Note: This is part of the Leveller Collection of Tracts and Pamphlets.
T.52 [1645.12.29] [Richard Overton], The Ordinance for Tythes Dismounted, from all Mosaicall, Evangelicall, and true Magesteriall Right (29 December 1645).
[Richard Overton], The Ordinance for Tythes Dismounted, from all Mosaicall, Evangelicall, and true Magesteriall Right. By this Valliant and most Victorious Champion, the great Anti-Clergy of our Times, via Superlative Holyness, Reverend Young Martin Mar-Priest, sonne to Old Martin the Metropolitane. Commended and Presented to the Petitioners of Hertford-shire, for their further encouragement, and for Provocation of other Counties to become Petitionary with them against the unhallowed illegall Exaction of Tythes.
They are greedy Dogges, which never can have enough, they all look to their own wayes, every one for his gaine. Isai. 56.11.
They eat the fat, they cloath themselves with the Wooll, they kill them that are fed. Ezek. 34.2.
They bite with their teeth, and cry peace: and hee that putteth not into their mouth, they even prepare warre against him. Mic. 3.5.
Europe, Printed by Martin Claw-Clergy, Printer to the Reverend Assembly of Divines, for Bartholomew Bang-Priest, and are to be sold at his shop in Toleration-street, at the signe of the Subjects Liberty, right opposite to Persecution-Court, 1646.
The pamphlet contains the following parts:
29 December 1645
TT1, p. 411; Thomason E.313 (27).
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
To the Reverend Assembly of DIVINES, Assembled in Holy Convocation at Westminster; Blessing and Benediction from our Superlative Holiness, Reverend Young MARTIN MAR-PRIEST.
Hearken with fear and reverence, unto the Words of His Holiness, Reverend Young Martin Mar-Priest, as you shall find them written in the fourth Book of his venerable Sanctity, The Ordinance for Tythes dismounted. But Beloved, the Glasse hasteneth, and it is not seasonable now this Good Time to detaine you too long, for I know, though out of your Reformed Piety, you dislike the Papall Sanctity thereof, yet out of the Presbyterian accuteness of your Stomakes, you would willingly consecrate your Reverend Intrailes with the delicate, belly-timber solemnities thereof; for I know, Plum-Pottage Minc’d Pyes and other such toothsome toyes have ever been very naturall & pleasing to the men of our Cloth: Wherefore, Dearly Beloved, least I should transgresse too much upon the fervent Zeal of our Appitites, I shall leave the division of the matter to your selves, as able proficients therein, after a most Scholastick method; onely I shall Devote those my Pious Observations upon the Divinity, of your Title of the Exaction of Tythes, unto your most Sacred Protection and Perusall, as a Christmas Charoll, or pastime for those Holy-dayes, for your better concoction, not doubting, but even your selves will also shortly be throughly digested, and be cast out as the Excrements of the Land, if you doe not put a swift period to your Tythe plundering Divinity. And to that end I have in some measure discouered the iniquity and vanity of your pretended Jure Divino to the Exaction of Tythes; dispers’d and clear’d up your mysty fogges, wherewith you have besotted, corrupted and infattuated the peoples understandings into a blind zeal thereof, whereby (if they please) they may now see, that the priviledge and property thereof is their owne, both by Divine and Humane Right : and I have therefore the more endeavoured it this time, that now through information thereof, the whole kingdom might become assistant to those famous Beginners of Episcopall extirpation, the ever to be Honoured Petitioners of Hertfordshire, who now have broke the tie of this grand Oppression, even pluck out the main Pillar of Popedome, Petitioning against the insufferable, unjust imposition of Tythes, that the rest of the Counties may follow them, as they did against the Bishops, and the Lord stir them up, and give them good successe, that our Children after us may reap the benefit of their happy beginnings.
Thus (grave and Reverend ASSEMBLY,) in testimony that our Holynesse is abundantly inspir’d for, Presbyter, with all your Predicatory Fragments, I shall not further detaine your Sanctities from the zeal of the season, but end our Dedicatory Sermon, and commit my Reverend Auditors to the peace of God, which passeth all mens understandings, and rest, yours no longer, because you are so ungratefull, not to grattify my former demerits with a Bouncing Parsonage. Our Holynesse is thereat incens’d, and proclaimes open Warre against you and your Sonne Jack (Arme, Arme, Arme, yee Tyth mongers, or else your Cloth’s undone) MARTIN is resolv’d to enter your Main Fort, to try your Great Hallowed Ordinance, though in the Firing, it singe his Feathers, burne his Wings, and blow his soul unto Tyburne. I’le doe’t, though I perish. And let this Subscription be your Allarme.
Reverend Young MARTIN MAR-PRIEST, that scornes your mercey, and bids defynace to your malice. Tan, tara, ra-ra, tan tara.
From all Mosaicall, Evangelicall, and true Magisteriall Right.
The Clergy utterly untitled of their JURE DIVINO, for their Exaction of TYTHES.
WHEREAS under the late Regall and Episcopall exorbitancy, the Exaction of Tythes hath for a long time been coersively imposed upon the People of this Kingdome, for the advance and magnificence of one sort thereof, entitled the Clergy, who (out of their divine Providence) have very prudently ever pretended and pleadeded their Title thereto, to be, JURE DIVINO, whereby both Magestrate and People have ever been perswaded, as their duties, the one to command, the other to obey the exaction thereof, thorough the mysterious subtilty & specious pretences of that Chemarin Sect, that Canniball litter of Tyth-mongring Negroes: And now that we might have a thorough Reformation (both in and person, I should say) in Church and State, under the Parliamentary and Presbyterian Authority, the same is very wisely and discreetly continued and reconfirmed: O Reader, here with Reverend MARTIN, stand amazed at their wit! down upon thy knees, up with thy hands, and gloor (Presbyter-like,) with thine eyes, admiring and adoring this happy Reformation, and sing Hallalujah for ever, and for ever, that we are blest with such a Parliament, such a Synod, such a Presbytery, such a bomination bundance of Ordinances; Ordinances upon Ordinances, even whole Cart-loades of contradicting Ordinances, Beloved Brethren to establish such a croaking gender of frisking froggy Presbyters, bred in, and skipt from the myery Bogges of Episcopacy, thus to inrich them with the Tenths of the Kingdome, by a more powerfull and obligatory Authority then before: Let all the land feare them let all the Inhabitants thereof stand in awe of them, for they but speake, and it is done, out of their primative Zeal, they doe but claime them of Divine Right, and the godly Parliament forthwith most prudently invest their Sanctities, (to confirme as infallible the Divinity of their Title) with a most juditious elaborate Act, the Hallowed Ordinance for Tythes, (O the purity of our Times!) dignity’d and enrich’d with power coercive to plunder the Goods, and imprison the Persons of such as shall refuse the paiment thereof; whereby the generallity of the people are awed, and dare not prye, or once glance into the Arke of their sacred Title, least they be smit with a Confiscation, &c. that the Divinity of their Title goes now as currant for Tith-mate amongst the vulgarity, as if it had the Gospel, Image and Superscription upon it, that now the silly soules, even in the middest of their millitary taxations, Issachur-like, humbly couch under the burthen of their Exaction, when as indeed, in equity they had more need to substract then to adde, to shake off, rather then to contract an unnecessary Burthen to their over-burthened shoulders. But the Presbyters doe not greatly care, considering the breadth of their backs.
Wherefore out of duty unto God, and love unto my Country in this time of publick necessity; I shall, as neere as I can, discover the vanity of their Title, that the oppressed may see it, and something ease themselves of their Burthen. But that I may the better evince it to every rationall and ordinary capacity, and stop the mouth of the most materiall opposition, I shall make triall of their divine Title in their most fundamentall pretences, which may naturally be digested into their deductions from three heads, to wit, Mosaicall, Evangelicall, and Humane; and so answerable reduce my matter into three Sections.
For on these 3 Pillars the Clergy would erect the cock-loft of their Jure Divino, even from thence hold and maintaine their Tenure of Divine Right unto the exaction of Tythes; but I shall Impartially examine the divinity of their Title deducted from these severall Heads, as being the most rationall and satisfactory way of tryall, to lay the Axe unto the root of the Tree, to unbottome their building, for if I pluck from them their main Pillars, their Cathedrall props, downe tumbles the great Goddesse, Jure Divino, Pulpits, Priests, Tythe-pigges, Pullen and all; and what a fray then there will be, judge yee. And first concerning the Authority of their Mosaicall Title.
That wee may the better make tryall hereof, it is to be considered, that the Clergy of this Kingdome doe Parochially Officiate therein as the Ministers of JESUS CHRIST (as they pretend themselves to be) and yet for their Ministry require the truth of all our Substance, by vertue of a Mosaicall Authority, the which how in equity they can doe, in case they should be such, they must evidence how Gospel Ordinances, such as are proper to the Church of Christ, are to be practised, and to receive their authority from a Mosaicall Institution? If they may not, that is, if nothing can give priviledge or right to an Evangelicall property, but an Evangelicall Authority; then why doe you for your Ministery of the Gospel (as you would make us beleeve it is) impose upon us the bondage of a Mosaicall Institution, to wit, the Exaction of Tythes, whose Authority, Institution and Beeing was from the Law of Moses, and therein for that service terminated for the Ministers of his House?
