THE Argument of this discourse be- ing Religion, to whom could it be more fitly presen- ted, than to your Grace, having (under his most excellent Ma jesty) worthily the chiefe care hereof. Besides the Author of this worke, whilest he lived, so much honoured your sincereandπ2vThe Epistle Dedicatory. and religious courses in mana- ging the publique affaires of your eminent place, that had he thought of the publishing thereof, no doubt but he would have presumed to gaine some lustre unto it from your graci- ous patronage. Succeeding him in his temporall blessings, I doe endeavour to succeed him in his vertues, dutifull affection towards your grace, and pray- ers to the Almighty, for the good of his Church, to in crease daily your honours and happinesse.
SVch as are delighted with profound specula- tions, and the diligent searching out of hid- den verities, they have not all the same projects, but their various cogitations are usually fixed upon divers ends. Some (sayth a devout Father) know that they may be knowne, and this is vanity: some know, onely that they may know, and this is curiosity: others know to edifie, and this is charity. How distastefull the vanity of the first sort was unto the learned, and judicious Author of this ensuing discourse, his private and retyred course of life, his setled, and constant unwillingnesse, whilest he en- joyed his earthly tabernacle, to expose any of his accurate labours to the publique view of the world, may sufficiently testifie: and yet to avoyd the fruitlesse curiosity of the se- cond ranke he was ever most ready in private either by con- ference, or writing to instruct others repayring unto him, if they were desirous of his resolution in any doubtfull points of learning within the ample circuit of his deepe apprehen- sion.*From*vA Preface to the Reader.
From this his modest, and humble charity (vertues which rarely cohabite with the swelling windenesse of much knowledge) issued this spisse and dense, yet polished; this copious, yet concise; this concise yet cleare and perspi- cuous Treatise of the variety of Languages and religions through the chiefe regions of the world. aPræfac. in parah. in Epist. ad Koin.Erasmus gi- ving the reason why S. Paul writeth to the Romans in the Greeke, sayth it was the large extent then of this language, that his instructions might more generally be understood; to make the truth of Erasmus assertion more evident, he was intreated to poynt out particularly the amplenesse, and multitude of such regions, wherein this learned tongue was anciently most vulgar. bIn Mi- thrid. c Cō- ment, in l 19. & civit. cap. 7,6. Evorra in Psal. 138, & Tractat. 7. in Ioan.Ges- ner, and Vives affirming that the Spanish, Italian, and French tongues are but the Latine depraved and corrupted by the inundation of the Gothes, and Vandals over the Southerne parts of Europe, and Saint Augustine intima- ting that the Latine was commonly spoken in some parts of the skirts of Africke, which border upon the Me- diterrane sea; it was demanded of him, whether in the forenamed Countries about the more ancient times of the primitive Church, the Latine was the common lan- guage, and whether the decay of it, was the originall of the vulgar tongues used by their Inhabitants in after a- ges.
And forasmuch as Guido Fabritius doth clearely de- monstrate the vulgar tongue of Iury in the dayes of our blessed Saviours pilgrimage here upon earth to be the Syriacke, which (saythePræf. ad Syriacum Test. Præfa ad Gram. Sy- ria Masius) grew out of the mixture of the ancient Chaldee, and Hebrew, and was so different from the later, that the one could not be understood by the other: he was questioned in which ofthese*2rA Preface to the Reader.
these languages the Hebrew or Syriacke the publique reading of the sacred Scriptures in those times were per- formed.
Lastly, whereas there are many Christians in Greece, Asia, Moscovia, Ægypt, and Æthiopia, it was desired of him that he would more distinctly set downe the Coun- tries wherein they lived, their superiours to whom they are subject, and their differences from the Roman Church, that it might more manifestly appeare, how idle are the common vaunts amongst the ignorant, of her amplitude, as though all the Christian world save a few Protestants shut up in some obscure corner of Europe, professeth the same fayth she embraceth and were within the terri- tories of her Iurisdiction. The falsehood of which glori ous boastings are in part most lively discovered in this learned Tractate, describing the diverse conditions of Christians in the East, North and Southerne Regions of the earth which have no subordination unto the Papall Hierarchie, but not in the West, where Protestants have chiefely their abode; and therefore to make it a more com- pleate worke, will not be amisse compendiously to declare their multitudes, amplenesse, and severall habitations in this Europæan world.
