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Jer. vi. 26. Micah i. 8, 9. Lam. ii. 18.
offenders, without exception or stint, whether they be strangers that seek access, or followers that will make return unto God; upon the tender of their Repentance, the grant of his grace standeth everlastingly signed with his blood in the Book of eternal Life. That which in this case over-terrifieth fearful souls is, a misconceit whereby they imagine every act which they do, knowing that they do amiss, and every wilful breach or transgression of God's Law to be mere sin against the Holy Ghost; forgetting that the Law of Moses itself ordained sacrifices of expiation, as well for faults presumptuously committed, as things wherein men offend by error.
Now, there are on the contrary side others, who, doubting not of God's mercy towards all that perfectly repent, remain notwithstanding scrupulous and troubled with continual fear, lest defects in their own Repentance be a bar against them. These cast themselves first into very great, and peradventure needless, agonies, through misconstruction of things spoken about proportioning our griefs to our sins, for which they never think they have wept and mourned enough, yea, if they have not always a stream of tears at command, they take it for a heart congealed and hardened in sin; when to keep the wound of Contrition bleeding, they unfold the circumstances of their transgressions, and endeavour to leave nothing which may be heavy against themselves. Yet, do what they can, they are still fearful, lest herein also they do not that which they ought and might. Come to Prayer, their coldness taketh all heart and courage from them; with Fasting, albeit their flesh
should be withered, and their blood clean dried up, would Psalm they ever the less object, What is this to David's humilia
tion? wherein notwithstanding there was not any thing
In works of Charity and Alms-deeds, it is not all the world can persuade them they did ever reach the poor bounty of the widow's two mites, or by many millions of leagues come near to the mark which Cornelius touched; so far they are off from the proud surmise of any penitential supererogation in miserable
Mark xii. 42. Acts x. 31.
* “ Quam magna deliquimus, tam granditer defleamus. Alto vulneri diligens et longa medicina non desit; pænitentia crimine minor non sit.” Cypr. de Laps. “ Non levi agendum est contritione, ut debita illa redimantur, quibus mors æterna debetur; nec transitoria opus est satisfactione pro malis illis, propter quæ paratus est ignis æternus." Euseb. Emissenus, vel potius Salv. p. 106.
wretched worms of the earth. Notwithstanding, forasmuch as they wrong themselves with over rigorous and extreme exactions, by means whereof they fall sometimes into such perplexities as can hardly be allayed; it hath therefore pleased Almighty God, in tender commiseration over these imbecilities of men, to ordain for their spiritual and ghostly comfort Consecrated Persons, which by Sentence of power and authority given from above, may, as it were, out of his very mouth ascertain timorous and doubtful minds in their own particular, ease them of all their scrupulosities, leave them settled in peace and satisfied touching the mercy of God towards them. To use the benefit of this help for our better satisfaction in such cases is so natural, that it can be forbidden no man; but yet not so necessary, that all men should be in case to need it.
They are, of the two, the happier, therefore, that can content and satisfy themselves, by judging discreetly what they perform, and soundly what God doth require of them. For having, that which is most material, the substance of Penitency rightly bred touching signs and tokens thereof, we may boldly affirm that they do [err), which imagine for every offence a certain proportionable degree in the passions and griefs of mind, whereunto whosoever aspireth not, repenteth in vain. That to frustrate men's confessions and considerations of sin, except every circumstance which may aggravate the same be unript and laid in the balance, is a merciless extremity; although it be true, that as near as we can such wounds must be searched to the
bottom. Last of all, to set down the like stint, and to shut up the doors of mercy against Penitents which come short thereof in the devotion of their Prayers, in the continuance of their Fasts, in the largeness and bounty of their Alms, or in the course of any other such like duties; is more than God himself hath thought meet, and consequently more than mortal men should presume to do. That which God doth Jer. chiefly respect in men's Penitency is their hearts. The xxix. 13. heart is it which maketh Repentance sincere, sincerity that ii. 12. which findeth favour in God's sight, and the favour of God that which supplieth by gracious acceptation whatsoever may seem defective in the faithful, hearty, and true offices of his servants. - Take it (saith Chrysostom) upon my Chrys. credit, Such is God's merciful inclination towards men, that Repar.
laps. lib. Repentance offered with a single and sincere mind he never Theodor
. refuseth; no, not although we be come to the very top dist. &. of iniquity.” If there be a will and desire to return, he
receiveth, embraceth, omitteth nothing which may restore us to former happiness; yea, that which is above all the rest, albeit we cannot, in the duty of satisfying him, attain what we ought, and would, but come far behind our mark, he taketh nevertheless in good worth that little which we do; be it never so mean, we lose not our labour therein. The least and lowest step of Repentance in Saint Chrysostom's judgment severeth and setteth us above them that
perish in their sin: I therefore will end with St. Augustine's Aug. conclusion, “Lord, in thy Book and Volume of Life all exxxix. shall be written, as well the least of thy Saints, as the (16.)
chiefest.” Let not therefore the unperfect fear; let them only proceed and go forward.
