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be strongly enforced against them, because it wringeth them most of all, and is of all others—for aught I see—the most unanswerable. You may notwithstanding say, that you would be heartily glad these their positions might be salved, as the Brownists might not appear to have issued out of their loins : but until that be done, they must give us leave to think that they have cast the seed whereout these tares are grown.
Another sort of men there are, which have been content to run on with the Reformers for a time, and to make them poor instruments of their own designs. These are a sort of godless politics, who, perceiving the plot of discipline to consist of these two parts, the overthrow of Episcopal, and erection of Presbyterial authority; and that this latter can take no place till the former be removed ; are content to join with them in the destructive part of discipline, bearing them in hand, that in the other also they shall find them as ready. But when time shall come, it may be they would be as loath to be yoked with that kind of regiment, as now they are willing to be released from this. These men's ends in all their actions is distraction; their pretence and colour, reformation. Those things which under this colour they have effected to their own good are, 1. By maintaining a contrary faction, they have kept the Clergy always in awe, and thereby made them more pliable, and willing to buy their peace. 2. By maintaining an opinion of equality among Ministers, they have made way to their own purposes for devouring Cathedral Churches, and Bishops' livings. 3. By exclaiming against abuses in the Church, they have carried their own corrupt dealings in the Civil State more covertly. For such is the nature of the multitude, that they are not able to apprehend many things at once; so as being possessed with a dislike or liking of any one thing, many other in the mean time may escape them without being perceived. 4. They have sought to disgrace the clergy, in entertaining a conceit in men's minds, and confirming it by continual practice, That men of learning, and especially of the Clergy, which are employed in the chiefest kind of learning, are not to be admitted, to matters of State, contrary to the practice of all wellgoverned commonwealths, and of our own till these late years.
A third sort men there are, though not descended from the Reformers, yet in part raised and greatly strengthened by them; namely, the cursed crew of Atheists. This also is one of those points, which I am desirous you should handle most effectually, and strain yourself therein to all points of motion and affection; as in that of the Brownists, to all strength and sinews of reason. This is a sort most damnable, and yet by the general suspicion of the world at this day most common. The causes of it, which are in the parties themselves, although you handle in the beginning of the fifth book, yet here again they may be touched: but the occasions of help and furtherance, which by the Reformers have been yielded unto them, are, as I conceive two ; namely, senseless preaching, and disgracing of the Ministry: for how should not men dare to iinpugn that, which neither by force of reason, nor by authority of persons, is maintained ? But in the parties themselves these two causes I conceive of Atheism : 1. More abundance of wit than judgment, and of witty than judicious learning ; whereby they are more inclined to contradict any thing, than willing to be informed of the truth. They are not therefore men of sound learning for the most part, but smatterers ; neither is their kind of dispute so much by force of argument, as by scoffing ; which humour of scoffing and turning matters most serious into merriment, is now become so common, as we are not to marvel what the Prophet means by the seat of scorners, nor what the Apostles, by foretelling of scorners to come; for our own age hath verified their speech unto us : which also may be an argument against these scoffers and Atheists themselves, seeing it hath been so many ages ago foretold, that such men the latter days of the world should afford : which could not be done by any other spirit, save that whereunto things future and present are alike. And even for the main question of the resurrection, whereat they stick so mightily, was it not plainly foretold, that men should in the latter times say,
“Where is the promise of his coming ?” Against the creation, the ark, and divers other points, exceptions are said to be taken, the ground whereof is superfluity of wit, without ground of learning and judgment. A second cause of Atheism is sensuality, which maketh men desirous to remove all stops and impediments of their wicked life; among which because Religion is the chiefest, so as neither in this life without shame they can persist therein, nor -if that be true—without torment in the life to come ; they therefore whet their wits to annihilate the joys of Heaven, wherein they see—if any such be -they can have no part, and likewise the pains of Hell, wherein their portion must necds be very great. They labour therefore, not that they may not deserve those pains, but that, deserving them, there may be no such pains to seize upon them. But what conceit can be imagined more base, than that man should strive to persuade himself even against the secret instinct, no doubt, of his own mind, that his soul is as the soul of a beast, mortal, and corruptible with the body? Against which barbarous opinion their own Atheism is a very strong argument. For, were not the soul a nature separable from the body, how could it enter into discourse of things merely spiritual, and nothing at all pertaining to the body ? Surely the soul were not able to conceive any thing of Heaven, no not so much as to dispute against Heaven, and against God, if there were not in it somewhat heavenly, and derived from God.
The last which have received strength and encouragement from the Reformers are Papists; against whom, although they are most bitter enemies, yet unwittingly they have given them great advantage. For what can any enemy rather desire than the breach and dissension of those which are confederates against him? Wherein they are to remember that if our communion with Papists in some few ceremonies do so much strengthen them, as is pretended, how much more doth this division and rent among ourselves, especially seeing it is maintained to be, not in light matters only, but even in matters of faith and salvation? Which over-reaching speech of theirs, because it is so open an advantage for the Barrowist and the Papist, we are to wish and hope for, that they will acknowledge it to have been spoken rather in heat of affection, than with soundness of judgment; and that through their exceeding love to that creature of discipline which themselves have bred, nourished, and maintained, their mouth in commendation of her did so often overflow.
