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THE VNLAWFVLNES AND DANGER OF LIMITED PRELACIE, OR PERPETVALL PRECIDENCIE IN THE CHVRCH, Briefly diſcovered.

3 Iohn 9.

Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence receiveth us not.

Ambitio non patitur quemquam in ea menſura honorum conquieſcere, quae quondam fuit ejus impudens votum. Seneca de beneficiis. Lib. 2.

Ambition ſuffereth no man to reſt in that meaſure of honours, which ſometimes was his impudent wiſh.

Printed in the yeare 1641.

To the READER.

THE cauſes which to this day have hindred the determination of this unhappy controverſie a­bout Church government in the Reformed Churches, are no other: But firſt, The Iudge­ment of God puniſhing the unthankfulneſſe of this Age, for the incomparable benefit of the Goſpell; and in great wiſdome and loving kindneſſe, trying and exerciſeing his Church, that they who are approved may be made manifeſt. And ſecondly, The corruption of the heart of man, loving preeminence, and preferring himſelfe to his Brethren, which maketh him, although but a Bramble in compariſon of the Olive-tree, the Figge-tree and the Vine, to ſay and to make others to ſpeake in the eares of men, Whether is better for you, either that all the Sons of Jerubbaal (which are threeſcore and ten perſons) reigne over you, or that one reigne over you? and up­on this followeth the blindneſſe and error of the minde, in depending more upon the prejudice of cuſtome and conſtitu­tions of men then upon the judgement of Scripture to be be­leeved for it ſelfe. Yet hath the Lord his owne appointed time for ending of Controverſies; and if the period of this debate be now approaching (as it appeareth to him who looketh with obſervation to the working of God, the inſo­lencie of the Prelates, and the Prayers and deſires of the people) a few of the many conſiderations preſſed in former times will, by the bleſsing of God, prove ſufficient and effectuall for determination. They who are acquainted with the Reformation here, and in other Nations, will not much mervell, when the Winter is paſt, and the ſpring time commeth; That with the ſweet breathings of Zephy­rus, at ſometimes there be whirlewinds and contrary blaſts; and when the Flowers appeare upon the earth, that the weeds alſo ſet up their heads. But the diligent hand of the faithfull Labourers, will purge the Vine-yard of theſe noy­ſome Herbs, which have taken rooting in the time of Pre­lacy. That this Prelacy may be removed root and branch, and the Miniſtery of Chriſt be eſtabliſhed in purity and power, is the purpoſe of this paper; and the Prayer of the writer for the welfare of Sion.

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THE VNLAVVFVLNESSE AND DANGER OF A LIMI­ted PRELACIE: Or perpetuall preſidencie in the Church briefely diſcovered.

IN the Church of Chriſt,Offices in this Church which are of men, ſup­poſed to be un­lawfull. It may and ought to be taken for a Suppoſition, and as a principle undeniable, that all the Offices, and Vocations, in the Houſe of God, muſt be of God, and not of Men; and that ſuch as are of Men and not of God, are unlaw­full: for this was preſuppoſed by Chriſt himſelfe, in his diſpute with the Phariſees; the Baptiſme of Iohn whence was it, from heaven or of men? Matth. 21.25. Marke 11.17. Luke 20.1. By the Phariſees them­ſelves in the ſame places. By the Apoſtle, Gallat. 1.1. Not of men, neither by men: but by Ieſus Chriſt, and God the Father. Againe, Hebr. 5.5. No man taketh this honour unto himſelfe, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. And by theſe who are our adverſaries in this cauſe, both while they diſput againſt the univer­ſall Epiſcopacy of the Pope, and uſe the words of Tertullian, which may be throwne backe upon them­ſelves, Quieſtis? quomodo et unde veniſtis? quid in meo agitis nomine? and while they diſpute againſt us for the Dioceſan Biſhop, and will prove Epiſcopacy, by divine right, knowing that the aſſertion of the prin­ciall2 Office and Calling in the Church, meerly up­on humane right, were a challenge of the Scriptures, that they are not perfect; and an exalting of the wiſdome of Men above the wiſdome of Chriſt: al­though Man can no more make the Office, nor hee can give the Grace; and from Chriſt both the Inſtitu­tion of the Office, and the bleſſing of the Officers, muſt come. It is therefore ſuppoſed to be no leſſe unlaw­full to adde an Office to divine Inſtitutions, then it is unlawfull to take away an Office warranted by divine Inſtitution; the one making it maymed. We are forbidden praecepto negativo to preſume to governe the Church by humane wiſdome: Wee are commanded Praecepto affirmativo, to follow the rule of divine wiſ­dome: And we are warranted praecepto comparativo, ra­ther to follow Chriſt them Antichriſt; for ſo muſt we ſpeak, becauſe it cannot be denyed by any, but ſuch as deny the Pope to be Antichriſt.