To begin with the remotest parts heereof Eastward in the Kingdome of Polonia, as it is this present, confi- ning on the west at the Rivers of Warta, and Odera with the Marchasates of Silesia and Brandeburge, on the East at the Rivers of Nieper and Bresnia with Mos- covia, on the South at the River of Niester with Mol- davia, at thegNe com- memorem ditionis am- plitudinem (inquit E- rasmus de Regno Po- Loniæ lo- quens) Complectē- tis Russos e- tiam Albos. & Lituanos quibus om- bibus Iatis- sime imper. a vistula flu- mine ad Tauricam Cherone- sum, a mari Balthico ad Carpathum montem Sigismun- dus Rex. Eras. epist. ad Polo. Se- cretar. præf expo. in o- rat do. Caparthian mountaines, with Hun- gary, on the North the Baltique sea, having under its dominion Polonia, Lituania, Livonia, Podolia,* 2Russia,*2vA Preface to the Reader.Russia the lesse, Volhimia, Masovia, Prussia, which uni- ted as it were within one roundish inclosure, are in circuite about 2600. miles, and of no lesse space then Spaine, and France layd together; in this so large and ample King- dome the Protestants in great number are diffused through all quarters thereof; having in every Province their pub- like Churches and congregations orderly severed and boun- ded with Diocesses, whence are sent some of the chiefest and most principall men of worth unto their generall Sy- nods, which within these few yeeres they have frequently held with great celebrity, and with no lesse Christian prudence and piety.
For whereas there are divers sorts of these Polonicke Protestants, some embracing the Waldensian, or the Bo- hemicke, others the Augustane, and some the Helveti- an confession, and so doe differ in some outward circum- stances of discipline, and ceremony: yet knowing well that a Kingdome divided cannot stand, and that the one God whom all of them worship in spirit is the God of peace, and concord, they joyntly meet at one generall Synode, and their first Act alway is, a religious and solemne profession of their unfained consent in the substantiall poynts of Christian Faith, necessary to salvation. Thus in Generall Synodes ataa Anno. 1570. Sendomire,b1573. Cracovia,c1578. Petricove,d1583. Woodislave,e1595. See the Acts of the Sy- nods them- selves. Torune (unto which resorted is great troopes Christians of all Orders, States, and degrees out of all Provinces of this most potent Kingdome) they declared the Bohemicke, Helveticke and Augustane confessions severally received amongst them to a- gree in the principall heads of Fayth, touching the holy Scripture, the Sacred Trinity, the Person of the sonne of God, God and man, the providenceof*3rA Preface to the Reader.of God, Sinne, Freewill, the Law, the Gospell, Iustifi- cation by Christ, Faith in his name, Regeneration, the catholique Church, and Supreame head thereof, Christ, the Sacraments, their number, and use, the state of soules after death, the resurrection, and life e- ternall, they decreed, that whereas in the forenamed confessions there is some difference in phrases, and formes of speech concerning Christs presence in his holy Supper, which might breed dissension, all disputations touching the manner of Christs pre- sence should be cut off; seeing all of them doe be- lieve the presence it selfe, and that the Eucharisti- call elements are not naked and empty signes, but doe truely performe to the faythfull receiver that which they signifie, and represent, and to prevent future occasions of violating this sacred consent, they ordained that no man should be called to the sacred ministery without subscription thereunto, and when any person shall be excluded by excom- munication from the congregation of one confes- sion, that he may not be receiued by the congrega- tion of another; Lastly, forasmuch as they accord in the substantiall verity of Christian doctrine, they professe themselves content to tolerate diver- sity of ceremonies, according to the diverse pra- ctise of their particular Churches, and to remove the least suspition of rebellion, and sedition, where- with their malicious, and calumniating adversa- ries might blemish the Gospell, although they are subject unto many grievous pressures, from the ad- herents of Antichrist, yet they earnestly exhort one another to follow that worthy, and Christian* 3admo -*3vA Preface to the Reader.admonition of Lactantius: Defendenda religio est non occidendo, sed moriendo, non sævitia sed patientia, non scelere, sed fide, illa enim bonorum sunt hæc ma- lorum.
