Although it nothing content me to have disclos'd thus much before hand, but that I trust hereby to make it manifest with what small willingnesse I endure to interrupt the pursuit of no lesse hopes then these, and leave a calme and pleasing solitarynes fed with cherful and confident thoughts, to imbark in a troubl'd sea of noises and hoars disputes, put from beholding the bright countenance of truth in the quiet and still air of delightfull studies to come into the dim reflexion of hollow antiquities sold by the seeming bulk, and there be fain to club quotations with men whose learning and beleif lies in marginal stuffings, who when they have like good sumpters laid ye down their hors load of citations and fathers at your dore , with a rapsody of who and who were Bishops here or there, ye may take off their packsaddles, their days work is don , and episcopacy, as they think, stoutly vindicated.
Let any gentle apprehension that can distinguish learned pains from unlearned drudgery, imagin what pleasure or profoundnesse can be in this, or what honour to deal against such adversaries. But were it the meanest under-service, if God by his Secretary conscience injoyn it, it were sad for me if I should draw back, for me especially, now when all men offer their aid to help ease and lighten the difficult labours of the Church, to whose service by the intentions of my parents and friends I was destin'd of a child , and in mine own resolutions, till comming to some maturity of yeers and perceaving what tyranny had invaded the Church, that he who would take Orders must subscribe slave, and take an oath withall, which unlesse he took with a conscience that would retch, he must either strait perjure, or split his faith, I thought it better to preferre a blameless silence before the sacred office of speaking bought, and begun with servitude and forswearing.
Howsoever thus Church-outed by the Prelats , hence may appear the right I have to meddle in these matters, as before, the necessity and constraint appear'd. That Prelaty opposeth the reason and end of the Gospel three ways, and first in her outward form. After this digression it would remain that I should single out some other reason which might undertake for Prelaty to be a fit and lawfull Church-government; but finding none of like validity with these that have already sped according to their fortune, I shall adde one reason why it is not to be thought a Church-government at all, but a Church-tyranny, and is at hostile terms with the end and reason of Christs Evangelick ministery.
Albeit I Must confesse to be half in doubt whether I should bring it forth or no, it being so contrary to the eye of the world, and the world so potent in most mens hearts, that I shall endanger either not to be regarded, or not to be understood. For who is ther almost that measures wisdom by simplicity , strength by suffering, dignity by lowlinesse , who is there that counts it first to be last , somthing to be nothing, and reckons himself of great command in that he is a servant?
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It had bin a small maistery for him, to have drawn out his Legions into array and flankt them with his thunder; therefore he sent Foolishnes to confute Wisdom, Weaknes to bind Strength, Despisednes to vanquish Pride. And this is the great mistery of the Gospel made good in Christ himself, who as he testifies came not to be minister'd to but to minister; and must be fulfil'd in all his ministers till his second comming.
Positively Izzy: Emmie & Friends, Book 2
To goe against these principles S. Paul so fear'd , that if he should but affect the wisdom of words in his preaching, he thought it would be laid to his charge, that he had made the crosse of Christ to be of none effect. Whether then Prelaty do not make of none effect the crosse of Christ by the principles it hath so contrary to these, nullifying the power and end of the Gospel, it shall not want due proof, if it want not due belief. Neither shal I stand to trifle with one that will tell me of quiddities and formalities, whether Prelaty or Prelateity in abstract notion be this or that, it suffices me that I find it in his skin, so I find it inseparable, or not oftner otherwise then a Phenix hath bin seen; although I perswade me that whatever faultines was but superficial to Prelaty at the beginning, is now by the just judgment of God long since branded and inworn into the very essence therof.
First therefore, if to doe the work of the Gospel Christ our Lord took upon him the form of a servant , how can his servant in this ministery take upon him the form of a Lord? I know Bilson hath decipher'd us all the galanteries of Signore and Monsignore, and Monsieur as circumstantially as any punctualist of Casteel, Naples, or Fountain Bleau could have don , but this must not so complement us out of our right minds, as to be to learn that the form of a servant was a mean, laborious and vulgar life aptest to teach; which form Christ thought fittest, that he might bring about his will according to his own principles choosing the meaner things of this world that he might put under the high.