If they be to be practised from Mosaicall Institutions; then, Is not that to make the Gospel of none effect, of lesse authority then the Law, and so CHRIST inferiour to Moses, his Ordinances insufficient, and not binding, himself necessitated to be beholden to Moses for Authority to strengthen his Institutions, Ordnances, &c. and to make them obligatory, undervalue his Mediatorship, make himself insufficient for a Saviour? for should he not have Authority of himself for his own Institutions, Ordinances, &c, then would hee be farre lesse sufficient to be the Redeemer of the World; for the worke of Resurrection, Salvation, &c. is of greater Power, then to make a Law Obligatory, for if he be not able for the lesse, it is impossible hee should doe the greater: And so this is no other, then to denie his MEDIATOURSHIP, his Redemption, the Resurrection, &c.
Therefore to practise Evangelicall Ordinances, to build the House of Christ with the mouldred rubbidge and ruines of the Law, to invest Christs Ministers, with a bare Mosaicall Authority, to claime an Evangelicall Title from a Judaicall Institution, to take Tythes under the Gospel, by vertue of Moses his Commission, cannot possibly be without those horrible absurdities, destructive to all Religion and Morallity.
Wherefore (venerable Brethren,) you must, if you will have such a manner of Maintenance to be yours of Divine Right, prove your Authority from the Commission of Christ, have a Gospel Ordinance for it: but let me tell you by the way, when you have done that, to wit, proved the exaction of Tythes from the Gospel, for the Ministers of the Gospel, yet it remaineth for you, to prove your selves to be such Ministers, or else wee shall neither esteem you for the one, or give you the other, for if of Evangelicall Right they be due, and the men of your cloth the Persons to whom they are due, then from an Evangelicall Authority, you must prove both the one and the other, your selves the very men, and this that you require, to be the same that CHRIST allotteth his Servants, for their Ministeriall, Evangelicall Function: For if He be your WORK-MASTER, and you doe His WORKE, all Authority being His, and onely derivative from him, He must set the Wages, and the wages hee setteth, you must therewith only be contented: If you doe the WORKE, you must have the Wages of the WORKE, otherwise not: if his Wages doe not content you, then you are none of His Servants, for you are his servants whose wages you receive; and if you receive Moses his Wages, then you are Moses his servants, and so must doe his WORKE, as offer Sacrifice and the like, which were to repaire and rear up the Partition Wall againe, which CHRIST hath broake downe betwixt JEW and GENTILE, to denie him come in the flesh, &c.
Therefore (Reverend Brethren,) you must not thinke to doe CHRIST’S WORKE, and exact Moses his Wages; if out of your Piety you thinke good of the Worke; out of your honesty you must be content with the Wages belonging to the Worke.
And truly (Pious Sirs,) till such time as you give us an expresse Commandement out of the Gospel for this Legall, Levitticall exaction of Tythes, for your service, which you pretend is the Service of the Gospel, till then wee shall be bold to forbeare the paiment thereof; but no sooner shall you have proved your selves the Ministers of the Gospel, from a Gospel Authority, and Tythes the wages of the Gospel, from a Gospel Ordinance, and your service which you performe, to be the service for which such wages is allowed by the Gospel; I say, no sooner shall you make these 3. appeare, but I shall yeeld you your Right, grant your Title to be Jure Divino, and perswade all my Independant Brethren to doe the like to the men of your Order; Then will wee pay you your Arreares, fill your Barnes with Tyth-Cocks, both of Hay, and all manner of graine, enrich you with Heards of Tyth-Pigges, flocks of Lambes, of Chickens, Geese, &c.
Then will wee make a Presbyter as glorious, as Pontificall; yea, feed him as fat as a Bishop: Her’s newes for the men of your cloath; goe, proclame a yeere of Jubilee, get an Ordinance for it, or at least some directions from both Houses to keep their Worships in action; for you know their Historicall Directions are mystical Ordinances, witnesse their late Directions for their Congregationall, Classicall, Provinciall and Nationall High Commission-Courts, which at their comming out were under the notion of Directions, to feel the pulse and temper of the people, to try whether either they could beare them, or were afraid to reject them, and now finding them either grosly ignorant, carelesse, or else cowardly and degenerate, that they neither doe nor dare oppose them, though it be to enslave themselves and their Posterity in a worse then an Arbitrary, Regall, or Episcopall servitude, to wit, in endles suites and appeales from Court unto Court; hereunto they are concluded in that most Religious and spirituall Ordinance for the Supper, as absolute Ordinances, as unalterable as the Directory; for indeed, at the first onset, it was not policy, to rush such a diabollicall and villanous invention point blanck upon us, with an, It is Decreed and Ordained by the Lords and Commons Assembled in Parliament. But after a more mysterious manner of Ordination, they intrude it upon us unawares in the godly and specious vizor of Rules and Directions, as if our Religious Parliament-men had such a spirituall and holy care over us, to give us such wholsome and Pious Directions, while indeed under this innocent apparition, in the shape of Lambs, they are no other then ravening Wolves, rending and tearing us in pieces for did they not pretend the spirituall welfare of the Kingdom in those Directions, seem to give them, out of a godly care and pious Providence over us, for our more spirituall Peace and well-beeing, but what they are, let all the people judge, let them consider whether there can be the least dramme of honesty or Religion in them, or of respect to the Liberty of this free-borne Nation therein, seeing they lay upon us a hardier yoake then ever was laid upon us in the dayes of the Bishops. Now we shall be so intangled and enthrall’d to endlesse suites and Controversies from Court unto Court, that if wee once fall into the all-ravenous powers of those spirituall Courtiers, wee must scarce expect to finish a suit in 7. yeeres, and what cheating and cozening, what pilling and polling, raking and exacting of fees will there be amongst the severall Officers of those severall Courts, every ordinary capacity is able to judge of; it will be the greatest thraldome and bondage that ever the Kingdome was involved into, and by this Ordinance of the Supper, I am afraid we shall all goe Supportlesse to bed, for there are such baits and entanglements laid for the people, to catch and intrap them, as multitudes must needs daily fall into their hands, and when they are fallen into the ravenous jawes of this Hydra-headed High-Commission, they must needs be devoured, there is no way to helpe themselves; if they be offended, at the Congregationall High-Commission, they may appeale to the Classicall High-Commission, if they cannot be righted there, then to appeale to the Provinciall High-Commission, and from the Provinciall to the Nationall High-Commission, and from thence forsooth, if wee can finde no Justice in our tedious expensive traverse through these Spirituall HIGH-PLACES, after wee have trudg’d from High-Commission to High-Commission, removed our suits from Court unto Court, been at vast and unreasonable expenses in Fees from Officer to Officer, we may appeale (forsooth) to our GODS themselves, the PARLIAMENT (life-Ever-lasting, world without end, AMEN.) Of whom, how may wee expect Mercy or Justice then, that thus before-hand whip us with the stings of Scorpions, and grinde us betwen the devouring JAWES of such devilish Tyrannicall Courts, which will even crush our bones in pieces, and squeese out our very marrow and juice, suck out our very hearts-blood, like so many greedy salvage Canniballs, and devour our flesh, and swallow it down into the filthy consuming panches of the barbarous blood-thirsty Clergy: For what Ecclesiasticall Court ever was there in any Nation of the World, managed by the Clergy, which was not improved to wicked, bloody and Tyrannicall ends? Have they not proved (where ever they have been) the most insufferable burthen and Bondage the Common-wealth ever sustained, or groaned under the most destructive to the Peoples Liberty, Peace, and well-being? Consider but the Spannish Inquisition, and our late High-Commission, of what desperate and destructive consequence they have been to the Peoples weal, which after long processe of time proved so intollerable to the people, that they have, and daily spend their lives and fortunes to free them and their Posterities from such spirituall slavery, and usurpation of their Liberties, which they so long had sustained by such Ecclesiasticall Courts, which very Courts were Voted and put downe, as Tyrannicall, and destructive to a Commonwealth by this very Parliament, which thus would intrude upon us far more and worse then ever we had, or heard of before: It seems when our old Fathers the Bishops grew decreped and unable, strugling and gasping for life, their young, briske and spermatick Sonnes the Presbyters committed incest with their old Boldam Mother High-Commission, and after her long Synodean travell, by the skilfull subtill powerfull hand of a Parliamentary Midwife, is delivered of a litter of ugly Kubbs, every one more barbarous, cruell, bloody and Tyrannicall then their Mother. For the Kingdom must be divided into severall Provinces (not Diocesses forsooth, that’s an Episcopall terme,) and every Parish throughout all the Provinces in the whole Kingdom must have a bloody Inquisition Court founded in it, which High-Commission-like shall have power to give and examine upon Oath, and such and such Parishes in each Province shall make a Classis, so that in one Province shall be severall Classes, and every Classis shall be constituted and founded into another Inquisition, which shall have Power over so many particular Parishes of such a Province, and over that Classicall Inquisition, there must be a Provinciall Inquisition, and over the Provinciall there must be a Nationall Inquisition: Here’s like to be Inquisition after Inquisition, worse then the Spanish, after the blood of the people; wee thought our selves at the worst when we knew none but the High-Commission, but what shall we thinke now, that are like to be ten thousand times worse?
