The Presbytery is no burden to any honest man.
THE bounds and compasse of the Warners rage against the Presbytery is very large; * not being content to have incensed the King and Parliament against it, he comes downe to the body of the people, and will have them beleeve the speciall enimity of the Scots discipline against them, first because it inflicts Church censures upon every one for the smallest faults. Ans. The faults which the Warner men∣tions may well be ane occasion of a private advice in the eare, but that any of them did ever procure the smallest censure of the Church, it is a great untruth: no man who knowes us will complaine of our rigour, heerwe wish we were able to refute upon as good reason the charge of our slaknes in the mouth of sectaries as we are that of our strictnes in the mouth of Erastianes. Wee would know of the Warner, what are these Sabbath recreations, which he saith are void of scandal, and consistent with the dutyes of the day; are they not the stage playes and the other honest pastimes, wherewith his friends were wonte to sanctify the Lords day, as no more a Sabbath then any other day in the yeare, and much lesse then diverse popish festivalls? An Aposteme in the lowest gutt will shew it selfe by the unsavory vapours, which now and then are eructat from it. That ever in Scotland there was one word of debate about starch and cuffs, is more then the Warner can prove.Page 64
The second oppression, * whereby the Presbytery trods the people under foot is a rare cruelty; that persons, for grievous crimes whereof the Magistrate takes notice, are called to Ecclesiastick repentance. Will the Doctor in his fury a∣gainst us, run out upon all his owne friends for no appea∣rance of a fault? Will either the English or popish praelats admit murtherers, whoores or theeves to the holy table without any signes of repentance? Is not the greatest crime the ground of the greatest scandal? Shall small scandals be purged away by repentance, and the greatest be totally past by? The Doctor heer may know his owne meaning but others will confesse their ignorance of his minde.
The third grievance he would have the people conceive against the Presbytery is, * the rigour of their excommunica∣tion; in this also the Warner seemes to know little of the Scots way, let excommunication be so seveer in Scotland as is possible, yet the hurt of it is but small: it is so rare an acci∣dent, men may live long in Scotland, and al their life never see that censure execute; I have lived in one of the greatest Ci∣ties of that land and for fourty seven yeares even from my birth to this day, that censure to my knowledge or hearing was never execute there in my dayes but twice; first upon ane obstinat and very profaine Papist; and nixt on some hor∣rible scandalous praelats. Againe when any is excommuni∣cated by the Church, we goe no further with them then Pauls commande: 2. Thes. 3.14. only they who are not tyed to them by naturall bonds, abstaine from familiar and unne∣cessary conversation, to bring them by the sence of this shame to repentance for their fins.
Thirdly the civil inconvenientes which followe that cen∣sure come along from the State and the acts of Parliament, for which the Church ought not to be challenged; especially by praelats who wont to allow their officials to excommuni∣cat Page 65whole incorporations of people for a small debt of mony, and to presse the contemners of that frivolous and profane sentence, with all the civil inconvenientes they could. Fourth∣ly what ever be the laws in Scotland against them who con∣tinues long in the contempt of Excommunication, (which are not inflicted but for great sins and after a long processe) yet certainly their execution is very farre from all cruelty, as they who know the proceedings of that land, will beare witnes.
What he objects about fugitives; it is true, when a pro∣ces is begunne, a fugitive may have it concluded, and sent after him; but we count not that man a fugitive from disci∣pline or contumacious as the Warner quarrels us, who upon just feare to hazard his life does not compear.