Against some of our Opposites, who aknovvledge the inconve∣niency of the Ceremonies, and yet vvould have us yeeld to them.
THE Archbishop of Sainctandrewes, now Lord Chan∣cellour [Sect. I] forsooth, speaking of the fyve Articles con∣cluded at the pretended Assembly of Perth,a saith, The conveniency of them for our Church is doubted of by many, but not without cause, &c. novations in a Church even in the smallest things are dangerous, &c. had it been in our power to have disswaded or declined them, most cer∣tainly we would, &c but now being brought to a necessity, either of yeelding, or disobeying him whom for my selfe, I hold it religion to offend, &c. Dr. Burgesseb confesseth, that some of his side think & beleeve, that the Ceremonies are inconvenient, and yet to be obser∣ved for peace and the Gospels sake; And how many Formalists let us heare their hearty wishes, that the Ceremonies had never beene brought into our Church, because they have troubled our peace, & occasioned great stryf•…? When they are demanded why doe they yeeld to them, since they aknowledge great inconveniency in them? They answeare; left by their refusall, they should cast their coall to the fire, to entertaine and increase discord, & lest shunning one inconvenien∣cy, they should draw on a greater. Mr. Sprint saith, (c) It may be gran∣ted,*that offence and hinderance to edification, doe arise from those our Cere∣monies.d He confesseth also, That the best Divines wished them to be abolished, as beeing many wayes inconvenient. Notwithstanding, he hath written a whole Treatise, of the necessity of conformity in case of deprivation.
But let us understand, how he proveth, e that sometimes it is [Sect. II] Page 2 expedient and necessary to conforme unto such burthensome and beggarly Ceremonies, as are many wayes inconvenient, and oc∣casions of sundry evill effects. His principall reason is, f That the Apostles by direction of the Holy Ghost, and upon reasons of common and perpetuall equity, did practise themselves, and caused others to practice, yea advised and injoyned (as matters good and necessary to be done) Ceremonies so inconvenient and evill in ma∣ny maine and materiall respects, as the Ceremonies injoyned and prescribed in the Church of England are supposed to be; whence he would have it to followe, that to suffer deprivation for refusing to conforme to the Ceremonies of the Church of England,, is contra∣ry to the doctrine and practise of the Apostles. Ans. These Iewish Ceremonies in the use and practise of the Apostles, were no way evill and inconvenient, as himselfe every where confesseth; whereas therefore g he tels us, that those Ceremonies were abused to su∣perstition, were of misticall signification, imposed and observed as parts of Gods worship, swerving from the generall rules of Gods word, not profitable for order, decencie, and edification, offensive many wayes, and infringing Christian liberty; he runnes at random all the while: for these things agree not to the Iewish Ceremonies, as they were rightly used by the Apostles themselves, and by others at their advise, but onely as they were superstitiously used with opi∣nion of necessity by the obstinate Iewes, and by the false teachers, who impugned Christian liberty. So that all that can followe upon Mr. Sprints Argument, is this, That notwithstanding of the evils and inconveniences which follow upon certaine Ceremonies in the su∣perstitious abuse of them by others, yet if in our practise they have a necessary or expedient use, then (after the example of the Apostles) we may well conforme unto them. Now all this commeth not neere the point, which Mr. Sprint undertaketh to prove, namely, That graunting the controverted Ceremonies to be in out use and pra∣ctise of the same, many wayes evill and inconvenient, yet to suffer deprivation for refusing to conforme to the same, is contrary to the doctrine and practise of the Apostles. And as touching the compa∣rison instituted betwixt our controverted Ceremonies, and these an∣tiquated Ceremonies of the Iewes, practised and prescribed by the Apostles, after the ascension of Christ, and before the full promul∣gation of the Gospell, many evils there be in ours which could not be found in theirs. For, 1. Ours, have no necessary use and might well be spared: Theirs, had a necessary use for avoiding of scandall, Acts 15. 