The fourth Booke: Concerning their third assertion, that our forme of Church-politie is corrupted with popish orders, rites and ceremo∣nies, banished out of certaine reformed Churches, whose example therein we ought to haue followed.
- 1 HOw great vse ceremonies haue in the Church.
- 2 The first thing they blame in the kinde of our ceremonies is, that wee haue not in them auncient Apostolicall simplicitie, but a greater pompe & state∣linesse.
- 3 The second, that so many of them are the same which the Church of Rome vseth; and the reasons which they bring to proue them for that cause blame worthy.
- 4 How when they go about to expound what popish ceremonies they meane, they contradict their owne arguments against popish ceremonies.
- 5 An answere to the argument whereby they would proue, that sith wee allow the customes of our fathers to be followed, we therefore may not allow such customes as the Church of Rome hath, because we cānot account of thē which are in that Church as of our fathers.
- 6 To their allegation that the course of Gods owne wisedome doth make against our con∣formitie with the Church of Rome in such things.
- 7 To the example of the eldest Church which they bring for the same purpose.
- 8 That it is not our best politie (as they pretend it is) for establishment of sound Religion to haue in these thinges no agreement with the Church of Rome being vnsound.
- 9 That neither the papists vpbraiding vs as furnished out of their store, nor any hope which in that respect they are said to conceiue, doth make any more against our ceremonies then the former allegations haue done.
- 10 The griefe which they say godly brethren conceiue, at such ceremonies as we haue com∣mon with the Church of Rome.
- 11 The third thing for which they reproue a great part of our ceremonies is, for that as we haue them from the Church of Rome, so that Church had them from the Iewes.
- 12 The fourth, for that sundry of them haue bene (they say) abused vnto idolatrie, and are by that meane become scandalous.
- 13 The fift for that we retaine them still notwithstanding the example of certaine Churches reformed before vs, which haue cast them out.
- 14 A declaration of the proceedings of the Church of England for the establishment of things as they are.
1 SVch was the ancient simplicitie and softnes of spirit which some∣times preuailed in the world,* that they whose wordes were euen as oracles amongst men, seemed euermore loth to giue sentence against any thing publiquely receiued in the Church of God, ex∣cept it were wonderfull apparently euill; for that they did not so much incline to that seueritie, which delighteth to reproue the least things it seeth amisse▪ as to Page 168 that charity, which is vnwilling to behold any thing that dutie bindeth it to re∣proue. The state of this present age, wherein zeale hath drowned charitie, & skill meeknes, wil not now suffer any mā to maruel whatsoeuer he shal hear reproued by whōsoeuer. Those rites & ceremonies of the church therefore, which are the selfesame now that they were whē holy & vertuous men maintained thē against prophane and deriding aduersaries, her owne children haue at this day in derisi∣on. Whether iustly or no, it shall then appeare, when all thinges are heard which they haue to alleage against the outward receiued orders of this church. Which in as much as thēselues do compare vnto mint and comin,* graunting thē to be no part of those things which in the matter of politie are waightier, we hope that for small things their strife will neither bee earnest nor long. The sifting of that which is obiected against the orders of the church in particular, doth not belong vnto this place. Here we are to discusse onely those generall exceptions, which haue bene taken at any time against them. First therfore to the end that their na∣ture and vse whereunto they serue may plainely appeare, and so afterwardes their qualitie the better be discerned; we are to note that in euery grand or main publique dutie which God requireth at the hāds of his Church, there is, besides that matter and forme wherein the essence therof consisteth, a certaine outward fashion whereby the same is in decent sort administred. The substance of all Re∣ligious actions is deliuered from God himself in few words. For example sake in the sacraments, Vnto the element let the word be added, and they both doe make a sacra∣ment, saith S. Augustine. Baptisme is giuen by the element of water, and that pre∣script forme of words which the church of Christ doth vse; the sacrament of the body and bloud of Christ is administred in the elements of bread and wine, if those mysticall words be added thereunto. But the due and decent forme of ad∣ministring those holy sacramēts, doth require a great deale more. The end which is aimed at in setting downe the outward forme of all religious actiōs, is the edi∣fication of the Church. Now men are edified, when either their vnderstanding is taught somewhat whereof in such actions it behoueth all men to consider; or whē their harts are moued with any affectiō suteable therunto, whē their minds are in any sort stirred vp vnto that reuerence, deuotion, attention & due regard, which in those cases seemeth requisit. Because therfore vnto this purpose not on∣ly speech, but sundry sēsible means besides haue alwaies bin thought necessary, & especially those means which being obiect to the eye, the liueliest & the most apprehensiue sense of all other, haue in that respect seemed the fittest to make a deepe and strong impression; from hence haue risen not onely a number of prai∣ers, readings, questionings, exhortings, but euen of visible signes also; which be∣ing vsed in performance of holy actions, are vndoubtedly most effectual to open such matter, as men when they know & remēber carefully, must needs be a great deale the better informed to what effect such duties serue. We must not thinke but that there is some ground of reason euen in nature, whereby it commeth to passe, that no nation vnder heauen either doth or euer did suffer publique actiōs which are of waight, whether they be ciuil and temporall, or else spirituall and sa∣cred, to passe without some visible solemnitie; the very strangenes whereof and difference from that which is common, doth cause popular eyes to obserue and to marke the same. Wordes both because they are common, and doe not so strongly moue the phancie of man, are for the most parte but sleightly Page 169 heard: and therfore with singular wisdome it hath bene prouided▪ that the deeds of men which are made in the presence of witnesses, should passe not onely with words, but also with certaine sensible actions, the memory wherof is farre more easie and durable then the memorie of speech can be. The things which so long experience of all ages hath confirmed and made profitable, let not vs presume to condemne as follies and toyes, because wee sometimes know not the cause and reason of them. A wit disposed to scorne whatsoeuer it doth not conceiue, might aske wherefore Abraham should say to his seruant, Put thy hand vnder my thigh and sweare: was it not sufficient for his seruant to shew the Religion of an othe,* by na∣ming the Lord God of heauen and earth, vnlesse that straunge ceremonie were added? In contracts, bargaines and conueiances, a mans worde is a token suffici∣ent to expresse his wil.*Yet this was the auncient maner in Israell concerning redeeming and exchanging to establish all things; A man did pluck off his shooe, and gaue it his neigh∣bour; and this was a sure witnesse in Israel. Amongst the Romans in their making of a bondman free, was it not wondred wherefore so great a doe should bee made? The maister to present his slaue in some court, to take him by the hand, and not onely to say in the hearing of the publique magistrate, I will that this man become free, but after these solemne wordes vttered, to strike him on the cheeke, to turne him round, the haire of his head to be shaued off, the magistrate to touch him thrise with a rod, in the end a cap and a white garment to be giuen him. To what purpose all this circumstance? Amongst the Hebrewes how strange & in outward appearance almost against reason,* that he which was minded to make himselfe a perpetuall seruant, should not only testifie so much in the presence of the iudge, but for a visible token thereof haue also his eare bored through with a nawle? It were an infinite labour to prosecute these things so far as they might be exemp∣plified both in ciuill and religious actions. For in bothe they haue their necessary vse and force. aThe sensible things which Religion hath allowed, are resemblances framed according to things spiritually vnderstood, wherunto they serue as a hand to lead and a way to direct. And whereas it may peraduenture be obiected, that to adde to religious duties such rites and ceremonies as are significant; is to institute new sacraments: sure I am they will not say that Numa Pompilius did ordaine a sacrament, a signi∣ficant ceremonie he did ordaine, in commanding the Priests bto execute the work of their diuine seruice with their handes as farre as to the fingers couered; thereby signifi∣ing that fidelitie must be defended, and that mens right handes are the sacred seate thereof. Againe we are also to put them in mind, that themselues do not holde all signifi∣cant ceremonies for sacramentes; in as much as imposition of handes they de∣nie to be a sacrament; and yet they giue thereunto a forcible signification. For concerning it their words are these, cThe party ordained by this ceremony, was put in mind of his seperation to the worke of the Lord, that remembring himselfe to be taken as it were with the hand of God from amongst others, this might teach him not to account himselfe now his owne, nor to doe what himselfe listeth; but to consider that God hath set him about a worke, which if he will discharge & accomplish, he may at the hands of God as∣sure himselfe of reward; and if otherwise, of reuenge. Touching significant ceremonies, some of thē are sacramēts, some as sacramēts only. Sacraments are those, which are signes & tokēs of some general promised grace, which alwaies really descen∣deth from God vnto the soule that duly receiueth thē: other significant tokēs are Page 170 onely as sacraments, yet no sacraments. Which is not our distinction but theirs▪ For concerning the Apostles imposition of handes,* these are their owne words; Manuum signum hoc & quasi sacramentum vsurparunt; They vsed this signe, or as it were sacrament.
2 Concerning rites and ceremonies, there may be fault, either in the kinde, or in the number and multitude of them.* The first thing blamed about the kind of ours is, that in many thinges we haue departed from the auncient simplicitie of Christ and his Apostles, we haue embraced more outward statelinesse, we haue those orders in the exercise of Religion, which they who best pleased God and serued him most deuoutly neuer had. For it is out of doubt, that the first state of thinges was best, that in the prime of Christian Religion faith was soundest, the scriptures of God were then best vnderstood by all men, all parts of godlines did then most abound▪ and therefore it must needes follow, that customes lawes and ordinances deuised since, are not so good for the Church of Christ; but the best way is to cut off later inuentions, and to reduce thinges vnto the auntient state wherin at the first they were. Which rule or canō we hold to be either vncertain, or at leastwise vnsufficient; if not bothe. For in case it be certain, hard it cannot be for them to shew vs, where we shall finde it so exactly set downe, that wee may say without all controuersie, These were the orders of the Apostles times, these wholly and onely, neither fewer nor moe then these. True it is that many things of this nature be alluded vnto, yea many thinges declared, and many thinges necessarily col∣lected out of the Apostles writings. But is it necessary that all the orders of the Church which were then in vse should be contained in their bookes? Surely no. For if the tenor of their writinges be well obserued, it shall vnto any man easily appeare, that no more of them are there touched, then were needfull to be spo∣ken of somtimes by one occasion and sometimes by another. Will they allow then of any other records besides?* Well assured I am they are farre enough from acknowledging that the church ought to keepe any thing as Apostolicall, which is not found in the Apostles writings▪ in what other recordes soeuer it be found. And therefore whereas S. Augustine affirmeth,* that those thinges which the whole Church of Christ doth hold, may well be thought to bee A∣postolicall, although they be not found written; this his iudgement they vtterly condemne. I will not here stand in defence of S. Augustines opinion, which is that such thinges are indeede Apostolicall; but yet with this exception, vnlesse the decree of some generall councell haue happily caused them to be receiued: for of positiue lawes and orders receiued throughout the whole Christian world, S. Augustine could imagine no other fountaine saue these two. But to let passe S. Augustine, they who condemne him herein, must needs confesse it a very vncertaine thing what the orders of the Church were in the Apostles times, seeing the scriptures doe not mention them all,* and other records thereof besides they vtterly reiect. So that in tying the Church to the orders of the Apostles times, they tie it to a mar∣uellous vncertain rule; vnlesse they require the obseruatiō of no orders but only those which are knowne to be Apostolicall by the Apostles owne writings. But then is not this their rule of such sufficiencie, that we should vse it as a touchstone Page 171 to trie the orders of the Church by for euer. Our ende ought alwaies to bee the same; our waies and meanes thereunto not so. The glory of God and the good of his Church was the thing which the Apostles aymed at, and therefore ought to bee the marke whereat we also leuell. But seeing those rites and orders may be at one time more, which at an other are lesse auaileable vnto that pur∣pose: what reason is there in these thinges to vrge the state of one onely age, as a patterne for all to followe? It is not I am right sure their meaning, that we should now assemble our people to serue God in close & secret meetings; or that com∣mon brookes or riuers should be vsed for places of baptisme; or that the Eucha∣rist should be ministred after meate; or that the custome of Church feasting should bee renued; or that all kinde of standing prouision for the ministrie should be vtterly taken away, and their estate made againe dependent vpon the voluntary deuotion of men. In these thinges they easily perceiue how vnfit that were for the present, which was for the first age conuenient enough. The faith zeale & godlines of former times is worthily had in honour: but doth this proue that the orders of the Church of Christ must bee still the selfesame with theirs▪ that nothing may be which was not then, or that nothing which then was may lawfully since haue ceased? They who recall the Church vnto that which was at the first, must necessarily set boundes and limits vnto their speeches. If any thing haue bene receiued repugnant vnto that which was first deliuered, the first things in this case must stand, the last giue place vnto them. But where difference is without repugnancie, that which hath bene can be no preiudice to that which is. Let the state of the people of God when they were in the house of bondage, and their maner of seruing God in a strange land, be compared with that which Canaan and Ierusalem did afford, and who seeth not what huge difference there was betweene them? In Aegypt it may be they were right glad to take some corner of a poore cottage, & there to serue God vpon their knees, peraduenture couered in dust and strawe sometimes. Neither were they therefore the lesse ac∣cepted of God; but he was with them in all their afflictions, and at the length by working their admirable deliuerance, did testifie that they serued him not in vaine. Notwithstanding in the very desert they are no sooner possest of some little thing of their owne, but a tabernacle is required at their handes. Beeing planted in the land of Canaan, and hauing Dauid to be their King, when the Lord had giuen him rest from all his enemies, it greeued his religious minde to consider the growth of his owne estate and dignitie, the affaires of religion con∣tinuing still in the former manner: Beholde now I dwell in an house of Cedar trees,*and the Arke of God remaineth still within curtaines. What hee did purpose, it was the pleasure of God that Salomon his sonne should performe, and per∣forme it in maner suteable vnto their present, nor their auncient estate and con∣dition. For which cause Salomon writeth vnto the King of Tyrus;*The house which I build is great and wonderfull; for great is our God aboue all Gods. Whereby it clearely appeareth, that the orders of the Church of God may bee acceptable vnto him, as well being framed sutable to the greatnes and dignitie of later, as when they keepe the reuerend simplicitie of aunciente• times. Such dissimili∣tude therefore betweene vs and the Apostles of Christ, in the order of some out∣ward things, is no argument of default.
