« PreviousContinue »
apostle, saying, “Give none offence, neither to the Jews nor to the Grecians, nor to the church of God.” In what condition of time ye and we both travel in the promoting of Christ's kingdom, we suppose you not to be ignorant. And therefore we are more bold to exhort
to walk more circumspectly, than that for such vanities the godly should be troubled. For all things that may seem lawful, edify not. If the commandment of authority urge the conscience of yours and our brethren, more than they can bear; we unféignedly crave of you, that ye remember, that ye are called the light of the world and the earth.
All civil authority hath not the light of God always shining before their eyes in their statutes and commandments ; but their affections oft-time savour too much of the earth, and of worldly wisdom.
And therefore we think that ye should boldly oppone yourselves to all power, that will or dare extol itself, not only against God, but also against all such as do burden the consciences of the faithful, farther than God hath burdened them by his own word. But herein we confess our offence, in that we have entered farther in reasoning than we purposed and promised at the beginning: and therefore we shortly return to our former humble supplication, which is, that our brethren, who among you refuse the Romish rags, may find of you, the prelatės, such favours as our Head and Master commands every one of his members to shew one to another, which we look to receive of your gentleness, not only for that ye fear to offend God's majesty, in troubling of your brethren for such vain trifles; but also because ye will not refuse the humble requests of us your brethren, and fellow-preachers of Christ Jesus, in whom, albeit there appear no great worldly pomp, yet we suppose ye will not so far despise us, but that ye will esteem us to be of the number of those that fight against that Ronan antichrist, and travel, that the kingdom of Christ Jesus universally may be maintained and advanced. The days are evil; iniquity abounds; Christian charity, alas! is waxen cold; and therefore we ought the more diligently to watch ; for the hour is uncertain when the Lord Jesus shall appear, before whom we your brethren, and ye, may give an account of our administration.
And thus, in conclusion, we once again crave favour to our brethren, which granted, ye in the Lord shall command
us in things of double more importance. The Lord Jesus rule your hearts in his true fear to the end, and give unto us victory over that conjured enemy of all true religion ; to 'wit, over that Roman antichrist, whose wounded head Satan, by all means, labours to cure again, but to destruction shall he and his maintainers go, by the power of the Lord Jesus : to whose mighty power and protection we heartily commit you.
Subscribed by the hands of superintendents, one part of ministers, and scribed in our general assemblies, and fourth session thereof. At Edinburgh, the 28th day of December, 1566.
Your loving brethren, and fellow-preachers,
in Christ Jesus.
John Fox's letter to queen Elizabeth, to dissuade her from
burning two Dutch Anabaptists for heresy in Smithfield. 1575.
SERENISSIMA beatissima princeps, regina illustrissima, patriæ decus, sæculi ornamentum ! Ut. nihil ab animo meo omnique expectatione abfuit longius quam ut majestatis tuæ amplissimam excellentiam molesta interpellatione obturbarem; ita vehementer dolet silentium hoc, quo hactenus constanter sum usus, non eadem constantia perpetuo tueri ita ut volebam licuisse. Ita nunc præter spem ac opinionem meam nescio qua infelicitate evenit, ut quod omnium volebam minime, id contra me maxime faciat hoc tempore. Qui cum ita vixerim hucusque, ut molestus fuerim nemini, invitus nunc cogor contra naturam principi etiam ipsi esse importunus, non re ulla aut causa mea, sed aliena inductus calamitate. Quæ quo acerbior sit et luc
tuosior, hoc acriores mihi addit ad deprecandum stimulos. Nonnullos intelligo in Anglia hîc esse non Anglos, sed adventitios, Belgas quidem opinor, partim viros, partim feminas, nuper ob improbata dogmata in judicium advocatos. Quorum aliquot feliciter reducti publica luerunt pænitentia ; complures in exilium sunt condemnati, idque rectissime meo judicio factum esse arbitror. Jam ex hoc numero unum esse aut alterum audio, de quibus ultimum exustionis supplicium (nisi succurrat tua pietas) brevi est statuendum. Qua una in re duo contineri perspicio, quorum alterum ad errorum pravitatem, alterum ad supplicii acerbitatem attinet. Ac erroribus quidem ipsis nihil possit absurdius esse, sanus nemo est qui dubitat, mirorque tam fæda opinionum portenta in quosquam potuisse Christianos cadere. Sed ita habet humanæ infirmitatis conditio, si divina paululum luce destituti nobis relinquimur, quo non ruimus præcipites ? Atque hoc nomine Christo gratias quam maximas habeo, quòd Anglorum hodie neminem huic insaniæ video. Quod igitur ad phanaticas istas sectas attinet, eas certe in republica nullo modo fovendas esse, sed idonea comprimendas correctione censeo. Verum enim vero ignibus ac flammis pice ac sulphure æstuantibus viva miserorum corpora torrefacere, judicii magis cæcitate quam impetu voluntatis errantium, durum istud ac Romani magis exempli esse quam evangelicæ consuetudinis videtur, ac plane ejusmodi, ut nisi a Romanis pontificibus, authore Innocentio tertio, primum profluxisset, nunquam istum Perilli taurum quisquam in mitem Christi ecclesiam importavisset. Non quod maleficiis delecter, aut erroribus cujusquam faveam, dicta hæc esse velim ; vitæ hominum, ipse homo cum sim, faveo; ideoque faveo, non ut erret, sed ut resipiscat: ac neque hominum solum, utinam et pecudibus ipsis opitulari possem. Ita enim sum (stulte fortassis hæc de meipso, at vere dico), macellum ipsum, ubi mactantur etiam pecudes, vix prætereo, quin tacito quodam doloris sensu mens refugiat. Atque equidem in eo Dei ipsius valde admiror, venerorque toto pectore clementiam, qui in jumentis illis brutis et abjectis, quæ sacrificiis olim parabantur, id prospexerat, ne prius ignibus mandarentur quam sanguis eorum ad basim altaris effunderetur. Unde disceremus, in exigendis suppliciis, quamvis justis, non quid omnino rigori liceat, sed ut clementia simul adhibita rigoris temperet asperitatem.
