Ἱε [...]ελεςία Γα [...]

CHRIST at the WEDDING: The pristine Sanctity and Solemnity OF Christian Marriages, As they were Celebrated By the CHƲRCH of ENGLAND. Humbly presented to those Gentlemen whom it concerns to Consult and Resolve what is best.

By John Gauden, D. D. at Bocking in Essex.

HEB. 13.4. Marriage is Honourable among all Men.
AUST. de NUPTIIS. Tanto fortius quanto sanctius charitalis vinculum inter conjuges.
CHRYSOST. in Ephes. 5. [...].

LONDON, Printed by E. Cotes, for Andrew Crook, and are to b [...] [...]

To the Honorable or Worshipfull Gentle­men of the Committee for Mariage, &c.

HONORED GENTLEMEN,

I Once more presume to finde so much publick patience and candor, Section 1 as to present to you (with the same freedome I not long since used in the case of Tithes, to your short-lived and (for the most part) lower bred predeces­sors) another great and publick Consideration, very worthy, as I conceive, of the review and advice of wise, unpassionate, and unprejudiced persons, such as you are either hoped or wished to be; having a publick influence in a Parliamentary way upon this Church and Nation; (Which imployment (you know) requires wary Coun­sellors, not voracious C [...]rmorants of businesse; swallowing greedi­ly like Ostriches all that is offered them without any chewing: You have seen some men almost choak themselves, while they sought to shew how good stomachs they had, when all the world knew they had very ill digestion.

The businesse I now humbly propose is, Section 2 Touching the publick celebration and decent Solemnizing of Christian Marriage; Ann. Chr [...] Interesse d [...] Presbyter h [...] ­tioni qui [...] ­nedictione juvare debe [...] consortium omnem san [...] tem, pag. [...] Sir Hen. S [...] Concil. Britannica. Ann. Christ. 740. Can. 88. in Synodo Eboracensi sub Egberto. Sponsus & sacerdote benedicendi. whether after the new mode, (which is but as a Mushrome of yesterday, a Gourd of a nights growing, under whose shadow some peevish spirits fancie great refreshings); or, whether after the Ancient and Venerable way, ever used (for the main) in the Church of England, by Ministers and People; wherein, Godly Instruction, Pious Exhortation, solemne Obtestations, publick Declaration, and Divine Benediction, were with all religious reverence applyed to the glory of God, and the great [Page 2]benefit of Christians; to the honour also of this reformed Church, and the renown of this Nation: Agreeable, not only to what had been for many hundred years setled in England by the wisest and most unanimous Parliaments, with Civill sanctions, as well as Ecclesiasticall Canons; but also to the practise of most Christi­an Churches in all ages and places, who generally esteemed such sacred solemnities, [...]he Impe­ [...]onstituti­ [...] Hot [...]man. [...]p tiis & Gau­ [...]i lib. de se­ [...] [...]ustinianaei [...]us. c. 15. [...]aritanda [...]ima Chri­ [...] [...]er. attending and crowning the civill Contracts of Marriages among Christians, to be the best way, both as to piety and policie, sanctity and civility, to publick order, and private comfort; to inward conscience, and outward conve­niencie. So farre were your and our pious Progenitors from excluding Christ or his Disciples and Ministers from their Weddings; that they alwayes invited them, as expecting both an honour and a blessing from their presence and Mi­nistry.

From which holy use and decent custome, Sect. 3 of this and all famous Churches for any Christians not fairely and rationally to recede, but suddenly and abruptly to flie with somewhat short turnes, and (as it were) scornefull reflexions, upon the wisedome of their Ancestors; Truly it may seem not only some reproach to their Christian piety, but also to their naturall generation and civill extraction. As if our fathers had been either ill married pa­rents, or we misbegotten posterity, whose descent or production must be thought to have had lesse honesty, religion and honour, in the publick obsignation and solemnity of their Marriages, than their new fangled Nephewes and reforming Minors have lately found out.

Some of whom, Sect. 4 are prone to prefer any dull piece of factious novelty, any fanatick fancie, any Plebeian prostitution as of other holy things, so of that great and venerable mystery Marriage, (as it is called by St. Paul, [...]s. 5.32.Ephes. 5.32.) before that most judicious, grave, and usefull celebration, which both hallowed and adorned, with the word of God and Prayer, the happy Marriages of their fore-fathers who may seem only unhappy in this, that they were the origin or fountains of such lesse clear, or more turbulent derivations, as have succeeded them. Who not content to vary in their own judgements and practices from such worthy paternall precedents and ecclesiasticall customes, are impatient not to swerve others also. And this, not only to no advantages (yet decernable) but also to the very great charge, trouble and vexation of all sorts of people.

Which so great and (as some thinke) greivous alteration, Sect. 5 cannot but seem to all ingenuous and wise men (who are not given to change, v. 24.21. unlesse it be to the better) rather the effect of some [Page 3]mens itching humors, and innovating genius, (who like no coine but what bears their own image and superscription; and this, though copper or brasse, they prefer before old gold or silver) Or else it is the fruit of a bitter spirit, and an implacable despight against the dignity, office, and calling of the Ministry; which they seek (as much as they can) to disparage and depreciate; studying to represent it as burthen some; and to render it every way uselesse to the publick; that so it may seem justly to be despised, and after utterly destroyed, by the enemies of this (as of all) well reformed Churches; Nor is there any great doubt to be made, but that the project of pro­hibiting the Ministers of England to officiate in the marriages of others, is (in some mens design,) one of the first dishes, which are to furnish the Jesuitick feast; which (after) they hope may be followed with such a second Service, as shall fully gratifie the palates of the most spite­full Papists; by forbidding Ministers themselves to be marryed; un­lesse they will degenerate to a Lay kinde of concubinacy.

So far (as in other, so) in this part of some mens deformation, may we seem to have warped from that pristine weight, gravity, Allegoriam A [...] mi & Evae Christo interp [...] tatur & Ecc [...] ­sia: Locus ineffabilibus nus est Sacra­mentis, & di­num cor quae interpretis. Naz. Reliquit Chr [...] stu [...] Patrem, um, matrem c [...] lestem Jerus­lem; venit a [...] terras propt [...] Ecclesiam sua [...] è latere Chris [...] fabricatam, [...] Jerom. in Ep [...] and impartiality of wisdome, which heretofore honored our happy Parliaments; blessed this unanimous Nation; and crowned this re­formed Church: while it kept a prudent and just medium, be­tween Papal excesse; (which raiseth Matrimony to the height of an Evangelical Sacrament, properly so called as Bellarmine matrim. Vid. Chrysost. in Ephes. 5.32. [...] non in Mosis historiam sed in Christi amorem [...] ­ctans. [...]. Bellarmine disputes: beyond any Scripture grounds or Primitive doctrine, that we can yet see, save only the wresting of that place of the Apostle St. Pauls, Ephes. 5.32. where he cals marriage a great mystery, as relating to Christ and his Church; agreeable to which the Fathers oft use the word Sacrament to set forth the honor of Christian Marriages) And that Plebeian loosnesse, or mechanick profanenesse, (on the other side) which seeks to abate Christian marriage, either to notions, ends, and affections meerly natural, sensual and brutal; or at the highest to designes and customes only humane, politick, and civil; with­out any solemn and serious reflexions publickly to be made ei­ther by Ministers, or people, upon the Divinity of the Institution; the sublimity of the Mystery; or the sanctity of the relation, representing the love of Christ Jesus to his Church.

Alas, how dul, indevout, and even profane, Sect. 7 must that marriage seem among Christians, wonted to better fashions, wherein no me­mory shall be had, or mention made of the holinesse of that Cove­nant, which is called the vow, or Covenant of God, between man and [Page 4]wife: How bald and bare (like a shorn captive) must it appear, wherein nothing is propounded of that excellent wisdome, v. 2.17. set forth in the Word of God; which may teach, and furnish us, with what graces we need, both to begin, and carry on the duties, cares and comforts of that condition; [...]jugii aurea [...] vincula; sed [...]ula tamen: [...]b. when no sacred charge, no solemn injunction in the name, and fear of God, is either heard, or thought of; whereby to keep (as by an holy charm) both souls and bodies, within those bounds of chastity, honor, and fidelity, which God requires; also to represse the sordid extravagancies of sensual fancies, inordinate affections, and even brutish desires; to which lapsed and corrupted humanity is but too subject, both by its own innate impulses, and by the Divels temptations; which are prone (as St. Hierom says) to sowre the sweetest marriages; [...]il in rebus [...]anis perinde [...]erandum est [...]ue matrimo­ [...]m; generis [...]mani fulcrum; [...] pub [...]icae fun­ [...]nentum; ce­ [...]iae sustentacu­ [...], &c. Justi. and corrupt a sensual matrimony to a spiritual adultery: while God, and Christ, and the Church are all neglected; and only the world, the flesh, and the Divel are gratified. Oh! how sad and simple is that Silence in marriage, which suggests not a word (or very flatly, poor­ly, and coldly concerning any blessings, which sinful mortals ex­tremely want, and ought earnestly to pray for, that their choice may be both pious and prudent; their obtaining prosperous; and their enjoyments holy; so as becomes thankful souls to God, for those special mercies and gifts, which from him alone must crown with happinesse the marriages of Christians! [...]omnis congre­ [...]io haeretico­ [...]n Christi Ec­ [...]sia dici non [...]est; sic nec [...]rimonium [...]d secundum [...]risti praecepta [...] conjungitur [...]jugium dici [...]est, sed magis [...]lterium. Je­ [...]m. in. Ephes. In which there is a momentary shadow, and little embleme of a short Heaven or Hell; So that no part of our sinful life requires (as St. Chrysostom observes) more wise conduct, more religious care; For next to the disposing of our souls to God, and our spiritual marriage to Christ; it is of greatest concernment, how we dispose of our per­sons as to a conjugal relation in this world; So much cause there may seem, indeed, rather to have heightned and augmented the holy solemnity of marriage, being so weighty a matter, than any way to have depreciated, or lightned it, by putting it (only) into Lay hands, and making it seem a matter meerly of civill transaction among Christians. [...]. Chrysost. in Ephes. 5. Ad observantiam disciplinae, ad sancti ger­nis foecunditatem, ad augmentum pudoris, ad custodiam castitatis, ad superni Thalami sacrum reveren­m (que) secretum, ad Mysticam Thor [...] coelestis unitatem. Crysologus. ser. 115.

