in the same Name, with the same Authority, to the same holy ends and offices; as far as the History of the New Testament extends, which is not above [Page 157] thirty years after Christs Ascension: And, we have, after all these, the next Succession, testifying the minde of the Lord, and the Apostles. Clemens, the Scholar of Saint Paul, mentioned Phil. 4.3. who in his divine Epistle testifies, That the Apostles ordained every where the first-fruits, or prime Believers, for Bishops and Deacons, Pag. 54. And pag. 57. the Apostles appointed ( [...]) distinct Offices, as at present, ( [...]) That when these slept with the Lord, others, tried and approved men, should succeed and execute their ( [...]) holy Ministry; than which testimony, nothing can be more evident: After that, he blames the Corinthians for raising sedition, for one or two mens sake, against all the Presbytery, Pag. 62. And exhorts at last, Let the flock of Christ be at peace with the Presbyters ordain­ed to be over it, ( [...].) So after, Be subject to the Presbyters, &c.

Thus the excellent methods of Christs grace, and wisdom toward his Church appear, as to this peculiar Office, and constant Function of the Evangelical Ministry, commanding men to work the work of God, that they may have eternal life, John 6.29. which is to believe in him, whom the Father hath sent, sealed, and anointed with full power, to suffer, to satisfie, to merit, to fulfil all Righteosness; Also to de­clare and confirm this to his Church; constantly teaching, guiding, and sanctifying it: He hath (for this end) taken care, that faithful, able, and credible men, should be ordained in an holy, constant suc­cession, to bear witness or record of him to all posterity; that so others might, by hearing, believe; without which, ordinarily they cannot, Rom. 10.14, 15. Nor can they hear with regard, or in pru­dence give credit, and honor to the speaker; or obey with consci­ence the things spoken, unless the Preacher be such an one, as en­treth in by the door, John 10.1. into the sheepfold; such as is sent by God, either immediately as the Apostles, or mediately as their Suc­cessors, from them and after them; who could never have preached and suffered with that confidence, conscience, and authority, unless they had been conscious, that they were rightly sent of God, Rom. 10.14, 15. Psal. 68.11. Isai. 53.1. 1 Cor. 1.18. and Christ: At whose Word onely this great company of Preachers were sent into the world; who so mightily in a short time prevailed, as to perswade men, every where to believe, a report so strange, so in­credible, so ridiculous, so foolish to flesh and blood, and to the wisdom of the world.

Thus far then the tenor of the whole New Testament, 6. Distinct Characters and Notes of the Ministe­rial Office. John 15.19. (and that one Apostolike Writer Clemens) witnesseth, that as Jesus Christ, the great Prophet, and chief Shepherd, 1 Pet. 5.4. was sent, and im­powred with all power from the Father, to carry on the great work of saving sinners, by gathering them out of the world, into the fold and bosom of his Church; So he did this, and will ever be doing it, [Page 158] till his comming again, by ordeining and continuing such means and Ministry, Mat. 28.20. as he saw fittest, to bring men into, and to guide them in,Joh. 21.15. Feed my Lambs; my Sheep. Acts 20.28. [...]. To feed as Shepheards, the flock. 1 Pet. 5.2. 1 Cor. 4.4. Let a man so account of us as the Mini­sters of Christ, and Stewards of the myste­ries of God, &c. 2 Tim. 4.1, 2. 2 Tim. 4.5. Acts 20.29. 1 Tim 4.11. Mat. 28. ult. Heb. 13.14. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit your selves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give an account. &c. Luke 12.43. Blessed is that servant (the faithfull and wise Steward set over the house-hold) whom his Master comming shall find so doing. Dan. 12.3. 1 Cor. 9.17. If I do this willingly, I have a reward, &c. the wayes of saving truth, of Religious orders and of holy lives; Investing (as we have seen) particular persons whose names are recorded, with peculiar power, to teach, to gather, to feed, and go­vern his Church, by Doctrine, by Sacraments, and by holy Dis­cipline; Setting those men in peculiar relations and Offices to his Church, as Fathers, Stewards, Bishops, Shepheards, Rulers, Watch­men; calling them by peculiar names, and distinct titles, as light of the world, Salt of the earth, Mat. 5.13. Fishers of men, Mat. 4.19. Stars in his right hand, Rev. 2.1. Angels of the Churches: Requi­ring of them peculiar duties, as to Preach the word in season and out of season; to feed his Lambs and Sheep; to fulfill the work of their Ministry; to take care of the flock; against grievous Wolves, false teachers; to stop their mouths, Tit. 1.11. to exhort, command and rebuke with all authority, Tit. 2.15. to do their work, as work­men that need not to be ashamed, 2 Tim. 2.15. as those that must give an account of their Ministry, and the souls committed to their care and charge by God and the Church. Adorns them also with peculiar privileges; promises and speciall assistances; takes care for peculiar maintenance, 1 Cor. 9.9, 19. and double honour to be given them, by all true Christians, 1 Tim. 5.17. and encourageth them in a work of so great pains, exact care, and consciencious diligence, which must expect to meet alwaies (as now it doth) with much opposition, and contradiction of sinners; promising to them speciall degrees of glory, and more ponderous Crowns of eternall rewards in Heaven.

1 Cor. 12.29. Are all Apo. are all Pro­phets? are all Teachers? &c. 1 Cor. 9.16. Though I Preach the Gospell I have nothing to glory of (as superogating) so necessity is layd upon me, yea woe is unto me, if I Preach not the Gospell.By all which, and many others which might be added, the De­monstration is clear as the Sun at Noon day, to all that are not wilfully blind, That some, and not all, in the Church; and these, not arbitrary and occasionall, but chosen and ordeined persons, are sent in a succession from Christ, in his name, and by vertue of this divine mission, speciall authority, and ordination, to the care, ser­vice, and work of the Ministry; they are bound in the highest bonds of conscience, to the glory of God, and the salvation of their own, and others souls, under a dreadfull woe and curse of being guil­ty of their souls damnation, who perish by their neglect, to attend diligently, to discharge faithful [...]y, and couragiously, as in the name and authority of Jesus Christ the Lord of glory, this great and dreadfull imployment of the Ministry, which Angels would not un­dertake, [Page 159] without they were sent; nor if sent, without some horror:Onus & opus i [...]sis angelicis formidandum humoris. Betn. 2 Cor. 2.16. Who is suf­ficient for these things? i. e. to speak the word of God, as of God, in the sight of God, in Christ, i. e. of sincerity. 2 Tim. 2.4. 2 Tim. 4.13, 14, 15, 16. Acts 4.19.20. The Epistle of Paul to Tim. and Tit. are the con­stant Canons and divine in­junctions for the succession of Ministerial power by way of tryal, imposition of hands, prayer, &c. To which no earthen vessels are of themselves sufficient; but through the grace of God, they are made able and faithfull, 1 Tim. 1.12. and being such are both successefull, and accepted; while they give themselves wholy to this work; not entangling themselves with o­ther incomberances, but devoting the whole latitude of time, parts, studies, gifts, to this business of saving souls; and this, not in po­pular and precarious wayes, or only upon grounds of charity; but with all just confidence of having that authority with them, as well as necessity upon them, which makes them bold in the Lord; that they cannot but speak the things for which they have received pow­er and commission from Christ, by the Ordination and appointment of the Governours and guides of the Church, who formerly had re­ceived the same power; To which none can, without high impu­dence, blasphemy, and impiety pretend, who are conscious to them­selves, to have received no such authority from Christ; either im­mediatly, or in that one mediate way of successive ordination, by which he hath appointed it to be derived to posterity: which, I have already proved, cannot by any shew of Scripture, no more than in any way of reason and order, becomming Religion, be found to have any other way, than by those that are in orders as Ministers: neither is it intrusted with the community of people among Chri­stians, nor left to every private mans pleasure.

