Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

giving it to God. Forced consecrations out of another man's estate are no better than forced vows, hateful to God,“ who loves a cheerful giver ;" but much more hateful, wrung out of men's purses to maintain a disapproved ministry against their conscience; however unholy, infamous, and dishonourable to his ministers and the free gospel, maintained in such unworthy manner as by violence and extortion. If he give it as to his teacher, what justice or equity compels him to pay for learning that religion which leaves freely to his choice, whether he will learn it or no, whether of this teacher or another, and especially to pay for what he never learned, or approves not; whereby, besides the wound of his conscience, he becomes the less able to recompense his true teacher? Thus far hath been inquired by whom church-ministers ought to be maintained, and hath been proved most natural, most equal and agreeable with scripture, to be by them who receive their teaching; and by whom, if they be unable. Which ways well observed can discourage none but hirelings, and will much lessen their number in the church.

It remains lastly to consider, in what manner God hath ordained that recompense be given to ministers of the gospel ; and by all scripture it will appear, that he hath given it them not by civil law and freehold, as they claim, but by the benevolence and free gratitude of such as receive thein : Luke x. 7, 8, “ Eating and drinking such things as they gave you. If they receive you, cat such things as are set before you.” Matth. x. 7, 8, " As ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of God is at hand, &c. Freely ye have received, freely give.” IfGod have ordained ministers to preach freely, whether they receive recompense or not, then certainly he hath forbid both them to compel it, and others to compel it

:

[ocr errors]

for them. But freely given, he accounts it as given to himself: Phil. iv. 16, 17, 18, “Ye sent once and again to my necessity : not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit, that may abound to your account. Having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God:” which cannot be from force or unwillingness. The same is said of alms, Heb. xiii. 16, “ To do good and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifice God is well pleased.” Whence the primitive church thought it no shame to receive all their maintenance as the alms of their auditors. Which they who defend tithes, as if it made for their cause, whenas it utterly confutes them, omit not to set down at large; proving to our hands out of Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, and others, that the clergy lived at first upon the mere benevolence of their hearers; who gave what they gave, not to the clergy, but to the church ; out of which the clergy had their portions given them in baskets, and were thence called sportularii, basket-clerks : that their portion was a very mean allowance, only for a bare livelihood; according to those precepts of our Saviour, Matth. x. 7, &c., the rest was distributed to the poor, They cite also out of Prosper, the disciple of St. Austin, that such of the clergy, as had means of their own, might not without sin partake of church maintenance; not receiving thereby food which they abound with, but feeding on the sins of other men, **

Thus far tithers themselves have contributed to their own confutation, by confessing that the church lived primitively on alms. And I add, that about the year 359, Constantius the emperor having summoned a general council of bishops to Ariminum in Italy, and provided for their subsistence there, the British and French

a

ofwa nourriture & ce de quoy nous sommes

bishops judging it not decent to live on the public, chose rather to be at their own charges. Three only out of Britain constrained through want, yet refusing offered assistance from the rest, accepted the emperor's provi- . sion; judging it more convenient to subsist by public than by private sustenance. Whence we may conclude, that bishops then in this island had their livelihood only from benevolence; in which regard this relater Sulpitius Severus, a good author of the same time, highly praises them. And the Waldenses, our first reformers, both from the scripture and these primitive examples, maintained those among them who bore the office of ministers by alms only. Take their very words from the history written of them in French, Part. 3, Lib. 2. Chap. 2, couverts, &c. Our food and clothing is sufficiently administered and given to us by way of gratuity and alms, by the good people whom we teach.” ****

Hirelings * can pretend that their education, either at school or university, hath been very chargeable, and therefore ought to be repaired in future by a plentiful maintenance : whenas it is well known, that the better half of them, (and ofttimes poor and pitiful boys, of no merit or promising hopes that might entitle them to the publie provision, but their poverty and the unjust favour of friends,) have had the most of their breeding, both at school and university, by scholarships, exhibitions, and fellowships at the public cost, which might engage them the rather to give freely, as they have freely received. Or if they have missed of these helps at the latter place, they have after two or three years left the course of their studies there, if they ever well began them, and undertaken, though furnished with little else but ignorance, boldness, and ambition, if with

یہ پہلی کامیابی سے

no worse vices, a chaplainship in some gentleman's house, to the frequent embasing of his sons with illiterate and narrow principles. Or if they have lived there upon their own, who knows not that seven years charge of living there, to them who fly not from the government. of their parents to the licence of a university, but come seriously to study, is no more than may be well defrayed and reimbursed by one year's revenue of an ordinary good benefice? If they had then means of breeding from their_parents,. it is likely they have more now; and if they have, it needs must be mechanic and uningenuous in them, to bring a bill of charges for the learning of those liberal arts and sciences, which they have learned (if they have indeed learned them, as they seldom have) to their own benefit and accomplishment. But they will say, we had betaken us to some other trade or profession, had we not expected to find a better livelihood by the ministry. This is that which I looked for, to discover them openly neither true lovers of learning, and so very seldom guilty of it, nor true ministers of the gospel. *** Next, it is a fond error, though too much believed among us, to think that the university makes a minister of the gospel ; what it may conduce to other arts and sciences, I'dispute not now : but that 'which makes fit a minister, the scripture can best inform us to be only from above. **** All this is granted, you will say ; but yet that is also requisite he should be trained in other learning ; which can be no where better had than at universities. I answer, that what learning, either human or divine, can be necessary to a minister, may as easily and less chargeably be had in any private huse. *** The small necessity of going thither to learn divinity I prove first from the most part of themselves, who seldom continue there till they have well got through logic, their first rudiments; though, to say truth, logic also may much better be wanting in disputes of divinity, than in the subtile debates of lawyers, and statesmen, who yet seldom or never deal with syllogisms. And those theological disputations there held by professors and graduates are such, as tend least of all to the edification or capacity of the people, but rather perplex and leaven pure doctrine with scholastical trash, than enable any minister to the better preaching of the gospel. ****

I have thus at large examined the usual pretences of hirelings, coloured over most commonly with the cause of learning and universities; as if with divines learning stood and feil, wherein for the most part their pittance is so small : and, to speak freely, it were much better there were not one divine in the universities, no school divinity known, the idle sophistry of monks, the canker of religion; and that they who intended to be ministers, were trained up in the church only by the scripture, and in the original languages thereof at school.; without fetching the compass of other arts and sciences, more than what they can well learn at secondary leisure, and at home.-Neither speak I this in contempt of learning, or the ministry, but hating the common cheats of both; hating that they, who have preached out bishops, prelates, and canonists, should, in what

their serves their own ends, retain their false opinions, Pharisaical leaven, their avarice, and closely their ambition, their pluralities, their nonresidencies, their odious fees, and use their legal and popish arguments for tithes ; that independents should take that name, as they may justly from the true freedom of christian doctrine and church-discipline, subject to no superior judge but God only, and seek to be dependents on the magis.

« PreviousContinue »