28. 2. Ours, produce manifold inconveniences (whereof we are to speake hereafter) in our use and practise of the same, which is prescribed: Theirs, in the use and practise of the same, which was injoyned by the Apostles, were most expedient, for winning of the obstinate Iewes, 1 Cor. 9. 20. & for keeping of the weake, 1 Cor. 9. 22. Page 3 And for teaching the right use of Christian liberty, to such as were strong in the faith, both among the beleeving Iewes, and con∣verted Gentiles, Rom. 4. &c. 1. Cor. 8. & 10. 3. Ours, are proven to be in their nature unlawfull: Theirs, were (during the foresaid space) in their nature indifferent, Rom. 14. 6. Gal. 6. 15. 4. Ours, are impo∣sed and observed as parts of Gods Worship (which we will prove h afterward:) Theirs, not so, for where reade we, that (during the foresaid space) any holinesse was placed in them by the Apostles? 5. Ours, have certaine misticall significations. Theirs, not so: for it is no where to be read, that the Apostles either practised or prescri∣bed them as significative resemblances of any mistery of the King∣dome of God. 6. Ours, make us (though unnecessarily) like unto I∣dolaters in their Idolatrous actions: Theirs, not so. 7. Ours, are im∣posed with a necessity both of practise and opinion, even out of the case of scandall: Theirs, not so. 8. Ours, are pressed by naked will and Auctority: Theirs, by such speciall grounds of momentaneous reason, as made the practise of the same necessary for a certaine time, whither the Apostles had injoyned it or not. 9. Ours, are urged even upon such, as in their consciences judge them to be unlawfull: Theirs, not so. 10. Ours, have no better originall then humane and Anti∣christian invention. Theirs, had their originall from Gods owne institution. 11. Ours, are the accursed monuments of Popish Ido∣latrie, to be ejected with detestation: Theirs, were the memorials of Mosaicall policy, to be buried with honour. 12. Ours, are pressed by such pretended reasons, as make them ever and every where ne∣cessary: Theirs, by such reasons, as did onely conclude a necessity of using them at sometimes, and in some places. 13. Ours, are urged after the full promulgation of the Gospell, and aknowledge∣ment of Christian liberty: Theirs, before the same. 14. Ours, are ur∣ged with the carelesse neglect of pressing more necessary duties: Theirs not so. These and other differences, betwixt the controverted, and Iewish Ceremonies, doe so breake the backe of Mr. Sprints Argu∣ment, that there is no healing of it againe.
His seconde reason, whereby he goeth about to prove, the ne∣cessity [Sect. III] of conforming to inconvenient Ceremonies in the case of deprivation, i he taketh from this ground: That when two duties commanded of God, doe meet in one practise, so as we can not doe them both, in this case we must performe the greatter duty, and ne∣glect the lesser. Now, whereas he saith, when two duties doe meet, &c. he means not, that both may be duties at once, for then a man shall be so straitned, that he must needs commit a sinne, in that he must needs omit one of the duties. But (as he explaineth himselfe) he cal∣leth them duties, being considered apart: as, to heare a Sermon at the Church on the Sabbath, and to tend a sicke person ready to die at home at the same time, both are duties being considered apart, Page 4 but meeting togither in our practise at one time, there is but one duty, because the lesser worke binds not for that present. Now he assumes, that the doctrine and practise of suffering deprivation for refusing to conforme to