As then some men are duly invested with power ministeriall, 7. None can be true Mini­sters, but such as are rightly or­deined. both to act in this power, and to confer it to others after them; and these only are commanded by the rule of Christ, by their duty or office, and by all bonds of conscience, to make a right use of this peculiar and divine power, for the Churches good; So are all other men whatsoever, not thus duly ordeined, and impowred, (though never so well gifted in themselves) forbidden, under the sins of lying, falsity, disorderly walking, proud usurpation, and arrogant intrusion of themselves into an holy office, uncalled, and unsent, either to take this office and Ministry of holy things on themselves, or to confer the power, which they never received, on others; which neither Melchisedeck, nor Moses, nor Aaron, nor Samuel, nor any of the Prophets; nor the Lord Jesus Christ, nor the blessed Apostles,Heb. 5.1. Every high Priest taken from among men is ordei­ned for men in things per­taining to God, &c. 4. No man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God as was Anon, &c. 5. Christ also glorified not himself to be made an high Priest, &c. nor any Evangelist; or any true Bishop or Presbyter, nor any holy men, succeeding them, did ever take to themselves, either as to the whole, or any part of that power and Ministry, not so much as to be a Deacon, but still attended the Heavenly call, and mission, [Page 160] either immediatly, Luke 12.42. Who then is a faithfull and wise Steward, whom the Lord shall make ruler over his house­hold, to give them their portion in due season? 43. Blessed, &c. 1 Tim. 3.15. If I tarry long, that thou mayst know how thou oughtest to behave thy self in the house of God, &c. (which was confirmed by miracles, and speciall revelations or predictions,) or mediatly, in such an order and me­thod of succession, as the Lord of the Church, who is not a God of confusion, hath appointed, and to this day preserved: who other­wayes would have left his Church short of that blessing, of or­derly Government, and Officers appointed for holy ministrations, which is necessary in every society, and which no wise man, that is Master of any Family, doth omit to appoint and settle; especially in his personall absence; where he governs by a visible derived and delegated authority given to others; as Christ now doth his Church, as to the extern order and dispensation of holy things.

Peoples duty.The duty of all faithfull people (in which bounds their comforts are conteined) are no less distinct and evidently confined,Quomodo vale­bit homo secula­ris sacerdotis magisterium ad­implere, cujus nec officium te­nuit, nec disci­plinam agnovit? Isid. Hisp. off. l. 2. c. 5. [...]. The Lay man is bound up by Lay commands to keep his rank and or­der. Cl. ep. pag. 53. Nor can, saith he, the Presby­ters be cast out or degraded without a great sin. Pag. 57. [...], &c. Exors officii, exors solatii, & praemii, Is Hisp. Matth. 16.18. Eph. 2.20. Heb 6.2. in the order of Christs Church; which are, diligently to attend, humbly to obey, Heb. 13.17. thankfully to own, respect, love, esteem and ho­nor, 1 Cor. 9.11. 1 Thes. 5.12, 13. liberally to requite the doctrine and labors of the true and faithful Ministers, 1 Tim. 5.17. who are thus over them in the Lord, in a right way and succession of Mi­nisteriall Office divinely instituted, and constantly derived autho­rity. In the perpetuating of which, to so many centuries of years, since Christs Ascension, by lawfull and uninterrupted succession in his Church, the power and providence of God is not less remark­ably seen, than in the preservation of the Scriptures, amidst all persecution, confusions, and variations of humane affairs. Also the love and care of Christ to his Church, the fidelity of his promise is evident: being no less made true to the Ministry, than to the whole Church, to be with them to the end of the world: and by the Mi­nistry that is made good to the whole Church, that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the foundations of the Church; which are laid upon the writings, and by the labours of the Prophets and A­postles; and after them still layed and preserved by able, faithfull, and ordeined Ministers; The consecrating or ordeyning of whom by the Imposition or laying on of hands in a continued succession for the good of the Church, is reckoned by the holy Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews among the principles and foundations of Christian Religion; joyned with doctrines of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Resurrection, and eternal judgement; for other meaning of the [...] Imposition of hands, I find not by Scripture practise, or the Church afterward, so clear and constant as this in Ordination to an holy Ministry. Nor can Confirmation be rightly done to the Baptised and Catechised, but by those who are ordeined. [Page 161] That to deny the Ordination and due succession of Ministers, by which to carry on the work of Christ in his Church; or to seek to overthrow it in any Church, is all one, as if men should deny those grand and fundamentall points of Faith, Repentance, Resurre­ction, and judgement, to have been taught by Christ; or Baptism to have been instituted; that to overthrow and abolish the constant Mi­nistry and Office in the Church, can be the design of none, but those, who care not to turn Infidels, and to live in all Atheistical profaness.

If then, there be any force or authority from Scriptures as the Ora­cles of God, to prove by precept, institution, or example, the religious necessity of any peculiar duties, or holy Offices, and divine Ministrati­ons, by which men are made Christians, and distinguished as the Church of Christ from the world; if the Preaching the word of life, the teaching of the histories, the opening of the mysteries, the urging the precepts, the denouncing of the terrors, the offering the promises, the celebrating the Sacraments; the binding to wrath, and shutting up to condemnation, all unbelievers and impenitents; the loosing of penitents and opening Heaven to them, by the knowledge of Law or Gospell; if these or any other holy ministrations be necessary, not to the well-being only, but the very being of a Church Christian; Sure there there is (as I have shewed) no less strength, pregnancy, and concurrent Scripture clearness, to convince, and confirm, the peculiar office, divine power and function of the Evangelicall Mini­stry; Without which all those ministrations must needs have cea­sed long agoe, as to any notion or conscience among men, of holy, divine and Christian; that is the appointments, institutions, mes­sages, or orders of Jesus Christ; which could never carry any such marks of divine credit and authority, meerly from vulgar credulity and forwardness of reception; or from generall common talk and tradition among men, if there had been no peculiar men appointed by God, in his name and by his Commission, to hold forth to the world this great salvation; to convince, or convert, or leave men without excuse; As there can be no valid message, autoritative Embassie, credible assignment or conveyance, of truth, promise, command, du­ty, comfort, bounty, or love to others, where there is only a gene­rall fame and unauthorised report; without any speciall Messenger, Embassador, Assigner, and Conveyer; to the authority of whose speech, and actions, or conveyances, not any mans own forward­ness, nor others easi [...]ess, and credulity doth suffice; but some pe­culiar characters, Seals and evidences, by letters of credence, or o­ther sure and known tokens of a truly assigned and really derived au­thority, do give ground to believe, or power to validate, what any man so performeth, not in his own name, or for his own interests, but to an others; who principally employs him; and who only [Page 162] can make good, what he so far promiseth, or declareth, or sealeth, as he hath commission and authority from another so to do: No man that speaks or negotiates in anothers name, especially in matters of great consequence, of as high a nature, as life and death, can expect to be believed by wise and serious men; and that they should accord­ingly order both their affections, and all their affairs; unless they saw the marks of infallible authority; far beyond the confidence of a trivial talker, and a bad orator. In this point then of a peculiar office and function of the Ministry Evangelical, which is divinely in­stituted, in which, some men are solemnly invested; by which, all Religion is confirmed and preserved to the Church; We have, not onely full measure from Christ himself, and heaped up by Apostoli­cal precept and example, evidently set forth in the Scriptures, and pressed down by after Histories of the Church, in a constant succes­sion; but it is also running over by those necessary accumulations, which all right reason, order, and prudence, do liberally suggest, both in the Theory, and the Practick.

8. The peculiar Office of the Ministry confirmed by Reason.For, first, no man by any natural capacity, or acquired ability as a reasonable Creature, is bound in conscience, to be a Minister of the Gospel, and holy Mysteries to others; for then, all men and wo­men too ought to be such, or else they sin.

