صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

which hath not wherewith any more to encourage her industrious followers? And finally, what shall become of that courage to follow learning, which hath already so much failed through the only diminution of her chiefest rewards, Bishoprics ?* Surely, wheresoever this wicked intendment of overthrowing Cathedral Churches, or of taking away those Livings, Lands, and Possessions, which Bishops hitherto have enjoyed, shall once prevail, the handmaids attending thereupon will be Paganism and extreme Barbarity. In the Law of Moses how careful provision is made that goods of this kind might remain to the Church for ever: “ Ye shall not make common the holy things of the children Numb. of Israel, lest ye die, saith the Lord.” Touching the fields annexed unto Levitical cities, the Law was plain, they might not be sold; and the reason of the Law this, “ for it was Lev. their possession for ever.” He which was Lord and owner of it, his will and pleasure was, that from the Levites it should never pass to be enjoyed by any other. The Lord's own portion, without his own commission and grant, how should any man justly hold? They which hold it by his appointment had it plainly with this condition, “ They shall Ezek. not sell of it, neither change it, nor alienate the first-fruits of the land; for it is holy unto the Lord.” It falleth sometimes out, as the Prophet Habakkuk noteth, that the very “prey of savage beasts becometh dreadful unto themselves." Habak. It did so in Judas, Achan, Nebuchadnezzar; their evilpurchased goods were their snare, and their prey their own terror; a thing no where so likely to follow, as in those goods and possessions, which being laid where they should not rest, have by the Lord's own testimony his most bitter Mal curse, their undividable companion. These persuasions we

xviii. 32.

Xxv. 34.

xlviii. 14.

ii. 17.

iii. 9.

* [“ In the Church, the immense and valuable patronage of Government is uniformly bestowed on their Political adherents. No talents, no learning, no piety can advance the fortune of a Clergyman whose Political opinions are adverse to those of the governing party. The utmost that is permitted to a Bishop is moderation in his manner of maintaining the orthodox Political faith; any hesitation in his vote is an unpardonable sin. He may be a high Calvinist, or a controversial Arminian; a bigotted enemy of all other religious opinions, or an enlightened friend of toleration, but if he shews himself of a different creed from his patrons in Civil concerns, and is guilty of Political heresy, his further rise is stopt for ever. ... Connected with Power and Office by their very profession, all the members of the Church have an original tendency, not easily overcome, to take the side of Government; and those who desire to rise to distinction in the Hierarchy, generally make a display of servility as the surest means of elevation; or if raised by some rare accident from real merit, superadd a varnish of adulation to their other acquirements. .. There are, however, a number of Clergymen whose honourable and enlightened opinions make them at once proscribed and respected." Lord John RUSSELL, pp. 417, 421, ut sup.]

Prov. iii. 9.

xix. 9,

x. 42.]

use for other men's cause, not for theirs with whom God and Religion are parts of the abrogated Law of Ceremonies. Wherefore, not to continue longer in the cure of a sore desperate, there was a time when the Clergy had almost as little as these good people wish. But the Kings of this Realm and others, whom God had blest, considered devoutly with themselves, as David in like case sometimes had done, Is it meet that we at the hands of God should enjoy all kinds of abundance, and God's Clergy suffer want?

They considered that of Solomon, “ Honour God with thy substance, and the chiefest of all thy revenue; so shall thy barns be

filled with corn, and thy vessels shall run over with new 2 Chron. wine.” They considered how the care which Jehoshaphat

had, in providing that the Levites might have encouragement to do the work of the Lord cheerfully, was left of God as a fit pattern to be followed in the Church for ever. They

considered what promise our Lord and Saviour hath made [Matt. unto them, at whose hands his Prophets should receive but

the least part of the meanest kind of friendliness, though it were but a draught of water; which promise seemeth not to be taken, as if Christ had made them of any higher courtesy uncapable, and had promised reward not unto such as give them but that, but unto such as leave them but that. They considered how earnest the Apostle is, that if the Ministers of the Law were so amply provided for, less care then ought not to be had of them, who under the Gospel of Jesus Christ possess correspondent Rooms in the Church. They considered how needful it is, that they who provoke all others unto works of mercy and charity should especially have wherewith to be examples of such things, and by such means to win them, with whom other means, without those, do commonly take very small effect.

In these and the like considerations, the Church revenues

were in ancient times augmented, our Lord thereby perform(Mark ing manifestly the promise made to his servants, that they 30.]

which did " leave either father, or mother, or lands, or goods, for his sake, should receive in this world an hundred fold.” For some hundreds of years together, they which joined themselves to the Church were fain to relinquish all worldly emoluments and to endure the hardness of an afflicted estate. Afterward the Lord gave rest to his Church, Kings and Princes became as Fathers thereunto, the hearts of all men

