A VINDICATION OF CONFORMITY TO THE LITURGY Of the Church of ENGLAND. In a Letter, Written to a Person of Quality, wherein satisfaction is given to certain Queries suggested by a Non-Conformist.

YORK, Printed by Stephen Bulkley And are to be sold by Richard Lambert, 1668.


Joh. Garthwait, Reveren­dissimo in Christo Patri, ac Dom. Dom. Richardo Archiepis. Eboracensi, à Sacris Domesticis.

Queries of a Non-Con­formist.

WHether our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, as he is God and Man, he not the sole, Supream Legislator to his Church and People in things concerning the Worship of God; insomuch, that what ever externall exhibition of the Worship of God, as to the whole, or such part of it as was not in use in the Prophets, our Sa­viours, the Apostles dayes, not for above three hundred years after our Lords Ascen­sion, neither is any where in the sacred Scriptures appointed by our Lord & Masiers command, or example to be used in Pub­lick, and is so far from having his Royall [Page]Stamp upon it, that as to some parts of it, it is plainly insufficient (considered as a means) to effect that which it is appointed for? whether such a Publick Worship of God, with 'its Liturgie, and Rubrick, ought at all to be used in the Churches of Christ in these dayes of Reformation, or Restoration of Conformity?

2. Whether the enjoyments of such a Publick Worship, ut supra, with that strictness, that unless that Worship be used, there must not be any other Worship of God be used, be it never so Scripturall, and Orthodox? whether this be not a making this Worship an Essentiall part of Gods Worship, and an adding to Gods Word, so solemnly forbidden in Deuterono­mie, and Revelation?

3. Whether if I assent, and consent to the use of that Worship, Liturgie, and Rubrick? Whether I doe not so far set up an other Power in co-ordination to my Law-giver, and Judge, who is both God and Man? Yea, Whether I doe not set [Page]up another Power above Him, if I doe as that Power enjoynes, rather omit, or curtall that I know for certaine my Lord and Master enjoynes, than leave one word un-read of that manner of Worship a For­raigne Power enjoynes? Whether thus do­ing, is not such a pleasing of Man, as declares I am no true servant of Jesus Christ?

4. Whether it be not a transgression of my Commission given me by my Lord and Masters own mouth, in Mat. 28. ult. and penult? whether it be not in some sence a bidding him keep his Gifts, and Spirit he hath promised, keep them to him­selfe, I am furnished with a manner of Worship which I can carry on, without his, or his Spirits help, or any extraordinary gift?

Whether by Assenting, and Consenting, ut supra, I doe not incurr the curse threat­ned against Adding, or detracting from the Word of God, and from the word of [Page]that Prophet spoken of by Moses, and Paul?

Whether by Assenting, and Consenting, ut supra, I doe not recidivate from being a faithfull Witness and Asserter of my Lord and Master his sole Supremacy, ut supra? And whether I doe not hereby render my selfe plainely without excuse, when he, at that great day, shall say, Who required the Exhibition of such a wor­ship at thy hands?

Good Madam,

I Intended, before this time, to have performed my promise to your Ladyship, in sending you a word or two concerning that Pa­per, which a Divine presented to your Mother. I told you at Horn— by Castle, that much having been written by Learned Men of our Church concerning this Argument, (which it is supposed any Minister in this Nation, that desires cordi­ally to imploy his Talent▪ in his native Country to Gods glory, and his Country-mens advantage, will not neglect to peruse) the best course would be for a Person un­satisfied, [Page 8]after the Reading of such Writings, (Hookers Ecclesiasticall Politie, Arch-bishop Whitgifts Re­ply to the Admonition, Masons Ser­mon of Conformity, Bishop Sander­sons Preface, &c.) to debate mat­ters calmely with some Divine of a contrary perswasion, especially with some Learned Bishop, who by verball conference may possibly give the dissenting person that sa­tisfaction, which by Reading he cannot yet procure: If (till op­portunity offer it selfe of better assistance) any weak endeavours of mine might contribute any thing to the settlement of this Gentleman, I should be very ready to communicate unto him the ground of my own submission [Page 9]to the Church Government now established among us, and to hear him produce the Reasons of his dissatisfaction: If he shall be able by any convincing Arguments to prove, that our Church enjoyneth any thing contrary to the will of the Supreme Legislator, I hope that nothing that I enjoy at this time in it, shall be an impediment unto me of embracing his convictions, and bearing a part of that Cross, which many of his perswasion would have the world think, that they take upon them for the cause of Christ.

