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Such are the expressions of this Reverend Vicar, who dedicates his book to his “ Dear Mother, the much-honoured, holy, and blessed Church of England ;” and who salutes her thus, “Dear and blessed Mother, Thou hast been long pestered with undutiful, yea unnatural sons :” this natural son thinks it possible that he might " too mild a temper ; yet declares that he had “ done the best” that he “ thought fit for these opposers,” and bids his “Dear and blessed Mother” farewell, in telling her, “ I kiss thy hand, and rest thy obedient son."
Not content with having misappropriated the text in his title, through three of his sections, the Vicar describes, in the fourth, “ the vice "a of those who would be accounted truly religious, who forsake the assembling of ourselves together; and then have a name of pride, and a name of justice. The name of pride which they take to themselves, is • Separatists.' They read sometimes, in the Scriptures, of separation, especially where Paul saith, according to the Prophet,b • Come out from among them, and be ye separate.'" .. They will needs glory in the name of Separatists,' as others do of Catholics :' their name, of justice, is · Brownists;' which they love not to hear of, because Browne, .. upon wiser thoughts, returned from them, yet how justly they must retain that name may appear in that which follows.” d “ His conceits, within this last age, have lived and died by turns:.. they have had Barrowes, Greenwoods, Penries, Robinsons, Johnsons, Ainsworths, and Smyths; the only men, so far as I know, of that full strain, who have tasted of more or less learning ill placed, from Christ's time downward."
Enough of an opponent whose notes of charity are as dissonant from the tones of true love as his arguments are discordant from Scripture ! Yet ere we dismiss hiun quite, we acknowledge that we are willing to forgive him, if only for the sake of one of his concluding sentences, which concedes so much, that instead of an enemy we adopt him for a friend. The most," he says, in recording his verdict, “ you pretend, are obscure passages which, by the diligentest searchers of Scriptures, have been and are diversly expounded, and therefore no sure footing ; or some obscure examples without laws, which yet, if they were never so pregnant, prove but the lawfulness, not the necessity, of such practices !” f Great is Truth !
The second treatise which we have represented as advantageous for the better insight into the entire controversy about which our pages are professedly occupied, bears the title of “A Friendly Trial of the Grounds tending to Separation : In a plain and modest Dispute touching the lawfulness of a Stinted Liturgy and Set Form of Prayer; Communion in Mixed Assemblies; and, the Primitive Subject, and First Receptacle, of the Power of the Keys. Tending to satisfy the doubtful, recall the wandering, and to strengthen the weak.—By John Ball.—1640.” 410. pp. 314.
Head-line of sect. iii. b 2 Cor. vi. 17. c P. 16. d P. 21. e 'The most curiously elaborated part of Abbot's treatise is the ninth section, of twenty-five pages, intituled “A question by the way, about Baptizing Bastards of Impenitent Christians.”
I P. 248.
Two centuries may be said to have passed by since this author, who is styled “ an excellent schoolman and schoolmaster, a painful preacher, and a profitable writer,” • repeated for his own the dictum of still older writers styled “profitable,” that “ It is not for private persons to take that upon thein which belongeth not unto their place! The phraseology would seem to convey a truism, and so to defy opposition, but the sentiment intended is opposed alike to common sense and tu Scripture. It is reasonable to believe that in religion as in politics, nuinerous individuals who never were invested with official authority are equally competent, and in many cases far more competent, to search into and judge a matter than numbers of others to whom the vestment of authority has imputed but could never impart superiority of intellect and depth of wisdomn. That freedom which does not consist of the enjoyment of mental as well as of bodily independence on mere brutal coercion, is of no value. It is, however, to “private persons peculliarly, that the beloved Apostle addresses the positive injunction “ Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God."d Hence it is scriptural for Private Christians to take upon them to “try" their Teachers : and what fruit follows the trial, if no motive to action be allowed to ensue? They who are also enjoined, by another Apostle, to “ Prove all things,"e were in a sorry state if they had no power to reject evil, and “hold fast that which is good,” in matters which concern their everlasting salvation! Every faithful man's “own mind "f must, herein, be the residence of his assurance; and even his “doubtful ” thoughts are not to be subjected to peremptory rebuke from any one, how“ profitable" soever, who cannot claim to be the searcher of hearts !
Ball's work is composed of thirteen chapters, on the subjects specified upon the title-page ; but as the work must come under further review hereafter, the last in order, but the first in importance, of those subjects, will engage attention here. The thesis of the twelfth chapter, then, is “ The Community of the Faithful; much less two or three, separated froin the world and gathered together into the Name of Christ by a Covenant; are not the proper and immediate Subject of Power Ecclesiastical." This position being proved, the author's purpose, “ to rase the foundation of Separation," " would be accomplished. Robinson's Justification of Separation; against Bernard ;' is the book controverted, But what is to be done here, with arguments of the description of that which will be produced from this twelfth chapter ? Perhaps, one more
• See back, p. 22.