The Bishops Courts stript us of our clothes, but the Presbyters Courts will strip us of coates, skinnes, lives and all, for any thing that I can discerne, For how have these men, before they be invested with this Power, before these Courts be setled, both in their Writings and Preachings suggested, sollicited and moved the Parliament to cut off the contrary-minded to them; Byfeild in his Sermon, desired that their Houses might be pull’d downe, and Gibbets made of the Timber to hang them, and to that end all of them have endeavoured to get this bloody Power into their hands, to that end that they might persecute them from Court to Court, even unto death, for if they meant freindly towards them, they would never endeavour after such Courts of torture and torment, were it not to confound them with cruelty, they never intend to deale with them by love, but by Terror and Violence. But what kinds of successe this Kingdome and people may expect thereby, they may easily discerne, if they reflect but their eyes upon the woefull Issues of our former Ecclesiasticall Courts, and for better successe by them, I dare be bold to Prophesse they shall never obtaine.
1. But to returne from this too tedious digression, to our matter, or present Controversie in hand, be pleased (Venerable Brethren,) to consider, that if you will have Tythes still to remaine, and to be yours of Divine Right, from a Mosaicall Authority, then you must be the Persons to whom Tythes were commanded to be paid, for they were nor could be of Divine Right due to none other, then such to whom they were commanded to be paid, for it is the command of God that gives a Divine Right unto a thing commanded; But they were commanded to be paid to the Levites for their service; therefore if for your Ministeriall Function you will have the Levites wage, then you must every man of you prove your selves lineally descended from the loynes of Levi, and so none but such that are of that Tribe, to be Ministers of the Gospel, and Tythes to be paid to none other: Therefore till you shew us a perfect Geneallogie of your descent legitimately from the loynes of Levi, wee shall not give you the Wages of the sonnes of Levi: Goe search your Genealogies, turne over your numerous Volumes; you may finde it cock-sure amongst some of the Old Fathers, for they afford matter for all your necessities.
2. These Tenths were ordained to be of the encrease of the Eleven Tribes, from their severall portions in the Land of Canaan, and not in other nations or people. Therefore if you will have the Levites portion, you must goe to the Land of Canaan, and receive it of the Seven Tribes, or else you must prove England to be Canaan, your selves the Levites, and as the Eleven Tribes, which for University men such exact Logitians as your selves, is nothing to doe, goe sophisticate it into a Syllogisme, and you need not doubt of an Ergo, infallible as the Empyrick’s Probation est: in the meane time, wee’l lay up your Tythes for you, and gather them very safe into our Barnes.
Methinks (Right Venerable BRETHREN,) you have committed a great over-sight of late, to suffer your Journey-men The two Houses of PARLIAMENT, to put out such inconsiderate Directions for the Division of the Kingdome into Provinces, Classes, &c. and not to paralell them (considering it’s a time of setling this Levitticall Order) with the division of the Land of Canaan, had you but consulted with MARTIN, and made him your Directory Journey-man, he would have reduced the people into Twelve Tribes, divided the Kingdome into answerable Portions and your selves then might easily have proved your lineall legitimate descent from the Loynes of Levi, for it had been nothing then from thence to have drawne an Argument as good as an ORDINANCE of the Lords and Commons for the true payment of TYTHES, or the like; but to returne to our matter.
Beloved Brethren, I would have you consider, that the very Jewes themselves to this day have determined the equity of their Tythes to their owne Land, for their Doctors conclude, that regularly no Inhabitants but of the Land of Israel were to pay any, and even to this day by their Law, (being despersed, and sojourning in strange lands,) no Tythes of their encrease in such Lands, is either paid, demanded or held equall amongst themselves to be paid; yea, by their Law, they are to pay none. And those that live in the Land of Canaan now pay none for want of their Temple and PRIESTHOOD, for their second Temple no sooner was destroyed, but with it their Law of First-fruits, Therumah, and Tythes ceased, and those that live dispersed, pay none, both for want of their Temple, &c. as also for the restrainment thereof to the Land of Canaan; but you are neither Jewes, Levites, in the land of Canaan, have the Temple, Priesthood, or any thing appartaining thereto, and yet you require them by that Law, and claime them of Divine Right, no commandement or Divine Right being given to any other but the Sons of Levi to receive them, therefore how equall your claime is, let those that pay them judge: for if they themselves, that had the commandement yeeld up for those considerations, their right and equity in them, and may not of Divine Right require them, much lesse may you that are neither JEWES, LEVITES, or ever had a Commandement from God for them.
3. If you were Levites, yet were it unreasonable and unjust for you to exact above the Levites portion, a Levitticall right it bounded precisely within a Levitticall Compasse; if you will be numbred amongst the Levites for your Divine Title, you must be numbred with them in the nature of their revenue, and thereto precisely confined, and if of their Order for their revenue, then must you not disdaine to be ranked in the number whereto that Revenue was ordained, and be content with the allowance that shall come to your share from that Ordination, now the Levites for their maintenance were rancked amongst the Fatherlesse, Widdowes and Strangers, Deutr. 14. 29. and 26.12.
Such therefore must be your Companions, (thinke it no disparagement to your cloath,) and you must be content with your division, and with what falls to your share; The Fatherlesse, the Widdow, stranger, &c. was to have a share, and subsistance, to eat and to be satisfyed out of the Tythe, as well as the Levite, therefore for the Levite to exact all the Tythes, were to eat the bread out of the mouthes of the Fatherlesse, the Widdows, and the Srangers, &c.
So then, the encroaching and usurping the whole Tenthes, yea, all things considered, even the sixth or seventh part of the whole Kingdome into the hands of the Clergy, under this Levitticall pretence, is no other then such oprression to the Fatherlesse, Widdow, &c. But wee see our Clergie under this pretence exact all, and more then the Tenthes, and spend it all upon themselves, and turne the Fatherlesse, the Widdow and the Stranger, to the wide world; and though every Parish thus largely give their Almes for the generall supply of the poore, these men get all into their hands, and cause the Fatherlesse to goe naked without clothing, and they take sway the sheafe from the hungery. Job 24.10. but cloath themselves in costly array, feed on dainties, live at ease, and take their pleasure, that they are more like Lords then Almes-men; while the other Almes-people, the Fatherlesse, Widdow, &c. are ready to perish for food, cloathed in ragges, and forc’d to begge, and would perish quite, should not the Parish take further compassion over them.
Therefore MARTIN would advise the Fatherlesse, the Widdow, and the Stranger, since this Levitticall Order of Tything must still be retained on foot, to come in and claime their right, for if the Inheritance must be granted the Inheritours must be thereto entitled so long as the Possession endureth, so long their Interest does continue, as long as they will have the one, so long they must grant the other: and let not those greedy Cormorants devour up their portion, that there may be a more competent answerable equallity amongst these Almes People, the Levite, the Fatherlesse, the Widdow and the Stranger, that all may have a competency, the Fatherlesse, Widow and Stranger, as well as the Levite; that this rich and fruitfull Nation may not longer be branded with the infamy of such multitudes of Beggers, such miserable forlorne Objects of Compassion, left destitute in a Land where there is such a redundancy of Provision: for were the Tythes, which are a vast, and almost unvaluable wealth, but proportionably divided amongst the Poore throughout every Parish in the Kingdome, all would have sufficient, and none would want, only our proud frisking Levites would be a little abated in their Pride; Their great Buttons would neatly fashion forth their shoulders, no more then the loops their necks: their Wives would scarse have Fannes to coole their beauties, or such like pretty toyes to humour their amorous nicer fancies with, which trivialls may very well be spar’d, better then suffer the Fatherlesse to goe naked, lowsy, tatter’d and torne, begge, and ready to perish in the streets: for it is a most unreasonable wicked unconscionable thing, that one sort of Almes-men, which would be counted (forsooth) the Ministers of Jesus Christ, should devoure up the rest, or that any sort should be richer then their Almes-Masters, for there is above a Thousand Lay-persons (as they call them,) men, women and Children to one Clery-man throughout the Kingdome, in some Parishes there are above ten thousand to one, and yet this handfull of Venerable vermine must have the Tenth of the encrease of the whole Kingdome, besides their Gleah-land, Oblations, &c. Which betrayes their unsatiable Covetousnesse to take it, and the grosse simplicity of the People to give it, their Benefactors must be glad of brown-bread and sottage to feed their hungry bellies, of leathern Jackets or any thing to cover their nakedness, and rejoyce and blesse God they can have it by their sore travell and pains, by their industry and sweat of their browes; they must cap and congue, and these Almes-men, this Leviticall Clergy, deport themselves, and live like Lords in Pompe, Honour and Magnificence, for who more honoured, who more stately proud, or delitious then they?
Oh, MARTIN cannot forget the Germane Proverbe, The covetousnesse of the Priests, and the Mercy of God endure for ever.
But that we may the more cleerly discover their deceit, wherewith they have bewitched the people under this Leviticall Pretence, let us a little further descant upon the Right of the Levite, that every ordinary capacity may receive more full and ample satisfaction concerning the equity of their claime, and that those counterfeit Levites, (our present Presbyters,) may cover their heads, and hide their faces for shame.
Now for out further inquisition therein, and inquiry thereof, let us consider, that though the Sonnes of Levi had a commandement to receive Tythes of the People, according to the Law, Heb. 7.5. and though that commandement was onely for the Levites, so that neither any other was to receive them from the People, but the Levites, nor the people to pay them to any other, but to the Levites according to the Law, which both did designe their Tythes, and bind them to their payment, yet could their service for this rich Prerogative, this large Revenue, bring no perfection: All Offerings, Sacrifices and Services unto God for the sonnes of the People, was committed to that Priesthood, and administred by them, and yet as touching the Conscience, could not purify, or ever take away sinnes; therefore there was a necessity that one of another Tribe, that should not be called after the Order of Aaron should arise, otherwise there could never have been Salvation, for it could not be by any thing that did or could proceed, or was administred by the Tribe of Levi, for could it, what further need was there that another Priest should arise, Hebr. 7.11. therefore the Priesthood, and commandement thereof was disannulled for the weaknesse and unprofitablenesse thereof, vers.18 and hee of whom better things were spoken, forgivenesse of sinnes, and eternall life, commeth of another Tribe, of whom no men gave attendance at the Altar, even of the Tribe of Judah, of which Moses spake nothing concerning the Priesthood, No, not so much as of a Tyth-pigge, vers. 13,14 so that this Man being come, the Priesthood changeth, and that changing, there is made, of necessity, a change also of the Law.