This then being for a principle preſuppoſed, if we will not ſhut our eyes againſt the light, and involve our ſelves in ſubtilties, which the wit of Man ſet on worke by his owne ambition, and the love of preemi­nence, hath invented againſt the plaine truth of Scrip­ture obvious to every one who deſireth to know, The Office of a Biſhop, as he is conceived to be a Paſtor above other Paſtors: whether in power, or in degree and dignitie, with be found in it ſelfe, and not onely in reſpect of the abuſe of his power, or of his degree and dignity, to be unlawfull.

The Office of a Prelate is not found in Scripture.Becauſe the Scripture intending to expreſſe the Offices and Officers of the Church, and ſpeaking ſo often of them and of their Gifts and Duties; and3 that not upon occation, but of ſet purpoſe, as Rom. 12.2. Cor. 12. Eph. 4, doth neither expreſſe, nor imply any ſuch Biſhop: Shall we ſuffer our ſelves to thinke that the Apoſtles, ſo well acquainted with the will of Chriſt;(a)(a)Acts 1.3. ſo fully taught of things pertaining to the Kingdome of God, and ſo faithfull in the delive­ring his Commandements, that the Officers may know how to behave themſelves in the Houſe of God, and keep themſelves pure:(b)(b)1 Tim. 3.15. and in charging them in the ſight of God to keepe his Commande­ments without ſpot,(c)(c)1. Tim. 5.21. 1 Tim. 6.13.14. would not in ſome one place or other diſtinctly and poſitively ſpeake of the office, gifts, priority or power of ſuch a Biſhop? Have they been ſo carefull in expreſſing the office, gifts and duty of the meaneſt Officers(d)(d)Act. 6. and did they ſpeake no­thing of the greateſt? would they have neglected the weightyer matters of the Law of Chriſt? no ſurely, theſe they would have done, and not have left the other undone.

All the Officers of the New Teſtament both or­dinary, and extraordinary,No difference in Scripture betweene a Paſtor and a Biſhop. are deſigned and diſtin­guiſhed by their names, or Compellations, as Apo­ſtles, Evangeliſts, Presbyters, Deacons. The extraordi­nary and ſuperiour, have upon good reaſon, the names of the ordinary, and inferiour common unto them, as the Apoſtles are called(e)(e)1. Pet. 5.1. Elders. But this is not reciprocall, for the ordinary and inferiour are never called, by the names of the extraordinary and ſuperiour: the Deacon is not called an Elder, nor the Paſtor by the name of the Apoſtle, or Evange­list. It is true that Barnabas is called an Apoſtle(f)(f)Acts 14.4. and 14. becauſe he was an Apoſtle of Chriſt as Paul was. Titus and others(g)(g)2 Co. 8 13. and Epaphroditus(h)(h)Phil. 8.23. are onely called Apoſtles or Meſſengers of the Church. 4Whence it muſt follow, that the Office of a Biſhop is not an Office ſuperiour to the Office of a Paſtor, ſince the name Biſhop is common to the Paſtor; and that the Office of a Biſhop, and the Office of a Paſtor, are not different, but one and the ſame office. Since the names are altogether common in all the places of the New Teſtament. (i)(i)Acts 20.28. Phil 1.1. 1 Tim. 3.2. 1 Pet. 5.1.And the Syriacke Inter­preter hath tranſlated the one by the other. (k)(k)Tit. 1.7What reaſon can there be, while the Officers are diſtingui­ſhed by their names, and the names of Biſhop and Pa­ſtor are common, but that the Office of the Biſhop and Elder is one and the ſame Office; the one name ſigni­fying, ſapientiae maturitatem, and the other Induſtriam curae Paſtoralis, ſaith Beda.