'Tis possible the Gentleman may have more to alledge in dis­course, than he has expressed by writing; otherwise I much mar­vaile, [Page 10]why he should think him­selfe warranted to suspend his ex­ercise of such gifts as God hath given him, and the pursuit of that high Calling, unto which I sup­pose him Legally advanced, by reason of the present settlement of our Church.

For first, (in reference to his first Querie) We all readily acknow­ledge our Lord Christ the Su­preme, and sole Law-giver to his Church in all the substantialls of his worship and service: But yet we deny that it doth hence fol­low, that no circumstances of ser­ving God are left to the Judge­ment of the present Church. The holy Scriptures are a sufficient rule of Faith, and manners; and we [Page 11]abhorr that distinction of the Pa­pists, of the Word of God, into Traditionall and Written. We cheer­fully beleeve all things necessary for us to beleeve, and doe, to be contained in those holy Books of the Old and New Testament, as ap­pears by the sixth Article of our Church: And yet when God was pleased to afford us the succour of supernaturall Revelation, in the grand Mysteries of our salvation, We do not beleeve that he forbad us the sober use of Reason; the giving a greater light was not in­tended for the extinction of the lesser, but to offer unto us the help of Divine assistance, in things that naturall reason is altogether blind in; the eye of humane rea­son [Page 12]is dimme in discerning naturall and Morall things; altogether blind in Divine. We give there­fore no licence at all unto reason, to contradict the revealed will of God in his Word. The sacred au­thority therefore of supernaturall truth being advanced to that pitch of unquestionable dignity, that where it speaks clearly, there no exceptions of Men, or Angels are permitted to interpose, and con­trole what is there spoken; what should hinder a single Person as far as his liberty is not restrained by his Superiours? much less a Nationall Church publiquely to manage the worship of God, after those Methods, which reason, assi­sted by Divine light shall judge [Page 13]most advantagious for the edifi­cation of Christian Assemblies? Doth not our Saviour ask the Jews, Why, even of themselves, they did not judge what was right? Luk. 12.57. And doth not St. Paul send us to the School of nature, to learne, what haire best becomes the Masculine Sex? 1 Cor. 11.14. What then, though there be nei­ther express precept, or example for that Liturgy, which is now im­posed upon the Ministers of the Church of England, in the Writings of the Apostles, or Prophets? Must we presently judge our conformity unto it unwarrantable, though no sound Reason can be confronted unto it, either in the Bulk, or in the Parcels? What Argument can [Page 14]Reason produce, why the people of God being assembled together, the Priest should not compose their thoughts to lowly reverence, and penitentiall devotion by some of those pertinent Sentences of Scri­ptures, wherewith our Liturgy be­gins? What reason can be urged, why an humble Confession imme­diately following, a comfortable Absolution should not be pronoun­ced by them, to whom the power of the Keyes is committed, and whose very Orders were given them, with those words of our Sa­viour, Receive thou the holy Ghost; Whose sins thou remittest? &c. Can well enlightned reason pleade any just cause why a competent porti­on of the Psalmes should not fol­low? [Page 15]and then Lessons out of the Old and New Testaments, with Hymnes between, either out of the Scriptures, or conformable unto them? The rehearsall of the Creed standing, one would think could offend no man, that sees every Article founded on Divine authority if he be resolved to stand to his Faith. And the Antiphones, or Re­sponses of the people, if they have not sufficient grounds from the Hymns of Moses, and the Answer of Miriam, in the 15th. of Exod. and the Song of Deborah and Barak Judg. 5. Nor the singing of the people by course, Ezra 3.11. yet are as ancient as Greg. Nazianzen To be sure, if the Liturgy of Saint James, St. Basil, and St. Chrysostom [Page 16]should be granted to be spurious. Nay, Pliny, in that famous Letter of his to Trajan, saith, That the Christians did, Carmen Christo quasi Deo dicere secum invicem: that is, Sing an Hymn to Christ, as a God, by course. This could not be long af­ter St. Johns time, for he lived (as St. Hierom writes) to the Reigne of Trajan. St. Basil the great lived in the fourth Century, about the 70th. year; and he mentions a Me­thod of devotion, consisting of al­ternate Versicles, as appears by his 63. Epistle to the Church of Neo­caesarea; The people (saith he) with us, riseth betimes, after night, to the house of Prayer, and making Confessi­on to God with pains, and tribulati­ons, and distress of tears; at length, [Page 17]rising from Prayers, fall to Singing of Psalmes; [...]; that is, And now being divided into two parts, they Sing by course, an­swering one another, thereby both cor­roborating the meditation of the Di­vine Oracles, and administring to themselves attention, and indistracted vigilancy of heart.

