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several texts of Scripture seemingly support that cause; but neither am I ignorant how all those texts may receive a kinder and more mollified interpretation. Every man who is read in Church history knows that belief was drawn up after a long con. testation with Arius, concerning the divinity of our blessed Saviour, and his being one substance with the Father; and that thus compiled it was sent abroad among the Christian Churches, as a kind of test, which whosoever took was looked on as an orthodox believer. It is manifest from hence, that the heathen part of the empire was not concerned in it; for its business was not to distinguish betwixt Pagans and Christians, but betwixt Heretics and true Believers. This, well considered, takes off the heavy weight of censure, which I would willingly avoid, from so venerable a man; for if this proposition, “whosoever will be saved,” be restrained only to those to whom it was intended, and for whom it was composed, I mean the Christians; then the anathema reaches not the Heathens, who had never heard of Christ, and were nothing interested in that dispute. After all I am far from blaming even that prefatory addition to the creed, and as far from cavilling at the continuation of it in the liturgy of the Church, where on the days appointed it is publicly read : for I suppose there is the same reason for it now, in opposition to the Socinians, as there was then against the Arians; the one being a Heresy, which seems to have been refined out of the other; and with how much plausibility of reason it combats our religion, with so much more caution to be avoided : and therefore the prudence of our Church is to be commended, which has interposed her authority for the recommendation of this creed. Yet to such as are grounded in the true belief, those explanatory creeds, the Nicene and this of Athanasius, might perhaps be spared; for what is supernatural, will always be a mystery in spite of exposition, and for my own part, the plain Apostles' creed is most suitable to my weak understanding, as the simplest diet is the most easy of digestion.
I have dwelt longer on this subject than I intended, and longer than perhaps I ought; for having laid down, as my foundation, that the Scripture is a rule; that in all things needful to salvation it is clear, sufficient, and ordained by God Almighty for that purpose, I have left myself no right to interpret obscure places, such as concern the possibility of eternal happiness to heathens : because whatsoever is obscure is concluded not necessary to be known.
But, by asserting the Scripture to be the canon of our faith, I have unavoidably created to myself two sorts of enemies : thé Papists indeed, more directly, because they have kept the Scripture from us what they could; and have reserved to themselves a right of interpreting what they have delivered under the pretence of infallibility: and the Fanatics more collaterally, because they have assumed what amounts to an infallibility, in the private spirit: and have detorted those texts of Scripture which are not necessary to salvation, to the damnable uses of sedition, disturbance, and destruction of the civil government. To begin with the Papists, and to speak freely, I think them the less dangerous, at least in appearance, to our present state, for not only the penal laws are in force against them, and their number is contemptible; but also their peerage and commons are excluded from parliament, and consequently those laws in no probability of being repealed. A general and uninterrupted plot of their Clergy, ever since the Reformation, I suppose all Protestants believe ; for it is not reasonable to think but that so many of their orders, as were outed from their fat possessions, would endeavour a re-entrance against those whom they account heretics. As for the late design, Mr. Coleman's letters, for aught I know, are the best evidence; and what they discover, without wire-drawing their sense, or malicious glosses, all men of reason conclude credible. If there be anything more than this required of me, I must believe it as well as I am able, in spite of the witnesses, and out of a decent conformity to the votes of parliament; for I suppose the fanatics will not allow the private spirit in this case. Here the infallibility is at least in one part of the government; and our understandings as well as our wills are represented. But to return to Roman Catholics, how can we be secure from the practice of Jesuited Papists in that religion ? For not two or three of that order, as some of them would impose upon us, but almost the whole body of them are of opinion, that their infallible master has a right over kings, not only in spirituals but temporals. Not to name Mariana, Bellarmine, Emanuel Sa, Molina, Santarel, Simancha, and at least twenty others of foreign countries; we can produce of our own nation, Campian, and Doleman or Parsons, besides many are named whom I have not read, who all of them attest this doctrine, that the Pope can depose and give away the right of any sovereign prince, si vel paulum deflexerit, if he shall never so little warp. but if he once comes to be excommunicated, then the bond of obedience is taken off from subjects; and they may and ought to drive him, like another Nebuchadnezzar, ex hominum Christianorum dominatu, from exercising dominion over Christians; and to this they are bound by virtue of divine precept, and by all the ties of conscience under no less penalty than damnation. If they answer me, as a learned priest has lately written, that this doctrine of the Jesuits is not de fide ; and that consequently they are not obliged by it, they must pardon me, if I think they have said nothing to the purpose; for it is a maxim in their Church, where points of faith are not decided, and that doctors are of contrary opinions, they may follow which part they please; but more safely the most received and most authorized. And their champion Bellarmine has told the world, in his Apology, that the king of England is a vassal to the Pope, ratione directi dominii, and that he holds in villanage of his Roman landlord. Which is no new claim put in for England. Our chronicles are his authentic witnesses, that king John was deposed by the same plea, and Philip Augustus admitted tenant. And which makes the more for Bellarmine, the French king was again ejected when our king submitted to the Church, and the crown received under the sordid condition of a vassalage.
It is not sufficient for the more modérate and well-meaning Papists, of which I doubt not there are many, to produce the evidences of their loyalty to the late king, and to declare their innocency in this plot: I will grant their behaviour, in the first, to have been as loyal and as brave as they desire; and will be willing to hold them excused as to the second, I mean when it comes to my turn, and after my betters; for it is a madness to be sober alone, while the nation continues drunk: but that saying of their father Cres. is still running in my head, that they may be dispensed with in their obedience to an heretic prince, while the necessity of the times shall oblige them to it: for that, as another of them tells us, is only the effect of Christian prudence; but when once they shall get power to shake him off, an heretic is no lawful king, and consequently to rise against him is no rebellion. I should be glad, therefore, that they would follow the advice which was charitably given them by a reverend prelate of our Church; namely, that they would join in a public act of disowning and detesting those Jesuitic principles; and subscribe to all doctrines which deny the Pope's authority of deposing kings, and releasing subjects from their oath of allegiance : to which I should think they might easily be induced, if it be true that this present Pope has condemned the doctrine of king-killing, a thesis of the Jesuits, amongst others, ex cathedra as they call it, or in open consistory.
