benevolence of their hearers; who gave what they gave, not to the clergy, but to the church; out of which the clergy had their portions given them in baskets, and were thence called sportularii, basket-clerks: that their portion was a very mean allowance, only for a bare livelihood; according to those precepts of our Saviour, Matt. x. 7, &c. the rest was distributed to the poor. They cite also out of Prosper, the disciple of St. Austin, that such of the clergy as had means of their own, might not without sin partake of church maintenance; not receiving thereby food which they abound with, but feeding on the sins of other men: that the Holy Ghost saith of such clergymen, they eat the sins of my people; and that a council at Antioch, in the year 340, suffered not either priest or bishop to live on churchmaintenance without necessity. Thus far tithers themselves have contributed to their own confutation, by confessing that the church lived primitively on alms. And I add, that about the year 359, Constantius the emperor having summoned a general council of bishops to Arminium in Italy, and provided for their subsistence there, the British and, French bishops judging it not decent to live on the public, chose rather to be at their own charges. Three only out of Britain constrained through want, yet refusing offered assistance from the rest, accepted the emperor's provision; judging it more convenient to subsist by public than by private sustenance. Whence we may conclude, that bishops then in this island had their livelihood only from benevolence; in which regard this relater Sulpitius Severus, a good author of the same time, highly praises them. And the Waldenses, our first reformers, both from the Scripture and these primitive examples, maintained those among them who bore the office of ministers by alms only. Take their very words from the history written of them in French, Part 3, Lib. 2, Chap. 2, "La nourriture et ce de quoy nous sommes couverts, &c. Our food and clothing is sufficiently administered and given to us by way of gratuity and alms, by the good people whom we teach.” If then by alms and benevolence, not by legal force, not by tenure of freehold or copyhold: for alms, though just, cannot be compelled; and benevolence forced is malevolence rather, violent and inconsistent with the gospel: and declares him no true minister thereof, but a rapacious hireling rather, who by force receiving it, eats the bread of violence and exaction, no holy or just livelihood, no not civilly counted honest; much less beseeming such a spiritual ministry.

But, say they, our maintenance is our due, tithes the right of Christ, unseparable from the priest, no where repealed; if then, not otherwise to be had, by law to be recovered: for though Paul were pleased to forego his due, and not to use his power, 1 Cor. ix. 12, yet he had a power, ver. 4, and bound not others. I answer first, because I see them still so loth to unlearn their decimal arithmetic, and still grasp their tithes as inseparable from a priest, that ministers of the gospel are not priests; and therefore separated from tithes by their exclusion, being neither called priests in the New Testament, nor of any order known in Scripture : not of Melchisedec, proper to Christ only; not of Aaron, as they themselves will confess; and the third priesthood only remaining, is common to all the faithful. But they are ministers of our high priest. True, but not of his priesthood, as the Levites were to Aaron; for he performs that whole office himself incommunicably. Yet tithes remain, say they, still unreleased, the due of Christ; and to whom payable, but to his ministers? I say again, that no man can so understand them, unless Christ in some place or other so claim them. That example of Abraham argues nothing but his voluntary act; honour once only done, but on what consideration, whether to a priest or to a king, whether due the honour, arbitrary that kind of honour or not, will after all contending be left still in mere conjecture: which must not be permitted in the claim of such a needy and subtle spiritual corporation, pretending by divine right to the tenth of all other men's estates; nor can it be allowed by wise men or the verdict of common law. And the tenth part, though once declared holy, is declared now to be no holier than the other nine, by that command to Peter, Acts x. 15, 28, whereby all distinction of holy and unholy is removed from all things. Tithes therefore, though claimed, and holy under the law, yet are now released and quitted both by that command to Peter, and by this to all ministers,

