Page images

Cl. xi. 20.


344 Examples of Things essential and variable. BOOK III. said before betake themselves wholly unto the trial of parti

culars, whether every of those things which they esteem as principal, be either so esteemed of, or at all established for perpetuity in holy Scripture; and whether any particular thing in our church polity be received other than the Scripture alloweth of, either in greater things or in smaller.

[20.) The matters wherein church polity is conversant are the public religious duties of the Church, as the administration of the word and sacraments, prayers, spiritual censures, and the like. To these the Church standeth always bound. Laws of polity, are laws which appoint in what manner these duties shall be performed.

In performance whereof because all that are of the Church cannot jointly and equally work, the first thing in polity required is a difference of persons in the Church, without which difference those functions cannot in orderly sort be executed. Hereupon we hold that God's clergy are a state, which hath been and will be, as long as there is a Church upon earth, necessary by the plain word of God himself; a state whereunto the rest of God's people must be subject as touching things that appertain to their soul's health. For where polity is, it cannot but appoint some to be leaders of others, and some to be led by others. “If the blind lead the blind, they both perish*." It is with the clergy, if their persons be respected, even as it is with other men; their quality many times far beneath that which the dignity of their place requireth. Howbeit according to the order of polity, they being the “ lights of the worldt," others (though better and wiser) must that way be subject unto them.

Again, forasmuch as where the clergy are any great multitude, order doth necessarily require that by degrees they be distinguished ; we hold there have ever been and ever ought to be in such case at leastwise two sorts of ecclesiastical persons, the one subordinate unto the other; as to the Apostles in the beginning, and to the Bishops always since, we find plainly both in Scripture and in all ecclesiastical records, other ministers of the word and sacraments have been.

Moreover, it cannot enter into any man's conceit to think it lawful, that every man which listeth should take upon him

* Luke vi. 39.

+ Matt. v. 14.

Ch. x', 21.

Three Kinds of Error in the Discipline. 345 charge in the Church ; and therefore a solemn admittance is BOOK III. of such necessity, that without it there can be no church polity.

A number of particularities there are, which make for the more convenient being of these principal and perpetual parts in ecclesiastical polity, but yet are not of such constant use and necessity in God's Church. Of this kind are, times and places appointed for the exercise of religion ; specialties belonging to the public solemnity of the word, the sacraments, and prayer; the enlargement or abridgment of functions ministerial depending upon those two principals beforementioned ; to conclude, even whatsoever doth by way of formality and circumstance concern any public action of the Church. Now although that which the Scripture hath of things in the former kind be for ever permanent : yet in the latter both much of that which the Scripture teacheth is not always needful; and much the Church of God shall always need which the Scripture teacheth not.

So as the form of polity by them set down for perpetuity is three ways faulty: faulty in omitting some things which in Scripture are of that nature, as namely the difference that ought to be of pastors when they grow to any great multitude: faulty in requiring doctors, deacons, widows, and such like, as things of perpetual necessity by the law of God, which in truth are nothing less : faulty also in urging some things by Scripture immutable, as their lay-elders, which the Scripture neither maketh immutable nor at all teacheth, for any thing either we can as yet find or they have hitherto been able to prove. But hereof more in the books that follow.

[21.] As for those marvellous discourses whereby they adventure to argue that God must needs have done the thing which they imagine was to be done; I must confess I have often wondered at their exceeding boldness herein. When the question is whether God have delivered in Scripture (as they affirm he hath) a complete, particular, immutable form of church polity, why take they that other both presumptuous and superfluous labour to prove he should have done it ; there being no way in this case to prove the deed of God, saving only by producing that evidence wherein he hath done it? But if there be no such thing apparent upon record,


346 Danger in this case of reasoning a priori. BOOK !!!. they do as if one should demand a legacy by force and virtue . 21.

