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ere the law was given ; whence they would infer tithes to be of moral right. But they ought to know, or to remember, that not examples, but express commands oblige our obedience to God or man; next, that whatsoever was done in religion before the law written, is not presently to be counted moral, whenas so many things were then done both ceremonial and Judaically judicial, that we need not doubt to conclude all times before Christ more or less under the ceremonial law. To what end served else those altars and sacrifices, that distinction of clean and unclean entering into the ark, circumcision, and the raising up of seed to the elder brother ? Gen. XXXVIII. 8. If these things be not moral, though before the law, how are tithes, though in the example of Abraham and Melchisedec?
But this instance is so far from being the just ground of a law, that after all circumstances duly weighed, both from Gen. xiv, and Heb. vii. it will not be allowed them so much as an example. Melchisedec, besides his priestly benediction, brought with him bread and wine sufficient to refresh Abraham and his whole army; incited to do so, first by the secret providence of God, intending him for a type of Christ and his priesthood; next, by his due thankfulness and honor to Abraham, who had freed his borders of Salem from a potent enemy. Abraham, on the other side, honors him with the tenth of all, that is to say, (for he took not sure his whole estate with him to that war,) of the spoils, Heb. VII. 4; incited he also by the same secret Providence, to signify as grandfather of Levi, that the Levitical priesthood was excelled by the priesthood of Christ. For the giving of a tenth declared, it seems, in those countries and times, him the eater who received it. That which next incited him, was partly bis gratitude to requite the
present, partly his reverence to the person and his benediction; to his person, as a king and priest, greater therefore than Abraham, who was a priest also, but not a king. And who unhired will be so hardy as to say, that Abraham at any other time ever paid him tithes, either before or after; or had then, but for this accidental meeting and obligement; or that else Melchisedec had demanded or exacted them, or took them otherwise than as the voluntary gift of Abraham ? But our ministers, though neither priests nor kings more than any other Christian, greater in their own esteem than Abraham and all his seed, for the verbal labor of a seventh day's preachment, not bringing, like Melchisedec, bread or wine at their own cost, would not take only at the willing hand of liberality or gratitude, but require and exact as due, the tenth, not of spoils, but of our whole estates and labors; nor once, but yearly.
But, say they, “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's, holy unto the Lord, Lev. xxvII. 30; and this before it was given to the Levites; therefore since they ceased. No question ; for the whole earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, Psal. xxiv. 1, and the light of nature shows us no less; but that the tenth is his more than the rest, how know I, but as he so declares it? He declares it so here of the land of Canaan only, as by all circumstance appears, and passes by deed of gift this tenth to the Levite; yet so as offered to him first a heave offering, and consecrated on his altar, Numb. xviii, all which I had as little known, but by that evidence. The Levites are ceased ; the gift returns to the giver. How then can we know that he hath given it to any other?
Or how can these men presume to take it unoffered first to God, unconsecrated, without another clear and express donation, whereof they show no evidence or writing ? Besides, he hath now alienated that holy land; who can warrantably affirm, that he hath since hallowed the tenth of this land, which none but God hath power to do or can warrant ?
On the other side, although it be sufficient to have proved in general the abolishing of tithes, as part of the Judaical or ceremonial law, which is abolished all, as well that before, as that after Moses, yet I shall further prove them abrogated by an express ordinance of the gospel, founded, not on any type or that municipal law of Moses, but on moral and general equity, given us instead. 1 Cor. ix. 13, 14, “Know ye not that they who minister about holy things, live of the things of the temple ; and that they which wait at the altar, are partakers with the altar? So also the Lord hath ordained, that they who preach the gospel, should live of the gospel.' He saith not, should live on things which were of the temple, or of the altar, of which were tithes; for that had given them a clear title ; but, abrogating that former law of Moses which determined what and how much, by a later ordinance of Christ which leaves the what and how much indefinite and free, so it be sufficient to live on, he saith, “The Lord hath so ordained, that they who preach the gospel, should live of the gospel;' which hath neither temple, altar, nor sacrifice; Heb. vii. 13, For he of whom these things are spoken, pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar;' his ministers therefore cannot thence have tithes. And where the Lord hath so ordained, we may find easily in more than one evan
gelist; Luke x, 7, 8, 'In the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give ; for the laborer is worthy of his hire, &c. And into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.' To which ordinance of Christ it may seem likeliest, that the apostle refers us both here, and 1 Tim. v. 18, were he cites this as the saying of our Saviour, "That the laborer is worthy of his hire.' And both by this place of Luke, and that of Mat. x. 9, 10, 11, it evidently appears that our Saviour ordained no certain maintenance for his apostles or ministers, publicly or privately, in house or city received; but that whatever it were, which might suffice to live on; and this, not commanded or proportioned by Abraham or by Moses, whom he might easily have here cited, as his manner was, but declared only by a rule of common equity, which proportions the hire as well to the ability of him who gives, as to the labor of him who recieves, and recommends him only as worthy, not invests him with a legal right.
And mark whereon he grounds this his ordinance; not on a perpetual right of tithes from Melchisedec, as hirelings pretend, which he never claimed, either for himself or for his ministers, but on the plain and common equity of rewarding the laborer, worthy sometimes of single, sometimes of double honor, not proportionable by tithes. And the apostle in this forecited chapter to the Corinthians, ver. 11, affirms it to be no great recompense, if carnal things be reaped for spiritual sown, but to mention tithes, neglects here the fittest occasion that could be offered him, and leaves the rest free and undetermined.
Certainly if Christ or his apostles had approved of tithes, they would have, either by writing or tradition, recommended them to the church, and that soon would have appeared in the practice of those primitive and the next ages. But for the first three hundred years and more, in all the ecclesiastical story, I
, find no such doctrine or example, though error by that time had brought back again priests, altars, and oblations, and in many other points of religion had miserably Judaized the church. So that the defenders of tithes, after a long pomp, and tedious preparation out of heathen authors, telling us that tithes were paid to Hercules and Apollo, which perhaps was imitated from the Jews, and as it were bespeaking our expectation, that they will abound much more with authorities out of christian story, have nothing of general approbation to begin with from the first three or four ages, but that which abundantly serves to the confutation of their tithes, while they confess that churchmen in those ages lived merely upon freewill offerings.
Neither can they say, that tithes were not then paid for want of a civil magistrate to ordain them; for Christians had then also lands, and might.give out of them what they pleased, and yet of tithes then given we find no mention. And the first christian
empe. rors, who did all things as bishops advised them, supplied what was wanting to the clergy, not out of tithes, which were never motioned, but out of their own imperial revenues, as is manifest in Eusebius, Theodoret, and Sozomen, from Constantine to Arcadius. Hence, those ancientest reformed churches of the Waldenses, if they rather continued not pure since the apostles, denied that tithes were to be given, or that they were ever given in the primitive church, as appe
by an ancient tractate in the Bohemian history. Thus far hath the church been always, whether in her prime or in her · ancientest reformation, from the approving of tithes ; nor without reason; for they might easily perceive that tithes