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busy and unprofitable litigations : put up, on both sides, your angry pens: turn your swords into scythes, to cut down the rank corruptions of the Roman Church ; and your spears into mattocks, to beat down the walls of this Mystical Babylon. There are enemies enough abroad: let us be friends at home.
But, if our sense be the same, you will ask why our terms vary; and why we have chosen to fall upon that manner of expression, which gives advantage to the adversary, offence to our own.
Christian Reader, let me beseech thee, in the bowels of Christ, to weigh well this matter; and then tell me, why such offence, such advantage should be rather given by my words, than by the same words in the mouth of Luther, of Calvin, of Zanchy, Junius, Plessee, Hooker, Andrews, Field, Crakenthorp, Bedell, and that whole cloud of learned and pious authors, who have, without exception, used the same language; and why more by my words now, than twenty years ago, at which time I published the same truth, in a more full and liberal expression. Wise and charitable Christians may not be apt to take offence, where none is given.
As for any advantage, that is hereby given to the adversaries, they may put it in their eye, and see never the worse. say they, we are of the True Visible Church : this is enough for us : why are we forsaken? why are we persecuted ? why are we solicited to a change?"
Alas, poor souls ! do they not know, that hypocrites, lewd persons, reprobates, are no less members of the True Visible Church What gain they by this, but a deeper damnation ? To what pur. pose did the Jews cry, The Temple of the Lord, while they despited the Lord of that Temple? Is the sea-weed ever the less vile, because it is dragged up together with good fish? They are of the Visible Church, such as it is : what is this, but to say, they are nei. ther Jews, nor Turks, nor Pagans ; but misbelievers, damnably heretical in opinion, shamefully idolatrous in practice ? Let them make their best of this just eulogy, and triumph in this style: may we never prosper, if we envy them this glory. Our care shall be, that, besides the Church sensible, as Zuinglius distinguisheth *,
be of the Church spiritual; and, not resting in a fruitless visibility, we may find ourselves lively limbs of the mystical body of Christ: which only condition shall give us a true right to heaven; while fashionable profession in vain cries, Lord, Lord, and is barred out of those blessed yates, with an I know you
riot. Neither may the reader think, that I afect to go by-ways of speech : no, I had not taken this path, unless I had found it both more beateu and fairer. I am not so unwise, to teach the adversary what disadvantage I conceive to be given to our most just cause, by the other manner of explication. Let it suffice to say, that this form of defence more fully stops the adversary's mouth, in those two main and envious scandals, which he casts upon our Holy Religion; Defection from the Church, and Innovation : than
* Epist. I. ii. Resp. ad Catabaptist.
which, no suggestion hath wont to be more prevalent with weak
Fear not therefore, Dear Brethren, where there is no room for danger : suspect not fraud, where there is nothing but plain, honest simplicity of intentions: censure not, where there is the same truth, clad in a different, but more easy, habit of words.
But, if any man's fervent zeal shall rather draw him to the liking of that other rougher and harder way, so as, in the mean time, he keep within the bounds of Christian charity, I tax him not: let every man abound in his own sense; only let our hearts and tongues and hands conspire together, in peace with ourselves, in war with our common enemies.
Thus far have I, Right Honourable, in a desire of peace, poured out myself into a plain explication and easy accordance. Those, whom I strive to satisfy, are only mistakers: whose censures, if some man would have either laughed out or despised; yet I have condescended to take off, by a serious deprecation and just defence.
It is an unreasonable motion, to request minds, prepossessed with prejudice, to hear reason. Whole volumes are nothing, to such, as have contented themselves only to take up opinions upon trust; and will hold them, because they know where they had them : in vain should I spend myself in beating upon such anvils. But, for those ingenuous Christians, which will hold an ear open for justice and truth, I have said enough, if ought at all needed.
Alas, my Lord, I see, and grieve to see it'; it is my Rochet that bath offended, and not I: in another habit, I long since published this, and more, without dislike: it is this colour of innocence, that hath bleared some over-tender eyes. Wherein I know not whether I should more pity their error, or applaud my own sufferings. Although I may not say, with the Psalmist, What hath the righteous done ? let me, I beseech your Lordship, upon this occasion, have leave to give a little vent to my just grief in this point.