This is the state of the professors of the Gospell in the elective Monarchy of Polonia, who in the adjoyning coun- tries on the South Transilvania, and Hungary, are also exceedingly multiplyed. In the former by the favour of Gabriel Bartorius now Prince of that Region, who not many yeeres since bath expulsed thence all such as are of the Papall faction, in a manner the whole body of the In habitants (except some few rotten and putrid limmes of Arrians, Antitrinitarians, Ebionites, Socinians, Anabaptists, who heere as also in Polonia, Lituania, Borussia have in some publique assemblies) are professed Protestants: in the later, a greater part, specially being compared onely with such as are there addicted to the Ro- mish superstition.
But hence Eastward in the Kingdome of Bohemia con- sisting of 32 thousand parishes (now become in a manner hereditary to the house of Austria, as likewise the King- dome of Hungary) and its appurtenances, the Marche- sates of Lusatia, Moravia, the Dukedome of Silesia, all which joyntly in circuit containe 770. miles, the prote- stants are esteemed to their parts; and in Austria it selfe,- and the countries of Goritia, Tirolis, Cilia, the principa- lities of Suevia, Alfatia, Brisgoia, Constans, now annexed thereunto, the most part of the people, and especi- ally of theaNobiles fere omnes (qui in sub- citos suos. et clientes judicia ex- ercent, eo- rumq; non- nulli vitæ, et necis ha- bent pote- statem (no- varum opi- nionum ve- neno in- fecti sunt, Thelau polit. Apot. 6. Nobility are the same way affected, and are in regard of their number so potent, that they are fearefull unto their malignant opposites. And almost they are of the same number and strength in the neighbour countriesof*4rA Preface to the Reader.of the Arch-Duke of Gratzden (a branch of the house of Austria) namely in Stiria, Carinthia, Carniola some since the yeere 1598. they have not had in these countries the publique exercise of their Religion by the importunate and clandestine solicitations of the lesuites, who notwith- standing in respect of the number, and potency of theaIllustres domini Or- dinarii, nec- non provin- cialium pars maxima ni- hil non agit, ut manere nobis (mini- stris Evan- gelii) lice- ret sed Iesu- itarum in- stigationes quam totius provinciæ supplicatio- nes plus poterant. Histo. perse- cut. Græ. carsis. No- bility on the Protestant party even in Grattz the prime City of Styria, could not effect their desires, untill in the yeere forementioned under pretence of conducting the Arch- Dukes sister into Spaine to be wife unto the now Philip the third sundry Embassadors from the Princes of Italy, the Pope, and the King of Spaine attended with many souldiers had full possession of the City, and presently foure- teene Ministers of the Gospell in one day were by force and violence thence ejected.
But the condition of the Protestants residing amongst the Cantons of Helvetia, and their confederates the City of Geneva, the towne of S. Gall, the Grisons, Valesians, or seven communities, under the Bishop of Sedune, is a great deale more happy, and setled; insomuch that they are two third parts, having the publique and free practise of Religion: for howsoever of the 13 Cantons, onely these 5,bThesaur. Pol. Apot. 49. Zuricke, Schafaule, Glarona, Basile, Abatistella, are intirely Protestant; yet these in strength, and amplenesse of territory much exceed the other seven, and hence Zuricke the chiefe of the five, in all publique meetings and Embas- sages hath the first place.
Already then we finde the state of Orthodox professors of the Gospell to be such, that we need not complaine of their paucity; and if we further proceed to view the many regi- ons of the Empire, we shall have cause to magnifie the goodnesse of God for their multitudes.The*4vA Preface to the Reader.