Quamobrem si tantum mihi apud principis tanti majestatem audere liceret supplex pro Christo rogarem clementissimam banc regiæ sublimitatis excellentiam, præ authoritate hac mea (lege tua) qua ad vitam multorum consecrandum pellere (l. conservandam pollere) te divina voluit clementia, ut vita si fieri possit, (quid enim non posset iis in rebus authoritas tua ?) miserorum parcatur, saltem ut horrori obsistatur, atque in aliud quodcunque commutetur supplicii genus. Sunt ejectiones, inclusiones retrusæ, sunt vincula, sunt perpetua exilia, sunt stigmata et anyuara aut etiam patibula; id unum valde deprecor, ne piras ac flammas Smithfieldianas jam diu faustissimis tuis auspiciis huc usque sopitas, sinas nunc recandescere. Quod si ne id quidem obtineri possit, id saltem omnibus supplicandi modis efilagito, TOŪTO TÒ TEMagyıkòv pectoris tui implorans, ut mensem tamen unum aut alterum nobis concedas, quo
interim experiamur, an a periculosis erroribus dederit dominus ut resanescant, ne cum corporum jactura, animæ pariter cum corporibus de æterno periclitentur exitio.*
A directory of church-government, anciently contended for,
and, as far as the times would suffer, practised by the first Ņonconformists in the days of queen Elizabeth, found in the study of the most accomplished divine Mr. Thomas Cartwright, after his decease. The sacred Discipline of the Church described in
the Word of God. The discipline of Christ's church, that is necessary for all times, is delivered by Christ, and set down in the Holy Scriptures; therefore the true and lawful discipline is to be fetched from thence, and from thence alone. And that which resteth upon any other foundation ought to be esteemed unlawful and counterfeit.
Of all particular churches, there is one and the same right, order, and form : therefore also no one may challenge to itself any power over others: nor any right which doth not alike agree to others.
* Fuller's Church History of Britain, p. 104, 105.
The ministers of public charges, in every particular church, ought to be called and appointed to their charges by a lawful ecclesiastical calling, such as hereafter is set down.
All these, for the divers regard of their several kinds, are of equal power amongst themselves.
No man can be lawfully called to public charge in any church, but he that is fit to discharge the same. And none is to be accounted fit, but he that is endued with the common gifts of all the godly; that is, with faith, and a blameless life: and farther also, with those that are proper to that ministry wherein he is to be used, and necessary for the executing of the same ; whereupon, for trial of those gifts, some convenient way and' examination are to be used.
The party to be called must first be elected ; then he is to be ordained to that charge whereunto he is chosen, by the prayers of that church whereunto he is to be admitted; the mutual duties of him and of the church being before
The ministers of the church are, first, they that are ministers of the word. In their examination, it is specially to be taken heed unto, that they be apt to teach, and tried men, not utterly unlearned, nor newly planted and converted to the faith.
Now these ministers of the word are, first, pastors, which do administer the word and sacraments; then teachers, which are occupied in wholesome doctrine.
Besides, there are also elders, which watch over the life and behaviour of every man; and deacons, which have care over the poor.
Farther, in every particular church there ought to be a presbytery, which is a consistory, and, as it were, a senate of elders. Under the name of elders here are contained, they who in the church minister doctrine, and they who are properly called elders.
By the common counsel of the eldership, all things are directed that belong to the state of their church. First, such as belong to the guidance of the whole body of it in the holy and common assembly, gathered together in the name of the Lord, that all things may be done in them duly,