And that this was no private Institution of his own Church, ap­pears from what he presently sub­joynes in the same Epistle, If for this cause (saith he) ye forsake us, ye will, together with us, forsake the Egyptians, ye will forsake the inha­bitants of both the Libia's, the The­bans, [Page 18]Palestines, Arabians, Phaeni­cians, Syrians, and those that live upon the River Euphrates, and in a word all, amongst whom watching, and supplications, and common Psalmody are in request. If it be urged, that none of these things were in use before three hundred years after our Lords Ascention, the contra­ry appeareth from the fore-men­tioned Epistle of Pliny; and more­over, it may be replyed, that some of them were in use more than three times 300. years before his birth; for the 92. Psalme is a set forme appointed for the Sabbath day, as it appears by the Title; and how well our Saviour, that had the Spirit without measure, ap­proved those Formes, to which the [Page 19]Synagogue was accustomed, may appeare, by his use of them in his Agony, and Passion. For he was pleased to express himselfe twice in the words of two Psalmes, as is evident, by comparing the 22. Ps. ver. 1. with the 27. of St. Mat. ver. 46. and the 31. Psalme, ver. 5. with St. Luke 23. ver. 46. so that our late Annotator on the Psalmes hath duly hence inferred, That no Tongue of Men, or Angels, can in­vent a greater heighth of Encomium, to set out the honour of any Writing, or give us more reason to lay up in our minds the words of the Martyr Hip­politus, That in the dayes of Anti-Chrict, [...]: that is, Liturgie shall he extinguished, [Page 20]Psalmody shall cease, Reading of the Scriptures shall not be heard. In which three, as the publick Service of God, was by the Ancients thought to consist; so the destroying of all, and each of them, must needs be a branch, if not the whole body of Anti-Christi­anisme, a direct contradiction to Christ, who by his prescription, or practice of each of these, imprest a sacred Character on each. See Dr. Hammonds Preface on the Psalmes.

By this it appears how remote from Truth that speech of the Que­rist is, That our Liturgie is so farr from having our Lords Royall Stamp upon it, that is is plainly insufficient, (considered as a means) to effect that for which it is appointed. For the designes of the Liturgie are to car­ry [Page 21]on the worship of God, by pre­scribing set Formes of Prayses, Thanksgivings, and Celebration of the Sacraments, &c. in such a de­cent method of devotion, as may become the solemne Worship of that great God, to whom no ser­vice is to be presented, but that which is reasonable: The repre­sentative body of the Church of England, hath thought this Litur­gie now enjoyned, suitable to these ends; if any particular member think otherwise, Reasons should be alledged, not bold asser­tions Dictator-like concluded.