These things premised, the Levites therfore themselves have no longer Authority or Divine Right unto Tythes, according to the Law, a period being put to their Office, their Priest-hood ceasing, and the Law according to which they received the wages of their Priesthood ceasing, neither are the people longer bound to pay them by vertue of that command, seeing both the Law which bound them to it, and the Priesthood for which it was, are both disannulled, abrogated, and ceased quite, and a more excellent Ministery obtained, established upon better Promises, by one of whom Moses spake nothing of that Priesthood, so that he being of another Order, and of another Tribe, being Mediatour of a better Covenant, established upon better Promises, neither Service, nor any thing which pertained to that Tribe, according to the Law, whereof Tythes was one, can be transplanted and grafted into that Stock under destruction thereof, for if we will have it to beare the fruit of the Levitticall Priesthood, wee cannot be made perfect, receiving the Promise of Eternall life.
Therefore to ascribe that which belonged to the Levitticall Priesthood, to the Ministery of our Lord, which sprang from Judith, is to introduce and recall the Legall Sacrifices and Services, to denie Christ, destroy his Genealogie, and disannull his Covenant; for whatsoever appartained to the Priesthood, was proper and essentiall to the Tribe of Levi, so that whosoever did officiate therein, or receive any thing belonging to the Office, was one of that Tribe, therefore to ascribe Tythes to this Order, whereof Christ is, is to make him of the Tribe and Order of Aaron, and so destroyes his Mediatourship, and denyes salvation by him, for of his Order Moses spake nothing concerning the Priesthood, now Tythes belonged and was ordained to the Priesthood, (which Priesthood was not able to cleanse the Conscience from sinne, and so not sufficient for salvation) therefore not at all doe they belong unto his Priesthood, or Ministery arising from another Tribe, from whence commeth forgivenesse of sinnes, and eternall life.
4. If you will have Tythes, you must have it of your owne brethren, for verily, they that were of the Sonnes of Levi, who receive the Office of the Priesthood, have a Commandement to take Tythes of the people, according to the Law, that is of their brethren, &c. Heb. 7.5. Wherefore we of the Independant Congregations, being not of your Members, and so none of your brethren, you have not any authority to demand or receive them of us, the flock which you feed (if you feed any) is the flock of whose milke you must eat. 1 Cor. 9.7. Now we being not of your flock, you must not thinke to eat of our milke, but you must be content with the milke of your owne flock: when you are our Pastors, and wee your sheep, you shall have the Tyth of our Milke, but in the meane time, MARTIN would advise you to be content with your owne.
5. If you denie to receive Tythes as Levites, and claime them as you are Priests, then you must have no other then what was due to the Priests, and in Deut. 18.3. &c. it is said, and this shall be the Priests due, from the People, from them that offer a Sacrifice, whether it be Oxe or Sheep, and they shall give unto the Priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the man, &c. and truly, when MARTIN doth offer an Oxe or a Sheep, hee will freely give you the shoulder, the two Cheeks and the Maw, and hee cares not greatly, if you thinke that Oxe-cheekes are too course Diet, for the Priests of our dayes, to gratify your dainty diviner Pallates, with the great Begge, with all its venerable appurtenances. But though this were the Priests due, yet for this were they to stay the Offering, a worke too butcherly for Priests nowadayes; yea, they were, if there were any warre in the Land, to goe against the enemy, and blow an alarum with their Trumpets, and this was an Ordinance for ever amongst the Priests, throughout their Generations, and they shall be saved from their enemies, Numb 10.8,9. Therefore if you will have our Oxe-cheeks, our Oxe-mawes, you must all turne Trumpetters now there is warre in the Land, and sound an Allarme; If you be Priests, you have not done well to forbeare all this while, for the Text saith, Yee shall be saved from your enemies. O Pious and Venerable Brethren, for so I am emboldened to style you; I beseech you be encouraged, and stirre up one another to this good Works, if you be Priests, sound an allarme, that wee may be saved from the Cavaliers, and then you shall have all our Oxe-cheekes, our Oxe-mawes, Bagges and Baggage; for wee are weary of the warres.
Further, if you claime them as Priests, then are you to require none of the People, for the Levite paid only First-fruits, not Tythes immediately to the Priests, but onely to the Levites, Singers, and other such Ministers: And the Levites paid the Tythe of their Tythe to the Priests, Numb. 18.26.28. Who so through the Levites received Tythes from the Possessions of the Laiety, for the Posterity of Aaron, that had the Priesthood, received none from the people immediately, but mediately from the band of the Levite, and that was but a Tythe of their Tythe.
Therefore, if you will be Priests, (as you all stand Priests by your Episcopall Ordination, witnesse the late Ordinance for the Lords Supper, where it is granted,) then all the Tythe that you can any wayes exact, is but the Tythe of the Tythe, the rest, is first-fruits and the like, were left unto the good will of the People, for seeing you will be the Priests successors for their maintenance, but not for their Worke, being more lazie in your generation; I tell you, though your succession were good, yet could you be hereditary to nothing then wherein those Priests had a right; their patterne can extend no further then their own priviledge, though you and your Fathers have set it upon the Tentures, and streetch’d it unto the portion of the Fatherlesse, the Widow, and the Stranger, and have rack’d and scrap’d all into your Compasse.
Now the First-fruits of the forwardest were offered to the Priests in Eares of Wheat and Barly, Grapes, Figges, Olives, Pomegranats and Dates, and of these the First-fruits were paid, in what quantity the owner would, Exod 23.19. Numb 18.12. likewise their Therumach, or Heave-Offering, or First-Fruits of Wine, Oyle, Fleece, and the like, were also given to the Priests, Deut. 18.4. but not determined by Moses of what Quantity: therefore from their example, you cannot tye us to the tenth of those things, but though you were such Priests, yet must you be content with such as wee out of our own freedom: shall give you thereof. Indeed wee read in Ezekiel 45.13. that the Theramih, or Oblation, was the best part of an Ephah of an Homer of Wheat, and the like of Barly, and an Homer, which was above with a Bath, was neer our common Bushell, & an Epak was the tenth part of an Homer. v.II. So that all the Obligation for this or that quantitie, that you can impose upon us, is at the most, but what Ezekiell describeth, and that was but the fortyeth part of an Homer, which after our account, is the fortyeth part of a Bushell of Wheate or Barly, for the Ephah was but the tenth part of the Bushell, and but the sixt part of the Tenth was to be offered: so that, if the confining of us to this indifferent portion will not content you, you must even be contented with the good will of the VULGAR, that Clergy Bugg-bare, for there is no president from any command for any more; or can wee read that Moses his Priests ever exacted more; or indeed that they ever exacted any quantity, but wholly left it to the disposition of the People, which, it compared with our Priests, their practise will be found much derregatory thereto; for though they have no right at all to the sixtyeth part, or indeed to any such voluntary Offerings (being not the persons to whom the benefit of Church-contributions were ordained) yet such is their Avarice, that though they plead for the due of the Mosaicall Priests, yet that will not content them; for neither will they stand to the good will of the People, as Moses his Priests did, nor yet be content with the sixtyeth part, as they were, but they will have the Tenth; yea, above the Tenth, and that by compulsion, whether the People will or no: therefore let the people judge of their greedynesse, of their jugling and deceit, who under the pretence of a thing whereto they have no right, require not only the thing it self, to wit, the sixtyeth part, but even fifty times more, and that by compulsion.
6. The Officers of the Ministery of the Gospel, are to be chosen by the members thereof out from amongst themselves, and their Function is not (as under the Law) confin’d to this or that Tribe, this or that Generation, but is generall to any Tribe or Generation whatsoever; and so as the service is ceased, the persons officiating are ceased, and both ceasing, the wages must needs cease, neither worke for which, nor persons to whom, according to the Law, remaining: For notwithstanding his abolishment, hither you fly to consecrate your Ordinance for Tythes, with a Jure Divino, as if with work-men and worke, the wages were not vanished, but still retained their divine Beeing by vertue of that Law, and your selves hereditatory thereto, but not unto the Worke.
Truly (Pious Brethren,) I commend your venerable Sanctities, that are so provident, both for your profit and ease, you are very wise in your Generation, indeed it is the profit that fills your spitts with Pigges, Capons, &c. But (holy Brethren,) it is against all equity and justice, to require the wages of a Worke, and not to doe the Worke; If a man offer such wages for such a Worke, hee that will justly claime the one, must doe the other, for his equity to the Title of the one, is founded in the labour of the other, and not doe another kind of worke, the wages whereof he supposeth is not so profitable, and exact the wages of the former, which he conceiveth is more profitable, that is, Doe the Worke of the Gospel for the wages of the Law; this will not serve, there is neither equity in the one, nor Conscience in the other; If you will have Law-wages, you must doe Law worke; If you will have Gospel-worke, which you deem to be more easy, then you must be content with Gospel-wages, though not so profitable, if therewith you will not be content, you must leave the Worke.