Secondly, Nor yet by any civil and politick capacity, as living in any Society, or City, can any man be obliged to direct, and guide others in the things of God; since, that relation invests no man in any civil power, office, or authority, until the supreme fountain of civil power calls him to the place, and endues him with such power; much less, can it put any into an authority, which is divine, spiri­tual, and supernatural; to act, as in Gods and Christs name, and to higher ends, than humane.

3. Nor thirdly, doth any rel gious common capacity, as a be­liever, or a Christian, or as endued with gifts and graces, furnish any one with Ministerial power, and lay that duty on him; for then every Christian, great and small, yong and old, man and wo­man,1 Cor. 12.25, 29. Are all A­postles? are all Prophets? are all Teach­ers, &c. 18. All are not, nor are any such as they are Christians or gracious, &c. 1 Cor. 12. ought to minister holy things to others; to challenge the Keys of Heaven to themselves; to be as in Christs stead, to rule and over­see his house; which cannot avoide, as the Apostle proves, abominable absurdities, and detestable confusions; no way beseeming the wisdom of Christ, the majesty of Christian Religion, or that order and decency which ought to be in Church-Assemblies; being as contrary to reason, as if every servant in an house should chal [...]enge the power of the Keys, and the Stewards place; or every member, the office of the eyes, tongue, and hands, by vertue of that common relation it hath, (as well as these parts) to the same body, the same soul and head.

As then right reason tells us, beyond all reply, That neither natural, nor civil, nor religious, common gifts, endowments, or abilities instate any person in the office of Magistrate, Judge, Ambassador, Herald, Notary, or publick Sealer, Fraus est & in­juria quic quid agitur sub alte­rius persona, sine debita ab illo autoritate. Reg. Jur. Matth. 28.18. All power ( [...]) or authority is given unto me in Heaven, and in Earth; that is, in or­der to perfect Christs design, his Churches good. Acts 1.8. Autoritas dele­gata, ab alt [...]ri­us voluntate pendet; tam quoad ipsam po­testat [...]m, quam ad derivandi modum. Reg. Jur. 1 Cor. 4.19. I will know, not the speech of them that are puffed up, but the power. V. 20. For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. i. e. That holy po­lity and order­ly Kingdom, which Jesus Christ hath set up and go­verns in his Church, is not managed by confident praters, but by authoritative Preachers. Matth. 7.28. As Christ Jesus, so his true Ministers teach and administer holy things, as men having authority, and not as the Scribes. (which places re­quire, not onely personal sufficiencies for the office; but an orderly designation and induction to it, from the fountain of civil power, either mediately or immediately:) The same right reason (which is most agreeable and servient to true Christian Religion) requires a right derivation, or conveyance, of all supernatural, Ministerial, Church power (which is in, and from Jesus Christ, as the sole supreme head, and divine origin of it) either immediately, as they and none others had, to whom Christ first consigned it, and both by miraculous gifts and works confirmed it to be in them; or mediately, as those Bishops and Presbyters had it, who without force, fraud, or any sinister way of usurpation, or bold intrusion, received this power from the Apostles, by prayer and benediction, with imposition of their hands, in the name of Christ; and from them, their successors have lawfully derived it (without interruption) to the true Ministers of the Gospel, even to this day (as I have proved;) which not onely the Scriptures, of undisputable verity, but even those other, very credible Histories of the Church, and other Records of learned and holy Men in all ages to these times, which the providence of God hath afforded us, do abundantly declare; all which to deny, with a morose perverseness, or rustical indiffere [...]cy, is, as if a Hog should answer all arguments with grunting. And to act contrary to so strong a stream of concur­rent Authorities, both as to the judgment and practise of the Church in all ages, is a work onely fit for Ranters, and Seekers, and Fana­ticks; or for Jews, Turks, and Heathen Infidels, but not for any sober Christian that owns in the least kinde, the Name of Jesus Christ; or desires to be a member of any true Christian Church: In which, as all true and humble Christians have always enjoyed, and with thankfulness owned the rightful succession and authority of their o [...]dained Ministers, Pastors, and Teachers; so the Lord from Heaven, in all ages, hath witnessed to them; by his blessings of truth and peace, on the hearts of his people, and by their means chiefly continuing the light of the Gospel, to these days, amidst those Heathenish persecutions, Heretical confusions, and Schismatical fractions, which have sought to overthrow, the Being, or the Purity, or the Order and Unity of the true Church.

To this judgment and testimony of Scriptures, and antient Writers (both in right and fact) I might adde a cloud of witnesses, [Page 164] from later reformed Divines, which were very learned and very holy men, far above the vulgar spirits, both in other Churches, and in this of England, all agreeing with our excellent Bishop Jewel, Bishop Jewels Apology. Ministrum Ec­clesiae legitime vocari oportere, & rectè atque ordine praefici ecclesiae Dei: Neminem au­tem ad sacrum Ministerium pro suo arbitrio ac ibidine posse se intrudere. That no may may intrude himself into the Ministry by his own will and pleasure; or by any others, who are not of that Order and Calling; but he ought to be lawfully called, and duly ordained by those, in whom the lawful succession of ordinative power, ever hath been, and still is rightly placed and continued. Agreeable to which, there is a whole Jury of eminent Modern Divines, alleged by a late industrious and ingenuousSee Master Halls Pulpit guarded. Author, who hath spared me that pains.

9. The Priestly order among the Jews. Joel 2.17. [...]. Niss. de vita Mos. & Aronis Virga. [...]. Is. Pel. l. 3. ep. 20. Philo. Judaeus, de sacerdot [...]o Aaronis, calls it, [...]. Numb. 16. Exod. 19.6. 2 Chro. 26 20. Ʋzziah ceased to be fit to rule as a King, be­ing smitten with Leprosie, who usurped the office of the Priest. 1 King. 13.33.4. I may adde by way of confirmation of that common equity, and rules of order, which must be among men in all things; and most necessarily in things truly religious, The inviolable Function, and peculiar Office or Order of the Priests and Levites; which were the Ministers of the Lord, in his antient Church of the Jews; which is a most convincing instance, to prove not the sameness and succession of that Order, but the equity; comliness, and exemplariness of a peculiar Ministry, for holy things, among Christians under the Gospel; since that Levitical Ministry was not more holy, or honorable, nor more distinguished in power, and authority, and office from the peo­ple, than this in the Christian Church; which is more immediately derived from Christ, as clearly instituted and ordained by him, and more fully exhibitive of him, both in the Historical Truths, and in the Mystical gifts and graces of his Spirit: Yet we see, who so de­spised or violated that Order and Ministry among the Jews, under pretence of a common holiness in Gods people, (who were in a spiritu­al sense indeed called an holy Nation and a royal Priesthood) so as to confound the Functions and Offices, divinely distinguished, either the earth from beneath devoured them, or some other remarkable judgement fell upon them, as on King Uzzah; So long, as Gods love to the Jews was seconded with his jealousie for their good. When (indeed) their Apostacies and Rebellions had alienated Gods love from them, he then suffered those sad and unsanctified levellings to come among them, consecrating the meanest of the people, and who ever would relieve his worldly necessities, by being a Priest to those Talismanick Calves; under which new modes and figurations, the Israelites were for some wicked reason of State, perswaded by Jeroboam to worship their God. So Herod when he had got the Kingdom over the Jews, (ex ima & infima [...]l [...]be constituit sacer­dotes) made of the basest people Priests, &c. Euseb. Hist. l. 1. c. 7. Which severe indulgence of God to them, in suffering them to have [Page 165] such sorry and unsanctified Priests, was no other, but a fearful pre­saging of those desolations, which soon after befel that people of Israel for the sins of Jeroboam; who by his policy of new fashion­ed Priests, and levelled, that is, abolished, and profaned Religion, is for ever branded with that mark of making Israel to sin, 1 King. 13.34. and was the occasion of cutting off his name, and destroying his posterity from off the face of the earth. Certainly, in times, when the Jews fear­ed God, if all the Priests and Levites, whom God had appointed to minister before him, had failed by death, or defection, the Ark in the Wilderness must have stood still, or the service of the Temple have ceased, till by some new Commission or Authority, the Lord had signified his pleasure to his Church and people: Nor would the de­vout and zealous Jews have thought presently, every stout Porter, or lusty Butcher, would well enough supply the room of the Priests and Levites; much less would they have beat and crouded the true Priests yet living, and serving in their offices and courses, out of their places, onely because those others had naturally should [...]rs, which could bear the Ark and the holy Vessels; or hands, which had skill to slay a beast, and dress a sacrifice. I see no reason, why the Evangelical Ministry should be less sacred or inviolable, since it hath as much of reason, order, usefulness, and necessity; also no less express authority from Christ, and divine Institution; [...]. Is. Pel. l. [...]. together with many hundreds of years holy and constant succession in all Churches: That to invade this, or violate and abrogate it, seems no less to any true Christian, than to croud Christ out of his throne; to justle him out of his Priestly, Prophetick, and Kingly Offices: It is like Julian the Apostate, loudly to blaspheme, or proudly to resist, and insolently to do despight too that holy Spirit of truth, power, and order; by which, these ( [...]) gifts of power, and authority Ministerial, have always been, and are still given and dispenced to his Church, in the way which Christ appointed; which the holy Apostles practised, and the Christian Churches have always imitated.