What the Querist means, when he asketh Wether such a Publick Worship of God, with 'its Liturgie, and Rubrick, ought at all to be used [Page 22]in the Churches of Christ in these dayes of Reformation, or Restoration of Conformity, I can scarce under­stand. The Liturgie is the same, in effect, that it was at the first Re­formation, that happily was brought to pass by the pious en­deavours of our Ancestors, in King Henry the 8th. King Edward the 6th. and Queen Elizabeths dayes; If any thing contrary to Gods Word, and disagreeable to the Judgement of the Church Uni­versall be delivered, and enjoyned to be assented, and consented un­to in the Bulk of this Liturgie, 'tis not, I confess, fitting for dayes of Reformation, for it will carry 'its deformation manifestly in those im­posed corruptions. But because no [Page 23]particular instances are alledged, wherein the unsoundness of the Liturgie doth appear, I beleeve this to be nothing, but a rash surmise, voyd of all firme foundation, to pitch a foot on. The Book hath been sifted, and searched over, and over; and when the Classicall Bre­thren in Queen Elizabeths time, that were not so mad as to cast off all set Formes, opposed themselves against that Forme, that was Le­gally in force, that is, for sub­stance, the Forme that is now Ena­cted amongst our selves, they were quickly convinced, that the fault was rather in their own intemperate heate, than in any errors reteined in the Service Book. They com­plained (foure Classes of them) to [Page 24]the Lord Burleigh, ('tis possible, that Assent, and Consent were too hard meat for their squeasie Sto­machs:) That Lord enquired, Whe­ther they would have all Liturgie taken away? They said, No. He required them to make a better, that might take place, upon the removall of what was settled. The first Classis framed one, com­plying with the Genevah Forme. This the second disliked, and al­tered in 600. particulars. That again had the hard fortune to be quarrel'd by the third Classis: And what the third resolved on, by the fourth: And (as a Learned man saith) The dissenting of those Brethren, as the division of Tongues at Babel, was a faire means for keep­ing [Page 25]that Tower then, from advance­ing any higher. Vide, Vindication of the Liturgie, pag. 3.4.

What the Gentleman means, by dayes of Restoring Conformity, I can but adventure to divine, I re­member that there was a Clause in the beginning of the Scotch Co­venant (illegally imposed by men in usurped power, and taken, rashly by the ignorant, because they thought it lawfull; and cowardly by the fearfull, that loved their integrity less than their temporall concernes) wherein the Covenanter engageth, To endeavour the Refor­mation of the Church of England, and Ireland, in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government, accord­ing to the Word of God, and the ex­ample [Page 26]of the best Reformed Church­es. Perhaps the Querist hath some Church in his eye, unto which we cannot be conformable, whilst our Liturgie shall stand in force; had he named that Church, we might have enquired, whether our Church hath not as good Reason, to be exemplary to it, as to tread after it. They that have travel'd in this enquiry, will tell us, That they judge the Church of England to be the Eldest Daughter in all the boundaries of the Reformation, and as Orthodox for Doctrine, and so­ber for Discipline, as any Church, since the first Ages. Mr. Durel, who was Minister above eight years in a Protestant Church of France, will assure this Querist, [Page 27] That in France, and Genevah, set Formes are enjoyned. That a Tigu­rine Minister was questioned at Genevah for officiating in the Ger­mane Church there, and not re­hearsing (as 'tis appointed) the Creed, after the Morning Service. The same Person afore-named, now Minister of the French Church at the Savoy, relates a passage of a Letter sent to him, by the Learn­ed and eloquent Mounsier Martell; the words in English are these, I wonder to heare, that some are found in England, that are altogether a­verse from any set Formes of Li­turgie, to be observed generally one, and the same in all the Kingdome; among us, it is no where permitted, to reject the use of the Liturgie, [Page 28]which was made by Calvin, &c. in­deed for Calvins Liturgy, we leave it to those that like it. But his rea­sons for a Liturgie are so binding, that I know not what can be al­ledged more convincing. These are his words in our Tongue, which he Wrote in a Latine Epi­stle to the Protector of England in King Edward the sixth his dayes: As touching the Forme of Prayers, and Ceremonies of the Church, I ap­prove very much, that it be Set; and that it be not lawfull for the Ministers to recede from it in their Function, as well to help the simplicity, and unskilfulness of some, as that the Ʋniformity of all the severall Con­gregations may appeare: And finally that the desultory, and capricious [Page 29]lightness of such as affect Novelties, may be encountred, and stopped.

