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be left, whether they will force them to believe, to whom it is not given from above, being not forced thereto by any principle of the Gospel, which is now the only dispensation of God to all men: or whether, being Protestants, they will punish in those things wherein the Protestant religion denies them to be judges, either in themselves infallible, or to the consciences of other men; or whether, lastly, they think fit to punish error, supposing they can be infallible that it is so, being not wilful but conscientious, and, according to the best light of him who errs, grounded on Scripture: which kind of error all men religious, or but only reasonable, have thought worthier of pardon, and the growth thereof to be prevented by spiritual means and Church discipline, not by civil laws and outward force, since it is God only who gives as well to believe aright, as to believe at all; and by those means, which he ordained sufficiently in his Church to the full execution of his divine purpose in the Gospel. It remains now to speak of hire, the other evil so mischievous in religion; whereof I promised then to speak further, when I should find God disposing me, and opportunity inviting. Opportunity I find now inviting; and apprehend therein the concurrence of God disposing; since the maintenance of Church ministers, a thing not properly belonging to the magistrate, and yet with such importunity called for, and expected from him, is at present under public debate. Wherein,
lest anything may happen to be determined and established prejudicial to the right and freedom of the Church, or advantageous to such as may be found hirelings therein, it will be now most seasonable, and in these matters, wherein every Christian hath his free suffrage, no way misbecoming Christian meekness to offer freely, without disparagement to the wisest, such advice as God shall incline him and enable him to propound: since heretofore in commonwealths of most fame for government, civil laws were not established till they had been first for certain days published to the view of all men, that whoso pleased might speak freely his opinion thereof, and give in his exceptions, ere the law could pass to a full estab lishment. And where ought this equity to have more place, than in the liberty which is inseparable from Christian religion? This, I am not ig norant, will be a work unpleasing to some: but what truth is not hateful to some or other, as this, in likelihood, will be to none but hirelings. And if there be among them who hold it their duty to speak impartial truth, as the work of their ministry, though not performed without money, let them not envy others who think the same no less their duty by the general office of Christianity, to speak truth, as in all reason may be thought, more impartially and unsuspectedly without money.
Hire of itself is neither a thing unlawful, nor a word of any evil note, signifying no more than a
due recompense or reward; as when our Saviour saith, "The laborer is worthy of his hire." That which makes it so dangerous in the Church, and properly makes the hireling, a word always of evil signification, is either the excess thereof, or the undue manner of giving and taking it. What harm the excess thereof brought to the Church, perhaps was not found by experience till the days of Constantine; who out of his zeal thinking he could be never too liberally a nursing father of the Church, might be not unfitly said to have either overlaid it or choked it in the nursing. Which was foretold, as is recorded in ecclesiastical traditions, by a voice heard from heaven, on the very day that those great donations and Church revenues were given, crying aloud, "This day is poison poured into the Church." Which the event soon after verified, as appears by another no less ancient observation, "That religion brought forth wealth, and the daughter devoured the mother." But long ere wealth came into the Church, so soon as any gain appeared in religion, hirelings were apparent; drawn in long before by the very scent thereof. Judas therefore, the first hireling, for want of present hire answerable to his coveting, from the small number or the meanness of such as then were the religious, sold the religion itself with the founder thereof, his master. Simon Magus the next, in hope only that preaching and the gifts of the Holy Ghost would prove gainful, offered before
hand a sum of money to obtain them. Not long after, as the apostle foretold, hirelings like wolves came in by herds. . . Neither came they in of
themselves only, but invited ofttimes by a corrupt audience: 2 Tim. iv. 3.
Thus we see, that not only the excess of hire in wealthiest times, but also the undue and vicious taking or giving it, though but small or mean, as in the primitive times, gave to hirelings occasion, though not intended, yet sufficient to creep at first into the Church. Which argues also the difficulty, or rather the impossibility, to remove them quite, unless every minister were, as St. Paul, contented to preach gratis; but few such are to be found. As therefore we cannot justly take away all hire in the Church, because we cannot otherwise quite remove all hirelings, so are we not, for the impossibility of removing them all, to use therefore no endeavor that fewest may come in; but rather, in regard the evil, do what we can, will always be incumbent and unavoidable, to use our utmost diligence how it may be least dangerous.
What recompense ought to be given to Church ministers, God hath answerably ordained according to that difference which he hath manifestly put between those his two great dispensations, the Law and the Gospel. Under the Law he gave them tithes; under the Gospel, having left all things in his Church to charity and Christian freedom, he hath given them only what is justly given them.
That, as well under the Gospel as under the Law, say our English divines, and they only of all Protestants, is tithes and they say true, if any man be so minded to give them of his own the tenth or twentieth; but that the law therefore of tithes is in force under the Gospel, all other Protestant divines, though equally concerned, yet constantly deny. For although hire to the laborer be of moral and perpetual right, yet that special kind of hire, the tenth, can be of no right or necessity, but to that special labor for which God ordained it. ....
What if they who are to be instructed be not able to maintain a minister, as in many villages? I answer that the Scripture shows in many places what ought to be done herein. First, I offer it to the reason of any man, whether he think the knowledge of Christian religion harder than any other art or science to attain. I suppose he will grant that it is far easier, both of itself, and in regard of God's assisting Spirit, not particularly promised us to the attainment of any other knowledge, but of this only: since it was preached as well to the shepherds of Bethlehem by angels, as to the Eastern wise men by that star: and our Saviour declares himself anointed to preach the Gospel to the poor, Luke iv. 18; then surely to their capacity. They who after him first taught it, were otherwise unlearned men: they who before Hus and Luther first reformed it, were for the meanness of their condition called, "the poor