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Occasion of the Work.—Expostulation with Reformers. 89 (as all your published books and writings peremptorily main-PREFACE, tain) every Christian man, fearing God, stand bound to join with you for the furtherance of that which ye term the Lord's Discipline. Wherein I must plainly confess unto you, that before I examined your sundry declarations in that behalf, it could not settle in my head to think, but that undoubtedly such numbers of otherwise right well affected and most religiously inclined minds had some marvellous reasonable inducements, which led them with so great earnestness that way. But when once, as near as my slender ability would serve, I had with travail and care performed that part of the Apostle's advice and counsel in such cases, whereby he willeth to “ try all things*,” and was come at the length so far, that there remained only the other clause to be satisfied, wherein he concluded that " what good is must be held ;" there was in my poor understanding no remedy, but to set down this as my final resolute persuasion : “Surely the present form of “church-government which the laws of this land have esta“blished is such, as no law of God nor reason of man hath “ hitherto been alleged of force sufficient to prove they do ill, “ who to the uttermost of their power withstand the altera“tion thereof." Contrariwise, “ The other, which instead of “ it we are required to accept, is only by error and miscon“ ceit named the ordinance of Jesus Christ, no one proof as
yet brought forth whereby it may clearly appear to be so " in very
deed.” [3.] The explication of which two things I have here thought good to offer into your own hands, heartily beseeching you even by the meekness of Jesus Christ, whom I trust ye love; that, as ye tender the peace and quietness of church, if there be in you that gracious humility which hath ever been the crown and glory of a Christianly-disposed mind, if your own souls, hearts, and consciences (the sound integrity whereof can but hardly stand with the refusal of truth in personal respects) be, as I doubt not but they are, things most dear and precious unto you : “ let not the faith which “ ye have in our Lord Jesus Christ” be blemished " with
partialities t;" regard not who it is which speaketh, but
* [1 Thess. v. 21.]
† James ü. 1.
The first es.
the Church of Geneva ;
Origin of the new Discipline. PREFACE, weigh only what is spoken. Think not that ye read the words Ch. ii, 1.
of one who bendeth himself as an adversary against the truth which ye have already embraced; but the words of one who desireth even to embrace together with you the self-same truth, if it be the truth; and for that cause (for no other, God he knoweth) hath undertaken the burdensome labour of this painful kind of conference. For the plainer access whereunto, let it be lawful for me to rip up to the very bottom, how and by whom your discipline was planted, at such time as this age we live in began to make first trial thereof.
II. A founder it had, whom, for mine own part, I think tablishment of new dis incomparably the wisest man that ever the French church Mr. Calvin's did enjoy, since the hour it enjoyed him. His bringing up
was in the study of the civil law. Divine knowledge he gaand the be thered, not by hearing or reading so much, as by teaching strife about others. For, though thousands were debtors to him, as touching ourselves. knowledge in that kind; yet he to none but only to God, the
author of that most blessed fountain, the Book of Life, and of the admirable dexterity of wit, together with the helps of other learning which were his guides : till being occasioned to leave France, he fell at the length upon Geneva ; which city the bishop and clergy thereof had a little before (as some do affirm) forsaken, being of likelihood frighted with the people's sudden attempt for abolishment of Popish religion: the event of which enterprize they thought it not safe
for themselves to wait for in that place. At the coming of A. D. 1635. Calvin thither *, the form of their civil regiment was popu
lar, as it continueth at this day : neither king, nor duke, nor nobleman of any authority or power over them, but officers chosen by the people yearly out of themselves, to order all things with public consent. For spiritual government, they had no laws at all agreed upon, but did what the pastors of their souls by persuasion could win them unto. Calvin, being admitted one of their preachers, and a divinity reader amongst them, considered how dangerous it was that the whole estate of that church should hang still on so slender a thread as the liking of an ignorant multitude is, if it have power to change whatsoever itself listeth. Wherefore taking unto him two of
* [Aug. 1536.]
the other ministers for more countenance of the action, (al- PREFACE, beit the rest were all against it,) they moved, and in the end persuaded * with much ado, the people to bind themselves by solemn oath, first never to admit the Papacy amongst them again ; and secondly, to live in obedience unto such orders concerning the exercise of their religion, and the form of their ecclesiastical government, as those their true and faithful ministers of God's word had agreeably to scripture set down for that end and purpose.
[2.) When these things began to be put in ure, the people also (what causes moving them thereunto, themselves best know) began to repent them of that they had done, and irefully to champ upon the bit they had taken into their mouths; the rather, for that they grew by means of this innovation into dislike with some churches near about them, the benefit of whose good friendship their state could not well lack.
