A review of Doctor Bramble, late Bishop of Londenderry, his Faire warning against the Scotes disciplin by R.B.G.
Baillie, Robert, 1599-1662.

CHAP. XII.

The Presbytery is hurtfull to no order of men.

PRaelaticall malice is exorbitant beyond the bounds of all shew of moderation: * was it not enough to have calum∣niat the Presbytery to Kings, Princes and Soveraignes, to Parliaments and all Courts of Justice, to people and all particular persons, but yet a new chapter must be made to shew in it the hurtfullnes of Presbytery to all orders of men: wee must have patience to stand a little in the unsavoury aire of this vomite also. *

Unto the nobility and gentry the Presbitery must be hurt∣full, because it subjecteth them to the censures of a raw hea∣dy novice and a few ignorant artificers. Ans. Its good that our praelats are now turned pleaders against the oppression Page  66of the Nobility and gentry: its not long since the praelatical clergy were accustomed to set their soule feet on the necks of the greatest peeres of the three Kingdomes with to high a pride and pressure; that to shake of their yock, no suffering, no hazard has been refused by the best of the Nobility and gentry of Britaine: but natures and principles are so easy to be changed, that no man now needs feare any more oppres∣sion from the praelats, though they were set downe again and wel warned in their repaired throns.

But to the challenge we answer, * that the meanest Elder∣ship of a small Congregation in Scotland consists of the Pa∣stor, and a dozen (at least) of the most wise pious and lear∣ned that are to be found in the whole flock; which yet the Warner heer makes to be judges but of the common people in matters of smallest moment. But for the classicall Pres∣bytery, to which he referres the Ecclesiasticall causes of the Nobility and gentry, and before whom indeed every Church processe of any considerable weight or difficulty does come, though it concerne the persons of the meanest of the people, this Presbytery does consist ordinarly of fifeteen Ministers (at least) and fifeteen of the most qualified noblemen, gent∣lemen and Burgesses, which the circuit of fifteen parishes can affoord, these (I hope) may make up a judicatory of a great deale more worth then any officiall court, which con∣sists but of one judge, a petty mercenary lawyer, to whose care alone the whole Ecclesiastick jurisdiction over all the Nobility and gentry of diverse shyres is committed, and that without appeale as the Warner has told us, except it be to a Court of delegats; a miserable releefe that all the Nobili∣ty, gentry and Commons of a Kingdome, who are op∣pressed by Episcopall officials, have no other remedie but to goe attende a Committee of two or three civilians at London deputed for the discussing of such appeales.

Page  67

The Presbyterian course is much more ready, solide and equitable: if any grievance arise from the sentence of a Pres∣bytery, a Synode twice a yeare doth sit in the bounds, and attends for a week, or if need be, longer, to determine all appeales, and redresse all grievances: now the Synode does consist of all the Ministers within the bounds, which ordi∣narly are of diverse whole shyres as that of Glasgow, of the upper and neather ward of Clidsedaile, Baerranfrow, Lennox, Kile, Carrick and Cunninghame; also beside Ministers, the constant members who have decisive voice in Synodes, are the chiefe Noblemen, Gentlemen and Burgesses of all these shyres, among whom their be such parts for judgment as are not to be found nor expected in any inferiour civil Court of the Kingdom, yet if it fall out so, that any party be grieved with the sentence of a Synode, there is then a farther and fi∣nall appeale in a Generall assembly, which consists of as many Burgesses and more Gentlemen from every shire of the Kingdome then come to any Parliament: beside the prime Nobility and choisest Ministry of the land; having the Kings Majestie in persone, or in his absence, his high Commissioner to be their praesident. This meeting yeerly (or oftner, if need be) sits ordinarly a month; and if they think fit, longer: the number, the wisedome, the eminency of the members of this Court is so great, that beside the unjustice, it were a very needlesse labour to appeal from it to the Parlia∣ment, for (as we have said) the King or his high Commissio∣ner, sits in both meetings albeit in a differēt capacity: the num∣ber and qualification of knights and Burgesses is ever large as great in the assembly as in the Parliament: only the difference is, that in the Parliament all the Nobility in the Kingdom sit without any election and by virtue of their birth, but in the Assembly only who for age, wisedome and piety are cho∣sen by the Presbyteries as fittest to judge in Ecclesiastick af∣fairs: Page  68but to make up this oddes of the absence of some Noble∣men, the Assembly is alwayes adorned with above ane hun∣dred of the choifest Pastors of the whole land, none whereof may sit in Parliament: nothing that can conciliate authority to a Court, or can be found in the Nation, is wanting to the generall assembly; how basely so ever our praelats are pleased to trample upon it.