Page 1723 Yea but wee haue framed our selues to the customes of the Church of Rome;* our orders and ceremonies are Papisticall. It is espied that our Church-founders were not so carefull as in this matter they should haue bene, but con∣tented themselues with such discipline as they took from the Church of Rome. Their error we ought to reforme by abolishing all Popish orders. There must bee no communion nor fellowship with Papistes, neither in doctrine, ceremonies, nor gouernment. It is not enough that wee are deuided from the Church of Rome by the single wall of doctrine, reteining as we do part of their ceremo∣nies, and almost their whole gouernment: but gouernment or ceremonies or whatsoeuer it be which is popish, away with it. This is the thing they require in vs,* the vtter relinquishment of all thinges popish. Wherein to the ende wee may answer them according vnto their plaine direct meaning, and not take ad∣uantage of doubtfull speech, whereby controuersies growe alwaies endlesse; their maine position being this, that nothing should bee placed in the Church but what God in his word hath commaunded,* they must of necessitie holde all for po∣pish, which the Church of Rome hath ouer and besides this. By popish orders ceremonies and gouernment they must therefore meane in euery of these so much, as the church of Rome hath embraced without commandement of Gods word: so that whatsoeuer such thing we haue, if the Church of Rome haue it also; it goeth vnder the name of those thinges that are Popish, yea although it be lawfull, although agreeable to the word of God. For so they plainely affirme saying:*Although the formes and ceremonies which they (the Church of Rome) vsed were not vnlawfull, and that they contained nothing which is not agreeable to the word of God; yet notwithstanding neither the word of God, nor reason, nor the examples of the eldest Churches both Iewish and Christian; do permit vs to vse the same formes and ceremonies, being neither commanded of God, neither such as there may not as good as they and rather better be established. The question therefore is, whether we may follow the Church of Rome in those orders, rites and ceremonies, wherein wee doe not thinke them blameable; or else ought to deuise others, and to haue no conformi∣tie with them, no not as much as in these thinges. In this sense and construction therefore as they affirme, so we denie, that whatsoeuer is popish wee ought to a∣brogate. Their arguments to proue that generally all popish orders and ceremo∣nies ought to be cleane abolished, are in summe these? First whereas wee allow the iudgement of Saint Augustine,*that touching those thinges of this kinde which are not commaunded or forbidden in the scripture, wee are to obserue the custome of the people of God, and decree of our forefathers: how can we retaine the customes and constitutions of the Papistes in such things, who were neither the people of God nor our forefathers? Se∣condly although the formes and ceremonies of the Church of Rome were not vnlawfull, neither did containe any thing which is not agreeable to the word of God;*yet neither the worde of God, nor the example of the Eldest Churches of God, nor reason doe permit vs to vse the same; they being heretiques, and so neare about vs, and their orders beeing neither commaunded of God, nor yet such but that as good or rather better may be establi∣shed. It is against the word of God, to haue conformitie with the Church of Rome in such things; as appeareth in that the wisdome of God hath thought it a good way to keepe his peo∣ple from infection of Idolatry and superstition, by seuering them from idolaters in outward ceremonies; and therefore hath forbidden them to doe thinges which are in themselues very Page 173 lawfull to be done: And further whereas the Lorde was carefull to seuer them by ceremo∣nies from other nations; yet was he not so careful to seuer them from any, as from the Aegyp∣tians amongst whom they liued, and from those nations which were next neighbours vnto them, because from thē was the greatest feare of infection. So that following the course which the wisdom of God doth teach,*it were more safe for vs to cōforme our indif∣ferent ceremonies to the Turkes which are farre off, then to the Papists which are so neare. Touching the example of the eldest Churches of God, in one councell it was decreed, that Christians should not decke their houses with baye leaues and greene boughes, because the Pagans did vse so to doe; and that they should not rest from their labours those daies that the Pagans did, that they should not keepe the first day of euery month as they did.*Ano∣ther councell decreed, that Christians should not celebrate feastes on the birth daies of the Martyrs, because it was the manner of the heathē. O saith Tertullian, better is the religi∣on of the Heathen: for they vse no solemnitie of the Christians, neither the Lordes daye, neither the Pentecost, and if they knew them▪ they would haue nothing to doe with them;*for they would be afraide least they should seeme Christians: but we are not afraid to be cal∣led heathen. The same Tertullian would not haue Christians to sit after they had prayed,* because the Idolaters did so. Whereby it appeareth, that both of particular men and of coun∣cels, in making or abolishing of ceremonies heed hath bene taken that the Christians should not be like the Idolaters, no not in those thinges which of themselues are most indifferent to b• vsed or not vsed. The same cōformitie is not lesse opposite vnto reason; first in as much as Contraries must be cured by their contraries; and therefore Poperie being Antichristiani∣tie is not healed, but by establishment of orders thereunto opposite. The way to bring a drun∣ken mā to sobrietie, is to carry him as far frō excesse of drink as may be. To rectifie a crooked sticke, we bend it on the contrary side, as farre as it was at the first on that side from whence we drawe it; and so it commeth in the ende to a middle betweene both, which is perfect straightnes. Vtter Inconformitie therefore with the Church of Rome in these thinges, is the best and surest policie which the Church can vse. While we vse their ceremonies, they take occasion to blaspheme, saying that our religion cannot stand by it selfe, vnlesse it leane vpon the staffe of their ceremonies. They hereby conceiue great hope of hauing the rest of their popery in the end, which hope causeth them to be more frozen in their wickednesse.*Neither is it without cause that they haue this hope, cōsidering that which maister Bucer noteth vpō the 18. of Saint Mathew, that where these thinges haue bene left, Popery hath returned; but on the other part in places which haue bene cleansed of these thinges, it hath not yet bene seene that it hath had any entrance. None make such clamors for these ceremonies,* as the Papists and those whom they suborne; a manifest token how much they triumph and ioy in these thinges. They breede griefe of minde in a number that are godly minded, and haue Antichristianitie in such detestation, that their mindes are martyred with the very sight of them in the Church. Such godly brethren we ought not thus to grieue with vnpro∣fitable ceremonies, yea ceremonies wherein there is not onely no profit,*but also daunger of great hurt that may growe to the Church by infection, which popish ceremonies are meanes to breede. This in effect is the summe and substance of that which they bring by way of oppositiō against those orders which we haue commō with the church of Rome; these are the reasons wherewith they would proue our ceremonies in that respect worthy of blame.
Page 174*4 Before we answere vnto these thinges, we are to cut off that, wherunto they from whom these obiections proceed, do oftentimes flie for defence and succor, when the force and strength of their ar∣gumēts is elided. For the ceremonies in vse amōgst vs, being in no other respect retained, sauing onely for that to retaine thē is to our seeming good and profitable, yea so profitable and so good, that if we had either simply taken them cleane away, or els re∣moued them so as to place in their stead others, we had done worse: the plaine & direct way against vs herein had bin only to proue, that all such ceremonies as they require to be abolished are retained by vs with the hurt of the Church, or with lesse benefit thē the abolishmēt of thē would bring. But for as much as they saw how hardly they should be able to perform this; they took a more compen∣dious way, traducing the ceremonies of our church vnder the name of being po∣pish. The cause why this way seemed better vnto them was, for that the name of Popery is more odious then very Paganisme amongst diuers of the more simple sorte; so as whatsoeuer they heare named popish, they presently conceiue deepe hatred against it, imagining there cā be nothing cōtained in that name, but needs it must be exceeding detestable. The eares of the people they haue therfore filled with strong clamor; The church of Englād is fraught with popish ceremonies: They that fauour the cause of reformatiō, maintaine nothing but the sinceritie of the Gospel of Iesus Christ: All such as withstand them, fight for the lawes of his sworne enemie, vphold the fil∣thy reliques of Antichrist; and are defenders of that which is popish. These are the notes wherewith are drawn from the harts of the multitude so many sighs; with these tunes their mindes are exasperated against the lawfull guides and gouernours of their souls; these are the voices that fil thē with general discōtentment, as though the bosome of that famous Church wherin they liue, were more noysome then any dungeon. But when the authors of so scandalous incantations are examined and called to account how they can iustifie such their dealings; when they are vr∣ged directly to answere, whether it be lawfull for vs to vse any such ceremonies as the Church of Rome vseth,* although the same be not cōmanded in the word of God; being driuen to see that the vse of some such ceremonies must of necessi∣tie be granted lawfull, they go about to make vs beleeue that they are iust of the same opinion, and that they only think such ceremonies are not to be vsed when they are vnprofitable, or when as good or better may be established. Which an∣swer is both idle in regard of vs, and also repugnant to themselues. It is in regard of vs very vaine to make this answere, because they know that what ceremonies we retaine common vnto the Church of Rome, wee therefore retaine them, for that we iudge them to be profitable, and to be such that others in stead of them would be worse. So that when they say that we ought to abrogate such Romish ceremonies as are vnprofitable, or els might haue other more profitable in their stead; they trifle and they beat the aire about nothing which toucheth vs, vnlesse they meane that wee ought to abrogate all Romish ceremonies, which in their iudgement haue either no vse, or lesse vse then some other might haue. But then must they shewe some commission, wherby they are authorized to sit as iudges, Page 175 and we required to take their iudgement for good in this case. Otherwise their sentences will not be greatly regarded, when they oppose their Me thinketh vnto the orders of the Church of England: as in the question about surplesses one of them doth; If we looke to the colour, blacke me thinketh is more decent; if to the forme, a garment downe to the foote hath a great deale more cōlinesse in it.* If they thinke that we ought to proue the ceremonies cōmodious which we haue reteined, they do in this point very greatly deceiue themselues. For in all right & equity; that which the Church hath receiued & held so long for good, that which publique appro∣bation hath ratified, must cary the benefit of presumption with it to be accomp∣ted meet and conuenient.* They which haue stood vp as yesterday to challenge it of defect, must proue their challenge. If we being defendants do answer, that the ceremonies in question are godly, comely, decent, profitable for the Church▪ their reply is childish & vnorderly to say, that we demaund the thing in questi∣on, & shew the pouerty of our cause, the goodnes wherof we are faine to begge that our aduersaries would graunt. For on our part this must be the aunswere, which orderly proceeding doth require. The burthen of prouing doth rest on them. In them it is friuolous to say, we ought not to vse bad ceremonies of the Church of Rome, and presume all such bad as it pleaseth themselues to dislike; vnlesse we can perswade them the contrary. Besides, they are herin opposite also to themselues. For what one thing is so common with thē, as to vse the custome of the Church of Rome for an argument to proue, that such & such ceremonies cānot be good & profitable for vs, in as much as that church vseth them? Which vsual kind of disputing, sheweth that they do not disallow onely those Romish ceremonies which are vnprofitable,* but count all vnprofitable which are Ro∣mish; that is to say, which haue bene deuised by the Church of Rome, or which are vsed in that Church, and not prescribed in the word of God. For this is the onely limitation which they can vse sutable vnto their other positions. And therefore the cause which they yeeld, why they hold it lawfull to reteine in Doctrine and in Discipline some things as good, which yet are common to the Church of Rome, is for that those good things are perpetual commandements, in whose place no other can come; but ceremonies are changeable. So that their iudgement in truth is, that whatsoeuer by the word of God is not changeable in the Church of Rome, that Churches vsing is a cause, why reformed Chur∣ches ought to change it, and not to thinke it good or profitable. And least we seeme to father any thing vpon them more thē is properly their owne, let them reade euen their owne words, where they complaine that we are thus constrai∣ned to be like vnto the Papists in Any their ceremonies; yea they vrge that this cause although it were alone,* ought to moue them to whom that belongeth to do thē away, for as much as they are their ceremonies, and that the B. of Salis∣bury doth iustifie this their complaint. The clause is vntrue which they adde concerning the B. of Salisbury; but the sentence doth shew, that we do them no wrōg in setting downe the state of the question betweene vs thus; Whether we ought to abolish out of the Church of England all such orders, rites and ceremonies, as are esta∣blished in the Church of Rome, and are not prescribed in the word of God. Page 152 For the affirmatiue whereof we are now to answer such proofes of theirs as haue bene before alleaged.
5 Let the Church of Rome be what it will,* let them that are of it be the peo∣ple of God and our fathers in the Christian faith, or let them be otherwise, hold them for Catholiques, or hold them for heretiques, it is not a thing either one way or other in this present question greatly material. Our conformity with thē in such things as haue bene proposed, is not proued as yet vnlawfull by all this S. Augustine hath said, yea and we haue allowed his saying; That the custome of the people of God, and the decrees of our forefathers are to be kept, touching those things wherof the scripture hath neither one way nor other giuen vs any charge. What then? Doth it here therfore follow, that they being neither the people of God nor our forefa∣thers, are for that cause in nothing to be followed? This consequent were good, if so be it were graunted, that onely the custome of the people of God & the de∣crees of our forefathers are in such case to be obserued. But then should no other kind of later laws in the church be good, which were a grosse absurdity to think. S. Augustines speech therefore doth import, that where we haue no diuine pre∣cept, if yet we haue the custome of the people of God, or a decree of our forefa∣thers; this is a law and must be kept. Notwithstanding it is not denied, but that we lawfully may obserue the positiue constitutions of our owne Churches, al∣though the same were but yesterday made by our selues alone. Nor is there any thing in this to proue, that the Church of England might not by law receiue or∣ders, rites or customes from the Church of Rome, although they were neither the people of God nor yet our forefathers. How much lesse when we haue recei∣ued from them nothing, but that which they did themselues receiue from such, as we cannot deny to haue bene the people of God, yea such as either we must acknowledge for our owne forefathers, or else disdaine the race of Christ?