of some written testament, wherein there being no such thing specified, he pleadeth that there it must needs be, and bringeth arguments from the love or good-will which always the testator bore him ; imagining, that these or the like proofs will convict a testament to have that in it which other men can no where by reading find. In matters which concern the actions of God, the most dutiful way on our part is to search what God hath done, and with meekness to admire that, rather than to dispute what he in congruity of reason ought to do. The ways which he hath whereby to do all things for the greatest good of his Church are more in number than we can search, other in nature than that we should presume to determine which of many should be the fittest for him to choose, till such time as we see he hath chosen of many some one; which one we then may boldly conclude to be the fittest, because he hath taken it before the rest. When we do otherwise, surely we exceed our bounds; who and where we are we forget; and therefore needful it is that our pride in such cases be controlled, and our disputes beaten back with those demands of the blessed Apostle, “How “ unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding

out! Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who was “ his counsellor *?"

* Rom. xi. 33, 34.





1. How great use Ceremonies have in the Church. II. The first thing they blame in the kind of our Ceremonies is, that we

have not in them ancient apostolical simplicity, but a greater pomp and

stateliness. III. The second, that so many of them are the same which the Church of

Rome useth ; and the reasons which they bring to prove them for that

cause blame-worthy. IV. How when they go about to expound what Popish Ceremonies they

mean, they contradict their own arguments against Popish Ceremonies. V. An answer to the argument whereby they would prove, that sith we

allow the customs of our fathers to be followed, we therefore may not allow such customs as the Church of Rome hath, because we cannot

account of them which are of that Church as of our fathers. VI. To their allegation, that the course of God's own wisdom doth make

against our conformity with the Church of Rome in such things. VII. To the example of the eldest Churches which they bring for the

same purpose. VIII. That it is not our best polity (as they pretend it is) for establish

ment of sound religion, to have in these things no agreement with the

Church of Rome being unsound. IX. That neither the Papists upbraiding us as furnished out of their

store, nor any hope which in that respect they are said to conceive, doth make any more against our ceremonies than the former allega

tions have done. X. The grief which they say godly brethren conceive at such ceremonies

as we have common with the Church of Rome. XI. The third thing for which they reprove a great part of our ceremonies

is, for that as we have them from the Church of Rome, so that Church

had them from the Jews. XII. The fourth, for that sundry of them have been (they say) abused

unto idolatry, and are by that mean become scandalous.


Criticism in Church Matters no good sign.

XIII. The fifth, for that we retain them still, notwithstanding the example

of certain Churches reformed before us, which have cast them out. XIV. A declaration of the proceedings of the Church of England for the

establishment of things as they are.


nies have in

BOOK IV. I. SUCH was the ancient simplicity and softness of spirit

J. 1, 2.

which sometimes prevailed in the world, that they How great use ceremo- whose words were even as oracles amongst men, seemed everthe Church, more loth to give sentence against any thing publicly received

in the Church of God, except it were wonderful apparently evil ; for that they did not so much incline to that severity which delighteth to reprove the least things it seeth amiss, as to that charity which is unwilling to behold any thing that duty bindeth it to reprove. The state of this present age, wherein zeal hath drowned charity, and skill meekness, will not now suffer any man to marvel, whatsoever he shall hear reproved by whomsoever. Those rites and ceremonies of the Church therefore, which are the selfsame now that they were when holy and virtuous men maintained them against profane and deriding adversaries, her own children have at this day in derision. Whether justly or no, it shall then appear, when all things are heard which they have to allege against the outward received orders of this church. Which inasmuch as theniselves do compare unto “mint and cummin*," granting them to be no part of those things which in the matter of polity are weightier, we hope that for small things their strife will neither be earnest nor long.

[2.] The sifting of that which is objected against the orders of the Church in particular, doth not belong unto this place. Here we are to discuss only those general exceptions, which have been taken at any time against them.

First therefore to the end that their nature and the use whereunto they serve may plainly appear, and so afterwards their quality the better be discerned; we are to note, that in every grand or main public duty which God requireth at the * Matt. xxiii. 23.

“ The doctrine “ ceremonies also, as ‘mint and “and discipline of the Church, as “ cummin,' ought not to be negthe weightiest things, ought espe

6 lected.”' T.Č. 1. iii. p. 171. cially to be looked unto : but the

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »