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the letters of which they were compofed. I rejoice to find that your virtues and talents, of which I faw the fair promise in your youth, have raised you to fo honourable a fituation under the prince; and I wish you every good which you can enjoy. Adieu.
London, Aug. 15, 1666.
REFORMATION IN ENGLAND,
CAUSES THAT HITHERTO HAVE HINDERED IT.
IN TWO BOOKS.
WRITTEN TO A FRIEND.
MIDST thofe deep and retired thoughts, which, with every man chriftianly inftructed, ought to be most frequent of God, and of his miraculous ways and works amongst men, and of our religion and works, to be performed to him; after the ftory of our Saviour Chrift, fuffering to the loweft bent of weakness in the flesh, and presently triumphing to the highest pitch of glory in the fpirit, which drew up his body alfo; till we in both be united to him in the revelation of his kingdom, I do not know of any thing more worthy to take up the whole paffion of pity on the one fide, and joy on the other, than to confider firft the foul and fudden corruption, and then, after many a tedious age, the long deferred, but much more wonderful and happy reformation of the church in thefe latter days. Sad it is to think how that doctrine of the gofpel, planted by teachers divinely inspired, and by them winnowed and fifted from the chaff of overdated ceremonies, and refined to such a spiritual height and temper of purity, and knowledge of the Creator, that the body, with all the circumftances of time and place, were purified by the affections of the regenerate foul, and nothing left impure but fin; faith needing not the weak
and fallible office of the fenfes, to be either the ushers of interpreters of heavenly myfteries, fave where our Lord himself in his facraments ordained; that fuch a doctrine fhould, through the groffness and blindness of her profeffors, and the fraud of deceivable traditions, drag fo downwards, as to backflide one way into the Jewish beggary of old caft rudiments, and ftumble forward another way into the new-vomited paganifm of fenfual idolatry, attributing purity or impurity to things indifferent, that they might bring the inward acts of the fpirit to the outward and cuftomary eye-service of the body, as if they could make God earthly and fleshly, because they could not make themselves heavenly and fpiritual; they began to draw down all the divine intercourfe betwixt God and the foul, yea, the very fhape of God himself, into an exterior and bodily form, urgently pretending a neceffity and obligement of joining the body in a formal reverence, and worfhip circumfcribed; they hallowed it, they fumed it, they fprinkled it, they bedecked it, not in robes of pure innocency, but of pure linen, with other deformed and fantastic dreffes, in palls and mitres, gold, and gewgaws fetched from Aaron's old wardrobe, or the flamins veftry: then was the priest fet to con his motions and his poftures, his liturgies and his lurries, till the foul by this means of overbodying herself, given up justly to fleshly delights, bated her wing apace downward: and finding the eafe fhe had from her visible and fenfuous colleague the body, in performance of religious duties, her pinions now broken, and flagging, fhifted off from herself the labour of high foaring any more, forgot her heavenly flight, and left the dull and droiling carcafe to plod on in the old road, and drudging trade of outward conformity. And here out of queftion from her perverfe conceiting of God and holy things, fhe had fallen to believe no God at all, had not cuftom and the worm of confcience nipped her incredulity: hence to all the duties of evangelical grace, inftead of the adoptive and cheerful boldnefs which our new alliance with God requires, came fervile, and thrailike fear: for in very deed, the fuperftitious man by his good will is an atheift; but being feared from thence by the
pångs and gripes of a boiling confcience, all in a pudder fhuffles up to himself fuch a God and fuch a worship as is most agreeable to remedy his fear; which fear of his, as alfo is his hope, fixed only upon the flesh, renders likewife the whole faculty of his apprehenfion carnal; and all the inward acts of worship, iffuing from the native ftrength of the foul, run out lavishly to the upper fkin, and there harden into a cruft of formality. Hence men came to fcan the fcriptures by the letter, and in the covenant of our redemption, magnified the external figns more than the quickening power of the Spirit; and yet looking on them through their own guiltinefs with a fervile fear, and finding as little comfort, or rather terrour from them again, they knew not how to hide their flavish approach to God's behefts by them not understood, nor worthily received, but by cloaking their servile crouching to all religious prefentments, fometimes lawful, fometimes idolatrous, under the name of humility, and terming the piebald frippery and oftentation of ceremonies, decency.
Then was baptifm changed into a kind of exorcifm, and water, fanctified by Chrift's inftitute, thought little enough to wash off the original fpot, without the fcratch or crofs impreffion of a prieft's forefinger: and that feast of free grace and adoption to which Chrift invited his difciples to fit as brethren, and coheirs of the happy covenant, which at that table was to be sealed to them, even that feaft of love and heavenly-admitted fellowship, the feal of filial grace, became the subject of horrour, and glouting adoration, pageanted about like a dreadful idol; which fometimes deceives well meaning men, and beguiles them of their reward, by their voluntary humility; which indeed is fleshly pride, preferring a foolish sacrifice, and the rudiments of the world, as Saint Paul to the Coloffians explaineth, before a favoury obedience to Chrift's example. Such was Peter's unfcafonable humility, as then his knowledge was fmall, when Chrift came to wash his feet; who at an impertinent time would needs ftrain courtesy with his mafter, and falling troublesomely upon the lowly, all-wife, and unexaminable intention of Chrift, in what he went with refolution to do, fo provoked by his interruption