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those who, in reforming our church, have inconsiderately and blamefully permitted the old leaven to remain and sour our whole lump. But they were martyrs : true; and he that looks well into the book of God's providence, if he read there that God, for this their negligence and halting, brought all that following persecution upon this church, and on themselves, perhaps will be found at the last day not to have read amiss.
82. But now, readers, we have the port within sight; his last section, which is no deep one, remains only to be forded, and then the wished shore. And here first it pleases him much, that he had descried me, as he conceives, to be unread in the councils. Concerning which matter it will not be unnecessary to shape him this answer; that some years I had spent in the stories of those Greek and Roman exploits, wherein I found many things both nobly done, and worthily spoken; when, coming in the method of time to that age wherein the church had obtained a Christian emperor, I so prepared myself, as being now to read examples of wisdom and goodness among those who were foremost in the church, not elsewhere to be paralleled; but to the amazement of what I expected, I found it all quite contrary; excepting in some very few, nothing but ambition, corruption, contention, combustion; insomuch that I could not but love the historian, Socrates, who, in the proem to his fifth book professes," he was fain to intermix affairs of state ; for that it would be else an extreme annoyance to hear, in a conti
nued discourse, the endless brabbles and counterplottings of the bishops."
83. Finding, therefore, the most of their actions in single to be weak, and yet turbulent, full of strife and yet flat of spirit; and the sum of their best councils there collected, to be most commonly in questions either trivial or vain, or else of short and easy decision, without that great bustle which they made; I concluded that if their single ambition and ignorance was such, then certainly united in a council it would be much more; and if the compendious recital of what they there did was so tedious and unprofitable, then surely to set out the whole extent of their tattle in a dozen volumes would be a loss of time irrecoverable. Besides that which I had read of St. Martin, who for his last sixteen years could never be persuaded to be at any council of the bishops. And Gregory Nazianzen betook him to the same resolution, affirming to Procopius, “that of any council or meeting of bishops he never saw good end; nor any remedy thereby of evil in the church, but rather an increase. For,” saith he, “ their contentions and desire of lording no tongue is able to express.”
84. I have not therefore, I confess, read more of the councils, save here and there; I should be sorry to have been such a prodigal of my time: but that which is better, I can assure this confuter, I have read into them all. And if I want any thing yet, I shall reply something toward that which in the defence of Murena was answered by Cicero to Sulpitius the lawyer. If ye provoke me (for at no band else will I undertake such a frivolous labour) I will in three months be an expert councilist.(52) For, be not deceived, readers, by men that would overawe your ears with big names and huge tomes that contradict and repeal one another, because they can cram a margin with citations. Do but winnow their chaff from their wheat, ye shall see their great heap shrink and wax thin, past belief.
85. From hence he passes to inquire wherefore I should blame the vices of the prelates only, seeing the inferior clergy is known to be as faulty. To which let him hear in brief; that those priests whose vices have been notorious, are all prelatical, which argues both the impiety of that opinion, and the wicked remissness of that government. We hear not of any which are called nonconformists, that have been accused of scandalous living; but are known to be pious or at least sober men : which is a great good argument that they are in the truth and prelates in the error. He would be resolved next, “ What the corruptions of the uni
him take this, that the Remonstrant having spoken as if learning would decay with the removal of pre
(52) In that admirable speech, Pro L. Murena, sparkling with wit and eloquence, Cicero, to humble the pride of Sulpitius, who valued himself greatly on his knowledge of the civil law, jocularly threatens in three days to profess himself a lawyer :“ Itaque, si mihi, homini vehementer occupato, stomachum moveritis, triduo me jurisconsultum esse profitebor.” c. xiii. S. 28. Oper. t. v. p. 333. edit. Barb.
lates, I showed him that while books were extant and in print, learning could not readily be at a worse pass in the universities than it was now under their government. Then he seeks to justify the pernicious sermons of the clergy, as if they upheld sovereignty ; whenas all Christian sovereignty is by law, and to no other end but to the maintenance of the common good. But their doctrine was plainly the dissolution of law, which only sets up sovereignty, and the erecting of an arbitrary sway, according to private will, to which they would enjoin a slavish obedience without law; which is the known definition of a tyrant, and a tyrannized people.
86. A little beneath he denies that great riches in the church are the baits of pride and ambition ; of which error to undeceive him, I shall allege a reputed divine authority, as ancient as Constantine, which his love to antiquity must not except against; and to add the more weight, he shall learn it rather in the words of our old poet, Gower, than in mine, that he may see it is no new opinion, but a truth delivered of old by a voice from heaven, and ratified by long experience.
66 This Constantine which heal hath found,
To see the working of the deed :
87. But there were beasts of prey, saith he, before wealth was bestowed on the church. What, though, because the vultures had then but small pickings, shall we therefore go and fling them a full gorge? If they, for lucre, use to creep into the church undiscernibly, the more wisdom will it be so to provide that no revenue there may exceed the golden mean ; for so good pastors will be content, as having need of no more, and knowing withal the precept and example of Christ and his apostles, and also will be less tempted to ambition. The bad will have but small matter whereon to set their mischief awork; and the worst and subtlest heads will not come at all, when they shall see the crop nothing answerable to their capacious greediness; for small temptations allure but dribbling offenders; but a great purchase will call such as both are most able of themselves, and will be most enabled hereby to compass dangerous projects.
88. “But,” saith he, “ a widow's house will tempt as well as a bishop's palace.” Acutely