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THE REASON OF CHURCH

GOVERNMENT

URGED AGAINST PRELATY.
IN TWO BOOKS. 1641.

The following extracts are from the beginning

and end of the Second Book.

THE REASON OF CHURCH GOVERN.

MENT.

H are

be truly called mortal life of man, since all earthly things which have the name of good and convenient in our daily use are withal so cumbersome and full of trouble, if knowledge yet, which is the best and lightsomest possession of the mind, were, as the common saying is, no burden ; and that what it wanted of being a load to any part of the body, it did not with a heavy advantage overlay upon the spirit ! For not to speak of that knowledge that rests in the contemplation of natural causes and dimensions, which must needs be a lower wisdom, as the object is low, certain it is, that he who hath obtained in more than the scantiest measure to know anything distinctly of God, and of his true worship, and what is infallibly good and happy in the state of man's life, what in itself evil and miserable, though vulgarly not so es. teemed; he that hath obtained to know this, the only high valuable wisdom indeed, remembering

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also that God, even to a strictness, requires the improvement of these his entrusted gifts, cannot but sustain a sorer burden of mind, and more pressing, than any supportable toil or weight which the body can labour under, how and in what manner he shall dispose and employ those sums of knowledge and illumination which God hath sent him into this world to trade with. And that which aggravates the burden more, is, that, having received amongst his allotted parcels certain precious truths of such an orient lusture as no diamond can equal, which nevertheless he has in charge to put off at any cheap rate, yea, for nothing to them that will ; the great merchants of this world, fearing that this course would soon discover and disgrace the false glitter of their deceitful wares, wherewith they abuse the people, like poor Indians with beads and glasses, practise by all means how they may suppress the vending of such rarities, and at such a cheapness as would undo them and turn their trash upon their hands. Therefore by gratifying the corrupt desires of men in fleshly doctrines they stir them up to persecute with hatred and contempt all those that seek to bear themselves uprightly in this their spiritual factory : which they foreseeing, though they cannot but testify of truth, and the excellency of that heavenly traffic which they bring, against what opposition or danger soever, yet needs must it sit heavily upon their spirits, that being, in God's prime intention and their own, selected heralds of peace

and dispensers of treasure inestimable, without price, to them that have no peace, they find in the discharge of their commission, that they are made the greatest variance and offence, a very sword and fire both in house and city over the whole earth. This is that which the sad prophet Jeremiah laments : Wo is me, my mother, that thou hast

born me a man of strife and contention!' And although divine inspiration must certainly have been sweet to those ancient prophets, yet the irksomeness of that truth which they brought was so unpleasant unto them that everywhere they call it a burden. Yea, that mysterious book of revelation, which the great evangelist was bid to eat, as it had been some eye-brightening electuary of knowledge and foresight, though it were sweet in his mouth, and in the learning, it was bitter in his belly, bitter in the denouncing. Nor was this hid from the wise poet Sophocles, who in that place of his tragedy where Tiresias is called to resolve king Edipus in a matter which he knew would be grievous, brings him in bemoaning his lot, that he knew more than other men. For surely to every good peaceable man, it must in nature needs be a hateful thing to be the displeaser and molester of thousands; much better would it like him doubtless to be the messenger of gladness and contentment, which is his chief intended business to all mankind, but that they resist and oppose their own true happi

But when God commands to take the trumpet, and blow a dolorous or a jarring blast, it lies

ness,

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