Thus having tryed your Mosaicall Title from the Levitticall Priesthood for your Divine Right, to the Exaction of Tythes, and finding all your reasonings from thence empty and ayerie delusions, wherewith you have overshaddowed your Pollicy and Deceit from the Peoples discerning, bearing them in hand with their Divine Institution, but not telling them for what, and to whom they were ordained: now let us trace you a little further, and try your Gospel Title, and see what divine Influence it doth communicate to your Humane Title; it may be, you will be found as delusive there, as you were under your Legall Pretences; which done, I shall adventure upon your last and maine Battery it self, The Ordinance for Tythes: and if I dismount you there, your best shift will be, The good will of the Vulgar, and glad you can have that at a pinch, to piece out your Jure Divino, and preserve your SANCTITIES from Mechanick Druggery: I will not too much (if you will but please mine Holyness, and beare with the contrary-minded) make tryall of your Right unto that Title, for should I, you might rue the day that ever MARTIN was borne; though I confesse, you have little cause to celebrate his Nativity with rejoycing; for it is to be feared, from what he hath already done, Sir JOHN will have much adoe to get Possession of his FATHERS Inheritance with Peace. But to omit trifling, and to returne to our intended purpose, and try what the Apostolicall Writings afford either, pro or con.
Wee read, Acts 20.16.20,27,28,29.
THAT Paul having sent to Ephesus for the Elders of the Church, told them, that he had kept nothing back that was profitable to them, teaching from house to house, and that he had not shunned, to declare unto them all the COUNCELL of GOD; and therefere bid them, Take heed, for after him would come grievous Wolves among them, not sparing the Flock: And to the Galathians, cap 1.8. hee saith, Though wee, or an Angel from heaven preach any other Gospel unto you, then that which wee have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Now in all his Writings, and in the whole Book of the Gospel, wee doe not find any Declaration of his for supplying any necessities of the Churches, whether of Elders, or any other Members, by the Exaction of Tythes, but his ORDER for such supply is otherwise, for to the Corinthians, Epist. 1. cap 16.1,2. hee saith, Now concerning the Collection for the Saints, as I have given Order to the Churches of Galatia, even so doe yee, upon the first day of the Week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him; and in the 2. Epist. cap. 126.96.36.199. For as touching the Ministring to the SAINTS, I thought it necessary to exhort the Brethren, that they would goe before unto you, and make up before-hand your bounty, whereof wee had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, not of covetousnesse: Every man according as hee purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity, for GOD loveth a cheerfull giver.
And this was Gods ORDINANCE, for the supply of the Saints, declared and delivered by Paul unto the Churches; therefore he that preacheth any other manner of supply, then what is voluntary, or matter of bounty, as of necessity, such as the Exaction of Tythes, or the like, is to be accursed; If any man shall adde unto these things, God shall adde unto him the Plagues that are written in this booke, Deut.4.2. Prov. 30.6. Rev. 22.18. So that the taking away this Ordnance of Voluntary contribution, and in the room thereof, violently intruding the compulsive Exaction of Tythes, is guilty of this curse Paul pronounceth, and of all the plagues that are written in the book of GOD: for no other Ordinance, then that of Voluntary contribution was committed by him for supply of any of the Saints unto the Churches, and he (as he told them) kept nothing back, but declared unto them the whole Councell of God, so that no place is left of Divine Right, for any other supply, then what hee hath already declared: Therefore what will become of our Clergy Tythe-mongers, that tell us, Tythes is an Ordinance of the Gospel, and not Pauls Ordinance of Contribution, when God calls them to an account? I am afraid they will be found such as Paul foretold the Elders of Ephesus would come in amongst them, even greedy Wolves, not sparing the flock, such as will not leave them to their bounty, to the purpose of their heart, but count that too beggarly and base for their Pontificall cloath, scorning such a supply as contemptible and dishonourable to their breeding and Places, and therefore answerable to their ambitious University Spirits, must kick Pauls out of place, and countenance, and introduce, and constitute a more stately, authorative, commanding Ordinance of their owne, exacting, and extorting their supply by compulsion, not sparing the flock.
But (deer Brethren) take the wholsome and Pious advice of Reverend MARTIN; If you be Saints (as you pretend your selves to be) and as it is essentiall to a Presbyter or Elder of a Church) doe no longer adde or diminish from the pure unalterable Ordinances of God, and be content with what Paul ordained for the Saints, to supply the Saints Necessities; I desire your Sanctities, as you tender the Piety of your cloth, the reverend estimate of your Name, and reputation of Saints, for I know you would be so entred into the Rubricks of our estimation, even Saints by calling, or Trade approve your selves to be Saints indeed, and be content, as the Saints ever were and are, with the portion of the Saints, in all their necessities, which is evident, was and is unalterable to this day, the Voluntary contribution of the people, by Collection every first day of the Week, and to this, and to no other manner of supply from the Churches, can the Saints lay any claim of Divine Right. Therefore if you will challenge any portion from them, jure Divino, it must be no other, then the result of their bounties.
Now this Primative Institution and Practice, of the First Day Collection for the generall necessities of the Saints, was continued amongst the Evangelicall Churches, till about 200 yeeres after Christ, about which time it degenerated from weekly to monthly, but not from the nature of the thing, as from free bounty, to coercive exaction; for Tertullian, who lived about that time, Apologetic.39.&42. saith, Modicam unus quisque stipem menstruas die, vel cum velit, & si modo possit, apponit: nam nemo compellitur, sed sponte confert, &c. Every one monthly, or when he would, provided he were able, gave a competent portion; for no man was compelled to this or that quantity, but gave of his own accord; And such their Contributions or Offerings were devoted to the Necessities of the Poore SAINTS in generall; For the goods and Revenues of the Church were anciently reputed and stiled, The Provision of the POORE, even till about 800 yeares after CHRIST; and till then, no payment of Tythes in the Christian Churches can be proved; but indeed, about that time, Christians degenerating from their Primitive Purity, growing more carelesse, ignorant, and remisse, and their leaders, more covetous and ambitious, it intruded it self through their Policy here and there amongst some Societies, professing themselves Christian, but was not generall, but at length, through the bewitching subtillty of their Priests, the people were infattuated into such a blinde zeal thereof, that it became in such an high adoration, that men of great Possessions would give unto such a Priest, such an Abbot, &c. the Tenthes of such and such a Possession, for his soul, the soul of his Wife, the souls of his Children, or the souls of such and such freinds, and after this manner Tythes crept in, and overspread most parts of this Kingdome of England, having their rise, custome and practise first from poore depraved seduced ignorant Soules, through the sorceries of their Pollitick Leaders, and by them were thus conferr’d upon the Churches by their voluntary Act: which Donations, at length were confirmed by the Cannon-Law, and a generall exaction thereof through the whole Kingdome, established upon the Clergy, to be theirs Jure Divino, whereby they no longer held, or claim’d them by vertue of Donation, but by Divine Right, and thus by degrees they patch’d up their Goddesse Jure Divino, unto their unjust Exaction of TYTHES, concerning which the Reader may receive further satisfaction in the perusall of Mr. Seldens History of TYTHES.
Whence by the way may be observed, what a ravening greedy generation our Priests ever have been, and this present Generation is as like them, as if they were spit out of their mouthes, that wee have cause verily to beleeve, that at their Ordination, in stead of that ridiculous foppery, and mocking of Christ, in breathing on them the holy Spirit, they breath’d into them their own spirit of covetousnes, which makes the children so like their fathers, so expert at this godly Legerdemaine, this Pious Theft, as ever their Predecessors were, and can as neatly challenge it of Divine Right, as ever either the Papall or Episcopall Vermine before them could; indeed, it is essentiall to their colour, they’l never leave their spirituall thievery, as long as their coats are black, or their girdles be worne about their midles, a cubite below their deserts; for why should not black Thieves, as well as other coloured Thieves, have the recompence of their reward?
But that we might the more admire their greedinesse, let us look back, and recall to our memories the Primative time, where (as wee have given a touch,) we shall see, that all the goods of the Church were devoted to the use and supply of the poore, and generall necessities of the Church, and were so improved, which if we paralell with our times, we shall finde a direct Antipathy, a vast disparity betwixt them, as betwixt light and darknesse: We shall finde amongst its greater Ecclesiasticall Donations, larger revenues, and wealth bestowed (though out of an ignorant blinde zeal for sinister ends) upon Churches (whose proper end being voluntary Contribution, is of Primative Institution unto such pious ends, as the relief of the poor, and the like,) and amongst us an abundance of Poore, Fatherlesse, Widdowes, &c. in every Parochiall Church, even ready to perish for want of supply, and yet through the mercilesse covetousnesse of the Priests, notwithstanding such large provision for them, they can never once taste the sweetnesse of such charitable Church-Donations, wherein they have a proper Interest of livelyhood, being members of such Churches, for such is the avarice and greedinesse of the Priests, that they are become sole Treasurers thereof, and cram all into the vast store-house of their ungodly dirty Panches, and devoure up the Right of the POORE, the Fatherlesse, Widdows, Strangers, &c. only, sometimes at their venerable Doores, forsooth, sanctify their Pitchers with a Reverend Messe of Pottage, to evidence their liberallity, how they are given to Hospitallity, and send not the hungry and needy empty away; my blessing and benediction be upon you all, my dear Birds all, but I hope I shall never trouble your doores.