X. 29,

24, 25,

inclined towards it, and by his providence there grew unto it every day earthly possessions in more and more abundance, till the greatness thereof bred envy, which no diminutions are able to satisfy. For, as those ancient nursing Fathers thought they did never bestow enough; even so in the eye of this present age, as long as any thing remaineth, it seemeth to be too much. Our Fathers we imitate “in perversum,” as Tertullian speaketh; like them we are, by being, in equal degree, the contrary unto that which they were. Unto those earthly blessings which God as then did with so great abundance pour down upon the Ecclesiastical state, we may, in regard of most near resemblance, apply the self-same words which the Prophet bath, “God blessed them exceedingly; and, by this very Psal. cv. mean, turned the hearts of their own Brethren to hate them, and to deal politicly with his servants.” Computations are made, and there are huge sums set down for Princes, to see how much they may amplify and enlarge their own treasure; how many public burthens they may ease; what present means they may have to reward their servants about them, if they please but to grant their assent, and to accept of the spoil of Bishops, by whom Church-goods are but abused unto pomp and vanity. Thus albeit they deal with one whose princely virtue giveth them small hope to prevail in impious and sacrilegious motions; yet shame they not to move her Royal Majesty even with a suit not much unlike unto that wherewith the Jewish High-priest tried Judas, whom they solicited unto treason against his Master, and proposed unto him a number of silver pence in lieu of so virtuous and honest a service. But her sacred Majesty disposed to be always like herself, her heart so far estranged from willingness to gain by pillage of that estate, the only awe whereof under God she hath been unto this present hour, as of all other parts of this noble Commonwealth, whereof she hath vowed herself a protector till the end of her days on earth, which if Nature could permit, we wish, as good cause we have, endless : this her gracious inclination is more than a seven-times-sealed warrant, upon

the same assurance whereof touching any action, so dishonourable as this, we are on her part most secure, not doubting but that unto all posterity it shall for ever appear, that from the first to the very last of her sovereign proceedings there hath not been one authorized

ep. 54.

DDD.
Valent

et Archad. C. de Sacros.

1. xiv.

Lib. x. deed other than consonant with that Symmachus saith,

“ Fiscus bonorum Principum, non Sacerdotum damnis, sed Theodos. hostium spoliis augeatur:" consonant with that Imperial Law,

“ Ea quæ ad beatissimæ Ecclesiæ jura pertinent, tanquam

ipsam sacrosanctam et religiosam Ecclesiam, intacta conEccles. venit venerabiliter custodiri; ut sicut ipsa Religionis et

Fidei Mater perpetua est, ita ejus patrimonium jugiter servetur illæsum.” As for the case of public burthens, let any Politician living make it appear, that by confiscation of Bishops' Livings, and their utter dissolution at once, the Commonwealth shall ever have half that relief and ease which it receiveth by their continuance as now they are, and it shall give us some cause to think, that albeit we see they are impiously and irreligiously minded, yet we may esteem them at least to be tolerable Commonwealth's-men. But the case is too clear and manifest, the world doth but too plainly see it, that no one Order of subjects whatsoever within this Land doth bear the seventh part of that proportion which the Clergy beareth in the burthens of the Commonwealth : no revenue of the Crown like unto it, either for certainty or for greatness. Let the good which this way hath grown to the Commonwealth by the dissolution of religious-Houses, teach men what ease unto public burdens there is like to grow by the overthrow of the Clergy. My meaning is not hereby to make the state of Bishoprick and of those dissolved Companies alike, the one no less unlawful to be removed than the other. For those Religious persons were men which followed only a special kind of contemplative life in the Commonwealth, they were properly no portion of God's Clergy (only such amongst them excepted as were also Priests), their goods (that excepted which they unjustly held through the Pope's usurped power of appropriating Ecclesiastical Livings unto them) may in part seem to be of the nature of Civil

possessions, held by other kinds of Corporations, such as the city of London bath divers. Wherefore, as their institution was human, and their end for the most part superstitious, they had not therein merely that holy and divine interest which belongeth unto Bishops, who being employed by Christ in the principal service of his Church, are receivers and disposers of his patrimony, as hath been showed, which whosoever shall withhold or withdraw at any time

viii. 11,

from them, he undoubtedly robbeth God himself. If they abuse the goods of the Church unto pomp and vanity, such faults we do not excuse in them. Only we wish it to be considered whether such faults be verily in them, or else but objected against them by such as gape after spoil, and therefore are no competent judges what is moderate and what excessive in them, whom under this pretence they would spoil. But the accusation may be just. . In plenty and fulness it may be we are of God more forgetful than were requisite. Notwithstanding men should remember how not to the Clergy alone it was said by Moses in Deuteronomy, "Ne cum manducaveris, et bibe- (Deut. ris, et domos optimas ædificaveris."

If the remedy pre- 12.] scribed for this disease be good, let it impartially be applied. “Interest Reipub. ut re sua quisque bene utatur.” Let all states be put to their moderate pensions, let their Livings and Lands be taken away from them whomsoever they be, in whom such ample possessions are found to have been matters of grievous abuse : were this just ? would Noble families think this reasonable? The Title which Bishops have to their Livings is as good as the title of any sort of men unto whatsoever we accompt to be most justly held by them; yea, in this one thing the claim of Bishops hath pre-eminence above all secular titles of right, in that God's own interest is the tenure whereby they hold, even as also it was to the Priests of the Law an assurance of their spiritual goods and possessions, whereupon though they many times abused greatly the goods of the Church, yet was not God's patrimony therefore taken away from them, and made saleable unto other tribes. To rob God, to ransack the Church, to overthrow the whole Order of Christian Bishops, and to turn them out of land and living, out of house and home, what man of common honesty can think it for any manner of abuse to be a remedy lawful or just ? We must confess that God is righteous in taking away that which men abuse: but doth that excuse the violence of thieves and robbers? Complain we will not with St. Jerome,

" That the hands of men are so straitly tied, and their liberal minds so much bridled and held back from doing good by augmentation of the Church - patrimony."*

* “ Pudet dicere, Sacerdotes idolorum, aurigæ, mimi et scorta hæreditates capiunt, solis Clericis et Monachis id lege prohibetur, et prohibetur non a persecutoribus sed Principibus Christianis. Nec de lege conqueror, sed doleo quod meruerimus hanc Legem.” Ad Nepot. 2.

« السابقةمتابعة »