inconvenient Ceremonies, doeth cause men to neglect greater duties, to performe the lesser. For proofe where∣of, he enlargeth a needlesse discourse, tending to prove, that prea∣ching is a greater duty and of higher bond, then the duty of labou∣ring unto fit Ceremonies, or of refusing inconvenient Ceremonies; which can not helpe his cause. That which he had to prove, was, that not to suffer deprivation for refusing of inconvenient Ceremo∣nies, is a greater duty, then the refusing of inconvenient Ceremo∣nies. But it will be said, that to suffer deprivation for refusing of in∣convenient Ceremonies, doeth cause men to neglect the preaching of the Word, and that is a greater duty, then the refusing of incon∣venient Ceremonies. Ans. 1. Mr. Sprint him selfe layeth downe one ground, which proveth the refusing of inconvenient Ceremonies to be a greater duty, then the preaching of the Word: for k he hol∣deth, that the substantials of the seconde Table doe overrule the Ceremonials of the first Table, according to that which God saith, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, Math. 12. 7. And l elsewhere he teacheth; that to tend a sicke person ready to die, is a greater duty, then the hearing of the Word. Now to practise inconvenient and scandalous Ceremonies, is to commit Soule-murther, and so to breake one of the most substantiall duties of the second Table. There∣fore according to Mr. Sprints owne ground, the refusing of incon∣venient and scandalous Ceremonies, is a greater duty, then the prea∣ching of the Word, which is but a Ceremoniall of the first Table, and if the neglect of tending a sicke persons body, be a greater sinne, then to omit the hearing of many Sermons, much more to mur∣ther the soules of men by practising inconvenient and scandalous Ceremonies, is a greater sinne then to omit the preaching of many Sermons, which is all the omission (if there be any) of those who suffer deprivation for refuising to conforme unto inconvenient Ce∣remonies. But, 2. We denie, that the suffering of deprivation for refu∣sing to conforme unto inconvenient Ceremonies, causeth men to ne∣glect, or omit the duty of preaching. Neither hath Mr. Sprint alled∣ged any thing for proofe hereof, except that this duty of preaching can not be done with us ordinarily, as things doe stand, if Ministers doe not conforme: for by order they are to be deprived of their Mi∣nistry. Now what of all this? for though by the oppressing power of proud Prelats many are hindered from continuing in preaching, because of their refusing inconvenient Ceremonies, yet they them∣selves, who suffer deprivation for this cause, can not be said to ne∣glect or omit the duty of Preaching: most gladly would they Page 5 preach, but are not permitted; And how can a man be said to omit or neglect that, which he would faine doe, but it lieth not in his po∣wer to get it done? All the strentgh of Mr. Sprints Argument lieth in this; That forasmuch as Ministers are hindred from preaching, if they doe not conforme, therefore their suffring of deprivation for refusing conformity, doeth cause them neglect the duty of prea∣ching. Which Argument, that I may destroy it with his owne wea∣pons, let us note, m that he alloweth a man (though not to suffer deprivation yet) to suffer any civill penalty or externall losse, for refusing of inconvenient Ceremonies commanded and injoyned by the Magistrate. Now, put the case, that for refusing inconvenient Ceremonies, I be so fined, spoiled, and oppressed, that I can not have sufficient wordly meanes for my selfe and them of my hous∣hold; hence I argue thus, (if Mr. Sprints Argument hold good) that forasmuch as I am by strong violence hindered from providing for my selfe, and them of my houshould, if I doe not conforme, therefore my suffering of those losses for refusing of conformity, doeth cause me to neglect the duty of providing for my selfe, and for them of my family, which neglect should make me worse then an infidell.