5. I might yet adde the common notions and universal dictates of all mankinde; who, by the light of nature, 10. Light of Nature in the Hea­thens. Diu proximi sunt De [...]um sacerdotes. Tul. and that innate vene­ration of some Deity, which they esteemed the inventer and institutor of their Religion, agreed always in this; That, whatever Gods or Re­ligions they owned, their holy Rites and Mysteries were always pub­lick [...]y taught, celebrated, and maintained, by such as were solemnl [...] invest d with, and reverenced under the peculiar name and honor of that sacr [...]d Office, and s [...]cerdotal Function, which they held divine, as Her [...]d tus tells us; which ( [...]) none not initiated, [...]. Herod. Euterp. or not consecrated by the wonted Ceremonies, might profanely usurp: [Page 166] Plutarch Plutarch. Mo­ral. p. 778. [...]. Tac. Ann. l. 3. A. Gellius. l. 3. c. 15. Sacerdotes è rudibus indoctis & impolitis sa­crandi non sunt quibus non da­tum est intelli­gere civilia, multo magis de­negatum est dis­serere divina. Min. Fael. Sacerdotes E­gyptii constitue­bant ex optima­tibus tum genere tum scientia. Clem. Alex. [...]. 5. [...]. Julian. Imp. epist. Sacerdotalis vita politicae Praestantier. [...]. Plato. Phedo. [...]. In bello victores cum sint, solent omnes gentes, [...]. Clem. Al. 2 Tim. 3.3. [...]. Unthankful, unholy, without natural affections, disobedient, &c. 2 Cor. 4.7, 11, 12. Earthen vessels, Death worketh in us, &c. tells us, both among Romans and Greeks, they generally in all Cities paid great honor and respect to their Priests and holy men; because those obtained of the gods good things, not onely for them­selves, and their families, but for the whole Cities where they lived. Tacitus tells us, That the cheif Priests were also, by the Divine Munificence esteemed the chiefest of men, least subject to anger, envy, or other mean affections from any men: So Aul. Gellius set [...] down at large the solemnities and honors for vestments and other re­gards, which among the Romans was used toward the Flamines Diales, or chief Priests; whom they esteemed next their gods, whose word was always to be taken without any oath; they thought all holy things profaned, if any men unsacred presumed to meddle with them, or partake of them; much more, if such an one officiated in them.

It cannot be any thing of true Christian piety or holiness, which makes any men in the Church of Christ degenerate from the very principles of nature; whose light is never despised by any, but those, that are without natural affections, among other their black Chara­cters, which are proper to those, who have a f [...]rm of godliness, but deny the power of it; The strangest prodigies that ever were indeed, of so profane a wantonness, under pretences of enlarged piety; striving to remove all bounds of duty, and respect to God or man; nor did ever sober men think themselves absolved from that honor and respect, which is due to God and his holy Service or Ministry, because of the personal infirmities which may be seen in those that are his Mi­nisters to us: We shall neither as men nor Christians, have any to serve God or man in the way of true Christian Religion, if we will allow none with their failings: The Divine is to be distinguished from the Man; there may be the power of God with the weakness of man, as in Saint Paul; Nor need we be more choise and curious, than God himself is.

11. A peculiar Office of Ministry, necessary for the Church.6. Nor is there a greater benefit and conveniency to the Church, than a necessity of having a special calling and divine institution of the Mi­nisters of the Gospel; For we may not in this trust to the good natures and good wills of Christians in common, (if personal abilities and willing­ness would make a Minister of Christ, which they will not:) Certain­ly, no men are so good natured of themselves, (without hopes of gain or some benefit) as of their own good will, to undertake, and con­stantly to persevere in so hard and hazardous (besides so holy) a ser­vice, [Page 167] as this, of holding forth to a vain, proud, carnal, hypocritical, Vera cruce dig­ni qui crucifix­um adorant. Insana religio. Cecil. Exitiabilis su­pe [...]stitio. Tacit. Annal. l. 15. [...]. Julius Imp. ep. 7. 1 Cor. 2.14. Exitiabilis su­perstitio: Au­thor ejus Chri­stus, qui Tiberio imperant [...] per procuratorem Pontiu [...] Pila­tum supplicio affectus. Tac. l. 15. Annal. Miranda, etiam pudenda credit Christianus; cujus fides im­pudens esse debet. Tert. de Bapt. Sacra sacrilegi­is omnibus te­tri [...]ra. Cecil. de Christian. [...]. Euseb. hist. l. 4. c. 14. Else Christi­an Religion would have failed. Multi barbaro­rum in Christum credunt sine cha­ractere vel a­tramento scrip­tum habentes per spiritum in cordibus suis sa­lutem, & vete­rum traditionem diligenter custodientes, quàm Apostoli tradiderunt iis quibus committebant ecclesias; cui ordinationi assentiunt multae gentes. Tren. l. 4. c. 4. persecuting, and devilish world, so de picable and ridiculous a doctrine, as this of a crucified Saviour at first was, and still seems to the natu­ral, or onely ( [...]) rational man; unless there were by the wis­dom and authority of Christ, such ties of duty and calling laid upon some mens consciences, as, onely the mission and mandate of God can lay upon men; who are not naturally more disposed to go on Gods errand, than Moses, or Jeremy, or Jonah were: And however, now the peace, warmth, and serenity of times, hath made the Mini­stry of the Gospel, a matter of covetousness, or popular ambition, or curiosity, or wantonness, to many of these new Preachers, who with rashness, levity, and a kinde of frolickness, undertake that work, which the best men and Angels themselves, would not without much weep­ing (as Saint Austine that day when he was ordained a Presbyter) or with fear and trembling undertake; yet the rigor and storms of primitive times (it is very probable) would have quenched the now so forward heats and flashes of these mens spirits: When to Preach the Gospel, and to preside, as a Bishop or Presbyter, in the Church, was to expose a mans self to the front of persecution; to stand in the gap against the violent incursions of malicious men, and cruel devils; To be a Minister of Jesus Christ, was presently to forsake all, and to take up the Cross and follow Christ; to adopt, with holy orders, fa­mine and nakedness, banishment, prisons, beasts, racks, fires, torments, many deaths in one; so that, unless there had been divine authority enjoyning, power enabling, and special grace assisting, the Ordainers in the Name of Christ sending, and so in conscience binding; toge­ther with gracious promises of a reward in Heaven, incouraging the ordained; doubtless, the glorious Gospel of mans salvation, had ere this been buried in oblivion; none had believed that report, nor heard of it, if none had dared to preach it; and none would of his own good will, have been so hardy, or prodigal of all worldly interests, honor, liberty, safety, estate, and life, as to adventure all needlessly, and spontaneously, on such a message to others, so unwonted, so un­welcome, so offensive to the ears and hearts of men, unless he had been conscious to a spe [...]ial d [...]ty laid upon him, by divine authority; which was always derived in that holy and solemn Ordination, which was the inauguration of Ministers to that great and sacred Work.