2. The Gentlemans second Querie is, Whether the Injunction of that Worship, to the exclusion of all els, unless that be used, be not to make it an essentiall part of Gods Worship, and an adding to Gods Word, forbid­den in Deuteronomy, and the Reve­lation?

To Preach God Word, and dis­pence his Sacraments; to make Prayers, Supplications, and give thanks for all men, are Essentiall parts of Gods Worship. But to performe these duties, after such a manner, at such Forms of words, and with such Vestments, are but cir­cumstantialls, left in the power of [Page 30]the Church, by that generall rule of St. Paul, 1 Cor. 14.10. Let all things be done decently, and in order. I would faine see this, or any other person, pretending the pleas here alledged, undertake the perfor­mance of the Service of God in such a Scripturall manner, that might secure him, against as strong exceptions, nay far stronger, than are here made against the Publique Liturgy by this Querist.

I suppose he would come into the Assembly clad with some gar­ment or other. For (though Saul Prophesied naked; and the Ada­mites think it their perfection to appear at their Meetings unappar­relled, yet) few are so Fanatick as to think those examples obliging [Page 31]others to a conformity. He can­not approve a Surplice, perhaps; May not another pleade as much against a Gowne, or Cloak, or Cas­sock: If a white Surplice be no where commanded, neither is a black Gowne; If not to kneele at the Communion, neither to sit, or stand, is a precept in the sa­cred Text. If the established Or­ders of the Church are not to be received, because they are no where commanded by express in­junction of Scriptures; the Non­conformists to the Church must permit us, to be such to them­selves, untill they can act upon the warranty of that Word, which they say gives no allowance to us.

[Page 32] But let us heare how the Ser­vice of God must be carried on when the Congregation is met; Although the Common Prayers may not be used, perhaps because a Forme; perhaps because com­manded; yet I suppose the Que­rist would pray after his own fa­shion. If the Service be a Forme, such will be his to those that are to joyne with him: And if it be urged, that by the contrivance of his Forme, his gifts are exercised: May I not reply, that these are the gifts of the Church in the Prayers authorized by our Governours. The Church forbids no man the imployment of his Talents. At their Ordination, all Ministers are very powerfuly exhorted there­unto. [Page 33]But we have a cleare Text, That the Spirits of the Prophets, ought to be subject to the Prophets, 1 Cor. 14.32. That we ought to obey them that have the rule over us, Heb. 13.17. That all things ought to be done decently, and in order, and common sense teacheth us, that where there is no subje­ction, there can be no order. 'Tis certain also, that the Canon of the Scriptures is sealed, that no man can pretend to such speciall Reve­lations, that what he shall utter, must conclude the Church as powerfully as if the Prophets, or Apostles spake. The best gifts in men, not exempted from carnall infirmities, may be abused. One may be zealous, and want know­ledge; [Page 34]another may be compe­tently knowing, and want humi­lity. Ambition, and Covetousness, and Pride, and Rebellion have stained the gifts of many, in our late remembrance, that might otherwise have done (though not so much service to the Church as themselves supposed) yet less mis­chiefe than through their mis-im­ployment she hath sustained. By reason of these defects, what hath our Church suffered? whilst one was for a Classis; Another for a gathered Congregation; A third against Paedobaptisme; A fourth against Monarchy, and yet all (would we credit them) for Christ. When these had Preached their severall Sentiments, they concluded [Page 35]their Harangues with Prayers a­greeable to their respective judge­ments; and the Auditors that heard them must either with their Amen to such wild devotions, seal contradictions, or stand upon their guard, to pick and choose, where to joyne issue with those incohe­rent ejaculations, which (in defiance of all Authority of the ancient Church) must be obtruded upon the world, as the Dictates of the holy Ghost.