6 The rites and orders wherein we follow the Church of Rome,* are of no o∣ther kind thē such as the Church of Geneua it selfe doth follow thē in. We follow the church of Rome in moe things; yet they in some things of the same nature a∣bout which our present controuersie is: so that the difference is not in the kind, but in the number of rites only, wherein they and we do follow the Church of Rome. The vse of wafer-cakes, the custom of godfathers & godmothers in bap∣tisme, are things not commanded nor forbidden in scripture; things which haue bene of old, & are reteined in the Church of Rome euen at this very hower. Is conformity with Rome in such things a blemish vnto the Church of England, & vnto Churches abroad an ornament? Let thē, if not for the reuerence they ow vnto this Church, in the bowels wherof they haue receiued I trust that pretious and blessed vigor, which shall quicken thē to eternall life; yet at the leastwise for the singular affection which they do beare towards others, take heed how they strike, least they wound whom they would not. For vndoubtedly it cutteth dee∣per thē they are aware of, whē they plead that euē such ceremonis of the church of Rome, as cōteine in thē nothing which is not of it selfe agreeable to the word of God, ought neuerthelesse to be abolished; and that neither the word of God, nor reason, nor the examples of the eldest Churches, do permit the Church of Rome to be therin followed. Heretiques they are, & they are our neighbors. By vs and amongst vs they lead their liues. But what then? Therfore no ceremony Page 177 of theirs lawfull for vs to vse? W••ust yeeld and will that none are lawfull,* if God himself be a precedēt against the vse of any. But how appeareth it that God is so? Hereby they say it doth appeare, in that God seuered his people from the Hea∣thens, but specially from the Aegyptians, and such nations as were neerest neighbors vn∣to them, by forbidding them to do those things,* which were in themselues very lawfull to be done, yea very profitable some and incommodious to be forborne: such things it pleased God to forbid them, only because those Heathens did them, with whom conformity in the same things might haue bred infection. Thus in shauing, cutting, apparell wearing,*yea in sundry kinds of meates also, swines flesh, conies, and such like, they were forbidden to do so and so, because the Gentiles did so. And the end why God forbad them such things was,*to seuer them for feare of infection by a great and an high wall from other nations,*as S. Paul teacheth. The cause of more carefull separation from the neerest nations, was the greatnesse of danger to be especially by them infected. Now Papists are to vs as those nations were vnto Israell. Therefore if the wisdome of God be our guide, we cannot allow conformity with them, no not in any such indifferent ceremo∣nie. Our direct answer hereunto is, that for any thing here alleaged we may still doubt, whether the Lord in all such indifferēt ceremonies as those whereof we dispute, did frame his people of set purpose vnto any vtter dissimilitude, either with Aegyptians, or with any other nation else. And if God did not forbid them all such indifferent ceremonies; then our conformity with the Church of Rome in some such is not hitherto as yet disproued, although Papists were vnto vs as those heathens were vnto Israell. After the doings of the land of Aegypt,*wherein you dwelt, ye shall not do, saith the Lord; and after the maner of the land of Canaan, whether I will bring you, shall ye not do, neither walke in their ordinances: Do after my iudge∣ments, and keepe my ordinances to walke therein: I am the Lord your God. The speech is indefinite, ye shall not be like them: It is not generall, ye shall not be like them in any thing, or like vnto them in any thing indifferent, or like vnto them in any indifferent ce∣remony of theirs. Seeing therefore it is not set downe how farre the bounds of his speech concerning dissimilitude should reach; how can any man assure vs, that it extēdeth farder then to those things only, wherin the nations there mentioned were idolatrous, or did against that which the law of God commandeth? Nay doth it not seem a thing very probable, that God doth purposely adde, Do after my iudgements; as giuing therby to vnderstād, that his meaning in the former sen∣tence was but to bar similitude in such things, as were repugnant vnto the ordi∣nances, lawes and statutes which he had giuen▪ Aegyptians and Cananites are for example sake named vnto them, because the customes of the one they had bin, and of the other they should be best acquainted with. But that wherein they might not be like vnto either of them, was such peraduenture as had beene no whit lesse vnlawfull, although those nations had neuer bene. So that there is no necessitie to thinke, that God for feare of infection by reason of neernes forbad them to be like to the Cananites or the Aegyptians, in those things which other∣wise had bene lawfull enough. For I would know what one thing was in those nations, and is here forbidden, being indifferent in it self, yet forbidden onely because they vsed it. In the laws of Israel we find it written,*ye shal not cut round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou teare the tufts of thy beard. These things were vsuall amongst those nations, & in themselues they are indifferent. But are they Page 178 indifferent being vsed as signes of immoderate and hopeles lamentation for the dead? In this sense it is that the law forbiddeth them. For which cause the very next words following are,*ye shal not cut your flesh for the dead, nor make any print of a marke vpon you; I am the Lord. The like in Leuiticus, where speech is of mourning for the dead,*They shal not make bald parts vpō their head, nor shaue off the locks of their beard, nor make any cutting in their flesh. Againe in Deuteronomy, ye are the children of the Lord your God; ye shal not cut your selues, nor make you baldnes betweene your eyes for the dead. What is this but in effect the same which the Apostle doth more plainly expresse,* saying, Sorrow not as they do which haue no hope? The very light of nature it selfe was able to see herein a fault; that which those nations did vse, hauing bin also in vse with others, the ancient Romane laws do forbid. That shauing there∣fore and cutting which the law doth mention, was not a matter in it selfe indiffe∣rent, and forbidden onely because it was in vse amongst such idolaters as were neighbours to the people of God; but to vse it had bin a crime, though no other people or nation vnder heauen should haue done it sauing only themselues. As for those laws concerning attire,*There shall no garment of linnen & wollen come vp∣on thee;* as also those touching food and diet, wherein swines flesh together with sundry other meates are forbidden; the vse of these things had bene indeed of it selfe harmelesse and indifferent: so that hereby it doth appeare, how the law of God forbad in some speciall consideration, such things as were lawful inough in themselues.* But yet euen here they likewise faile of that they intend. For it doth not appeare,* that the consideration in regard whereof the law forbiddeth these things▪ was because those nations did vse them. Likely enough it is that the Ca∣nanites vsed to feed as well on sheepes as on swines flesh; & therefore if the for∣bidding of the later had no other reason thē dissimilitude with that people, they which of their own heads alleage this for reason,* can shew I think some reason more thē we are able to find, why the former was not also forbiddē. Might there not be some other mystery in this prohibition then they think of? Yes, some o∣ther mystery there was in it by all likelihood. For what reason is there which should but induce,* and therefore much lesse enforce vs to thinke, that care of dis∣similitude betweene the people of God & the heathen nations about thē, was any more the cause of forbidding them to put on garments of sundry stuffe, then of charging them withall not to sow their fields with mesline; or that this was any more the cause of forbidding them to eate swines flesh, then of charging them withall not to eate the flesh of Eagles, Haukes, and the like? Wherefore al∣though the Church of Rome were to vs, as to Israell the Aegyptians and Cana∣nites were of old;* yet doth it not follow, that the wisedome of God without re∣spect doth teach vs to erect betweene vs and them a partition wall of difference, in such things indifferent as haue bene hitherto disputed of.
7 Neither is the example of the eldest Churches a whit more auaileable to this purpose.* Notwithstanding some fault vndoubtedly there is in the very resemblance of Idolaters. Were it not some kind of blemish to be like vnto In∣fidels and Heathens,* it would not so vsually be obiected; men would not thinke it any aduantage in the causes of Religion, to be able therewith iustly to charge their aduersaries as they do. Wherefore to the ende that it may a little more plainely appeare, what force this hath, and how farre the same ex∣tendeth; we are to note howe all men are naturally desirous, that they may Page 179 seeme neither to iudge, not to do •misse; because euery errour and offence•s▪ staine to the beauty of nature, for which cause it blusheth thereat, but glorieth in the contrary. From thence it riseth, that they which disgrace or depresse the credit of others, do it either in bothe or in one of these. To haue bene in either directed by a weake and vnperfect rule, argueth imbecillity and imperfection. Men being either led by reason, or by imitation of other mens example; if their persons be odious whose example we choose to follow, as namely if we frame our opinions to that which condemned heretiques thinke, or direct our actions according to that which is practised and done by them; it lieth as an heauy preiudice against vs, vnlesse somewhat mightier then their bare example, did moue vs to thinke or do the same things with thē. Christian mē therfore hauing besides the common light of all men so great helpe of heauenly directions from aboue, together with the lampes of so bright examples as the Church of God doth yeeld; it cannot but worthily seeme reprochfull for vs, to leaue both the one and the other, to become disciples vnto the most hatefull sort that liue, to do as they do, onely because we see their example before vs and haue a de∣light to follow it. Thus we may therefore safely conclude, that it is not euill simply to concurre with the Heathens either in opinion or in action: and that conformitie with them is onely then a disgrace, when either we follow them in that they thinke and do amisse, or followe them generally in that they do, without other reason then only the liking we haue to the paterne of their exam∣ple; which liking doth intimate a more vniuersall approbation of them then is allowable. Faustus the Manichey therfore obiecting against the Iewes,* that they forsooke the Idols of the Gentiles, but their temples, & oblations, & Altars, and Priesthoods, and all kinds of ministery of holy things, they exercised euen as the Gentiles did, yea more superstitiously a great deale; against the Catholike Chri∣stians likewise, that betweene them and the Heathens there was in many things little difference, From them (sayth Faustus) ye haue learned to hold that one onely God is the Author of all, their sacrifices ye haue turned into feasts of charitie, their idols into Martyrs whom ye honour with the like religious offices vnto theirs, the ghosts of the dead ye appease with wine and delicates, the festiuall dayes of the Nations ye celebrate toge∣ther with them and of their kind of life ye haue verily changed nothing: S. Augustines de∣fence in behalfe of bothe is, that touching the matters of action, Iewes & Catho∣lique Christians were free frō the Gentiles faultines, euen in those things which were obiected as tokens of their agreemēt with the Gentiles; & concerning their consent in opinion, they did not hold the same with Gentils because Gentils had so taught, but because heauen & earth had so witnessed the same to be truth, that neither the one sort could erre in being fully perswaded thereof, nor the other but erre in case they should not consent with them. In things of their owne na∣ture indifferent, if either Coūcels or particular mē haue at any time with sound iudgement misliked conformity betweene the Church of God & Infidels, the cause therof hath bin somwhat else then only affectation of dissimilitude. They saw it necessary so to do,* in respect of some spe∣ciall accident; which the Church being not al∣waies subiect vnto, hath not stil cause to do the like. For exāple, in the dangerous daies of trial, Page 180 wherein there was no way for the truth of Iesus Christ to triumph ouer infi∣delitie, but through the constancy of his Saints whom yet a naturall desire to saue themselues from the flame, might peraduenture cause to ioyne with Pa∣gans in externall customes, too farre vsing the same as a cloake to conceale them∣selues in, and a mist to darken the eyes of Infidels withall: for remedy hereof, those lawes it might be were prouided, which forbad that Christians should decke their houses with boughes as the Pagans did vse to do, or rest those festi∣uall dayes whereon the Pagans rested, or celebrate such feasts as were, though not Heathenish, yet such that the simpler sort of Heathens might be beguiled in so thinking thē.* As for Tertullians iudgement concerning the rites and or∣ders of the Church, no man hauing iudgement can be ignorant how iust ex∣ceptions may be taken against it. His opinion touching the Catholike Church was as vnindifferent, as touching our Church the opinion of them that fauour this pretended reformation is. He iudged all them who did not Montanize, to be but carnally minded, he iudged them still ouer-abiectly to fawne vpon the Heathens, and to curry fauour with Infidels. Which as the Catholique Church did well prouide that they might not do indeed, so Tertullian ouer∣often through discontentment carpeth iniuriously at them, as though they did it euen when they were free from such meaning. But if it were so that either the iudgement of those counsels before alleaged, or of Tertullian himselfe a∣gainst the Christians,* are in no such consideration to be vnderstood as we haue mentioned; if it were so that men are condemned as well of the one as of the other, onely for vsing the ceremonies of a religion contrary vnto their owne; & that this cause is such as ought to preuaile no lesse with vs then with them; shall it not follow that seeing there is still betweene our religion and Paganisme the selfe same contrarietie, therefore we are still no lesse rebukeable, if we now decke our houses with boughes, or send New yeares-gifts vnto our friends, or feast on those dayes which the Gentiles then did, or sit after prayer as they were accustomed? For so they inferre vpon the premises, that as great difference as commodiously may be, there should be in all outward ceremonies betweene the people of God and them which are not his people. Againe they teach as hath bene declared, that there is not as great a difference as may be betweene them, except the one do auoide whatsoeuer rites and ceremonies vncomman∣ded of God the other doth embrace. So that generally they teach, that the very difference of spirituall condition it selfe betweene the seruants of Christ and o∣thers, requireth such difference in ceremonies betweene them, although the one be neuer so farre disioyned in time or place from the other. But in case the people of God and Belial do chaunce to be neighbours; then as the daunger of infection is greater, so the same difference they say is thereby made more ne∣cessary. In this respect as the Iewes were seuered from the Heathen, so most especially from the Heathen neerest them. And in the same respect we, which ought to differ howsoeuer from the Church of Rome, are now they say by rea∣son of our meerenesse more bound to differ from them in ceremonies then from Turkes. A straunge kind of speech vnto Christian eares, and such as I hope they themselues do acknowledge vnaduisedly vttered. We are not so much to feare infection from Turkes as from Papists. What of that? we must remember that by Page 181 conforming rather our selues in that respect to Turkes, we should be spreaders of a worse infection into others▪ then any we are likely to draw from Papists by our conformity with them in ceremonies. If they did hate as Turkes do, the Christians; or as Cananites of old did the Iewish religion euen in grosse; the cir∣cumstance of locall neernes in them vnto vs, might happily enforce in vs a duty of greater separation from them, then from those other mentioned. But for as much as Papists are so much in Christ neerer vnto vs then Turkes, is there any rea∣sonable man trow you, but will iudge it meeter that our ceremonies of Chri∣stian religion should be Popish then Turkish or Heathenish? Especially conside∣ring that we were not brought to dwell amongst them (as Israell in Canaan) hauing not bene of them. For euen a very part of them we were. And when God did by his good Spirit put it into our hearts, first to reforme our selues, (whence grew our separation) and then by all good meanes to seeke also their reformation; had we not onely cut off their corruptions, but also estranged our selues from them in things indifferent; who seeth not how greatly preiu∣diciall this might haue bene to so good a cause, and what occasion it had giuen them to thinke (to their greater obduration in euill) that through a froward or wanton desire of innouation, wee did vnconstrainedly those thinges, for which conscience was pretended? Howsoeuer the case doth stand, as Iuda had beene rather to choose conformity in things indifferent with Israell when they were neerest opposites, then with the farthest remoued Pagans: So we in like case, much rather with Papists then with Turkes. I might adde further for more full and complete answere, so much concerning the large oddes be∣tweene the case of the eldest Churches in regard of those Heathens, and ours in respect of the Church of Rome, that very cauillation it selfe should be satisfied, and haue no shift to flye vnto.
8 But that no one thing may deteine vs ouer long,* I returne to their reasons against our conformity with that Church. That extreme dissimilitude which they vrge vpon vs, is now commended as our best & safest policie for establish∣ment of sound religion. The ground of which politique position is, that Euils must be cured by their contraries; & therfore the cure of the Church infected with the poyson of Antichristianity, must be done by that which is therunto as cōtra∣ry as may be. A medled estate of the orders of the Gospell & the ceremonies of popery, is not the best way to banish popery. We are cōtrarywise of opiniō, that he which will perfectly recouer a sicke, and restore a diseased body vnto health, must not endeuor so much to bring it to a state of simple cōtrariety, as of fit pro∣portion in contrariety vnto those euils which are to be cured.* He that will take away extreme heat, by setting the body in extremity of cold, shall vndoubtedly remoue the disease, but together with it the diseased too. The first thing there∣fore in skilfull cures, is the knowledge of the part affected; the next is of the euill which do affect it; the last is not onely of the kind, but also of the measure of contrary things whereby to remoue it. They which measure religion by dislike of the Church of Rome, thinke euery man so much the more sound; by how much he can make the corruptions thereof to seeme more large. And therefore some there are, namely the Arrians in reformed Churches of Poland, Page 182 which imagine the cancre to haue eaten so far into the very bones and marrow of the Church of Rome, as if it had not so much as a sound beliefe, no not cōcer∣ning God himselfe, but that the very beliefe of the Trinity were a part of Anti∣christian corruption; and that the wonderfull prouidence of God did bring to passe, that the Bishop of the Sea of Rome should be famous for his triple crowne; a sensible marke whereby the world might know him to be that mysticall beast spoken of in the Reuelation, to be that great and notorious Antichrist in no one respect so much, as in this that he maintaineth the doctrine of the Trinity. Wis∣dome therefore and skill is requisite to knowe, what parts are sound in that Church, and what corrupted. Neither is it to all men apparant which com∣plaine of vnsound parts, with what kind of vnsoundnesse euery such part is pos∣sessed. They can say that in Doctrine, in Discipline, in Prayers, in Sacraments, the Church of Rome hath (as it hath in deede) very foule and grosse corrupti∣ons: the nature whereof notwithstanding because they haue not for the most part exact skill and knowledge to discerne, they thinke that amisse many times which is not, and the salue of reformation they mightily call for; but where and what the sores are which need it, as they wote full little, so they thinke it not greatly materiall to search. Such mens contentment must be wrought by strata∣geme: the vsuall methode of art is not for them. But with those that professe more then ordinary & common knowledge of good from euill, with them that are able to put a difference betweene things naught, & things indifferent in the Church of Rome, we are yet at controuersie about the maner of remouing that which is naught: whether it may not be perfectly helpt, vnlesse that also which is indifferent be cut off with it, so farre till no rite or ceremony remaine which the Church of Rome hath, being not found in the word of God. If we thinke this to extreme,* they reply that to draw mē frō great excesse, it is not amisse though we vse them vnto somewhat lesse then is com∣petent; & that a crooked stick is not stieight∣ned vnlesse it be bent as farre on the cleane contrary side, that so it may settle it selfe at the length in a middle estate of euennes be∣tween both. But how can these cōparisons stand them in any steed? When they vrge vs to extreme opposition against the Church of Rome, do they meane we should be drawne vnto it onely for a time, and afterwards returne to a medio∣crity? or was it the purpose of those reformed churches, which vtterly abolished all popish ceremonies, to come in the end back againe to the middle point of e∣uennesse and moderation? Then haue we conceiued amisse of their meaning. For we haue alwaies thought their opinion to be, that vtter inconformity with the Church of Rome was not an extremity wherunto we should be drawne for a time, but the very mediocrity it selfe wherein they meant we should euer con∣tinue. Now by these comparisons it seemeth cleane contrarie, that howsoeuer they haue bent themselues at first to an extreme contrariety against the Romish Church, yet therin they wil continue no longer then only till such time as some more moderate course for establishmēt of the Church may be concluded. Yea, albeit this were not at the first their intent, yet surely now there is great cause to Page 183 leade thē vnto it. They haue seene that experience of the former policie, which may cause the authors of it to hang downe their heads. When Germany had strickē off that which appeared corrupt in the doctrine of the Church of Rome▪ but seemed neuerthelesse in discipline still to reteine therewith very great con∣formitie: Fraunce by that rule of policie which hath bene before mentioned, tooke away the Popish orders which Germany did reteine. But processe of time hath brought more light vnto the world; whereby men perceiuing that they of the religion in France haue also reteined some orders which were before in the Church of Rome, and are not commaunded in the word of God; there hath a∣risen a sect in England, which following still the very selfe same rule of policie, seeketh to reforme euen the French reformation, and purge out from thence also dregs of Popery. These haue not taken as yet such roote that they are •able to establish any thing. But if they had, what would spring out of their stocke, and how farre the vnquiet wit of man might be caried with rules of such poli∣cie, God doth know. The triall which we haue liued to see, may somewhat teach vs what posteritie is to feare. But our Lord of his infinite mercie, auert whatsoeuer euill our swaruings on the one hand or on the other may threaten vnto the state of his Church.