Mr. Sprint now addeth a third, proving, that to suffer deprivation [Sect. IV] for refusing to conforme to the prescribed Ceremonies, (howbeit * many wayes inconvenient, is contrary to the royall law of love: which he laboureth to evidence three wayes. First, he saith, that to suffer deprivation for refusing to conforme, doeth by abstaining from a thing in nature in different (such as our Ceremonies (saith he) are proved to be) needelesly deprive men of the ordinary meanes of their salvation, which is the preaching ministery of the Word, &c. Ans. 1. That the controverted Ceremonies are in nature indiffe∣rent, neither he, nor any of his side hath yet proven: they suppone, that they are indifferent, but they prove it not. 2. We denie, that the suffering of deprivation for refusing to conforme to the prescri∣bed Ceremonies, doth deprive men of the preaching of the Word. Neither saith Mr. Sprint ought for proofe hereof, but that which we have already confuted, viz. that as things doe stand, all such as doe not conforme are to be deprived: whence it followeth onely, that the injury and violence of Prelats, (not the suffering of depri∣vation for refusing to conforme) depriveth men of the preaching of the Word. Secondly, he saith, o that the doctrine and practise of suffering deprivation for inconvenient Ceremonies, condem∣neth both the Apostolicall Churches, and all Churches since their times, because there hath been no Church, which hath not practi∣sed inconvenient Ceremonies. Ans. It is most false which he saith of the Apostolicall Churches, for those Iewish Ceremonies practi∣sed by them, were most convenient, as we have said before. And as Page 6 for other Churches in after ages, so many of them as have practised inconvenient Ceremonies, are not herein to be followed by us. Bet∣ter goe right with a few then erre with a multitude. Thirdly, p he saith, That the suffering of deprivation for refusing to conforme, breedeth and produceth sundry scandals. First saith he, It is the oc∣casion of fraternall discord. O egregious impudency! who seeth not that the Ceremonies are the incendiary sparkles, from which the fire of contention hath its beeing and burning? so that conforming, (not refusing) is the furnishing of fewell, and casting of faggets to the fire. Secondly hee alledgeth, that the suffering of deprivation for refusing to conforme, twofold more scandalizeth the Papist then conformity, for he doeth farre more insult to see a godly Minister thrust out, and with him all the truth of God pressed, then to see him weare a Surplice, &c. Thirdly he saith, it twofolde more scanda∣lizeth the Atheist, Libertine and Epicure, who by the painfull Mini∣sters deprivall, will triumph to see a doore opened for him without resistance, to live in Drunkennesse, Whooredome, Swearing, &c. Now, for answer to his seconde and third pretenses, we say: 1. Mr. Sprint implieth indirectly, that when non-conforming Ministers are thrust out, Papists, Atheists, Libertines, and Epicures, exspect but small Opposition from those conforming Ministers who come in their rowmes. Our Opposites have a skilfull Procter (forsooth) of Mr. Sprint. And indeed if Papists and Atheists were so affrayed of Conformists, as of Non conformists, they would not thus insult. 2. We must distinguish betwixt deprivation and the suffering of de∣privation. Papists insult indeed, that their assured frinds the Prelates, are so powerfull, as to thrust out from the publike Ministery, the greatest enemies of Popery. But as for the Ministers, their suffering of themselves to be thrust out, and deprived for refusing of Confor∣mity, it is so farre from giving to Papists any matter of insulting, that it will rather grieve them & gall them to the heart, to understād, that sundry powerfull, painefull, and learned Ministers, are so a∣verse from Popery, that before they conforme to any Ceremony of the same, they will suffer for refusall: and that their constancy and courage in suffering for such a cause, will confirme many Pro∣fessors, in the perswasion of the trueth of their Doctrine, which they taught against conforming unto Popish Ceremonies. But to goe on; Fourthly (saith he) it twofolde more scandalizeth such a one; as doth truly feare the name of God, who could be more contented, to injoy the meanes of his Faith and Salvation with a small inconve∣niency of some Ceremonies, which he grieveth at, then to loose his Pastor, the Gospell, and the ordinary meanes of his Faith and Salva∣tion. Ans. 1. Mr. Sprint supposeth, that such a one, as for no respect whatsoever, would be contended with the practise of some inconve∣nient Ceremonies, doth not truly feare the name of God. And who Page 7 is the Puritane now? Is not Mr. Sprint, who standeth in such a huge distance from all who are