« PreviousContinue »
saith he, have been attended with the loss and ruin of many great provinces : and our own eyes can testify sufficiently, what courses have been held against our two last glorious sovereigns and the Venetian State: and all these, on no other ground, than this, that proud stomachs would not abide to remit ought of their unjustlychallenged greatness.
Neither is it otherwise, in matter of judgment. It is possible I may meet with some private opinion, which I may strongly conceive more probable than the common; and, perhaps, I may think myself able to prove it so: shall I presently, out of an ostentation of my own parts, vent this to the world, and strain my wit, to make it good by a peremptory defence, to the disturbance of the Church, and not rather smother it in my own bosom, as thinking the loss much easier, of a conceit, than of peace?
That of Mr. Calvin is very exemplary; who, writing to Olevian* concerning the giving of the holy eucharist to the sick; and having shewed reasons for that practice, shuts up with, Scis, Frater, “ You know, Brother, that the fashion is otherwise with us : I bear with it, because it is not profitable to contend:” a charitable rule, and worthy to be universal; and indeed little other, than apostolical: for, after order given for the covering of the heads of women in the congregation, St. Paul shuts up with this conclusion, But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God; 1 Cor. xi. 16.
There are too many, who, like the trout or salmon, love to swim against the stream: and too justly may we take up the old complaint of Alvarus Pelagius, " He is no knowing man, now-a-days, that devises not some novelties of opinionst.”.
Should I gather up and present to the world a just catalogue of those wild conceits, that have been broached in these later times, I should shame the present Age, and amaze the following. Certainly, these spirits are no friends to peace; else, they would not so vainly pursue their own interest, against the public.
It is the praise of the Netherlands, and that whereto we do justly ascribe their strange prosperity, that they look not so much at their own particular advantages, as the raising of the stock of the honour and wealth of the public State I. If such could be our respects to the Church and causes of God, both they and we should flourish; which, contrarily, neglected have involved us in those unspeakable miseries which we suffer.
Shortly, then, to sum up what we have said concerning this part of our Discourse; if we SHALL EFFECTUALLY LABOUR AGAINST THE GROUNDS AND CAUSES OF CONTENTION, Pride, Self-Love, Envy, Covetousness : if WE SHALL COMPOSE OURSELVES TO A TEMPER FIT FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT OF PEACE; that is, if we shall be humble and meek-minded, if obedient to our spiritual guides, if charitable to our brethren, if not too peremptory in our own apprehensions : if, thirdly, WE SHALL PUT OFF UNNECESSARY QUESTIONS AND SET
* Calv. Ep. 365. Episc. Brechen. de Perthanis Articulis. + Non est sciens hodie, qui novitates non invenit. * The, Scot his Belgick Pismire.
BOUNDS TO OUR CURIOSITY: if we SHALL PRAY AND LABOUR FOR FURTHER ILLUMINATION IN ALL REQUISITE TRUTHS; and shall, therefore, walk conscionably after the light which we have received: if we SHALL COMPLY, SO FAR AS WE LAWFULLY MAY, WITH OUR CHRISTIAN BRETHREN: if, lastly, wE SHALL BE CONTENT TO LET PALL OUR OWN INTEREST, OUT OP A TENDER RESPECT TO THE PUBLIC, we shall tread comfortably in the PRIVATE way of peace; and shall, in our particular stations, have contributed our due endeavours to the tranquillity and happiness of the Church of Christ.
OF THE WAYS OF PEACE, WHICH CONCERN THE PUBLIC. It remains that we now address ourselves to the laying forth of the PUBLIC
peace, such as concern Authority to walk in.
SECT. 1. The First Public way of Peace : To suppress the beginnings of Spi
ritual Quarrels. Which shall be done, if (1.) The broachers of new opinions bc by gentle means reclaimed --if (2.) The means of spreading Infection be timely cut off : which are [1.] The Society of the Infected; [2.] The Press :--if (3.) Disturbers of Peace"; either [1.) By sowing strife, and broaching new Opinions; or [2.] By abetting Quarrels, and pertinaciously maintaining dan
gerous Errors, be timely suppressed. The first whereof shall be, a careful endeavour TO SUPPRESS THE BEGINNINGS OF SPIRITUAL QUARRELS: a practice, which we nay well take out from the authors of our municipal laws; who have taken so strict order against menacing words, which might draw on a fray, and routs and riots which may tend towards insurrection.
