Imágenes de página

SECT. II. and of the Reformed

PART I. pity Turks, Infidels, and (what is worse,) Jews ;

rather contenting my self to enjoy that happy

Stile, than maligning those who refuse so glorious a Title,

But, because the Name of a Christian is be

come too general to express our Faith, (there Religion.

being a Geography of Religions as well as Lands,
and every Clime distinguished not only by their
Laws and Limits, but circumscribed by their
Doctrines and Rules of Faith ;) to be particular, I
am of that Reformed ncw-cast Religion, wherein
I dislike nothing but the Name; of the same.
belief our Saviour taught, the Apostles dissemi-
nated, the Fathers authorized, and the Martyrs ge
confirmed į but by the sinister ends of Princes,
the ambition and avarice of Frelates, and the
fatal corruption of times, so decayed, impaired,
and fallen from its native Beauty, that it re-
quired the careful and charitable hands of these
times to restore it to its primitive Integrity.
Now the accidental occasion whereupon, the slen-
der means whereby, the low and abject condition
of the Person by whom so good a work was set
on foot, which in our Adversaries beget con-
tempt and scorn, fills me with wonder, and is
the very same Objection the insolent Pagans
first cast at CHRIST and His Disciples.

Yet have I not so shaken hands with those Differences desperate Resolutions, (who had rather venture of opinion

at large their decayed bottom, than bring her

in to be new trimm'd in the Dock; who had Christians.

rather promiscuously retain all, than abridge

[ocr errors]


need not separate

what they have been,) as to stand in Diameter PART L. and Swords point with them. We have reformed from them, not against them; for (omitting those Improperations and Terms of Scurrility betwixt us, which only difference our Affections, and not our Cause,) there is between us on common Name and Appellation, one Faith and necessary body of Principles common to us both; and therefore I am not scrupulous to converse and live with them, to enter their Churches in defect of ours, and either pray with them, or for them. I could never perceive any rational Consequence from those many Texts which prohibit the Children ‘of Israel to pollute themselves with the Temples of the Heathens ; we being all Christians, and not divided by such detested impieties as might prophancour Prayers, or the place wherein we make them ; or that a resolved Conscience may not adore her Creator any where, especially in places devoted to His Service ; where, if their Devotions offend Him, mine may please Him; if theirs prophane it, mine may hallow it. Holy-water and Crucifix (dangerous to the common people,) deceive not my judgment, nor abuse my devotion at all. I am, I confess, naturally inclined to that which misguided Zeal terms Superstition. My common conversation I do acknowledge austere, my behaviour full of rigour, sometimes not without morosity; yet at my Devotion I love to use the civility of my knee, my hat, and hand, with all those outivard and sensible motions which may

PART I. should violate my own arm rather than a

Church ; nor willingly deface the name of Saint or Martyr. At the sight of a Cross or Crucifix I can dispense with my hat, but scarce with the thought or memory of my Saviour. I cannot laugh at, but rather pity, the fruitless journeys of Pilgrims, or contemn the miserable condition of Fryars; for, though misplaced in Circumstances, there is something in it of Devotion. I could never hear the Ave-Mary Bell. without an elevation; or think it a sufficient warrant, because they erred in one circumstance, for me to err in all, that is, in silence and dumb contempt. Whilst, therefore, they directed their Devotions to Her, I offered mine to GOD, and rectified the Errors of their Prayers by rightly ordering mine own. At a solemn Procession I have wept abundantly, while my consorts, blind with opposition and prejudice, have fallen into an excess of scorn and laughter. There are, questionless, both in Greek, Roman, and African Churches, Solemnities and Ceremonies, whereof the wiser Zeals do make a Christian use, and stand condemned by us, not as evil in themselves, but as allurements and baits of superstition to those vulgar heads that look asquint on the face of Truth, and those unstable Judgments that cannot consist in the narrow point and centre of Virtue without a reel or stagger to the Circumference.

As there were many Reformers, so likewise many Reformations ; every Country proceed

SECT. IV. Of Reformations.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Of the


as their national Interest, together with their PART I. Constitution and Clime, inclined them ; some angrily, and with extremity; others calmly, and with mediocrity ; not rending, but easily dividing the community, and leaving an honest possibility of a reconciliation; which though peaceable Spirits do desire, and may conceive denne that revolution of time and the mercies of GOD may effect, yet that judgment that shall consider the present antipathies between the two extreams, their contrarieties in condition, affection, and opinion, may with the same hopes expect an union in the Poles of Heaven.

But (to difference my self nearer, and draw into a lesser Circle,) there is no Church whose Church of every part so squares unto my Conscience; England. whose Artieles, Constitutions, and Cu so consonant unto reason, and as it were framed to my particular Devotion, as this whereof I hold my Belief, the Church of England; to whose Faith I am a sworn Subject, and therefore in a double Obligation subscribe unto her Articles, and endeavour to observe her Constitutions, Whatsoever is beyond, as points indifferent, I observe according to the rules of my private reason, or the humour and fashion of my Devotion; neither believing this, because Luther affirmed it, or disproving that, because Calvin hath disavouched it. I condemn not all things in the Council of Trent, nor approve all in the Synod of Dort. In brief, where the Scripture is silent, the Church is my Text; where that

ms seem


[ocr errors]

PART 1. joynt silence of both, I borrow not the rules of

my Religion from Rome or Geneva, but the dica tates of my own reason. It is an unjust scandal of our adversaries, and a gross errour in our selves, to compute the Nativity of our Religion from Henry the Eighth, who, though he rejected the Pope, refus'd not the faith of Rome, and effected no more than what his own Predecessors desired and assayed in Ages past, and was conceived the State of Venice would have attempted in our days. It is as uncharitable a point in us to fall upon those popular scurrilities and opprobrious scoffs of the Bishop of Rome, to whom, as a temporal Prince, we owe the duty of good language. I confess there is cause of passion between us : by his sentence I stand excommunicated; Her·tick is the best language he affords me; yet can no car witness I ever returned him the name of Antichrist, Man of Sin, or Whore of Babylon. It is the method of Charity to suffer without reaction : those usual Satyrs and invectives of the Pulpit may perchance produce a good effect on the vulgar, whose ears are opener to Rhetorick than Logick; yet do they in no wise confirm the faith of wiser Believers, who know that a good cause needs not to be patron'd by passion, but can sustain it self upon a temperate dispute.

I could never divide my self from any man Disputes upon the difference of an opinion, or be angry in Religion wisely with his judgment for not agreeing with me in avoided.

that from which perhaps within a few days I


« AnteriorContinuar »