THEIR SIXTH ASSERTION, THAT THERE OUGHT NOT TO BE IN THE
CHURCH, BISHOPS INDUED WITH SUCH AUTHORITY AND HONOUR AS OURS ARE.
THE MATTER CONTAINED IN THIS SEVENTH BOOK.
1. The state of Bishops although sometime oppugned, and that by such as therein
would most seem to please God, yet by his providence upheld hitherto, whose
glory it is to maintain that whereof himself is the author. 2. What a Bishop is, what his Name doth import, and what doth belong unto his
Office as he is a Bishop. 3. In Bishops two things traduced; of which two, the one their Authority; and in
it the first thing condemned, their Superiority over other Ministers : what kind of Superiority Ministers it is which the one part holdeth, and the other
denieth, lawful. 4. From whence it hath grown, that the Church is governed by Bishops. 5. The time and cause of instituting every where Bishops with restraint. 6. What manner of power Bishops from the first beginning have had. 7. After what sort Bishops, together with Presbyters, have used to govern the
Churches which were under them. 8. How the power of Bishops hath reached from the beginning in respect of
territory, or local compass. 9. In what respects Episcopal Regiment hath been gainsayed of old by Aërius. 10. In what respects Episcopal Regiment is gainsayed by the authors of pretended
reformation at this day. 11. Their arguments in disgrace of Regiment by Bishops, as being a mere invention
of man, and not found in Scripture, answered. 12. Their arguments to prove, there was no necessity of instituting Bishops in the
Church. 13. The fore-alleged arguments answered. 14. An answer unto those things which are objected, concerning the difference
between that power which Bishops now have, and that which ancient Bishops
had, more than other Presbyters. 15. Concerning the Civil power and authority which our Bishops have. 16. The arguments answered, whereby they would prove, that the Law of God, and
the judgment of the best in all ages, condemneth the ruling superiority of one
Minister over another. 17. The second malicious thing wherein the state of Bishops suffereth obloquy, is
their Honour. 18. What good doth publicly grow from the Prelacy. 19. What kinds of Honour be due unto Bishops. 20. Honour in title, place, ornament, attendance, and privilege. 21. Honour by endowment with Lands and Livings. 22. That of Ecclesiastical goods, and consequently of the Lands and Livings which
Bishops enjoy, the propriety belongs unto God alone. 23. That Ecclesiastical persons are receivers of God's rents, and that the Honour of
Prelates is to be thereof his chief receivers, not without liberty from him
granted of converting the same unto their own use, even in large manner. 24. That for their unworthiness to deprive both them and their successors of such
goods, and to convey the same unto men of secular callings, [were] now extreme sacrilegious injustice.
The state of
himself is the author.
1. I have heard that a famous Kingdom in the world Bishops being solicited to reform such disorders as all men saw the
Church exceedingly burthened with, when of each degree pugned, great multitudes thereunto inclined, and the number of them by such did every day so increase that this intended work was likely in would to take no other effect than all good men did wish and labour seem to for; a principal Actor herein (for zeal and boldness of spirit)
thought it good to shew them betimes what it was which provi.
must be effected, or else that there could be no work of upheld perfect Reformation accomplished. To this purpose, in a witherto, solemn Sermon, and in a great Assembly, he described
unto them the present quality of their Public Estate by the minthat, parable of a tree, huge and goodly to look upon, but without whereof that fruit which it should and might bring forth; affirming, ,
that the only way of redress was a full and perfect establishment of Christ's Discipline (for so their manner is to entitle a thing hammered out upon the forge of their own invention), and that to make way of entrance for it, there must be three great limbs cut off from the body of that stately tree of the Kingdom. Those three limbs were three sorts of men: Nobles, whose high estate would make them otherwise disdain to put their necks under that yoke; Lawyers, whose Courts being not pulled down, the new Church-consistories were not like to flourish; finally, Prelates, whose ancient dignity, and the simplicity of their intended Church-discipline, could not possibly stand together. The proposition of which device being plausible to active spirits, restless through desire of innovation, whom commonly nothing doth more offend than a change which goeth fearfully on by slow and suspicious paces; the heavier and more experienced sort began presently thereat to pull back their feet again, and exceedingly to fear the stratagem of Reformation for ever after. Whereupon ensued those extreme conflicts of the one part with the other; which continuing and increasing to this very day, have now made the state of that flourishing
Kingdom even such, as whereunto we may most fitly apply (Lam. those words of the Prophet Jeremiah, “ Thy breach is great
like the sea, who can heal thee ?" Whether this were done in truth, according to the constant affirmation of some avouching the same, I take not upon me to examine; that which I note therein is, How with us that policy hath been corrected. For to the Authors of pretended Reformation