9 That the Church of Rome doth hereby take occasion to blaspheme,* and to say our reli∣gion is not able to stand of it selfe, vnlesse it leane vpon the staffe of their Ceremonies,* is not a matter of so great momēt, that it did need to be obiected, or doth deserue to receiue an∣swer. The name of blasphemy in this place, is like the shoe of Hercules on a childs foote. If the Church of Rome do vse any such kind of silly exprobra∣tion, it is no such ougly thing to the eare, that we should thinke the honour and credite of our religion to receiue thereby any great wound. They which hereof make so perilous a matter, do seeme to imagine, that we haue erected of late a frame of some new religion; the furniture whereof we should not haue borrowed from our enemies, least they relieuing vs might afterwards laugh and gibe at our pouerty: whereas in truth the Ceremonies which we haue taken from such as were before vs, are not things that belong to this or to that sect, but they are the auncient rites and customes of the Church of Christ; whereof our selues being a part, we haue the selfe same interest in them which our fathers before vs had, from whom the same are descended vnto vs. Againe in case we had bene so much beholding priuately vnto them, doth the reputation of one Church stand by saying vnto another, I need thee not? If some should be so vrine and impotent, as to marre a benefite with reprochfull vpbraiding, where at the least they suppose themselues to haue bestowed some good turne; yet surely a wise bodies part it were not, to put out his fire, because his fond and foolish neighbour, from whom he borrowed peraduenture wherewith to kindle it, might happily cast him therewith in the teeth, saying, were it not for me thou wouldest freeze, and not be able to heate thy selfe. As for that other argument deriued from the secret affection of Papists, with whom our conformitie in certaine Ceremonies is sayd to put them in great hope, Page 184 that their whole religion in time will haue reentrance;* and therefore none are so clamorous amongst vs for the obseruation of these Ceremonies, as Pa∣pists and such as Papists suborne to speake for them, whereby it clearely appeareth how much they reioyce, how much they triumph in these things; our aunswere hereunto is still the same, that the benefite we haue by such ce∣remonies ouerweigheth euen this also. No man which is not exceeding parti∣all can well deny, but that there is most iust cause wherefore we should be of∣fended greatly at the Church of Rome. Notwithstanding at such times as we are to deliberate for our selues, the freer our minds are from all distempered af∣fections, the sounder & better is our iudgemēt. When we are in a fretting mood at the Church of Rome, and with that angry disposition enter into any cogitati∣on of the orders & rites of our Church; taking particular suruey of them, we are sure to haue alwayes one eye fixed vpon the countenance of our enemies, and according to the blith or heauy aspect thereof, our other eye sheweth some o∣ther sutable token either of dislike or approbation towards our owne orders. For the rule of our iudgement in such case being onely that of Homer,*This is the thing which our enemies would haue; what they seeme contented with, euen for that very cause we reiect; & there is nothing but it pleaseth vs much the better, if we espy that it gauleth them. Miserable were the state & condition of that Church, the waighty affaires whereof should be ordered by those deliberations, where∣in such an humor as this were perdominant. We haue most heartily to thanke God therefore, that they amongst vs to whom the first consultations of causes of this kind fell, were men which aiming at another marke, namely the glorie of God and the good of this his Church, tooke that which they iudged there∣unto necessary, not reiecting any good or conuenient thing, onely because the Church of Rome might perhaps like it. If we haue that which is meere and right, although they be glad, we are not to enuie them this their solace; we do not thinke it a duty of ours, to be in euery such thing their tormentors. And whereas it is said,* that Popery for want of this vtter extirpation hath in some places taken roote and florished againe, but hath not beene able to reestablish it selfe in any place, after pro∣uision made against it by vtter euacuation of all Romish ceremonies; and therefore as long as we hold any thing like vnto them, we put them in some more hope, then if all were taken away; as we deny not but this may be true, so being of two euils to chuse the lesse, we hold it better, that the friends and fauorers of the Church of Rome, should be in some kind of hope to haue a corrupt religion re∣stored, then both we and they conceiue iust feare, least vnder colour of rooting out Popery, the most effectuall meanes to beare vp the state of religion be re∣mooued, and so a way made either for Paganisme, or for extreme barbāritie to enter. If desire of weakening the hope of others should turne vs away from the course we haue taken; how much more the care of preuenting our owne feare withhold vs from that wee are vrged vnto? Especially seeing that our owne feare we knowe, but wee are not so certaine what hope the Page 185 rites and orders of our Church haue bred in the hearts of others. For it is no sufficient argument thereof to say, that in maintaining and vrging these cere∣monies none are so clamorous as Papists, and they whom Papists suborne; this speech being more hard to iustifie then the former, and so their proofe more doubtfull then the thing it selfe which they proue. He that were certaine that this is true, must haue marked who they be that speake for Ceremonies; he must haue noted who amongst them doth speake oftnest, or is most earnest; he must haue bene both acquainted throughly with the religion of such, and also priuy what conferences or compacts are passed in secret betweene them and others; which kinds of notice are not wont to be vulgar and common. Yet they which alleage this, would haue it taken as a thing that needeth no proofe, a thing which all men know and see. And if so be it were graunted them as true, what gaine they by it? Sundry of them that be Popish are eger in maintenance of Ceremonies. Is it so strange a matter to find a good thing furthered by ill men of a sinister intent and purpose, whose forwardnesse is not therefore a bridle to such as fauour the same cause with a better and sincerer meaning? They that seeke, as they say, the remouing of all Popish orders out of the Church, and rec∣kon the state of Bishop in the number of those orders, do (I doubt not) presume that the cause which they prosecute is holy. Notwithstanding it is their owne ingenuous acknowledgement, that euen this very cause which they terme so often by an excellency, The Lords cause, is gratissima, most acceptable vnto some which hope for pray and spoile by it, and that our age hath store of such,*and that such are the very sectaries of Dionysius the famous Atheist. Now if hereupon we should vp∣braide them with irreligious, as they do vs with superstitious fauourers; if we should follow them in their owne kind of pleading and say, that the most cla∣morous for this pretended reformation, are either Atheists, or else proctors sub∣orned by Atheists; the answer which herein they would make vnto vs, let them apply vnto themselues, and there an end. For they must not forbid vs to pre∣sume, or cause in defence of our Church-orders, to be as good as theirs against them, till the contrary be made manifest to the world.
10 In the meane while sory we are,**that any good and godly mind should be grieued with that which is done. But to remedy their griefe, lieth not so much in vs as in themselues. They do not wish to be made glad with the hurt of the Church: and to remoue all out of the Church, whereat they shew themselues to be sorrowfull, would be as we are perswaded hurtfull, if not pernitious thereunto. Till they be able to per∣swade the contrary, they must and will I doubt not find out some other good meanes to cheere vp themselues. Amongst which meanes the example of Geneua may serue for one. Haue not they the old Popish custome of vsing Godfathers and Godmothers in Baptisme; the old Popish custome of administring the bles∣sed Sacrament of the holy Eucharist with Wafer cakes? Those thing• the godly there can digest. Wherefore should not the godly here learne to do the like, both in them and in the rest of the like nature? Some further meane peraduen∣ture it might be to asswage their griefe, if so be they did cōsider the reuenge they Page 186 take on them, which haue bene, as they interpret it, the workers of their conti∣nuance in so great griefe so long. For if the maintenance of Ceremonies be a corrosiue to such as oppugne them; vndoubtedly to such as mainteine them, it can be no great pleasure, when they behold how that which they reuerence is oppugned. And therefore they that iudge themselues Martyrs when they are grieued, should thinke withall what they are when they grieue. For we are still to put them in mind that the cause doth make no difference; for that it must be presumed as good at the least on our part as on theirs, till it be in the end deci∣ded who haue stood for truth and who for error. So that till then the most effe∣ctuall medicine and withall the most sound to ease their griefe, must not be (in our opinion) the taking away of those things whereat they are grieued, but the altering of that perswasion which they haue concerning the same. For this we therefore both pray and labour; the more because we are also perswaded, that it is but conceipt in them to thinke, that those Romish Ceremonies whereof we haue hetherto spoken,* are like leprous clothes, infectious vnto the Church, or like soft and gentle poysons, the venome whereof being insensibly pernici∣ous, worketh death, and yet is neuer felt working. Thus they say: but because they say it onely, and the world hath not as yet had so great experience of their art in curing the diseases of the Church, that the bare authoritie of their word should perswade in a cause so waightie; they may not thinke much if it be required at their hands to shewe, first, by what meanes so deadly infection can growe from similitude betweene vs and the Church of Rome in these thinges indifferent; Secondly, for that it were infinite if the Church should prouide against euery such euill as may come to passe, it is not sufficient that they shewe possibilitie of dangerous euent, vnlesse there appeare some likeli∣hood also of the same to follow in vs, except we preuent it, Nor is this inough, vnlesse it be moreouer made plaine, that there is no good and sufficient way of preuention, but by euacuating cleane, and by emptying the Church of euerie such rite and Ceremonie, as is presently called in question. Till this be done, their good affection towards the safety of the Church is acceptable, but the way they prescribe vs to preserue it by must rest in suspense. And least hereat they take occasion to turne vpon vs the speech of the Prophet Ieremie vsed against Babylon,*Behold we haue done our endeuour to cure the diseases of Ba∣bylon, but she through her wilfulnesse doth rest vncured: let them consider into what straights the Church might driue it selfe, in being guided by this their counsell. Their axiome is, that the sound beleeuing Church of Iesus Christ, may not be like Hereticall Churches in any of those indifferent things, which men make choyce of, and do not take by prescript appointment of the word of God. In the word of God the vse of bread is prescribed, as a thing without which the Eucharist may not be celebrated: but as for the kind of bread, it is not denied to be a thing indifferent. Being indifferent of it selfe, we are by this axiome of theirs to auoide the vse of vnleauened bread in their Sacrament, because such bread the Church of Rome beeing Hereticall vseth. But doth not the selfe same axiome barre vs euen from leauened bread also, which the Church of the Grecians vseth; the opinions whereof are in a number of things the same, for which we condemne the Church of Rome; and in some Page 187 things erroneous, where the Church of Rome is acknowledged to be sound; as namely in the Article proceeding of the holy Ghost? And least here they should say that because the Greeke Church is farther off, & the Church of Rome nearer, we are in that respect rather to vse that which the Church of Rome vseth not; let them imagine a reformed Church in the Citie of Venice, where a Greeke Church and a Popish both are. And when both these are equally neare, let them consider what the third shall doe. Without eyther leauened or vnleauened bread, it can haue no sacrament: the word of God doth tye it to neither; and their axiome doth exclude it from both. If this constraine them, as it must, to grant that their axiome is not to take any place, saue in those things only where the Church hath larger scope; it resteth that they search out some stronger reason then they haue as yet alleaged; otherwise they constraine not vs to thinke that the Church is tyed vnto any such rule or axiome, no not then when she hath the widest field to walke in, and the greatest store of choice.
