« AnteriorContinuar »
The mischief that prelaty does In the slate.
I Add one thing more to those great ones that are so fond of prelaty : this is certain, that the gospel being the hidden might of Christ, as hath been heard, that ever a victorious power joined with it, like him in the Revelation that went forth on the white horse with his bow and his crown conquering and to conquer. If we let the angel of the gospel ride on his own way, he does his proper business, conquering the high thoughts, and the proud reasonings of the flesh, and brings them under to give obedience to Christ with the falvation of many souls. But if ye turn him out of his road, and in a manner force him to express his irresistible power by a doctrine of carnal might, as prelaty is, he will use that fleshly strength, which ye put into his hands, to subdue your spirits by a servile and blind superstition; and that again shall hold such dominion over your captive minds, as returning with an infatiate greediness and force upon your worldly wealth and power, wherewith to deck and magnify herself, and her false worships, he shall spoil and havoc your estates, disturb your ease, diminish your honour, enthral your liberty unde rthe swelling mood of a proud clergy, who will not serve or feed your souls with spiritual food; look not for it, they have not wherewithal, or if they had, it is not in their purpose. But when they have glutted their ungrateful bodies, at least, if it be possible that those open sepulchres should ever be glutted, and when they have stuffed their idolish temples with the wasteful pillage of your estates, will they yet have any compassion upon you, and that poor pittance which they have left you; will they be but so good to you as that ravisher was to his sister, when he had used her at his pleasure; will they but only hate ye, and so turn ye loose? No, they will not, lords and commons, they will not favour ye so much. What will they do then in the name of God and faints, what will these manhaters yet with more
despite despite and mischief do? I will tell ye, or at least remember ye, (for most of ye know it already,) that they may want nothing to make them true merchants of Babylon, as hey have done to your fouls, they will fell your bodies, your wives, your children, your liberties, your parliaments, all these things; and if there be aught else dearer than these, they will sell at an outcry in their pulpits to the arbitrary and illegal dispose of any one that may hereafter be called a king, whose mind shall serve him to listen to their bargain. And by their corrupt and servile doctrines boring our ears to an everlasting slavery, as they have done hitherto, so will they yet do their best to repeal and erase every line and clause of both our great charters. Nor is this only what they will do, but what they hold as the main reason and mystery of their advancement that they must do; be the prince never so just and equal to his subjects, yet such are their malicious and depraved eyes, that they so look on him, and so understand him, as if he required no other gratitude or piece of service from them than this. And indeed they stand so opportunely for the disturbing or the destroying of a state, being a knot of creatures, whose dignities, means, and preferments have no foundation in the gospel, as they themselves acknowledge, but only in the prince's favour, and to continue so long to them, as by pleasing him they shall deserve: whence it must needs be they should bend all their intentions and services to no other ends but to his, that if it should happen that a tyrant (God turn such a scourge from us to our enemies) should come to grasp the sceptre, here were his spearmen and his lances, here were his firelocks ready, he should need no other pretorian band nor pensionary than these, if they could once with their perfidious preachments awe the people. For although the prelates in time of popery were sometimes friendly enough to Magna Charta, it was because they stood upon their own bottom, without their main dependence on the royal nod: but now being well acquainted that the protestant religion, if she will reform herself rightly by the scriptures, must undress them of all their gilded vanities, and reduce them as they were at first,.to the lowly and equal order of presbyters, they know it Vol. I. L concern
concerns them nearly to study the times more than the text, and to lift up their eyes to the hills of the court, from whence only comes their help; but if their pride grow weary of this crouching and observance, as ere long it would, and that yet their minds climb still to a higher ascent of worldly honour, this only refuge can remain to them, that they must of necessity contrive to bring themselves and us back again to the pope's supremacy; and this we fee they had by fair degrees of late been doing. These be the two fair supporters between which the strength of prelaty is borne up, either of inducing tyranny, or of reducing popery. Hence also we may Judge that prelaty is mere falsehood. For the property of truth is, where she is publicly taught to unyoke and set free the minds and spirits of a nation first from the thraldom of fin and superstition, after which all honest and legal freedom of civil life cannot be long absent; but prelaty, whom the tyrant custom begot, a natural tyrant in religion, and in state the agent and minister of tyranny, seems to have had this fatal gift in her nativity, like another Midas, that whatsoever she should touch or come near either in ecclesial or political government, it should turn, not to gold, though she for her part