But 'tis alledged, That to enjoyn a set Forme, so as not to suffer any parts of Gods worship to be car­ryed on without it, though never so Scripturall, seems to make an addition to Gods Word, forbidden in Deut. and the Rev. nothing less. [Page 36]For here 'tis to be noted, that some things are absolutely good, as, the Love of God, and our Neigh­bour, the believing of the Articles of the Christian Faith, praying to, and praysing of God, &c. And then, some things are absolutely sinfull, and wicked; as, all the violations of the Moral Law, and the discredit of any thing commended to our beliefe, under paine of damnation. But then, some things are of an indifferent, and middle nature, neither of themselves obliging us to the use, or refusall of them; but are left unto us, under our Christian Li­berty, to be either forborne, or im­ployed, as our selves shall think fit­ting, under no restrictions, till our Superiours limit us, but that of [Page 37]the Apostle, Whether ye eate or drinke, doe all to the glory of God; And let us follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one way edifie another, 1 Cor. 10.31. Rom. 14.19. of this kind are the words, wherein we present our supplications to God, the time when, (the Lords day excepted,) and the place where, the Garments, in which we Pray unto him: Which circumstan­ces when the Church determineth, she is far from intending to make any addition to the sacred Oracles of Gods Word, or from straighte­ning that liberty, wherewith Christ hath made us free. For first, The Church of England hath no such opinion (as some of the Romanists [Page 38]have of the Orders of some of their Saints) touching any consti­tutions that she maketh concern­ing the regulating of Gods Wor­ship; she placeth no necessity in them: Indeed she judgeth, that when such Laws are made, they ought to be obeyed upon the ob­ligation of the fifth Commandement: But that obligation springs not from the immediate Law giver, but from the Ordinance of him, that hath commanded us to submit our selves to every Ordinance of Man, for the Lords sake. For even after her determination, the Church supposeth the indifferency that was before, still to continue, in re­spect of the things themselves; onely in respect of use, and so farr, [Page 39]as concerns us, we are under re­straint; but yet not so, that the violation of such Laws, when it falleth to be committed upon some sudden emergency, is esteem­ed a sin like the breach of Gods Laws, so long, as it is without wantonness, scandall, and con­tempt.

2. The Church conceiveth her selfe not so bound to keep any Rites, or Ceremonies established, but that upon due motives, she may alter them as she pleaseth, prescribing to no other Church, what they should doe, but permit­ting unto them, in this behalfe, the liberty that her selfe taketh. If upon this ground, it should be inferred, Why are such Ceremo­nies [Page 40]of which the Church decla­reth her judgement to be, that in themselves they are indifferent, pressed so indispensably, that he that will not assent, and consent to the use of them, must not be suffered to use another manner of Wor­ship, which he conceives more Scri­pturall? We answer, That it apper­tains not to private men to judge what Publick Worship is most Scripturall, but to the Governors of the Church; and they think, that the Liturgy established is as Scri­pturall a Worship, as any that can be contested against it: If the Scriptures had appointed, with what words, and after what ex­press Forme, the whole Service of the Church should have been ma­naged, [Page 41]that method would have obliged all Christians; but such a Forme is no where extant in all the Book of God. Indeed there is a generall Rule, That all things should be done decently, and in Order: And a cleare Injunction, that we should obey those that are over us in the Lord, to whom it belongs to judge what in the pub­lick Assemblyes is decent, and orderly.

It may be this Querist would have every Minister of God in the Publique Service of the Church, proceed according to the measure of his Talents, which he supposeth may be husbanded to the edifica­tion of soules, far more advanta­giously, than the prescript Formes [Page 42]can be, which being known, and alwayes the same, are apt to beget, or at least nourish in us formality, oscitancy, and dulness in those ad­dresses, that should be active, and vigorous, full of affection, and holy zeale. I know such things have bin pleaded, but experience hath taught us, that neither set Formes doe necessarily beget those evill effects; nor doe the arbitrary con­ceptions of such Divines, as have thought fitting to renounce com­plyance with the rule enjoyned them, provide against them. We have no desire to reproach men; but if we had, might we not tell them, that the new methods of devision which entred, upon the late banishment of the Liturgie, [Page 43]were so far from spiritualizing the people, that pertook of them, that if Pride, Contention, Schisme, Rebellious contumacy against Gover­nors, both Ecclesiasticall, and Civill; Oppression and Covetousness, are works of the flesh, a more carnall generation of professors cannot be produced, I say, not since the Re­formation, but scarce since Christi­anity, than those that have (upon pretence of Carnality, & Formality) deserted the Communion of the Church of England.