Further, they are not herewith content, thus to rob the Poore of their Right, but from those their miserable poor members, they extort even the Tenth of their penurious increase: Here for instance, I could fix a second Century of Cormorant Priests in this kind, collected out of the heard of Presbyters, since the edition of the Ordinance for TYTHES; A poor man cannot have 2. or 3. hens and a cock, but they will have the tenth tread, to be jure divino, at least they will have 2. egges for a hen, 3. for a cock, 2. for a duck, 3. for a drake, &c.
But to omit this, let us a little further examine the Evangelicall Authority and Injunctions concerning the maintenance of the Evancall Ministery: and for this, let us returne unto the second of the Acts, comparing vers.17. with vers.33,34,35. Which declareth, that Paul having sent for the Elders of the Church of Ephesus, hee told them saying, I have coveted no mans silver or gold, or apparrell, yea your selves know, that these hands have ministred unto my necessities, and to them that were with me, I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring (to wit, with your hands) yea, (namely the Elders,) ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of our Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give, then to receive: and to this adde, 1 Thes.2.9. Ye remember our labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable, &c. and 2 Thes.3.8,10. We did not eat any mans bread for nought, but wrought with labour and travell night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you; for even when we were with you, this wee commanded you, that if any would not work, he should not eat. From whence is evident, that he laid a necessity of working upon them, for declaring to the Elders of Ephesus, how he supplyed the necessities of them that were with him, by the labour of his hands, sets himself forth as a Patterne to the very Elders themselves therein, and thereupon puts them in minde of his former Precepts in that kind, saying, I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring, yee ought to support the weak; and the equity of this Ordinance unto them, bee groundeth upon the saying of CHRIST; It is more blessed to give, then to receive: from whence is undenyable, that the Elders or Presbyters were bound to take him for a Patterne in that practice, and that from him they had received Order for it, in their duties, because it was a more blessed thing to give then to receive, and this was given to the Presbyters of Ephesus, that they should endeavour after the more blessed thing, that their hands, as Paul did, should administer to their necessities, and to them that were with them; and this was an Ordinance grounded upon the equity of CHRIST’S saying; not to be repealed, altered, added or deminished under the penalty of all the Plagues that are written in the Book of GOD: for as he had received from the Lord, so declared he unto them, and kept nothing back from them, that was profitable, but delivered to them the whole Councell of God: Therefore, whatsoever bee delivered unto them, was the Councell of God, and he delivered this ORDER to the Elders for the ministration to their necessities, it must needs be from the Councell of God: so that this must either be granted to be Gods Ordinance, or else Paul did not declare the Will of God, or at least, not the whole Councell of God: But if Tythes were ordained by God for them, then he kept back somewhat of the Councell of God from them; for neither to them, nor to any other of the Churches did he declare any Ordinance for the true payment of TYTHES, like that of the LORDS and COMMONS Assembled in Parliament.
Therefore, this Ordinance of working with their hands, is in force to Elders, or Presbyters of Churches. But indeed, I cannot much blame our Presbyters, considering their breeding, that they so much abominate this primative Ordinance, is too inferiour, mechanick and dishonourable to their Calling; for we must consider our Presbyters are University-men, not like the mechanick Primative Presbyters, like Fishermen, Tent-makers, or such inferiour fellowes or Paul, the scumme or offscouring of the World, ours are of a more venerable honourable Order, and therefore it highly concernes them to insense their bearers against all mechanick Preachers, as Coblers, Tinkers, Chimney-sweepers, Bellows-menders, and the like, for should such Preachers, (as after Pauls example, worke for their livings, with their own hands) come into credit and reputation, and gaine acceptance amongst the People, our lazie Preachers, that live upon the sweat of other mens browes, notwithstanding God hath enabled them to worke with their own hands, must conclude to give place unto such; for if the people did not so much dote upon their Spiritualities, as if the Word of God came only to them, and onely from them, and were not as ever communicative to Tradesmen, but should indifferently entertain the Communications of God in any sort of People, though Fishermen, Tent-makers, Coblers, Weavers or the like, then the adoration of their Order and Cloth, would grow out of date, their Reverend esteem among the People vanish like a mist before their rising Sunne for truly a leathern Jacket, a blue Apron, or such other Ensigne of labour, would better become a Pulpit, then a black Cassock, a payre of Lilly-white Hands, or such like badges of Idlenesse, for that would import the Preaching of the Gospel freely, without charge unto any, meerly out of Conscience, and not for filthy lucre, whereas this can evidence nothing but the direct contrary; for who can judge that such a one workes with his owne hands that he might be chargeable to none? And thus much by the way, onely to let the People understand their drift in railing against Tradesmen that communicate (like good disposers of the manifold graces of God,) of the ability that God hath given them, to others.
But least I should appeare in this Injunction of working, to wrest Pauls intent beyond its proper extent, I also affirme, that hee hath not so given it in charge, and impos’d it so upon the Elders or Presbyters of Churches, as in no case to admit of a mittigation thereof, as if there were no right of supply upon any occasion or condition, but what they acquired by their owne hands, at all unto them; but he enjoyneth this Ordinance of working upon them, but in case of possibility thereof, not in case of defection of nature, lamenesse, sicknesse, imprisonment, or the like, even as hee ordaineth for the rest of the poore; for all are commanded to worke, none exempted, and for such causes of imbicility and misery, or for want of worke, and the like, the contribution of the Churches was ordained; and one as well as another, Elders as well as People, all are to endeavour, that they may not be chargeable, for it is a more blessed thing to give then to receive, and this they are to aime at with Paul, though it be with travell and labour, night and day; no labour or paines, early or late, is to be shunned, that this may be attained; and none are to receive the supply of Bounty, neither in equity is it due unto any, but in case of necessity, it was never ordained for redundancy and superfluity, and to make one sort more Wealthy, Lordly, and better arraied and fed then the rest, but to supply the extremities of miserie; or that there might be a moderate competency of subsistance amongst the meanest, that none might want that which is necessary for their naturall subsistance.
Therefore Paul giveth this Ordinance of working, and proposeth himself as an example therein unto the Elders, for their imitation, as the more excellent way, by how much the more better it is to give then to receive; for to the Thessalonians in the like case he saith, 2 Thes.3.8,9.
Neither did wee eat any mans bread for naught, but wrought with labour and travell night and day, that we might not be chargeable unto any of you, not because we have not Power, but to make our selves an ensample unto you to follow us.
Whence it is evident, That though they had a POWER, yet this was the most excellent patterne for them to follow, and they were to make him their ensample, which hee proposed to them as a precept for their imitation; Now what this Power was, remaineth upon inquiry, and that it could extend it self no further then is discovered in the Word, is undenyable, and for any other power extant in the Writings of the Apostles, then to receive supply as poore Saints, we doe not read of, therefore it could be no other power he meant of, and the poor Saints have no other power, or can lay claime of Divine Right unto any such supply, but in cases of necessity, and Pauls walking was answerable hereto; for he never received any thing of them, but in such cases, Phil.4.16,17. For even in Thessalonica he sent once and againe unto my necessities, not because I desire a gift, &c. 2 Cor.11.9. For that which was lacking to me, the Brethren which came from Macedonia supplyed: which compared with other places, declaring his working night and day with his own hands, 1 Thess.2.9.1 Cor.1 1.12 is very evident, that his power of receiving other supply then such as was by his own hands, was in cases of such necessities, as he could not supply himself, and that was not the supply of Exaction or force, like this of Tythes, but of Free-gift, Phil.4.15,16,17. No Church communicated with me, as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only, &c. and he endeavoured to the utmost of his power, not to be burthensome. 2 Cor.11.7,8,9,10. and cap.12,13,14,16,17,18. 1 Thess.2.9. and cap.3.8,10. From all which places it is undenyable, that his utmost endeavour was, not to be burthensome; for he saith, it were better for him to die, then that any man should make his glorying therein voide, that where hee preach’d the Gospel, there he might make the Gospel of Christ without charge, 1 Cor.9.15.
All which considered together, it plainly appeareth; that his power was but in cases of necessity, when he could not helpe it; for woe was unto him, if he did not make the Gospel free, if possibly he could, though with his own hands he wrought night and day, vers. 18. hee saith.
What is my reward then? Verily, that when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the Gospels whence observe, That if hee should not have endeavoured to have made the Gospel free, he should have abused his power; so that his power could onely lie in cases of necessity; for otherwise he should not have endeavoured to make it free, and so should have abused his power, that is, stretch’d it beyond its bounds. For if this power were wholly to rely upon them for maintenance, like this power that our Presbyters enforce upon us, then if he should in all places where he preached the Gospel, have relyed wholly upon them for his supply, and not at all endeavoured with the labour of his owne hands to have made it without charge, when hee could for preaching tended thereon, he had not in so doing abused his power; but kept himself within the warrant, authority & property thereof; for that which is done by the proper Right and Authority of a Power, cannot be an Abuse of the power, but an absolute execution and fulfilling thereof, and to an abuse of a Power, must either be a Transgression beyond it, that is, doing more then it authorizes, or else a neglect, or comming short of it; and one of these two must of necessity be, or else the POWER cannot possibly be abused.
