Imagens das páginas

were fitted to the Jews only, a national church of many incomplete synagogues, uniting the accomplishment of divine worship in one temple; and the Levites there had their tithes paid where they did their bodily work, to which a particular tribe was set apart by divine appointment, not by the people's election. But the christian church is universal; not tied to nation, diocess, or parish, but consisting of many particular churches complete in themselves, gathered, not by compulsion, or the accident of dwelling nigh together, but by free consent, choosing both their particular church and their church officers. Whereas, if tithes be set up, all these christian privileges will be disturbed and soon lost, and with them christian liberty.



Another shift they have to plead, that tithes may be moral as well as the sabbath, a tenth of fruits as well as a seventh of days. I answer, that the prelates, who urge this argument,

have least reason to use it, denying morality in the sabbath, and therein better agreeing with reformed churches abroad than the rest of our divines. As therefore the seventh day is not moral, but a convenient recourse of worship in fit season, wh

ner seventh or other number; so neither is the tenth of our goods, but only a convenient subsistence morally due to ministers.

The last and lowest sort of their arguments, that men purchased not their tithe with their land, and such like pettifoggery, 1 omit, as refuted sufficiently by others; 1 omit also their violent and irreligious exactions, related no less credibly; their sizing of pots and pans from the poor, who have as good a right to tithes as they ; from some,


very their suing and imprisoning, worse than when the canon law was in force; worse than when those wick




ed sons of Eli were priests, whose manner was thus to seize their pretended priestly due by force; 1 Sam. II. 12. &c. Whereby men abborred the offering of the Lord.' And it

be feared that many

will much abhor the gospel, if such violence as this be suffered in her ministers, and in that which they also pretend to be the offering of the Lord. For those sons of Belial within some limits made seizure of what they knew was their own by an undoubted law; but these, from whom there is no sanctuary, seize out of men's grounds, out of men's houses, their other goods of double, sometimes of triple value, for that which, did not covetousness and rapine blind them, they know to be not their own by the gospel which they preach. * *

And yet they cry out sacrilege, that men will not be gulled and baffled the tenth of their estates, by giving credit to frivolous pretences of divine right. Where did God ever clearly declare to all nations, or in all lands, (and none but fools part with their estates, without clearest evidence, on bare supposals and presumptions of them who are the gainers thereby,) that he required the tenth as due to him or his son perpetually and in all places ? Where did he demand it, that we might certainly know, as in all claims of temporal right is just and reasonable ? Or if demanded, where did he assign it, or by what evident conveyance, to ministers?. Unless they can demonstrate this by more than conjectures, their title can be no better to tithes than the title of Gehazi was to those things, which, by abusing his master's name, he rooked from Naaman. Much less where did he command that tithes should be fetched by force; where lest not under the gospel, whatever his right was, to the freewill offerings of men ? Which is the greater sacrilege, to belie divine authority, to make the name of Christ accessory to violence, and



robbing him of the very honor which he aimed at ju bestowing freely the gospel, to commit simony and rapine, both secular and ecclesiastical ; or, on the other side, not to give up the tenth of civil right and propriety to the tricks and impostures of clergymen, contrived with all the art and argument that their bellies can invent or suggest; yet so ridiculous and presuming on the people's dumess and superstition, as to think they prove the divine right of their maintenance by Abraham paying tithes to Melchisedec, whenas Melchisedec in that passage rather

gave maintenance to Abraham ; in whom all, both priests and ministers as well as laymen, paid tithes, not received them.

And because I affirmed above, beginning this first part of my discourse, that God hath given to ministers of the gospel that maintenance only which is justly given them, let us see a little what hath been thought of that other maintenance besides tithes, which of all protestants our English divines, either only or most apparently both require and take. Those are fees for christenings, marriages, and burials; which, though whoso will may give freely, yet being not of right, but of free gift, if they be exacted or established, they become unjust to them who are otherwise maintained, and of such evil note, that even the council of Trent, l. 2. p. 240, makes them liable to the laws against simony, who take or demand fees for the adıninistering of any sacrament. For if the minister be maintained for his whole ministry, why should he be twice paid for any part thereof? Why should he, like a servant, seek vails

over and above his wages?

As for christenings, either they themselves call men to baptism, or men of themselves come; if ministers invite, how ill had it become John the Baptist

with a

[ocr errors]

to demand fees for his baptizing, or Christ for his christenings ? Far less becomes it these now, greediness lower than that of tradesmen calling passengers to their shop, and yet paid beforehand, to ask again for doing that which those their founders did freely. If men of themselves come to be baptized, they are either brought by such as already pay the minister, or come to be one of his disciples and maintainers ; of whom to ask a fee, as it were for entrance, is a piece of paltry craft or caution, befitting none but beggarly artists.

Burials and marriages are so little to be any part of their gain, that they who consider well, may find them to be no part of their function. At burials their attendance they allege on the corpse; all the guests do as much unhired. But their prayers at the grave ; superstitiously required; yet if required, their last performance

to the deceased of their own flock. But the funeral sermon; at their choice, or if not, an occasion offered them to preach out of season, which is one part of their office. But something must be spoken in praise ; if due, their duty; if undue, their

; corruption ; a peculiar simony of our divines in England only. . But the ground is broken, and especially their unrighteous possession, the chancel; to sell that, will not only raise up in judgment the council of Trent against them, but will lose them the best champion of tithes, their zealous antiquary, Sir Henry Spelman, who, in a book written to that purpose, by many eited canons, and some even of times corruptest in the church, proves that fees exacted or demanded for sacraments, marriages, burials, and especially for interring, are wicked, accursed, simoniacal, and abominable; yet thus is the church, for all this noise of reformation, left still unreformed by the censure of their own synods, their own favorers, a den of thieves and robbers.

[ocr errors]

As for marriages, that ministers should meddle with them, as not sanctified or legitimate without their celebration, I find no ground in scripture either of precept or example. Likeliest it is, which our Selden hath well observed, 1. 2. c. 28. Ux. Eb., that in imitation of heathen priests who were wont at nuptials to use many rites and ceremonies, and especially, judging it would be profitable, and the increase of their authority, not to be spectators only in business of such concernment to the life of man, they insinuated that marriage was not holy without their benediction, and for the better color, made it a sacrament; being of itself a civil ordinance, a household contract, a thing indifferent and free to the whole race of mankind, not as religious, but as men; best, indeed, undertaken to religious ends, and as the apostle saith, 1 Cor. vii, “in the Lord ;' yet not therefore invalid or unholy without a minister and his pretended necessary hallowing, more than any other act, enterprise, or contract of civil life, which ought all to be done also in the Lord and to his glory; all which, no less than marriage, were by the cunning of priests heretofore, as material to their profit, transacted at the altar. Our divines deny it to be a sacrament, yet retained the celebration, till prudently a late parliament recovered the civil liberty of marriage from their encroachment, and transferred the ratifying and registering thereof from the canonical shop to the proper cognizance of civil magistrates.

Seeing then, that God hath given to ministers under the gospel, that only which is justly given them, that is to say, a due and moderate livelihood, the hire of their labor, and that the heave offering of tithes is abolished with the altar ; yea, though not abolished, yet lawless, as they enjoy them; their Melchisedechian right also trivial and groundless, and both tithes

« AnteriorContinuar »