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524 Change of Tone in the Puritans on the Attire: BOOK V. are very impertinent to prove it an ornament therefore not (b. xxix. 4,5.
several for the ministers to execute their ministry in, because men of credit and estimation wore their ordinary apparel white. For we know that when Solomon wrote those words, the several apparel for the ministers of the Law to execute their ministry in was such.
[4.] The wise man, which feared God from his heart, and honoured the service that was done unto him, could not mention so much as the garments of holiness but with effectual signification of most singular reverence and love*. Were it not better that the love which men bear to God should make the least things that are employed in his service amiable, than that their overscrupulous dislike of so mean a thing as a vestment should from the very service of God withdraw their hearts and affections ? I term it the rather a mean thing, a thing not much to be respected, because even they so account now of it, whose first disputations against it were such as if religion had scarcely any thing of greater weight.
[5.] Their allegations were then, “ That if a man were “ assured to gain a thousand by doing that which may offend
any one brother, or be unto him a cause of falling, he ought “ not to do itt; that this popish apparel, the surplice espe
cially, hath been by Papists abominably abused ; that it “ hath been a mark and a very sacrament of abominations; “ that remaining, it serveth as a monument of idolatry, and “not only edifieth not, but as a dangerous and scandalous “ ceremony doth exceeding much harm to them of whose “good we are commanded to have regard || ; that it causeth
men to perish and make shipwreck of conscience;" for so themselves profess they mean, when they say the weak are offended herewith; " that it hardeneth Papists, hindereth “ the weak from profiting in the knowledge of the Gospel,
grieveth godly minds, and giveth them occasion to think
hardly of their ministers**; that if the magistrate may “command, or the Church appoint rites and ceremonies, yet “ seeing our abstinence from things in their own nature " indifferent if the weak brother should be offended is a flat * Eccles. xlv. 7.
| Page 72. [52.] + T.-C. lib. i. p. 79. [58.]
T. C. ii. 403 | Page 71. [52.]
** T.C. i. 73. [53.] Ś Page 75. (55.]
Violence of the first Attacks upon it.
525 “ commandment of the Holy Ghost, which no authority either BOOK V: “ of church or commonwealth can make void, therefore “ neither may the one nor the other lawfully ordain this cere
mony, which hath great incommodity and no profit, great “ offence and no edifying*; that by the Law it should have “ been burnt and consumed with fire as a thing infected with
leprosy t; that the example of Ezekias beating to powder “the brazen serpent, and of Paul abrogating those abused “ feasts of charity, enforceth upon us the duty of abolishing
altogether a thing which hath been and is so offensive † ; “ finally, that God by his Prophet hath given an express com
mandment, which in this case toucheth us no less than of " old it did the Jews g. Ye shall pollute the covering of the " images of silver, and the rich ornament of your images of
gold, and cast them away as a stained rag; thou shalt say * unto it, Get thee hence ||.”
These and such like were their first discourses touching that church attire which with us for the most part is usual in public prayer; our ecclesiastical laws so appointing, as well because it hath been of reasonable continuance, and by special choice was taken out of the number of those holy garments which (over and besides their mystical reference) served for “ comeliness" under the Law 1, and is in the number of those ceremonies which may with choice and discretion be used to that purpose in the Church of Christ ; as also for that it suiteth so fitly with that lightsome affection of joy, wherein God delighteth when his saints praise him**; and so lively resembleth the glory of the saints in heaven, together with the beauty wherein Angels have appeared unto men tt, that they which are to appear for men in the presence of God as Angels, if they were left to their own choice and would choose any, could not easily devise a garment of more decency for such a service.
[6.] As for those fore-rehearsed vehement allegations against it, shall we give them credit when the very authors from whom
* Lib. i. 76. (56.] ii. 403;
|| [Adm. p. 31. al. 17. T. C. iii. + [Decl. of Disc. transl. by T.C. 257.) 109, and 135. Also T. C. i. 57; iii. Exod. xxviii. 2; xxxix. 27. 259.)
** Psal. cxlix. 2. I Page 78. [60.)
tt Apoc. xv. 6; Mark xvi. 5. Š Isa. xxx. 22.
Change of Tone in the Puritans on the Attire :
Ch. xxix. 6.