And however some thing seemingly godly, Sect. 8 might be by some men advantageously propounded, and oratoriously imposed upon weak capacities, and credulous mindes, in order to obtain so great an alteration: yet never any solid grounds, either of reason [Page 5]or Religion, of sacred or civil interests, as to the publique good, hitherto have appeared, to sober and unpartial judgements; some private fancies, or passions might possibly be gratified, by the change; but it never was, nor will be justified, by the children of true wise­dome; who are rather amazed, to see the pristine sanctity of Christi­an marriages, so abased and abolished in England, by so easie heads, and heavy hands. In which if Parliamentary Authority had been as indisputable, as themselves voted it; yet neither their choyce, nor their number, nor their delegation (as from the people) nor their representation, as to the community of this Nation, was so compleat and satisfactory, as Parliaments of former times, and of contrary judgments had been: Their conduct also and managing of great publique affairs, (which some thought to grasp within un­washen hands and narrow fists) was not so every way conspicu­ous, for discretion, and prudence, as to render their Edicts Oracles; or to make their dictates like the irreversible Laws of Medes and Persians; nor indeed was that Convention free from the suspicion of being shrewdly leavened with some illiterate, weak, passionate, and plebeian spirits; who better understood their counting books or tallies, than our Laws and Statutes; having better skill in or­dering of cattel, than governing of States or Churches: whose in­experience of things beyond their private and small fortunes, made them lesse proper or pertinent, for any influence in a legislative way, than ever Phaeton was for Phaebus his Chariot: Insomuch that (we see) in a short time they hampered and so intangled themselves in their own traise and carriere, that they could goe no further; but finding publique businesse and Parliamentary authority, like Sauls armour, too large and ponderous for their narrow breasts, and feeble shoulders, they were glad to put it off quickly; lest the pressure and incumbrance of it should have made them a ridiculous and de­formed spectacle to the world; while like short leg'd Pygmies some men in vain stretcht themselves to support heaven; which is the work only of a mighty and invincible Atlas.

Why then so smal a rivolet lately derived from so troubled a foun­tain, which lasted not so long as that in Lehi, (commonly thought the jaw-bone of an Asse, which satisfied Sampsons thrist) why this should so prevail against (as either quite to exhaust and drain, or wholly to divert) that ancient, fair and goodly stream of devout solemnity in which marriage had its course here in England, through the Sanctuary and Ministry (as in other Christian and reformed Churches) no great account in reason can be given, but only this; That Civil changes are commonly attended with some changes in Religion.

But you (O worthy Gentlemen) are looked upon as persons Sect. 9 [Page 6]formed of better earth, and hewed out of nobler quarries: Your convening seems more benign, and propitious to the Publique; from You such things are expected, as become persons generally of bet­ter extraction, more ingenuous education, larger capacities, and more generous spirits; such as may answer the expectation of all wise men, in those things whereof you have cognisance.

And certainly in this point of marriages (which however it bee the foundation of all humane and Ecclesiastical Society; yet is it no sundamental of government) as I presume you have liberty to consult; so your own wisdome and discretion cannot but tell you,

1. How much you owe to the vindication, as of the honor of marriage in general, so in particular of your own, and your fore­fathers marriages; which were sacred, solemn and most Christianly; not deserving in any kinde to be reproached, traduced or overpow­ered by any Mechanick invention, or Laick innovation.

2. You owe also a reparation to the discretion, honor, and piety of the much lessened and degraded Ministers of Christ, in this Church, who are fully as able, (without disparagement) and I believe more willing to discharge the Office of holy and decent ce­lebration of marriages, then many country Justices are.

3. You owe also a relief and ease to the people of this Nation, who are far more troubled, perplexed, and charged to finde a Ju­stice of Peace at leisure or at home, (to whom they must travel with their friends some miles and possibly misse of him, to their great de­feat and vexation,) than ever they were to finde their Ministers; who are ten, to one Justice; and generally, as of lesse forain businesse, so more constantly at home, and more within the reach of the people; who now are forced with horse and man to make two or three long journeys, to have a short breathed marriage dispatched: oft times in a hasty and hudled manner; wherein is little relish of God, nor much savour of Religion.

The main, Sect. 10 if not the only objection, that I have heard made by the enemies to Ministers officiating in the case of publique mar­riages, Object. and which I must at first remove, is, ‘The danger of stoln and concealed marriages: [...]e publicis [...]iis nemo [...]ere vel ux­ducere sumat. Con­ [...] Arelat. [...].6. which are indeed (for the most part) little better than consecrated felonies, and hallowed rapes of minors; without and against their parents, or guardians consent; which (they say) was sometimes done by some Ministers; who being either ob­scure, or unsetled, or sordid, cared not (for a little reward) to prostitute the honor of their function, by setting their mark or seal Ministerial to stoln goods and furtive compacts: which are al­wayes injurious to Parents, and oft very dishonorable, as well as miserable, to the parties so marryed.’

My answer to this is; Answ. Nothing is more just, and fit, than ac­cording [Page 7]to the intent of laws Divine, Civil, and Ecclesiastical, which generally forbid and abhor such clandestine marriages, as that ancient Canon of Euaristus in the second of the first Century de­clares, to prevent such mischiefs, as afflict mankinde in the neerest relations and most tender affections; which are fixed upon their children, as the Centers of all secular cares, hopes, and joys.

But it seems very strange, Talia matrim [...] nia apud Ecc [...] siam firmita­tem non habi­tura, nisi nevi [...] consensus robu [...] accesserit, &c. Gratian. that the wisdome of this Nation and Church could finde no remedy for such a mischief, but only such an one as brings with it other great inconveniences, if not mischiefes too. Was there no means to cure that disorder, (which was but rare neither) save only by putting the whole Nation up­on a new charge and trouble? Could no bar be put in against furtive and injurious marriages, but only this, that they must be done by Justices of the Peace? who the more grave and understand­ing persons they are, are (I am sure) lesse pleased with this new incumbrance; and lesse ambitious of this lesse congruous imploy­ment, than those that are more simple and pragmatick, who no doubt may be wrought, as well as some Ministers, to comply with things lesse commendable.

The Laws of England in former times, Sect. 11 were not wanting to provide against this danger, and those evils, which sometime fell out, by the mercenary basenesse of some Ministers, Vid. Cosin. Politcia Eccle­siae Ang. in [...] bulas digesta. or other Eccle­siastical Officers, which arose, rather from the Indulgences they usurped, than from any license granted them, by any laws Eccle­siastical or Civil: by which they were severely punishable in such cases, if they had not a credible Certificate of the parties being thrice asked; or else had a special Licence, under the hand and seal of Authority; which (yet) could not be regularly granted, without good security, and band, first given, as either attesting the consent of parents; or that the parties were no longer minors.

But how easie (I beseech you) and obvious (under favour of better judgements) was the remedy, against such hazards, Sect. 12 (without any such maim and deformity, as hath now followed) Thus; Nomina conju­gandorum per [...] trinundinum [...] ad ministeriu [...] Ecclesiastium publice denun ciantur. So [...] Hist. Eccl. l. c. 5. no marriage should be legally valid; nor any Minister might, at any time, marry any persons (without special License in special cases) but only publiquely; and this after three times publique asking in the respective Churches: to which either party belonged; This to be done, by no Minister, but such as is responsible, either as be­neficed and resident in a Living; or of a known good estate and integrity; under the penalty of losing his Living, forfeiting his personal estate, sequestring his lands; and (in some cases) of per­petual imprisonment; This publication so long before, is sufficient [Page 8]notice, and caution to parents and friends: And the severity of the penalty upon any Ministers offending, would be full as good security, as the putting of Matrimonial power, wholly into Justices hands; who are men too, and may have their temptations: The lay­ing aside of the Ministers Office in marriages, only upon this ac­count, seems like the project of cutting off the right hand or leg, to adde more united strength to the left; or the putting out the right eye, in order to see more acutely with the other.

