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ordinary prayer. “ It was an astonishing prayer.” I thank him for that confession, so it was intended to astound and to astonish the guilty prelates; and this confuter confesses, that with him it wrought that effect. But in that which follows, he does not play the soothsayer, but the diabolic slanderer of prayers. “ It was made,” he says, “ not so much to please God, or to benefit the weal public,” (how dares the viper judge that ?) “ but to intimate,” saith he, “ your good abilities to her that is your rich hopes, your Maronilla.”
66. How hard is it when a man meets with a fool to keep his tongue from folly! That were miserable indeed to be a courtier of Maronilla, and with al of such a hapless invention, as that no way should be left me to present my meaning but to make myself a canting probationer of orisons. The Remonstrant, when he was young as I, could
“ Teach each hollow grove to sound his love,
And so he well might, and all his auditory besides, with his “ teach each.”.
« Whether so me list my lovely thoughts to sing,
67. Delicious! he had that whole bevy at command whether in morrice or at maypole; whilst I by this figure-caster must be imagined in such distress as to sue to Maronilla, and yet left so impo
verished of what to say, as to turn my liturgy into my lady's psalter. Believe it, graduate, I am not altogether so rustic, and nothing so irreligious, but as far distant from a lecturer as the merest laic, for any consecrating hand of a prelate that shall ever. touch me. Yet I shall not decline the more for that, to speak my opinion in the controversy next moved,“ whether the people may be allowed for competent judges of a minister's ability.” For how else can be fulfilled that which God hath promised, to pour out such abundance of knowledge upon all sorts of men in the times of the gospel ? How should the people examine the doctrine which is taught them, as Christ and his apostles continually bid them do? How should they “ discern and beware of false prophets, and try every spirit,” if they must be thought unfit to judge of the minister's abilities ? The apostles ever laboured to persuade the Christian flock, that they “ were called in Christ to all perfectness of spiritual knowledge, and full assurance of understanding in the mystery of God.” But the non-resident and pluralitygaping prelates, the gulfs and whirlpools of benefices, but the dry pits of all sound doctrine, that they may the better preach what they list to their sheep, are still possessing them that they are sheep indeed, without judgment, without understanding, “the very beasts of mount Sinai,” as this confuter calls them; which words of theirs may serve to condemn them out of their own mouths, and to show the gross contrarieties that are in their opinions. For while none think the people so void of knowledge as the prelates think them, none are so backward and malignant as they to bestow knowledge upon them; both by suppressing the frequency of sermons, and the printed explanations of the English Bible.
68. No marvel if the people turn beasts, when their teachers themselves, as Isaiah calls them, “ are dumb and greedy dogs that can never have enough, ignorant, blind, and cannot understand ; who, while they all look their own way, everyone for his gain from his quarter," how many parts of the land are fed with windy ceremonies instead of sincere milk; and while one prelate enjoys the nourishment and right of twenty ministers, how many waste places are left as dark as “Galilee of the Gentiles, sitting in the region and shadow of death,” without preaching minister, without light. So little care they of beasts to make them men, that by their sorcerous doctrine of formalities, they take the way to transform them out of Christian men into judaizing beasts. Had they but taught the land, or suffered it to be taught, as Christ would it should have been in all plenteous dispensation of the word; then the poor mechanic might have so accustomed his ear to good teaching, as to have discerned between faithful teachers and false. But now, with a most inhuman cruelty, they who have put out the people's eyes, reproach them of their blindness; just as the Pharisees their true fathers were wont, who could not endure that the people should be thought competent judges of Christ's doctrine, although we know they judged far better than those great rabbis : yet “this people,” said they, “ that knows not the law is accursed."
69. We need not the authority of Pliny brought to tell us, the people cannot judge of a minister : yet that hurts not. For as none can judge of a painter, or statuary, but he who is an artist, that is, either in the practice or theory, which is often separated from the practice, and judges learnedly without it; so none can judge of a Christian teacher, but he who hath either the practice, or the knowledge of Christian religion, though not so artfully digested in him. And who almost of the meanest Christians hath not heard the Scriptures often read from his childhood, besides so many sermons and lectures, more in number than any student hath heard in philosophy, whereby he may easily attain to know when he is wisely taught, and when weakly ? whereof three ways I remember are set down in Scripture; the one is to read often that best of books written to this purpose, that not the wise only, but the simple and ignorant, may learn by them ; the other way to know of a minister is, by the life he leads, whereof the meanest understanding may be apprehensive. The last way to judge aright in this point is, when he who judges, lives a Christian life hinıself. Which of these three will the confuter affirm to exceed the capacity of a plain artisan ? And what reason then is there left, wherefore he should be denied his voice in the election of his minister, as not thought a competent discerner ?
70. It is but arrogance therefore, and the pride of a metaphysical fume, to think that “ the mutinous rabble” (50) (for so he calls the Christian congregation) “would be so mistaken in a clerk of the university,” that were to be their minister. I doubt me those clerks, that think so, are more mistaken in themselves; and what with truanting and debauchery, what with false grounds and the weakness of natural faculties in many of them, (it being a maxim in some men to send the simplest of their sons thither,) perhaps there would be found among them as many unsolid and corrupted judgments, both in doctrine and life, as in any other two corporations of like bigness. This is undoubted, that if any carpenter, smith, or weaver were such a bungler in his trade, as the greater number of them are in their profession, he would starve for any custom. And should he exercise his manufacture as little as they do their talents, he would forget his art; and should he mistake his tools as they do theirs, he would mar all the work he took in hand. How few among them that know to write, or speak in a pure style; much less to distinguish the ideas and various kinds of style in Latin barbarous, and oft not without solecisms, declaiming in rugged and
(50) Edwards, the adversary of Locke, felt, like bishop Hall's son, the greatest contempt for the people of England, or the “ mutinous rabble,” as the modest confuter denominates them. He had forgotten in what light our Saviour viewed the poor, the preaching of the gospel to whom he made one of the distinguish ing signs of his ministry. He used to frequent the society of the “mutinous rabble," endeavouring to enlighten and reclaim them; and therefore incurred the displeasure of the proud Pharisees, the “ modest confuters” of those days.