3. I hope upon consideration of what hath already been said, the Querist may easily perceive, that, by his Assent and Consent to the Liturgy, &c. he will not fall under the guilt of setting up a [Page 44]power in co-ordination to our great Law-giver, who is God and Man; much less need he feare, that here­by he shall advance a power above Christ. For the Church of England pretends to no infallible authori­ty over mens Consciences, she is farr from checking any thing ex­pressly commanded by the Spirit of Christ, in the Writings of the Evangelists, and Apostles, onely by the help of that light, which she thence receiveth, she endeavour­eth to direct and assist all the chil­dren, within her Communion, in the most ready course of performing the duties there required; and herein she recommendeth her pro­ceedings to the judgement of eve­ry mans Conscience, and hath re­ceived [Page 45]no censure from any Church since the Reformation: Nay, so far is she from incurring the cen­sures of the rest of her Sisters, that they rather emulate her Beauty. We are assured, that the Reform­ed Churches which follow the Confession of Ausburgh, have the very same, both Government, and Worship in every particular that we have: Nay, they go farr beyond us in many things of the same kind, which our Church hath thought fit to lay aside; and yet, by a Nationall Assembly of the Re­formed Churches of France, held at Charenton, Anno 1631. are quitted from the charge, either of Idolatry, or Superstition in their publick wor­ship. See Durel, pag. 4. so that, if [Page 46]the Querist, by his former expressi­on, where he mentions, the re­storing of conformity, would tax our Church with Non-conformity to the rest of the Reformation, because she reteineth a Liturgie, with a Ru­brick; he is strangely mistaken, and knows not the Methods of their publick worship. For as the most of them have a subordi­nation of Pastors, and admit not a parity in the Government of their Churches; so have they (as the cited Author attesteth) all of them set Formes of Prayer, not one excepted; he instanceth in the Imperiall Towns, and other Free States, as Strasburgh, Ʋlm, Aus­burgh, Norenburgh, Hamburg, Lubeck, and in all the Territories of the [Page 47]Soveraigne Princes of Germany, Saxony, Brandenburg, Lawenburg, Brunswick, Baden, Ouspatch, Meck­lenburg, &c. so that the Church of England, by abolishing Liturgie, would be so farr from restoring conformity with the best Reform­ed Churches, that she would be rather Schismaticall, by walking in a path by her selfe alone.

4. But the Querist would know, Whether to submit to the Forme enjoyned, be not a transgression of his Commission given him, Mat. 28. ult. & penult. The Commission there given, was immediately pro­per to the Apostles, who were to be Christs Witnesses of what they had heard, and seen, by Preaching repentance, and remission of sins, in [Page 48]his Name, among all Nations, begin­ning at Jerusalem, Luke 24.47, 48. so farr, as it extends to all inferiour orders of the Ministery, they may well think themselves concerned to fulfill so solemne a charge; the words are, Go ye therefore, and teach all Nations, Baptizing them, &c. Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you, &c. I cannot imagine how the Li­turgie of the English Church check­eth this Commission; it no where prohibits the teaching of Christs Precepts: and if any in the Com­munion of our Nationall Church shall presume to teach any thing contrary unto them, I hope the care of our Spirituall Governours is so great, that he would no longer [Page 49]be permitted to proceed in sowing such tares, than he should be con­victed guilty of so foule a crime; neither do the dutifull Sons of the Church of England, bid Christ (as the Querist pretends) keep his gifts and spirit which he hath promised, to him­self. Nay rather, when they observe the spirit of wisedom and counsell, so to have assisted the Compilers of the Liturgy, that the exactest searchers into it, & disputers against it, have bin able (after all their heats) ra­ther passionately to revile it, than solidly to confute it; they own Christs gracious succour in the il­lumination, and direction of those that framed it, and see that gene­rall promise verified in the refor­mation of the particular Nationall [Page 50]Church, in the very. Text alledged by the Querist, Lo I am with you al­waies, even to the end of the world. And therefore the Querist may be secure, that his Assenting and Con­senting, will never endanger him to incurr the curse denounced against such as shall adde, or detract from the Word of God. For our Church doth not impose her Liturgy as immedi­ately inspired, but contrived through the assistance of the Spirit indeed but by men, using the means of study; and carefull enquiry after the truth, not challenging Propheticall, or Apostolical infallibility. Whereupon it will follow, that the complyer with this method of Worship, can in no reason be charged with reei­divation from asserting Christs su­premacy; [Page 51]for the Liturgy controles no Law of Christ, nor challengeth any submission to the diminution of his authority; but directs us to make all our addresses to God the Father in his name, and glorifieth him as the Fa­ther, in the unity of the blessed Spirit, common to them both, teaching us, to ascribe honour, prayse, obedience, and adoration to the three Persons in the unity of the same essence, for ever and ever. He that distrusteth the settlement of so well an or­dered Church, may rather be afraid to incurr the curse wished by the Apostle, upon the disturbers of the peace of the Galatians, I would they were even cut off that trouble you. Let a man search the Liturgy, and examine every parcell of it, I am [Page 52]confident that he shall find no part of it contrary to sound reason, the sacred Text, or the usage and cu­stome of the ancient Church: and then I think St. Augustines words may be worth the Querists consi­deration, Contra rationem nemo so­brius, contra Scripturasnemo Christi­anus, contra Ecclesiam nemo pacificus senserit, de Trin. 4.6. no so­ber man will contradict reason, no Christian the Scriptures, no peace­able person the custome of the Church.