' above-cited Luke x. “ eating and drinking such things as they give you :” made holy now by their free gift only. And therefore St. Paul, 1 Cor. ix. 4, asserts his power indeed; but of what? not of tithes, but “to eat and drink such things as are given” in reference to this command; which he calls not holy things, or things of the gospel, as if the gospel had any consecrated things in answer to things of the temple, ver. 13, but he calls them “your carnal things, ver. 11, without changing their property. And what power had he ? Not the power of force, but of conscience only, whereby he might lawfully and without scruple live on the gospel ; receiving what was given him, as the recompence of his labour. For if Christ the Master hath professed his kingdorn to be not of this world, it suits not with that profession, either in him or his ministers, to claim temporal right from spiritual respects. He who refused to be the divider of an inheritance between two brethren, cannot approve his ministers, by pretended right from him, to be dividers of tenths and freeholds out of other men's possessions, making thereby the gospel but a cloak of carnal interest, and to the contradiction of their master, turning his heavenly kingdom into a kingdom of this world, a kingdom of force and rapine: to whom it will be one day thundered more terribly than to Gehazi, for thus dishonouring a far greater master and his gospel; “ Is this a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep and oxen?” The leprosy of Naaman, linked with that apostolic curse of perishing imprecated on Simon Magus, may be feared will “cleave to such and to their seed for ever.” So that when all is done, and belly hath used in vain all her cunning shifts, I doubt not but all true ministers, considering the demonstration of what hath been here proved, will be wise, and think it much more tolerable to hear, that no maintenance of ministers, whether tithes or any other, can be settled by statute, but must be given by them who receive instruction ; and freely given, as God hath ordained. And indeed what can be a more honourable maintenance to them than such, whether alms or willing oblations, as these; which being accounted both alike as given to God, the only acceptable sacrifices now remaining, must needs represent him who receives them much in the care of God, and nearly related to him, when not by worldly force and constraint, but with religious awe and reverence, what is given to God, is given to him; and what to him, accounted as given to God. This would be well enongh, say they ; but how many will so give? I answer, as many, doubtless, as shall be well taught, as many as God shall so move. Why are ye so distrustful, both of your own doctrine and of God's promises, fulfilled in the experience of those disciples first sent?Luke xxii. 35, “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing." How then came ours, or who sent them thus destitute, thus poor and empty both of purse and faith? Who style themselves embassadors of Jesus Christ, and seem to be his tithe-gatherers, though an office of their own setting up to his dishonour, his exacters, his publicans rather, not trusting that he will maintain them in their embassy, unless they bind him to his promise by a statute-law, that we shall maintain them. Lay down for shame that magnific title, while ye seek maintenance from the people: it is not the manner of embassadors to ask maintenance of them to whom they are sent. But he who is Lord of all things, hath so ordained: trust him then; he doubtless will command the people to make good his promises of maintenance more honourably unasked, unraked for. This they know, this they preach, yet believe not: but think it as impossible, without a statute-law, to live of the gospel, as if by those words they were bid go eat their Bibles, as Ezekiel and John did their books; and such doctrines as these are as bitter to their bellies; but will serve so much the better to discover hirelings, who can have nothing, though but in appearance, just and solid to answer for themselves against what hath been here spoken, unless perhaps this one remaining pretence, which we shall quickly see to be either false or uningenuous.

They pretend that their education, either at school or university, hath been very chargeable, and therefore ought to be repaired in future by a plentiful maintenance : whenas it is well known, that the better half of them, (and ofttimes poor and pitiful boys, of no merit or promising hopes that might entitle them to the public provision, but their poverty and the unjust favour of friends,) have had the most of their breeding, both at school and university, by scholarships, exhibitions, and fellowships at the public cost, which might engage them the rather to give freely, as they have freely received. Or if they have missed of these helps at the latter place, they have after two or three years left the course of their studies there, if they ever well began them, and undertaken, though furnished with little else but ignorance, boldness, and ambition, if with no worse vices, a chaplainship in some gentleman's house, to the frequent embasing of his sons with illiterate and narrow principles. Or if they have lived there upon their own, who knows not that seven years charge of living there, to them who fly not from the government of their parents to the license of a university, but come seriously to study, is no more than may be well defrayed and reimbursed by one year's revenue of an ordinary good benefice? If they had then means of breeding from their parents, it is likely they have more now; and if they have, it needs must be a mechanic and uningenuous in them, to bring a bill of charges for the learning of those liberal arts and sciences, which they have learned (if they have indeed learned them, as they seldom have) to their own benefit and accomplishment. But they will say, we had betaken us to some other trade or profession, had we not expected to find a better livelihood by the ministry. This is that which I looked for, to discover them openly neither true lovers of learning, and so very seldom guilty of it, nor true ministers of the gospel. So long ago out of date is that old true saying, 1 Tim. iii. 1, "If a man desire a bishopric, he desires a good work :” for now commonly he who desires to be a minister, looks not at the work, but at the wages : and by that lure or lowbell, may be tolled from parish to parish all the town over. But what can be plainer simony, than thus to be at charges beforehand, to no other end than to make their ministry doubly or trebly beneficial ? To whom it might be said, as justly as to that Simon, “ Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought, that the gift of God may be purchased with money; thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter.'