Having answered this Objection; Sect. 13 There is another prejudice, which (with your leave) I must seek to remove; Object. 2 Namely this; That Ministers in this case of marriages, seeme very much to seek their own interest, either for profit or repu­tation, or both; Hoping, some benefit will accrew by such marriages; and getting hereby no small advantages, upon peo­ples love, and respects; while they would appear the only fit instruments to gratifie mankinde in those affections, and in that happinesse, which every one hopes and fancies to enjoy by their marriage.’

Some, Object. 3 with a supercilious spite, adde further; ‘That in vain doe Ministers seem touchy, and so concerned in this case of marriages; as lothe to goe lesse, or to be laid aside, when as the through reform­ing genius of this age (which is against leaving any horns or hoofs of the Beast) wholly against root and branch, is so sera­phically zealous, as it intends not only to pare the nayles, and shave the beards, but wholly to cut off the Antichristian hands and heads of all Ministers: yea and to hew in pieces this old Amalekite of the ordained Ministry; Their all-consuming Tophet is not only for diminishing, but quite extinguishing the order and succession of such Ministere; they burn, not only to mutilate, but utterly to an­nihilate the pretended power, peculiar office, and divine authority Ministerial in the Church; (how Christian, how Catholick, how ancient, how divine, how useful, how successeful and blessed soever it hath been.)

They have (it seemes) found out cheaper prophets, and more compendious wayes of piety; so that they are not only for taking down the old exalted brasen Serpent of the Ministry, but for the beating it to powder; and making that Nehushtan; which the godly simplicity of our forefathers (even from the Apostles time) for 1600 years ever esteemed as sacred, most Christian, and divine; the only ordinary means instituted by Christ, sent and setled in all the world, [...]phes. 4.11, [...]2. for the planting and watering, the propagating and preserving of the Church of Christ; Thus these Antiministeriall spirits.

First, Sect. 14 to the calumny of Ministers self-seeking in this point, [Page 9]I must answer as I lately did in the case of Ministers challenging that maintenance, which all Reason, Law, and Religion, Answ. 1 God and man, give them; which none but profane, covetous, and sacri­legious mindes, either envy, or seek to deprive them of.

That a grosse stupidity or carelesse indifferency doth in no sort be­come discreet Ministers in their civil and lawful concernments; it being no sign of sanctity, to forget humanity. 2. That many of these objecters who pretend to some Saintship, are yet so vigilant and intent to their secular profits and worldly preferments, that no Spider is more sensible of any Fly or prey that toucheth her cob­web snares. And Ministers hope they may (without blame or scandal) follow such examples, as daily teach them, that Religion is not alwayes straight-laced as to be wholly mortified with self­denyals. 3. That, in a case so honest, convenient, and comely, as this of Ministers officiating in Christians marriages, they doe not more plead for their own accustomed honor and advantages, than for the peoples, both ease, and benefit every way; who are gene­rally troubled, justly unsatisfied with, and much disaffected to the new way. 4. That since able and worthy Ministers, both as to their persons and their function, finde so many ignorant detractors and envyous enemies: also so few generous Patrons, and assertors in this or any other duty or priviledge of their function, they are forced to fly to the patrociny of Gods protection, to magnifie their office against false and detracting Apostates, and to make their publique appeals to right reason, order, justice, and religion. 5. That, however it should succeed in this point of marriages for the future with them, yet it very much becomes them, as men of learning, vertue, and courage; who have an eye beyond the fear or flattery of worms, (as in other things, so) in this of Marriages, to justifie their own former practice and judgement: Also to assert the honor and wisdome of your and their pious ancestors; who enjoyed more peace and happinesse in one year, or month, than hath been discovered in many last past; or may be rationally hoped for, in a century of following years; if they should be pregnant with monstrous novelties and mis-shapen productions: to the daily amazement of the world; more then the comfort, advantage, or improvement of any wise and sober Christians; that either dote not on bables, or are not scared with bugbeares.

2ly As to the Antiministerial menaces, Sect. 15 and destructive humors of some people, I answer; That the so famous, learned, and most de­serving Ministers of England, have indeed found by sad experience, the ingrateful mindes of some men, the cruel and implacable malice of others; who have so much of Nabal and Judas in them, that they grudge the Ministers of the Church of England so much as a cup [Page 10]of gold water; while themselves are ready to swallow (without scruple) whole Palaces, and great Cathedrals, goodly Mannors, and rich revenues, formerly given to, and enjoyed only by Church­men; That there is no doubt, but the drift of such All-devouring Reformers, (who are the greatest Factors for Atheism, profanenesse, and superstition) is to make the Ministers of this Church, as the filth and off-scouring of all things; that the pretious sons of Zion, who were heretofore comparable to fine gold, might be esteemed as earthen pitchers, Lam 4.2. What wise man sees not the doggednesse, of some men to be such, that they rather fawn on those, that can feed their bellies, then their souls? That either want of breeding, or depraved affections drive some people to such Scythian fiercenesse, that they have no veneration, or esteem of any mans learning, knowledge, vertue, gravity, wisdome, or piety; if they doe not (as in conscience they cannot) concur with their sacrilegious and in­jurious projects; who are therefore justly impatient of such able and worthy Ministers, as the Church of England formerly bred up, nourished, and honored; because these, as Eliah to Jezebel, or Mi­caiah to Ahab, doe most discover and upbraide, both by Scripture rules and holy examples, the exotick folly, the fanatick giddinesse, the grosse hypocrisie, the crying injustices, and endlesse madnesses of such Antiministerial intruders; who are never to be seen, on the self-denying part of Religion, being altogether for the Crown and Kingdome (as they call it,) nothing for the Crosse of Jesus Christ; still dreaming, as Zebedees sons, of sitting at his right and left hand, judging the Tribes of Israel; but never mean to tast of his bitter cup, or to be baptized with Christs baptism which was of his own, not other mens bloudshed.

These finding (to their great vexation) that hitherto they have got little or no ground against good Ministers, Sect. 16 either by writing, disputing, praying, preaching, or better living; yea that by the courage and constancy of godly and learned Ministers, their calum­niating folly is much discovered; and proceeds no further, (as to the Gangrene of popular credulity) so that they are looked upon (now) by all sober and unflattering Christians, as much inferior to their wonted excellent Ministers, as the Asses loud and harsh braying was to the singing and Musick of Apollo; It is no wonder, if their wrath grow fierce; if they meditate all extremities of insolent and superfluous malice, against true Ministers; could they but once be Masters of that power, which might answer their rage and despite; O what a sacrifice would those furious Jezebels make of the Priests of the Lord to their Baalims! But God and good men have hither­to preserved a remnant of grave and good Ministers, by keeping these curst cows with short horns; who are in nothing more concerned, [Page 11]than to leave Ministers nothing to doe, and nothing to enjoy; that so at last they may leave no true Ministers living, of a Catholick Ordination; of Apostolical succession; of Primitive authority; of duly tryed and approved sufficiency; But rather bring on a mendicant and mercenary race, of new stampt Teachers; of popular Prophets; Pagan Pastors; Plebeian peeces; sons of the Earth; creatures of the vulgar, unliterated, unauthorised, untryed, unhallowed, un­ordained by any due authority; who are to assert their new calling, title and places, not by pregnant abilities, by sober reasons, Scrip­ture grounds, Ecclesiastick custome, Primitive patterns, and dome­stick laws; but either by pretended inspirations and soft assurances of grace, (which no man can try in another) or with such argu­ments as those used, who came to take Christ; swords and staves; by tumults, faction, and sedition: who (thus initiated) must preach, pray, and act, not by Scripture rules, or moral precepts, or humane laws, or Ecclesiastical order, but by providences, events, successes, and interests; wherein their chymical heads, and hands are so very intent and busied, that they are alwayes (by a circle of self-preser­vation) either distilling piety into policy; or extracting policy out of piety; Seeking to turn Sion into Babel; or building Sama­ria out of the ruines of Jerusalem; And no wonder if those that af­fect a levelling self-exalting Magistracy, doe also affect a levelled and self-ordaining Ministery; whose necessitous meannesse may make them alwayes dependents; and their dependency may pay the tribute of Pulpit parasitism, and offering up the calves of their lips, more to man than to God.

But, as in all other main concernments, Sect. 17 (which relate to reli­gion, and conscience, life, and livelyhood, no lesse than credit and reputation,) the Ministers of England have hitherto found in great measure the merciful power of God, and the just protection of worthy men; So they have never been so partial to themselves, as to refuse any competent Judges; (not declaredly their enemies).

Also in this matter of marriages, they dare appeal, and doe hum­bly submit to, the impartiality, and prudence of your selves, and others; who now sit in the place and bear the name of Parliamen­tary power: Not doubting, but upon the recognition of the bu­finesse, your wisdome will easily discern, as the little and weak mo­tives to so great a change; so the grand inforcements of reason, civility and religion, which prevailed in the former establishment; which so required the Ministers religious assistance in the solemnity of marriages, among sober Christians, that none was legitimate or valid without them.