BOOK V: they come confess they believe not their own sayings? For
when once they began to perceive how many both of them in the two universities, and of others who abroad having ecclesiastical charge do favour mightily their cause and by all means set it forward, might by persisting in the extremity of that opinion hazard greatly their own estates, and so weaken that part which their places do now give them much opportunity to strengthen ; they asked counsel as it seemeth from some abroad, who wisely considered that the body is of far more worth than the raiment. Whereupon for fear of dangerous inconveniences, it hath been thought good to add, that sometimes authority “ must and may with good conscience “ be obeyed, even where commandment is not given upon
* good ground * ;" that “ the duty of preaching is one of " the absolute commandments of God, and therefore ought “ not to be forsaken for the bare inconvenience of a thing “ which in its own nature is indifferent;" that + one of the
foulest spots in the surplice is the offence which it giveth * in occasioning the weak to fall and the wicked to be con** firmed in their wickedness," yet hereby there is no unlawfulness proved, but “ only an inconveniency” that such things should be established, howbeit no such inconveniency neither “as may not be borne with † ;” that when God doth flatly command us to abstain from things in their own nature indifferent if they offend our weak brethren, his meaning is not we should obey his commandment herein, unless we may do it “and not leave undone that which the Lord hath absolutely " commanded $.” Always provided that whosoever will enjoy the benefit of this dispensation to wear a scandalous badge of idolatry, rather than forsake his pastoral charge, do “as oc** casion serveth teach” nevertheless still “ the incommodity “ of the thing itself, admonish the weak brethren that they “ be not, and pray unto God so to strengthen them that they “ may not be offended thereat ||." So that whereas before they which had authority to institute rites and ceremonies were denied to have power to institute this, it is now confessed that this they may also “ lawfully" but not so “ conveniently."
* T. C. lib. i. p. 74. (54.] et lib. iž. p. 250; Index, lib. iii. c. 8.
† T. C. iii. 262.
IT. C. iï. 262, 263.
their Arguments refuted by their own Practice. 527 appoint; they did well before and as they ought, who had it BOOK V. in utter detestation and hatred, as a thing abominable, they now do well which think it may be both borne and used with a very good conscience; before, he which by wearing it were sure to win thousands unto Christ ought not to do it if there were but one which might be offended, now though it be with the offence of thousands, yet it may be done rather than that should be given over whereby notwithstanding we are not certain'we shall gain one: the examples of Ezekias and of Paul, the charge which was given to the Jews by Esay, the strict apostolical prohibition of things indifferent whensoever they may be scandalous, were before so forcible laws against our ecclesiastical attire, as neither church nor commonwealth could possibly make void; which now one of far less authority than either hath found how to frustrate, by dispensing with the breach of inferior commandments, to the end that the greater may be kept.
[7.] But it booteth them not thus to soder up a broken cause, whereof their first and last discourses will fall asunder do what they can. Let them ingenuously confess that their invectives were too bitter, their arguments too weak, the matter not so dangerous as they did imagine. If those alleged testimonies of Scripture did indeed concern the matter to such effect as was pretended, that which they should infer were unlawfulness, because they were cited as prohibitions of that thing which indeed they concern. If they prove not our attire unlawful because in truth they concern it not, it followeth that they prove not any thing against it, and consequently not so much as uncomeliness or inconveniency. Unless therefore they be able thoroughly to resolve themselves that there is no one sentence in all the Scriptures of God which doth control the wearing of it in such manner and to such purpose as the church of England alloweth ; unless they can fully rest and settle their minds in this most sound persuasion, that they are not to make themselves the only competent judges of decency in these cases, and to despise the solemn judgment of the whole Church, preferring before it their own conceit, grounded only upon uncertain suspicions and fears, whereof if there were at the first some probable cause when things were but raw and tender, yet now very tract of time hath itself worn that
528 Absurdity of wearing the Attire with a Protest : BOOK V; out also ; unless I say thus resolved in mind they hold their Ch. xxix. 7.
pastoral charge with the comfort of a good conscience, no way grudging at that which they do, or doing that which they think themselves bound of duty to reprove, how should it possibly help or further them in their course to take such occasions as they say are requisite to be taken, and in pensive manner to tell their audience, “ Brethren, our hearts' desire “ is that we might enjoy the full liberty of the Gospel as in “ other reformed churches they do elsewhere, upon whont the “ heavy hand of authority hath imposed no grievous burden. “ But such is the misery of these our days, that so great
happiness we cannot look to attain unto. Were it so, that “ the equity of the Law of Moses could prevail, or the zeal of « Ezekias be found in the hearts of those guides and governo “ under whom we live ; or the voice of God's own prophets “ be duly heard ; or the example of the Apostles of Christ “ be followed, yea or their precepts be answered with full “ and perfect obedience : these abominable rags, polluted
garments, marks and sacraments of idolatry, which power
as you see constraineth us to wear and conscience to ab“ hor, had long ere this day been removed both out of sight “ and out of memory. But as now things stand, behold to “ what narrow straits we are driven. On the one side we fear " the words of our Saviour Christ, Wo be to them by whom “ scandal and offence cometh;' on the other side at the Apo“stle's speech we cannot but quake and tremble, “If I preach “ not the Gospel wo be unto me.' Being thus hardly beset, “ we see not any other remedy but to hazard your souls the
one way, that we may the other way endeavour to save “ them. Touching the offence of the weak therefore, we “ must adventure it. If they perish, they perish. Our pastoral “ charge is God's absolute commandment. Rather than that “ shall be taken from us, we are resolved to take this filth " and to put it on, although we judge it to be so unfit and “ inconvenient, that as oft as ever we pray or preach so arrayed “ before you, we do as much as in us lieth to cast away your “ souls that are weak-minded, and to bring you unto endless “ perdition. But we beseech you brethren have care of your “ own safety, take heed to your steps that ye be not taken “.in those snares which we lay before you. And our prayer