The whole Empire, excluding Bohemia and Austria (because the King of the one is rather an Arbiter in the election of the Emperour, than an Elector, in this sole case giving his voyce when the other fixe Electors are e- qually divided, and the Archduke of the other hath onely a kind of extraordinary place in the Dyet amongst the Ecclesiastical Princes, as sometimes the Duke of Loraine had) consisteth of three Orders, or States, the Princes Ecclesiasticall, the Princes temporall, and the free Cities. The last of these before some of them came to be possessed by the French, Polonian, Heluetians, and others were in number about aLiberæ ci- vitates quæ non alium principem præter Im- peratorem agnoscunt & suis utuntur quæq, legi- bus, olim erant 88. Iam vero pauciores sunt aliis a Galliarum, & Polo- niæ Regi- bus, & aliis occupatis. Thes polit. apot. 6. 88. and although in regard of this multitude, at this present they are much diminished; yet the remainders of them are so potent, that a few of them, termed the Hanse-Cities seated in the Northerne part of Germany inclusively betweene Dantisck Eastward, Hamburg Westward, and ioyned in an offensive, and defen- sive league, have beene able to make good their oppositions against some mighty neighbour Princes infringing their immunities.
These with the rest of the bProtestant- ium partes sequuntur liberæ Civi- tates, secula- res Princi- pes fere om- nes; Catho- licorum a secularibus Principes pauci, ut Ba- var. Cle- vensis. Thesaur. Pol. Apot. 6. Free Cities (which are of some number, and strength) doe all in a manner eyther in whole, or part (for in some of them as in Ratisbone, Argentine, Augusta, Spire, Wormes, Francfort upon Mein both Papists and Protestants make publique profession) embrace the sincere doctrine of the Gospell. And if we passe over the Ecclesiasticall Princes, who (excepting the three Electour Archbishops, of Collen Mentz, and Trivers, the Archbishops of Wertzburg and Saltsburg, and some Elect Bishops or Administra- tors of Bishopricks being laymen, and of the reformed re- ligion) are of small power, all the Princes Temporall ofthe**rA Preface to the Reader.the Empire (none of note excepted besides the Duke of Ba- varia) are firmely Protestants. Now what the multitudes of subjects are professing the same faith with these Prin- ces, we may guesse by the amplenesse of the dominions under the government of such onely as for their commands are chiefe, and most eminent among them; as of the Prince Elector Palatine, the Duke of Saxony, the Marquesse of Brandeburge, the Duke of Wirtenburg, Landgrave of Hesse, Marquesse of Baden, Prince of Anhalt, Dukes of Brunswicke, Holst, Luenburg, Meckelburg, Po- merane, Sweyburg, Nauburge: amongst whom the Marquesse of Brandeburge hath for his Dominion, not onely the Marchasate it selfe containing in circuit about 520. miles, and furnished with fifty Cities, and about threescore other walled Townes; but likewise part of Prussia, for which he is feudatary unto the King of Po- land, the region of Prignitz, the Dukedome of Crossen, the Signiories of Sterneberg, and Cotbus, the County of Rapin, and lately the three Dukedomes of Cleve, Gulick, and Berg, of which the two former have eyther of them in circuit 130 miles.
Neere adjoyning unto these three last Dukedomes, are these Provinces of the low Countries governed by the States, namely Zutphen, Vtrech, Oberyffel, Groning- ham, Holland, Zeland, West-frizland, in which onely Protestants have the publique (for otherwise Arrians, Anabaptists, Socinians are here privately tolerated) and free excercise of their Religion, as also in the neigh- bour dominion of the Earle of East-Freezland.
But to passe from these united Provinces under the States unto France; in this mighty Kingdome, those (as**they**vA Preface to the Reader.they usually stile them) of the Religion besides the Castles, and Forts that doe belong in property unto the Duke of Bullen, the Duke of Rohan, Count of Laval, the Duke of Trimouile, Mounsieur Castilion, the Mareshall of Diguiers, the Duke of Sully, and others, are seased of above 70. Townes having garrisons of souldiers governed by Nobles and Gentlemen of the Religion; they have 800 Ministers reteining pensions out of the publique Finance, and are so dispersed through the chiefe Provinces of the Kingdome, that in the Principality of Orange, Poictou almost all the Inhabitants, in Gascony halfe; in Languedoc, Normandy, and other westerne Provinces, a strong party professe the Evangelicall truth. Which multitudes, although they are but small, and as it were an handfull in comparison of all bearing the name of Papists throughout the spacious continent of France; yet in re- gard of such as are entirely Popish, they have some propor- tion.