I know it is needlesse, Sect. 18 for me largely to suggest to Gentlemen of your knowledge and wisdome; How much in the lawful and holy [Page 12] marriages of Christians, the glory of the Creator is concerned; How much the sanctity of Christs Incarnation is to be remembred; How much the honor of Humanity is to be regarded; How much the exemplary modesty due to Civill and Christian Societies is to be maintained; How much the good and edification of the Church is to be tendered; How much need there is of grave instruction, of good exhortation, of holy admonition, of earnest supplica­tion, of solemn adjuration, and of comfortable benediction in the name of God; whereby to raise up the carnall mindes of peo­ple, from what is brutish and only natural or humane in mar­riage, to what is spiritual, Christian, and divine; Since no charms or bands can be too strong, and potent, whereby to ob­lige both parties to their duties; to ratifie so inviolable a con­junction; to keep their passions, and affections from all licenti­ous extravagancies; To bring them to reverence God and nature; to sanctifie his holy Name, in the allowed indulgences; To look with an holy regard to the great and eternal end of marriage, be­yond the momentary pleasure of the means; Fr. Bacons [...]ayes. to which, as my Lord St. Albans observes, the peopling of the world is most beholden.

Certainly there are so many marks of honor and holinesse, Sect. 19 by divine and humane authority, set upon the banner of marriage, in all ages among such as seared the true God, that they cannot but mightily sway the judgements and excite the conscience of wise and religious men; still to preserve the pristine veneration and esteeme of that so sacred and mysterious transaction.

As first, [...] 1. [...] 2. Gods immediate institution, with solemn declaration and divine benediction; who himself made the first match: He built, brought, and gave to man the first wife: In whose stead, first the fathers of families; afterward the Levitical Priests; now the Evangelical Ministers, are as the ordinary means and conduits to convey to Gods people divine benediction, and graces, in the name, according to the Word, and by the Spirit of the same God, the first Institutor of holy marriage.

In the paternal Priesthood, which continued till Moses his time, the holy Fathers of families were not only careful to have their children marry prudently as to estate and kindred, but also piously as to the true religion professed. So was Abraham for Isaac, [...]n. 24.3. [...]n. 27.46. so Isaac and Rebecca for Jacob and Esau; That they might in marrying enjoy the blessing of God, a means, Type, or Embleme of which was that of paternal and sacerdotal bene­diction.

2ly Among the Jews after the Mosaick Law, [...]st. 20. the light of Nature, and traditional Divinity (agreeable to the Scriptures, was so clear and convincing, as to the sanctity and solemnity of their mar­riages, [Page 13]that they esteemed it the holy Covenant of their God; Prov. 2.17. Mal. 2.14. Numb. 5. [...]. The trial of which in point of jealousie was to passe before the Priest, with solemn execrations; Not only the parents and friends be­stowed their blessings, verbal and real, by prayers, and gifts, but the Levitical Priest (and Congregation, as some learned men sup­pose) also added to the solemnity, by such forms of blessing, as were proper for that occasion, reciting (as other passages in Scrip­ture) so that Psalm. 128. which is the Psalm of marriage blessing, Psal. 128. used with other proper Scriptures in that office of marriage.

3ly In the New Testament, we read the beloved Disciple St. Sect. 21 John emphatically recording the presence and first miracle of Christ at a marriage; As if he would thereby teach Christians, Joh. 2. that conjugal love ought to be Christiened, before it be consummated: That our demeanor in those solemnities and festivals ought to be such as became Christs conversation; which certainly, was not only civil and social, but to some spiritual, and gracious advan­tage; That we can never expect a marryed estate should be blessed, or happy, unlesse Christ be there in holy duties, and to the best advantages of Piety: Nor now in his bodily presence (as then he was) but in his Deputies, Mat. 28.20 and Ministers, who are to supply Christs visible presence and external Ministry in his Church, to the end of the world: who, while he strictly confirms the Mosaick bond of marriage, by that prohibition against causelesse divorces; Those whom God hath joyned together, let no man put asunder, Mat. 19 6 intimates clearly, that the tyes of conscience in marriage and its comforts are so much the firmer, by how much God is most evident in their marriages, by the presence of his Ministers, with the Word and Prayer, invocating Gods grace, blessing and Spirit, upon the mar­ried parties in the name of Jesus Christ, the holy and only Spouse of the Church and all true believers.

4ly The Apostle St. Pauls judgement of the holinesse, Ephes. 5. [...] Heb. 13. [...] honorable­nesse and mysteriousnesse of marriage among Christians is such as doth evidently imply, that it is best begun in the fear of the Lord, carryed on with the love of Christ; and cannot in Christian so­ciety be worthily solemnized without some such modest, reverend and useful form, as is most comely for the occasion, and most tends to the edification of Christians; According to those general rules of Christian prudence, 1 Cor. 14. [...] which commands us to doe all things decent­ly, and in order; and to the Churches edifying in love. Also take care that all things be sanctified by the Word of God and prayer; 1 Tim. 4 5 Which are presumed then best done, when by the assistance of those mens gifts and piety whom God hath appointed in the Church for those ends, and who ought of all men most to give themselves to the Word and Prayer, for the Churches good, upon all occasions: [Page 14]and very justly upon this; as a businesse of civill and religious polity; which if honorable in all Nations, and sorts of people, what reason can be given, why among Christians any dishonor, and vilifying should be cast upon it; by making of sacred, only civill, and in some sense common profanenesse?

The Primitive practise, so far as we are by the writings of the Fathers, or others acquainted with the customes of those times, was such, as became the name of Christ and profession of Christi­ans; [...] 1.5. [...]deburg. cen­ [...] 2 de rit. [...]im. who were holy in all manner of holy conversation; And in this of marriage they were so devoutly solemn, that the superstition of after times by mistake raised Matrimony to an Evangelical Sacra­ment; properly so called; and so, only under the Ministerial au­thority and special power to consecrate it, as a great, and holy Mystery.

Baronius and others tell us, [...]. 1. Concil. [...]6. in the year of Christ 97. Euaristus Bi­shop of Rome, in an Epistle to the Africans, tels them, it was an Apostolical custome to have parents or friends consent, and the praying of the Church with the Sacerdotal blessing in marriages of Christians: if this be authentick.

So Anno Christi 174. [...]i. n. Sot. Platina tels us that it was as a Canon of the Church, that no marriages should be celebrated by Christians but with publique devotion.

I omit that of Justin Martyr in Epist. ad Ephesios, as of least credit. [...]n. Alex. [...]. l. 3. [...] 132. [...]s. ed. [...], &c. [...]tul. l. 2. [...]uxor. c. 6. [...] Dei men­ [...] quae Chri­ [...]vocatio! ubi [...]enta fidei [...] cripturae [...] one! ubi [...]itus refrigerium; ubi divina benedictio! &c.

Clemens a Presbyter of Alexandria (who flourished in the second century) advising women against the needlesse use of false hair, to augment their own tresses, and impose upon their suiters; urges this, as a grosse absurdity; that when in their marriage the Pres­byter or Minister of the Church, shall lay his hand on their heads, (as the custome then was) to blesse them; he shall rather touch, and so blesse the false hair and head of one dead, than of her living, and which he counts a reproach to God and man; urging that place that the head of the woman is the husband, and the head of the husband, is God: Intimating, That as they carefully use the du­ties of true Religion; so they should content themselves with the true ornaments of nature.

Tertullian also who lived in the beginning of the 2. century, after Christs birth, (in the Primitive, and persecuted times) dehorting his wife (in case she outlived him) from marrying to an unbeliever, useth these expressions, referring to the holy and comfortable manner of marriage, among Christians; That in such unsanctified and unblessed marriages with Infidels, there can be nothing sacred to initiate [Page 15]the mysterious solemnity; No mention of God; no invocation of Christ; no Scripture fuel, administred to maintain, and excite the light and heat of faith and divine love; no refreshings of the holy Spirit; no be­nediction in the name of God.

So he tels us, Lib. de pudic [...] c. 4. Occultae [...] conjunctiones non prius apu [...] Ecclesiam pro­fessae juxtamaechiam, & fornicatioren judicari periclitantur that secret marriages not publiquely professed and celebrated in the Church, are next to the scandal and shame of for­nication.

Again the same Tertullian, more clearly and precisely to my pur­pose; commending the happinesse of those marriages which are with pious and wonted solemnities celebrated in the Church of Christ: Thus; Cap. 9. L. 2. ad. ux. Ʋnde sufficiam ad enarrandam selicitatem eju Matrimonit, quod Ecclesiae conciliat, & confirmat obla­tio, & ob­signatum angeli renunciant, & Pater ratum haber [...] What words shall I use sufficient to set forth the feli­city of that Manrimony, or those matches, which the Church of Christ makes up; which (oblations) (i. e.) the joynt offering of prayers and praises to God, the reception of the holy Communion; and the charitable donations to the poor doe confirm; which the Angels (or Ministers) of the Church doe solemnly proclaim, being signified and sealed by mutual consent, which God the Father of all, (both in nature and in the Church) doth by his blessing ratifie or establish?

Upon which words Franciscus Junius, Fran. Jun. No [...] tae in Ter. L [...] cum, Quator [...] hic ponuntur conjugii. inter fideles elogia, &c. (one of the most learned Protestant Divines) thus paraphraseth in his notes upon Tertullian, Here (saith he) Tertullian expresseth four commendable things in the marriages of Primitive Christians. 1t They did not only fol­low the dictates of nature, but took the directions, and rule of the Church of Christ. 2ly They presented themselves (for so he explains oblatio) before the Congregation in the publique service of God, expressing their mutual consents, and enjoying the joynt prayers of the Church. 3ly The Ministers, (which are as the messen­gers or Angels of God in his Church) did with holy instruction, solemn benediction, declare the marriage vow, covenant, as in the name and presence of God. 4ly That they had from hence the comfort, and hope, that God their Father in heaven, blessed and con­firmed such orderly and consecrated marriages on earth.