Now whether the pompous garb, the Lordly life, the wealth, the haughty distance of Prelaty be those meaner things of the world, wherby God in them would manage the mystery of his Gospel, be it the verdit of common sense. For Christ saith in S. John, The servant is not greater then his Lord, nor he that is sent greater then he that sent him.
And addes , If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye doe them. Then let the prelates well advise, if they neither know, nor do these things, or if they know, and yet doe them not, wherin their happines consists. And thus is the Gospel frustrated by the Lordly form of Prelaty. That the ceremonius doctrin of Prelaty opposeth the reason and end of the Gospel. That which next declares the heavenly power, and reveales the deep mistery of the Gospel, is the pure simplicity of doctrine, accounted the foolishnes of this world, yet crossing and confounding the pride and wisdom of the flesh.
And wherein consists this fleshly wisdom and pride? Where then? Now if the pride and wisdom of the flesh were to be defeated and confounded, no doubt, but in that very point wherin it was proudest and thought it self wisest, that so the victory of the Gospel might be the more illustrious.
But our Prelats instead of expressing the spirituall power of their ministery by warring against this chief bulwark and strong hold of the flesh, have enter'd into fast league with the principall enemy against whom they were sent, and turn'd the strength of fleshly pride and wisdom against the pure simplicity of saving truth. First, mistrusting to find the autority of their order in the immediat institution of Christ, or his Apostles by the cleer evidence of Scripture, they fly to the carnal supportment of tradition: when we appeal to the Bible, they to the unweildy volumes of tradition.
Paradise Regain'd: Book 2
And doe not shame to reject the ordinance of him that is eternal for the pervers iniquity of sixteen hunderd yeers ; choosing rather to think truth it self a lyar , then that sixteen ages should be taxt with an error; not considering the general apostasy that was foretold , and the Churches flight into the wildernes. Nor is this anough , instead of shewing the reason of their lowly condition from divine example and command, they seek to prove their high pre-eminence from humane consent and autority.
Now for their demeanor within the Church, how have they disfigur'd and defac't that more then angelick brightnes , the unclouded serenity of Christian Religion with the dark overcasting of superstitious coaps and flaminical vestures ; wearing on their backs; and, I abhorre to think, perhaps in some worse place the unexpressible Image of God the father.
Tell me ye Priests wherfore this gold, wherfore these roabs and surplices over the Gospel? Do not, ye Church-maskers , while Christ is cloathing upon our barenes with his righteous garment to make us acceptable in his fathers sight, doe not, as ye do, cover and hide his righteous verity with the polluted cloathing of your ceremonies to make it seem more decent in your own eyes.
How beautifull , saith Isaiah , are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth salvation! Are the feet so beautifull , and is the very bringing of these tidings so decent of it self? Paul for the hellish Sophistry of Papism. If the multitude be rude, the lips of the Preacher must give knowledge, and not ceremonies.
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And although some Christians be new born babes comparatively to some that are stronger, yet in respect of ceremony which is but a rudiment of the Law, the weakest Christian hath thrown off the robes of his minority, and is a perfect man as to legal rites. What childrens food there is in the Gospel we know to be no other then the sincerity of the word that they may grow thereby.
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But is heer the utmost of your outbraving the service of God? Ye have bin bold, not to set your threshold by his threshold, or your posts by his posts , but your Sacrament, your signe , call it what you will, by his Sacrament, baptizing the Christian infant with a solemne sprinkle, and unbaptizing for your own part with a profane and impious forefinger : as if when ye had layd the purifying element upon his forehead, ye meant to cancel and crosse it out again with a caracter not of Gods bidding.
O but the innocence of these ceremonies! O rather the sottish absurdity of this excuse! How much more then must these, and much grosser ceremonies now in force delude the end of Christs comming in the flesh against the flesh, and stifle the sincerity of our new cov'nant which hath bound us to forsake all carnall pride and wisdom especially in matters of religion. Thus we see again how Prelaty sayling in opposition to the main end and power of the Gospel doth not joyn in that misterious work of Christ, by lowlines to confound height, by simplicity of doctrin the wisdom of the world, but contrariwise hath made it self high in the world and the flesh to vanquish things by the world accounted low, and made it self wise in tradition and fleshly ceremony to confound the purity of doctrin which is the wisdom of God.