11 Against such Ceremonies generally as are the same in the Church of England and of Rome, we see what hath bene hetherto alleaged.* Albeit therefore we do not finde the one Churches hauing of such thinges, to be sufficient cause why the other should not haue them: neuerthelesse in case it may be proued, that amongst the number of rites and orders common vnto bothe, there are parti∣culars the vse whereof is vtterly vnlawfull, in regard of some speciall bad and noysome qualitie; there is no doubt but we ought to relinquish such rites and orders, what freedome soeuer we haue to retaine the other still. As therefore wee haue heard their generall exception against all those thinges, which being not commanded in the word of God, were first receiued in the Church of Rome, and from thence haue bene deriued into ours, so it followeth th•t now we proceede vnto certaine kinds of them, as being excepted against not only for that they are in the Church of Rome, but are besides either Iewish, or abused vnto Idolatry, and so growne scandalous. The Church of Rome they say,* being ashamed of the simplicitie of the Gospell, did almost out of all religions take whatsoeuer had a∣ny faire & gorgeous shew, borrowing in that respect frō the Iewes sundry of their abolished Ceremonies. Thus by foolish and ridiculous imitation, all their Mas∣sing furniture almost they tooke from the law, least hauing an Altar and a Priest, they should want vestments for their stage; so that whatsoeuer we haue in com∣mon with the church of Rome, if the same be of this kind we ought to remoue it. Constantine the Emperour speaking of the keeping of the feast of Easter saith, That it is an vnworthy thing to haue any thing common with that most spitefull company of the Iewes. And a little after he saith, that it is most absurd and against reason, that the Iewes should vaunt and glory that the Christians could not keepe those thinges without their doctrine.*And in an other place it is said after this sort; It is conuenient so to order the matter, that we haue nothing common with that nation. The councell of Laodicea, which was afterward confirmed by the sixt generall Councell, decreed that the Christians should not take vnlea∣•ened bread of the Iewes, or communicate with their impietie. For the easier manifestati∣on of truth in this point, two things there are which must be considered; namely the causes wherefore the church should decline from Iewish Ceremonies; and how farre it ought so to doe. One cause is that the Iewes were the deadliest and spitefullest enemies of Christianitie that were in the world, and in this respect Page 188 their orders so farre forth to be shunned, as we haue already set downe in hand∣ling the matter of heathenish Ceremonies. For no enemies being so venemous against Christ as Iewes, they were of all other most odious, and by that meane least to be vsed as fit Church paternes for imitation. An other cause is the so∣lemne abrogation of the Iewes ordinances; which ordinances for vs to resume, were to checke our Lord himselfe which hath disanulled them. But how farre this second cause doth extend, it is not on all sides fully agreed vpon. And tou∣ching those thinges whereunto it reacheth not, although there be small cause wherefore the Church should frame it selfe to the Iewes example, in respect of their persons which are most hatefull; yet God himselfe hauing bene the au∣thor of their lawes, herein they are (notwithstanding the former consideration) still worthy to be honoured, and to be followed aboue others, as much as the state of things will beare. Iewish ordinances had some things naturall, and of the perpetuitie of those things no man doubteth. That which was positiue, wee like∣wise knowe to haue bene by the comming of Christ partly necessary not to bee kept, and partly indifferent to be kept or not. Of the former kinde Circumcision and sacrifice were. For this point Stephen was accused; and the euidence which his accusers brought against him in iudgement was, This man ceaseth not to speake blasphemous words against this holy place and the lawe,*for we haue heard him say that this Iesus of Nazaret shall destroy this place, and shall change the ordinances that Moses gaue vs. True it is that this doctrine was then taught, which vnbeleeuers condemning for blasphemie, did therein commit that which they did condemne. The Apo∣stles notwithstanding from whom Stephen had receiued it, did not so teach the abrogation, no not of those things which were necessarily to cease, but that euen the Iewes being Christian might for a time continue in them. And therefore in Ierusalem the first Christian Bishop not Circumcised was Marke;* and he not Bi∣shop till the daies of Adrian the Emperour, after the ouerthrow of Ierusalem, there hauing bene fifteene Bishops before him which were all of the Circumcision. The Christian Iewes did thinke at the first not onely themselues, but the Chri∣stian Gentiles also bound, and that necessarily, to obserue the whole lawe. There went forth certaine of the sect of Pharises which did beleeue, and they comming vnto Antioch, taught that it was necessary for the Gentiles to be circumcised, and to keepe the lawe of Moses. Whereupon there grew dissention, Paul and Barnabas disputing against them. The determination of the Councell held at Ierusalem concerning this matter was finally this,*Touching the Gentils which beleeue, we haue written & determined that they obserue no such thing.* Their protestation by letters is, For as much as we haue heard that certain which departed frō vs haue troubled you with words, and combred your minds, saying, Ye must be circumcised and keepe the lawe; knowe that we gaue them no such commandement. Paule therefore continued still teaching the Gentiles, not onely that they were not bound to obserue the lawes of Moses, but that the obseruation of those lawes which were necessarily to be abrogated, was in them altogether vnlawfull. In which point his doctrine was misreported, as though he had euery where preached this, not only concerning the Gentiles, but also touching the Iewes. Wherfore comming vnto Iames and the rest of the Cleargie at Ierusalem,* they tolde him plainely of it, saying, Thou seest brother how many thousand Iewes there are which beleeue, & they are all zealous of the law. Now they Page 189 are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Iewes which are amongst the Gentiles to for∣sake Moses, and sayest that they ought not to circumcise their children neither to liue after the customes. And hereupon they gaue him counsell to make it apparent in the eyes of all men, that those flying reports were vntrue, and that himselfe being a Iew, kept the lawe euen as they did. In some thinges therefore wee see the A∣postles did teach, that there ought not to be conformitie betweene the Christian Iewes and Gentiles. How many things this lawe of inconformitie did compre∣hend, there is no need we should stand to examine. This generall is true, that the Gentiles were not made conformable vnto the Iewes, in that which was neces∣sarily to cease at the comming of Christ. Touching things positiue which might either cease or continue as occasion should require,* the Apostles tendering the zeale of the Iewes, thought it necessary to binde euen the Gentiles for a time to abstaine as the Iewes did, frō things offered vnto idols, from bloud, frō strangled. These decrees were euery where deliuered vnto the Gentiles to bee straightly obserued and kept. In the other matters where the Gentiles were free,* and the Iewes in their owne opinion still tied, the Apostles doctrine vnto the Iewe was, Condemne not the Gentile; vnto the Gentile, Despise not the Iewe:* the one sorte they warned to take heed that scrupulositie did not make them rigorous, in giuing vnaduised sentence against their brethren which were free; the other that they did not become scandalous, by abusing their libertie & freedome to the offence of their weake brethren which were scrupulous. From hence therefore two con∣clusiōs there are which may euidently be drawne; the first, that whatsouer con∣formitie of positiue lawes the Apostles did bring in betweene the Churches of Iewes and Gentiles, it was in those things only, which might either cease or con∣tinue a shorter or a longer time, as occasion did most require; the second, that they did not impose vpon the Churches of the Gentiles any part of the Iewes ordinances with bond of necessary and perpetuall obseruatiō, (as we al both by doctrine and practise acknowledge) but only in respect of the conueniencie and fitnes for the present state of the Church as thē it stood. The words of the Coun∣cels decree cōcerning the Gentiles are, It seemed good to the holy Ghost & to vs, to lay vpō you no more burden sauing only those things of necessitie, abstinence frō Idoll-offrings, frō strangled & bloud, and frō fornication. So that in other things positiue which the cōming of Christ did not necessarily extinguish, the Gentils were left altogether free. Neither ought it to seeme vnreasonable, that the Gentils should necessarily be bound & tied to Iewish ordinances, so far forth as that decree importeth. For to the Iew, who knew that their differēce frō other nations which were aliens & strangers frō God, did especially consist in this,* that Gods people had positiue or∣dināces giuen to thē of God himself, it seemed maruelous hard, that the Christiā Gentils should be incorporated into the same common welth with Gods owne chosen people, & be subiect to no part of his statutes,* more then only the lawe of nature, which heathēs count thēselues boūd vnto. It was an opiniō constātly re∣ceiued amongst the Iews, that God did deliuer vnto the sonnes of Noah seuē pre∣cepts; namely to liue in some form of regimēt vnder 1 publique lawes; 2 to serue & call vpō the name of God; 3 to shun Idolatry; 4 not to suffer effusiō of bloud; 5 to abhor all vncleane knowledge in the flesh; 6 to commit no •apine; 7 finally, not to eate of any liuing creature whereof the bloud was not first let out. if Page 190 therefore the Gentiles would be exempt from the lawe of Moses, yet it might seeme hard they should also cast off euen those things positiue which were ob∣serued before Moses, and which were not of the same kinde with lawes that were necessarily to cease. And peraduenture hereupon the Councell sawe it expedient to determine, that the Gentiles should according vnto the third, the seuenth, and the fift of those precepts, abstaine from things sacrificed vnto idoles, from strangled and bloud, and from fornication. The rest the Gentiles did of their owne accord obserue, nature leading them thereunto. And did not nature also teach them to abstaine from fornication? No doubt it did. Neither can we with reason thinke,* that as the former two are positiue, so likewise this, being meant as the Apostle doth otherwise vsually vnderstand it. But very mar∣riage within a number of degrees, being not onely by the lawe of Moses, but also by the lawe of the sonnes of Noah (for so they tooke it) an vnlawfull discouerie of nakednes; this discouerie of nakednesse by vnlawfull marriages, such as Moses in the lawe reckoneth vp,* I thinke it for mine owne part more probable to haue bene meant in the wordes of that Canon, then fornication according vnto the sense of the lawe of nature. Words must be taken according to the matter wher∣of they are vttered. The Apostles commaund to abstaine from bloud. Conster this according to the lawe of nature, and it will seeme that Homicide only is for∣bidden. But conster it in reference to the law of the Iewes about which the que∣stion was, and it shall easily appeare to haue a cleane other sense, and in any mans iudgement a truer, when we expound it of eating, and not of sheading bloud. So if we speake of fornication, he that knoweth no lawe but only the lawe of na∣ture, must needes make thereof a narrower construction, then he which measu∣reth the same by a lawe, wherein sundry kindes euen of coniugall copulation are prohibited as impure,* vncleane, vnhonest. Saint Paule himselfe doth terme in∣cestuous marriage fornication. If any do rather think that the Christian Gentiles themselues through the loose and corrupt custome of those times, tooke simple fornication for no sinne, and were in that respect offensiue vnto beleeuing Iewes which by the law had bene better taught; our proposing of an other coniecture, is vnto theirs no preiudice. Some thinges therefore we see there were, wherein the Gentiles were forbidden to be like vnto the Iewes; some things wherin they were commanded not to be vnlike. Againe, some things also there were, where∣in no lawe of God did let, but that they might be either like or vnlike, as occasi∣on should require. And vnto this purpose Leo sayth, Apostolicall ordinance (belo∣ued) knowing that our Lord Iesus Christ came not into this world to vndo the law,*hath in such sort distinguished the mysteries of the old testament, that certaine of them it hath cho∣sen out to benefit euangelicall knowledge withall, and for that purpose appointed that those things which before were Iewish, might now be Christian customes. The cause why the Apostles did thus conforme the Christians, as much as might be, according to the patterne of the Iewes, was to reine them in by this meane the more, and to make them cleaue the better. The Church of Christ hath had in no one thing so many and so contrary occasions of dealing as about Iudaisme; some hauing thought the whole Iewish lawe wicked and damnable in it selfe; some not con∣demning it as the former sort absolutely, haue notwithstanding iudged it either sooner necessary to be abrogated, or further vnlawful to be obserued then truth Page 191 can beare; some of scrupulous simplicitie vrging perpetuall and vniuersall ob∣seruation of the law of Moses necessary, as the Christian Iewes at the first in the Apostles times; some as Heretiques, holding the same no lesse euen after the contrary determination set downe by consent of the Church at Ierusalem; final∣ly some being herein resolute through meere infidelitie, and with open profest enmitie against Christ, as vnbeleeuing Iewes. To cōtrowle slaunderers of the law and Prophets, such as Marcionites and Manichees were, the Church in her liturgies hath intermingled with readings out of the new Testament, lessons taken out of the lawe and Prophets; whereunto Tertullian alluding,* saith of the Church of Christ; It intermingleth with euangelicall and apostolicall writings, the law and the Pro∣phets; and from thence it drinketh in that faith, which with water it sealeth,*clotheth with the spirit, nourisheth with the Eucharist, with martirdom setteth forward. They would haue wondered in those times to heare, that any man being not a fauourer of he∣resie, should terme this by way of disdaine, mangling of the Gospels & Epistles. They which honor the law as an image of the wisdome of God himselfe, are notwith∣standing to know that the same had an end in Christ. But what? was the lawe so abolished with Christ, that after his ascention the office of Priests became imme∣diatly wicked, & the very name hatefull, as importing the exercise of an vngodly function? No, as long as the glory of the temple continued,* and till the time of that finall desolation was accomplished, the very Christian Iewes did continue with their sacrifices and other parts of legall seruice. That very lawe therefore which our Sauiour was to abolish, did not so soone become vnlawfull to be obser∣ued as some imagine: nor was it afterwards vnlawful so far, that the very name of Aultar, of Priest, of Sacrifice it selfe, should be banished out of the world. For thogh God do now hate sacrifice, whether it be Heathenish or Iewish, so that we cannot haue the same things which they had, but with impietie; yet vnlesse there be some greater let then the onely euacuation of the law of Moses, the names thē∣selues may (I hope) be retained without sin, in respect of that proportion which things established by our Sauiour haue vnto them which by him are abrogated. And so throughout all the writings of the auncient fathers we see that the words which were do continue; the onely difference is, that whereas before they had a literall, they now haue a metaphoricall vse, and are as so many notes of remem∣brance vnto vs, that what they did signifie in the letter, is accomplished in the truth. And as no man can depriue the Church of this libertie, to vse names whereunto the lawe was accustomed; so neither are wee generally forbidden the vse of things which the lawe hath; though it neither commaund vs any par∣ticularitie, as it did the Iewes a number; and the waightiest which it did com∣maund them, are vnto vs in the Gospell prohibited. Touching such as through simplicitie of error did vrge vniuersall and perpetuall obseruation of the lawe of Moses at the first, we haue spoken already. Against Iewish heretikes and false A∣postles teaching afterwards the selfe same, Saint Paul in euery Epistle commonly either disputeth or giueth warning. Iewes that were zealous for the lawe, but withall infidels in respect of Christianitie, and to the name of Iesus Christ most spitefull enemies, did while they flourished no lesse persecute the Church then Heathens. After their estate was ouerthrowne, they were not that way so much to be feared. Howbeit because they had their Synagogues in eue∣ry Page 192 famous Citie almost throughout the world, and by that meanes great op∣portunitie to withdraw from the Christian faith, which to doe they spared no labor;* this gaue the Church occasion to make sundry lawes against them. As in the Councell of Laodicea; The festiuall presents which Iewes or Heretikes vse to send must not be receiued; nor Holy dayes solemnized in their company. Againe, From the Iewes men ought not to receiue their vnleauened, nor to communicate with their impie∣ties. Which Councell was afterwardes indeede confirmed by the sixt generall Councell. But what was the true sense or meaning both of the one and the o∣ther?* Were Christians here forbidden to communicate in vnleauened bread, be∣cause the Iewes did so being enemies of the Church? Hee which attentiuely shall waigh the wordes, will suspect that they rather forbid communion with Iewes,* thē imitation of them: much more, if with these two decrees be compared a third in the Councell of Cōstantinople; Let no man either of the Clergie or Laitie eate the vnleauened of the Iewes, nor enter into any familiaritie with them, nor send for them in sicknes, nor take phisicke at their hāds, nor as much as goe into the bath with them, If any do otherwise being a Clergie man, let him be deposed; if being a lay person, let excommunicatiō be his punishment. If these Canons were any argumēt, that they which made them did vtterly cōdemne similitude betweene the Christians & Iewes, in things indif∣ferent appertaining vnto religiō, either because the Iewes were enemies vnto the Church, or else for that their ceremonies were abrogated; these reasons had bin as strong & effectual against their keeping the feast of Easter on the same day the Iewes kept theirs, and not according to the custome of the West Church. For so they did frō the first beginning till Constantines time. For in these two things the East & West churches did interchangeably both confront the Iewes, and concur with thē: the West church vsing vnleauened bread, as the Iewes in their passouer did, but differing frō them in the day whereon they kept the feast of Easter; con∣••ariwise the East church celebrating the feast of Easter on the same day with the Iewes, but not vsing the same kind of bread which they did. Now if so be the East Church in vsing leuened bread had done wel, either for that the Iewes were ene∣mies to the Church, or because Iewish ceremonies were abrogated; how should we think but that Victor the B. of Rome (whom all iudicious mē do in that behalf disallow) did well to be so vehement & fierce in drawing thē to the like dissimili∣tude for the feast of Easter? Againe, if the West Churches had in either of those two respects affected dissimilitude with the Iewes in the feast of Easter, what reasō had they to drawe the Easterne Church herein vnto them, which reason did not enforce them to frame themselues vnto it in the ceremonie of leauened bread? Differēce in rites should breed no cōtrouersie between one church & an other: but if controuersie be once bred, it must be ended. The feast of Easter being ther∣fore litigious in the daies of Cōstantine, who honored of all other churches most the Church of Rome, which Church was the mother from whose breasts he had drawn that food, which gaue him nourishmēt to eternall life; sith agreement was necessary, and yet impossible, vnlesse the one part were yeelded vnto; his desire was that of the two the Easterne church should rather yeeld. And to this end he vseth sundry perswasiue speeches. When Stephen the Bi. of Rome going about to shew what the Catholique Church should do, had alleaged what the heritiques themselues did, namely that they receiued such as came vnto them, and offered Page 193 not to baptise them anew: S. Cyprian being of a contrary mind to him about the matter at that time questiō, which was, Whether heretikes conuerted ought to be re∣baptised yea or no, answered the allegatiō of Pope Stephen with exceeding great sto∣mack, saying, To this degree of wretchednes the church of God and Spouse of Christ is now come, that her wayes she frame•h to the example of heretikes;*that to celebrate the sacramēts which heauēly instructiō hath deliuered, light it self doth borrow frō darknes, & Christians do that which Antichrists do. Now albeit Cōstantine haue done that to further a bet∣ter cause, which Cyprian did to countenance a worse, namely, the rebaptization of heretiques; and haue taken aduantage at the odiousnesse of the Iewes, as Cyprian of heretiques, because the Easterne Church kept their feast of Easter alwayes the fourteenth day of the Moneth as the Iewes did, what day of the weeke soeuer it •el;* or how soeuer Constantine did take occasiō in the hand∣ling of that cause to say, It is vnworthy to haue any thing common with that spitefull Nation of the Iewes; shall euery motiue argument vsed in such kinde of conferences, be made a rule for others still to cōclude the like by, cōcerning all things of like nature, when as probable inducements may leade them to the contrary?▪ Let both this and other allegations suteable vnto it, cease to barke any longer idlely against that truth, the course and passage wherof it is not in them to hinder.