Thus Junius: at once expressing his approbation of the ancient Christians custome; and of the best reformed Churches practise; agreeable whereto that in England was, as to the main, most exactly consonant.

St. Ambrose tels us, as the use of his times, in the the beginning of [Page 16]the fourth Century; [...]mb Epist. l. 9. [...] 70. ad! Vi­ [...]ium. Conju­ [...]um velamine [...]cerdotali & [...]nedictione [...]ctificari o­ [...]tet. That marriages of Christians ought to be sanctified by the Bishop or Presbyter in the publique Congregation; who put upon the Bride and Bridegroome a vail in token of modesty and chastity.

That they were wont to come to the holy Table or Communi­on Altar, who were to be marryed by the Minister.

That the marryed parties expressed their consent and love by a Ring given and received: [...]mb. de Insti. [...]rgi. c. 17. ( [...]tarihus tuis) [...]istit non [...]mmeo nuptia­ [...] &c. Amb. serm. 9. de Agnete. Annulo fidei suaesubarrhavit me Christus. to which the holy Virgin Agnes alludes, when he brings her in saying, that Christ Jesus had wedded her to himself with the ring of Faith, &c.

St. Austin, [...]ust. lib. de [...]no conjugal. [...] 18. In no­ [...]atium nuptiis [...]us valet san­ [...]tas Sacramen­ [...] quam foe­ [...]nditas uteri. in his Book of the Benefit of marriage, hath this excellent commendation of Christians modesty and sanctity in their marriages; That they much more regarded the holy Sacra­ment, or Mystery in it, than the natural pleasure of posterity by it. Nor doth he scruple oft to cal the marriages of the faithful an holy Sacrament, in the latitude of that sense which the word then did bear in the dialect of Christians. In his Tract of Faith and Works, thus he speaks; [...]e Bono Con­ [...]g. cap. 24. [...]. de fide & [...]eri. c. 7. In [...]vitate Domi­ [...], in monte [...]cto ejus, hoc [...] in Ecclesia, [...]ptiarum non solum vinculum, sed etiam Sacrament um commendatur. In the City of the Lord, in his holy Mount, (the Church of Christ,) not only the civil bond of marriages, but also the holy Mystery or Sacrament of it is commended; Namely by the holy regard Christians had to Christ; and the holy duties they used in the Church to sanctifie the name of the Lord in their marrying.

St. [...]rysost. in Gen. [...] in Ephes. [...]. Chrysostome in his Commentary on Gen. 2. and on the 5. ch. of the Ephesians, and other where largely, and after his manner, most eloquently sets forth the honor, duties, and sacred mysteries to be considered in the marriages of Christians; which he says, God from the first took care of, and which he commends, not as a na­tural or civil relation only, but as a sacred bond to us; and such as falls not more under the care of the civil Magistrate, than of the Minister of the Church; The one lookes to their age, estates and consents, as men; The other to their graces, and blessings, as Christians: The one considers the Citizens, which may thence arise to earthly societies; The other prepares them by prayer, institution and benediction for the polity of heaven, the new Jerusalem.

Synesius, who lived in the beginning of the fifth Century, Nicepho. [...] l. 14. c. 55 [...] Omnibus prae [...] dico, testatu [...] que volo, m [...] illam prorsi [...] deserturum n [...] esse, quam mi [...] & Deus ips [...] & leges, ips [...] sacra Theop [...] li manus ux [...] rem dedit. being by the choice of the Citizens of Ptolemais, and the consent of Theo­philus Bishop of Alexandria, designed Bishop of Ptolemais; Thus writes to his brother Euopius; excusing himself, as unfit for so great a dignity, and burthen; That (among other diversions of life, which indisposed him to that high Office) He was married; nor would he part with his wife, which God, and the laws, or Canons of the Church, and the holy hands of Theophilus himself had given to him.

The fourth Council of Carthage (Century fourth) testifies, that it was the ancient and usual custome for Parents, to expresse their consent to their childrens marriage, Carthag. c [...] cil. 4. can. Ʋsitatum es [...] ut ad testific [...] dum parentur [...] consensum spo [...] sus & spo [...] sa a parenti [...] in Ecclesia s [...] cerdoti bene [...] cendi offeran [...] tur. Socrat [...] hist. Eccl. l. 5 c. 5. by offering them to the Mi­nisters of the Church, that they might by them be publiquely blessed; when they were first examined touching their faith in Jesus Christ, and other articles of Christian religion.

So the Lateran second Council, Cant. 51. appoints marriages to be published with convenient delayes in the Church by the Pres­byter or Minister; that there may be no impediments when they are to be blessed and declared.

Isidore Bishop of Sevil in Spain, in the year 605. tels the custome of the Church in those dayes was, That the Bishop or Minister of the Church did alwayes blesse the marryed parties, after the ex­ample of God, at the first marriage, made between man and wo­man: That after the Priestly blessing, Isidorus Hi [...] palen. de of Eccl. l. 2. c. [...] Jam quod in ipsa conjuncti­one connubii [...] sacerdote ber [...] dicuntur, h [...]c Deo in prima [...] conjunctione [...] ­ctum. Hac [...] militudine fi [...] nunc in Ecclesia, quod tunc factum est in Paradiso. the parties were by a rib­band, white and purple coloured, wound about both their arms, as it were tyed together, in sign of their holy and inseparable band. That the Bridegroome also gave Ad perpetuam vinctionem & individuam con [...] gatorum societatem annulus spectabant. Scaliger de Arte Poet. a ring to the Bride, as a token of endlesse or eternal love, &c.

Zonar tom. 3. cals the whole celebrity of marriage in the Church, ( [...]) The Priestly consummating or consecrating of marriages, speaking of the marriage of Constantine and Zoes the Emperesse.

Thus holy Antiquity generally practised, especially among Christians turned from Heathens, whose customes superstitiously sacred, they raysed and improved to such solemnities as most became the honor of Christianity, which had the substance and truth of those shadows, which either Jews or Gentiles fancyed, Selden. ux. braical. 2. c. [...] Ritus benedi [...] ­ctionis sacrae ac celebrationis nuptialis a Ministro sacro peragendae usus obtinet, ac per plurima setula [...] nuit passim tum in Oriente tum in Occidente. as to things sacred or religious. All which, a Gentleman of immense learning, and no partial friend to the honor or interest of the Clergy of England, [Page 18]confesseth to have been the constant ( [...] and [...]) among all Eastern and Western Christians, Reformed and Pontifician, for many ages past, in the sacred celebration of marriages by the Ministers of the Church.

What the judgment of the Churches Roman communion is, Sect. 22 touch­ing marriage, [...]cil. Tride. matrim. [...]llar. Tom. 3. [...]. c. 2 & [...].33. as a Sacrament properly so called, sufficiently appears in the determination of the Tridentine Council, which Bellarmine and others indevour to assert, by proving (or rather supposing) three things, essential to a Sacrament, to bein Matrimony, 1. Di­vine Institution; 2. Divine significancy; 3. Divine grace conferred; And these, saith he, not so much to be considered in the first contract, or solemn celebration; as in the continued social union of man, and wise; which is sacred and inseparable, while they live as be­comes Christians; who thereby (as he tels us) represent the indis­soluble bond of love and spiritual communion between Christ and his Church; [...]hes. c. 5. (which St. Chrysostome makes rather a mystical Al­legory, than a Sacrament:) and obtaining hereby daily those in­creases and confirmations of divine grace, which saith the Cardi­nal are conferred upon such, as hold this sacred Covenant, or Mysterie and Sacrament, in a pure heart, and with a good con­science.

Certainly all those that are of the Roman profession, doe so ne­cessarily require the office of some Evangelical Priest or Minister, to consecrate, ratifie and blesse Christian Marriages; that without it, they must needs esteeme all conjugating but fornicating, and all posterity so produced, not to be beyond the reproach of Bastardy.

Now it no way becomes Christian charity so to study sides, Sect. 23 and factions in religion, as to multiply offences, to widen separations or inflame disaffections, by unnecessary differences; Truly I can­not but here freely confesse, That as it seems not only to me, but to far wiser and better judgements, a great disadvantage brought upon the Church of England, and the reformed Religion here professed, to remove and quite extirpate, (as the immoderation of some men have sought to doe at the expense of much treasure, many lives, and the best bloud of England) the ancient, and Ca­tholick order and government of a moderate and paternal Epi­scopacy; And herewith also, that regular ordination and succes­sion of Ministers, duly tryed, blessed and appointed to the ser vice of Christ and his Church by Bishops and Presbyters in the presence of the people; (which truly was a great desense of us, against the calumnies of those Papists, who were most bitter against us, either as Hereticks or Schismaticks; for it very much took off and blunted the edge of their malice, and heat of their disputes against [Page 19]us, while we were able to justifie an holy, and lawful succession uninterrupted, as to the Ministerial Office and power, residing in Bishops with their Presbyters; which since the Catholick pra­ctise and judgement of the Churches Christian in all places and ages, from the first primitive persecuted and most unsuspected times had joyned together, (agreeable to the divine pattern, the Aposto­lical precedents, all rules of holy order, and principles of right reason in government) It will never seem (to unpassionate men and times, who hope to gain nothing by the ruine of Episcopacy) either commendable, or except in cases of civill force and neces­sities, (as are pleaded for some few reformed Churhes) justifiable causlesly to divide Bishops and Presbyters a sunder, by a violent dissection, and voluntary tearing in pieces such a renowned Church as this of England was, which cannot but hold very much in the opinion of our adversaries to the questioning or annulling of all divine Office and authority in Ministers; and in the duties they perform.