No Biſhop of Biſhops, or of Paſtors in Scripture.We finde, that in the Miniſtery of the New Teſta­ment there is a comely, beautifull, and Divine Order: one kinde of Miniſters both ordinary and extraor­dinary, being placed in degree and dignity before another, as the Apoſtles before all other Miniſters, the Paſtor before the Elder, and Deacon: But we doe not finde in Miniſters of the ſame kind, that one hath majority of power, over others, or priority of de­gree and dignity before others, except upon the morall reſpect of age, zeale, gifts, &c. No Apoſtle is in degree above other Apoſtles, no Evangeliſt above other Evangeliſts, nor Elder above other Elders, no Deacon above other Deacons: upon what ground then from Scripture? can wee beleeve or conceive that one Paſtor is in degree ſuperiour to other Pa­ſtors, or that, in all other ſorts of Miniſters, ordinary and extraordinary, there's all be a parity in their owne kind, and onely in the Office of Paſtors, an ine­quality.

The whole power, and all the parts of the Mini­ſtrie5 which commonly are expreſſed,Every Paſtor hath power of ordination and Juriſdiction. by the pow­er of Order and Juriſdiction, are in Scripture made common to the Paſtor and the Biſhop; for the Pa­ſtor hath power to Preach the Word, and mini­ſter the Sacraments: As one of the Presbyterie hee hath power to lay on hands, and ordaine Mini­ſters,(l)(l)1 Tim. 4.14. and hath not onely the Keyes of the in­ward and private Court of Conſcience, but hath al­ſo committed unto him and his fellow Presbyters, the Keyes of the outward and publique Court of Eccleſiaſticall juriſdiction and cenſure, and both wayes to bind and looſe in: when the Apoſtles firſt planted the Chriſtian Churches, and when they were to depart and were neare unto death, they re­commended the care of theſe duties, in all the Chruches unto the particular Paſtors, or Biſhops. (m)(m)Act. 15.6. Act. 16.4 Act. 20 28,9. 1 Cor. 5. 1 Cor 14.32 40. 1 Th. 5.12. Tit. 1.9. 1. Tim. 5.12. Heb. 13.17.And therefore the Paſtor, and Biſhop are in Scripture, one and the ſame in power and degree, neither hath the Biſhop any degree, or power, order or Juriſdiction, but that which hee arrogateth to himſelfe, for the honour of his Prieſthood, and for ſetting up his Monarchicall power, againſt the word of God, nor ought any ſuch power bee given him. A point which is ſtrongly proved by our Divines, againſt Papiſts and Prelates.

Eccleſiaſticall power was not committed by Chriſt to any one but to many,Power eccleſi­aſticall, not gi­ven to one, but to many. It is not ſaid, tell the Biſhop or any one of the Church, but tell the Church,(n)(n)Mat. 18.17. nor was it exerciſed and acted by any one of the Apoſtles alone, for Paul not a lone, but with a Presbyterie, laid hands upon(o)(o)1 Tim. 4.14. Timothy, and the Apoſtles, not alone, but joyning with the Elders,(p)(p)Act. 15. did determine controverſies, and di­ſcerne cenſures, the ſame alſo was the practice of the Apoſtolicke Churches at Corinth, Theſſalonica,6 and in Aſia. In all which the Diſcipline of the Church, was exerciſed by many, and not by any one. And therefore to exalt a Biſhop to any part of his power or any degree of Eminence, above his Brethren for exerciſing this power, is againſt the Inſtitution of Chriſt, and contrary to the pra­ctice and patterne of the Apoſtles and Apoſtolicke Churches.

All majority forbidden the Officers.All majority and preheminence in this kinde, is expreſly forbidden by Chriſt, the Kings of the Nationas, &c.(q)(q)Luke 22, 25. according to this the Apoſtle Peter, diſclaimeth not pride in majority, but majority it ſelfe(r)(r)1 Pet. 5.1. Non eſt dictum ſola humilitate ſed veritate ſaith Bernard, Non〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉ſed〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉prohibet Chriſtus, non modum rei, ſed rem ipſam, ſay others. O­ther wayes, that which Tacitus writeth of Otho, might have beene applied to them, Omnia ſervili­tr pro dominatione; and the temptation of the Diſci­ples was not tyranny, but ſuperiority, Chriſt ſpea­keth to them ſometimes of Thrones of glory, in the Church Triumphant, never of any throne of Dig­nity in the Church Militant: If any ſuch throne whether of Eccleſiaſticall authority or perpetuall preſidence, had beene lawfull, would hee not at ſometimes have taught them, what it was, and with what cautions and Limitations they were to poſ­ſeſſe it, as that you ſhall have precedency of de­gree,Precepts in the Goſpell to be interpreted ac­cording to the rules of the Precepts of the law. but not of power; of dignity, but not of autho­rity.