The second alledged hurt which the Nobility have from the Presbytery, * is the losse of their patronages by congre∣gations electing their Pastors. Ans. Howsoever the judg∣ment of our Church about patronages is no other then that of the Reformed divines abroad, yet have our Presbyteries alwayes with patience endured patrons to present unto va∣cant Churches, till the Parliament now at last hath taken away that grievance.

The Nobilities last hurt by the Presbytry is their losse of all their impropriations and Abey-lands. * Ans. How Sy∣cophantick an accusation is this? for who knowes not, how farre the whole generation of the praelaticke faction doe ex∣ceed the highest of the Presbyterians in zeale against that which they call Sacriledge? never any of the Presbyterians did attempt either by violence, or a course of Law, to put out any of the Nobility or gentry from their possessions of the Church-lands, but very lately the threats and vigorous activity of the praelats, and their followers were so vehement in this kinde, that all the Nobility and gentry who had any interest, were wackned (to purpose) to take heed of their rights. In the last Parliament of Scotland when the power of the Church was as great as they expect to see it againe, though they obtained the abolition of patronages, yet were the possessors of the Church-lands and tythes so little har∣med that their rights therto were more cleerly and strongly confirmed, then by any praeceding Parliament.

Page  69

The fourth hurt is that every ordinary Presbyter wil make himselfe a Noblemans fellow. Ans. No where in the World does gracious Ministers (though meane borne men) receive more respect from the Nobility then in Scotland: neither any where does the Nobility and gentry receive more duely their honour then from the Ministers there. That insolent speach fathered on Mr. Robert Bruce is demonstrat to be a fabulous calumny in the historicall vindication.

However the Warner may know that in all Europe where Bishops have place, it hes ever, (at least these 800 yeares) been their nature to trample under foot the highest of the Nobility. As the Pope must be above the Emperour, so a little Cardinal Bellarmin can tell to King Iames, that hee may well be counted a companion of any Ilander King: were the Bishops in Scotland ever content, till they got in Parlia∣ment the right hand and the nearest seates to the throne, and the doore of the greatest Earles, Marquesses and duks? was it not Episcopacy, that did advance poore and capricious pedants to strive for the whyte staves & great Seales of both Kingdomes, with the prime Nobility; and often overcome them in that strife? In Scotland I know, and the Warner will assure for England and Ireland, that the basest borne of his brethren hes ruff led it in the secreet counsel, in the roy∣all Exchequer, in the highest courts of justice, with the greatest Lords of the Land: its not so long, that yet it can be forgotten, * since a Bishop of Galloway had the modesty to give unto a Marquise of Argile, tanta mont to a broadly in his face at the counsel table. The Warner shall doe well to reckon no more with Presbyters for braving of Noble∣men.

The nixt hee will have to bee wronged by the Presbytery are the orthodoxe clergy. Ans. All the Presbyterians to him (it seemes) are heterodoxe; Episcopacy is so necessary Page  70a truth that who denies it, must be stamped as for a grievous errour with the character of heterodox. The following words cleere this to be his mind, they losse (saith hee) the confortable assurance of undoubted succession by Episcopall or∣dination: what sence can be made of these words, but that all Ministers who are not ordained by Bishops, must lie un∣der the confortlesse uncertainty of any lawfull succession in their ministeriall charge, for want of this succession through the lineall descent of Bishops from the Apostles; at least for want of ordination by the hands of Bishops, as if unto them only the power of mission and ordination to the Ministry were committed by Christ: because of this defect the Presbyterian Ministers must not only want the confort of an assured and undoubted calling to the Ministry, but may very well know and be assured that their calling and Ministry is null. The words immediatly following are scraped out after their printing: for what cause the author lest knoweth: but the purpose in hand makes it proba∣ble, that the deletted words did expresse more of his mind, then it was safe in this time and place to speake out: it was the late doctrine of Doctor Brambles prime friends, that the want of Episcopall ordination did not only annull the calling of all the Ministers of France, Holland, Zwit-zerland, and Germany, but also did hinder all these societies to be true Churches: for that popular Sophisme of the Jesuits our prae∣lats did greedily swallow; where are no true Sacraments, there is no true Church; and where is no true Ministry, there are no true Sacraments; and where no true ordination, there is no true ministry; and where no Bishops, there is no true ordination: and so in no reformed country but in England and Ireland where were true Bishops, is any true Church. When Episcopacy comes to this height of elevation, that the want of it must annuall the Ministry, yea null the Church and Page  71all the Reformed at one strock, is it any mervaill, that all of them doe concurre together for their own preservation, to abolish this insolent abaddon and destroyer? and notwith∣standing all its ruine have yet no disconfort at all, nor any the least doubt of their most lawfull ordination by the hands of the Presbytry.