12 But the waightiest exception, and of all the most worthy to be respected, is against such kind of ceremonies, as haue bene so grossely & shamefully abused in the Church of Rome,* that where they remaine they are scandalous, yea they cannot choose but be stumbling blockes and grieuous cau∣ses of offence. Concerning this point therefore we are first to note, what proper∣ly it is to be scandalous or offensiue; secondly what kinde of Ceremonies are such; and thirdly when they are necessarily for remedie therof to be taken away, and when not. The common conceipt of the vulgar sort is, whensoeuer they see any thing which they mislike and are anrgy at, to thinke that euery such thing is scandalous, and that themselues in this case are the men concerning whome our Sauiour spake in so fearefull manner, saying,*Whosoeuer shall scandalize or offend any one of these little ones which beleeue in me [that is as they conster it, whosoeuer shall anger the meanest and simplest Artizan which carrieth a good minde, by not re∣mouing out of the Church such rites and Ceremonies as displease him] better he were drowned in the bottom of the sea. But hard were the case of the church of Christ if this were to scandalize. Men are scandalized when they are moued, led, and prouoked vnto sinne. At good thinges euill men may take occasion to doe euill;* and so Christ himselfe was a rock of offence in Israel, they taking occasion at his poore estate, and at the ignominie of his crosse, to think him vnworthy the name of that great and glorious Messias, whom the Prophets describe in such ample & stately terms. But that which we therfore terme offensiue, because it inuiteth mē to offend, and by a dumb kind of prouocation incourage, thmoueth, or any way Page 194 leadeth vnto sinne, must of necessitie be acknowledged actiuely scandalous. Now some thinges are so euen by their very essence and nature, so that where∣soeuer they be found, they are not, neither can be without this force of pro∣vocation vnto euill; of which kinde all examples of sinne and wickednes are. Thus Dauid was scandalous in that bloudie acte, whereby he caused the enemies of God to be blasphemous: thus the whole state of Israell scandalous, when their publique disorders caused the name of God to be ill spoken of a∣mongst the nations.* It is of this kind that Tertullian meaneth; Offence or scandall, if I be not deceaued saith he,*is when the example not of a good but of an euill thing, doth set men forward vnto sinne. Good things can scandalize none saue only euill mindes: good things haue no scandalizing nature in them. Yet that which is of it owne nature either good or at least not euill, may by some accident become scandalous at certain times, and in certaine places, and to certaine men, the open vse thereof neuerthelesse being otherwise without daunger. The verie nature of some rites and Ceremonies therfore is scandalous, as it was in a number of those which the Manichees did vse, and is in all such as the law of God doth forbid. Some are offensiue only through the agreement of men to vse them vnto euill, and not else; as the most of those thinges indifferent which the Heathens did to the seruice of their false Gods; which an other in heart condemning their ido∣latrie, could not doe with them in shew and token of approbation, without being guiltie of scandall giuen. Ceremonies of this kinde are either deuised at the first vnto euill; as the Eunomian Heretiques in dishonour of the blessed Trinitie, brought in the laying on of water but once, to crosse the custom of the Church, which in Baptisme did it thrise: or else hauing had a profitable vse, they are af∣terwards interpreted and wrested to the contrarie; as those Heretiques which held the Trinitie to be three distinct not persons but natures, abused the Cere∣monie of three times laying on water in Baptisme vnto the strengthning of their heresie. The element of water is in Baptisme necessarie: once to lay it on or twice is indifferent.* For which cause Gregorie making mention thereof, sayth; To diue an infant either thrice or but once in Baptisme, can be no way a thing reproueable; seeing that both in three times washing, the Trinitie of persons; and in one, the Vnitie of Godhead may be signified. So that of these two Ceremonies, neither being hurtfull in it selfe, both may serue vnto good purpose; yet one was deuised, and the o∣ther conuerted vnto euill. Now whereas in the Church of Rome certaine Ce∣remonies are said to haue bene shamefully abused vnto euill, as the Ceremonie of Crossing at Baptisme, of kneeling at the Eucharist, of vsing Wafer-cakes, and such like; the question is, whether for remedie of that euill wherein such Ceremonies haue bene scandalous, and perhaps may be still vnto some euen amongst our selues, whome the presence and sight of them may confirme in that former error whereto they serued in times past, they are of necessitie to be remoued. Are these or any other Ceremonies wee haue common with the Church of Rome, scandalous and wicked in their verie nature? This no man obiecteth. Are any such, as haue bene polluted from their verie birth, and in∣stituted euen at the first vnto that thing which is euill? That which hath bene ordeyned impiously at the first, may weare out that impietie in tract of time; and then what doth let, but that the vse thereof may stand without offence. The names of our monethes and of our dayes, wee are not ignorant from Page 195 whence they came, and with what dishonour vnto God they are said to haue bene deuised at the first. What could be spoken against any thing more effectu∣all to stirre hatred, then that which sometime the auncient Fathers in this case speake? Yet those very names are at this day in vse throughout Christen∣dome, without hurt or scandall to any.* Cleare and manifest it is; that thinges deuised by Heretiques, yea deuised of a very hereticall purpose euen a∣gainst religion, and at their first deuising worthy to haue bene withstood, may in time growe meete to be kept; as that custome the inuentors wherof were the Eunomian Heretiques. So that customes once established and confirmed by long vse, being pre∣sently without harme, are not in regard of their cor∣rupt originall to be held scandalous. But cōcerning those our Ceremonies, which they reckon for most Popish, they are not able to auouch that any of them was otherwise instituted; thē vnto good, yea so vsed at the first. It followeth then that they all are such, as hauing serued to good pur∣pose, were afterward conuerted vnto the contrary. And sith it is not so much as obiected against vs, that we reteine together with them the euil, wherwith they haue bin infected in the Church of Rome; I would demand who they are whom we scandalize, by vsing harmles things vnto that good end for which they were first instituted. Amongst our selues that agree in the approbation of this kinde of good vse, no man wil say that one of vs is offensiue and scandalous vnto another. As for the fauorers of the church of Rome, they know how far we herein differ & dissent frō them; which thing neither we conceale; & they by their publike wri∣tings also professe daily how much it grieueth them; so that of thē there will not many rise vp against vs, as witnesses vnto the inditement of scandal, whereby we might be cōdemned & cast, as hauing strengthned thē in that euil wherwith they pollute themselues in the vse of the same Ceremonies. And concerning such as withstād the Church of England herein, & hate it because it doth not sufficiently seeme to hate Rome, they (I hope are far enough frō being by this meane drawne to any kind of popish error. The multitude therfore of them, vnto whom we are scādalous through the vse of abused ceremonies, is not so apparēt, that it can iust∣ly be said in general of any one sort of mē or other, we cause thē to offend. If it be so that now or thē some few are espied, who hauing bin accustomed heretofore to the rites & ceremonies of the Church of Rome, are not so scowred of their for∣mer rust, as to forsake their auncient perswasiō which they haue had, howsoeuer they frame thēselues to outward obedience of laws & orders: because such may misconster the meaning of our ceremonies, and so take thē as though they were in euery sort the same they haue bin, shal this be thought a reason sufficiēt wher∣on to cōclude, that some law must necessarily be made to abolish al such ceremo∣nies? They answer that there is no law of God which doth bind vs to reteine thē. And S. Pauls rule is, that in those things frō which without hurt we may lawfully absteine, we should frame the vsage of our libertie with regard to the weakenes and imbecillitie of our brethren. Wherefore vnto them which stood vpon their owne defence, saying, All things are lawfull vnto me; he replyeth,*But all things are not expedient in regard of others. All things are cleane, all meates are Page 196 lawfull; but euill vnto that man that eateth offensiuely. If for thy meates •ake thy brother bee grieued,* thou walkest no longer according to charitie. De∣stroy not him with thy meate for whome Christ dyed. Dissolue not for foodes sake the worke of God. Wee that are strong, must beare the imbecillities of the impotent, and not please our selues. It was a weakenesse in the Christian Iewes, and a maime of iudgement in them, that they thought the Gentiles pol∣luted by the eating of those meates, which themselues were afraid to touch for feare of transgressing the lawe of Moses; yea hereat their hearts did so much rise, that the Apostle had iust cause to feare, least they would rather forsake Christia∣nitie, then endure any fellowship with such, as made no cōscience of that which was vnto them abhominable. And for this cause mention is made of destroying the weake by meates, and of dissoluing the work of God, which was his church, a part of the liuing stones whereof were beleeuing Iewes. Now those weake brethren before mentioned are said to be as the Iewes were, and our ceremonies which haue bene abused in the Church of Rome, to be as the scandalous meates from which the Gentiles are exhorted to abstaine in the presence of Iewes, for feare of auerting them from Christian faith. Therefore as charitie did bind them to refraine frō that for their brethrens sake, which otherwise was lawfull enough for them; so it bindeth vs for our brethrens sake likewise to abolish such Cere∣monies, although we might lawfully else retaine them. But betweene these two cases there are great oddes. For neither are our weake brethren as the Iewes, nor the ceremonies which we vse as the meates which the Gentiles vsed. The Iewes were knowne to be generally weake in that respect; whereas contrariwise the im∣becillitie of ours is not common vnto so many, that we can take any such certaine notice of them. It is a chance if here and there some one be found; and therefore seeing we may presume men commonly otherwise, there is no necessitie that our practise should frame it selfe by that which th' Apostle doth prescribe to the Gen∣tiles. Againe their vse of meates was not like vnto our of Ceremonies; that being a matter of priuate action in common life, where euery man was free to order that which himselfe did;* but this a publike constitution for the ordering of the Church: and we are not to looke that the Church should change her publique lawes and ordinances, made according to that which is iudged ordinarily and commonly fittest for the whole, although it chance that for some particular men the same be found incōuenient; especially whē there may be other remedy also against the sores of particular inconueniences. In this case therefore where any priuate harme doth growe, we are not to reiect instruction, as being an vnmeete plaster to apply vnto it; neither can wee say that hee which appointeth teachers for phisitians in this kind of euill,* is as if a man would set one to watch a childe all day long least he should hurt himselfe with a knife, whereas by taking away the knife from him, the daunger is auoyded, and the seruice of the man better imployed. For a knife may be taken away from a childe, without depriuing them of the benefite thereof which haue yeares and discretion to vse it. But the Ceremonies which chil∣dren doe abuse, if we remoue quite and cleane, as it is by some required that wee should; then are they not taken from children onely, but from others also; which is as though because children may perhaps hurt themselues with kniues, wee should conclude that therefore the vse of kniues is to bee taken quite and cleane euen from men also. Those particular Ceremonies which they pretend Page 197 to be so scandalous, we shall in the next booke haue occasion more throughly to sift, where other things also traduced in the publike duties of the Church where∣unto each of these appertaineth, are together with these to be touched, and such reasons to be examined as haue at any time beene brought either against the one or the other. In the meane while against the conueniencie of curing such euils by instructiō,* strange it is that they should obiect the multitude of other necessary mat∣ters, wherin Preachers may better bestow their time, then in giuing men warning not to abuse Ceremonies; a wonder it is that they should obiect this, which haue so many yeares together troubled the Church with quarels concerning these things, and are euen to this very houre so earnest in them, that if they write or speake pub∣liquely but fiue words, one of them is lightly about the dangerous estate of the Church of England in respect of abused ceremonies. How much happier had it bene for this whole Church, if they which haue raised contention therein about the abuse of rites and Ceremonies, had considered in due time that there is indeede store of matters fitter and better a great deale for teachers to spend time and labour in? It is through their importunate and vehement asseuerati∣ons, more then through any such experience which we haue had of our owne, that we are forced to thinke it possible for one or other now and then, at least∣wise in the prime of the reformation of our Church, to haue stumbled at some kinde of Ceremonies. Wherein for as much as we are contented to take this vp∣on their credite, and to thinke it may be; sith also they further pretend the same to be so dangerous a snare to their soules, that are at any time taken therein; they must giue our teachers leaue for the sauing of those soules (bee they neuer so fewe) to intermingle sometime with other more necessary thinges, admoni∣tion concerning these not vnnecessarie. Wherein they should in reason more ea∣sily yeelde this leaue, considering that hereunto we shall not neede to vse the hundreth part of that time, which themselues thinke very needefull to bestowe in making most bitter inuectiues against the ceremonies of the Church.