Now the abuse of a Power, (whether in either of the extreames,) is not the Power it self, but the power is precisely confined to its Authority or warrant, for the authority gives beeing to the power, and the power, as it cannot come short, neither can it goe beyond its authority, for so should it misse of its Beeing; for in the authority or command, the power liveth, moveth, and hath its beeing: Therefore as Paul was not to come short, so was he not to goe beyond his power, for in so doing, he should have abused it, so that his power could only be in cases of necessity; if he had refused supply in case of necessity, or taken it when by his industry he could have prevented it without dammage to his Preaching, hee had abused his power, therefore his power of Divine Right, of living on the Gospel, was but when otherwise he could not acquire it with prejudice to his preaching: He was to have his support and livelyhood by it, when as without it, he could not procure it. So that the Patrimony of the Gospel is onely of Divine Right due unto necessity, and therein onely have the Ministers thereof power to live on it, like as the rest of the Saints had; and thought they were better abilify’d with Spirituall gifts from God; they were not therefore to be paid for them, to live lazily and idlely, but as they had freely received from the Lord, so were they freely to Administer thereof unto the People, for God loveth a cheerfull giver, let it be in what kind of duty soever; they were not to make a gaine of the Gospel, to make a Trade of it, like as our Presbyters doe, and sell it out by Penny-worths, or enter into the Office thereof, for their own advantage, or livelyhood-sake, but to Preach it freely, out of Conscience, with sinceer hearts, not looking upon the loaves, but of gaining fruits unto God, not abusing of their power. And Paul further confirmeth this, saying, and this I doe, for the Gospels sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you; which plainly implyeth, That if he had not endeavoured to make the Gospel free, but abused his power, in relying wholy upon it, that then he should not have been partaker of the Gospel with them, but should have lost the benefit of the Gospel, and himself become a cast-away, therefore woe was unto him, if he did not so endeavour to make it without charge: Now two things are to be considered.
1. That his power could not extend to his woe and condemnation, but for him not to endeavour to make the Gospel without charge, was woe, was condemnation to him; Therefore his Power could not extend thereto, that is, To live wholly upon the charge of the Gospel, not (when it lay in his power, without prejudice to his preaching) endeavouring the contrary, under penalty of his Condemnation
2. That our Presbyters now have not a greater power, or Divine Right unto supply, then Paul had: But wee see his power extended no further then in cases of necessity, for then only he could claime it out of a good Conscience, and of Divine Right: Therefore our Presbyters can claime no other to themselves Jure Divino.
This Premised, it followeth then, that the supply whereto the Elders had power, was not as they were Elders or Presbyters, but as they were poore Saints; my Reasons are.
1. There is no other supply extant in the Scriptures, then such as is in common to the poore.
2. There was never any portion set out for them, as thus, and thus much shall be for the Elders, in such and such a condition, so that one as an Elder might have challenged the portion of an Elder.
3. They had no right to supply, but in case of necessity, which plainly implyes, That it was onely as they were poore men, not as they were Elders, for so their right thereto had been at all times, in fulnesse as well as in want, when they could work, as well as when they could not; for they are Elders in one condition, as well as in the other, plenty no more then want could alter their Eldership; and what is due unto Eldership, is due at one time as well as another, by vertue thereof at all times having a power thereto.
But wee see, they never had power in this kinde, but in cases of necessity: Therefore not as Elders, but as poore Saints.
4. A necessity was laid upon them to Preach the Gospel, under the penalty of a Woe and a Curse, whether they were paid or no: therefore the payment was not essentiall to the Office, for the Office was to be executed without it. Further, if it were essentially the wages of the Worke, the Worke could not be required under such a penalty, and of necessity, without the wages thereof, for in equity there is as much necessity of the wages of a Worke, as of the Worke; But wages, or not Wages, there was a necessity of the Worke: As they were Elders, there was a necessity of Preaching, but not as Elders of exacting a maintenance; Therefore this Power was not as they were Elders or Preachers, but as they were poore Elders or Preachers: their Church Portion lay in the Poor-mans Boxe, having no Right or Title thereto, but as Poore-men.
5. That though this provision be for the poore Saints, yet all the Saints, Elders as well as others, are commanded to worke, and Elders in speciall; for, Act.20. Paul saith to the ELDERS, I have shewed you all things; how that so labouring, (to wit, after his example,) yee ought to support the weake: as if he should have said, Even ye, that are Elders, as well as wee that are Apostles, or as any others: And to all the Brethren of Thessalonica, none exempted, he saith: This we commanded you, That if any man would not worke, neither should he eat, 2 Thess.3.10. But were a full Supply due unto Elders, as they were Elders; then, there were no need of laying upon them the duty of working with their hands, after Pauls example; for, to provide all things to their hands, for their full Supply, and yet command them to worke with their hands for it, were a flat contradiction.
6. As well might the Saints lay claim to it, as they are Saints, as those to lay claim to it, as they are Elders, to wit, barely because they are Elders, that therefore they must have it; yea, better might the Saints claim it as Saints, for it was never termed, the portion for Elders, but Collection for the Saints, or the like: but, it is neither due to the one, nor to the other in that kinde, but to both, (Elders and People,) as they are poore Saints.
Alas poore-men, this is a pittifull case for our Presbyters; I am afraid, they will rather all un-Saint themselves, then suffer such a miserable beggarly disaster: But we must consider, it was not Parliament-time in Pauls dayes, when the Saints portion was set out; but it is otherwise now; Ergo, of necessity now an Ordinance for Tythes must be theirs Jure Divino.
If therefore their Title be but as poor Saint-Elders, poor Saint-Presbyters, or the like, then Presbyters must be content to be esteemed (as indeed they be) the Almes-people of the Church, and for administration to their nessessities, no other then the Almes of the people, is the patrimony, that they can claime right of inheritance unto; they may not in the least extort from, or exact upon their Almes-Masters, more then shall seem good unto their charitable dispositions; they must not goe to Law with them, send Officers to plunder their Goods, rifle their houses, imprison their Persons or the like, in case they cannot have their desires fulfill’d: for my part, I shall count such an Almes-man, let it be Almes-Presbyter, or what he will, no better then a Thiefe by the Highway-side, and that in equity hee hath more Title to the Galldwes, then to the Almes of the People, or one penny out of the Pooremans-box.
1 Cor.9.4.6,7,9,14. Have wee not power to eat and to drinke? or I only, and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milke of the flock? for it is written in the Law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzle the mouth of the Oxe that treadeth at the Corne: Doth God take care for Oxen? even so the Lord hath ordained, That they which preach the Gospel, should live on the Gospel. From hence the Clergy justify the whitenesse and softnesse of their hands, as if from thence they had an utter dispensation from working, and an absolute divine Title to a redundancy of Provision.
1. Though he saith, have not we power to forbear working? we must not think that it was an exorbitant unlimitted power, extending to the transgression of the rule of equity, for so it should have been a sinfull power; and to have such an opinion of any power that is from God, such as this was, is no lesse then blasphemy, for as he is a God of equity and justice, so are all his wayes equall and just; and that onely sinfull which is not bounded within the compasse of equity, which is not any wayes computable with him or his wayes: therefore it cannot reasonably be imagined, that his power of forbearance of worke could be an unlimmited power, transgressing the bounds of equity: and the Rule of equity concerning working, is, If any man will not worke, neither should he eat, the equity of which rule is, That none should be idle and lazie, and eat the bread of idlenesse, and to such a forbearance as this, like that of our belly-god Lordain Priests, wee cannot in reason conceive their power extended, for so it should have transgressed the Rule of Equity, and had been an unjust power: but they must be laborious in their kind, for the duty of working gives title in equity to eating: it doth not in the least give them a dispensation to idlenesse: as, because they were Ministers of the Word, that therefore they were utterly exempted from Working, and might lawfully eat the bread of idlenesse.