could wish it, but to the dross and scum of slavery, breeding and settling both in the bodies and the fouls of all such as do not in time, with the sovereign treacle of sound doctrine, provide to fortify their hearts against her hierarchy. The service of God who is truth, her liturgy confesses to be perfect freedom; but her works and her opinions declare, that the service of Prelaty is perfect slavery, and by consequence perfect falsehood. Which makes me wonder much that many of the gentry, studious men as I hear, should engage themselves to write, and speak publicly in her defence; but that I believe their honest and ingenuous natures coming to the universities to store themselves with good and solid learning, and there unfortunately fed with nothing else but the scragged and thorny lectures of monkish and miserable sophistry, were sent home again with such a scholasiical bur in their throats, as hath stopped and hindered all true and generous philolophy from entering, cracked their voices for ever with metaphysical gargarisms, and hath made them admire a fort of formal outride men prelatically addicted, whose unchastened and unwrought minds were never yet initiated or subdued under the true lore of religion or moral virtue, which two are the best and greatest points of learning ; but either slightly trained up in a kind of hypocritical and hackney course of literature to get their living by, and dazzle the ignorant, or else fondly overstudied in useless controversies, except those which they use with all the specious and delusive subtlety they are able, to defend their prelatical Sparta; having a gospel and church-government set before their eyes, as a fair field wherein they might exercise the greatest virtues and the greatest deeds of christian authority, in mean fortunes and little furniture of this world; (which even the fage heathen writers, and those old Fabritii and Curii well knew to be a manner of working, than which nothing could liken a mortal man more to God, who delights most to work from within himself, and not by the heavy luggage of corporeal instruments ;) they understand it not, and think no such matter, but admire and dote upon worldly riches and honours, with an easy and intemperate life, to the bane of christianity : yea, they and their seminaries shame not to profess, to petition, and never leave pealing our ears, that unless we fat them like boars, and cram them as they list with wealth, with deaneries and pluralities, with baronies and stately preferments, all learning and religion will go under foot. Which is such a shameless, such a bestial plea, and of that odious impudence in churchmen, who should be to us a pattern of temperance and frugal mediocrity, who should teach us to contemn this world, and the gaudy things thereof, according to the promise which they themselves require from us in baptism, that should the scripture stand by and be mute, there is not that sect of philosophers among the heathen so dissolute, no not Epicurus, nor Aristippus with all his Cyrenaic rout, but would shut his school-doors against such greasy sophisters; not any college of mountebanks, but would think scorn to discover in themselves with Inch a brazen sorehead the outrageous desire of filthy lucre. Which the prelates make so little conscience of, that they are
L 2 ready ready to fight, and, if it lay in their power, to ma-fiacre all good christians under the names of horrible schismatics, for only finding fault with their temporal dignities, their unconscionable wealth and revenues, their cruel authority over their brethren that labour in the word, while they snore in their luxurious excess: openly proclaiming themselves now in the sight of all men, to be those which for a while they sought to cover under sheep's clothing, ravenous and favage wolves, threatening inroads and bloody incursions upon the flock of Christ, which they took upon them to feed, but now claim to devour as their prey. More like that huge dragon of Egypt, breathing out waste and desolation to the land, unless he were daily fattened with virgin's blood. Him our old patron St. George by his matchless valour flew, as the prelate of the garter that reads his collect can tell. And if our princes and knights will imitate the fame of that old champion, as by their order of knighthood solemnly taken they vow, far be it that they should uphold and side with this englifh dragon -, but rather to do as indeed their oath binds them, they should make it their knightly adventure to pursue and vanquish this mighty fail-winged monster, that menaces to swallow up the land, unless her bottomless gorge may be fatisfied with the blood of the king's daughter the church; and may, as she was wont, fill her dark and infamous den with the bones of the faints. Nor will any one have reason to think this as too incredible or too tragical to be spoken of prelaty, if he consider well from what a mass of slime and mud the slothful, the covetous and ambitious hopes of church-promotions and fat bishoprics, she is bred up and nuzzled in, like a great Python, from her youth, to prove the general poison both of doctrine and good discipline in the land. For certainly such hopes and such principles of earth as these wherein she welters from a young one, are the immediate generation both of a slavish and tyrannous life to follow, and a pestiferous contagion to the whole kingdom, till like that fen-born serpent she be shot to death with the darts of the fun, the pure and powerful beams of God's word. And this may serve to describe to us in part, what prelaty halh been, and what, if she v. stand,