Page images

fear from him this reply, yours both by force and -money, in the judgment of your own preachers? This

is that which makes atheists in the land, whom they fo much complain of: not the want of maintenance, or - preachers, as they allege, but the many hirelings and cheaters that have the gospel in their hands; hands that still crave, and are never fatisfied. Likely minifters indeed, to proclaim the faith, or to exhort our trust in God, when they themfelves will not trust him to provide for them in the message whereon, they say, he fent them; but threaten, for want of temporal means, to desert it; calling that want of means, which is nothing elle but the want of their own faith; and would force us to pay the hire of building our faith to their covetous incredulity. Doubtlets, if God only be he who gives - ministers to his church till the world's end; and through the whole gospel never fent us for minifters to the 1chools of philofophy, but rather bids us beware of such “ vain deceit,” Col. ii

, 8, (which the primitive church, after two or three ages not remembering, brought herself quickly to confufion) if all the faithful be now “a holy and a royal priesthood," 1 Pet. ii, 5, 9, not ex*cluded from the dispentation of things holiest, after free election of the church, and imposition of hands, there 'will not want ministers elected out of all forts and orders of men, for the gospel makes no difference from the magiftrate himtelf to the weanett artificer, if God evidently favour him with spiritual gifts, as he can eatilu, and oft hath done, while those bachelor divines and doctors of the tippet have been palled by. Heretofore in the first evangelic times, (and it were happy for Christendom if it were fo again) minifters of the volpel were by nothing elie-diftinguished from other chritians, but by their fpiritual knowledge and fanétity of life, for which the church elected them to be her teachers and overleers, though not therelry to feparate them from whatever calling the then found them following befides; as the example of St. Paul deckares, and the first times of schrittianity: iz When once they atlected to be called a bied up for divines in babbling schools, and fed at the public cost, good for nothing else but what was good for nothing, they foon grew idle: that idlenels, with fulneis of bread, begat pride and perpetual contemion with their feeders the deipited laity, through all aros ever lince; to the perverting of religion, and the difu Lance of all Christendom. And we may confidently conclude, it never will be otherwise while they are this upheld undepending on the church, on which alone they anciently depended, and are by the magiftrate publicly maintained å nuinerous faction of indigent persons, crept for the most part out of extreme want and bad nurture, claiming by divine right and freehold the tenth of our eftates, to monopolize the ministry as their peculiar, which is free and open to all able chrittians, elected by any church. Under this preience exempt froin all other employment, and enriching themselves on the public, they last of all prove common incendiaries, and exalt their horns against the magistrate himself that maintains them, as the priest of Rome did foon after against his benefactor the emperor, and the presbyters of late in Scotland. Of which hireling crew, together with all the mischiefs, diffenfions, troubles, wars merely of their kindling, Chrittendom might foon rid herself and be happy, if christians would but know their own dignity, their liberty, their adoption, and let it not be wondered if I fay, their fpiritual priefiliood, whereby they have all equally accets to any ministerial function, whenever called by their own abilities, and the church, though they never came near commencement or univertity. But while proteftants, to avoid the due labour of understanding their own religion, are content to lodge it in the breast, or rather in the books of a clergyman, and to take it thence by scraps and mammocks, as he difpenfes it in his Sunday's dole; they will be always learning and never knowing; always infants; always either his vaflals, as lay papists are to their prietts; or at odds with him, as reformed principles give them fome light to be not wholly conformable; whence infinite disturbances in the ftate, as they do, must needs follow. Thus much I had to fay; and, I suppose, what may be enough to thein CC4

alergy and becaino, as it were, a peculiar uibe of Levites, m.pants, a ditunt-order-in-the-egmmonwealth,



who are not avariciously bent otherwise, touching the likeliest means to remove hirelings out of the church; than which nothing can niore conduce to truth, to peace and all happinets both in church and state. If I be not heard nor believed, the event will bear me, witness to have spoken truth; and I, in the mean while, have borne my witness, not out of feaion, to the church and to my country

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]


PON the fad and serious discourse which we fell

into last night, concerning these dangerous ruptures of the Commonwealth, scarce yet in her infancy, which cannot be without some inward flaw in her bowels; I began to consider more intensely thereon than hitherto I have been wont, resigning mytelf to the wildom and care of those who had the government ; and not finding that either God, or the public required more of me, than my prayers for them that govern. And since you bave not only stirred up my thoughts, by acquainting me with the state of affairs, more inwardly than I knew before; but alto have desired me to let down my opinion thereof, trusting to your ingenuity, I shall give you freely my apprehension, both of our present evils, and what expedients, if God in mercy regard us, may remove them. I will begin with telling you how I was overjoyed, when I heard that the army, under the working of God's holy fpirit, as I thought, and ftill hope well, had been so far wrought to christian humility, and self-denial, as to confels in public their backsliding from the good old caule, and to thow the fruits of their repentance, in the righteousnels of their restoring the old famous parlianient, which they had without just authority diffolved : I call it the famous parliament, though not the harmless, fince none well-affected, but will confefs, they have deserved much more of these nations, than they have undeferved. And I persuade me, that God was pleased with their restitution, tigning it, as he did, with such

hignal victory, when fo great a part of the nation were desperately confpired to call back again their Ægyptian bondage. So much the trore it now amazes me, that they, whose lips were yet scarce closed from giving thanks for that great deliverance, thould be now relapfing, and fo foon again bachniding into the fame fault, which they confefled fo lately, and 10 folemniy to God and the world, and more lately punished in those Cheshire rebels; that they should now ditolve that parliament, Avhich they themselves re-establithed, and acknowledged for their supreme power in their other day's humble representation : and all this, for no apparent cause of public concern: ment to the church or commonwealth, but only for dircommiflioning nme great officers in the army; which bad not been done, as is reported, but upon notice of their intentions againtt the parliament. I pretume not to give my cenfure on this action, not knowing, as yet I do not, the bottom of it. I speak only what it appears to us without doors, till better cauto be declared, and I am fure to all other nations moit illegal and fcandalous, I fear me barbarous, or rather fcaree 10 he exampled among any barbarians, that a paid army thould, for no other caule, thus fubdue the fupreme power that let thera up. This, I say, other nations will judge to the tad dithonour of that army, lately to renowned for the civilete and belt ordered in the world, and by us here at home, for the most conscientious. Certainly, if the great officers and foldiers of the Holland, French, or Venetian forces, should thus fit in council, and write from garrison to garrison againt their fuperiours, they might as easily reduce the king of France, or duke of Venice, and put the United Provinces in like disorder and confusion. Why do they not, being most of them held ignorant of true religion? becaufe the light of nature, the laws of human fociety, the reverence of their magiftrates, cove: nants, engagements, loyalty, allegiance, keeps them in

How, grievous will it then be? how infamous to the true religion which we protets : how diíhonourable to the name of God, that his fear and the power of his knowledge in an army profefling to be his, should not work that obediences that fidelity to their supreme that



« PreviousContinue »