The Answer to the Inscription.
WHen I did first meet with this paper of foure serious questions, fleeing abroad in print into every Book-sellers shop in London, and ready upon the wing to take flight into all parts of the land; That flying toll, which appeared to the Prophet Zecharie (pre∣sently upon my viewing of the matter and scope thereof) came to my minde, which is said to be a curse going forth over the face of the whole land, Zech. 5. 3. For as that was a curse to punish, cut off and con∣sume even to the timber and stones of the houses, into which it entered: So I feared this would be a corrupting curse in the heart, house and family of every one that entertained it with approbation, and did welcome it with applause, seeing it proclaims liberty for all sinners, though openly scandalous and impe∣nitent, to come boldly to the Lords supper, and to eat and drinke their own damnation, without controll of the Pastors and Presbyters of the Church, whom Christ hath ordained to have the rule over them, and to watch for their soules, Heb. 13. 17.
And whereas the questions are by the Author professed to be serious, and of grand importance, propounded to the Reverend Assembly, for the setling of uni∣ty among us, in these divided times: First, I must professe that I am much grie∣ved, that any learned Christian brother should seriously urge such arguments▪ so weak, so fallacious, and of so little strength, to maintaine so bad a cause as this, even the opening of a wide gap to Libertinisme, and prophanation of the holy Sa∣crament of Christs body and blood, and giving this liberty to carnall and pro∣phane men, of dissolute and scandalous life, that they without repulse may in∣trude themselves among godly Communicants, to the just offence and scandall of the whole Congregation: which they may have opportunity to doe at seve∣rall times, before the sentence of Excommunication, can in a way of orderly proceeding (especially when there are appeales made to higher Consistories one after another, by obstinate and contentious offenders) come forth against them, and be put in execution.
Page 2 Secondly, I hope it will be made to appeare by this, and other Answers of more able brethren, that here is no matter of grand importance in these questi∣ons, except encouragement of men to live in scandalous sins, without feare of suspension from the Lords table, and to intrude boldly thereunto, which is a power of grand tyranny, and oppression of the Consciences of Ministers, may in any but an evil sense, be called a matter of grand importance.
Thirdly, I wish with all my heart, though now too late, that these questi∣ons, as in the title is pretended, had first been propounded to the venerable As∣sembly. For I doubt not but they then should have received such a solid and sa∣tisfactory Answer, as would have staid the publishing of them in print, and pre∣vented the infection of the mindes of the vulgar people of weak judgement, and saved us the labour of composing Antidotes against them.
Fourthly, I pity the Author, in that he hath so erred from his intended scope of these questions: for his handling and carriage of them, is so farre from pre∣venting Schismes, and setling unity among us in those divided times: that on the contrary we finde by experience to our griefe, that they worke strongly in corrupt and perverse mindes, to the breeding, and increasing of Schismes, to the disturbance of the desired reformation, in a point of greatest concernment, and to the raising up of divisions and dissensions, not onely among others, but also betwen the Parliament and Assembly, which is a strange practice, in a lover of peace and truth.