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and invests them with a reputation: the punishing of wits enhances their authority," faith the viscount St. Albans; "and a forbidden writing is thought to be a certain fpark of truth, that flies up in the faces of them who feek to tread it out." This order therefore may prove a nurfing mother to fects, but I fhall eafily show how it will be a ftepdame to truth: and firft by difenabling us to the maintainance of what is known already.
Well knows he who ufes to confider, that our faith and knowledge thrives by exercife, as well as our limbs and complexion. Truth is compared in feripture to a ftreaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetual progreffion, they ficken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition. A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only becaufe his paftor fays fo, or the affembly fo determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his herefy. There is not any burden, that fome would gladlier poft off to another, than the charge and care of their religion. There be, who knows not that there be of proteftants and profeffors, who live and die in as errant and implicit faith, as any lay papist of Loretto. A wealthy man, addicted to his pleafure and to his profits, finds religion to be a traffic fo entangled, and of fo many piddling accounts, that of all myfteries he cannot fkill to keep a ftock going upon that trade. What fhould he do? Fain he would have the name to be religious, fain he would bear up with his neighbours in that. What does he therefore, but refolves to give over toiling, and to find himself out fome factor, to whose care and credit he may commit the whole managing of his religious affairs; fome divine of note and eftimation that muft be. To him he adheres, refigns the whole warehoufe of his religion, with all the locks and keys into his cuftody; and indeed makes the very person of that man his religion; efteems his affociating with him a fufficient evidence and commendatory of his own piety. So that a man may fay his religion is now no more within himfelf, but is become a dividual movable, and goes and comes near him, according as that good man frequents the houfe. He entertains him, gives him gifts, feafts
him, lodges him; his religion comes home at night, prays, is liberally fupped, and fumptuoufly laid to fleep; rifes, is faluted, and after the malmfey, or fome well-fpiced bruage, and better breakfafted, than he whofe morning appetite would have gladly fed on green figs between Bethany and Jerufalem, his religion walks abroad at eight, and leaves his kind entertainer in the fhop trading all day without his religion.
Another fort there be, who when they hear that all things fhall be ordered, all things regulated and fettled; nothing written but what paffes through the cuftomhouse of certain publicans that have the tonnaging and poundaging of all freefpoken truth; will ftraight give themselves up into your hands, make them and cut them out what religion ye please: there be delights, there be recreations and jolly paftimes, that will fetch the day about from fun to fun, and rock the tedious year as in a delightful dream. What need they torture their heads with that which others have taken fo ftrictly, and fo unalterably into their own purveying? Thefe are the fruits, which a dull eafe and ceffation of our knowledge will bring forth among the people. How goodly, and how to be wifhed were fuch an obedient unanimity as this? What a fine cònformity would it starch us all into? Doubtless a staunch and folid piece of framework, as any January could freeze together.
Nor much better will be the confequence even among the clergy themselves: it is no new thing never heard of before, for a parochial minister, who has his reward, and is at his Hercules pillars in a warm benefice, to be easily inclinable, if he have nothing else that may rouse up his ftudies, to finifh his circuit in an English Concordance and a topic folio, the gatherings and favings of a fober graduateship, a Harmony and a Catena, treading the conftant round of certain common doctrinal heads, attended with their ufes, motives, marks and means; out of which, as out of an alphabet or fol fa, by forming and transforming, joining and disjoining variously, a little bookcraft, and two hours meditation, might furnish him unfpeakably to the performance of more than a weekly charge of fermoning: not to reckon up the infinite helps
of interliniaries, breviaries, fynopfes, and other loitering gear. But as for the multitude of fermons ready printed and piled up, on every text that is not difficult, our London trading St. Thomas in his veftry, and add to boot St. Martin and St. Hugh, have not within their hallowed limits more vendible ware of all forts ready made: fo that penury he never need fear of pulpit provifion, having where fo plenteously to refresh his magazine. But if his rear and flanks be not impaled, if his back door be not fecured by the rigid licenser, but that a bold book may now and then iffue forth, and give the affault to fome of his old collections in their trenches, it will concern him then to keep waking, to ftand in watch, to fet good guards and fentinels about his received opinions, to walk the round and counter-round with his fellow inspectors, fearing left any of his flock be feduced, who alfo then would be better inftructed, better exercised and difciplined. And God fend that the fear of this diligence, which muft then be used, do not make us affect the laziness of a licenfing church!