After all this was writen, is heer it stands, * another copie of the Warners book was brought to my hand wherin I found the deleted line stand printed in these distinct tearmes, and put it to a dangerous question whither it be within the payle of the Church, the deciphering of these words puts it beyond all peradventure that what I did conjecture of the Warner and his Brethrens minde, of the state of all the reformed Church∣es, was no mis-take, but that they doe truely judge the want of Episcopall ordination to exclude all the Ministers of other Reformed Churches, and their flocks also from the lines of the true Church. This indeed is a most dangerous question: for it stricks at the root of all. If the Warner out of remorse of conscience had blotted out of his book that er∣rour, the repentance had been commendable: But he hes left so much yet behind unscraped out, as does shew his minde to continue what it was, so that feare alone to pro∣voke the reformed heere at this unseasonable time, seemes to have been the cause of deleting these too cleare expressi∣ons of the praelaticall tenet against the very being and subsis∣tence of all the Protestant Churches, which want Episcopa∣cy, when these mē doe still stand upon the extreame pinacle of impudency and arrogance, denying the Reformed to be true Churches, and without scuple averring Rome as shee stands this day, under the counsel of Trent, to be a Church most true, wherin there is an easy way of salvation, from which all separation is needlesse, and with which a re-uni∣on were much to be desired? That gracious faction this day Page  72is willing enough to perswade, or at least to rest content without any opposition that the King should of himselfe without and before a Parliament, (though contrary to ma∣ny standing Lawes) grant under his hand and seale a full li∣berty of Religion to the bloody Irish, and to put in their hands, both armes, Castles and prime Places of trust in the State; that the King should give assurance of his endeavour, to get all these ratified in the nixt Parliament of England, these men can heare with all moderation and patience: but behold their furious impatience, their whole art and indu∣stry is wakned, when they heare of any appearance of the Kings inclination towards covenanting Protestants: night and day they beate in his Majesties head, that all the mis∣chieves of the world does lurke in that miserable covenant, that death and any misfortune, that the ruine of all the King∣domes ought much rather to bee imbraced by his Majestie, then that prodigious Monster, that very hell of the Cove∣nant, because forsooth it doth oblige in plane tearmes the taker to endeavour (in his station) the abolition of their great Goddesse, praelacy.

The nixt hurt of Ministers from the Presbytry, * is, that by it they are brought to ignorance, contempt and beggery. Ans. Whither Episcopacy or Presbytry is the fittest instru∣ment to avert these evills, let reason or experience teach men to judge. The Presbyteriall discipline doth oblige to a great deale of severer tryalls in all sort of learning requisite in a divine before ordination then doth the Episcopall: let either the rule or practise of Presbyterian and Episcopall or∣dination be compared or the weekly Exercises and monthly disputations in Latine upon the controverted heads be look∣ed upon which the Presbytry exacts of every Minister after his ordination all the dayes of his life: for experience let the French, Dutch and Scots divines who have been or yet are, Page  73be compared with the ordinary generation of the English Clergie, and it will be found, that the praelats have not great reason so superciliously to look downe with contempt upon their Brethrens learning. I hope, Cartwright, Whi∣taker, Perkins, Reynolds, Parker, Ames, and other Pres∣byterian English were inferior in learning to none of their opposits: some of the English Bishops has not wanted good store of learning, but the most of them (I beleeve) wilbe con∣tent to leave of boasting in this subject, what does the Warner speake to us of ignorance, contempt and Beggery? does not all the world know, that albeit some few, scarce one of twenty, did brook good benefices, yea plurality of them whereby to live in splendor at Court, or where they listed in their non-residency, neverthelesse it hath been much com∣plained, that the greatest parte of the priests, who had the cure of soules thorow all the Kingdome of England, were incomparably the most ignorant, beggerly and contemp∣tible clergy, that ever have been seen in any of the reformed Churches? neither did we ever heare of any great study in the Praelats to remeed these evils, albeit some of them be pro∣vident enough for their owne families. Doctor Bramble knowes who had the skill before they had sitten seven yeare in their charge to purchase above fifeteen hundred pounds a yeare for themselves and their heirs what somever.