Seldom do great mischiefs seize upon us wholly at once; but proceed, by certain degrees, to their full height: and, as it is in corruption of manners, so also in depravation of judgment, no man is worst at the first. It is a true word, which Gerson cites out of the Decree*, That schism disposes towards heresy: for he, that fies off from the Church, must pretend errors, lest he should seem to have made a causeless, separation; and, where there is a discord, there will be strifet. As that Father said of sin, we may truly say of errors, the beginnings of them are bashful; neither dare they, at their first rise, shew what they mean to be.
* Jo. Gerson de Schismat. + Discordia, ubi animus est dissentiendi; lis, ubi, necessitate urgente, rem nostram repetimus. Moschon. de Judiciis.
It shall be therefore the best wisdom of Authority, to check the first motions of contention; and to kill this cockatrice in the egg. Remedies, seasonably applied, are seldom ineffectual.
(1.) And this shall be done, first, if, when any heterodor or irregular doctrine shall be let fall, it be taken at the first rebound; and the author and avower fairly dealt withal, and strongly convinced of his error; that so he may, by all gentle and loving persuasions, be reclaimed, before the leaven of his misopinion have spread any further, to the souring of others.
It shall be needless, to urge how requisite it is, that all brotherly kindness should, in such case, be used. Our proceedings in the cure of the painful tumours of the body, direct us what to do in the spiritual: we lay suppling and mollifying plaisters to these angry swellings, ere we make use of the lancet. I find it a praise given to one Comitulus, a Bishop of Perusia, that he did paterne et materne loqui cum Clero ; “ treat with his Clergy with the gravity of a father and the affection of a mother*.” So should erring souls be dealt with. Rigour and roughness may not have place here: much less, cruelty and violence.
Our story tells us of one Ithacius, a Spanish Bishop, that, out of his zeal, had obtained of the King, that the Priscillianists, a dangerous and perfidious sect, should be punished with death. A holier Bishop than he, whom the following Ages graced with the name of a Saint, Martint, took part with him in that zealous project: whom yet the rest of the Clergy and Church cried down for intolerably bloody. Upon their clamours, and the monition of an angel, as the story says, Martin bethinks himself of the oversight; recants his error; and professes, that ever since he had given way to that cruel sentence, he had sensibly found in himself a decay of that power of grace which he had formerly felt.
What kind of courtesy shall we hold it in our Romish Casuistst, that they advise their Confraternity of the Blood of Christ, whom the Italians call their Confortatori; whose office is to attend their Heretics, our Martyrs, with tapers and images to their stakes; not to give way, by any means, that at their holy candles any torches should be lighted for the kindling of that fire, wherewith the Heretics should be burned. Their bloodthirsty cruelty adjudgeth us to that flame, which their merciful taper shall not kindle. They, that are prodigal of their faggots, stick to lend a light; and think themselves well discharged of our blood, which their wax would not be accessary unto. Certainly, these butcheries will never be owned in heaven. Fire and sword are no fit means to settle or recover truthş.
What will ye? saith the blessed Apostle : shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love and in the spirit of meekness ? 1 Cor. iv. 21.
* Barth. Gavant. Praxi Synod. Diocesanæ. Annotat. Sect. 2. + Vide Notas in Concil. Treverens.
Les Confraires de la Sangre de Christo. Martin Vivals. Cas Buc.
Religionem imperare non possumus, quia nemo cogilur ul credat invitus.
He speaks not of a sword : he, whose weapons were not carnal, had nothing to do with that : he speaks of love and meekness; and, at the worst, of a rod *.
And, as he does, so he charges : Brethren, if any man be overtaken in a fault, whether of judgment or manners, ye, which are spiritual, restore such an one, in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also shouldst be tempted ; Gal. vi. 1.
A man of understanding, saith the wisest king, is of a cool spirit; Prov. xvii. 27. margin: not fiery and furious. Christ is the Lamb of God; Satan is a Lion ; John i. 29. Rev. v. 6. 1 Pet. v. 8. the meekness of this Lamb is that, which we must imitate ; not the ferity of that Lion. “ Be not a lion in thine own house,” saith the Wise Man; Ecclus. iv. 30: nor yet in the house of God; as knowing, that the greatest authority in God's Church is given for edification, and not for destruction ; 2 Cor. x. 8. and that the destroying of the body is not the way to save the soul.