of our mind, and so farre preferreth him∣selfe and his followers to us, as if we did no truly feare the name of God? Secondly, he supposeth, that when Non-conforming Mi∣nisters are thrust out, the ordinary meanes of Faith and Salvation are not dispensed (to the comfort and contentment of such as truly feare the name of God) by those conforming Ministers, who are sur∣rogate in their stead. Which, how his fellowes will take with, let them looke to it. 3. Forasmuch as the feare of God is to depart from evill, therefore such a one as doth truly feare the name of God, in so farre, as he doth feare the name of God, and quatenus, he is such a one, will never take well with the practise of inconvenient Cere∣monies, which is not a parting from, but a cleaving unto evill. 4. They, who truly feare the name of God, are indeed scandalized by the Prelates their depriving of Ministers for refusing to con∣forme: but by the Ministers, their suffering of deprivation for this cause, they are not scandalized, but edified. But fiftly saith Mr. Sprint, it offendeth the Magistrate, by provoking him (perswaded and resolved as he is) to disgrace these otherwise well deserving Mi∣nisters, and to strike them with the Sword of Auctority. Ans. Our refusall to conforme to inconvenient Ceremonies, beeing a neces∣sary duty, if the Magistrate be provoked therewith, we are blame∣lesse: neither can it any otherwise provoke him to disgrace those well deserving Ministers, then Moses his seeking of liberty for Israell to goe and serve God according to his will, provoked Pharaoh the more to oppresse them; or then Christs preaching of the truth, and his abstaining from the superstitious Ceremonies of the Pharisees, provoked them to disgrace him, and plot his hurt. Howbeit we are not ignorant, that the Magistrate is not provoked by our refu∣sing to conforme, except as it is misreported, misdeemed, and mis∣constructed to him by the false Calumnies of our Adversaries: which beeing so, he is not incited by our deed, but by theirs.
Now sixtly saith Mr. Sprint, it unjustly condemneth the Harmo∣ny [Sect. V] of all true Churches that ever were Primitive, and Reformed, and all sound Teachers of all times and places, whose universall Do∣ctrine it hath been, that conformity to inconvenient Ceremonies is necessary, in case of deprivation. Ans. That the Ceremonies prac∣tised by the Apostles and Apostolike Churches were not inconve∣nient, it hath been already shewed. That since their times, sundry Churches both auncient and reformed have practised inconvenient Ceremonies, we denie not: yet (q) Mr. Sprint himselfe will not defend all the practises of those Churches, whose practise he alledgeth a∣gainst us. But that all sound Teachers, of all times and places, have taught the necessity of conformity to inconvenient Ceremonies, in case of deprivation, hee neither doeth, neither can make good. Page 8 It is but a bare and a bolde affirmation to deceive the minds of the simple. r Did not the good olde Waldenses, notwithstanding of all the hot persecutions raised against them, constantly refuse to con∣forme unto any of those Ceremonies of the Church of Rome, which they perceaved to have no necessary use in Religion, and to occa∣sion superstition, rather then to serve for edification? And we ve∣rily rejoyce to be ranked with those Waldenses, of whom s a Popish Histeriographer speaketh thus: Aliis in libris Cathari dicuntur, quibus respondent qui hodie in Anglia puriorem doctrinam prae se ferunt. Moreo∣ver, it can not be unknowne, to such as are acquainted with the Hi∣story of the Reformation, how that not Flacius Illiricus onely, but t many others, among whom was uCalvine, and x the Magde∣burgian Doctours, and y all the Churches of nether Saxonie subject to Maurice, opposed themselves to those inconvenient & hurtfull Ce∣remonies of the Interim, urged by the Adiaphorists. And howsoever they perceaved many great & grievous dangers, ensuing upon their refuising to conforme to the same, yet they constantly refuised: and z many Ministers suffered deprivation for their refusall. Besides, doe not our Divines require, that the Churches Canons, even in ma∣ters of Rite, a be profitable to the edification of the Church; and b that the observation of the same, must carry before it a manifest utility; c that in Rites and Ceremonies the Church hath no power to de∣struction, but only to edification? Doe they not d put this clause in the very definition of Ecclesiasticall Rites, that they be profitably ordained; considering, that otherwise they are but intollerable mis∣orders and abuses? Doe they not teach, e that no idle Ceremony, which serveth not unto edifying, is to be suffered in the Church; and f that Godly bretheren are not holden to subject themselves unto such things, as