The third evil which the Ptesbytery brings upon Minis∣ters is that it makes them prat and pray nonsence everlast∣ingly. Ans. * It is indeed a great heartbrake unto igno∣rant, lazy and unconsciencious Ministers to be put to the paines of preaching and prayer, when a read service was wont to be all their exercise: but we thought that all indiffe∣rently ingenuous men had long agoe been put from such impudence. It was the late labour of the praelats by all their skill to disgrace preaching and praying without booke, to Page  72〈1 page duplicate〉Page  73〈1 page duplicate〉Page  74cry up the Liturgy as the only service of God, and to idolize it as a most heavenly and divine peece of write, which yet is nought but a transcript of the superstitious breviary and idolatrous missall of Rome. The Warner would doe well to consider and answer after seven yeares advisement Mr. Bailie his pararell of the service with the missall and Breviarie, be∣fore hee presente the world with new paralels of the English liturgy, with the directories of the Reformed Churches. Is it so indeed, that all preaching and praying without book is but a pratting of non-sence everlastingly, why then con∣tinues the King and many well minded men to be deceived by our Doctors, while they affirme that they are as much for preaching in their practise and opinion as the Presbyterians, and for prayer without book also, before and after sermon, and in many other occasions? it seemes these affirmations are nothing but grosse dissimulation in this time of their low∣nesse and affliction, to decline the envy of people against them for their profane contempt of divine ordinances; for wee may see heere their tenet to remaine what it was, and themselves ready enough, when their season shall be fitter, to ring it out loud in the eares of the World, that for divine service people needs no more but the reading of the liturgy, * that sermons on week dayes and Sundayes afternoon must all be laid aside, that on the Sabbath before noone Sermon is needlesse, and from the mouths of the most Preachers very noxious; that when some learned Schollars are pleased on some festivall dayes to have an oration, it would be short and and according to the Court paterne, without all Spirit and life for edification; but by all meanes it must bee provided, that no word of prayer either before or after be spoken, ex∣cept only a bidding to pray, for many things even for the welfare of the soules departed; and all this alone in the words of the Lords prayer. If any shall dare to expresse the Page  75desires of his heart to God in privat or publick in any words of his own framing hee is a grosse Puritan, who is bold to offer to God his own nonsence rather then the auncient; and well advised prayers of the holy Church.

The Warner is heer also mistaken in his beleefe, that ever the Church of Scotland had any Liturgy, they had and have still some formes for helpe and direction, but no ty ever in any of them by law or practise: they doe not condemne the use of set formes for rules, yea nor for use in beginners, who are thereby endeavouring to attaine a readinesse to pray in their family out of their owne heart in the words which Gods spirit dytes to them; but for Ministers to suppresse their most confortable and usefull gift of prayer by tying their mouth unto such formes which themselves or others have composed wee count it a wrong to the giver, and to him who has re∣ceived the gift, and to the gift, and to the Church for whose use that was bestowed.

In the nixt place the Warner makes the Presbytry injuri∣ous to parents, * by marying their children contrary to their consent, and forcing them to give to the disobedient as large a portion as to any other of their obedient children, and that it is no mervail the Scots should doe these things who have stripped the King the father of their country of his just rights. Ans. By the Warners rule all the actions of a nation where a Presbytry lodges must be charged on the back of the Pres∣bytry. II. The Parliament of Scotland denyes, that they have stripped the King of his just rights; while he was stirred up and keeped on by the praelaticall faction to courses de∣structive to himselfe and all his people; after the shedding of much blood, before the exercise of all parts of his royall go∣vernment, they only required for all satisfaction and secu∣rity to religion and liberties, the grant of some few most e∣quitable demands. The unhappy Praelats from the begin∣ning Page  76of our troubles to this day finding our great demande to runne upon the abolition of their office, did ever presse his Majestie to deny us that satisfaction, and rather then Bishops should be laid aside they have concluded that the King himselfe, and all his family and all his three King∣domes shall perish: yet with all patience the Scotes con∣tinue to supplicat and to offer not only their Kingdome, but their lives and estats and all they have for his Majesties ser∣vice upon the grant of their few and easy demands; but no misery either of King or people can overcome the desperat obstinacy of Praelaticall hearts.