C“ To the Reader," p. iv.-Richard Hooker avers in his Eccles. Polity, bk. ii. sect. 7, that the "insolency" of private judgment “concerning matter of Scripture" must be “represt." He did not then recollect, probably, that in his Discourse of Justification, sect. 12, he had averred concerning partakers of the Error of the Church of Rome, that “The people following the conduct of their guides, and observing as they did, exactly that which was prescribed, thought they did God good service, when indeed they did dishonour him.” di John iv. l. . 1 Thess. v. 21.
I Rom. xiv, 5. & Ver. 1.
h To the Realer, p. v. See back, vol. i. chap. xii.
dangerous in its import, certainly not in its design, could not be selected froin any other writer, short of a professed advocate of the claims of the Romish Supremacy !
“ Power Ecclesiastical, both of Order and Jurisdiction, as it is usually called, is signified by the power of the Keys,' or 'the power of binding or loosing : ' but the power of the Keys’ is immediately given to the Ministers and Guides of the Church, from God; and not from the Church, or Community of the Faithful. For the Keys' contain not only Order, but Power, Exercise, and all Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, which the Guides of the Church received immediately from Christ. As Peter received the keys of the kingdom of Heaven,' so the rest of the Apostles ; and as the Apostles, so all their successors received thein from Christ. The Apostles had extraordinary Power; and might, in some cases, exercise it, singularly and personally, without concurrence of others; and their Commission was of larger extent than the Charge of Ordinary Pastors or Church-governors: but the Spiritual Power to bind and loose, remit and retain sins, open and shut the kingdom of Heaven, is communicated to all Officers, from the hand and by the mandate of the same Lord and Master. One Ministerial Power, may be, in degree, of dignity above another; for the Power of one may be about more noble acts than the power of another; or, in the same kind, the Power of one may be more extended, and the Power of another more contracted. Thus the Deacons had for the object of their Power and care, not so excellent a thing as that of Pastors, Evangelists, and Apostles: thus the Power of Ordinary Pastors was not so universal as the Apostles'; even as in the orders of servants domestical, some are employed about lesser, some about greater and more honourable subjects : but all power of the servants must be derived from the same master of the family upon whom they depend, and unto whom they owe service ; and the whole Power of the Lord's Ministers is derived immediately from Christ, and not from the Faithful knit together in covenant."
What Protestant ever penned a passage of more fearful import ? The saving clause, that the Power" is derived immediately from Christ,” would be readily admitted, and was claimed for themselves by the Papists; and the whole paragraph is so constructed that it would not have excited much astonishment, had it been published thirty-two or three years earlier, if it had found its way into one of their most plausible productions.
The final chapter of this treatise, being the thirteenth, and headed “ An Examination of sundry Positions laid down by Mr. Jacob, in his Exposition of the Second Cominandment, tending to Separation;" we notice simply to inforın any who may be desirous of learning where to meet with Jacob's positions combated; and if such should see that the negative of the positions is proved by Ball, he or they will have succeeded in penetrating through a cloud of hypotheses thick enough to obscure the mental vision of any but himself or themselves. Try for example, “ To meet together in one place, is not so essential to a Church, but it may continue one, in laws, ordinances, government, and communion ; though in respect of multitude, distance of place, and many other occurrences, they be constrained to assemble and hold their meetings severally. And that it was thus in the Churches planted by the Apostles, et is most probable."a Again : “It was not the Apostles practice to ordain Pastors in those places where, as yet, no sheep were to be seen, or very few: and it had been inconvenient to tie the Faithful to one Congregation, when, by reason of multitude, they could not meet in one place to their edification. What then remaineth, but that they might assemble in divers places and yet hold Communion in laws, ordinances, government, and officers ? When Presbyters were first assigned to their particular cures, it is not certain.” b
a P. 238.
D“ The Protestants' Apology for the Roman Church. By John Brerely, Priest. 1608." 4to. pp. 648. The compiler's real name was James Anderton : his object was to entrap the unwary into a belief of the confirmation of the Popish doctrines, froni the incautious concessions of Protestants; for which purpose he had but too many colourable pretences.
