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Conclusion : Rererence due to Law generally.



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which otherwise might guide us a contrary way, must here BOOK 1:
submit itself to be that way guided, which the public judg-
ment of the Church hath thought better. In which case that
of Zonaras concerning fasts may be remembered. “Fastings
“ are good, but let good things be done in good and con-
“ venient manner. He that transgresseth in his fasting the
“ orders of the holy fathers,” the positive laws of the Church
of Christ, must be plainly told, “ that good things do lose the

grace of their goodness, when in good sort they are not
“ performed 5.”

And as here men's private fancies 'must give place to the higher judgment of that Church which is in authority a Ý mother over them ; so the very actions of whole churches have in regard of commerce and fellowship with other churches been subject to laws concerning food, the contrary unto which laws had else been thought more convenient for them to observe; as by that order of abstinence from strangled and blood 6 may appear; an order grounded upon that fellowship which the churches of the Gentiles had with the Jews.

Thus we see how even one and the selfsame thing is under divers considerations conveyed through many laws; and that to measure by any one kind of law all the actions of men were to confound the admirable order, wherein God hath disposed all laws, each as in nature, so in degree, distinct from other.

[8.] Wherefore that here we may briefly end: of Law there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world : all things in heaven and earth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power : ?both Angels and men and creatures of what condition soever,

though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uni!

form consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace

and joy

5 [Kaloy juev ņ motela kalà (ap. Beverig. Synod. t. i. p. 43. καλώς γινέσθω. Ει δέ τις θεσμούς Probably Hooker has here respect αποστολικούς και πατέρων άγιων παρα

to the schismatical fasts which were βαίνων νηστεύει, ακούσεται] ότι ου practised by many of the Puritans.] καλόν το καλόν, όταν μη καλώς γίνηται.

6 Acts xv. 20. Zonar. in Can. Apost. 66. p. 34.


The Execution of the Laws not here in Question.





I. An answer to their first proof brought out of Scripture, Prov. ii. 9.
II. To their second, 1 Cor. x. 31.
III. To their third, 1 Tim. iv. 5.
IV. To their fourth, Rom. xiv. 23.
V. To their proofs out of Fathers, who dispute negatively from authority

of Holy Scripture.
VI. To their proof by the Scripture's custom of disputing from divine

authority negatively. VII. An examination of their opinion concerning the force of arguments

taken from human authority for the ordering of men's actions and

VIII. A declaration what the truth is in this matter.

Ch. i. i.

S that which in the title hath been proposed for the matter

whereof we treat, is only the ecclesiastical law whereby we are governed; so neither is it my purpose to maintain any other thing than that which therein truth and reason shall approve. For concerning the dealings of men who administer government, and unto whom the execution of that law belongeth; they have their Judge who sitteth in heaven, and before whose tribunal-seat they are accountable for whatsoever abuse or corruption, which (being worthily misliked in this church the want either of care or of conscience in them hath bred. We are no patrons of those things therefore, the best defence whereof is speedy redress and amendment. That which is of God we defend, to the uttermost of that ability which He hath given ; that which is otherwise, let it wither even in the root from whence it hath sprung? Wherefore all these abuses being severed and set apart,

[Acts v. 38, 39.]


Ch.i. 2.

First Puritan Principle : Scripture the only Rule. 287 which rise from the corruption of men and not from the laws BOOK II. themselves; come we to those things which in the very whole entire form of our church polity have been (as we persuade ourselves) injuriously blamed by them, who endeavour to overthrow the same, and instead thereof to establish a much worse; only through a strong misconceit they have, that the same is grounded on divine authority.

Now whether it be that through an earnest longing desire to see things brought to a peaceable end, I do but imagine the matters whereof we contend to be fewer than indeed they are; or else for that in truth they are fewer when they come to be discussed by reason, than otherwise they seem when by heat of contention they are divided into many slips, and of every branch an heap is made: surely, as now we have drawn them together, choosing out those things which are requisite to be severally all discussed, and omitting such mean specialties as are likely (without any great labour) to fall afterwards of themselves; I know no cause why either the number or the length of these controversies should diminish our hope of seeing them end with concord and love on all sides; which of his infinite love and goodness the Father of all peace and unity grant.

[2.] Unto which scope that our endeavour may the more directly tend, it seemeth fittest that first those things be examined, which are as seeds from whence the rest that ensue have grown. And of such the most general is that wherewith we are here to make our entrance: a question not moved (I think) any where in other churches, and therefore in ours the more likely to be soon (I trust) determined. The rather, for that it hath grown from no other root, than only a desire to enlarge the necessary use of the Word of God; which desire hath begotten an error enlarging it further than (as we are persuaded) soundness of truth will bear. For whereas God hath left sundry kinds of laws unto men, and by all those laws the actions of men are in some sort directed; they hold that one only law, the Scripture, must be the rule to direct in all things, even so far as to the “ taking up of a rush or “ straw 2.” About which point there should not need any

T. C. l. ii. p. 59, 60. [The

[The “that St. Paul speaketh here of words are (p. 59,) “When he seeth “ civil, private, and indifferent ac


Exclusive use of Scripture as a Rule of Life.