Leaving them therefore in so fair a way, if they please themselves, of satisfying all reasonable men of their sincerity and good meaning to the government, I shall make bold to consider that other extreme of our religion, I mean the Fanatics, or Schismatics, of the English Church. Since the Bible has been translated into our tongue, they have used it so, as if their business was not to be saved but to be damned by its contents. If we consider only them, better had it been for the English nation that it had still remained in the original Greek and Hebrew, or at least in the honest Latin of St. Jerome, than that several texts in it should have been prevaricated to the destruction of that government which put it into so ungrateful hands. How many
heresies the first translation of Tindal produced in few years, let my lord Herbert's history of Henry the Eighth inform you; insomuch, that for the gross errors in it, and the great mischiefs it occasioned, a sentence passed on the first edition of the Bible, too shameful almost to be repeated. After the short reign of Edward the Sixth, who had continued to carry on the Reformation on other principles than it was begun, every one knows that not only the chief promoters of that work, but many others, whose consciences would not dispense with Popery, were forced, for fear of persecution, to change climates : from whence returning at the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, many of them who had been in France, and at Geneva, brought back the rigid opinions and imperious discipline of Calvin, to graft upon our Reformation. Which, though they cunningly concealed at first, as well knowing how nauseously that drug would go down in a lawful Monarchy, which was prescribed for a rebellious Commonwealth, yet they always kept it in reserve; and were never wanting to themselves either in court or parliament, when either they had any prospect of a numerous party of fanatic members of the one, or the encouragement of any favourite in the other, whose covetousness was gaping at the patrimony of the Church. They who will consult the works of our venerable Hooker, or the account of his life, or more particularly the letter written to him on this subject, by George Cranmer, may see by what gradations they proceeded; from the dislike of cap and surplice, the very next step was admonitions to the parliament against the whole government ecclesiastical: then came out volumes in English and Latin in defence of their tenets : and immediately practices were set on foot to erect their discipline without authority. Those not succeeding, satire and railing was the next : and Martin Mar-prelate, the Marvel of those times, was the first presbyterian scribbler, who sanctified libels and scurrility to the use of the good old cause.
Which was done, says my author, upon this account; that their serious treatises having been fully answered and refuted, they might compass by railing what
had lost by rea ng; and, when their cause was sunk in court and parliament, they might at least hedge in a stake amongst the rabble : for to their ignorance all things are wit which are abusive; but if Church and State were made the theme, then the doctoral degree of wit was to be taken at Billingsgate : even the most saintlike of the party, though they durst not excuse this contempt and vilifying of the government, yet were pleased, and grinned at it with a pious smile; and called it a judgment of God against the hierarchy. Thus sectaries, we may see, were born with teeth, foul-mouthed and scurrilous from their infancy: and if spiritual pride, venom, violence, contempt of superiors, and slander, had been the marks of orthodox belief; the presbytery and the rest of our schismatics, which are their spawn, were always the most visible Church in the Christian world.
It is true, the government was too strong at that time for a rebellion ; but to snow what proficiency they had made in Cal. vin's school, even then their mouths watered at it: for two of their gifted brotherhood, Hacket and Coppinger, as the story tells us, got up into a pease-cart, and harangued the people, to dispose them to an insurrection, and to establish their discipline by force : so that however it comes about, that now they celebrate queen Elizabeth's birth-night, as that of their saint and patroness; yet then they were for doing the work of the Lord by arms against her; and in all probability they wanted but a fanatic lord mayor and two sheriffs of their party, to have compassed it.
Our venerable Hooker, after many admonitions which he had given them, towards the end of his preface, breaks out into this prophetic speech: “There is in every one of these considerations most just cause to fear, lest our hastiness to embrace a thing of so perilous consequence,” (meaning the presbyterian discipline,) “should cause posterity to feel those evils, which as yet are more easy for us to prevent, than they would be for them to remedy."
How fatally this Cassandra has foretold we know too well by sad experience: the seeds were sown in the time of queen Elizabeth, the bloody harvest ripened in the reign of king Charles the Martyr: and because all the sheaves could not be carried off without shedding some of the loose grains, another crop is too likely to follow; nay, I fear it is unavoidable if the conventiclers be permitted still to scatter.
A man may be suffered to quote an adversary to our religion, when he speaks truth: and it is the observation of Maimbourg, in his History of Calvinism, that wherever that discipline was planted and embraced, rebellion, civil war, and misery attended it. And how indeed should it happen otherwise ? Reformation of Church and State has always been the ground of our divisions in England. While we were Papists, our holy father rid us, by pretending authority out of the Scriptures to depose princes ; when we shook off his authority, the sectaries furnished them. selves with the same weapons; and out of the same magazine, the Bible : so that the Scriptures, which are in themselves the greatest security of governors, as commanding express obedience to them, are now turned to their destruction; and never since the Reformation has there wanted a text of their interpreting to authorize a rebel. And it is to be noted by the way, that the doctrines of king-killing and deposing, which have been taken up only by the worst party of the Papists, the most frontless flatterers of the Pope's authority, have been espoused, defended, and are still maintained by the whole body of Nonconformists and republicans. It is but dubbing themselves the people of God, which it is the interest of their preachers to tell them they ure, and their own interest to believe; and after that, they