It was the praise of Proclus, Bishop of Constantinople, that he dealt mildly with all men; and, so much the sooner, drew men to Christ, with the cords of love.
True belief may be wrought by persuasion; by compulsion, never f. Let strong arguments therefore be fetters, wherewith the erring soul shall be bound : let the two edged sword of the Word and Spirit strike deep into the heart, and divide betwixt the man and his error; so, besides the Church's peace, I know not whether the agent or the patient be more happy. Brethren, saith St. James, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him, let him know, that he, which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins ; James v. 19, 20.
(2.) In the second place, for the seasonable prevention of those mischiefs and disturbances which follow upon erroneous doctrines, it shall be requisite, to take limely order for cutting off the means and occasions of further spreading ihe infection thereof 1 : which are generally these two, either Personal Society, or Communication of Writings.
[1.] In a bodily contagion, we hold it not safe to suffer the sick Persons to converse with the whole; but remove them to a pesthouse, remote from the vicinity of others: a practice, which was also commanded by God himself to his ancient people the Jews, in case of their leprosy, which was equally, though not so deadly, infectious. Why should we not be so wise, for the preservation of souls, from the plague of pernicious doctrines ş?
It is a true word, that of the Wise Man, « He, that toucheth pitch, shall be defiled therewith ;" Ecclus. xii. 1: no less truly seconded by Tertullian : “ Who doubts not,” saith he, “but that faith is continually blurred and defaced by the conversation of in
* Paulus cum ense et libro pingitur.—Mucro furor Pauli liber est conversio Sauli. Durand. Ration. 1. i. c. 3. + Socr. I. vii.c. 40.
Si serpat venenum, et non sequatur illico ant idotum, &c. Bern. Ep. 158.
fidels * ?" Neither is it much other, that St. Paul fetches out of the heathen poet Menander , and thereby makes canonical. Most seasonable and needful therefore was that charge of Moses, in the case of Korah's desperate mutiny, Get you out from about the ta. bernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Åbiram. Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs ; 'lest ye be consumed in all their sins; Num. xvi. 24, 26. And the Chosen Vessel, to the same purpose, unto the Christians under the Gospel, revives the like charge from Isaiah ; Come out from among them ; and be ye separate ; and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you ; 2 Cor. vi. 17. Isa. lii. 111.
Out of the foreknowledge of this danger it was, that God gave order for the riddance of the seven nations out of the Land of Promise: They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me; Exod. xxiii. 33. And when, afterwards, it appeared that some of those forbidden people were still harboured amongst his Jews, the charge is renewed by Joshua, Come not among these nations, íhat remain amongst you ; neither make mention of the name of their gods; Josh. xxiii. 7.
In imitation whereof, it hath been the wisdom of Christian lawgivers, not to allow the residence of heretical persons within their territories. Amongst the rest, that general, and, as it was called, Trabal law was famous, which forbids all heretics, Arians, Macedonians, and others, to convene or abide upon any part of Roman ground 5. And the godly Church-governors of former Ages, have herein not so much followed as led the way to this just zeal of Christian Emperors. The contestations of Athanasius and Ambrose, in this kind, are better known, than that they need any particular relations. In all which, they approved themselves such as they are called, good shepherds, by a seasonable separation of the diseased and scabby sheep from the rest of their flock, that they might escape a common infection.
Upon this ground it is, that both our laws and constitutions have ever straitly inbibited the private convenings of many persons disaffected to the religion established : who, by this means, take the opportunity of diffusing their mis-opinions, io the woeful distraction of the Church ; and to wbet the edge of each other against the received truth : the inconveniencies whereof upon a liberty, not given but taken, we have sufficiently felt, and can never sufficiently bewail.
* Quis non dubitat obliterari quotidie fidem commercio infideli? Tert. ad Uxorem. f 1 Cor. xv. 33. çriqboo, &c.
Firma tutela salulis est scire quem jugius ; periculosa res est hæresis, &c. Chrys. Ilom. 19. in Matth.
Nusquam in Romano solo conveniendi morandique habeant facultatem. Ex Justiniano Pamel. de Diversis Relig. non admittendis. c. 18.
11 Cum schismaticis nec seculuris pants debet esse cummunis, multo minus spiritualis. Cypr. I. i. Ep. 6.
Nulla cum malis convivia vel colloquia misceantur ; simusque ab iis tam separati, quàm sunt illi ab Ecclesia Dei profugi. Cypr.l. i.