Theſe and the like argments Militant, not onely againſt the exorbitancy of Prelates, but againſt the Prelacy of the Miniſters of Ieſus Christs, and if wee will as indeed muſt underſtand the commande­ments of Chriſt in the Goſpell,(ſs)(ſs)Mat. 5.19〈◊〉, 27, 33, 43. according to the7 rules agreed upon, in the interpretation of the pre­cepts of the Law, we muſt confeſſe that not onely the Tyranny, the Pride, the Pompe, the Priority and power of Lord Biſhops, but all the parts, all the de­grees, meanes, cauſes, Incentives, occaſions, pro­vocations, beginnings and appearances of theſe evils are forbidden, and that we are commanded to ſtop the way with thornes,(t)(t)Hoſ. 2.6. leaſt they returne to their former lovers, and to hide all their earerings, that they be not found againe. (u)(u)Gen. 35.4.

Rule of refor­mation from the prime times.If the reformation of Epiſcopacy be intended, we muſt not take our rule, and patterne, from ancient and Primitive times, but from the firſt times, and from the very beginning, as Chriſt in the matter of divorcement, did not ſpeake of Davids, or Abrahams, or Lamech's times, but of Adams, ſaying, but from the beginning it was not ſo, ſo muſt we in the mat­ter of this divorcement aſcend, not to the times of Auguſtine or Cyprian, or Ignatius; but to the times of Chriſt, and the Apoſtles, and to the firſt Inſtitution of the Miniſterie, at the beginning, and ſo much the more, becauſe many of the Fathers, did unwittingly bring forth that Antichriſt, which was conceived in the time of the Apoſtles, and therefore are incompe­tent Judges in the queſtion of Hierarchie, and upon the other part, the lights of the Chriſtian Church, at and ſince the beginning of Reformation have di­ſcovered many ſecrets, concerning the Antichriſt and his Hierarchie, which were not knowne to for­mer ages, and have ſhewed us, that at the beginning there was no kinde of difference of a Biſhop, from a Presbyter. The way of defection is broad and eaſie, of which we have domeſtick examples. In this Iland in8 fewer yeeres the Church of Scotland ſuffered a great Eclipſe, in fewer yeers ours was greater, and darke­neſſe had covered the Land, if the Lord had not pre­vented us.

Suppoſe Epiſcopacie were ſhaven and ſtript na­ked of all externall,Limited Pre­lacy unlawfull and heterogeneall pompe, and power, and of the internall power of ſole ordination and juriſdiction, ſuppoſe nothing were left unto the Biſhops, but a perpertuall preſidence in Church aſſem­blies, and Synodes, Suppoſe him to be choſen by the Clergie, and to be ſubject to their cenſure, as other Miniſters, and ſuppoſe all the cautions, and limita­tions, that can be deviſed be put upon him, to keep him within his bounds from exorbitancie, yet ſtill is he ſuch a plant, as God never planted, rooted not in Scripture, but in the Earth, and bringing forth ſuch fruites, as can neither bee acceptable to God nor profitable to men; This degree and primacie of order, by which hee is lifted up above his bre­thren, cannot bee ſeparated from ſome primacy of power, and when it meeteth with ambition, and op­portunitie of advancement through the favour of Princes, or the neglect of another time, whether careleſſe or more carefull about other matters, it ſhall gather ſtrength againe, and regaine what it now looſeth, by the raſour of Reformation, ſhall of a Conſull make a dictator, and pull downe the houſe which it made even now to ſhake. Election doth nor hinder his power to be Epiſcopall, for not onely inferiour Biſhops are choſen by their Chapters, but the Pope alſo by his conclave of Cardinals, neither will this hinder his power to be Epiſcopall, becauſe it is under a Synod, for the beſt of the Papiſts hold9 that the Pope ſubject to an oecumenicall Councell.

Woefull Experience hath taught, that from this perpetuall preſidence, and Primacy of order,Prelacy and Popery inſe­parable. as the firſt ſtep of the ladder, Antichriſt hath mounted up, to the Primacy of power, to Archiepiſcopall digni­tie, to be a Patriarch, and at laſt to be univerſall Bi­ſhop and Antichriſt, and ſhall we now after the my­ſtery of iniquitie is made manifeſt, allow him in this land, the firſt ſtep of the Ladder, eſtabliſh him there­by, and not turne him quite off, and overturne the ladder it ſelfe? this were a dangerous recidive, this were twiſe to make ſhipwracke, and the ſecond be­cauſe wilfull, worſe then the firſt, where before wee were patients, now to be agents in ſo great an evill, and to make that which was before, againſt our will, our evill of paine, now by our wilfull errour to be our evill of ſinner: were it not better, by the totall ruine of Epiſcopacie to give example, to other Churches, whoſe eyes are upon us, by doing the like, to pull downe the Pope? to put him out of hope to riſe againe in this Church, and to make all Papiſts deſpaire to regaine this Kingdome to the Roman re­ligion? it being their owne declaration, that were all England once brought to approve of Biſhops, it were eaſie to reduce it to the Church of Rome. (a)(a)Cutzen pol, Li, 2. c. 18. Limitation of Prelacy will proue weake, by the example of the Church of Scotland.