they perceave neither to be right nor profitable? g That whatsoever either would scandalize our brother, or not be profitable to him for his edification, Christians for no respect must dare to meddle with it? Doe they not stande so much upon expedien∣cy, that this tenent is received with them? That the negative precepts of the Law, doe binde, not only at all times, but likewise to all ti∣mes, (whereupon it followeth, that we may never doe that which is inconvenient or scandalous,) And that the affirmative precepts though they bind at all times yet not to all times, but only quando ex∣pedit; (Whereupon it followeth, that we are never bound to the prac∣tise of any duty commanded in the Law of God, except only when it is expedient to be done?) But hMr. Sprint excepteth against this rule, that it is not generally true; for evidence whereof, he alledgeth many things, partly false, partly impertinent, upon which I holde it not needfull, here to insist. As for such examples objected by him, as carry some shewe of making against this rule, which he dare not Page 9 admit, I will make some answeare thereto. He saith, that some times even negative precepts have beene lawfully violated: for these pre∣cepts were negative; none but Priests must eate shew-bread, yet David did lawfully violate it: Thou shall doe no worke upon the Sab∣bath; yet the Priests brake this, and are blamelesse: let nothing of Gods good creatures be lost; yet Paul and his company did lawfully cast away their goods in the ship, to save their lives, &c. Ans. Mr. Sprint might easily have understood, that when Divines say, the affir∣mative precepts bind at all times, but not to all times, the negative precepts both at all times; and to all times, they ever meane, specie actionis manente eadem: so long as a action forbidden in a negative pre∣cept, ceaseth not to be evill, as long the negative precept bindeth to all times: whereas even whiles an action commanded in an affirma∣tive precept, ceaseth not to be good, yet the affirmative precept bin∣deth not to all times. So that the rule is not crossed by the alledged examples; for Davids eating of the shewbread; the Priests labour upon the Sabbath; and Pauls casting of the goods into the sea; were not evill, but good actions (the kind of the action beeing changed by the circumstances.) In the meane time, the foresaid rule still cros∣seth Mr. Sprints tenet. For he holdeth, that even whiles certaine Ce∣remonies remaine evill in their use, and cease not to be scandalous and inconvenient, yet we are not ever bound to abstaine from them, but may in the case of deprivation practise them. Which directly con∣tradicteth the rule.
The position therefore which we mantaine against Mr. Sprint, and [Sect. VI] from which we will not departe the breadth of one naile, is this, that we can never lawfully conforme (no not in the case of depri∣vation) unto any Ceremony which is scandalous and inconvenient in the use of it. For further confirmation whereof, we say, 1. Every negative precept of the Law of God bindeth to all times, in such sort, that the action which it forbiddeth, (so long as it remaineth evill, & the kinde of it is not changed,) can never lawfully be done. There∣fore, forasmuch as to abstaine from things scandalous and incon∣venient, is one of the negative precepts of the Law of God; and the Ceremonies whereunto Mr. Sprint would have us to conforme in the case of deprivation are, and remaine scandalous and inconvenient in our practise and use of them, according to his owne presupposall; It followeth, that the use and practise of the same is altogither unlaw∣full unto us. 2. That which is lawfull in the nature of it, is never lawfull in the use of it, except only when it is expedient for edifica∣tion, as teacheth the Apost. 1. Cor. 6. 12. & 10. 23. The Corinthians objected that all indifferent things were lawfull i The Apostle ad∣deth a limitation, esse licita quatenus conducunt, they are lawfull to be used in so farre as they are expedient. 3. It is the Apostles commande∣ment, k let all things be done unto edifying: Therefore whatsoever Page 10 is not done unto edifying, ought not to be done. 4. l The Apostle saith, if meate make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth. Now put the case the Apostle had been hindred from preaching the Gospell, for his precise abstaining from those meats, whereat his brother would be offended, would he in that case have eaten? Nay, he saith peremptor•…y, that whiles the world standeth he would not eat. 5. Say not m our Writers, that we must flee and abstaine from every thing which is not expedient for the edification of our brother? And doth not the Bishop of nWinchester teach, that in our going out, & comming in, and in all our actions, we must looke to the rule of expediency? And saith not Bishop oSpotswood, it is not to be denied, but they are Ceremonies, which for the inconveniency they bring, ought to be resisted? 