For to omit a great part of French Papists, who in[a]a Vid. instru. & messives des Roys Tres. Christ. & de leures ambassadeurs, council de Trent. Borellum. l. 4. de decret. Ecclesiæ Gallicæ. o. ti. 21, 22. Dua reuum li 1. de benefico. 10, 11, li. 5. cap. 11. heart beleeve the sincerity of the Gospell, but dare not make profession thereof for worldly respects, as to obtaine great offices, to avoyd penalties, and justice in their litigious suits; almost all the Lawyers, and learned sort who no doubt have many adherents of lesse knowledge, hold, That the Bishop of Rome was anciently the first, and chiefest Bishop according to the dignity of precedency, and order, not by any divine In- stitution, but because Rome was the chiefe City of the Empire: That he obtained his primacy over the Westerne Church by the gift and clemency of Pipine, Charles the great, and other Kings ofFrance**2rA Preface to the Reader.France, and hath no power to dispose of Tempo- rall things: That it belongeth to Christian Kings, and Princes to call Ecclesiasticall Synods, and to establish their decrees to make Ecclesiasticall laws for the good of the Church, reforme the abuses therein, and to have the same power, and authority over sacred persons in causes Ecclesiasticall, as was exercised by losias, and Constantine the Great, who said he was a Bishop over the outward things of the Church; That the lawes whereby their Church is to be governed are onely the Canons of the more ancient Councels, and their owne Nationall Decrees, and not the Decretals of the Bishops of Rome; That the Councell of Con- stance assembled by Sigismund the Emperour, and with a concurrent consent of other Christian Princes, decreeing a Generall Synode to be supe- riour unto the Pope, and correcting many enor- mous abuses in the Romane Church which yet re- maine in practise, was a true œcumenicall Coun- cell, and so likewise the Councell of Basill; That the Assembly of Trent was no lawfull Councell, and the Canons thereof are rather to be esteemed the Decrees of the Popes who called, and continu- ed it, then the Decrees of the Councell it selfe, be- cause in this Assemblie, Bishops onely (contrary to the practise of the Councell of Basill) had de- cisive voyces, and the greatest part of Bishops were Italian the Popes vassals; and besides, no- thing was then determined that was not at Rome fore-determined by the Pope; That the Sacra-** 2ment**2vA Preface to the Reader.ment of the Lords Supper ought to be administred under both kinds, and at the least a great part of divine service is to be performed in their vulgar tongues; Thus are the greater number of Lawyers and learned men in France affected, and those who are throughly popish are for the most part men of the basest sort wholy leavened with the bitter slanders, and calumnia- tions of malicious Friers.
Now if to all the forenamed Kingdomes, Principalities, Dukedomes, States, Cities, abounding with professors of the truth, we adde the Monarchies of Great Britanny, Denmarke, Sweden, wholy in a manner Protestant, we shall finde them not much inferiour in number and ampli- tude to the Romish party; especially if we consider that the very bulke and body hereof, Italy, and Spaine, are by a kinde of violence, and necessity, rather than out of any free choyce and judgement deteined in their superstition; namely by the jealousie cruelty, and tyrannous vigilancy of the Inquisition, and their owne ignorance, beingaVide in- dicem libro. prohi. edit. iussu. Clem. 8. Et Azou. lin. 8, morel. Instit. cap. 26. by Clement the 8. utterly debarred from all reading of the sacred Scriptures, whereby they might come to the knowledge of the Truth.