13 But to come to the last point of all,* the Church of England is grieuously charged with forgetfulnesse of her dutie, which dutie had bene to frame her selfe vnto the patterne of their example,* that went before her in the worke of refor∣mation. For as the Churches of Christ ought to be most vnlike the synagogue of Anti∣christ in their indifferent ceremonies; so they ought to be most like one vnto an other, and for preseruation of vnitie to haue as much as possible may be all the same Ceremonies.*And therefore S. Paul to establish this order in the Church of Corinth, That they should make their gatherings for the poore vpon the first day of the Saboth (which is our sunday) allea∣geth this for a reason, that he had so ordained in other Churches. Againe, as children of one father and seruants of one family, so all Churches should not only haue one dyet in that they haue one word, but also weare as it were one liuerie in vsing the same Ceremonies. Thirdly, this rule did the great Councell of Nice follow, when it ordained,*that where cer∣taine at the feast of Pentecoste did pray kneeling,*they should pray standing; the reason whereof is added, which is, that one custome ought to be kept throughout all Chur∣ches. It is true that the diuersitie of Ceremonies ought not to cause the Churches to dissent Page 198 one with another; but yet it maketh most to thauoyding of dissention, that there be amongst them an vnitie, not onely in doctrine, but also in Ceremonies. And therefore our forme of seruice is to be amended, not onely for that it commeth too neare that of the Papistes, but also because it is so different from that of the reformed Churches.* Beeing asked to what Churches ours should conforme it selfe, and why other reformed Churches should not as well frame themselues to ours; their answere is, That if there be any Ceremonies which wee haue better then others, they ought to frame themselues to vs; if they haue better then we, then we ought to frame our selues to them; if the Ceremonies be alike commodious, the later Churches should conforme themselues to the first,*as the younger daughter to the elder. For as S. Paul in the members, where all other things are equal, noteth it for a marke of honor aboue the rest, that one is called before ano∣ther to the Gospell;*so is it for the same cause amongest the Churches. And in this respect he pincheth the Corinthes, that not being the first which receiued the Gospell, yet they would haue their seuerall maners from other Churches. Moreouer where the Ceremonies are alike commodious, the fewer ought to conforme themselues vnto the moe. For as much therefore as all the Churches (so farre as they know which pleade after this manner) of our confession in doctrine, agree in the abrogation of diuers things which we reteine; our chur∣ches ought either to shew that they haue done euill, or else she is found to be in fault that doth not conforme her selfe in that, which she cannot denie to be well abrogated. In this axiome that preseruation of peace and vnitie amongst Christian Churches should be by al good meanes procured, we ioyne most willingly and gladly with them. Nei∣ther denie we but that to th' auoyding of dissention it auaileth much, that there be amongst thē an vnitie as well in ceremonies as in doctrine. The only doubt is about the manner of their vnitie, how far churches are bound to be vniforme in their ceremonies, & what way they ought to take for that purpose. Touching the one, the rule which they haue set down is; that in ceremonies in differēt all chur∣ches ought to be one of them vnto another as like as possibly they may be. Whcih possibly we cannot otherwise conster, thē that it doth require them to be euen as like as they may be, without breaking any positiue ordinance of God. For the ce∣remonies wherof we speake being matter of positiue law; they are indifferent, if God haue neither himselfe cōmanded nor forbidden thē, but left thē vnto the Churches discretion. So that if as great vniformitie bee required as is possible in these things, seeing that the law of God forbiddeth not any one of thē; it follow∣eth, that from the greatest vnto the least they must be in euery Christian Church the same, except meere impossibilitie of so hauing it be the hinderāce. To vs this opinion seemeth ouer extreame & violent: wee rather incline to thinke it a iust and reasonable cause for any Church, the state whereof is free and independent, if in these things it differ from other Churches, only for that it doth not iudge it so fit & expedient to be framed therin by the patterne of their example, as to bee otherwise framed then they. That of Gregorie vnto Leander is a charitable speech and a peaceable; In vnâ fide nil officit Ecclesiae sanctae consuetudo diuersa, Where the faith of the holy Church is one, a difference in customes of the Church doth no harme. That of S. Augustine to Cassulanus is somewhat more particular, and toucheth what kinde of ceremonies they are, wherein one Church may vary from the example of an other without hurt; Let the faith of the whole church how wide so euer it haue spred it selfe be alwaies one, although the vnitie of beliefe be famous for varietie of certain ordinances,*wherby that which is rightly beleeued suffereth no kind of let or impedi∣ment. Caluin goeth further, As concerning rites in particular let the sentence of Augu∣stine Page 199 take place, which leaueth it free, vnto all Churches to receiue their owne custome. Yea sometime it profiteth and is expedient that there be difference, least men should thinke that religion is tyed to outward ceremonies. Alwayes prouided that there be not any emu∣lation, nor that churches delighted with noueltie affect to haue that which others haue not. They which graunt it true that the diuersitie of Ceremonies in this kind ought not to cause dissention in churches, must eyther acknowledge that they graunt in effect nothing by these words; or if any thing be granted, there must as much be yeelded vnto, as we affirme against their former strict assertion. For if Chur∣ches be vrged by way of dutie to take such ceremonies as they like not of; how can dissention be auoyded? Will they say that there ought to be no dissention, because such as are vrged ought to like of that whereunto they are vrged? If they say this, they say iust nothing. For how should any Church like to be vr∣ged of dutie, by such as haue no authoritie or power ouer it, vnto those things which being indifferent it is not of dutie bound vnto them? Is it their meaning, that there ought to be no dissention, because that which Churches are not bound vnto, no man ought by way of dutie to vrge vpon them; and if any man doe, he standeth in the sight both of God and men most iustly blameable, as a needelesse disturber of the peace of Gods Church, & an author of dissenti∣on? In saying this they both condemne their owne practise, when they presse the Church of England with so strict a bond of dutie in these thinges, and they ouerthrowe the ground of their practise, which is that there ought to bee in all kinde of ceremonies vniformitie, vnlesse impossibilitie hinder it. For proofe whereof it is not enough to alleage what S. Paul did about the matter of collecti∣ons, or what Noble-men doe in the liueries of their seruants, or what the Coun∣cell of Nice did for standing in time of prayer on certain daies: because though S. Paule did will them of the Church of Cori•th,* euery man to lay vp somewhat by him vpon the Sunday, and to reserue it in store, till himselfe did come thither to send it vnto the Church of Ieru∣salem for reliefe of the poore there; signifying withall that he had taken the like order with the Churches of Galatia; yet the reason which hee yeeldeth of this order taken both in the one place and the other, sheweth the least part of his meaning to haue bene that, whereunto his wordes are writhed.*Concerning collection for the Saintes, (hee meaneth them of Ierusalem) as I haue giuen order to the Church of Galatia, so likewise doe ye, (saith the Apostle) that is, in euery first of the weeke let each of you lay aside by himselfe, and reserue according to that which God hath blessed him with, that when I come collections be not then to make; and that when I am come, whom you shall choose, them I may forthwith sende away by letters to carrie your beneficence vnto Ierusalem. Out of which word• to conclude the dutie of vnifor∣mitie throughout all Churches in all manner of indifferent ceremonies will bee very hard, and therefore best to giue it ouer. But perhaps they are by so much the more loth to forsake this argument, for that it hath, though nothing else,* yet the name of Scripture, to giue it some kinde of countenance more then the next of liuerie coates affordeth them. For neither is it any man• dutie to cloth all his children or all his seruants with one weede; nor theirs to cloath them∣selues so, if it were left to their owne iudgements, as these ceremonies are l•ft of God to the iudgement of the Church. And seeing Churches are rather in Page 200 this case like diuerse families; then like diuers seruants of one family; because e∣uery Church, the state whereof is independent vpon any other, hath authoritie to appoint orders for it selfe in thinges indifferent; therefore of the two we may rather inferre, that as one familie is not abridged of libertie to be clothed in Fry∣ers gray, for that an other doth weare clay-colour; so neither are all Churches bound to the selfe same indifferent Ceremonies which it liketh sundry to vse. As for that Canon in the Councell of Nice, let them but read it and waigh it well. The auncient vse of the Church throughout all Christendome was, for fiftie dayes after Easter (which fifty dayes were called Pentecost, though most com∣monly the last day of them which is Whitsunday be so called) in like sort on all the Sundayes throughout the whole yeare their manner was to stand at praier, whereupon their meetinges vnto that purpose on those dayes had the name of Stations giuen them. Of which custome Tertullian speaketh in this wise; It is not with vs thought sit either to fast on the Lordes day, or to pray kneeling. The same immu∣nitie from fasting and kneeling we keepe all the time which is betweene the Feasts of Easter and Pentecost. This being therefore and order generally receiued in the Church; when some began to be singular and different from all others, and that in a ce∣remonie which was then iudged very conuenient for the whole Church euen by the whole, those fewe excepted which brake out of the common pale: the Councell of Nice thought good to inclose them againe with the rest, by a lawe made in this sort: Because there are certaine which will needs kneele at the time of praier on the Lordes day, and in the fiftie dayes after Easter, the holy Synode iudging it meet that a conuenient custome be obserued throughout all churches, hath decreed that standing wee make our praiers to the Lord. Whereby it plainely appeareth that in things indiffe∣rent, what the whole Church doth thinke conuenient for the whole, the same if any part doe wilfully violate, it may be reformed and inrayled againe by that generall authority whereunto ech particular is subiect, and that the spirit of sin∣gularitie in a few ought to giue place vnto publike iudgement; this doth cleare∣ly enough appeare: but not that all Christian Churches are bound in euery in∣different ceremonie to be vniforme; because where the whole hath not tyed the parts vnto one and the same thing, they being therein left each to their owne choyce, may either do as other do or else otherwise, without any breach of du∣tie at all. Concerning those indifferent thinges, wherein it hath beene hereto∣fore thought good that all Christian Churches, should bee vniforme, the way which they now conceiue to bring this to passe was then neuer thought on. For till now it hath bene iudged, that seeing the lawe of God doth not prescribe all particular ceremonies which the Church of Christ may vse, and in so great va∣rietie of them as may be found out, it is not possible that the lawe of nature and reason should direct all Churches vnto the same thinges; each deliberating by it selfe what is most conuenient: the way to establish the same things indifferent throughout them all, must needs be the iudgement of some iudiciall authoritie drawne into one onely sentence, which may be a rule for euery particular to fol∣low. And because such authoritie ouer all Churches, is too much to be granted vnto any one mortall man; there yet remaineth that which hath bene alwayes followed, as the best, the safest, the most sincere and reasonable way, namely the verdict of the whole Church orderly taken, and set downe in the assembly Page 201 of some generall councell. But to maintaine that all Christian Churches ought for vnities sake to be vniforme in all ceremonies, & then to teach that the way of bringing this to passe must be by mutuall imitation, so that where we haue bet∣ter ceremonies then others they shall bee bound to followe vs, and we them where theirs are better; how should we thinke it agreeable and consonant vnto reason? For sith in things of this nature there is such varietie of particular in∣ducements, whereby one Church may be led to thinke that better, which ano∣ther Church led by other inducements iudgeth to be worse: (For example, the East Church did thinke it better to keepe Easter day after the manner of the Iewes, the West Church better to do otherwise; the Greeke Church iudgeth it worse to vse vnleauened bread in the Eucharist, the Latine Church leauened; one Church esteemeth it not so good to receiue the Eucharist sitting as stāding, another Church not so good standing as sitting; there being on the one side probable motiues as well as on the other:) vnlesse they adde somewhat else to define more certainely what ceremonies shall stand for best, in such sort that all Churches in the world shall know them to be the best, and so know them that there may not remaine any question about this point; we are not a whit the nee∣rer for that they haue hitherto said. They themselues although resolued in their owne iudgements what ceremonies are best, the foreseeing that such as they are addicted vnto, be not all so clearely and so incomparably best, but others there are or may be at least wise when all things are well considered as good,* knewe not which way smoothly to rid their hands of this matter, without prouiding some more certaine rule to be followed for establishment of vniformitie in ce∣remonies, when there are diuerse kinds of equall goodnesse; and therefore in this case they say, that the later Churches & the fewer should conforme them∣selues vnto the elder and the mo. Hereupon they conclude, that for as much as all the reformed Churches (so farre as they know) which are of our confession in doctrine, haue agreed already in the abrogation of diuerse things which we reteine: our Church ought either to shew that they haue done euill, or else she is found to be in fault for not conforming her selfe to those Churches, in that which she cannot deny to be in them well abrogated. For the authoritie of the first Churches, (and those they accompt to be the first in this cause which were first reformed) they bring the comparison of younger daughters conforming themselues in attire to the example of their elder sisters;* wherein there is iust as much strength of reason as in the liuery coates before mentioned. S. Paul they say, noteth it for a marke of speciall honor, that Epaenetus was the first man in all Achaia which did embrace the Christian faith; after the same sort he toucheth it also as a speciall preeminence of Iunias and Andronicus,* that in Christianity they were his auncients; the Corinthians he pincheth with this demaund, Hath the word of God gone out from you, or hath it lighted on you alone? But what of all this▪ If any man should thinke that alacrity & forwardnes in good things doth adde nothing vnto mens commendation; the two former speeches of S. Paule might leade him to reforme his iudgement. In like sort to take downe the stomacke of proud conceited men, that glorie as though they were able to set all others to schoole, there can be nothing more fit then some such words as the Apostles third sentence doth containe; wherein he teacheth the Church of Corinth to know, that there was no such great oddes betweene them and the rest of their Page 202 brethren, that they should thinke themselues to be gold and the rest to be but copper. He therefore vseth speech vnto them to this effect: Men instructed in the knowledge of Iesus Christ there both were before you, and are besides you in the word▪ ye neither are the fountaine from which first, nor yet the riuer into which alone the word hath flowed. But although as Epaenetus was the first man in all Achaia, so Corinth had bene the first Church in the whole world that receiued Christ: the Apo∣stle doth not shew that in any kind of things in different whatsoeuer, this should haue made their example a law vnto all others. Indeed the example of sundry Churches for approbation of one thing doth sway much; but yet still as ha∣uing the force of an example onely, and not of a lawe. They are effectuall to moue any Church, vnlesse some greater thing do hinder; but they bind none▪ no not though they be many; sauing onely when they are the maior part of a generall assembly, and then their voyces being moe in number must ouersway their iudgements who are fewer, because in such cases the greater halfe is the whole. But as they stand out single each of them by it selfe, their number can purchase them no such authority, that the rest of the Churches being fewer should be therefore bound to follow them, and to relinquish as good ceremo∣nies as theirs for theirs. Whereas therefore it is concluded out of these so weake premisses,* that the reteining of diuerse things in the Church of England, which other reformed Churches haue cast out, must needs argue that we do not well▪ vnlesse we can shewe that they haue done ill; what needed this wrest to draw out from vs an accusation of forraine Churches? It is not proued as yet that if they haue done well, our duty is to followe them, and to forsake our owne course, because it different from theirs, although indeed it be as well for vs eue∣ry way, as theirs for them. And if the proofes alleaged for conformation here∣of had bene •ound, yet seeing they leade no further then onely to shew, that where we can haue no better ceremonies theirs must be taken; as they cannot with modesty thinke themselues to haue found out absolutely the best which the wit of men may deuise, so liking their owne somewhat better then other mens, euen because they are their owne, they must in equitie allow vs to be like vnto them in this affection; which if they do, they case vs of that vncourteou• burden▪ whereby we are charged either to condemne them, or else to followe them. They graunt we need not followe them, if our owne wayes already be better. And if our owne be but equall, the law of common indulgence alloweth vs to thinke them at the least halfe a thought the better because they are our owne; which we may very well do, and neuer drawe any inditement at all a∣gainst theirs,* but thinke commendably euen of them also.
