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take his tools as they do theirs, he would mar all the work he took in hanu. How few among them that know to write or speak in a pure style; much less to distinguish the ideas, and various kinds of style; in Latin barbarous, and oft not without solecisms, declaiming in rugged and miscellaneous gear blown together by the four winds, and in their choice preferring the gay rankness of Apuleius, Arnobius, or any modern fustianist, before the native Latinisms of Cicero. In the Greek tongue most of them unlettered, or "unentered to any sound proficiency in those attic masters of moral wisdom and eloquence." In the Hebrew text, which is so necessary to be understood, except it be some few of them, their lips are utterly uncircumcised. No less are they out of the way in philosophy, pestering their heads with the sapless dotages of old Paris and Salamanca. And that which is the main point, in their sermons affecting the comments and postils of friars and Jesuits, but scorning and slighting the reformed writers; insomuch that the better sort among them will confess it a rare matter to hear a true edifying sermon in either of their great churches; and that such as are most hummed and applauded there, would scarcely be suffered the second hearing in a grave congregation of pious Christians. Is there cause why these men should overwean, and be so queasy of the rude multitude, lest their deep worth should be undervalued for want of fit umpires? No, my matriculated confutant, there will not want in any congregation of this island, that hath not been altogether famished or wholly perverted with prelatish leaven; there will not want divers plain and solid men, that have learned by the experience of a good conscience, what it is to be well taught, who will soon look through and through both the lofty nakedness of your latinizing barbarian, and the finical goosery of your neat sermon actor. And so I leave you and your fellow "stars," as you term them, "of either horizon," meaning I suppose either hemisphere, unless you will be ridiculous in your astronomy for the rational horizon in heaven is but one, and the sensible horizons in earth are innumerable; so that your allusion was as erroneous as your stars. But that you did well to prognosticate them all at lowest in the horizon; that is, either seeming bigger than they are through the mist and vapour which they raise, or else sinking and wasted to the snuff in their western socket.
His eleventh section intends I know not what, unless to clog us with the residue of his phlegmatic sloth, discussing with a heavy pulse the "expedience of set forms;" which no question but to some, and for some time may be permitted, and perhaps there may be usefully set forth by the church a common directory of public prayer, especially in the administration of the sacraments. But that it should therefore be enforced where both minister and people profess to have no need, but to be scandalized by it, that, I hope, every sensible Christian will deny: and the reasons of such denial the confuter himself, as his bounty still is to his adversary, will give us out of his affirmation. First saith he, "God in his providence hath chosen some to teach others, and pray for others, as ministers and pastors." Whence I gather, that however the faculty of others may be, yet that they whom God hath set apart to his ministry, are by him endued with an ability of prayer; because their office is to pray for others, and not to be the lip-working deacons of other men's appointed words. Nor is it easily credible, that he
who can preach well, should be unable to pray well; whenas it is indeed the same ability to speak affirmatively, or doctrinally, and only by changing the mood, to speak prayingly. In vain therefere do they pretend to want utterance in prayer, who can find utterance to preach. And if prayer be the gift of the Spirit, why do they admit those to the ministry, who want a main gift of their function, and prescribe gifted men to use that which is the remedy of another man's want; setting them their tasks to read, whom the Spirit of God stands ready to assist in his ordinance with the gift of free conceptions? What if it be granted to the infirmity of some ministers (though uch seem rather to be half ministers) to help themselves with a set form, shall it therefore be urged upon the plenteous graces of others? And let it be granted to some people while they are babes in Christian gifts, were it not better to take it away soon after, as we do loitering books and interlineary translations from children; to stir up and exercise that portion of the Spirit which is in them, and not impose it upon congregations who not only deny to need it, but as a thing troublesome and offensive, refuse it? Another reason which he brings for liturgy, is "the preserving of order, unity, and piety;" and the same shall be my reason against liturgy. For I, readers, shall always be of this opinion, that obedience to the Spirit of God, rather than to the fair seeming pretences of men, is the best and most dutiful order that a Christian can observe. If the Spirit of God manifest the gift of prayer in his minister, what more seemly order in the congregation, than to go along with that man in our devoutest affections? For him to abridge himself by reading, and to forestall himself in those petitions, which he must either omit, or vainly repeat, when he comes into the pulpit under a show of order, is the greatest disorder. Nor is unity less broken, especially by our liturgy, though this author would almost bring the communion of saints to a communion of liturgical words. For what other reformed church holds communion with us by our liturgy, and does not rather dislike it? And among ourselves, who knows it not to have been a perpetual cause of disunion?
