Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

church full power and authority to teach sound doctrine and confute the false ; to beat down haughty minds, and raise the weak; to bind and loose the conscience by virtue of God's word; to throw into hell the obstinate, or lift into heaven the penitent; to cast out of God's church, and receive again, such as he rightly judges by the scriptures meet for mercy or justice. And as St Peter calls Christ our Lord “the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls ;" so those bishops that follow Christ will challenge no more authority to them, than their Master Christ had.

I am sure this pleases him well to hear, specially of my mouth, that such spiritual authority is given to spiritual ministers, to execute on all sorts of people: for as they belie us in other things, saying, we teach false doctrine, and move the people to sin ; so they say, that in denying them their usurped authority, we take from them that which is due to them. Yet in granting thus much unto them I mean not, as they teach, that priests and bishops have this power of themselves, or when they be greased with the pope's oil, that they may execute it when and on whom it pleases them; but that God works it by them, as his wisdom thinks good, when they use them as he appointed them. For as the judge or pursuivant, that brings the king's pardon to save a thief on the gallows, is but the prince's servant, and not the chief saviour and deliverer of the condemned ; so in this absolving and raising up the sinful clogged conscience, the chief praise and work is God's, and the bishop or minister is but God's servant, going his message by his word and commandment, to save and loose them whom it pleases God to offer this grace unto.

But methink I hear him say, If bishops in temporal causes have not this authority, why sit they so oft by commission now under the gospel in temporal matters? Indeed, forsomuch as they sit by commission, it proves that it belongs not to their office, as appointed by God, but in that they serve the prince, as they be bounden. Who wills and commands them by commission to serve in such place and time? The bishop's office is chiefly taught in the scripture by the Holy Ghost, and from him he receives his commission, and is not invented by pope or man. If ye compare together St Paul's bishop, described in Timothy and Titus, with such toys as the pope's prelates are ordained to play and feed the people withal, they

are as like as black and white. St Paul's bishop is in the first place licensed to marry: the pope's are forbidden wives, and allowed whores for money. St Paul's bishop must preach : the pope's think it shame to stand in the pulpit. St Paul wills his bishop to “have his children obedient with all reverence :" the popish priest's children sit by other men's fires, and brought up most wantonly. The pope has commanded his bishops to christen bells and ships, to hallow mitres and staves, rings, church-yards, altars, superaltars, albs, vestments, chalices, corporas, palms, ashes, candles, water, fire, bread, oil, cream, flowers, strips, swords, crowns, fingers, &c. This is their whole life; and yet not one such word appointed them by God in scripture. What is this but to forsake God's ordinance, and follow their own devices, to prefer man and his doings to the wisdom of the Holy Ghost? When he has done all these things, he may say, he has served his master the pope, and done his commandment, but not one thing that God bids him.

Yet remains one doubt unanswered in these few words, when he says, that “the government of the church was committed to bishops," as though they had received a larger and higher cominission from God of doctrine and discipline than other lower priests or ministers have, and thereby might challenge a greater prerogative. But this is to be understood, that the privileges and superiorities, which bishops have above other ministers, are rather granted by man for maintaining of better order and quietness in commonwealths, than commanded by God in his word. Ministers have better knowledge and utterance some than other, but their ministery is of equal dignity. God's commission and commandment is like and indifferent to all, priest, bishop, archbishop, prelate, by what name soever he be called, “ Go and teach baptizing in the name Mark xvi. of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost :” and again, “ Whose sins soever ye forgive, they are forgiven, and what- John xx. soever ye loose in earth, it is loosed in heaven, &c.” Likewise the Lord's supper, by whomsoever, being lawfully called, it be ministered, it is of like strength, power and holiness. St Paul calls the elders of Ephesus together, and says, “ the Holy Ghost Acts xx. made them bishops to rule the church of God:” he writes also to the bishops of Philippos, meaning the ministers : for neither Ephesus nor Philippos were so great towns, but one little

power, all.

bishoprick is a greater compass of ground; then they needed not many bishops. Therefore this diversity of absolving sins, invented by idle brains, that a simple priest may absolve some small ones, other greater belong to the bishop; the archbishop claims another higher sort ; the rest and foulest sort pertain to

popes and cardinals, as the fathers and maintainers of them; Ministers? these, I say, are so foolish and childish to believe, that I think of like an it not needful to speak of them : they are not grounded on

God's word, and therefore must needs be untrue, and not to be credited, because our faith hangs only on the holy scripture. Greedy covetousness to enrich themselves has invented these, as also the rest of their superstition, which they term religion. St Jerome, in his commentary on the i. chapter ad Tit, says, that “a bishop and a priest is all one;" and in his epistle ad Evagrium he says, that “the bishop, wheresoever he be, he is of the same power and priesthood'.” Rome makes him not better, nor England makes him worse.

A bishop is a name of office, labour, and pains, rather than of dignity, ease, wealth, or idleness. The word episcopus is Greek, and signifies a scoutwatch, an overlooker, or spy; be cause he should ever be watching and warning, that the devil our enemy do not enter to spoil or destroy. And as in war the watchmen, scouts, or spies, if they fall on sleep or be negligent, they betray their fellows, and deserve death ; so in God's church, if the bishops watch not diligently, and save their sheep, God

has pronounced sentence of death against them by his prophet. Ezek.xxxiii. “ I made thee a watchman to the house of Israel, says the Lord:

thou shall hear the word of my mouth, and declare it them from me. If I say to the wicked, Thou wicked, thou shalt die, and thou wilt not warn him to take heed to his way, he shall die in his wickedness, but his blood I will require of thee.”