This indeed gave so great confirmation and courage to the true and ord [...]ined Ministers of the Gospel, that, believing, what they preached of a crucified Saviour; and knowing whose work it was, in whose Name they were ordained, by whose power they were sent, [Page 168] to how great ends their labors were designed, even to save souls; they willingly bare the Cross of Christ,Acts 5.41. and counted it a crown and honorary addition to their Ministry, to be thought worthy to suffer for the Name of Christ; that what any of them wanted in the power of miracles, was made up in the wonder of their patience; when no Armies, no State, favored them, and both opposed them; when they had no temptations of getting a better living by preaching, than any other way; but rather losing of what they had; when they ex­pected few applauders of their boldness and forwardness; many perse­cutors and opposers of their consciencious endeavors to do the duty, which Christ, by the Church, had laid on them; when they might not grow restive and lazy, and knock off when they pleased; but a wo, and a necessity, and an heavy account, to be given to the great Pastor of the Church, Christ Jesus, always founded in their ears, and beat upon their mindes: These put them upon those Heroick resolutions, to endure all things for Christs sake,2 Tim. 2.10. I endure all things for the elects sake, &c. 2 Cor. 11. & 12. Phil. 1. Tit. 1.11. 1 Tim. 6.5. Rom. 16.17. I beseech you Brethren mark them which cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. Vers. 18. For they that are such, serve not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches de­ceive the hearts of the simple. 1 Cor. 4.1, 2. John 10.1, 2. and the Churches sake, and the good of those souls committed to their charge. Nor did they remit their care, or slacken the conscience of their duty, in preaching dili­gently the Gospel, because of the forwardness and seeming zeal of those, that were false Brethren and false Apostles; who out of envy, or spight, or for filthy lucre, or any vain-glory among Christians, set up the trade of preaching, upon their own stock of boldness; without any mission from Christ, or those, to whom he had delegated that power to ordain fit and able men: Their seeming good will, and readiness to preach, did not free them from the brand of false Apo­stles, and deceitful workers; Satans ministers, and messengers sent to buffet, not to build the Church; Wolves in sheeps clothing, ser­ving their bellies, and not the Lord Christ, or the Churches good; whose order and authority they despise: Nor can they be faithful to Gods work, unless they keep to his word; both, as to the truths delivered, and the order prescribed, and the duties enjoyned, and the authority established: Christ doth not onely provide food for his family; but stewards also, and dispensers of it, who may, and must see to give every one their portion in due season, rightly dividing the Word of truth; There is not onely plenty, but order and government in Christs house; nothing less becomes the servants of Christ, than this sharking and scrambling way of these new men, who will snatch and carve for themselves, and dispence to others, what, when, and how they list. It is justly to be feared, they are theeves, and come but to steal and d str [...] who like not to come in at Christs door, but are thus clambr [...] [...]very where over the wall; and (confident of their numbers) dare to do it, [...]t in the darkness of their Night Con­venticles, but (as A [...]sal [...]ms incestuous rapes) at the noon-day, and in the eyes of this whole Church; to its great grief and shame, and to its [Page 169] no little danger; These intruders appearing more like plunderers of the reformed Religion, than any way like to be humble able and faithfull Preachers; Nothing can portend good to the Church of Christ, that carrys besides gross defects such a face of disorder, vio­lence, insolency and confusion; which, if these wayes of some men do not, many wise and godly Christians have lost their eyes.12. The weight of the work of the Mini­stry requires peculiar and appropriated workmen to it.

7. Furthermore, One great mistake of our Antiministeriall Le­vellers is, from that mean and ordinary esteem, they have of the work, duty, and undertaking of a Minister; this makes them have so slight and indifferent thoughts of it, both as to the ability and authority; requiring very small measure of true abilities, and none at all of due authority; further, than any presumer of his gifts, will challenge to himself.

When as indeed, all reason, Religion, and holy examples, do teach us;See S [...]. Chrysost. [...], largely and eloquent­ly setting forth what excellencies are required in a Minister above other men; says [...], as in a Shep­heard above the Sheep, &c. 2 Tim. 2.15. That the work of a Minister of the Gospell is not meerly a matter of lip labour, of voluble speech, of confident countenance; making a shew, and flourish to others of that knowledge, reading, memory and elocution, which any man may have upon an ordinary account: There goes more to make a work-man, than to have good materials and tooles amassed together; To heap up these, or lay them forth to others view is not to build. To be arbitrarily, or occa­siona [...]ly; or impertinently, or charitably busie in exercising mens private gifts, as to Christian knowledge, is not presently, to do that great and good work, which the Apostle commends, which Christ enjoyns his Ministers, and which the Church needs. Every one that can handle the Hod, or the Mattock, or the Trowell, is not instantly an Architect, or may vye with Vitruvius. Nor can every knowing Christian, discharge that part of a throughly furnished work­man, who needs not to be ashamod: as having materials, and Tools, and skill, and command.

There is a great difference between that plausible cunning, H [...]c habent hae­ritici artificiū, plus per suadent, quam docent, cùm verit [...]s docendo persua­det, non per­suadendo docet. Tertul. adv. Vul. [...]. Acts 20.30. [...]. 2 Cor. 2.17. Who use the word of God as Hucksters do good ware, mixing it with bad to mend it the bet­ter. N [...]gotium illi [...] in verbi administratione, non Ethnicos convertens, sed nostros evertendi nostra suffodjun [...], ut sua aedificent. Tertul. adv. Haer. c. 42. which draws Desciples after mens selves, and that Ministeriall conscience which makes Disciples to Christ; between the setting up among the many popular Masters, who love to hear themselves speak, and the being sent as Embassadors, to speak in the name of Christ; which is, not to get a petty Magistery and name among men; but to make known, as they ought, the holy name and my­steries of Jesus Christ: Nor is this, only to walk in the cool of the day; in the midst of an Independent Paradise (which other Mini­sters labours have planted, (where some elderly, better instructed, and wealthier Christians fancy they want nothing to compleat [Page 170] them, but the contentment of an imaginary Reign and Empire; and are content to allow liberally to any Minister, that will assume them into a participation of Church power, that they may but think themselves to rule;) But it requires such an humble diligence, as is willing to bear the heat and burthen of the day; to contend with younger ignorance, and elder obstinacy, and aged tetricalness; not disdaining, nor nauseating the cramb of Catechising, to which principles few of the new modelling Preachers will de [...]cend: as loath to abate of those high-soring notions, and seraphick specula­tions, in which they please themselves, more, than any of their hearers; Vulgus quae non intelligunt im­pensius miran­tur. Jerom. who seek to profit our souls, rather than vainly to applaud their vainer teacher; who thus new dressed and set up greatly despi­seth his poor neighbour Ministers pains, serving only to breed up, as in a nursery, such plants, as he is to transplant to his congrega­tionall Garden, and so to gather in due time the fruits of them to himself.