Lastly, it hinders piety rather than sets it forward, being more apt to weaken the spiritual faculties, if the people be not weaned from it in due time; as the daily pouring in of hot waters quenches the natural heat. For not only the body and the mind, but also the improvement of God's Spirit, is quickened by using. Whereas they who will ever adhere to liturgy, bring themselves in the end to such a pass by over much leaning, as to lose even the legs of their devotion. These inconveniences and dangers follow the compelling of set forms: but that the toleration of the English liturgy now in use is more dangerous than the compelling of any other, which the reformed churches use, these reasons following may evince. To contend that it is fantastical, if not senseless in some places, were a copious argument, especially in the Responsories. For such alterations as are there used must be by several persons; but the minister and the people cannot so sever their interests, as to sustain several persons; he being the only mouth of the whole body which he presents. And if the people pray, he being silent, or they ask any one thing, and he another, it either changes the property, making the priest the people, and the people the priest, by turns, or else makes two persons and two bodies representative where there should be but one. Which, if it be nought else, must needs be a strange quaintness in ordinary prayer. The like, or worse, may be said of the litany, wherein neither priest nor people speak any entire sense of themselves throughout. the whole, I know not what to name it; only by the timely contribution of their parted stakes, closing up as it were the schism of a sliced prayer, they
pray not in vain, for by this means they keep life between them in a piece. of gasping sense, and keep down the sauciness of a continual rebounding nonsense. And hence it is, that as it hath been far from the imitation of any warranted prayer, so we all know it hath been obvious to be the pattern of many a jig. And he who hath but read in good books of devotion and no more, cannot be so either of ear or judgment unpractised to distinguish what is grave, pathetical, devout, and what not, but will presently perceive this liturgy all over in conception lean and dry, of affections empty and unmoving, of passion, or any height whereto the soul might soar upon. the wings of zeal, destitute and barren; besides errors, tautologies, impertinences, as those thanks in the woman's churching for her delivery from. sunburning and moonblasting, as if she had been travailing not in her bed, but in the deserts of Arabia. So that while some men cease not to admire the incomparable frame of our liturgy, I cannot but admire as fast what they think is become of judgment and taste in other men, that they can hope to be heard without laughter. And if this were all, perhaps it were a compliable matter. But when we remember this our liturgy where we found it, whence we had it, and yet where we left it, still serving to all the abominations of the antichristian temple, it may be wondered now we can demur whether it should be done away or no, and not rather fear we have highly offended in using it so long. It hath indeed been pretended to be more ancient than the mass, but so little proved, that whereas other corrupt liturgies have had withal such a seeming antiquity, as that their publishers have ventured to ascribe them with their worst corruptions either to St. Peter, St. James, St. Mark, or at least to Chrysostom or Basil, ours hath been never able to find either age or author allowable, on whom to father those things therein which are least offensive, except the two creeds, for Te Deum has a smatch in it of Limbus Patrum: as if Christ had not "opened the kingdom of heaven" before he had "overcome the sharpness of death." So that having received it from the papal church as an original creature, for aught can be shown to the contrary, formed and fashioned by workmasters ill to be trusted, we may be assured that if God loathe the best of an idolater's prayer, much more the conceited fangle of his prayer. This confuter himself confesses that a community of the same set form in prayers, is that which "makes church and church truly one ;" we then using a liturgy far more like to the mass book than to any protestant set form, by his own words must have more communion with the Romish church, than with any ¡of the reformed. How can we then not partake with them the curse and vengeance of their superstition, to whom we come so near in the same set form and dress of our devotion? Do we think to sift the matter finer than we are sure God in his jealousy will, who detested both the gold and the spoil of idolatrous cities, and forbad the eating of things offered to idols? Are we stronger than he, to brook that which his heart cannot brook? It i not surely because we think that prayers are no where to be had but at Rome? That were a foul scorn and indignity cast upon all the reformed churches, and our own: if we imagine that all the godly ministers of England are not able to newmould a better and more pious liturgy than this which was conceived and infanted by an idolatrous mother, how basely were that to esteem of God's Spirit, and all the holy blessings and privileges of a true church above a false! Hark ye, prelates, is this your glorious mother of England, who, whenas Christ hath taught her to pray, thinks it not enough unless she add thereto the teaching of Antichrist? How can we believe ye would refuse to take the stipend of Rome, when ye shame not to live upon the almsbasket of her prayers? Will ye persuade us, that ye