That Prelaticall jurisdiction opposeth the reason and end of the Gospel and of State. The third and last consideration remains, whether the Prelats in their function doe work according to the Gospel practizing to subdue the mighty things of this world by things weak: which S. Paul hath set forth to be the power and excellence of the Gospel, or whether in more likelihood they band themselves with the prevalent things of this world to overrun the weak things which Christ hath made chois to work by: and this will soonest be discern'd by the cours of their jurisdiction.
But heer again I find my thoughts almost in suspense betwixt yea and no, and am nigh turning mine eye which way I may best retire, and not proceed in this subject, blaming the ardency of my mind that fixt me too attentively to come thus farre. For Truth, I know not how, hath this unhappinesse fatall to her, ere she can come to the triall and inspection of the Understanding, being to passe through many little wards and limits of the severall Affections and Desires, she cannot shift it, but must put on such colours and attire, as those Pathetick handmaids of the soul please to lead her in to their Queen.
And if she find so much favour with them, they let her passe in her own likenesse ; if not, they bring her into the presence habited and colour'd like a notorious Falshood. And contrary when any Falshood comes that way, if they like the errand she brings, they are so artfull to counterfeit the very shape and visage of Truth, that the Understanding not being able to discern the fucus which these inchantresses with such cunning have laid upon the feature sometimes of Truth, sometimes of Falshood interchangeably, sentences for the most part one for the other at the first blush, according to the suttle imposture of these sensual mistresses that keep the ports and passages between her and the object.
So that were it not for leaving imperfect that which is already said, I should goe neer to relinquish that which is to follow. And because I see that most men, as it happens in this world, either weakly, or falsly principl'd , what through ignorance, and what through custom of licence , both in discours and writing, by what hath bin of late written in vulgar, have not seem'd to attain the decision of this point, I shall likewise assay those wily Arbitresses who in most men have, as was heard, the sole ushering of Truth and Falshood between the sense, and the soul, with what loyalty they will use me in convoying this Truth to my understanding; the rather for that by as much acquaintance as I can obtain with them, I doe not find them engag'd either one way or other.
Concerning therfore ecclesial jurisdiction, I find still more controversie , who should administer it, then diligent enquiry made to learn what it is, for had the pains bin taken to search out that, it had bin long agoe enroul'd to be nothing els but a pure tyrannical forgery of the Prelats ; and that jurisdictive power in the Church there ought to be none at all.
It cannot be conceiv'd that what men now call jurisdiction in the Church, should be other thing then a Christian censorship; and therefore is it most commonly and truly ecclesiastical censure. Now if the Roman censor a civil function, to that severe assise of survaying and controuling the privatest, and sliest manners of all men and all degrees had no jurisdiction, no courts of plea, or inditement , no punitive force annext , whether it were that to this manner of correction the intanglement of suits was improper, or that the notice of those upright Inquisitors extended to such the most covert and spiritous vices as would slip easily between the wider and more material grasp of Law; Or that it stood more with the Majesty of that office to have no other Serjeants or maces about them but those invisible ones of Terror and shame: Or lastly, were it their feare , lest the greatnes of this autority and honour arm'd with jurisdiction might step with ease into a tyranny.
In all these respects with much more reason undoubtedly ought the censure of the Church be quite devested and disintal'd of all jurisdiction whatsoever. For if the cours of judicature to a political censorship seem either too tedious, or too contentious, much more may it to the discipline of Church whose definitive decrees are to be speedy, but the execution of rigour slow, contrary to what in legal proceedings is most usual, and by how much the lesse contentious it is, by so much will it be the more Christian.