No, the work of a worthy Minister is such, as must fit him, as well to stoop to lay the lowest foundations, in the youngest Cathe­chists; as to set up the Crown and Corner stone of the highest Pinnacle in the most advanced Christians: He must know how to treat, both the weak and the strong, the ideot and the learned, the babes and simple, as well as the men grown and well-instructed; that scorns not the meanest, nor fears to do his duty to the greatest in the world; [...]. Tit. [...].7.8. To which work there ought to be such an a dequation, as to do every thing becomming so high and heavenly a Master; so holy and great a work, wherein the Apostle requires as to the doctrine and manners too uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned, &c. so that the Office and work of a Mi­nister requires,De Sacerdote Chrysost. [...]. 1 Tim. 6.20. 2 Tim. 1.14. That good thing which was committed to thy trust, keep, &c. Heb 13.17. As those that must give an account for their s [...]uls. Horribile effatum ( [...]) ministris non sine con­ [...]er [...]atione & animi deliqu [...]o audiendum. not only communicative abilities for knowledge and utterance, but imports also duty, conscience, care, solicitousness, skill, fidelity, diligence, intentiveness, zeal, exactness, prudence and highest discretion, as in a most weighty matter, of infinite concern­ment; wherein the glory of God, the honour of our Saviour, and the good of mens souls is highly engaged. So that it is, not a sponta­neous curtesie, or a pleasant variety, or a plausible novelty, or a pro­fitable art, and trade or m [...]stery of living; but a serious custody committed, a precious charge deposited, and a strict account to be returned, of the Ministeriall negotiation and function.

What is re­quisite in a Minister. [...]. Ezek. 1. Is. Pel. l. 1. Ep. 151. [...]. Gr. Nis. de Cast.So that a Minister had need to have the eye and illumination of an Angel, the heart and compassion of a Father, the tenderness and indulgence of a Mother, the caution and courage of a Comman­der, [Page 171] the vigilancy of a Watchman, the patience of a Shepheard, the zeal of a lover, the diligence of a woer, the gallantry and honour of an Embassador, who as he gives no cause, so knows not how with patience to see his Master or Message affronted or neglected; The wisdom and discretion of a Counsellor; The constancy and re­solution of a Pilot; whom no storm must drive from the Steerage, whom it becomes to be drowned with his hand on the helm.

For a true Minister who is enabled by God, approved by man, [...]. vocat. Socrat in Pl. Apol. Pat [...]rnum est docendi munus. Heb. 2.12. I will declare thy name a­mong my brethren, &c. 2 Cor. 6.1. We therefore as workers to­gether with (God and Christ,) &c. 2 Cor. 5.10. All things are of God, (i. e.) ordered by him who hath reconciled us to himself by Christ Jesus; and hath given to us the Ministry of reconcilia­tion. V. 20. As though God did beseech you by us. and so duly sent and ordeined by both, to the service of Christ in the Church, hath upon him, not only something of the honour and authority, but of the duty and care of Parents; and that right of primogeniture, which from Christ is derived to them; as from the elder among many brethren; which is to teach, instruct, provide for, direct and govern in the things of God, the younger succession of the family of Christ: Yea more, every true Minister hath part of the work of God assigned to him, having a Deputation, or Lieutenancy from Christ to fulfill what he hath graciously undertaken, (not as to meritorious satisfaction (which Christ alone hath perfected, but) as to Ministeriall instruction and pastorall government; teaching mankind, to know the will of God, how he is to be served, and how they may be saved, yea, and ruling them that are Christs with his Scepter; Furnished as the Ark with the Law, with Manna, and with Aarons rod, to convince men of sin, to comfort them with promises, and to keep them in holy bounds by just authority and Christian Discipline.

So that true Ministers stand as in Parents, so in Gods and Christs stead, as to the visible means and outward work of divine institu­tion; 1 Cor. 4.7. which the Lord hath chosen to dispense by such earthen ves­sels; that, as they have some reflexions and marks of divine autho­rity, and honour more than humane, upon them in their work and Commission, so they may have as they had need more than ordinary divine assistance, to carry them through the discharge of this work, as it ought to be done: In reference to which great and sacred imployment, the Lord Christ, fasted,Luke 6.12. and prayed a whole night in a mountain, the day before he chose, ordeined and sent his twelve A­postles to the work of publike Ministry among the Jews; yea and af­ter they had enjoyed his holy society, and instruction for some years, yet before they were to go forth to the Gentiles conversion, (know­ing [Page 172] what difficulties they should encounter; what beasts, and men, and devils they were to contend withall; besides, how strange and incredible a message they went withall, to convert a proud, vain, luxuriant, covetous, and crue [...] word,) he would not have them go from Jerusalem, Acts 1.8. till they were endued with power from on high by the holy Spirit, their teacher and comforter.

[...] the [...]n­tients had of the Mini­stry of the Gospel, and with what spirit they undertook it.8. And according to this so emn both institution and preparation of the first Ministers of the Go [...]pell, which Christ sent (in whose power, and after whose patern, as neer as may be, all others ought to succeed in [...]he Church) all holy, wise, able and humble Christians have alwaies looked, not without horror, trembling, and amaze­ment, upon the Office and work of the Ministry, untill the pride and presumption of these times; Antiently the worthy Bishops and Ministers were, both before and after their Ordination to this Of­fice, still asking this question, in their souls, who is sufficient for these things; and what shall I do (being a Minister) to be saved: still jealous, lest while they Preach to others, themselves prove castaways. 2 Cor. 2.16. 1 Cor. 9.27. De propriâ ani­ma negligens in alienâ esse non potest solicitus. Jeron. However now youthfull confidences, or rusticall bold­ness, or vain-glorious wantonness, or ambitious ostentations, or co­vetous projects, or secular interests, or friends importunities, or for­tunes necessities, and stimulating despairs, to live any other way; these (God knows) are too often the main motives, which put ma­ny men upon the work of the Ministry: Yet, Those grand and e­minent men of old, whose gifts and graces far exceeded our modern tenuities, came not to this holy Ordination, nor undertook this service of God to the Church, either as Bishops or Presbyters, without in­finite reluct [...]nce, Naz. Or. 29. Reproves that [...]: Importune & aking t [...]ngues, that know neither h [...]w to speak, nor to be silent: Such Prea­chers he calls [...]. A [...]ter he shews how much ca [...]e is to be used be­fore and after the undertaking that holy Office. P. 48. 7. c. Eph. 6.12. 1 Cor. 9.22. [...]. Is. Pel. grief, dread and astonishment; They had a con­stant horror of the worth and danger of mens souls; which only Christ could redeem with a valuable price; the losse of which, a whole world cannot countervail; also of the terrors of the Lord to slothfull and unfaithfull servants in that work; also of the strict­ness of accounts to be given at Christs tribunall; They had before their eyes, that boundless Ocean of business into which a Minister, once ordeined lancheth forth, and is engaged; to study, to preach, to pray, to fast, to weep, to compassionate, to watch-over, to visit, to rep oove, to exhort, to comfort, to contend, with evill and un­reasonable men, devi [...]s and powers of darkness: to take care of young and old, to temper himself to novices, cathecumens; to con­firmed, to lapsed, to obstinate, to penitent, to ignorant and erro­nious, to hereticall surlyness, to schismaticall peevishness, to become all things to all men to gain some.

The work indeed requires saith St. Chrysostom, [...]. Crysost. in Act. 3. [...], &c. Synes. ep. 105. [...]. [...]d. 2 Cor. 11.29. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? [...]. a most ample and en [...]rged soul, lest any under our charge be ignorant, by our negl [...]ct; be misled by our errors, justly scanda [...]ized by us, and hardned against us; lest any saving truth be wasted or concealed, any soul wound [...]d, any conscience or faith shipwracked; lest any weaker faith faint, any stronger fall; lest any be tempted and sedu­ced by Satan, or his Factors: In fine, lest any poor soul should be dam [...]ed by our default; which is by Christ committed to our charge, as Ministers of, and for Jesus Christ; whose work is to see, that the sufferings of Christ be not in vain; that the soveraign salves and balms of his blood, may be duly applied, to the benummed, to the tender, to the wounded consciences, to the broken, and bleeding, to the stony and hardned, to the fleshy and flinty hearts.