Ch. i. 3.

BOOK II. question to grow, and that which is grown might presently

end, if they did yield but to these two restraints: the first is, not to extend the actions whereof they speak so low as that instance doth import of taking up a straw, but rather keep themselves at the least within the compass of moral actions, actions which have in them vice or virtue: the second, not to exact at our hands for every action the knowledge of some place of Scripture out of which we stand bound to deduce it, as by divers testimonies they seek to enforce; but rather as the truth is, so to acknowledge, that it sufficeth if such actions be framed according to the law of Reason; the general axioms, rules, and principles of which law being so frequent in Holy Scripture, there is no let but in that regard even out of Scripture such duties may be deduced by some kind of consequence, (as by long circuit of deduction it may be that even all truth out of any truth may be concluded 3,) howbeit no man bound in such sort to deduce all his actions out of Scripture, as if either the place be to him unknown whereon they may be concluded, or the reference unto that place not presently considered of, the action shall in that respect be condemned as unlawful. In this we dissent, and this we are presently to

examine. The first pret [3.] In all parts of knowledge rightly so termed things

most general are most strong. Thus it must be, inasmuch as op Scripture, the certainty of our persuasion touching particulars dependeth Brellure Prov, ii 9.

altogether upon the credit of those generalities out of which Net or le source

they grow. wisciem

Albeit therefore every cause admit not such infallible evidence of proof, as leaveth no possibility of doubt or scruple behind it; yet they who claim the general assent “ tions, as of eating this or that “ unto him that a man should not “ kind of meat (than which there “ take up a straw but for some pur

can be nothing more indifferent) pose, and for some good pur“ he might easily have seen that the


?"&c.] “ sentence of the Apostle reacheth [So Bishop Butler, Analogy,

even to his case, of taking up a part 1, ch. vii." Things seemingly “ straw.” Which refers to Whitg. «s the most insignificant imaginaDef. 85. “ It is not true that what “ ble are perpetually observed to

soever cannot be proved in the “ be necessary conditions to other " word of God is not of faith, for things of the greatest importance; " then to take up a straw..

so that any one thing whatever “ against faith, and so deadly sin, "may, for ought we know to the “ because it is not found in the Law contrary, be a necessary, condition “ of God." Again, T. C. ii. 60.

other." p. 182. ed. 1736.] “ Seemeth it so strange a thing

tended proof
of the first

... were

to any

Ch. i. 4.

Of the exclusive Use of Scripture as a Rule of Life. 289 of the whole world unto that which they teach, and do not BOOK II. fear to give very hard and heavy sentence upon as many as refuse to embrace the same, must have special regard that their first foundations and grounds be more than slender probabilities. This whole question which hath been moved about the kind of church regiment, we could not but for our own resolution's sake endeavour to unrip and sift; following therein as near as we might the conduct of that judicial method which serveth best for invention of truth. By means whereof, having found this the head theorem of all their. discourses, who plead for the change of ecclesiastical government in England, namely, “ That the Scripture of God is “ in such sort the rule of human actions, that simply what

soever we do and are not by it directed thereunto, the “ same is sin;" we hold it necessary that the proofs hereof be weighed. Be they of weight sufficient or otherwise, it is not ours to judge and determine ; only what difficulties there are which as yet withhold our assent, till we be further and better satisfied, I hope no indifferent amongst them will scorn or refuse to hear.

[4.] First therefore whereas they allege, “ That Wisdom” doth teach men “every good way ;” and have thereupon inferred that no way is good in any kind of action unless wisdom do by Scripture lead unto it; see they not plainly how they restrain the manifold ways which wisdom hath to teach men by unto one only way of teaching, which is by Scripture? The bounds of wisdom are large, and within them much is contained. Wisdom was Adam's instructor in Paradise ; wisdom endued the fathers who lived before the law with the knowledge of holy things; by the wisdom of the law of God David attained to excel others in understanding; and Solomon likewise to excel David by the selfsame wisdom of God teaching him many things besides the law. The ways of well-doing are in number even as 4 T. C. 1. i. p. 20.

“I say, that “ and equity, and every good way.” “ the word of God containeth what- [In T. C. literally it is, “The word

soever things can fall into any ã of God containeth the direction

part of man's life. For so Solomon “ of all things pertaining to the “ saith in the second chapter of the Church, yea, of whatsoever things “ Proverbs, ' My son, if thou receive can fall into any part of man's “ my words, &c. then thou shalt

“ life.” (p. 14.)] “ understand justice, and judgment,

5 Psalm cxix. 99. HOOKER, VOL. I.

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