and oft refuted positions ; not in a point of conscience, wherein they might be blameless, but in a point of covetousness and unjust claim to other men's goods; a contention foul and odious in any man, but most of all in ministers of the gospel, in whom contention, though for their own right, scarce is allowable. Till which grievances be removed, and religion set free from the monopoly of hirelings, I dare affirm, that no model whatsoever of a commonwealth will prove successful or undisturbed ; and fo persuaded, implore divine affistance on your pious counsels and proceedings to unanimity in this and all other truth.



Touching the likeliest Means to remove HIREĻINGS OUT OF THE CHURCH. THE former treatise, which leads in this, began with

1 two things ever found working much mischief to the one side restraining, and hire on the other side corrupting the teachers thereof. The latter of these is by much the more dangerous : for under force, though no thank to the forcers, true religion ofttimes best thrives and flourishes; but the corruption of teachers, molt commonly the effect of hire, is the very bane of truth in them who are lo corrupted. Of force not to be used in matters of religion, I have already spoken; and so stated matters of conscience and religion in faith and divine worship, and so severed them from blafphemy and heresy, the one being such properly as is despiteful, the other such as stands not to the rule of scripture, and so both of them not matters of religion, but rather against it, that to them who will yet ute force, this only choice can be left, whether they will force them to believe, to whom it is not given from above, being not forced thereto by any principle of the gospel, which is now the only difpensation of God to all men; or whether being proteftants, they will punish in those things wherein the proteftant rcligion denies them to be judges, either in themselves infallible, or to the consciences of other men; or whether, lastly, they think fit to punith errour, fupporing they can be infallible that it is so, being not wilful, but conscientious, and, according to the best light of him who errs, grounded on scripture: which kind of errour all men religious, or but only reasonable, have thought worthier of pardon, and the growth thereof to be prevented by spiritual means and church-discipline, not by civil laws and outward force, fince it is God only who gives as well to believe aright, as to believe at all; and by those means, which he ordained fufficiently in his church to the full execution of his divine purpose in the

gospel. they had no

gospel. It remains now to speak of hire, the other evil lo mischievous in religion : whereof I promised then to speak further, when I should find God difpofing me, and opportunity inviting Opportunity I find now inviting; and apprehend therein the concurrence of God disposing; since the maintenance of Church-minifters, a thing not properly belonging to the magistrate, and yet with such importunity called for, and expected from him, is at prefent under public debate. Wherein left any thing may happen to be determined and established prejudicial to the right and freedom of the church, or advantageous to such as may be found hirelings therein, it will be now most seasonable, and in these matters, wherein every christian hath his free fuffrage, no way misbecoming christian meekness to offer freely, without disparagement to the wiseft, such advice as God shall incline him and enable him to propound : since heretofore in commonwealths of most fame for government, civil laws were not established till they had been first for certain days published to the view of all men, that whoso pleased might speak freely his opinion thereof, and give in his exceptions, ere the law could pass to a full establishment. And where ought this equity to have more place, than in the liberty which is inseparable from christian religion? This, I am not ignorant, will be a work unpleafing to fome: but what truth is not hateful to some or other, as this, in likelihood, will be to none but hirelings. And if there be among them who hold it their duty to speak impartial truth, as the work of their ministry, though not performed without money, let them not envy others who think the same no less their duty by the general office of christianity, to speak truth, as in all reason may be thought, more impartially and unsuspectedly without · money.

Hire of itself is neither a thing unlawful, nor a word of any evil note, signifying no more than a due recompense or reward ; as when our Saviour faith, “the labourer is worthy of his hire.” That which makes it so dangerous in the church, and properly makes the Hireling, a word always of evil signification, is either the excess thereof, or the undue manner of giving and tak

might foelied to the

ing it. What harm the excess thereof brought to the church, perhaps was not found by experience till the days of Conftantine; who out of his zeal thinking he could be never too liberally a nursing father of the church, might be not unfitly faid to have either overlaid it or choked it in the nursing. Which was foretold, as is recorded in ecclefiaftical traditions, by a voice heard from Heaven, on the very day that those great donations and church-revenues were given, crying aloud, “ This day is poison poured into the church.” Which the event foon after verified, as appears by another no less ancient obfervation, “ That religion brought forth wealth, and the daughter devoured the mother.” But long ere wealth came into the church, fo foon as any gain appeared in religion, hirelings were apparent; drawn in long before by the very scent thereof. Judas therefore, the first hireling, for want of present hire answerable to his coveting, from the small number or the meanness of fuch as then were the religious, fold the religion itself with the founder thereof, his master. . - Simon Magus the next, in hope only that preaching and the gifts of the Holy Ghost would prove gainful, offered beforehand a sum of money to obtain them. Not long after, as the apostle foretold, hirelings like wolves came in by herds; Acts xx, 29, “ For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” Tit. 1, 11, “ Teaching things, which they ought not, for filthy lucre's fake.” 2 Pet. ii, 3, “ And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you. Yet they taught not falfe doctrine only, but feeming piety ; i l'im. vi, 5, “Suppofing that gain is godliness.” Neither came they in of themselves only, but invited ofttimes by a corrupt audience : 2 Tim. iv, 3, “ For the time will come, when they will not endure found doctrine, but after their own lufts they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears :” and they on the other side, as fast heaping to themselves disciples, Acts xx, 30, doubtless had as itching palms : 2 Pet. ii, 15, Following the way of Balaam, the fon of Bofor, who loved the wages of unrighteoufnefs.” Jude 11, “They ran greedily after the errour Vol. III,

A a


of Balaam for reward.” Thus we see, that not only the excess of hire in wealthiest times, but also the undue and vicious taking or giving it, though but small or mean, as in the primitive times, gave to hirelinys occasion, though not intended, yet sufficient to creep' at first into the church. Which argues also the difficulty, or rather the impoffibility, to remove them quite, unless every minister were, as St. Paul, contented to teach gratis; but few such are to be found. As therefore we cannot juftly take away all hire in the church, because we cannot otherwise quite remove all hirelings, so are we not for the impossibility of removing them all, to use therefore no endeavour that fewest may come in; but rather, in regard the evil, do what we can, will always be incumbent and unavoidable, to use our utmost diligence how it may be least dangerous : which will be likelieft effected, if we consider, first, what recompense God hath ordained should be given to ministers of the church; (for that a recompense ought to be given them, and may by them juftly be received, our Saviour himself from the very light of reason and of equity hath declared, Luke x, 7, “ The labourer is worthy of his hire;") next, by whom; and lastly, in what manner.

What recompense ought to be given to church-minifters, God hath answerably ordained according to that difference, which he hath manifestly put between those his two great dispensations, the law and the gospel. Under the law he gave them tithes ; under the gospel, having left all things in his church to charity and christian freedom, he hath given them only what is juftly given them. That, as well under the gospel, as under the law, say our English divines, and they only of all protestants, is tithes; and they say true, if any man be to minded to give them of his own the tenth or twentieth; but that the law therefore of tithes is in force under the gospel, all other protestant divines, though equally concerned, yet constantly deny. For although hire to the labourer be of moral and perpetual right, yet that special kind of hire, the tenth, can be of no right or neceffity, but to that special labour for which God ordained it. That special labour was the levitical and


« VorigeDoorgaan »