All bonds and limitations, although many, al­though ſtrong, although made never ſo wiſely, will prove but weake to keep them in order, and beare downe their aſpiring Ambition, which our neighbour Church of Scotland, for the greater part, did not be­leeve at firſt: and which we could hardly be induced to beleeve now, were wee not taught by their ex­ample:10 for in the yeere one thouſand ſixe hundred, the Church of Scotland being met in a General Aſ­ſembly at Montroſe, theſe cautions and limits were agreed upon; the Kings Majeſty conſenting: 1. That the Miniſter choſen to this place ſhall not be called Biſhop, but Commiſſioner of ſuch a place. 2. That hee ſhall neither propound to the Parliament any thing in name of the Church, without their expreſſe warrant and direction; nor ſhall he keepe ſilence, or conſent to any thing prejudiciall to the weale and liberty of the Church, under the paine of depoſiti­on. 3. Vnder the paine of Infamy and Excommu­nication, he ſhall at every Aſſembly give accompt of the diſcharging of his Commiſſion, and ſhall ſub­mit himſelfe to their Cenſure, and ſtand to their de­termination whatſoever, without appellation. 4. He ſhall content himſelfe with that part of the Be­nefice which ſhall be aſſigned him, not prejudging any of the Miniſters in their livings. 5. He ſhall not dilapidate his benefice. 6. He is bound as any other Miniſter to attend his particular Congregation, and ſhall be ſubject to the tryall and cenſure of his owne Presbitery and Provinciall aſſembly. 7. Hee ſhall neither uſurp nor claim to himſelfe any power of ju­riſdiction in any point of Church government, more then any other Miniſter. 8. In Presbiteries, Provin­ciall and generall aſſemblies, he ſhall behave himſelf in all things, and be ſubject to their cenſuring, as any of the Brethren of the Presbitery. 9. At his admiſſi­on to his Office, he ſhall ſwear and ſubſcribe to fulfill all theſe points, under the paines foreſaid, otherwiſe not to be admitted. 10. In caſe he ſhall be depoſed, he ſhall no more voyce in Parliament, nor injoy his Benefice. 11. He ſhall not have voyce in the Gene­rall11 Aſſembly, unleſſe he be authoriſed with Com­miſſion from his own Presbytery. 12. Crimen ambit••, ſhall be a ſufficient cauſe of deprivation. 13. The Generall Aſſembly, which the adviſe of the Synod, ſhall have power of his nomination or recommen­dation. 14. He ſhall lay down his Commiſſion annu­atim, at the foot of the Generall Aſſembly to be continued or changed, as the Generall Aſſembly with his Majeſties conſent, ſhall think fit. 15. Other cautions to be made, as the Church ſhall ſinde occa­ſion. The godly and ſincere Miniſters diſliked this courſe altogether, and ſome did proteſt againſt it: but others loving preheminence above their Bre­thren, and hunting after fatter Benefices did con­ſent themſelves, and perſwaded others to conſent unto it, but did aftewards breake all theſe bonds, and finding themſelves unable to give account, according to the Councell given to Perecles, they procured that there ſhould bee no free Generall Aſſemblies, leſt they ſhould be called to account, and when they were challenged of their perjury, and perfidious dealing, their Printed Apologie de­clared their perfidie to be double,Refut. libel, de regim Eccleſ. Scotae pag. 89. cum viderit breviz in quibus vo­luntatur in­certa, & an­cipitia repe­ter pedem, nec vertet terga ſed ſen­ſim recedit, in tutum. Senec. Epiſt. 22. which wee will expreſſe in their owne words, becauſe they may bee uſefull at thit time, and teach us what may bee ex­pected from their fellowes: Conditiones aliae protem­pore mag is quo contentioſis rixandi anſa praeriperetur, quàm animo in perpetuum obſervandi acceptae. What then may be hoped for in this Land, were people have beene inured to this yoke. Prelates have beene in poſſeſſion, the Court is near to ſhire upon them, and where there be no Nationall Aſſemblies, but ſuch Provinciall Aſſemblies, where theſe new Bi­ſhops ſhalbe Preſidents; or if National Aſſemblies12 ſhall be appointed, ſhall they not either be fordid­den to meet, or ſhall they not be overruled by theſe Biſhops, that in a ſhort time, they ſhall not only re­cover their wonted power and pompe, by the con­ſent of the Aſſemblies, and thus, be come deeply rooted, and with greater difficulty removable then before, but ſhall alſo double their tyranny, manet alta mente repoſtum, and thus our laſt ſtate ſhall be worſe then the firſt.