can curse Rome from your hearts, when none but Rome must teach ye to pray? Abraham disdained to take so much as a thread or a shoelatchet from the king of Sodom, though no foe of his, but a wicked king; and shall we receive our prayers at the bounty of our more wicked enemies, whose gifts are no gifts, but the instruments of our bane? Alas! that the Spirit of God should blow as an uncertain wind, should so mistake his inspiring, so misbestow his gifts promised only to the elect, that the idolatrous should find words acceptable to present God with, and abound to their neighbours, while the true professors of the gospel can find nothing of their own worth the constituting, wherewith to worship God in public! Consider if this be to magnify the church of England, and not rather to display her nakedness to all the world. Like therefore as the retaining of this Romish liturgy is a provocation to God, and a dishonour to our church, so is it by those ceremonies, those purifyings and offerings at the altar, a pollution and disturbance to the gospel itself; and a kind of driving us with the foolish Galatians to another gospel. For that which the apostles taught hath freed us in religion from the ordinances of men, and commands that "burdens be not laid" upon the redeemed of Christ; though the formalist will say, What, no decency in God's worship? Certainly, readers, the worship of God singly in itself, the very act of prayer and thanksgiving, with those free and unimposed expressions which from a sincere heart unbidden come into the out ward gesture, is the greatest decency that can be imagined. Which to dress. up and garnish with a devised bravery abolished in the law, and disclaimed by the gospel, adds nothing but a deformed ugliness; and hath ever afforded a colourable pretence to bring in all those traditions and carnalities that are so killing to the power and virtue of the gospel. What was that which made the Jews, figured under the names of Aholah and Aholibah, go a whoring after all the heathen's inventions, but that they saw a religion gorgeously attired and desirable to the eye? What was all that the false doctors of the primitive church and ever since have done, but "to make a fair show in the flesh," as St. Paul's words are? If we have indeed given a bill of divorce to popery and superstition, why do we not say as to a divorced wife, Those things which are yours take them all with you, and they shall sweep after you? Why were not we thus wise at our parting from Rome? Ah! like a crafty adulteress she forgot not all her smooth looks and enticing words at her parting; yet keep these letters, these tokens, and these few ornaments; I am not all so greedy of what is mine, let them preserve with you the memory of what I am? No, but of what I was, once fair and lovely in your eyes. Thus did those tender-hearted reformers dotingly suffer themselves to be overcome with harlot's language. And she like a witch, but with a contrary policy, did not take something of theirs, that she still might have power to bewitch them, but for the same intent left something of her own behind her. And that her whorish cunning should prevail to work upon us her deceitful ends, though it be sad to speak, yet such is our blindness, that we deserve. For we are deep in dotage. We cry out sacrilege and misdevotion against those who in zeal have demolished the dens and cages of her unclean wallowings. We stand for a popish liturgy as for the ark of our covenant. And so little does it appear our prayers are from the heart, that multitudes of us declare, they know not how to pray but by rote. Yet they can learnedly invent a prayer of their own to the parliament, that they may still ignorantly read the prayers of other men to God. They object, that if we must forsake all that is Rome's, we must bid adieu to our creed; and I had thought our creed had been of the Apostles, for so it bears title. But if it be hers, let her VOL. I.
take it. We can want no creed, so long as we want not the Scriptures. We magnify those who, in reforming our church, have inconsiderately and blamefully permitted the old leaven to remain and sour our whole lump. But they were martyrs; true, and he that looks well into the book of God's providence, if he read there that God for this their negligence and halting brought all that following persecution upon this church, and on themselves, perhaps will be found at the last day not to have read amiss.
But now, readers, we have the port within sight; his last section, which is no deep one, remains only to be forded, and then the wished shore. And here first it pleases him much, that he had descried me, as he conceives, to be unread in the councils. Concerning which matter it will not be unnecessary to shape him this answer; that some years I had spent in the stories of those Greek and Roman exploits, wherein I found many things both nobly done, and worthily spoken; when coming in the method of time to that age wherein the church had obtained a Christian emperor, I so prepared myself, as being now to read examples of wisdom and goodness among those who were foremost in the church, not elsewhere to be paralleled; but, to the amazement of what I expected, I found it all quite contrary; excepting in some very few, nothing but ambition, corruption, contention, combustion; insomuch that I could not but love the historian Socrates, who, in the proem to his fifth book professes, "he was fain to intermix affairs of state, for that it would be else an extreme annoyance to hear in a continued discourse the endless brabbles and counter-plottings of the bishops." Finding, therefore, the most of their actions in single to be weak, and yet turbulent; full of strife, and yet flat of spirit; and the sum of their best councils there collected, to be most commonly in questions either trivial and vain, or else of short and easy decision, without that great bustle which they made; I concluded that if their single ambition and ignorance was such, then certainly united in a council it would be much more; and if the compendious recital of what they there did was so tedious and unprofitable, then surely to set out the whole extent of their tattle in a dozen volumes would be a loss of time irrecoverable. Besides that which I had read of St. Martin, who for his last sixteen years could never be persuaded to be at any council of the bishops. And Gregory Nazianzen betook him to the same resolution, affirming to Procopius, "that of any council or meeting of bishops he never saw good end; nor any remedy thereby of evil in the church, but rather an increase. For," saith he, "their contentions and desire of lording no tongue is able to express." I have not, therefore, I confess, read more of the councils save here and there; I should be sorry to have been such a prodigal of my time: but that which is better, I can assure this confuter, I have read into them all. And if I want any thing yet, I shall reply something toward that which in the defence of Muræna was answered by Cicero to Sulpitius the lawyer. If ye provoke me (for at no hand else will I undertake such a frivolous labour) I will in three months be an expert councilist. For, be not deceived, readers, by men that would overawe your ears with big names and huge tomes that contradict and repeal one another, because they can cram a margin with citations. Do but winnow their chaff from their wheat, ye shall see their great heap shrink and wax thin past belief. From hence he passes to inquire wherefore I should