And if the censor in his morall episcopy being to judge most in matters not answerable by writ or action could not use an instrument so grosse and bodily as jurisdiction is, how can the minister of Gospel manage the corpulent and secular trial of bill and processe in things meerly spiritual. Or could that Roman office without this juridical sword or saw strike such a reverence of it self into the most undaunted hearts, as with one single dash of ignominy to put all the Senate and Knighthood of Rome into a tremble, surely much rather might the heavenly ministery of the Evangel bind her self about with farre more pearcing beams of Majesty and aw by wanting the beggarly help of halings and amercements in the use of her powerful Keies.
For when the Church without temporal support is able to doe her great works upon the unforc't obedience of men, it argues a divinity about her. But when she thinks to credit and better her spirituall efficacy, and to win her self respect and dread by strutting in the fals visard of worldly autority , tis evident that God is not there; but that her apostolick vertu is departed from her, and hath left her Key-cold. Which she perceaving as in a decay'd nature seeks to the outward fomentations and chafings of worldly help, and external flourishes, to fetch, if it be possible, some motion into her extream parts, or to hatch a counterfeit life with the crafty and arteficial heat of jurisdiction.
But it is observable that so long as the Church in true imitation of Christ can be content to ride upon an Asse carrying her self and her government along in a mean and simple guise, she may be as he is, a Lion of the tribe of Juda , and in her humility all men with loud Hosanna's will confesse her greatnes. But when despising the mighty operation of the spirit by the weak things of this world she thinks to make her self bigger and more considerable by using the way of civil force and jurisdiction, as she sits upon this Lion she changes into an Asse , and instead of Hosanna's every man pelts her with stones and dirt.
Lastly, if the wisdom of the Romans fear'd to commit jurisdiction to an office of so high esteem and dred as was the censors, we may see what a solecism in the art of policy it hath bin all this while through Christendom to give jurisdiction to ecclesiastical Censure. For that strength joyn'd with religion abus'd and pretended to ambitious ends must of necessity breed the heaviest and most quelling tyranny not only upon the necks, but even to the souls of men, which if Christian Rome had bin so cautelous to prevent in her Church, as Pagan Rome was in her state, we had not had such a lamentable experience thereof as now we have from thence upon all Christendom.
For although I said before that the Church coveting to ride upon the Lionly form of jurisdiction makes a transformation of her self into an Asse , and becomes despicable, that is to those whom God hath enlight'nd with true knowledge; but where they remain yet in the reliques of superstition, this is the extremity of their bondage, and blindnes , that while they think they doe obeisance to the Lordly visage of a Lion, they doe it to an asse , that through the just judgement of God is permitted to play the dragon among them because of their wilfull stupidity. And let England here well rub her eyes, lest by leaving jurisdiction and Church censure to the same persons, now that God hath bin so long medcining her eyesight, she doe not with her overpolitick fetches marre all, and bring her self back again to worship this Asse bestriding a Lion.
But because some count it rigorous, and that hereby men shall be liable to a double punishment, I will begin somwhat higher and speak of punishment. Which, as it is an evil, I esteem to be of two sorts, or rather two degrees only, a reprobat conscience in this life, and hell in the other world. Whatever else men call punishment, or censure is not properly an evil, so it be not an illegall violence, but a saving med'cin ordaine'd of God both for the publik and privat good of man, who consisting of two parts the inward and the outward, was by the eternall providence left under two sorts of cure, the Church and the Magistrat.
The Magistrat hath only to deale with the outward part, I mean not of the body alone, but of the mind in all her outward acts, which in Scripture is call'd the outward man. So that it would be helpfull to us if we might borrow such autority as the Rhetoricians by patent may give us, with a kind of Promethean skill to shape and fashion this outward man into the similitude of a body, and set him visible before us; imagining the inner man only as the soul. Thus then the civill Magistrat looking only upon the outward man I say as a Magistrat , for what he doth further, he doth it as a member of the Church if he find in his complexion, skin, or outward temperature the signes and marks, or in his doings the effects of injustice, rapine, lust, cruelty, or the like, sometimes he shuts up as in frenetick , or infectious diseases; or confines within dores , as in every sickly estate.
Sometimes he shaves by penalty, or mulct , or els to cool and take down those luxuriant humors which wealth and excesse have caus'd to abound. Otherwhiles he seres , he cauterizes, he scarifies, lets blood, and finally for utmost remedy cuts off.