And if any shall except that the Protestants in diverse Countries before mentioned cannot be reputed as one body, and of one Church, by reason of many differences, and hot contentions amongst them, let such remember, that howsoever some private men in this holy society, rather than of it, preferring their novell and passionate fancies, before the peace of the Church, purchased with Christs precious bloud, and the publique weale of Christian Mo- narches, unnaturall toward their own deere Mother,rending**3rA Preface to the Reader.rending that wombe wherein they were new borne by the laver of regeneration, forgetfull of their heavenly embas- sage, which is not onely to reconcile men unto God, but men with men, so farre neglecting their owne eternal salvation, as to be unmindfull of that most undoubted truth. He that is not in charity, is in death, trampling under foote that glorious legacy of their Lord and Master. My peace I give unto you, my peace I leave with you, have in heat of contention, and bitternesse of their soules strained and racked their weake understanding, to make differences betweene themselves, even in the maine arti- cles of Faith, and branded one another with blasphemy, and heresie, yet these unchristian and uncharitable dissen- sions are not to be imputed to the whole sacred community of Orthodox Churches, whose harmony and agreement in necessary poynts of Fayth, are onely to be esteemed by their confessions, which by publique authority they have divul- ged unto the world.
How many are the differences both in doctrine and dis- cipline betweene the Proctors for the Papall faction, tou- ching Discipline? Some teach their Cheefetaine the Pope may erre, others that he cannot: some that he is subject unto a generall Councell, others that he is above it: some that all Ecclesiasticall authority is immediately in the Pre- lates of the Church, others that it is onely in the Pope, and from him derived unto inferiour Bishops: some that he hath temporall authorities over Princes, others not: con- cerning doctrine, some affirme that predestination both by grace, and glory is meerely from Gods free pleasure, others from foreseene desert and merit, some that all the bookes or part of them belonging unto the old Testament, which** 3were**3vA Preface to the Reader.were not in the Canon of the lewish Church are Apocry- phall, others canonicall even in the matters of Faith: some that there is no originall sinne inherent in us, but only im- puted, others that it is both inherent and imputed: some that we are most freely justified, by the meanes of Faith, Hope, &c others by the value, and merits of these vertues: some that faith is onely a generall assent unto divine truth, others that it is a speciall perswasion touching the remis- son of our sinnes through Christ, some that we appeare righteous in Gods fight, partly through imputed, partly through inherent righteousnesse, others onely by inherent: some that eternall life is due unto our workes onely by ver- tue of Gods free and gracious promise, others through the merit of the worke done: some that all the morall good workes of Infidels, and Ethnickes are sinnes, others that they are without sinne; some that the B. Virgin was con- ceived without original sinne, others the contrary, and that with such eagernes, that the one condemne the other of heresie: yet because these contentions are betweene private men, and they all (in Spaine, & Italy, but not in France, as hath beene shewed) accord in the chiefe poynts of doctrine publiquely established in the Councell of Trent, they boast much of their unity.
Although then some private men unworthy to take the Word of peace and reconciliation into their virulent and contentious mouthes, led more by passion; and their owne selfe pleasing conceipt, than by the sacred rules of the truth, and piety, have laboured to sow the tares of dissensi- on in the vineyard of the Lord, and heereby have made crooked some few branches cleaving unto them; yet the generall societies of Orthodox Churches in the publiqueconfessions**4rA Preface to the Reader.confessions of their faith, doe so agree, that there is a most sacred harmony between them in the more substantiall poynts of Christian Religion necessary to salvation. This is manifest out of the confessions themselves, which are these, the Anglicane the Scotiane, French, Helve- tian, former and later, the Belgy, Polony, Argentine, Augustane, Saxonicke, Wirtembergicke, Palatine, Bohemicke or Waldensian confession: for there is none of the Churches formerly poynted out in diverse places of Europe which doth not embrace one of these confessions and all of them harmoniously conspire in the principall Articles of Faith, and which neerest concerne our eternall salvation; as in the infallible verity and full sufficiency of the Scriptures, divine essence and unity of the everlasting Godhead, the sacred Trinity of the three glorious persons, the blessed incarnation of Christ, the omnipotent providence of God, the absolute supreme head of the Church, Christ, justification by Faith through Christ, and the nature of a lively Fayth, Repentance, Regeneration and Sanctification, the difference betweene the Law, and the Gospell, touching free will, sinne, and good workes, the Sacraments their number and use, the notes of the Church, the divine au- thority of Magistrates, the resurrection, and state of soules after death.