In like manner here, as it must needs inlarge the breach, Sect. 24 so it cannot but further augment the scandals and reproaches, which will be cast upon us and our posterity (not only, as to Ecclesia­stical power and succession Ministerial: but even as to Civill ho­nor (and natural derivation;) while the Papists shall (to their great content) behold, how (much under the notion of further-re­formation) we degrade and abase the honor of this Nation and Church, not onely in the authority and succession of Ministers, (poorly tryed, and pitifully ordained:) but also of our persons and posterities; by withdrawing all sacred solenmity and benedi­ction from our marriages; prostituting them to plebeian loosenesse, and vulgar profanenesse, So that in after ages neither the spiritual nor natural succession, (either as Christians, or as men) will by the greatest part of the Christian world be counted as legitimate; if we have neither lawful Ministers ordained, for our spiritual Fathers, nor lawful Marriages solemnised for our natural parents: but both will be thought, by our adversaries, and reproachfully ob­jected against us as base and spurious.

The dishonor or prostitution of which, the best reformed Churches in all other Countries (as well as in England) were so careful to avoid by their confessions of doctrine, and by their Litur­gies, that they still sought by all means to preserve the reverend and holy esteeme of marriage by those Scripture forms and holy solemnities they appointed and used in the publique celebration of marriages by their Ecclesiastical Ministers onely; as at large ap­pears in the Dutch and French Liturgies, with others.

And however they did not come up to the Roman opinion, That [Page 20]Matrimony was properly a Sacrament; [...]rdus de [...]ug. pag. [...]. S. 462. [...]mnitius [...]m. Concil. [...]d. de matri. [...]. 256. Li­ [...]er aliquo [...] & Sacra­ [...]tum voca­conjugium; [...]praeclarius [...]ugustius Ecclesia de [...]gio & [...]endum & [...]endum mo­ [...]us. yet they owned it as a mysterious embleme, and in some sense a sacrament or honorable and holy sign of divine love, and Christs communion with his Church; whereto they were induced by the divine Institution; by the sacred allusions in Scripture speaking of Gods Espousing and marrying of his Church; by the Honor Christ conferred upon it; by the Apostles high expressions to the dignifying of Christians mar­riages as honorable, and their children as holy: Also by the judge­ment and answerable practise of pious Antiquity, in all ages of the Church; who perfectly abhorred the devillish opinions of those hereticks, Simon Magus, and his scholar Saturninus; the Gnosticks, Manichees, Tatianus, and others (of most profligate lubri­city) who denyed Matrimony to be of God; That it had nothing sacred or Christian; opus he­matrimo­reliquist is [...]em a scele­ [...]ssate. Salv. [...]ub. contra [...]games. [...]em. Alex. [...]: Tertul. de monogam. Iren. l. 1. c. 22. Just. de haeres. Jerom. l. 1. cont. Jovin. [...]ide deus pro rei honestate conjugio henedixit. Tertul. l. cont. Marcio. That it was from the Devil; and was but the necessity, sin and burthen of humane nature; against which Tertullian, Irenaeus, Clem. Alexandrinus, St. Austin, Jerome, and others of the Ancients justly inveigh, as against persons of profane spirits; and advancers of the doctrine of Devils, while they decryed and debased marriage; which saith Tertullian, God, foreseeing some mens blasphemies, providently blessed; to vindicate and perpetuate its honor against their reproaches.

Which not only the best Christians in all ages, Sect. 25 and the most famous Churches (as is evident) in all the world did with an high and holy veneration celebrate and sanctifie to the glory of the Creator, and of Jesus Christ their blessed Messias, their in­carnate Redeemer; [...]orf. Synag. [...]i. c. 38. but the Jews as of old times to this day look upon it, not only with civill, but sacred regards; Having not only signal espousals, [...] [...]utio de­ [...]atorum. [...]. [...]lictio con­ [...]orum. [...] 4 11. contracting or betrothing, by gifts, dowry, and writing declared before friends and parents; But they used, and use also holy rites and religious solemnities, which were per­formed in the assembly of ten at least, with blessings and thanks­giving to God by some person of prime honor and sanctity in the family, who herein sometimes acted, in the right and form of sacerdotal primogeniture, or as Father and Priest in the fa­mily.

The form of their espousals, marrying, and benediction; is still extant in the writings of the Rabbins; as Genebrard and others recite. Blessed be the Lord our God, King of the world, who hath created man after his own Image; and hath thereby prepared to him­self an everlasting building: Blessed art thou O Lord our God, who hast [Page 21]createed joy and gladnesse, the Bridegroome and the Bride, charity and brotherly love, rejoycing and pleasure, peace and security; We beseech thee O Lord let there be heard in the Cities of Judah, and the streets of Jeru­salem, the voyce of joy and gladnesse; the voyce of the Bride and Bride­groome; the voyce of exaltation in the Bride chamber, which is sweeter then any feast; and of children sweeter than the sweetnesse of any song. The company invited following the Master of the Feast, comprecated all blessings on them by that ( [...]) which was their usual form; wishing them the influences of propitious and good stars from heaven; And a learned Minister tels us, Plin. l. 3 de. Annu [...] ferteo sim Que sponsi [...] pignorasser [...] Annulum [...] nubum vo [...] Terrul. d [...] tu foem. [...] Locus ben [...] ctionis. Luk. 1. that the Bridegroome gave the Bride a Ring, (as the Heathens and Christians after did so:) with that Inscription, or Posie; These solemnities in marriages, among the sober and religious Jews were so sacred and signal, that the house where the celebrity was kept, was called, The House of prayse; the place of blessing: and persons marryed were said to be praysed or the blessed of the Lord: as Psal. 78.63. Their Virgins were not praised; which we translate, given in marriage; as the taking away of their reproach, was by bearing children; Agreeable also to our English form, these words were in the Jews marriage solemnly pronounced by the husband, when he took his wife; (as they are cited out of the Babylonick Talmud)

Be thou to me a wife according to the law of Moses and Israel; Esto m [...]hi [...] orem scci [...] legem Mo [...] Israel: [...] juxta verb [...] Dei colum [...] honorabo [...] lam & re [...] &c. Do tibi dotem virginitatis. I will worship and honor thee according to the Word of God (to which St. Peter 1.3, 7. alludes, Honour your wifes as the weaker vessels) I shall seed and govern thee, as those who worship, honor, maintain and govern their wifes faith­fully; I give thee fifty shekels for thy dowry; Also thy food, clothing, and necessaries; together with the kindenesse and custome of the whole Earth: Thus the Jews.

Yea the very light of nature and sparks of right reason, Sect. 26 [...]. Fboti. cod. de Alexan [...] nis. The Priests of Isis consecrated all their marriages to make them lawfull. Plat. l. 5 rep. F [...] augusationem, Sacerdotes, preces & facrificia. Veniet cum signatoribus auspex. Juv. sat. 10. Val. Max. l. 2. c. 1. Nuptits auspicia-interpomentus. Sigon. de jure Rom. l. 1. c. 9. Lactant. Just l. [...] [...]olla Me­ [...] perd. [...] l. 4. L. among the civilized and soberest Heathens, Greeks, Romans, made them both venerate the Creator, and humane nature in their marriages; as Plato relates; having many sacred and (as they esteemed) religious ceremonies; which their Augurs, Flamens, or Priests performed publiquely and solemnly with Prayers, Benedictions, Festivities, Sacrifices, farreations, im­molations, and the like; which they thought monitory of duty, expiatory of sin, defensatives against mifortunes; and propitiatory to obtain the divine favour of the Gods. They had their Sacra­ment [Page 22]of sire and water, which one touched, the other sprinkled; Their sacra (as they called them) in Spears, Crowns, Vails, Torches, emblemes of love, joy, and lusture and modesty; in the anoynting of the posts of the house where the Bride came forth (whence uxor is from unxor as Servius observes;) [...]rch. Q. quae. 87. neid. l. 4. [...]i ante [...], cui vin­galia curae. l. 4. Ae­ [...] They had a God and Goddesses special; as Genius attending and blessing marriage; Jugatina Juno, Diana, Suadela, Ciexia, Manturna, Hymen, and Viriplaca, in or­der to the peace, prosperity, and fruitfulnesse and gravity of mar­riage; intimating thus much, that (by Natural Divinity) they thought marriage sacred, [...]genium [...]nnere Juvenal. [...]ba Juno [...]. Ovid. and the blessings of it not to be obtained but from the God of Nature.