Good Madam, whether I have said enough to satisfie the Contri­ver of the Queries, I know not; but I am confident, that I have said more than was requisite to sa­tisfie your Ladyship, for you are [Page 53]better Principled in the Religion establish't amongst us, than to be shaken by such Proposals, as the Querist's Paper has offered to your consideration.

Indeed, it seems strange to me, that Persons (otherwise not voyd of common sense) should so bungle in disputes of this nature, as, with­out any considerable force of Ar­gument, to oppose, not onely the practice of our own Church, and all others of the Reformation, but to slight the precedent of the Catho­lick Church, throughout the East, and West, for a long time before, even impudence it self dare charge them with Superstition, or Idolatry; except God in his just judgement has given them up unto a spirit of [Page 54] delusion: For it is very possible, that they, who upon secular designes, disturbed the settlement of our Church, whose prudent, and pious constitutions, their own subscri­ptions had sometimes justified, should deservedly be punished, ei­ther with so much blindness, as not to see what formerly they discern­ed; or with so much hardness of heart, as to refuse to comply with, what they can, with no solidity of reason, disapprove and censure. The piety and charity of your La­dyship make you zealous to win others to the same perswasion, which, upon, not onely the autho­rity of our Church, but the convi­ction of your own discerning Judgement, you have embraced. I [Page 55]heartily wish, that these, or any other endeavours of mine might contribute somewhat to the gain­ing of any dissenters to the bosom of that affectionate Mother, whom they have so deeply, by their Apo­stasie, disquieted, and grieved.

'Tis not, in my judgement, an Act of comprehension, that will ef­fect this great work, that will but disparage the Wisedome and gravity of our pious Mother, and farther confirme such wanton Children (as resolve never to be confuted) in their obstinate, though ground­less oppositions. It must be some Act of the incomprehensible good­ness, and power of God, who is able both to illuminate the eyes of the blind, and discover unto [Page 56]them the path of Truth, and to order the Footsteps of the pervers and guide them into the way of Peace.

Your Christian charity will in­cline you to implore Almighty God for such a mercy for them, and I shall cheerfully joyn with you in the same request. To this I shall, at this time, adde but one more (for a blessing upon your Lady­ships Person, and Family) and with­out giving you any further trouble of Reading what has (long since) exceeded the measures of a Let­ter, rest,

Good Madam,
Your Ladiships humble servant in Christ, P. S.
Feb. 25. 1667/8.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. Searching, reading, printing, or downloading EEBO-TCP texts is reserved for the authorized users of these project partner institutions. Permission must be granted for subsequent distribution, in print or electronically, of this EEBO-TCP Phase II text, in whole or in part.