This so prodigious a work, and more than humane undertaking, to be a Minister of the Gospel, either as a Bishop, or Presbyter, (for neither the difference, nor the distance, was great in point of the main work, either of teaching or governing; onely, the higher place, had the greater care, and the more honor drew with it the greater burden of duty) made those holy men of old, so loth and unwilling to yield themselves to the desires, importunities, and even violencies of those Christians, who looked upon them,Ambr. off. l. 1. c. 1. Ego invitus de tr bunalibus atque admini­strationis infulis ad sacerdotium. Vita. B. Am­brosii. as fit for so great a work in the Church; they said, Nolo Episcopari, in good earnest. Saint Ambrose was for his learning, integrity, piety, and eloquence, so esteemed in his secular employment, as a Judge; that the faithful people of Millan (otherways divided by the Arrian faction) thought none more fit to be their Bishop, and chief Pastor; to guide, by teaching and governing them, in matters of Religion. They in a maner forced him, from the Tribunal, to the Throne, or Cathedral, with pious compulsions, which to avoid, he fled by night, and after a nights wandring, found himself next morn at Millan: He put on the face of cruelty and bloodiness, invited loose and leud people to haunt his house; that he might seem unworthy of that dignity, and deter them from the choice: Which (he tel s us) he suffered not with­out an holy impatience; complaining of the injury done him; and he would not have yielded, if he had not been perswaded, that the impulse and motion of the people, so resolute, so zealous, and so una­nimous, was from God; whose pleasure was thereby signified to him; That leaving secular affairs, he had work for him to do in his Church; which he discharged with great diligence, courage, and fidelity, after he was baptized, duly ordained a Presbyter, and consecrated to be a Bishop; To whose learned and holy eloquence, the Church oweth, besides other excellent fruits, the happy conversion of Saint Austine.

In like sort Saint Jerome tells us of Nepotian, That when his holy learning and life had so recommended him, that he was gene­rally [Page 174] desired to be made a Minister of the Church; Nepotianus eo dignio [...] erat quo se clamabat in­dignum, popu­lus quaerebat, &c. Humilitate superabat in­vidiam, Jer. ad Holiodorum. Ammonius fu­giens aurem dex­tram praecidit; cùm ad Episco­patum quae tha­tur, ut deformi­tate impediretur electio, Zozom. l. 6. c. 30. Soc [...]at. l. 4. c. 18. Nihil in hae vita difficilius, laboriosius, peri­culosius Episco­pi, aut Presbyteri, aut Diaconi officio; sed apud deum nihil beatius, si eo modo militetur quo imperator noster jubet: Hinc lacrymae illae quas ordinationis meae tempore effundebam, August. epist. 148. Greg. Nis. in vi [...] Thaumat. tells how, Greg. Thaum. omni cura fugiebat [...]. Naz. Orat. 25. Tells how unwillingly he was brought to be a Bishop, which others hastned to so ambitiously. he first hid him­self; When he was found, they brought him to Ordination, as it were to execution, weeping, deprecating, and deploring with unfeigned earnestness; protesting how unfit, how unworthy he was, for that great work; whom nothing could have made more fit and worthy, than so great humility, with so great holiness and ability: Some (as Ammonius) did maim and deform themselves to avoid this great undertaking. Saint Austine, a man of incomparable abilities, pro­fesseth, That he esteems nothing more difficult, laborious and dan­gerous in this world, than the office of a Bishop, or Presbyter; though nothing be more glorious and accepted before God, if the work be discharged so, as we have in charge from our chief commander and Bishop, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence (saith he) were those tears, which he could not forbear to shed plentifully on the day of his Ordination; which others wondred at then; and he after gives the world an account of them: O humble, holy, happy, well-placed tears, which watered on that occasion, one of the most devout, diligent and fruitful souls, that ever the Church of Christ en­joyed.

Saint Chrysostome also (a great and glorious star of the first magnitude in the Firmament of the Church; who filled the Orb in which he was placed, and equalled by his eloquent worth, the eminency of the City (Constantinople) where he sate as Bishop) passi­onately bemoans his condition, and all of his order, as Bishops, and Ministers of the Church; [...]. Chrysost. In act. 3. [...]. Chrys. [...]. 3. in 1. c. act. [...]. Synes. ep. 11. Thuanus (Anno 1555.) tells of Marcellus, a wise and sober man, When the Sc [...]ipture was read before him of the office of a Bishop, he with earnestness protested, He could hardly see how any man in the eminency of his place, could be intent to the salvation of his own soul. professing, That he thinks the work, the danger, and the difficulties so great, that a Bishop and Minister had need have an hundred hands, and as many eyes to avoid scandals, and to dispatch the employment: So that he protesteth, That he cannot see, how many Bishops or Ministers can be saved; yea, and believes far more are damned, than saved. Synesius also professeth, Had he been aware of the vastness of the work, and charge of souls, he would have chosen many deaths, rather than have been a Bishop, or Presby­ter in the Church; as he was, and a ve y worthy one too, from an eloquent and learned Philosopher. Thus, and to this tune, generally [Page 175] all those antient Bishops, and most eminent Ministers of the Church; [...]. Greg. Nis. vita Thaum. Quanto in prae­cipitio stant illi, qui tot mortibus sunt obnoxii, quot habent in tutela animas? Cleman. Spel. and this, not out of restiveness, cowardise, or want of zeal, piety, and charity, but meerly out of unfeigned humility; (as Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and others,) abasing themselves, out of the high esteem they had of the glory of Christ, the honor of his Religion, the dignity of his Ministry, and the pretiousness of souls, for which, he had shed his sacred blood.

9. Nor is the work (God knows) less or easier now,14. The Work not now easi­er, than it was, requires as able Mi­nisters. on our hands; nor the burden lighter; nor are our arms and shoulders stronger in these days, than in former times; that any mens con­fidence in undertaking, or forwardness in obtruding on that calling, should be now so great; when, indeed, we have (now) not onely down-right ignorance, and blunter rusticity, or heathenish simplicity, or barbarous unbelief to contend with; but also schismatical curio­sities, fanatical novelties, heretical subtilties, superstitious vanities, cruel hypocrisies, political profanenesses, spiritual wickednesses to en­counter. We are to deal, as Ministers even here in England, not with raw Novices, and callow Christians, or meer strangers to Re­ligious Mysteries; but with such, as by much handling matters of Religion, are grown callous men, of brawny hands, gross humors, Periculosissimus animo morbus est ( [...]) spi­ritualis inappe­tentia, & [...], illa [...]au­se [...]bunda, quae satietat [...] in sa­c [...]is laborat. Cameron. Numb. 11.5. of tough hearts; such as think themselves fat, and so full fed with Re­ligious Notions, that they are grown pursey, almost surfeted, and past their appetite; longing like glutted and pampered Jews, for any novelties, though it be for Garlick, and Leeks, and Onyons, amidst their superfluities of Quails and Manna: Nothing pleaseth their clogged stomacks, that is old, though never so true; nothing comes amiss, if it be but dressed up with novelty; old Christianity set on the new block of faction: O how welcome to many is a new Church way, a new fashioned Ministry, new ordered Sacraments, new inter­preted Scriptures? With these wanton, proud, idle, lazy, coy, and scornful tempers, have we Ministers now to contest; with such Sophisters, as are ignorant, yet proud of their knowledge; need teach­ing, yet affect to be teachers; such as cast off all true Ministry, and Church Orders, and Government, when they most want them (as Feaverish men do clothes to make them sweat, when they kick them off.)

It is harder to deal with such mens arrogant,Difficulties in the Work of the Mini­stry. extravagant hu­mors; with their various, subtil, and sublime fancies in Religion, (which are like the running Gout, every where painful, no where permanent; very offensive, though very unfixed) than with those plainer simplicities, and that down-right profaneness, which are in Heathens, and meer ignorant ones, who never took any tincture of [Page 176] Christian Religion; whose ruder and open persecutions, were not more pestilent to the true Christian Ministry and Religion, than these craftier underminings are.