The other day I fell upon a Latin pamphlet, homely for style, tedious for length, zealously uncharitable for stuff; wherein the author (only wise in this, that he would be unknown) in a grave fierceness fies in the face of our English Prelacy: not so much inveighing against their persons, which he could be content to reverence, as their very places. I blest myself to see the case so altered. Heretofore, the person had wont to bear off many blows from the function : now, the very function wounds the person. In what case are we, when that, which should command respect, brands us! What black art hath raised up this spirit of Ærius from bis pit? Woe is me, that zeal should breed such monsters of conceit! It is the honour, the pomp, the wealth, the pleasure, he saith,
TO THE RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,
LORD BISHOP OF COVENTRY AND LITCHFIELD.
sheet of paper,
MAY your leisure serve you to read over this poor sheet of and to censure it. Your name is left out in the catalogue of some other famous Divines mentioned in the body of it, that you might not be forestalled. I suffer for that, wherein yourself, amongst many renowned Orthodox Doctors of the Church, are my partner.
As if you had not already said it enough, I beseech your Lordship, say once more what you think of the
True Being and Visibility of the Roman Church. Your excellent and zealous writings have justly won you a constant reputation of great learning and no less sincerity, and have placed you out of the reach of suspicion : no man can, no man dare misdoubt
decision. If you find any one word amiss in this explication, spare me not: I shall gladly kiss your rod, and hold your utmost severity a favour. But, if you here meet with no other than the words of a commonly. professed truth, acquit me so far as to say, there is no reason I should suffer alone. And let the wilful or ignorant mistakers know, that they wound innocency; and, through my sides, strike their best friends.
I should not herein desire you to tender my fame, if the injury done to my name did not reflect upon my holy station, upon my well-meant labours, upon almost all the famous and well-deserving authors that have stood for the truth of God; and, lastly, if I did not see this mistaken quarrel to threaten much prejudice to the Church of God, whose peace is no less dear to us both than our lives.
In earnest desire and hope of some few satisfactory lines from your Reverend Hand, in answer to this my bold, yet just, suit, I take leave, and am
Your much devoted and loving Brother,
* Thomas Morton, Bishop of Chester 1615, translated to Litchfield and Coveriery 1618, and to Durham 1632, died Sep. 22, 1659, aged 95 years. EDITOR
of the Episcopal Chair, that is guilty of the depravation of our calling; and, if himself were so overlaid with greatness, he should suspect his own fidelity. Alas, poor man, at what distance doth he see us ! Foggy air useth to represent every object far bigger than it is. Our Saviour, in his Temptation upon the Mount, had only the glory of those kingdoms shewed to him by that subtle Spirit; not the cares and vexations: right so are our dignities exhibited to these envious beholders : little do these men see the toils and anxieties, that attend this supposedly-pleasing eminence.
All the revenge, that I would wish to this uncharitable censurer, should be this, that he might be but for a while adjudged to this só glorious seat of mine; that so his experience might taste the bewitching pleasures of this envied greatness: he should well find more danger of being over-spent with work, than of languishing with ease and delicacy.
For me, I need not appeal to heaven: eyes enough can witness, how few free hours I have enjoyed, since I put on these robes of sacred honour. Insomuch as I could find in my heart, with holy Gregory, to complain of my change; were it not, that I see these public troubles are so many acceptable services to my God, whose glory is the end of my being. Certainly, my Lord, if none but earthly respects should sway me, I should heartily wish to change this palace, which the Providence of God and the bounty of my gracious Sovereign bath put me into, for my quiet cell at Waltham; where I had so sweet leisure to enjoy God, your Lordship, and myself. But I have followed the calling of my God, to whose service I am willingly sacrificed; and must now, in a holy obedience to bis Divine Majesty, with what cheerfulness I may, ride out all the storms of envy, which unavoidably will alight upon the least appearance of a conceived greatness. 'In the mean time, whatever I may seem to others, I was never less in my own apprehensions ; and, were it not for this attendance of envy, could not yield myself any wbit greater than I was. Whatever I am, that Good Göd of mine make me faithful to him; and compose the unquiet spirits of men, to a conscionable care of the public peace : with which prayer, together with the apprecation of all happiness to your Lordship and all yours, I take leave, and am
Your Lordship's truly devoted,
In all hearty observance and duty,