For if we be fure we are in the right, and do not hold the truth guiltily, which becomes not, if we ourselves condemn not our own weak and frivolous teaching, and the people for an untaught and irreligious gadding rout; what can be more fair, than when a man judicious, learned, and of a confcience, for aught we know as good as theirs that taught us what we know, fhall not privily from houfe to houfe, which is more dangerous, but openly by writing publish to the world what his opinion is, what his reafons, and wherefore that which is now thought cannot be found? Chrift urged it as wherewith to juftify himself that he preached in public; yet writing is more public than preaching; and more eafy to refutation if need be, there being fo many whofe bufinefs and profeffion merely it is to be the champions of truth; which if they neglect, what can be imputed but their floth or unability?
Thus much we are hindered and difinured by this courfe of licenfing toward the true knowledge of what we feem to know. For how much it hurts and hinders the licenfers themselves in the calling of their miniftry,
more than any fecular employment, if they will dif charge that office as they ought, fo that of neceffity they must neglect either the one duty or the other; I infift not, because it is a particular, but leave it to their own confcience, how they will decide it there.
There is yet behind of what I purpofed to lay open, the incredible lofs and detriment that this plot of licensing puts us to, more than if fome enemy at fea fhould flop up all our havens, and ports, and creeks; it hinders and retards the importation of our richest merchandize, truth: nay, it was first established and put in practice by antichristian malice and mystery on fet purpose to extinguish, if it were poffible, the light of reformation, and to fettle falfehood; little differing from that policy wherewith the Turk upholds his Alcoran, by the prohibiting of printing. It is not denied, but gladly confeffed, we are to fend our thanks and vows to Heaven, louder than most of nations, for that great measure of truth which we enjoy, especially in those main points between us and the pope, with his appurtenances the prelates: but he who thinks we are to pitch our tent here, and have attained the utmost profpect of reformation, that the mortal glass wherein we contemplate can fhow us, till we come to beatific vifion; that man by this very opinion declares, that he is yet far fhort of truth.
Truth indeed came once into the world with her divine mafter, and was a perfect fhape moft glorious to look on: but when he afcended, and his apoftles after him were laid asleep, then ftraight arofe a wicked race of deceivers, who as that ftory goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his confpirators, how they dealt with the good Ofyris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time ever fince, the fad friends of Truth, fuch as durft appear, imitating the careful search that Ifis made for the mangled body of Ofiris, went up and down gathering up limb by limb ftill as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, lords and çommons, nor ever fhall do, till her mafter's fecond coming; he shall bring together every joint and member, and fhall mould them into an immortal feature of love
linefs and perfection. Suffer not thefe licenfing prohibitions to ftand at every place of opportunity forbidding and disturbing them that continue feeking, that continue to do our obfequies to the torn body of our martyred faint. We boaft our light; but if we look not wifely on the fun itself, it fmites us into darkness. Who can difcern those planets that are oft combuft, and those ftars of brighteft magnitude that rife and fet with the fun, until the oppofite motion of their orbs bring them to fuch a place in the firmament, where they may be feen evening or morning? The light which we have gained, was given us, not to be ever staring on, but by it to discover onward things more remote from our knowledge. It is not the unfrocking of a prieft, the unmitring of a bishop, and the removing him from off the prefbyterian fhoulders, that will make us a happy nation; no, if other things as great in the church, and in the rule of life both economical and political be not looked into and reformed, we have looked fo long upon the blaze that Zuinglius and Calvin have beaconed up to us, that we are stark blind. There be who perpetually complain of fchifms and fects, and make it such a calamity, that any man diffents from their maxims. It is their own pride and ignorance which caufes the difturbing, who neither will hear with meeknefs, nor can convince, yet all muft be fuppreffed which is not found in their Syntagma. They are the troublers, they are the dividers of unity, who neglect and permit not others to unite those diffevered pieces, which are yet wanting to the body of truth. To be ftill fearching what we know not, by what we know, ftill closing up truth to truth as we find it, (for all her body is homogeneal, and proportional) this is the golden rule in theology as well as in arithmetic, and makes up the best harmony in a church not the forced and outward union of cold, and neutral, and inwardly divided minds.
Lords and commons of England! confider what nation it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governors: a nation not flow and dull, but of a quick, ingenious, and piercing fpirit; acute to invent, fubtile and finewy to difcourfe, not beneath the reach of any