It was the manner of those times (whether through men's desire to enjoy alone the glory of their own enterprizes, or else because the quickness of their occasions required present despatch ; so it was,) that every particular church did that within itself, which some few of their own thought good, by whom the rest were all directed. Such number of churches then being, though free within themselves, yet small, common conference beforehand might have eased them of much after trouble. But a greater inconvenience it bred, that every later endeavoured to be certain degrees more removed from conformity with the church of Rome, than the rest before had been : whereupon grew marvellous great dissimilitudes, and by reason thereof, jealousies, heart-burnings, jars and discords amongst them. Which, notwithstanding, might have easily been prevented, if the orders, which each church did think fit and convenient for itself, had not so peremptorily been established under that high commanding form, which tendered them unto the people, as things everlastingly required by the law of that Lord of lords, against whose statutes there is no exception to be taken. For by this mean it came to pass, that one church could not but accuse
Ch. ii. 3.
A. D. 1538.
Calvin's Expulsion.—His return. PREFACE, and condemn another of disobedience to the will of Christ, in
those things where manifest difference was between them: whereas the selfsame orders allowed, but yet established in more wary and suspense manner, as being to stand in force till God should give the opportunity of some general conference what might be best for every of them afterwards to do; this I say had both prevented all occasion of just dislike which others might take, and reserved a greater liberty unto the authors themselves of entering into farther consultation afterwards. Which though never so necessary they could not easily now admit, without some fear of derogation from their credit : and therefore that which once they had done, they became for ever after resolute to maintain.
Calvin therefore and the other two his associates, stiffly refusing to administer the holy communion to such as would not quietly, without contradiction and murmur, submit themselves unto the orders which their solemn oath had bound them to obey, were in that quarrel banished the town. (3.) A few years after * (such was the levity of that
people) the places of one or two of their ministers being fallen void, they were not before so willing to be rid of their learned pastor, as now importunate to obtain him again from them who had given him entertainment, and which were loath to part with him, had not unresistible earnestness been used. One of the town ministers, that saw in what manner the people were bent for the revocation of Calvin, gave him notice of their affection in this sort t. “ The senate of two hundred
being assembled, they all crave Calvin. The next day a general convocation; they cry in like sort again all, We “ will have Calvin, that good and learned man, Christ's min“ ister. This,” saith he," when I understood, I could not
“ “choose but praise God, nor was I able to judge otherwise “ than that this was the Lord's doing, and that it was mar“ vellous in our eyes,' and that the stone which the builders 5 refused was now made the head of the corner 1.' The other two whom they had thrown out, (together with Calvin,) they were content should enjoy their exile. Many causes
* (1541, 1 May. Spon. II. 25.] † Epist. Cal. 24, (p. 27, ed. Gen. 1617.]
| Luke xx. 17. (Ps. cxviii. 22, 23.]
Ch. ii. 4.
might lead them to be more desirous of him. First, his PREFACE, yielding unto them in one thing might happily put them in hope, that time would breed the like easiness of condescending further unto them. For in his absence he had persuaded them, with whom he was able to prevail, that albeit himself did better like of common bread to be used in the Eucharist, yet the other they rather should accept, than cause any trouble in the church about it. Again, they saw that the name of Calvin waxed every day greater abroad, and that together with his fame, their infamy was spread, which had so rashly and childishly ejected him. Besides, it was not unlikely but that his credit in the world might many ways stand the poor town in great stead : as the truth is, their minister's foreign estimation hitherto hath been the best stake in their hedge. But whatsoever secret respects were likely to move them; for contenting of their minds Calvin returned (as it had been another Tully) to his old home.
[4.] He ripely considered how gross a thing it were for Sept. 13. men of his quality, wise and grave men, to live with such a multitude, and to be tenants at will under them, as their ministers, both himself and others, had been. For the remedy of which inconvenience, he gave them plainly to understand, that if he did become their teacher again, they must be content to admit a complete form of discipline, which both they and also their pastors should now be solemnly sworn to observe for ever after. Of which discipline the main and principal parts were these : A standing ecclesiastical court to be established ; perpetual judges in that court to be their ministers; others of the people to be annually chosen (twice so many in number as they) to be judges together with them in the same court : these two sorts to have the care of all men's manners, power of determining all kind of ecclesiastical causes, and authority to convent, to control, to punish, as far as with excommunication, whomsoever they should think worthy, none either small or great excepted.
This device I see not how the wisest at that time living could have bettered, if we duly consider what the present estate of Geneva did then require. For their bishop and his