And for the chiefe poynt of difference which is concei- ved to be betweene the professors of the Gospell about the presence of Christ in the sacred Eucharist, such as are parties in this confession ingeniously confesse, that de re ipsa, touching the thing it selfe there is no opposi- tion, but onely we vary in some ordinances, and cir- cumstances of the thing, We agree re ipsa, in thematter**4vA Preface to the Reader.matter it selfe, although we differ according to the diversity of Gods gifts in expressing aptly and cleerely what we conceive concerning this matter. We all acknowledge that the holy Symboles, or signes, are not inanes significationes, barely significa- tive, but what by divine institution they represent and testifie unto our soules, is as truely and certainly delivered unto us from God as the Symboles them- selves. But the question is, whether as the signe with the thing signified is present in respect of our body, and not rather in regard of our well receiving it by fayth. Moreover, whether as both the signe, and thing signified are exhibited to all, so all receive both, some to life, others to their perdition. So that we all beleeve the true communication of the true body and bloud of our Lord Iesus Christ, onely concerning the manner of communication is the controversie. But who can rightly judge that for this the sacred union and fellowship of Churches, is to be dissolved.
There being so excellent a foundation and firme ground worke of unity betweene the Protestants, how worthy a worke would it be for Christian Princes to imitate the professours of the Gospell in the Kingdome of Polonia, & by a generall assembly of moderate, and unpartiall Iudges and sensible of the bleeding wounds religion receiveth by sects, and discords, make up the ruines and breaches of Churches, caused hitherto through private contention, and to cement them together (if it shall please God out of the riches of his mercy to prosper their heroicall and religious endeavours) with an everlasting bond of concord. TherewereA1rA Preface to the Reader. were never greater hopes of the successe of so noble, and incomparable a worke, than in this age, which hath affoor- ded us the blessing of our most gracious Soveraigne, so re- ligiously studious of publiqve peace and so exquisitly ena- bled with many rare endowments to promote so pious, and renowned an action.
In the meane time, if any in these private distractions concerning matters of religion excited by the malice of Sathan, and his wretched instruments, shall doubt which way to take, let him follow the grave and divine instru- ctions of that excellent light of the Church S. Aug. who first exhorteth us not to busy our selves overmuch in enquiring after those things quæ nihil certi habent in Scriptura, which have no firme footing in the Scri- ptures, but in receiving, or rejecting them to follow the custome, and practice of particular Churches wherein[a]a Epist. 86. we live, otherwise (sayth he) If we will dispute of these things, and contend one with another: ori- etur interminata luctatio, there will hence arise an endlesse strife. And his second admonition is, that for the establishing of our consciences in points of fayth necessary to obtaine eternall life, we would follow our blessed Saviours Commandement: Search the Scri- ptures, Why (sayth this devout and learned Father,[b]b In Psal. 21. speaking to contentious Christians) doe we strive? we are brethren. Our Father hath not died in- testate: he hath made his last will, he is dead, and risen againe. There is contention still about an in- heritance as long as the Testament is not made knowne, but when it is published in judgement all are silent to heare it. The ludge attentively listneth unto it, the Advocates hold their peace: the cryersAcommandA1vA Preface to the Reader. command silence, and the whole multitude present stand in a suspence, that the words of a dead man ly- ing in his grave without sense and life may be re- hearsed. Are the words of a dead man and interred, so powerfull and availeable, and shall the Testa- ment of Christ sitting in Heaven be impugned? O- pen it, let us reade, we are brethren, why doe we strive? Our father hath not left us destitute of his last will: he that made it liveth for ever; he heareth our voyce and acknowledgeth his owne voyce. Let us reade, why contend we? Having found the inheritance let us lay hold of it, aperi, lege: open and reade.OF