This perpetuall preſident,Prelacy not the cure, but the cauſe of Shiſ­me. or moderate Prelate which was at firſt, and is now pretended to be a remedy againſt Schiſme, hath not only proved a remedy worſe then the diſeaſe, by making way to the greateſs Biſhop, the Antichriſt, but likewiſe doth foment and increaſe the diſeaſe it ſelfe of Schiſme and Diviſion: for beſide that it ſhall maintaine a ſhamefull Schiſme againſt all the Reformed Chur­ches, eſpecially againſt the neighbour Church of Scotland, which will cauſe continuall jealouſies, and heart-burning betwixt the two Nations, if we ſhall allow and eſtabliſh Epiſcopacy, which we did be­fore but tolerate, and they have found and judged upon good reaſons to be intolerable, It ſhall rent the bowels of the Church and Kingdome within it ſelfe; the Parliament ſhalbe divided, ſome for it, and others againſt it; and of theſe who ſhall be for it; there ſhalbe ſubdiviſions, ſome for one limitati­on, and ſome for another: after the Parliaments Authority ſhalbe for it; the body of the Kingdome, at leaſt the godly and Religious ſhalbe againſt it. Whence ſhall ariſe almoſt in every Pariſh no ſmall debate and contention, and many ſorrows and diſ­contents, inſtead of that univerſall joy which is ex­pected through the whole kingdome. The Miniſters,13 and whole Clergie ſhall be rent aſunder, is their Ser­mons, Lectures, and Polemick writings and Pam­phlets; ſome defending the old Epiſcopacie, ſome the new; and the ſounder part oppugning both, and ſtill preſſing a further Reformation; ſome gaping for Prelacies, and getting them; others enraged for want of them; a third ſort ſtill living in hope of preferment; and the remnant oppoſing all this com­petion, and emulation. And although this Prelacie were appointed, and received with generall conſent of Parliament, Paſtors and People (which no man will expect, who is not a ſtranger in this Church and Kingdome) yet who can hope that this Tree ſhall bring forth the fruits of truth and peace in this Land, at this time, which it never produced in any time or place ſince the beginning? There can be no peace to the Body, till the bad humour now ſtirred be purged out; and when this Ionah is caſt into the Sea, then ſhall there be a calme. The worke alſo ſhall be more eaſie, and the labour much leſſe in rooting up the Tree, then in lopping the branches, which will take a long time, and much debate and deliberation.

In Chriſtian Policie,Prelacy againſt both Chriſtian and common policy. that Government of the Church is moſt uſefull for Kings, and Kingdomes which is beſt warranted by the Word of God, by whom Kings reigne and Kingdomes are eſtabliſhed Religion, and Righteouſneſſe are the Pillars, which God hath made for upholding his Majeſties throne. Prelacie and Ceremonies are invented and framed by the wiſdome of Man, for ſetting up, and ſupporting the Popes Monarchie; no Ceremony, no Prelat, no Prelat no Pope. 2. Which ſerveth moſt to the pre­ſervation of pietic, righteouſneſſe, and ſobriety, againſt14 their contraries, which where they reigne as they doe alwayes where Prelates have place, and power, are the certaine cauſes of many calamities and judgements, and of the changes and periods of States, Kingdomes, and Families. 3. Which maketh the face of the Church and Religion in a Kingdome moſt beautifull and glo­rious, not with Prelaticall pompe and ſplendor, like the Kings of the Nations, but with ſound faith, a pure worſhip, and holy life: And 4. Which conduceth moſt for truth and peace againſt Hereſie and Schiſme: for which effect, Church Aſſemblies of Miniſters, equall in order and degree, meeting in Presbyteries, Provinciall and Nationall Aſſemblies, are power­full meanes; as the experience of all the Reformed Churches hath taught us, and againſt which Prelacie hath a naturall antipathie, it being the nature there­of to love greatneſſe, and to grow bigge by the diviſi­on of the Church: and therefore the Prelacie will beare with all Religions, provided they be not Anti-epiſcopall, will not onely ſuffer Hereſies and diviſi­ons to ariſe and grow, but will foment them, that the parties may depend upon him as their Judge,Contzen. polit. Lib. c. 19. and that the thoughts of others may be drawne from his Mitre to other matters.