6. Dare Mr. Sprint deny that which Amesp saith he heard once defended in Cambridge, viz. that quicquid non expedit, quatenus non ex∣pedit, non licet? whatsoever is not expedient, in so farre as it is not expedient, it is not lawfull. Doeth not qPareus likewise shewe out of Augustine, that such things as are not expedient, but scandulous, and doe not edify, but hurt our brother, fiunt ex accidenti illiceta & peccata, proinde vitanda? 7. To conforme unto inconvenient and scandalous Ceremonies, in the case of deprivation, is at the best, to doe evill that good may come of it: which was the pretence of those Councellours, of Pope Pius the 5. r who advised him to suffer stewes at Rome, for preventing a greater evill of abusing chast women and honest matrons. So the Pseudo-Nicodemites alledge for their abstaining from flesh upon the dayes forbidden by the Church, that this they doe for shunning a greater evill, which is the scandall of Papists. s Our Divines an∣sweare them, that evill ought not to be done that good may come of it. But saith tMr Sprint, this rule u of the Apostle must be limited, and in some cases holdeth not: for a man may for doing of good, doe that which is evill in use, circumstance, and by accident, so it be not simply and in nature evill. Ans. 1. he begges the thing in question: for that rule is alledged against him to prove, that nothing which is evill in the use of it, may be done for any good whatsoever. 2. The difference betwixt that which is simply evill, and that which is evill in use and by accident, is in that the one may never be done, the other is unlawfull only pro tempore: but in this they agree, that both are unlawfull; for x that which is evill by accident, whiles it is such, is unlawfull to be done, no lesse then that which is in nature evill. 3. Divines hold y absolutely, that inter duo vel plura mal•… culpae (such as things scandalous & inconvenient) nullum est eligendumz That though in evills of punishment, we may chuse a lesser, to shunne a greater, yet in evills of fault, election hath no place, neither may we doe a les∣ser fault to shunne a greater, nec ullum admittendum malum, ut eveniat ali∣quod bonum, siv•… per se sive per accidens; But let us heare what Mr. Sprint can say to the contrary. He alledgeth, the Priests their breaking of the Page 11 Sabbath, David his eating of the shewbread, and the Apostles their practising of very hurtfull Ceremonies; all which things beeing unlawfull, were done lawfully to further greater duties.
We have answeared already, that the Priests their killing of the sa∣crifices on the Sabbath, and Davids eating of the shewbread, were not unlawfull, because the Circumstances changed the kinde of the a∣ctions. Also, that the Iewish Ceremonies used by the Apostles, were in their practise, no way hurtfull, but very profitable. Mr. Sprint al∣ledgeth another example out of. 2. Chron. 30. 18. 19. 20. 21. To performe Gods worship not as it was written, was a sinne (saith he,) yet to further Gods substantiall worships, which was a good thing, was not regarded of God. Ans. One can not guesse from his words, how he thought here to frame an Argument, which might conclude the lawfulnesse of doing some evill, that some good may come of it. Howsoever, that we may have some light in this matter, let us distinguish betwixt these two things, 1. The peoples legall unclean∣nesse, when they came to eat the Passeover. 2. Their adventuring to eate it, notwithstanding their uncleannesse. That they were at that time uncleane, it was a sinne. But whiles they prepared their hearts truly to seek God, and repented of their uncleannesse, that in this case they adventured to eat the Passeover, was no sinne: because •…it is the will of God, that such as prepare their hearts unfainedly to seeke him, lament their wants, and re∣pent for that they are not so prepared and sanctified for his wor∣ship as they ought, (there being no other thing to hold them bake, beside some defect of sanctity in themselves) notwithstanding of any defect which is in them, draw near to him in the use of his holy ordi∣nances. As touching the former, no man will say that they choosed to be uncleane, that they might further Gods worship. But as for the latter, repenting of their uncleannes, they choosed to keep the Passe∣over, this they did to further Gods worship, and this was no sinne, especially if we observe with Tremellius, that it is said vers. 20. The Lord healed the people, that is, by the vertue of his Spirit purified & cleansed them, so that, that which was lame, was not turned out of the way, but rather made straight and healed.