The year 1640 presents various points of interest worthy of attention, among which it is not too much to say that the acts of the ruling Ecclesiastics were nefarious. The Parliament which assembled in April, was dissolved hastily, in the beginning of May, but the Convocation having discovered a musty precedent, of the 27th year of Elizabeth, continued its sittings, “not without some trouble of mind,” says Heylyn, “ in regard of the apparent danger which seemned to threaten them!" Their projects resulted in the publication, on the last day of June, of seventeen new Canons, of such a description as sealed and accelerated the downfall of the Episcopacy. The fifth of these Canons is directed against “ All Anabaptists, Brownists, Separatists, Familists, or other Sect or Sects.”d The whole were so obnoxious that all parties, and some even in the Church itself, had ground of complaint against one or other of them. Tumults it is true, had previously occurred; for, on Monday, May the Ulth, the “ Archbishop's house at Lambeth, had been assaulted by a rabble of Anabaptists, Brownists, and other Sectaries,” so says Heylyn, " to the number of five hundred and upwards; but seeing they could not force that house, resolved to turn their fury on the Convocation. .. To such extremities were the poor Clergy brought during these confusions; in danger of the King's displeasure, if they rose; of the People's fury, if they sate; in danger of being beaten up by tumults when they were at their work; of being beaten down by the following Parliament, when their work was done."e Happily, the Convocation had not accomplished all its projects : “ There had been a design," Heylyn tells us, “ touching the drawing and digesting of an English Pontifical!” But the troubles of the times growing greater and greater, it was thought expedient “ to defer the prosecution of it till a fitter conjuncture." Heylyn adds, “ It is a matter which deserves no small admiration, that these Canons—like the first building of the Temple, without the noise of axe and hammer,-should pass the House with a P. 298. b P. 299.
c Life of Laud, p. 430. d The name
Independents” not being mentioned, is thought to prove that it had not yet become popularly known. e Life of Laud, p. 430.
such a general calm, and be received with so many storms and tempests when they went abroad!"" The House of Commons, in the “ following" Parliament, December the 16th, voted the “whole body” of those Canons, “ to be against the fundamental laws of the realm; against the King's prerogative ; the property of the subject; the right of Parliaments; and, to tend to faction and sedition." A more comprehensive indictinent cannot well be imagined ; but with some divines the Church never errs! It excited ferment enough, however, for even while the High Commission was sitting at St. Paul's, October the 22nd, “ a mixt multitude," as it is alleged, of Brownists, Anabaptists, and Puritans, of all sorts, to the number of two thousand, and upwards," dispersed the Court; crying out “No Bishops! No High Commission!" From which it would appear that there were no other Patriots, in those days; but they could not claim that honour exclısively, lest the dishonour of all the excesses oppression drave them and others into, should be theirs also.
Heylyn found how things were going with the Church ; and saw that that decline was commenced and alınost consummated, which, he says, “our judicious Hooker had presaged; who had assigned her
fourscore' years for her growth and flourishing, and nothing afterwards but sorrow and disconsolation. For,” he goes on to say, “ finding nothing more frequent in the mouths of men than this, “That they which endowed Churches with lands, poisoned religion; that tithes and oblations, are now in the sight of God as the sacrificed blood of goats; .. and that fulness of bread having made the children wanton, it is without any scruple to be taken away from them ;' he made upon the whole matter," continues Heylyn, this ensuing judgment: By this means,' saith he, or the like suggestions, received with all joy, and with like sedulity practised in certain parts of the Christian world, they have brought to pass that as David doth say of man, so it is in hazard to be verified concerning the whole religion and service of God— The time thereof may peradventure fall out to be threescore years and ten, -or if' strength do serve unto fourscore, what followeth is likely to be
· Ibid. p. 442.—“The Convocation-house-the regular and legal as
assembling of the clergy-customarily beginning and ending with Parliaments, was, after the determination of the last, by a new writ continued, and sate for the space of above a month under the proper title of a Synod; made Canons, which was thought it might do; and gave subsidies out of Parliament, and enjoined oaths, which certainly it might not do: in a word, did many things which in the best of times might have been questioned, and therefore were sure to be condemned in the worst, -—what fuel it was to the fire that ensued, shall be mentioned in its place, and drew the same prejudice upon the whole body of the clergy to which, before only some few clergymen were exposed.” Clarendon, Hist. Rebel. pt. i. bk. ii. ed. 8vo. 1721. vol. i. p. 148.
b Life of Laud, p. 442.
· P. 453.—"A book was published by the name of 'Landensium Autocatacrisis; or, The Canterburian's Self-Conviction ;' in which the author of it ['Robert Baillie'] did endeavour to prove out of the books, speeches, and writings of the Archbishop himself, as also of some Bishops, and other learned men, who had exercised their pens in the late disputes, That there was a strange design in hand for bringing in Superstition, Popery, and Arminianism." P. 455.
d Psal. xc. 10.