Againe, in common policie, that Governement of the Prelates ſhould be ſhunned, becauſe he is a ſuper­fluous and unprofitable member, the Sonne of God having provided for all the neceſſities of the Church by Officers of his owne appointment. Shall that be eſteemed to be good policie in the Church, which no wiſe man would judge to be good aeconomic in his owne houſe, no Magiſtrate would admit in his owne charge? ſhall Servants or ſubjects, appoint one15 to rule over them at their owne pleaſures; or ſhall we thinke that a Miniſter hath abilities for all the parts of his function, and ſhall not be able to pre­ſide in an Aſſembly, or is there none in the aſſembly fit to be preſident but one? 2. becauſe the Prelate is an unprofitable burden, requiring in his greateſt moderation a revenue more then ordinary, and ſerveth for no good uſe, neither to Church, King, nor Countrey. 3. Becauſe the Prelate, by his power, with Prince and Peere, and by his uſurpa­tion and tyranny over the People, divideth be­twixt the Rulers and the people, and maketh the Civill government, which without him would bee light and eaſie, to be heavie, and grievous to the people. 4. Becauſe a Paſtor no ſooner becommeth a Prelate, but he beginneth to howle with the Wolves, although he looke like a Shepheard; he turneth his backe upon his Paſtorall charge, or looketh downe upon it, and his fellow Brethren, as below him, and ſetteth his face toward the world, hoping by time to be looſed of his bands, and to become one of the greateſt Officers of eſtate, and blowing the bellowes of diviſion betwixt the King and his Nobles, and betwixt the King and the Church, that his ſervice­ableneſſe may appeare the more, and hee may bee warmed by the fire which hee hath kindled him­ſelfe. They will now accept of Limitation, and it may be ſome of them call for it. But did any of them ſpeak of late againſt the exorbitancy of their Bre­thren, or will they heare of moderation afterward? If we will lay aſide prejudices, we may clearly per­ceive that the Church, perfect in Officers, may be governed without Prelates, with more honour to God, with more love and reſpect to Authority at16 home and abroad, with greater riches and glory to the Crowne, with more contentment to the people, greater peace amongſt our ſelves, and greater terror to all our enemies.

The different uſe of the names of Pa­ſtor and Pre­late, dange­rous.Although we doe not contend about words, yet the appropriation and Monopoly of names in mat­ters of this nature, hath in it more realty then at firſt. We do obſerve there is no inequality, nor dif­ference of Office, power, or degree, betwext a Paſtor and a Biſhop. It is againſt reaſon to call on Paſtor by the name of a Presbyter or Miniſter, and another by the name of a Biſhop: the differences of the names doth beget conceptions of different degrees and Offices, doth procure worldly reſpect; and in proceſſe of time, anthority to one Presbyter above another, and ſo maketh way to Epiſcopall Monar­chie, is alreadily miſtaken through ignorance or in­advertency, as implying a relation, not to a parti­cular flocke, but to other Paſtors, and a whole Dio­ceſſe, and hath been in the Church of Scotland dan­gerouſly miſapplyed by many, conceiving the name of Biſhop, which onely deſigned the benefice, to be the name of the Office, and thereby preſuming that the Office of a Biſhop ſtill remained there, which was alſo our errour concerning the government of that Church, till we were better informed of late: againſt this no better remedy then that the thing being aboliſhed, the name be no more appropria­ted.

