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to some Unity of Charity, at least-wise to some such as may be least to either's prejudice. Let the one give over their worshipping of images, their adoring and offering supplication to Saints, their offensive ceremonies, their arbitrary indulgences, their using of a language not understood in their devotions ; all which themselves will confess not to be necessary, to be orders of the church, and such as at pleasure she may dispense with; yea, Pope Clement the Seventh gave some hope to the French king that he would not be stiff in things of this quality, and that respect of time might justify the alteration ; and some of the later Popes condescend to them of Bavaria the cup in the sacrament, hoping that would content them, which since they or their successors have again inhibited; on the other side, let the Protestants, such at least-wise as think to purge out that negative and contradictory humour, of thinking they are then rightest when they are unlikest the Papacy; then nearest to God when farthest from Rome; let them look with the eye of Charity upon them as well as of severity, and they shall find in them some excellent orders for government, some singular helps for an increase of godliness and devotion, for the conquering of sin, for the perfecting of virtue, and contrariwise in themselves, looking with a more single and less indulgent eye than they do, they shall find that there is no such absolute or unreprovable perfection in their doctrine and reformation, as some dreamers in the pleasing view of their own actions do fancy. Neither ought they to think it strange they should be amiss in anything, but rather a very miracle if they were not so in money. For if those ancient fathers and sages of the Church with greater helps, being nearer the times of purity, with equal industry, so spending their whole lives with less cause of unsincerity having nothing to seduce them, notwithstanding, were not able in the weakness and blindness of human nature in this world, to soar up so high always in the search of truth as to find out her right seat in the height of the heavens ; but sometimes took error dwelling nearer them, instead thereof; how less likely that our age more entangled with the world, farther removed from the usage of those faultless institutions, and so bitterly exasperated with mutual controversies and conflicts, should attain to that excellency and perfection of knowledge; which it may be God hath removed from man's reach in this world, to humble and increase his longing desire towards another world? And as the present time doth discover sundry errors in the former, so no doubt will the future in that which is now present. So that Ignorance and Error, which seldom go severed, being no other than unseparable companions of man so long as he continueth in this terrestrial pilgrimage; it can be no blemish in them to revise their doctrine, and to abate the rigour of certain speculative opinions, especially touching the eternal decrees of God, the quality of man's nature, the use of his works; wherein some of their chief authors have run to such an utter opposition to the Romish doctrine, as to have exceedingly scandalized all other Churches withal, yea, and many of their own to rest very ill-satisfied. The seat of truth is aloft, of virtue in the midst, both places of honour, but neither truth nor virtue draw to an utter extremity. And as in some points of doctrine so much more in their practice; in order of government and ecclesiastical degrees; in solemnities and stateliness in the service of God; in some exercises of piety, devotion, and humility, especially in set fastings accompanied with due contrition of heart and prayer ; besides, many other ceremonies, they might easily without any offence of conscience at all, frame to draw somewhat nearer to their opposites than now they are, which yielded on both sides a general and indifferent confession and sum of faith ; an uniform liturgy, or not repugnant, if diverse; alike, or at least-wise not incorrespondent form of Church-government, to be made out of the points which both agreed in; and to be established so universally in all Christian dominions, that this all Christians should necessarily hold, this only their divines in pulpits should teach, and this their people in churches should exercise; which doing the unity of communion should remain inviolated. For all other questions it should be lawful for each man so to believe as he found cause; not condemning other with such peremptoriness as is the guise of some men of overweening conceits; and the handling of all controversies for their final compounding to be confined to the schools, to councils, and to the learned languages, which are the proper places to try them, and fittest tongues to treat them in.”—pp. 215-220.
III. Extract from Smith's PARALLELS, CENSURES, and
OBSERVATIONS, 1609. “The 6th likelihood against separation may be framed thus :
They have not the truth that are judged of the Lord.
They have the truth that are prospered by God in their course.
The English Protestants are prospered in their course.
I answer : that this is false doctrine. For the wise man saith, Eccles. ix. 1-3, “That prosperity or adversity are no signs of love or hatred ; and Jerem. xii, 1, 2, that the wicked are in prosperity; and 1 Pet. iv, 17, judgment beginneth at God's house.” This your reason, therefore, is most absurd and false, and is fit to breed Atheism and overthrow the whole truth of the Scriptures. But let us see what judgments are upon the Separation : you frame them thus :
If Mr. Bolton, that apostate, did hang himself; if Mr. Harrison and Mr. Brown did differ, and one fell back; if Mr. Barrow and Mr. Greenwood, for calling you serpents, generation of vipers, were martyred by the persecuting prelates; if Mr. Johnson pronounced excommunication against his brother; and if the church excommunicated the father ; if Mr. Burnet died of the plague; if Mr. Smith was delivered twice from the pursuivant; and was sick almost to death and doubted of the Separation for nine months' space—then the Separation is not the truth.
But all these things befel Mr. Bolton, Mr. Brown, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Burnet, Mr. Smith.
Ergo, the Separation is not the truth.
I answer: The churches of England have had thousands of such accidents as these befalling their officers and leaders, and yet as it were folly in us to allege them against you as the papists do; so it is no wisdom but weakness of judgment in you to mention them in your book against us. What, is it good reasoning to say,
Judas hanged himself; Christ was crucified for blasphemy; Demas embraced the world; Nicholas the deacon proved an heretic; Paul and Barnabas fell out; Paul charged Peter and Barnabas with dissembling ; Peter denied Christ; all the Apostles were put to death for heresy. Ergo, the Christian religion, &c., yet this is your goodly reason : if this be a good argument, where is your faith ?
But in this likelihood you have a fling at me in particular: Mr. Bernard charging me with divers untruths, which I will manifest.
1. That I doubted nine months I acknowledge; but that I ever did acknowledge the separation the truth and separated from the English assemblies, and then returned again unto them, which you say, I do utterly deny, and I appeal to the town of Gainsborough and those there that knew my footsteps in this matter; and therefore herein I indict you as a public slanderer.
2. Whereas you say I became satisfied at Coventry after conference had with certain ministers, and hereupon kneeled down and praised God. I answer: I did not confer with them about the separation, as you and they know well enough in your consciences; but about withdrawing from true churches, ministers, and worship, corrupted : wherein I received no satisfaction, but rather thought I had given instruction to them; and for kneeling down to praise God, I confess I did, being requested to perform the duty at night after the conference by the ministers; but that I praised God for resolution of my doubts, I deny to death, and you, therein, are also a slanderer. I praised God for the quiet and peaceable conference and such like matters, and desired pardon of the Lord for ignorance and errors and weakness of judgment and any disordered carriage.