Next, it is a fond error, though too much believed among us, to think that the university makes a minister of the gospel. What it may conduce to other arts and sciences, I dispute not now: but that which makes fit a minister, the Scripture can best inform us to be only from above, whence also we are bid to seek them ; Matt. ix. 38, “ Pray ye therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Acts xx. 28, “ The flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. Rom. x. 15, “ How shall they preach, unless they be sent ?" By whom sent? by the university, or the magistrate, or their belly? No surely, but sent from God only, and that God who is not their belly. And whether he de sent from God, or from Simon Magus, the inward sense of his calling and spiritual ability will sufficiently tell him; and that strong obligation felt within him, which was felt by the apostle, will often express from him the same words: 1 Cor. ix. 16, “ Necessity is laid upon me, yea, wo is me if i preach not the gospel.” Not a beggarly necessity, and the woe feared otherwise of perpetual want, but such a necessity as made him willing to preach the gospel gratis, and to embrace poverty, rather than as a woe to fear it. i Cor. xii. 28, “ God hath set some in the church, first apostles," &c. Ephes. iv. 11, &c. “ He gave some apostles, &c. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith.” Whereby we may know, that as he made them at the first, so he makes them still, and to the world's end. 2 Cor. iii. 6, “ Who hath also made us fit or able ministers of the New Testament.” 1 Tim. iv. 14, “ The gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, and the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” These are all the means, which we read of, required in Scripture to the making of a minister. All this is granted, you will say ; but yet that it is also requisite he should be trained in other learning: which can be no where better had than at universities. I answer, that what learning, either human or divine, can be necessary to a minister, may as easily and less chargeably be had in any private house. How deficient else, and to how little purpose, are all those piles of sermons, notes, and comments on all parts of The Bible, bodies and marrows of divinity, besides all other sciences, in our English tongue; many of the same books which in Latin they read at the university? And the small necessity of going thither to learn divinity I prove first from the most part of themselves, who seldom continue there till they have well got through logic, their first rudiments ; though to say truth, logic also may much better be wanting in disputes of divinity, than in the subtile debates of lawyers, and statesmen, who yet seldom or never deal with syllogisms. And those theological disputations there held by professors and graduates are such, as tend least of all to the edification or capacity of the people, but rather perplex and leaven pure doctrine with scholastic trash, thân enable any minister to the better preaching of the gospel. Whence we may also compute, since they come to reckonings, the charges of his needful library ; which, though some shame not to value at 6001. may be competently furnished for 601. If any man for his own curiosity or delight be in books further expensive, that is not to be reckoned as necessary to his ministerial, either breeding or function. But papists and other adversaries cannot be confuted without fathers and councils, immense volumes, and of vast charges. I will show them therefore a shorter and a better way of confutation : Tit. i. 9, “ Holding fast the faithful word, as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convince gainsayers :'who are confuted as soon as heard, bringing that which is either not in Scripture, or against it. To pursue them further through the obscure and entangled wood of antiquity, fathers and councils fighting one against another, is needless, endless, not requisite in a minister, and refused by the first reformers of our religion. And yet we may be confident, if these things be thought needful, let the state but erect in public good store of libraries, and there will not want men in the church, who of their own inclinations will become able in this kind against papists or any other adversary.

I have thus at large examined the usual pretences of hirelings, coloured over most commonly with the cause of learning and universities ; as if with divines learning stood and fell, wherein for the most part their pittance is so small; and, to speak freely, it were much better there were not one divine in the universities, no school-divinity known, the idle sophistry of monks, the canker of religion; and that they who intended to be ministers, were trained up in the church only by the Scripture, and in the original langua thereof at school ; without fetching the compass of other arts and sciences, more than what they can well learn at secondary leisure, and at home.- Neither speak I this in contempt of learning, or the ministry, but hating the common cheats of both; hating that they, who have preached out bishops, prelates, and canonists, should, in what serves their own ends, retain their false opinions, their pharisaical leaven, their avarice, and closely their ambition, their pluralities, their nonresidences, their odious fees, and use their legal and popish arguments for tithes: that independents should take that name, as they may justly from the true freedom of Christian doctrine and church-discipline, subject to no superior judge but God only, and seek to be dependents on the magistrates for their maintenance; which two things, independence and state-hire in religion, can never consist long or certainly together. For magistrates at one time or other, not like these at present our patrons of Christian liberty, will pay none but such whom by their committees of examination they find conformable to their interests and opinions: and hirelings will soon frame themselves to that interest, and those opinions which they see best pleasing to their paymasters; and to seem right themselves, will force others as to the truth. But most of all they are to be reviled and shamed, who cry out with the distinct voice of notorious hirelings; that if ye settle not our maintenance by law, farewell the gospel ; than which nothing can be uttered more false, more ignominious, and I may say, more blasphemous against our Saviour; who hath promised without this condition, both his Holy Spirit, and his own presence with his church to the world's end: nothing more false, (unless with their own mouths they condemn themselves for the unworthiest and most mercenary of all other ministers,) by the experience of three hundred years after Christ, and the churches at this day in France, Austria, Polonia, and other places, witnessing the contrary under an adverse magistrate, not a favourable; nothing more ignominious, levelling, or rather undervaluing Christ beneath Mahomet. For if it must be thus, how can any Christian object it to a Turk, that his religion stands by force only; and not justly fear from him this reply, Yours both by force and money, in the judgment of your own preachers? This is that which makes atheists in the land, whom they so much complain of: not the want of maintenance, or preach. ers, as they allege, but the many hirelings and cheaters that have the gospel in their hands; hands that still crave, and are never satisfied. Likely ministers indeed, to proclaim the faith, or to exhort our trust in God, when they themselves will not trust him to provide for them in the message whereon, they say, he sent them ; but threaten, for want of temporal means, to desert it; calling that want of means, which is nothing else but the want of their own faith : and would force us to pay the hire of building our faith

« ForrigeFortsett »