When the time of perſwaſion cometh, a few arguments are sufficient.Neither doe we intend, nor can any man expect, nor doe the weighty affaires of thoſe, whom this matter moſt concerneth, ſuffer any large debate about it, volumnes are ſtuffed with arguments on both ſides, conſcience of dutie in this Article of17 time, obſervation of providence, courage for the cauſe of God, and contempt of the world, will helpe our reſolution againſt the ſubtilties, ſophiſtications and wranglings of humane wit, which will no more receive ſatisfaction, in this queſtion of the regall office of Chirſt, nor the Papiſts will ſuffer themſelves to be ſilenced, in other controverſies, about this or his other offices. When the appointed time cometh of the ending of long laſting debates, it is not unlike unto the riſing of the Sunne after a long Winter night, and the eyes to ſee, are more uſefull, then ar­guments to perſwade, the wayes of god are made knowne, and darkneſſe can no more prevaile againſt the light, in no Theme have colours and praetexts beene more multiplyed, then in this of Prelacie, the ambition and avarice of the heart of man quickning his ſpirits, and giving life to his braines, for his owne miſerable ends, but to an indifferent eye, and a minde unpartially diſpoſed and not intereſſed, they ſuddenly diſappeare and evaniſh: nothing is more pretended then antiquity, although they can ſay with Cyprian, conſuetudinem veritate majorem non eſſe, although diſputing for their dignitie, they put the purple robe of authority upon the Fathers, yet when the Papiſts diſpute againſt them by this authoritie, they quickly put it off againe, and although they boaſt of the Fathers, and will prove the ſuperioritie of Biſhops, from ſeverall forcible arguments out of antiquity, yet finde they diſappointment and empti­neſſe, where they deſire moſt to abound, for nothing in all this cauſe is more preſſed, by the ſtrongeſt a­mongſt them, then that the Angels of the Churches of Aſia, were Biſhops like unto themſelves, and yet18 not want of will in them, and diligence in read­ing of the Fathers, but the Fathers (whom they would have to pronounce not〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. O childe, but〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, O ſonne of lupiter) writing on the place, are mute, and doe faile them, turning their gloſſes another way, but this and all other their pretences are anſwered, and the whole matter of true Church governement, treated at large many yeeres agoe, without a word of reply from the Biſhops or their Clergie, who yet try all Authors, if they can finde ſo much as one ſentence, even in dedicatorie Epiſtles (which uſe to be more encomiaſtick then dogmati­call) to ſpeak for them.

It hath beene the greateſt praiſe of civill powers, that they have exceeded all who went before them in the reformation of religion:Motives to a full reforma­tion. Aſa tooke away Idola­trie, but Iehosaphat removed the high places alſo, Hezekiah did more, he brake the brazen ſerpent, but Ioſiah deſtroyed the Idole Temples alſo, who there­fore hath this reſtimony to the end of the world, that like unto him there was no King before him, that turn­ed to the Lord with all his heart, with all his ſoule, and with all his might: neither is this a diſpraiſe to Re­ligious Princes going before, who according to their meaſure of knowledge, and as the times would ſuffer, did reforme Religion; nor a diſgracing, but rather a promoting and perfecting of the worke of Refor­mation begun by them. The matters of the King­dome of Chriſt, the head and Monarch of his Church are in hand, in which, as in our own matters we have no power to diſpenſe, or to decline to the right hand or to the left; and to reſt in a lukewarmneſſe or Samaritaniſme, which may make our condition19 afterward to be reſtleſſe, and provoke the Lord to make us a reproach. The changes, and revolutions which we heare of in other Kingdomes, are docu­ments, that the divine Providence is about ſome great worke, in which we are now called to act our part, in the ſight of men and Angels. Non tantum praeſentis ſed vigilantis eſt, occaſioneus obſervare pro­perantem, Senec, Epiſt. 22The opportunity of Re­formation is rare and ſingular, and cannot be paral­lel'd in any Hiſtory, and therefore to be uſed in all re­verence, with heavenly prudence, and abſtractneſſe of ſpirit, from earthly conſiderations. We are zealous of our owne liberties, let us be more zealous of the li­berties of the Kingdome of Chriſt, that both we our ſelves, and the Poſterity may have a well grounded and bleſſed Peace.

FINIS.

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TextThe vnlavvfulnes and danger of limited prelacie, or Perpetuall precidencie in the Church, briefly discovered.
AuthorHenderson, Alexander, 1583?-1646..
Extent Approx. 40 KB of XML-encoded text transcribed from 12 1-bit group-IV TIFF page images.
Edition1641
SeriesEarly English books online.
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Bibliographic informationThe vnlavvfulnes and danger of limited prelacie, or Perpetuall precidencie in the Church, briefly discovered. Henderson, Alexander, 1583?-1646.. [4], 19, [1] p. s.n.],[London :Printed in the yeare 1641.. (Attributed to Alexander Henderson.) (Place of publication from Wing.) (Annotation on Thomason copy: "Mr Rob:. Blair or Henderson".) (Reproduction of the original in the British Library.)
Languageeng
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  • Episcopacy -- Early works to 1800.
  • Church polity -- Early works to 1800.

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