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- 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 fo much complain of: not the want of maintenance, or - preachers, as they allege, but the many hirelings and cheaters that have the golpel in their hands; hands that still crave, and are never satisfied. Likely minifters indeed, to proclaim the faith, or to exhort our trust in God, when they themselves will not truft him to provide for them in the meffage whereon, they say, he fent them; but threaten, for want of temporal means, to defert 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 to their covetous incredulity. Doubtless, if God only be he who gives - minifters to his church till the world's end; and through the whole gospel never fent us for ministers to the schools of philosophy, but rather bids us beware of such “ vain deceit,” Col. ii, 8; (which the primitive church, after two or three ages not remembering, brought herself quickly to confusion) if all the faithful be now “a holy and a royal priesthood," i Pet. ii, 5, 9, not ex*cluded from the dispensation of things holieft, after free election of the church, and imposition of hands, there will not want ministers elected out of all sorts and orders of men, for the gospel makes no difference from the magistrate himself to the meaneft artificer, if God evidently favour him with spiritual gifts, as he can easily, and oft hath done, while those bachelor divines and doctors of the tippet have been passed by. Heretofore in the first evangelic times, (and it were happy for Chriftendom if it were so again) ministers of the gospel jwere by nothing else distinguished from other christians, but by their fpiritual knowledge and fanctity of life, for which the church elected them to be her teachers and overleers, though not therely to feparate them from whatever calling the then found them following besides; as the example of St. Paul declares, and the first times of chriftianityisk:When once they affected to be called a cergysand becaine, as it were, a peculiar uibe of Levites, parte, à ditunt order-in-ther.comhionwealth,
bied up for divines in babbling schools, and fed at the public coft, good for nothing else but what was good for nothing, they foon grew idle: that idlenels, with fulnets of bread, begat pride and perpetual contention with their feeders the defpiled laity, through all ages ever fince; to the perverting of religion, and the distin bance of all Christendom. And we may confidently conclude, it never will be otherwise while they are thu's upheld undepending on the church, on which alone they anciently depended, and are by the magistrate publicly maintained a numerous faction of indigent persons, crept for the most part out of extreme want and bad nurture, claiming by divine right and freehold the tenth of our estates, to monopolize the ministry as their peculiar, which is free and open to all able christians, elected by any church. Under this pretence exempt from all other employment, and enriching themselves on the public, they last of all prove common incendiaries, and exalt their horns against the magistrate himself that maintains them, as the priest of Rome did soon after against his benefactor the emperor, and the presbyters of late in Scotland. Of which hireling crew, together with all the mischiefs, diffenfions, troubles, wars merely of their kindling, Christendom might foon rid herself and be happy, if christians would but know their own dignity, their liberty, their adoption, and let it not be wondered if I say, their spiritual priesthood, whereby they have all equally access to any ministerial function, whenever called by their own abilities, and the church, though they never came near commencement or univertity. But while proteftants, to avoid the due labour of understanding their own religion, are content to lodge it in the breast, or rather in the books of a clergyman, and to take it thence by scraps and mammocks, as he dispenses it in his Sunday's dole; they will be always learning and never knowing; always infants; always either his vaflals, as lay papists are to their priests; or at odds with him, as reformed principles give them fome light to be not wholly conformable; whence infinite disturbances in the ftate, as they do, must needs follow. Thus much I had to say; and, I suppose, what may be enough to them Cc4
who who are not avariciously bent otherwise, touching the likeliest means to remove hirelings out of the church; than which nothing can more conduce to truth, to peace and all happiness both in church and state. If I be not heard nor believed, the event will bear me witness to have spoken truth; and I, in the mean while, have borne my witness, not out of feason, to the church and to my country:
LETTER TO A FRIEND,
The RUPTUREŞ of the COMMONWEALTH.
Published from the Manuscript.
T TPON the fad and serious discourse which we fell
into last night, concerning these dangerous ruptures of the Commonwealth, scarce yet in her infancy, which cannot be without some inward flaw in her bowels; I began to consider more intensely thereon than hitherto I have been wont, resigning myself to the wildom and care of those who had the government, and not finding that either God, or the public required more of me, than my prayers for them that govern. And since you have not only stirred up my thoughts, by acquainting me with the state of affairs, more inwardly than I knew before; but also have desired me to let down my opinion thereof, trusting to your ingenuity, I shall give you freely my apprehenfion, both of our present evils, and what expedients, it God in mercy regard us, may remove them. I will begin with telling you how I was overjoyed, when I heard that the army, under the working of God's holy Spirit, as I thought, and ttill hope well, had been so far wrought to christian humility, and self-denial, as to confels in public their backsliding from the good old caule, and to thow the fruits of their repentance, in the righteousness of their restoring the old famous parlianient, wliich they had without just authority diffolved : I call it the famous parliament, though not the harmless, since none well-affected, but will confess, they have deserved much more of these nations, than they have undeferved. And I persuade me, that God was pleased with their restitution, figning it, as he did, with such a
with their reftititi Perjuade me, that God hey have un
fignal victory, when so great a part of the nation were desperately conspired to call back again their Ægyptian bondage. So much the ifrore it now amazes me, that they, whose lips were yet scarce closed from giving thanks for that great deliverance, Whould be nouv xelapfing, and fo foon again backsliding into the fame fault, which they confeffed so lately, and 40 folemniv to God and the world, and more lately punished in those Cheshire rebels; that they fhould now diffolve that partiament, avhich they themselves re-established, and acknowledged for their supreme power in their other day's humble representation : and all this, for no apparent cause of public concern: ment to the church or commonwealth, but only for dilcommissioning nine great officers in the army; which had not been done, as is reported, but upou notice of their intentions against the parliament. I prefume not to give my censure on this action, not knowing, as yet I do not, the bottom of it. I speak only what it appears to us without doors, till better caufe be declared, and I am fure to all other nations mott illegal and fcandalous, I fear me barbarous, or rather scarce to be exampled among any barbarians, that a paid army should, for bo other caule, thus subdue the supreme power that set them up. This, I say, other nations will judge to the tad dishonour of that army, lately to renowned for the civileft and best ordered in the world, and by us here at home, for the most conscientious. Certainly, if the great of ficers and soldiers of the Holland, French, or Venetian forces, should thus fit in council; and write from garrison to garrison againtt their superiours, they might as easily reduce the king of France, or duke of Venice, and put the United Provinces in like disorder and confufion. Why do they not, being most of them held ignorant of true religion? becaufe the light of nature, the laws of human fociety, the reverence of their magiftrates, cover nants, engagements, loyalty, allegiance, keeps them in awe. How, grievous will it then be? how infamous to the true religion which we profess: how difhonourable to the name of God, that his fear and the power of his knowledge in an army profefiing to be his, should not work that obediencesi that fidelity to thewidipreme