As for parents consent to the mariage of their children, how tenderly it is provided for in Scotland it may be seen at length in the very place cited. It was the Bishops, who by their warrants for clandestine mariages, and dispensations with mariages without warrant have spoiled many parents of their deare children: with such abhominations the Pres∣bytery was never acquainted; all that is alleadged out of that place of our discipline is, when a cruel parent or tutor abuses their authority over their children, and against all reason for their owne evill ends perversely will crosse their children in their lawfull and every way honest desires of mariage; that in that case the Magistrats and Ministers may be intreated by the grieved childe to deale with the unjust parent or tutor, that by their mediation reason may be done. I beleeve this advice is so full of equity, that no Church nor State in the world will complaine of it: but how ever it be, this case is so rare in Scotland that I professe, I never in my life did know, nor did heare of any child before my dayes, who did assay by the authoritative sentence of a Magistrate or Minister to force their parents consent to their marriage. As for the War∣ners addition of the Ministers compelling parents to give portions to their children, that the Church of Scotland haths Page  77any such canon or practise its an impudent lie, but in the place alledged is a passage against the sparing of the life of adul∣terers, contrary to the Law of God: and for the excom∣munication of Adulterers, when by the negligence of the Magistrat their life is spared, this possibly may be the thorne in the side of some which makes them bite and spurne with the heele so furiously against the Authors and lovers of so severe a discipline.

The Presbyteries nixt injury is done to the Lawyers, Sy∣nodes & other Ecclesiastick Courts revoke their Sentences. Ans. No such matter ever was attempted in Scotland; fre∣quent prohibitions have been obtained by curtisan Bishops, against the highest civil judicatories in England, but that e∣ver a Presbitry or Synode in Scotland did so much as assay to impede or repeale the proceedings of any the meanest ci∣vil court, I did never heare it so much as alleaged by our ad∣versaries.

The nixt injury is against all Masters, * and Mistresses of fa∣milies, whom the Presbytery will have to be personally exa∣mined in their knowledge once a yeare, and to be excom∣municat, if grosly and wilfully ignorant. Ans. If it bee a crime for a Minister to call together parcels of his congre ga∣tion to be instructed in the grounds of Religion, that ser∣vants and children and (where ignorance is suspected,) others also may be tryed in their knowledge of the Catechisme; or if it bee a crime that in family-visitations oftener then once a yeare the conversation of every member of the Church may be looked upon; we confesse the Ministers of Scotland were guilty thereof, and so farre as we know the generality of the Episcopall faction may purge themselves by oath of any such imputation: for they had somewhat else to doe, then to be at the pains of instructing or trying the Spirituall State of every sheep in their flocks: we confesse likewise, that it is Page  78both our order and practise to keep off from the holy table, whom wee find groslly and wilfully ignorant: but that ever any for simple ignorance was excommunicat in Scotland, none who knowes us will affirme it.

The last whom he will have to be wronged by the Presby∣tery are the common people, * who must groane under a high commission in every parish, where ignorant governors rule all without Law, medling even in domesticall jarres be twixt man and wife, Master and Servant. Ans. This is but a gybe of revenge for the overthrow of their Tyrannous high Commission-Court, where they were wont to play the Rex at their pleasure above the highest subjects of the three King∣doms, and would never give over that their insolent dome∣neering court, till the King and Parliaments of both King∣domes did agree to throw it down about their eares. The thing he jeares at, is the congregation all Eldership, a judi∣catory which all the Reformed doe enjoy to their great con∣fort as much as Scotland. They are farre from all arbitrary judications; their Lawes are the holy Scripture and acts of superior Church-judicatories, which rule so clearly the ca∣ses of their cognisance, that rarely any difficulty remaines therein: or if it doe, immediatly by reference or appeal it is transmitted to the Classes or Synode. The judges in the lowest Eldership (as wee have said before) are a doszen at least, of the most able and pious who can bee hade in a whole congregation to joine with the Pastors one or more as they fall to be: but the Episcopall way is to have no disci∣pline at all in any congregation: only where there is hope of a fyne, the Bishops officiall will summon before his owne learned and conscientious wisedome, who ever within the whole dioces have fallen into such a fault as hee pleaseth to take notice of: as for domestick infirmities, Presbyterians are most tender to medle therein; they come never before Page  79any judicatory, but both where the fault is great, and the scandal thereof flagrant, and broken out beyond the wals of the family.

These are the great injuries and hurts which the Church discipline has procured to all orders of men in the whole re∣formed world, when Episcopacy has been such an innocent lambe, or rather so holy an angel upon earth, that no harme at all has ever come by it to any mortall creature: a misbe∣leeving Jew will nothing misdoubt this so evident a truth.