From hence you may proceed—but the means of connection I leave to yourself—to another discourse, which I think very meet to be handled either here or elsewhere at large; the parts whereof may be these : 1. That in this cause between them and us, men are to sever the proper and essential points and controversy from those which are accidental. The most essential and proper are these two: overthrow of the Episcopal, and erection of Presbyterial authority. But in these two points whosoever joineth with them, is accounted of their number; whosoever in all other points agreeth with them, yet thinketh the authority of Bishops not unlawful, and of Elders not necessary, may justly be severed from their retinue. Those things therefore, which either in the persons, or in the laws and orders themselves are faulty, may be complained on, acknowledged, and amended, yet they no whit the nearer their main purpose: for what if all errors by them supposed in our Liturgy were amended, even according to their own heart's desire; if non-residence, pluralities, and the like, were utterly taken away; are their lay-elders therefore presently authorised ? or their sovereign ecclesiastical jurisdiction established ?
But even in their complaining against the outward and accidental matters in Church-Government, they are many ways faulty. 1. In their end, which they propose to themselves. For in declaiming against abuses, their meaning is not to have them redressed, but, by disgracing the present state, to make way for their own discipline. As therefore in Venice, if any Senator should discourse against the power of their Senate, as being either too sovereign, or too weak in government, with purpose to draw their authority to a moderation, it might well be suffered; but not so, if it should appear he spake with purpose to induce another state by depraving the present. So in all causes belonging either to Church or Commonwealth, we are to have regard what mind the complaining part doth bear, whether of amendment or innovation; and accordingly either to suffer or suppress it. Their objection therefore is frivolous, “Why, may not men speak against abuses ?" Yes; but with desire to cure the part affected, not to destroy the whole. 2. A second fault is in their manner of complaining, not only because it is for the most part in bitter and reproachful terms, but also it is to the common people, who are judges incompetent and insufficient, both to determine any thing amiss, and for want of skill and authority to amend it. Which also discovereth their intent and purpose to be rather destructive than corrective. 3. Those very exceptions which they take are frivolous and impertinent. Some things indeed they accuse as impious; which if they may appear to be such, God forbid they should be maintained.
Against the rest it is only alleged, that they are idle ceremonies without use, and that better and more profitable might be devised. Wherein they are doubly deceived ; for neither is it a sufficient plea to say, this must give place, because a better may be devised ; because in our judgments of better and worse, we oftentimes conceive amiss, when we compare those things which are in devise with those which are in practice: for the imperfections of the one are hid, till by time and trial they be discovered: the others are already manifest and open to all. But last of all,—which is a point in my opinion of great regard, and which I am desirous to have enlarged, -they do not see that for the most part when they strike at the State Ecclesiastical, they secretly wound the Civil State, for personal faults ; “ What can be said against the Church, which may not also agree to tho Commonwealth ?” In both, Statesmen have always been, and will be always, men; sometimes blinded with error, most commonly perverted by passions: many unworthy have been and are advanced in both ; many worthy not regarded. And as for abuses, which they pretend to be in the law themselves ; when they inveigh against nonresidence, do they take it a matter lawful or expedient in the Civil State, for a man to have a great and gainful office in the North, himself continually ra maining in the South ? “ He that hath an office let him attend his office When they condemn plurality of livings spiritual to the pit of Hell, what think they of the infinity of temporal promotions ? By the great Philosopher, Pol. lib. ii. cap. 9, it is forbidden as a thing most dangerous to Commonwealths, that by the same man many great offices should be exercised. When they deride our ceremonies as vain and frivolous, were it hard to apply their exceptions even to those civil ceremonies, which at the Coronation, in Parliament, and all Courts of Justice, are used? Were it hard to argue even against Circumcision, the ordinance of God, as being a cruel ceremony ? against the Passover, as being ridiculous—shod, girt, a staff in their hand, to eat a lamb ? To conclude : you may exhort the Clergy,
1,-or what if you direct your con. clusion not to the Clergy in general, but only to the learned in or of both Universities ?—you may exhort them to a due consideration of all things, and to a right esteem and valuing of each thing in that degree wherein it ought to stand. For it oftentimes falleth out, that what men have either devised themselves, or greatly delighted in, the price and the excellency thereof they do admire above desert. The chiefest labour of a Christian should be to know, of a Minister to preach, Christ crucified: in regard whereof, not only worldly things, but things otherwise precious, even the discipline itself is vile and base. Whereas now, by the heat of contention, and violence of affection, the zeal of men towards the one hath greatly decayed their love to the other. Hereunto therefore they are to be exhorted to preach Christ Crucified, the mortification of the flesh, the renewing of the Spirit ; not those things which in time of strife seem precious, but-passions being allayed—are vain and childish. G. C.