Page images
PDF
EPUB

him with; that when I come collections be not then to make; and that when I come, whom ye shall choose, them I may forthwith send away by letters, to carry your beneficence unto Jerusalem." Out of which words to conclude the duty of uniformity throughout all churches, in all manner of indifferent ceremonies, will be very hard, and therefore best to give it over. But perhaps they are by so much the more loath to forsake this argument, for that it hath, though nothing else, yet the name of Scripture to give it some kind of countenance more than the pretext of livery-coats afforded them. For neither is it any man's duty to clothe all his children or all his servants with one weed, nor theirs to clothe themselves so, if it were left to their own judgments, as these ceremonies are left of God to the judgment of the church. And seeing churches are rather in this case like divers families, than like divers servants of one family, because every church, the state whereof is independent upon any other, hath authority to appoint orders for itself in things indifferent; therefore of the two we may rather infer, That as one family is not abridged of liberty to be clothed in friar'sgrey for that another doth wear clay-colour, so neither are all churches bound to the self-same indifferent ceremonies which it liketh sundry to use. As for that canon in the council of Nice, let them but read it and weigh it well. The ancient use of the church throughout all Christendom was, for fifty days after Easter (which fifty days were called Pentecost, though most commonly the last day of them, which is Whitsunday, be so called), in like sort on all the Sundays throughout the whole year their manner was to stand at prayer; whereupon their meetings unto that purpose on those days had the name of Stations given them. Ofwhich custom Tertullian'speaketh in this wise ; “It is not with us thought fit either to fast on the Lord's day, or to pray kneeling. The same immunity from fasting and kneeling we keep all the time which is between the feasts of Easter and Pentecost.” This being therefore an order generally received in the church; when some began to be singular and different from all others, and that in a ceremony which was then judged very convenient for the whole church, even by the whole, those few excepted which brake out of the common pale; the council of Nice thought good to enclose them again with the rest, by a law made in this sort : "Because there are certain which will needs kneel at the time of prayer on the Lord's day, and in the fifty days after Easter; the holy synod judging it meet, that a convenient custom be observed throughout all churches, hath decreed, That standing we make our prayers to the Lord.” Whereby it plainly appeareth, that in things indifferent, what the whole church doth think convenient for the whole, the same if any part do wilfully violate, it may be reformed and inrailed again by that general authority, whereunto each particular is subject; and that the spirit of singularity in a few ought to give place unto public judgment: this doth clearly enough appear, but not that all Christian churches are bound in every indifferent ceremony to be uniform ; because where the whole church hath not tied the parts unto one and the same thing, they being therein left each to their own choice, may either do as others do, or else otherwise without any breach of duty at all. Concerning those indifferent things, wherein it hath been heretofore thought good that all Christian churches should be uniform, the way which they now conceive to bring this to pass was then never thought on. For till now it hath been judged, that seeing the law of God doth not prescribe all particular ceremonies which the church of Christ may use, and in so great variety of them as may be found out, it is not possible that the law of nature and reason should direct all churches unto the same things, each deliberating by itself what is most convenient; the way to establish the same things indifferent throughout them all must needs be the judgment of some judicial authority drawn into one only sentence, which may be a rule for every particular to follow. And because such authority over all churches, is too much to be granted unto any one mortal man; there yet remaineth that which hath been always followed as the best, the safest, the most sincere and reasonable way; namely, the verdict of the whole church orderly taken and set down in the assembly of some general council. But to maintain, That all Christian churches ought for unity's sake to be uniform in all ceremonies, and then to teach that the way of bringing this to pass, must be by mutual imitation, so that where we have better ceremonies than others, they shall be bound to follow us, and we them, where theirs are better; how should we think it agreeable and consonant to reason? For sith in things of this nature, there is such variety of particular inducements, whereby one church may be led to think that better, which another church led by other inducements judgeth to be worse (for example, the east church did think it better to keep Easter-day after the manner of the Jews, the west church better to do otherwise; the Greek church judgeth it worse to use unleavened bread in the eucharist, the Latin church leavened; one church esteemeth it not so good to receive the eucharist sitting as standing, another church not so good standing as sitting, there being on the one side probable motives, as well as on the other): unless they add somewhat else to define more certainly what ceremonies shall stand for best in such sort, that all churches in the world shall know them to be the best, and so know them that there may not remain any question about this point, we are not a whit the nearer for that they have hitherto said. They themselves, although resolved in their own judgments what ceremonies are best, foreseeing that such as are addicted unto be not all so clearly and so incomparably best, but others there are, or may be at leastwise, when all things are well considered, as good; know not which way smoothly to rid their hands of this matter, without providing some more certain rule to be followed for establishment of uniformity in ceremonies, when there are divers kinds of equal goodness : and therefore in this case they say, that the latter churches, and the fewer, should conform themselves unto the elder, and the more. Hereupon they conclude, that forasmuch as all the reformed churches (so far as they know) which are of our confession in doctrine, have agreed already in the abrogation of divers things which we retain; our church ought either to shew that they have done evil, or else she is found to be in fault for not conforming herself to those churches, in that which she cannot deny to be in them well abrogated. For the authority of the first churches (and those they account to be the first in this cause which were first reformed) they bring the comparison of younger daughters conforming them

a So that as children of one Father, and servants of one master, he will have all the churches, not only have one diet, in that they have one word, but also wear, as it were, one livery, in using the same ceremonies. T. C. I. iii. p. 133.

