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OF TITHES,

CHURCH-FEES,
CHURCH-REVENUES;

And whether any Maintenance of Ministers can be settled

by Law.

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CONSIDERATIONS

TOUCHING THE

LIKELIEST MEANS TO REMOVE HIRE

LINGS OUT OF THE CHURCH.

THE INTRODUCTION.

THE

HE former Treatise, which leads in this, began with two things ever found working much mischief to the church of God, and the advancement of truth; force on the one fide restraining, and hire on the other fide corrupting the teachers thereof. The latter of these is by much the more dangerous : For under force, though no thank to the forcers, true religion oft-times best thrives and Aourishes : But the corruption of teachers, most commonly the effect of hire, is the very bane of truth in them who are so corrupted.

Of force not to be used in matters.of religion, I have already spoken; and fo ftated matters of conscience and religion in faith and divine worship, and so severed them from blafphemy and heresy, the one being such properly as is despiteful, the other such as stands not to the rule of fcripture, and so both of them not matters of religion, but rather against it, that to them who will get use force, this only choice can be left, whether they will force them to believe, to whom it is not given from above, being not forced thereto by any principle of the gospel, which is now the only dispensation of God to all men, or whether being Protestants, they will punish in those things wherein the Proteitant religion denies them to be judges, either in themselves infallible, or to the consciences of other

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men;

men; or whether, lafly, they think fit to punish error; fuppofing they can be infallible that it is fo, being not wilful, but conscientious, and, according to the best light of him who errs, grounded on scripture: Which kind of error all men religious, or but only reasonable, have thought worthier of pardon ; and the growth thereof to be prevented by fpiritual means and church-discipline, not by civil laws and outward force ; fince it is God only, who gives as well to believe aright, as to believe at all; and by those means which he ordained sufficiently in his church to the full execution of his divine purpose in the gospel.

It remains now to speak of bire; the other evil so mis. chievous in religion: Whereof I promised then to speak further, when I should find God difpofing me, and opportunity inviting. Opportunity I find now inviting, and apprehend therein the concurrence of God dispusing; fince the maintenance of church-ministers, a thing not properly belonging to the magistrate, and yet with such importunity called for, and expected from him, is at pre- , fent under public debate. Wherein left any thing may happen to be determined and established prejudicial to the right and freedom of the church, or advantageous to such as may be found hirelings therein, it will be now molt seasonable, and in these matters wherein every Christian hath his free fuffrage, no way misbecoming Christian met kness to offer freely, without disparagement to the wiselt, such advice as God snall incline him and enable him to propound. Since heretofore in common-wealths. of most fame for government, civil laws were not established till they had been first for certain days published to the view of all men, that whoso pleafed might speak freely his opinion thereof, and give in his exceptions, ere the law could pass to a full establishment.

And where ought this equity to have more place, than in the liberty which is inseparable from Christian religion ? This, I am not ignorant, will be a work unpleasing to fome: But what truth is not hateful to fome or other, as this, in likelihood, will be to none but hirelings. And if there be among them who hold it their duty to speak

impartial

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impartial truth, as the work of their miniftry, though not performed without money, let them not envy others who think the same no less their duty by the general office of Christianity, to speak truth, as in all reason may be thought, more impartially and unsuspectedly without money.

Hire of itself is neither a thing unlawful, nor a word of any evil note, fignifying no more than a due recompense or reward ; as when our Saviour faith, The labourer is worthy of his hire. That which makes it fo dangerous in the church, and properly makes the hireling, a word always of evil signification, is either the excess thereof, or the undue manner of giving and taking it.

What harm the excess thereof brought to the church, perhaps was not found by experience till the days of Constantine : Who out of his zeal thinking he could be never too liberally a nursing father of the church, might be not unfitly said to have either overlaid it or choked it in the nursing. Which was foretold, as is recorded in ecclefiaftical traditions, by a voice heard from heaven on. the very day that those great donations and churchrevenues were given, crying aloud, This day is poison poured into the church. Which the event soon after verified; as appears by another no less ancient observation, That religion brought forth wealth, and the daughter devoured the mother.

But long ere wealth came into the church, fo soon as any gain appeared in religion, birelings were apparent ; drawn in long before by the very scent thereof. Judas therefore, the first hireling, for want of present hire anfwerable to his coveting, from the small number or the meanness of such as then were the religious, fold the religion itself with the founder thereof, his master. Simon Magus the next, in hope only that preaching and the gifts of the Holy Ghost would prove gainful, offered before-hand a sum of money to obtain them. Not long after, as the apoftie foretold, birelings like wolves came in by herds, Acts xx. 29. For I know this, that after my departing Mall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Titus i. 11. Teaching things which they

ought

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