Nor do the Ministers of England so flatter themselves, that se­cular powers are so propitious to them, as not to finde more than ordinary cause to keep up the dignity and authority of their Calling, by all internal sufficiencies, and external industry, rather than trust to the favors and benignities of men, either great or small, few or many.Basil. Mag. lib. de Spir. S. c. 29. [...]. Greg. Niss. [...]. Gregory Thaumaturgus when he was a Bishop of Neoce­sarea in Pontus, blesseth God, That when he came first to his charge, he found not above seventeen Christians; and when he departed from them, he left not in all his Diocess, so many unbaptized, or un­believers: But the sad task of many excellent Ministers now is, after many years labors, to work upon the most rugged and ingrateful Christians, in many places, that ever were: Many grave men after many years pains, having merited, and expecting from their people, that Christian usage for love, and respect, which becomes both sides; the more they preach, and the better they live, and the more they love their people, the more peevish and froward they finde them: Like hot irons, they flie in the face of those that have heated them, and are daily forging them, both to solidity and beauty in Religion; these like cross-grained pieces, run with splinters into the hands and eyes of those that seek to polish them; they affect a petulant piety, and are taught by some, That much of their Religion consists in de­spising and separating from those Ministers, who have baptized and instructed them, and to whom the care of their souls is orderly committed.

Nor is it onely, hence, that the dignity of the Ministry is wounded, and the difficulties of the work encreased, but even from our selves also, who profess to be Ministers here in England; The Lord of the harvest pardon our over hasty intrusions, our importune forwardness, our unfitness for the work, our idleness in it, our vapor­ings of it, our sinister aims, our crooked motions, our improving both our selves and others, more to private Factions, than to the Catholike Faith, or Publick Peace; to popularity, rather than to piety; to pleasing, rather than profiting of people; by which ways, it must be confessed, many of us, Ministers, have miserably pro­strated the honor of this sacred Fu [...]ction; increased the difficulties of our work, laid blocks and bars in our ways; helped to level the dignity of the Function to vulgar insolencies; either contemning or invading it.

As in a [...]l times, so especially in these, Ministers of the Gospel had need to be more than men; above the pitch of mortals, little lower than the Angels; who are to counter work deep and deceitful [Page 177] workers; to undermine and uncase false Ministers; to bear up, and recover Christian and Reformed Religion, with it main pillar and support, (the true Ministry) against those that seek to overthrow it. In the most serene and favorable times to the Church and the Mini­stry, a wise and gracious man should fear and tremble (though never so able, and by others recommended,) to undertake this work; so sacred, so divine, so justly to be avoided; If men looked not at high, holy, and eternal designs; yea, I should even think, the best men might well refuse the charge and calling, till God called thrice (as he did to Samuel,) till he even chid, or threatned them to the work, 1 Sam. 3.8. Exod. 4.14. as he did Moses. For if in any undertaking in the world a Christian might be disobedient, or would be deliberating, and demurring; and ask oft of God and man, Shall I, shall I run, it ought to be in this: Let him that findes not care and work enough to look to his own soul, cover rashly to take charge of other mens; how sad is it to see loose and indifferent livers, forward, and earnest to be Preachers, and undertake a Pastoral Charge? The Lord forgive, what hath been thus hastily hudled, and inconsiderately entred upon by any of us Ministers; and grant us, that after grace, which may recompence, and as much as may be, expiate the rashness of the admission and ad­venture, by the seriousness, diligence, and conscienciousness of the per­formance. Men, if they were well advised, and in good earnest, should rather need spurs and goads to be driven by others, than bridles, or pikes to keep them off from rushing into the Mi­nistry.

Nothing hath more debased this holy calling, 15. Discourage­ments from the tenuity of mainte­nance. and discouraged able men from it, than the necessity, here in England, in many places, to admit some mens tenuity and meanness into the Ministry and Livings; who had no other motive, but to obtain a morsel of bread, and scarce found that for their pains; For which necessity a relief was long ago hoped for, and expected, if not promised, from the piety, and nobleness of the Parliaments of England; who could not, but see, that in many, if not most parts, either the Ministers abilities and pains exceeded the Benefice; or the starving tenuity of the Bene­fice, like an hungry and barren soyl, Innovercante solo satae arbores quamvis gene­rosiores & fera­ces cito steri­lescunt. Varro. Tenuitatem be­neficiorum ne­cessari [...] sequitur ignorantia sacer­dotum. Bishop Jewel. eat up and consumed the Mi­nisters gifts and parts; which at first were florid, and very hope­ful, and so would have thrived, had they not been planted in a soyl that was rather a dry nurse, than a kinde mother.

Nor was there then, or is there now, any way to avoid the mis­chief of admitting such minute offerers of their selves to the Ministry in places of so minute maintenance, unless the entertainment were enlarged; as is requisite in many Livings, where the whole salary is not so much, as the interest of the money, bestowed in breeding of a Scholar would amount to, which an able Minister cannot live [Page 178] upon, so as to do his duty; yet this fault of ordaining and instituting weak Ministers (which arose from the hardness of Laymens hearts) was better committed, than omitted by the Ordainers; for it was better, that such small timber (if as strait and sound, as can be had) be put in the wall, than the house in that place lie quite open, and decayed; Better the poor people be taught in some measure, the Myste­ries and Truth of Religion, than left wholly wilde and ignorant. I know, that as in a building it is not necessary that all pieces should be great and massie timber, less will serve in their place and propor­tion; yet the principal parts ought to be so substantial, that they might relieve the weaker studs and rafters of the burden; so that no danger might be to the whole Fabrick from their feebleness, so assisted: The state of the Church ought indeed to be so ordered, that there should be a competency for all, and a competency in all, Ministers; but in some there ought to be an eminency; as in employment, so in entertainment; upon whom the greatest recumbency of Churches may be laid; whose learning, courage, gravity, tongue, and pen, may be able to sustain the weight of Religion, in all controversies and op­positions; which assertings and vindications require, not onely good will and courage, but great strength and dexterity. The ablest Mini­ster, if he well ponders what he hath to do, hath no cause to be very forward, nor should the meanest, that is honest and congruous, have cause to despond, or be discouraged in his good endeavors.

Great care ought to be had for Or­dination of able Mini­sters, and for augmentati­on of their Means to competency.To restore the Reformed Christian Ministry in this Church, to its true honor, there should be greatest care had in the matter of ordination, before which, antiently the Church had solemn Fasting, Prayer, and Humiliation; But in vain (as to many places, which all need able Ministers) will this care be, unless there be also some necessary augmentation of Ministers maintenance; As the ablest men should be invited to the work, so none unable should be admit­ted; and none, once admitted, should have cause by the incompe­tency of their condition to be ashamed; and by their poverty, contract inabilities; as Trees grow mossie, and unfruitful in barren soyls. Nor would this pious munificence be thought much by any Christian Nation, to which God hath been so liberal in his earthly bounty; if they did indeed value his heavenly dispensations, and the necessity, work, or worth, either of true Ministers, or of poor mens souls; whom itinerant Preachers cannot feed sufficiently, with a bit and a way; but they require constant and resident Ministers to make them thrifty and well-liking. I conclude this Paragraph, touching the great work of the Ministry, with that Character of an able Minister, which St. Bernard hath admirably set forth to Eugenius, the then Bishop of Rome, by which we may see, what sense was in those days (Four hundred and fifty years ago) of the duty of Ministers, and what [Page 179] kinde of ones, holy men then required in the Church; from whom, our succession, without any disparagement from mens personal faults, is derived.

Such (saith Saint Bernard) are to be chosen, Ta