b This rule did the great council of Nice follow, &c. Die dominico et per omnem Pentecostem, nec da genicalis adorare, et jejunium solvere, Se. De coro, militis. T.C. 1. i. p. 133.

a If the ceremonies be alike commodious, the latter churches should conform themselves to the first, &c. And again, The fewer ought to conform themselves anto the more. T. C. l. iii. p. 183.

xvi. 5.

xiv. 36.

selves in attire to the example of their eldest sisters; wherein there is just as much strength of reason, as in the liverycoats beforementioned. St. Paul, they say, noteth it for a mark of special honour, that Epænetus was the first man in all Achaia which did embrace the Christian faith; after the Rom. same sort, he toucheth it also as special pre-eminence of Junius and Andronicus, that in Christianity they were his ancients. The Corinthians he pincheth with this demand, “ Hath the word of God gone from out of you, or hath it 1. Cor. lighted on you alone?” But what of all this? If any man should think that alacrity and forwardness in good things doth add nothing unto men's commendation; the two former speeches of St. Paul might lead him to reform his judgment. In like sort, to take down the stomach of proud conceited men, that glory as though they were able to set all others to school, there can be nothing more fit than some such words as the apostle's third sentence doth contain; wherein he teacheth the church of Corinth to know, that there was no such great odds between them and the rest of their brethren, that they should think themselves to be gold, and the rest to be but copper. He therefore useth speech unto them to this effect: “ Men instructed in the knowledge of Jesus Christ there both were before you, and are besides you in the world; ye neither are the fountain from which first, nor yet the river into which alone, the word hath flowed.” But although as Epænetus was the first man in all Achaia, so Corinth had been the first church in the whole world, that received Christ; the apostles doth not shew, that in any kind of things indifferent whatsoever this should have made their example a law unto all others. Indeed, the example of sundry churches for approbation of one thing doth sway much; but yet still as having the force of an example only, and not of a law. They are effectual to move any church, unless some greater thing do hinder; but they bind none, no, not though they be many, saving only when they are the major part of a general assembly, and then their voices, being more in number, must oversway their judgments who are fewer, because in such cases the greater half is the whole.' But as they stand out single, each of them by itself, their number can purchase them no such authority, that the rest of the churches being fewer should be therefore bound to follow them, and to relinquish as good ceremonies as theirs for

VOL. I.

2 A

theirs. Whereas, therefore, it is concluded out of these so weak premises, that the retaining of divers things in the church of England, which other reformed churches have cast out, must needs argue that we do not well, unless we can shew that they have done ill;a what needed this wrest to draw out from us an accusation of foreign churches ? It is not proved as yet, that if they have done well, our duty is to follow them; and to forsake our own course, because it differeth from theirs, although indeed it be as well for us every way, as theirs for them.

And if the proofs alleged for confirmation hereof had been sound, yet seeing they lead no farther than only to shew, that where we can have no better ceremonies, theirs must be taken ; as they cannot with modesty think themselves to have found out absolutely the best which the wit ofmen may devise; so, liking their own somewhat better than other men’s, even because they are their own, they must in equity allow us to be like unto them in this affection: which if they do, they ease us of that uncourteous burden, whereby we are charged, either to condemn them, or else to follow them. They grant we need not follow them if our own ways already be better. And if our own be but equal, the law of common indulgence alloweth us to think them, at the least, half a thought better because they are our own; which we may very well do, and never draw any indictment at all against theirs, but think commendably even of them also.

14. To leave reformed churches therefore, and their actions, tion of the for him to judge of in whose sight they are as they are; and ings of the our desire is, that they may even in his sight be found such, church of England,

as we ought to endeavour by all means that our own may Sesta- likewise be: somewhat we are enforced to speak by way of of things as

simple declaration concerning the proceedings of the church they are. of England in these affairs, to the end that men whose minds

are free from those partial constructions, whereby the only name of difference from some other churches is thought cause sufficient to condemn ours, may the better discern whether that we have done be reasonable, yea or no.

The church of England being to alter her received laws concerning such orders, rites and ceremonies, as had been in former

A declara.

for esta blishment

a Oar church ought either to shew that they have done evil, or else she is found to be in fault, that doth not conform herself in that which she cannot deny to be well abrogated. T. C. 1. üi, p. 183.

« PreviousContinue »