Thus the very Heathens that knew not the true God; who brought not onely the marryed parties to the Priests, Altars and Temples of their Gods; but they also brought the Images of their Gods into their Bride-chamber, as St. Austin observes, lib. 6. de Ci­vit. [...] 27. [...] sacri so­ [...] & pub­ [...]ore omni­ [...]entium in [...]ii con­ [...]tione [...]mur. Ge­ [...]s.Dei.

So that I cannot tell from what principle of Sanctity, Refor­mation, or Religion, that custome (which some would call sacri­legious) should be brought in among Christians; so as may strip marriage of all sacred initiatings and Christian solemnities; to de­grade the holy honor of it below what Jews or Gentiles ever did; or the Turks themselves at this day doe, who have such religious regard to marriage, Afric­ [...]ap. In noniis [...]hendis Pater filiam proco despondet; mox in Templumitur, &c. that they marry not but in their Temples, and with th [...] decoration of many Ceremonies, which among the Mahumetans are counted sacred.

I beseech you are we (now living) a more Angelick off-spring, [...] brysost. or more Saintly generation of men and women in England? Are we lesse brutish, sensual, libidinous, or licentious; Are men more sober and severe, as to native extravagancies and the impulses of inbred flames; that they should so easily dispense with the Churches prayers, the Ministers Institution, and the divine benediction, and rather bring in their old Fescennina or ribauldries, then use any divine service or orisons? Doe they now lesse need grave and holy counsel; strict and weighty charges; pious and Christian injunctions proper to such occasions? Doe they want nothing of direction, of comfort, of grace, of blessing; formerly urged and inculcated upon their mindes? Now not so much as mentioned, or suggested to their consideration or consciences; or if it be, (which is not usual with some Justices) yet it is for the most part after so insipid, consused, and rustical a Rapsody of devotion, as carries no great beauty of holinesse; no honor of religion or marriage: and m [...]ny times great deformities even as to common sense and ordi­nary [Page 23]discretion, or civility: And this in an age when men and women too, under pretence of Christian liberty are pleading for divorces; for plurality of wifes and husbands; for a ranting and fornicating Devil under the notion of spiritual freedome.

Which slight or slovenly fashion, either of meere Givil, Sect. 28 or but seem­ingly religious, celebration, all wise men judge to be far short of the Majesty and honor of Christian Marriages, in which God and Christ are so discernable: Being the greatest and most ponderous passage of our mortal pilgrimage: [...]. Naz. or. 19. [...]. Naz. Then which nothing should more ex­ercise the prayers and tears, the piety and devotion of good Chri­stians: Nor can indeed the sacred pomp, or holy parade of Chri­stians marriages, easily bee too rationally serious, or too religiously solemn, whereby to make deep and lasting impressions on the mindes and consciences of men and women.

Since in marriages is laid the foundation, or root of both humane and holy successions; of Christian families, States, and Churches; This is as the conduit and conservative of our reason, and religion; of learning and experience; of truth and faith; of all virtue and sanctity, either preceptive or exemplary, as divine Plato observes. To the fruit of our marriages, as our houses, lands, states; [...]. Cl. Al [...]. 3. c. 13 [...]. so our good examples, our commendable customes; our Religion, our God, our Saviour are to descend; and by these to be derived to after ages, when we are dead and gone; from their nursery hope­ful plants arise, which may know and worship and serve the same true God of heaven; and partake of the blessings offered to mankinde by the incarnate Messias; and who may after the ruine of their parents fleshly Tabernacles, [...]. Plato l. 6. de Leg. Elementum mundi & seminarium generis humani, Aeternitas quaedam & immortalitas humanitatis [...] Arist. oeconom. 1. still erect new and lively Temples for the inhabitation of the blessed Spirit. Now where I pray can the Type or Embleme of the communion between Christ and his Church be better celebrated than in the Church and Congregation; by the Minister of that Church, who is to them in Christs stead, and over them in the Lord?

How incongruous then (I beseech you) must it seem, Sect 29 to ordinary reason, to vulgar Divinity, and even to high shoe devotion, to see this so great mystery and momentaneous businesse of Christian Marriages, thus sorely circumcised, and sadly eclipsed, as to its wonted honour, and holy solemnity; That so large a Volume, in which are wrote either so many blessings, or so many curses, should be shrunk and rolled up, to such a poor Epitome; or bound up in a Lay decimo sexto? That this tree of life, which anciently stood [Page 24]and flourished in the midst of the Paradise or Garden of God, the Church fensed and adorned with both civil and sacred solemnities, should now, either be removed to the outsides, and skirts of civill and meer secular transactions, (as a plant rather profane, then sa­cred: and fitter to be placed in the circumference of State policy; than in the center of Ecclesiastical piety;) or else be represented, as the forbidden fruit, guarded by flaming swords, to which neither Minister, nor people may safely (as heretofore) have accesse, under any religious notion or Church form and holy solemnity, under great penalty, and peril. And all this, as may seem from a prin­ciple more of despight and affront to the learned and faithful Mi­nisters of this Church, than from any motive tending to the good and benefit of the people as men or Christians.

Which truly is never to be sought, by wise men, nor gained by weak or wilful men, in any wayes, so contradictory to Natural divinity; to Scriptural light; to divine precedents; to Apostoli­cal judgement; to Primitive practise, and Catholique custome in the Churches of Christ.

In all which, Sect. 30 I doubt not, but you as sober and religious Gen­tlemen, either are, or easily will be so satisfied, by your own reading the Scriptures, and other good Books (from which I take you to be neither strangers nor enemies, (as some sorry undertakers to reform, (before you) have been, who must ever expect from learned pens, either to be buryed in oblivion, or only to live in infamy); that you will never think it just or fit to sacrifice all those pregnant testimo­nies, important reasons, and imitable authorities of ancient times, to novel ignorance, Plebeian prejudice, or modern simplicity; And certainly if it were sit, (as some have, though but as bunglers en­devoured) to reform elder deformities in the Church; there is no cause why wise men should be scrupulous, or fearful to take away later spots, to supply new defects, or to remove recent inconveni­ences brought upon us: Which arose most what from new mo­delling shrubs: as far short of our fore-fathers Cedar-like emi­nency in all worth and wisdome, as gloe worms, or falling stars, and prodigious Comets are, of that glorious light and benign influ­ence which flows from the munificent constancy of the Sun, Moon, and Stars.

Having then with great preponderancy of reason and religion, Sect. 31 thus set forth to you, the weight, dignity, and sanctity formerly observed in Christian marriages, by the way of Ministerial instructi­on, comprecation, and benediction; as in other Christian Churches ancient and modern; so in this of England, whose wise and comely or­der in this point, neither as to expression nor ceremonies, merited so savere censures as the ignorance of some hypercritical Reformers put [Page 25]upon it; mending all by one blot or dash of severe abolition.

It will be (I suppose) lesse necessary for me to cast into the ba­lance of your judgement, the lesser and additional grains of civil and secular conveniencies, or inconveniencies; wherein you cannot but see, and daily hear from all parts, how much vexation, trouble, pains, defeats, charges, and incumbrances, are brought upon the people, by this new and exotick mode of marrying; far beyond what was formerly ever felt, while grave Ministers worthily officiated.

I may adde (without any injury) how in this new plantation the weeds of wantonnesse, licentiousnesse, petulancy, scurrility, le­vity, and impudence, grow up to great ranknesse in the mindes and manners of all sorts of people, which St. Cyp. de dis­& hab. virgi [...] num. Inter [...] nuptiarum tu [...] bas, contra [...] dicos & sobr [...] mores licenti [...] sibi de usurpa [...] one secerunt. [...] Lascivientiu [...] libertas, ser [...] [...]num colloqu [...] incesta misce [...] audiunt quod non decet: q [...] non licet dic [...] inter verba [...] pia & temu [...] ta convivia, bus libidinu [...] fomes accen [...] tur, &c. Cyprian long ago ob­served as ill weeds to grow too easily in such meetings, while they are not now as formerly either seasoned with any modest thoughts of religious principles; nor summoned to consider of any holy duties or purposes, becoming conscientious Christians; be­yond meer Heathens or brute beasts; Indeed there is little or no­thing usually now passeth, befitting so solemn vow and Covenant made for life, in the name and presence of the great God; But commonly the whole matter of marriage is made up in small cocks, by a Justice many times other wayes busied, or bent and designed; (who is sometimes lesse knowing in his Office than his Clark) With some brow and severity, he (good man) makes a shift to huddle over with hast, and impatience the pronouncing them man and wife, ac­cording to the power given him by a late act or ordinance; Fees are paid; and so Godbuy; (which I mention, not to reproach, or les­sen the honor of any grave and worthy Gentlemen, who being Justices of the Peace, doe in this what is injoyned them; as not very willingly, so not unhansomely; But to shew how poor and peddling a matter some make of Christians marriages.)

What grave and godly spectator or auditor will think this so quick, so short, so superficial a dispatch, as some use, Sect. 32 to be proportionate to or becoming the nature of that, which so highly concerns the bodies and estates, souls, and consciences, the temporal and eternal welfare of Christian men and women; which offers no occasion of holy meditation or prayer, such as Isaac entertained his soul with all before his bride and wife met him, Gen. 24. v. 33.