But I think the holy bishops he cracks so much of, have

[' Qui, qualis presbyter debeat ordinari, in consequentibus disserens, hoc ait, Si quis est sine crimine, unius uxoris vir, et cetera, postea intulit, Oportet enim episcopum sine crimine esse, tanquam Dei dispensatorem. Idem est ergo presbyter qui episcopus. In Titum, c. 1, v.5. T. rv. p. 413. Paris. 1706.-Ubicunque fuerit episcopus, sive Romæ, sive Eugubü, sive Constantinopoli, sive Rhegii, sive Alexandriæ, sive Tanis, ejusdem meriti, ejusdem est et sacerdotii. Epist. ci. Ad Evangelum. (“Falsely inscribed,” say the Benedictine editors, “in the old editions, Ad Era. grium.) T. iv. Pars i. p. 803. Ed.]

their calling of the Dutch name, that signifies bite sheep, rather than of the Greek, that teaches to save sheep by his painful diligence. If they were not too much blinded in their own foolishness, they might see in the last subsidy granted in the time of their own reign®, that they grant those to be their betters and above them, from whence they receive their authority. The parliament gives them and their collectors power to suspend, deprive, and interdite any priest that pays not the subsidy: in that doing they grant the parliament to be above them, and from it to receive their power ; yea further, to let them see how they be contrary to themselves, they give a lay-man (as most part of their collectors were) power to interdite, suspend and absolve a priest : which both be contrary to their own doctrine.

I had not thought to have said so much on these his few words; and yet much more hangs on this their opinion of claiming their usurped power above princes and other ministers. For if this their opinion were true, that God gave them such authority over his church as they claim, it might be said on them, as the poet says, Ovem lupo commisisti', that God had appointed wolves to keep his sheep.

II. There Saint James being Bishop, and there said Mass.

ALAS, poor mass! that has no better a ground-work to be built on than false lies, and so unlearned a proctor to speak for it. I pray you, who helped St James at mass? who hallowed his corporas, superaltar, chalice, vestments, &c.? who was deacon and sub-deacon to read the epistle and gospel ? who rang to the sacring, and served the pax ?* For I am as sure it was a solemn feast, and that these things were done, as he is that St James said mass. He that told you the one, could have told you the

[ Anno 1557. “The clergy gave her [queen Mary) an entire subsidy of eight shillings in the pound, ‘now, as the act ran, 'when the imminent necessity of the defence of the realm required present aid and remedy. The parliament gave her one subsidy, one 15th and one 10th.” Strype's Memorials, Vol. 111. Part ii. p. 105. Oxford, 1822. ED.]

[ Terence, Eunuch. v. 1. You have committed the sheep to the care of the wolf. Ed.]

[^ Pax: A board, or plate of metal, on which there was a representation of the crucifixion, handed round to the people at mass for them to kiss instead of a mutual salutation--the kiss of peace. Fosbroke. Ed.]

other as well as this, if he had lust; and ye say your mass cannot be said without these trinkets. I pray you, what mass was it? Began it with a great R. of requiem, or scala cæli, or resurrexi, for the plague, or murrain of beasts? part of a trental, or for all christian souls? If ye will have us to believe it, ye must tell us some more. I pray you also, which St James was it? for we read of divers of that name, both in the scripture and others histories, living at that time. It is not enough to say, so it is ; but ye must prove it, if ye will be believed. I pray you, whose mass, as they term it, used he, and of whose making was it? Chrysostom's or Basil's, Gregory's or Ambrose, or that which bears his own name of St James ? What language spake he? Hebrew, Greek, or Latin? These things must be proved, afore your Latin popish patched mass by so many popes in so many years, or it was brought to his perfection, can be proved. Do they think that, because my lord bishop, master doctor, or such scavengers and corner-creepers as this champion is, say it is so, and deceive the people with lies privily in corners, that none dare say against it openly, but all their sayings must be believed ? I do not take them to be of that authority or credit.

But I will not stand with him in all these narrow points, although I could keep him much play in so doing. I agree that James, brother of our Lord, was bishop there at Jerusalem, as the ancient writers testify: but that he said or did any thing like the popish clouted Latin mass, that I utterly deny. For that the church, altar, superaltar, vestments, chalice, &c. should be hallowed, afore they could have mass said in them, on them, or with them, it is plain written in their own law, de Consecra. distinct. i.' When they have proved that St James had these hallowed, how and by whom they were hallowed, then I will believe he said their foolish mass, and not afore: for their mass cannot be done without them. Also, if they will be believed, they must declare what order of mass he used : was it Chrysostom's, Basil's, Justin's, Tertullian's,

[ Sacrificia non nisi super altare et locis Deo consecratis offerantur. Sicut non alii quam sacrati Deo sacerdotes debent missas celebrare, sic non in aliis quam in Domino consecratis locis, id est in tabernaculis divinis precibus a pontificibus delibutis, missas cantare aut sacrificia offerre licet. Decret. Gratian. p. 1979. Antv. 1573. En.]

« PoprzedniaDalej »