14 To leaue reformed Churches therefore & their actions for him to iudge of, in whose sight, they are as they are, and our desire is that they may euen in his sight be found such, as we ought to endeuour by all meanes that our owne may likewise be: somewhat we are inforced to speake by way of simple declaration, concerning the proceedings of the Church of England in these affaires▪ to the end that men whose minds are free from those partiall, cōstructions, wherby the only name of difference frō some other Churches is thought cause sufficient to condēne ours, may the better discerne whether that we haue done be reasona∣ble, yea or no. The Church of Englād being to alter her receiued laws cōcerning such orders, rites and ceremonies, as had bene in former times an hinderance Page 203 vnto pietie and Religious seruice of God, was to enter into consideration first, that the change of lawes, especially concerning matter of Religion, must be wa∣rily proceeded in. Lawes, as all other things humaine, are many times full of imperfection, and that which is supposed behoofefull vnto men, proueth often-times most pernicious. The wisedome which is learned by tract of time, findeth the lawes that haue bene in former ages establisht, needfull in later to be abro∣gated. Besides that which sometime is expedient, doth not alwaies so continue: and the number of needlesse lawes vnabolisht, doth weaken the force of them that are necessarie. But true withall it is, that alteration though it be from worse to better hath in it inconueniences and those waighty; vnlesse it be in such laws as haue bene made vpon special occasions, which occasions ceasing, laws of that kind do abrogate themselues. But when we abrogate a law as being ill made, the whole cause for which it was made still remaining; do we not herein reuoke our very owne deed, and vpbraid our selues with folly, yea all that were makers of it with ouer sight and with error? Further if it be a law which the custome & continuall practise of many ages or yeares hath confirmed in the minds of men, to alter it must needs be troublesome and scandalous. It amazeth them, it cau∣seth thē to stand in doubt, whether any thing be in it selfe by nature either good or euil, & not al things rather such as men at this or that time agree to accōpt of them, whē they behold euen those things disproued, disanulled, reiected, which vse had made in a maner naturall. What haue we to induce mē vnto the willing obedience & obseruation of lawes, but the waight of so many mēs iudgement, as haue with deliberate aduise assented thereunto; the waight of that long expe∣rience, which the world hath had thereof with consent & good liking? So that to change any such law, must needs with the common sort impaire and wea∣ken the force of those grounds, whereby all lawes are made effectual. Notwith∣standing we do not deny alteration of laws to be sometimes a thing necessary; as when they are vnnatural, or impious, or otherwise hurtfull vnto the publique community of mē, and against that good for which humaine societies were in∣stituted. When the Apostles of our Lord & Sauiour were ordained to alter the lawes of Heathnish Religion receiued throughout the whole world; chosen I grant they were (Paule excepted) the rest ignorant, poore, simple, vnschooled altogether and vnlettered men; howbeit extraordinarilie indued with ghostly wisedome from aboue before they euer vndertooke this enterprise, yea their au∣thoritie confirmed by miracle; to the end it might plainely appeare that they were the Lords Ambassadours, vnto whose Soueraigne power for all flesh to stoope, for all the kingdomes of the earth to yeeld themselues willingly confor∣mable in whatsoeuer should be required, it was their duty. In this case therefore their oppositions in maintenance of publique superstition against Apostolique endeuours, as that they might not condemne the wayes of their ancient prede∣cessors, that they must keepe Religiones traditas, the rites which frō age to age had descended, that the ceremonies of Religion had beene euer accompted by so much holier as elder, these and the like allegations in this case were vaine & fri∣uolous. Not to stay longer therefore in speech concerning this point, we will conclude, that as the change of such lawes as haue bene specified is necessary, so the euidence that they are such must be great. If we haue neither voice frō hea∣uen that so pronounceth of them; neither sentence of men grounded vpon such Page 204 manifest and cleare proofe, that they in whose hands it is to alter them may like∣wise infallibly euen in hart & conscience iudge them so; vpon necessitie to vrge alteration is to trouble and disturbe without necessitie. As for arbitrary alterati∣ons, when laws in themselues not simply bad or vnmeet are changed for better and more expedient; if the benefit of that which is newly better deuised be but small, sith the custome of easinesse to alter and change is so euill, no doubt but to beare a tolerable soare is better then to venter on a dangerous remedy. Which being generally thought vpon, as a matter that touched neerly their whole en∣terprise; whereas change was notwithstanding concluded necessary, in regard of the great hurt which the Church did receiue by a number of things then in vse, whereupon a great deale of that which had bene was now to be taken away and remoued out of the Church; yeat sith there are diuerse waies of abrogating things established, they saw it best to cut off presently such things, as might in that sort be extinguished without danger, leauing the rest to be abolished by disusage through tract of time. And as this was done for the manner of abroga∣tion: so touching the stint or measure thereof, rites & ceremonies and other ex∣ternall things of like nature being hurtfull vnto the Church, either in respect of their quality, or in regard of their nūber; in the former there could be no doubt or difficulty what should be done, their deliberation in the later was more hard. And therefore in as much as they did resolue to remoue only such things of that kind as the Church might best spare, reteining the residue; their whole counsell is in this point vtterly cōdemned, as hauing either proceeded from the blindnes of those times, or from negligence, or from desire of honour and glory, or from an erroneous opinion that such things might be tollerated for a while, or if it did proceed (as they which would seeme most fauourable are content to thinke it possible) from a purpose partly the easilier to draw Papists vnto the Gospell, by kee∣ping so many orders stil the same with theirs,*and partly to redeeme peace therby, the breach wherof they might feare would insue vpon more thorow alteration, or howsoeuer it came to passe; the thing they did is iudged euill. But such is the lot of all that deale in publique affaires whether of Church or cōmonwealth, that which men list to surmise of their doings be it good or ill, they must before hand patiently arme their minds to indure. Wherefore to let go priuate surmises, whereby the thing in it selfe is not made either better or worse; if iust and allowable reasons might leade thē to do as they did, then are these censures al frustrate. Touching ceremonies harmelesse therfore in thēselues, & hurtful onely in respect of num∣ber: was it amisse to decree, that those things which were least needfull & new∣liest come should be the first that were taken away, as in the abrogating of a nū∣ber of saints daies and of other the like customes it appeareth they did, till after∣wards the forme of common prayer being perfited, articles of sound Religion and discipline agreed vpon, Catechismes framed for the needfull instruction of youth, Churches purged of things that indeed were burthensome to the peo∣ple, or to the simple offensiue and scandalous, all was brought at the length vnto that wherein now we stand? Or was it amisse, that hauing this way eased the Church as they thought of superfluitie, they went not on till they had pluckt vp euen those things also, which had taken a great deale stronger and deeper roote; those things which to abrogate without constraint of manifest harme thereby arising, had bene to alter vnnecessarily (in their iudgements) the auncient recei∣ued Page 205 custome of the whole Church, the vniuersall practise of the people of God, and those very decrees of our fathers, which were not only set downe by agree∣ment of generall councels, but had accordingly bin put in vre and so continued in vse till that very time present? True it is that neither councels nor customes, be they neuer so ancient and so generall, can let the Church from taking away that thing which is hurtfull to be retained. Where things haue bene instituted, which being conuenient and good at the first, do afterwards in processe of time waxe otherwise; we make no doubt but they may be altered,* yea though coun∣cels or customes generall haue receiued them. And therfore it is but a needles kind of opposition which they make who thus dispute, If in those things which are not expressed in the Scripture, that is to be obserued of the Church, which is the custome of the people of God and decree of our forefathers; then how can these things at any time be varied, which heretofore haue bene once ordained in such sort? Whereto we say, that things so ordained are to be kept, howbeit not necessarily any longer, then till there grow some vrgent cause to ordaine the contrary. For there is not any positiue law of men, whether it be generall or particular, receiued by for∣mall expresse consent, as in councels; or by secret approbation, as in customes it commeth to passe, but the same may be taken away it occasion serue. Euen as we all know, that many things generally kept heretofore,* are now in like sort gene∣rally vnkept and abolished euery where. Notwithstanding till such things be a∣bolished, what exception can there be taken against the iudgement of S. Augu∣stine, who saith, that Of things harmelesse whatsoeuer there is, which the whole Church doth obserue throughout the world; to argue for any mans immunitie from obseruing the same, it were a point of most insolent madnes. And surely o∣dious it must needs haue bene for one Christian Church, to abolish that which all had receiued and held for the space of many ages, & that without any detri∣ment vnto Religion so manifest and so great, as might in the eyes of vnpartiall men appeare sufficient to cleare thē from all blame of rash & inconsiderate pro∣ceeding, if in feruour of zeale they had remoued such things. Whereas contrari∣wise so reasonable moderation herein vsed, hath freed vs from being deseruedly subiect vnto that bitter kind of obloquie, wherby as the Church of Rome doth vnder the colour of loue towards those things which be harmelesse, maintaine extremely most hurtfull corruptions; so we peraduenture might be vpbraided, that vnder colour of hatred towards those things that are corrupt, we are on the other side as extreme, euen againts most harmelesse ordinances. And as they are obstinate to retaine that, which no man of any conscience is able wel to defend: so we might be reckoned fierce and violent, to teare away that, which if our owne mouthes did condemne, our consciences would storme and repine thereat. The Romanes hauing banished Tarquinius the proud, and taken a sollemne oath that they neuer would permit any man more to raigne, could not herewith content themselues, or thinke that tyrannie was throughly ex∣tinguished, till they had driuen one of their Consuls to depart the Citie, a∣gainst whom they found not in the world what to obiect, sauing onely that his name was Tarquine, and that the common-wealth could not seeme to haue re∣couered perfect freedome, as long as a man of so daungerous a name was left remaining. For the Church of England to haue done the like, in casting out of Papall tyranny and superstition; to haue shewed greater willingnes of accepting Page 206 the very ceremonies of the Turke Christs professed enemie,* then of the most indifferent things which the Church of Rome approueth; to haue left not so much as the names which the Church of Rome doth giue vnto things inno∣cent; to haue eiected whatsoeuer that Church doth make accompt of, be it ne∣uer so harmelesse in it selfe, and of neuer so auncient continuance, without any other crime to charge it with, then onely that it hath bene the hap thereof to be vsed by the Church of Rome; and not to be commanded in the word of God; this kind of proceeding might happily haue pleased some fewe men, who ha∣uing begun such a course themselues, must needs be glad to see their example followed by vs. But the Almightie which giueth wisedome and inspireth with right vnderstanding whō soeuer it pleaseth him, he foreseeing that which mans wit had neuer bene able to reach vnto, namely what tragedies the attempt of so extreme alteration would raise in some parts of the Christian world, did for the endlesse good of his Church (as we cannot chuse but interpret it) vse the bridle of his prouident restraining hand, to stay those eager affections in some, and to settle their resolution vpon a course more calme and moderate; least as in other most ample and heretofore most flourishing dominions it hath since fallen out, so likewise if in ours it had come to passe, that the aduerse part being enraged, and betaking it selfe to such practises as men are commonly wont to embrace, when they behold things brought to desperate extremities, and no hope left to see any other end, then onely the vtter oppression and cleane extinguishment of one side; by this meane Christendome flaming in all parts of greatest impor∣tance at once, they all had wanted that comfort of mutuall reliefe, wherby they are now for the time susteined, (and not the least by this our Church which they so much impeach) till mutuall combustious bloudsheads and wastes (be∣cause no other inducement will serue) may enforce them through very faint∣nesse, after the experience of so endlesse miseries, to enter on all sides at the length into some such consultation, as may tend to the best reestablishment of the whole Church of Iesus Christ. To the singular good whereof it cannot but serue as a profitable direction, to teach men what is most likely to proue auaile∣able, when they shall quietly consider the triall that hath bene thus long had of both kinds of reformation, as well this moderate kind which the Church of England hath taken, as that other more extreme and rigorous which certaine Churches elsewhere haue better liked. In the meane while it may be, that sus∣pence of iudgement and exercise of charity were safer and seemelier for Chri∣stian men, then the hote pursute of these controuersies, wherein they that are most feruent to dispute, be not alwayes the most able to determine. But who are on his side and who against him, our Lord in his good time shall reueale. And sith thus farre we haue proceeded in opening the things that haue beene done, let not the principall doers themselues be forgotten. When the ruines of the house of God (that house which cōsisting of religious soules is most imme∣diatly the pretious temple of the holy Ghost) were become not in his sight a∣lone, but in the eyes of the whole world so exceeding great, that very supersti∣tion began euen to feele itselfe too farre growne: the first that with vs made way to repaire the decayes thereof by beheading superstition, was King Henry the eight. The sonne and successour of which famous King as we know was Edward the Saint: in whom (for so by the euent wee may gather) it pleased Page 207 God righteous and iust to let England see, what a blessing sinne and iniquitie would not suffer it to enioy. Howbeit that which the wise man hath sayde con∣cerning Enoch (whose dayes were though many in respect of ours, yet scarse as three to nine in comparison of theirs with whome hee liued) the same to that admirable child most worthily may be applyed, Though he departed this worlde soone, yet fulfilled he much time. But what ensued? That worke, which the one in such sort had begun, and the other so farre proceeded in, was in short space so ouerthrowne, as if almost it had neuer bene: till such time as that God, whose property is to shew his mercies then greatest when they are neerest to be vtterly despaired of, caused in the depth of discomfort and darknes a most glorious starre to arise, and on her head setled the Crowne, whome him selfe had kept as a lambe from the slaughter of those bloudie times, that the experience of his goodnes in her own deliuerance, might cause her mercifull▪ disposition to take so much the more delight in sauing others, whom the like necessity shold presse. What in this behalfe hath bene done towards nations abroad, the parts of Chri∣stendome most afflicted can best testifie. That which especially concerneth our selues in the present matter we treate of, is the state of reformed religion, a thing at her comming to the Crowne euen raised as it were by miracle from the dead, a thing which we so little hoped to see, that euen they which behelde it done, scarcely belieued their own senses at the first beholding. Yet being then brought to passe, thus many years it hath continued, standing by no other worldly meane but that one only hand which erected it, that hand which as no kinde of immi∣nent daunger could cause at the first to withholde it selfe, so neyther haue the practises so many so bloudie following since beene euer able to make wearie. Nor can we say in this case so iustly, that Aaron and Hur the Ecclesiasticall and Ciuill states haue sustained the hand which did lift it selfe to heauen for them; as that heauen it selfe hath by this hand sustained them, no ayde or helpe hauing thereunto bene ministred for performance of the worke of reformation, other then such kind of helpe or ayde as the Angell in the Prophet Zacharie speaketh of, saying, Neither by an armie nor strength, but by my spirit saith the Lord of Hostes. Which grace and fauour of diuine assistance, hauing not in one thing or two shewed it self, nor for some few daies or yeares appeared, but in such sort so long continued, our manifold sinnes & transgressions striuing to the contrarie; what can we lesse thereupon conclude, then that God would at leastwise by tract of time teach the world, that the thing which he blesseth, defendeth, keepeth, so strangely, cannot choose but be of him? Wherefore if any refuse to beleeue vs disputing for the veritie of religion established, let them beleeue God himselfe thus miraculouslie working for it, and wish life euen for euer and euer vnto that glorious and sacred instrument whereby he worketh.