As in many other changes matter of wonder (if not astonish­ment) hath surprised grave and godly people in this Church of England; so truly in nothing more, than in this vertigo, or turn of the course of marriage; which having held forth so little, or no rea­sons, also producing so no advantage civil or sacred to the pub­lique; is thought (by many) would never have been done, by any persons, but such whose weaknesse sought to make a shew of [Page 26]strength, and activity, by safely trampling upon the dejected Mini­stry of the Church of England; for they appearing (in the effects which I have hitherto in vain attended, for any convenience or publick good, beyond the former comstitution) so little friends to the peoples conveniencies, by this change, they may easily seem the more perfect enemies to the Ministers honour and imployment, which is not the mote but the beam in some mens blinde or bloudshotten eyes.

Not that learned Ministers are so impertinent, Sect. 33 as to urge or al­ledge in this point of marriage, any precise precept of God, or parti­cular command of Christ; whereby to enjoyn them to this holy offi­ciating, or blessing, at the solemnities of marriages, as much as in those duties, properly divine, of Sacramental consecrations; and other undoubted offices of Religion: which require an authoratative, and duly ordained Ministery, no lesse, than all publique civil trans­actions, or Embassies do require Embassadors or Agents of publique cre­dence and authority: They well understand that Heathens or Jews were marryed before they became Christians, and had no after ceremony to renew or confirm their marriage, when they turned Christians; whence we conclude Matrimony no Evangelical Sacrament, because it may goe before Conversion, Baptism, and admittance into the Church; and yet be valid, and after consecrated by believing.

They well know, [...]ugium est & mulieris [...]nctio in luamvitae eiudinem [...]ens. Justi­Instit. that the (esse) or being of marriage (as Civi­lians define it) consists in the mutual consent, and individual communion of one man and woman, who may lawfully chuse and consent to live as man and wife; That the first root or spring is na­tural; (yet divine, as from the God of Laws and Nature;) Its rise and emanation is social (yet divine, as from the God of order and civil government;) Its highest sublimity and perfection is spiritual and mysterious; [...]consorti­ [...]ctissimum humani vini juris as. Mode­ [...]s de rit. [...]i.) Divine in the highest notion and degree; In all three regards marriages of Christians are to be highly reverenced, in nature, in policy and in piety; So then, in order to the (bene esse) well being, of marriage, wherein decency, honor, edification, good example, sanctity, holy undertaking the duties, and happy enjoy­ing the blessings of that estate, (all which must come from God) are to be regarded; [...]nsus ma­nialis ma­ [...]nium con­ [...], quoad [...]entiam; blicatio [...]ebet, prop­ [...]blicam [...]am, & Ecclesiae [...]. Gerard. e Cyp. Presbyter nuptiis interesse debet, ut cum Dei Be­ [...]one eorum consortium adjuvet in omnem sanctitatem. Concil. Brit. H. Spel. pag. 462. An. 940. [...]nem felicita [...]is plentudine in promovebit. the publique prayers and sacred solemnities of the Church, are as far necessary, as comely clothes and handsom houses are to civil societies; And as Christian conversation is ever necessary for those, that professe to live in the pale of the true Church, where all things ought in prudence and conscience to be done, to the glory of God, to the honor of the Gospel, and the edisication of others.

All which ends are undoubtedly best advanced by such celebrati­on of marriage, as the Church and Parliaments of England had ex­cellently setled after the manner of the best Primitive and reformed patterns, wherein there was most seen of Gods presence in his word and worship, in the gifts and graces of his Spirit. All which are as eminent in the former way of Ministers officiating, as they are now diminished and vanished, in this new and naked way; wherein so little is to be seen of private blessing, and publique benefit: of Gods glory, or the Churches honor.

Certainly, if it would seeme very grievous to Bridegrooms and Brides, to be denyed the use of their best clothes, their richest orna­ments and Jewels, which God permits, Ephes. 5.8. Apoc. 19.7. and Scripture alludes to as tokens of divine bounty; as emblemes of mans dignity, and me­morials of inward graces, adorning the soul: If it were a ridicu­lous tyranny to compel any people to be marryed, Ezek. 16.10 in their Gibeonitish garments, in filthy rags, or mean and slovenly apparrel, (Such as Joseph and Joshua had, till God changed them) how much more may it justly seeme a dehonestation, indignity and affront, put upon Christians in their marriages, to strip them of all those grave, reli­gious and comely adornings, which were allowed and appointed both for poor and rich in this Church; by persons that had more fear of God and reverence of man, than those may seem to have had, who were the contrivers of this desolation which hath stripped and plundered marriage of all its Primitive Jewels and ancient orna­ments of piety, holinesse and devotion?

No wonder then if Ministers and other sober Christians looking upon Marriages as now among Christians under the generall rules and directions of order, piety and prudence, which God hath given all civill societies, and specially to this Church; do humbly con­ceive the former use and custome of solemn and Religious celebrati­on of Marriages by Ministers, had far more pious, and prudenti­all grounds for order, decency and edification, then can be alledged against it, or for any change of it. Besides, the Lawes and constitu­tions of the Nation were added to the Churches custome, which was agreable to faith and good manners; which ought to have been sacred and inviolable to peaceable Christians (as St Paul intimates 1 Cor. 10.) unlesse they had potent objections against them, or offered something better in lieu of them; which yet hath not been done; whereby to justifie the perverting their course of Marriages from the Temple to the Hall, from the Sanctuary to the Grange, from the Pulpit or Desk to the Market Crosse, from the Mini­ster to the Justice, which is to take off those Crownes and Gar­lands, wonted (as St. Chrysostome well, in Gen.) to be put on the heads of Married couples, at the day and solemnity of their Marri­ages, [Page 28]ages, and to make them appear as with shorne and shaved heads, which is a shame for Man and Woman too, as the Apostle, 1 Cor. 10.

But I shall not need to intimate further any such suggestions to your wisdome, who I believe well know how to distinguish between gold and copper, between the Idoll of power, and the God of reason, between the Teraphim of policy, and the Cherubim of piety, between the Galves of Bathel, and the Altar at Jerusalem, between the childish babies of passionate novelty, and the stately statues of Masculine pru­dence and venerable antiquity.

I only thus far thought it my duty (who am as little as any man concerned in this, Sect. 35 as to private interest, and as much as any, as to publick happinesse) humbly to present to your more ordinate power, more tempered spirits, and more discerning judgments, what is not only my private sense (which I do not think you or any men have cause much to regard) but what is the generall sense of all sober and impartiall Christians in England, who have serious regard both to the honour of the present age, and to the benefit of posterity; who all think, that the late change of Marriage, is like turning Christs wine again into water, or giving it such a dash of water, as takes away the taste of the good old wine, which was much better; that it is as much short in life, spirit and vigor of the former grave, solemn and godly way, as the purifying liquor in the Jewes waterpots was, of that generous wine which Christ miraculously furnished to the Wedding of Cana in Galilee.

And truly it will be not much short of honoring Marriage with a new miracle, Sect. 36 if your wisdome and authority can change the late watery Ordinance of Lay-marrying, into the wine of former pious and Christian solemnity; which did as with the right hand of blessing, with a cup of salvation, as much cheer the spirits of Married cupples, by grave counsell, holy comfort, Scripture promises, devout prayers, and divine benedictions, as this last left-handed Act hath damped and quenched them, as to Religious joyes and Christi­an duties, which ought not (like the Fidlers and Ministrels which Christ turned out of the Chamber of the dead) be excluded from the Weddings of Christians, who are commanded to marry and to be merry only in the Lord.

If what I have in this Epistolary Tract alledged of reason and Religion in the case of Marriages, Sect. 37 may take place upon your un­derstandings, I doubt not, but you have conscience and courage sufficient to reprobate the late la [...]ck or rustick novelty, and to restore the pristine Ecclesiastick sanctity of Marriages here in England.

If you do not discern the weight of these reasons, Sect. 38 both pious [Page 29]and prudentiall, which I have produced with all plainnesse, and with all due respect presented to you; or, if for some unreasonable reasons of State you think it not fit to own and follow them, (so as to make any just revocation or restitution) yet you will give me leave not to despair of your ingenuity and honour, so sar, as to excuse my boldnesse for interrupting you; which I beseech your noblenesse and candor to interpret (as it is) a fruit of my plain hearted Parrhesie and integrity; who in great changes, and publick concernments (wherein men of my calling are made only spectators or sufferers) cannot (yet) learn how by a servile licence, to smother my sense of what I thinke dangerous or inconvenient; nor my ap­probation of those excellent things, which were long since justified by the consent and suffrages of many persons and Churches, fa­mous for their learning, godlinesse and wisdome; Least of all do I know how to flatter or comply with any imperious novelty, to the disgrace of primitive verity; which is, and I hope ever shall be the measure of all the counsels, endevours and actions of

Your humble Servant in the Lord John Gauden.
[...]. Solennis in Atheniensium nuptiis cantilena.Emendate ergo ecclesiae regulam, damnate qui in toto or be sunt sacerdotes, nuptia­rum initia benedicentes, consecrantes & in D. imysteriis sociantes. De concupis. Scripturn anno Christi 400. l. 3. p. 210. editum a Sirmondo, 1643.Luculentum sade de p [...]is o Benedictionis nuptialis, sacrerum (que) ad muptias spectantium usu in Christian [...]mo testi­monium. Selden. uxor Ebr. l. 2. c. 28. p. 301.
FINIS.

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