Sivut kuvina

especially I abhorred them as venomous enemies of the precious grace of God, whereof I ever was, and ever will be most jealous and tender, as I am most obliged holding all I ain, or have or hope for; by thạt glorious grace. Yet all this while I took all this that I talked, upon trust, and knew not what they said or thought, but by relation from others, and from their enemies. And because my conscience in secret would often tell me that railing would not carry it in matters of religion, without reason and divine authority; that I might now solidly maintain God's truth, as it becomes a minister out of God's word, and clearly vindicate it from wicked exceptions, and that I might not only, revile and scratch the adversary, but beat and wound him, and fight it out, fortibus armis, non solùm fulgentibus, I betook myself seriously and earnestly to peruse the writings of both parties, and to observe and balance the scriptures produced for both opinions. But my aim in this enquiry was not to inform myself whether held the truth, (for therein I was extremely confident, presuming it was with us, and reading the opposers with prejudice and detestation), but the better to fortify our tenets against 'their cavils and subtilties.

In the mean while knowing that all light and illumination in divine mysteries descends from above, from the father and fountain of all light, without whose influence and instruction, all our studies are most vain and frivolous; I resolved constantly and daily to solicit my gracious God, with nost ardent supplications, as I shall still continue that he would be pleased to keep his poor servant in his true faith and fear, that he would preserve me from all false and dangerous errors, how specious or plausible soever, that lie would fill iny heart with true holiness and humility, empty. it of all pride, vạin-glory, curiosity, ambition, and all other carnal conceits and affections, which usually blind arid pervert the judgment, that he would give me the grace to renounce and deny my foolish reason in ihose holy studies, and teach me absolutely to captivate my thoughts to the obediende of his heavenly word; finally, that he would not permit me to speak or think any thing, but what were consonant to his scriptures, honorable and glorious to his majesty..

I dare never look upon my books; till I have first looked up to heaven with these prayers; thus I begin thus I continue, and thus conclude my studies. In my search,

my my first and last resolution was, and is to believe only what the Lord tells me in his book, and because all men are liars, and the most men facțious, to mark not what they say, but what they prove. Though I must confess I much favoured my own side and read what was written against it, with exceeding indignation, especially when I was pinched, and found many objections to which I. could find no answers. Yet in spite of my judgment, my conscience stood as it could, and still multiplying my prayers, and return to the oracle, I repelled such thoughts ás temptations. Well, in this perplexity I went on, and first observed the judgments of this age, since the reforma ation; and here I found in the very harmony of our confessions, some little discord in these opinions, but generally and the most part of our reformed churches favouring the remonstrants: and among particular writers, many here differing in jndgments, thongh nearly linked in affection, and all of them eminent for learning and piety, and being all busied against the common adversary the church of Rome, these little differences amongst themselves were wisely neglected and concealed. At length, some of our own gave occasion, I fear to these intestin and woful wars, letting fall some speeches very scandalous, and which cannot be maintained. This first put the Lutheran churches in a fresh alarm against us, and imbittered their hatred; and now, that which was but a question, is made a quarrel ; that which before was fairly and sweetly debated between private doctors, is now become an appeal to contention between whole reformed churches, they in one árıny, we in the other. But still the most wise and holy in both parties desired a peace, and ceased not to cry with tears, Sirs, ye are

brethren, why do ye strive? And with all their power · laboured that both the armies might be joined under the Prince of Peace, against the Pope and the Devil. in

But whilst these laboured for peace, there never wanted some eager spirits that inade all ready for war, and whose nails were suill itching till they were in the wounds of the church; for they could not believe they had any zeal unless they were furious, nor any faith unless they wanted all charity. And by the wicked diligence of these Boutefeus, that small spark, which at first a little moderation might have quenched, hath now set us all in a woful fire, worthy to be lamented with tears of blood. For by the late Arminians, we say they are fled, and


they say they are chased from us to the Lutherans ; we accuse them of sedition, heresy and schism; they often protest deeply before God Almighty, how truly, ipse viderit & judicet, that out of mere tenderness of conscience and zeal to piety and God's glory, they desired a mode, ration in some rigourous opinions, but however a mutual toleration of one anothers errors and infirmities, still keeping the ligainent of christian communion and frater: pity inviolable.

They complain that in the late Synod* things were carried very unequally, that truth was not sought, but victory; that their professed enemies were their judges; that the scripture and reasons since published in the Scripta Synodica, were not thoroughly examined, and so their consciences convicted, that they were condemned, but :not confuted; that now they rest worse satisfied than before; that those which before were but private opinions, and disputable problems, and not so accounted, are now made necessary truths, and canonized decisions. And they say withal, that this hath been the prime cause of all schisms and ruptures in the church in all ages, that matters of faith, and matters of opinion have not been

exactly distinguished, but the one obtruded with tyranny - upon the conscience for the other.

They ask, whether we think our first reformers like the Pope, infallible? Whether it was not possible for them to err? Whether it were not ingenuous to confess and correct a fault, when we are told of it? But principally, next after the bible, they insist with great boldness upon their appeal to venerable antiquity, which they challenge entirely to side with them. “All the Greek and Latin doctors for six hundred years after the Apostles, having expressly declared themselves against us, and many of ahem in whole treatises of purpose; only $t. Austin, they say, seems to favour us, with his two disciples, Prosper and Fulgentius; and yet they only in the first point, concerning the irrespective decree of election, yet therein speaking variously and uncertainly; in the rest, concerning the death of Christ, and the perseverance of all the faithful, they clearly make for them.

You will ask me what I say of this; I must confess these reasons have convicted me, not so far as absolutely to yield unto them, or take part with them in any faction, you need not fear me, for that, but so far, as not rashly

* Of Dort,

to censure, damn or anathematize them; till I can see their pretensions , voided ; but I was especially nettled with this confident appeal to antiquity. For let me tell you, nature hath planted in mne a very great opinion and reverence of those ancient worthies, which were as far before us in trye devotion and piety, as they are in time, and which the Catholic Church of Christ hath ever justly honoured as her fathers. Aud though I know them to have erred as men, and will never make them the rule of my faith, yet I abhor to think that they should live and dye, and concur in any dangerous or damnable opinion. Wherefore I purpose to sift this allegation to the bottom, and impartially to inquire into their judgment. Many of my hours for these many years last past have been spent upon these venerable doctors, and I have with fruit and fidelity, collected out of many of them, many good and wholesome, observations.

Upon this occasion, I betook myself to my notes and exceptions, and in truth, found nothing in them that favoured those opinions that I favoured, I observed many shrewd and pertinent passages alledged by the Arminians, even out of St. Augustine and Prosper, and upon trial found their quotations very faithful; especially Vossius in his Pelagian history, hath with great learning and diligence deduced the judgment of all antiquity in all these controversies, yet I suspected him as a partizan, till I was better informed by some that knew him well, and particularly by your own most worthy, learned, godly, and reverend father, Dr. Carleton, late bishop of Chichester, with whom having some private conference in London, some two years since, at his lodgings in Westminster, among other good discourse we fell in talk of that man, and I humbly desired his lordship's judgment, whether he was an Arminian, or no? He answered me, that he was no Arminian, but a very honest man; and among other Sypodists he bestowed a copy of nis book upon him. Since thai, himself hath assured me that the good bisbop spoke true, for he hath declared himself in his last book*, to be of St. Augustine's mind in these questions, and is allowed by the states public professor at Leyden, where no Arminian is tolerated. Of him I will say no more but this, they that know the reading and judgment of that man by his works, will confess that there lives not this day in Europe, any one ingre learned:

* De Scriptoribus Latinis. Vol. IX. Churchm. Mag. Sept. 1805. Dd and

[ocr errors]

and by the relation of some persons of credit, and since that, by himself when he was with me of late in Orford, I knew, that when the miserable schism was at the hottest in those countries, he never sided with either faction, bút would repair to both their churches and communions,'to testify that he meant to keep peace with both.

[To be concluded in our next.]

METHOD OF DEVOTION. 'f From Howells's Familiar Letters, edition 4th, p.235.) I RECEIVED your's this Maunday-Thursday: and

whereas among other passages, and high endearments of love, you desire to know what method I observe in the exercise of my devotions, I thank you for your request, which I have reason to believe doth proceed from an extraordinary respect unto me; and I will deal with you herein, as one should do with his confessor,

Tis true, though there be rules and rubrics in our Liturgy, sufficient to guide every one in the performance of all holy duties, yet I believe every one hath some mode and model or forinulary of his own), especially for his private cubicular devotions.

I will begin with the last day of tlie week, and with the latter end of that day, I mean Saturday evening, on which I have fasted ever since I was a youth in Venice, for being delivered from a very great danger: This year I use some extraordinary acts of devotion to usher in the ensuing Sunday in hymns, and various prayers of my own penning, before I go to bed. On Sunday morning I rise earlier than upon other days, to prepare myself for the sanctifying of it; i nor do I use barber, tailor, shoe-maker, or any other mechanic that morning; and whatsoever diversions, or lets may hinder me the week before, I never miss, but in case of sickness, to repair to God's holy house that day, where I come before prayers begin, to make myself fitter for the work by some previous meditations, and to take the whole service along with me; nor do I love to mingle speech with any in the interim about news or worldly negociar tions in God's holy house, I prostrate myself in the humblest and decentest way of genuflection I can imagine; nor do I believe there can be any excess of exterior bu

« EdellinenJatka »