And now we leave Mr. Sprint, who hath not only conformed to [Sect. VII] the controverted Ceremonies, even upon presupposall of their Incon∣veniency, but a hath also made it very questionable, whether in the case of deprivation he ought to conforme to sundry other Popish Ceremonies, such as shaven Crowne, holy water, creame, spitle, salt, and I kow not how many more, which he comprehendeth under &c. all his pretenses of greater inconveniencies following upon not con∣forming, then doe upon conforming, we have hitherto examined. Yet what saith kB. Spotswood to the cause? He also alledgeth there Page 12 is a great inconveniency in the refuising of the Ceremonies, namely, the offending of the King. But for answeare unto this, looke what is the largest extent of the Princes power and priviledge in matters belonging unto Gods worship, which either Gods Word, or the judg∣ment of sound Divines doth allow to him, none shall be found more willingly obsequious to his commandements then we. But as touching these Ceremonies in question, we are upon evident grounds perswaded in our consciences, that they are both unlawfull, and in∣expedient for our Church: and though they were lawfull in them∣selves, yet we may answeare as the l oppugners of the Interim re∣plied to those who urged yeelding to the Ceremonies of the same, Surplice, Holy dayes, Tapers, &c. because of the Emperours com∣mandement. That the question is not about things indifferent, but about a maine Article of Faith, namely Christian Liberty, which admitteth not any yoke to be imposed upon the conscience, no not in things indifferent. Our gracious Prince who now by the blessing of God happily raignes over us, will not (we assure our selves) be of∣fended at us, for having regard to our consciences, Gods owne de∣puties placed in our soules, so farre, that for all the world we dare not hazarde their peace and quiet, by doing any thing with their re∣pugnance and aversation; Wherefore, we are more then confident, that his M. will graciously accept from us, such a reasonable Apolo∣gy, as m they of Straesburge used to Charles the 5. Quantum omnino fieri potest, parati sumus tibi gratificari, non solum Civilibus, verum etiam in re∣bus Sacris. Veruntamen oramus invicem, ut cogites, quoniam sui facti ratio∣nem opportet unumquemque Deo reddere, merito nos de salute nostra solicito•… esse, & providere nequid contra conscientiam à nobis fiat. And n as the estates of Germany to Ferdinand, when they besought him only not to grive nor burthen their Consciences. Te quidem sumum & à Deo nobis datum Magistratum agnoscimus, & libentissime quidem, ac nihil est omnium rerum, quod non possis aut debeas à nobis expectare, sed in hac una re propiti•…m te nobis esse flagitamus. If these hoped that Popish Princes would ac∣cept such answeares from them, shall not we? O shall we not be per∣swaded! that the defender of the faith, will not refuise to take them from us? especially seeing his M. shall ever find, that he hath none more Loyall and true Subjects, who will more gladly imploy and be∣stow, their Lives, Lands, Houses, Holdes, Goods, Gear, Rents, Re∣venues, Places, Priviledges, Meanes, Moities, and all, in his High∣nes service, and mantainance of his Royall Crowne; and moreover, have so deeply conceived a strong and full persuasion of his Maje∣sties Princely vertues, and much renouned propension to Piety, and Equity, that they will urge their consciences, by all good and lawfull meanes, to assent unto every thing which he injoynes, as right and convenient, and when the just aversation of Conscience upon evident reasons is invincible, will notwithstanding be more Page 13 willing to all other duties of subjection, and more averse from the least shew of contempt.