No, Dear Brethren: In equity and duty, all are, and ever were bound to get their bread by industry, the Apostles as well as others, else they had no divine Right to eat, so that no man that will eat, can further be excused from the duty of working, then necessity enforces; and over necessities God is compassionate, not requiring impossibilities, but in such cases hath provided a mittigation, according to mercy and equity: For necessity only can excuse, and further then necessity the excuse cannot extend. Therefore they could no further be excused from working, that is, have further Power to forbear working with their hands, which was a duty, then by their Preaching they were hindred thereof; and so they were onely subject to necessity, not avoiding such working, but when they were thereto necessitated through Preaching the Gospel, and so were in equity excuseable, and had a lawfull Power to forbeare for the Gospel sake; for the more noble must take place of the lesse, as of two evills, the lesse is to be chosen, but both to be avoided if possible; so of two goods, the best is to be preferr’d, but both to be chosen, if possible; and where both cannot be, the greater in equity doth excuse the lesse: and so they had a just power to forbeare; look how much in the discharge of the greater duty, they were deprived of executing the lesse, even so much were they excusable, and free; for the equity of their forbearing hand-labour, had its beeing from their Preaching; their Preaching being in it self more excellent, made such their forbearance equall, by reason it was a hinderance therof, so that the equity of forbearance lay in the necessity of hindrance, and therein was bounded & confined precisely; for their forbearance of the one could not justly extend further then the hinderance by the other; for where there is no impediment of working, there can be no excuse of working for ministration to necessities; but so farre as a man is free from impediment, so farre he is bound in duty of working, to supply his necessities: So that though Paul and Barnabas had power to forbeare working, that they ought Preach the Gospel, that is, improve time in Preaching which otherwise, (or in such eminent necessity) they were bound to work in with their hands, to supply their necessities, yet for all this, they were bound to work, even with their hands, when possibly they could for Preaching, that they might make the Gospel without charge, so that an utter forbearance, or totall dispensation from working was not in their power without limitation: though to Preach they might forbeare, yet when for preaching they could worke, they might not forbeare: and when their preaching occasioned their forbearance, then they were to live on the Gospel, then were not their mouthes to be muzled, then were they to feed on the milke of the flock; for living on the Gospel is entayl’d on preaching of the Gospel; the living extends no further then preaching; for preaching gives power and Title thereto, its essence and beeing is in preaching, so that it cannot extend beyond that by which it hath power and beeing, for should it, it should goe beyond its power and beeing, and beyond its beeing, it can have no Title, or be longer deemed that power: so that look how farre they were deprived of ministring to their necessities through Preaching, even so farre they had a right to the Peoples Administration, so farre they had power to eate and to drinke, and no farther; they were not to be idle six dayes, and Preach on the seventh, and rely wholly upon the People, it was not in their power, nor yet in their practise; but when they had spare time from Preaching, they improv’d it in labouring for their bread, and at other times, when they were busied in Preaching, were content with what was given them, receiving no more, but for their present necessities; they never had, or were to have any more then a bare livelyhood; It is enough that the Disciple be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord Matth 10.25. Now their Master lived in great humility, hee had never a Living of 4 or 5 hundred a yeere; never had a House (like the Dean of Pauls) confirmed upon him by an Ordinance of PARL The Foxes have bales, and the Birds of the Aire have nests, but the Sonne of Man had not whereon to lay his head, he lived in mean condition, was lowly and meek, hee never was trundled up and down (Presbyter-like) in a Coach, he sate meekly upon an Asse, and a colt the foale of an Asse, Marth.21.5. and his Disciples lived the like life of humility; they made no further use of the World, then for their necessities, giving up themselves wholly to the Gospel, and were onely servants unto JESUS CHRIST, according to their duties; for no man can serve two Masters; for either hee must hate the one, or love the other; or else, he will hold to the one, and despise the other: yee cannot serve God and Mammon, Mat.6.24. therefore his Preachers must not be addicted to the world; be such as plunder mens goods, and rifle their houses to spend upon their lusts and pleasures, or to be such lazie idle Drones (like our Priests,) who take their pleasure and ease all the week, onely give us an houre or two of Hodgpodge delusion the First Day, No, such come not within the mile of his acceptance, but such rather that will both Preach and worke, that after their Preaching, will fall to mending old Bellowes, sweeping of Chimneys, crying of Brooms, or Small-coale, or taking any such-like honest course of livelyhood; such are most fit to be the Ministers of Jesus Christ; yea, indeed it is from such, that wee receive the greatest information in the mysteries of Jesus Christ, in the dayes; for indeed, they are in his Ordinance, follow his Pattern and example of his Apostles; Not Preaching for filthy lucre, but out of Conscience.
2. I desire may be observed, that whereas he saith, Even so the Lord hath ordained that they which Preach the Gospel, should live on the Gospel; that from thence no other livelyhood may be concluded, then such as the Lord himself had ordained for his Preachers, or that Paul himself, that had as great a power as ever any of them had, did in them words, intend a power further then the Lords own Ordination. Now the Lords Ordination concerning those that hee send forth into the world to Preach the Gospel, both to the Twelve Apostles, and after them the 70. Disciples, was, Luk.10.7,8. to eate and to drinke such things as were given, for the labourer is worthy of his hire and into what City soever they entred, to eat such things as were set before them by those that did receive them, and Matth.10.10,11. they have the same Injunction, That in the City or house that was worthy there they were to abide till they went thence, for the labourer is worthy of his meat. And this was all that ever the Lords Ordination provided for their living on the Gospel, a power barely for their Victualls or present necessities; even such as was given them, was their hire and no more, they had power given them to eate of their meat, for the Labourer was worthy of his meat; that was all that the Lords Labourers were to require for their hire, or to account themselves worthy of: and those that would not give this, they were but to shake off the dust from their feet in testimony against them; farre different from the Plundering Ordinance for Tythes. And no other power then this Paul pleadeth for to the Corinthians, for whereas he saith, Have wee not power to eate and to drinke? hee pleadeth it, as one sent from the Lord, to Preach unto the world, as vers 1. and 10. declareth; Now it is evident what power such had to eating, and drinking, that is, of such as was given them, of such as was set before them; therefore no other can be concluded of Paul, but even as the Lord had ordained; and so, and no otherwise they that Preached the Gospel, were to live on the Gospel: their necessities were to be looked upon, and for necessity sake, they were meerly to be relieved; for the Lords Provision was for no more, and therewith his Servants were to be content. Therefore, their Title to it, was not simply as they were Apostles or Preachers, but as Apostles and Preachers in necessity.
And thus it is clear, that all the Divine Right they had to other supply, then what they acquired by their hands, was but in cases of necessity, and that was but to matters of bounty: So that it is most certaine, that the Preachers of our Lord, in their supply, are but as Almes-men, and so they are to live, and to be esteemed, and esteem themselves to be no other, then the Almes-men of the Gospel.
Tythes were paid unto Melchesedec, after whose Order was Christ our High-Priest for ever. Therefore, due unto the Evangelicall Order, as well as to the Levitticall.
If Tythes, which Abraham paid unto Melchezedec, were paid unto him, as he was of that Everlasting Order; it could be at the most that as he was Typically thereof; for he was no more than Typicall himself, shadowing out the Eternall High-Priest, CHRIST JESUS, for Christ was not that Melchezedec, but after the similitude of that Melchesedec, therefore, if after that, similitude, that is, after that Shaddow or Type; then Melchesedec’s could not be the substance; for the thing simulating, cannot possibly be the thing simulated; so that the Priesthood of CHRIST must needs be the substance of that shadow, which Substance being come, the shaddow, with all its Appurtenances, must vanish and be of no longer force; So that whereas it is said, Abraham paid Tythes unto Melchezedec, it could be at most, that unto a Typicall Priesthood, unto a Priesthood which was but the shaddow of good things to come; and so, and no otherwise was it due to the Levitticall Priesthood, all whose services were but Types and Shaddows, serving unto the example and shaddow of heavenly things; and to such Ministers, for such services, was a commandement to receive TYTHES according to the Law:
Whereto Tythes were due, and which had a Commandement to receive them, therefore there is made of necessity a change also of the Law, and an utter disannulling of the Commandement going before; which Commandement brought within its authority, the imposition of TYTHES upon the People, for the Text saith, the sonnes of Levi, who received the Priesthood, had a Commandement to take Tythes, now the Commandement ceasing, the equity of their Exaction must needs cease, so that now they cannot by Levite or any other, be challenged of Divine Right, for the challenging them now by Divine Right, is not onely a reduction to the Levitticall Priesthood, but a denyall of this Jesus to be an High-Priest for ever, after the Order of Melchesedec; implying, that the substance of that shaddow is not come, for the paying of that which was proper to the similitude or Type, sheweth that the similitude or Type is still in force, and so the Substance not come; for while the shaddow is in force, there is no place for the Substance. Therefore the Exaction of Tythes for the Ministeriall Function of this Everlasting Priesthood, is an absolute deniall of Christ come in the flesh, and of his everlasting Priesthood.
Further, it may be considered, concerning those Tythes unto Melchesedec, that though they were paid to him, and so to the Order whereof Christ should be our High-Priest for ever, yet they were a voluntary gift, for Abraham had no Commandement from God to bind him precisely to that quantity, though the equity of the gift might be granted, yet a necessity of the quantity cannot be enforced, though in equity for his own part he was bound to a gift, for his owne discharge, yet not of necessity to a Tenth, as if hee might not have given more or lesse, or that the other had a Commandement to receive it, but the one left at liberty to give, and the other to receive; for Melchezedec would not have received them; which plainly proves, he never extorted them, but that they were a voluntary Offering, and for Voluntary Offerings we doe not deny; for if any be pleased to give the Tenth of their encrease, or more then the Tenth, they may doe as it seemeth good in their eyes: So that if from the gift of Abraham to Melchesedec, you will enforce any thing unto that Order, it can be but free-gift, which we grant to be due, so that your Antiquity of Tythes to this Priesthood is vanished into the free gift of the People, and from thence you can onely conclude, That Abraham of his owne free-will gave the Tenth, but not that the Tenth was ever commanded or exacted.
Thus if we grant you, That Abrahams TYTHES at that time were given to that Order, whereof Christ is our High-Priest for ever, yet you see, instead of gaining, you have lost the vantage of your Antiquity, and it is transacted to voluntary gift, so that from thence you can never prove other then voluntary gift to be given to that Order. But if we compare the place in Genes.14. with that of Hebr.7. we shall find that those Tythes, this Gift, was no other then Melchezedec’s proper goods, which Abraham had rescued from Chederlaomer: For Heb.7.1. it is said, For this Melchezedec King of Salem, Priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter, &c. From whence it is cleer, that he who went to meet Abraham, after his returne from the slaughter, was Melchesedec, and that it was the Priest of the most High God that met him, and that this Priest was King of Salem; So that he that went out to meet him, and was this Priest, and King, must needs be this Melchesedec, and in vers.1.2. it is further said, That to Melchezedec, Abraham offered that tenth, so that hee to whom Abraham offered his tenth, was that Melchezedec, and that Melchezedec was that Priest, and that Priest was that King, and that King be that went out to meet Abraham, to whom Abraham gave a tenth of his Spoiles; now these things premised, and compared to the place in Genes.14.9,10,11. Where it is said, That Chederlaomer, and the Kings with him, conquered the King of Sodom, &c. and took all the goods of Sodome, &c. and vers.15,16. Abraham persued them unto Hoba, and brought back all the goods, &c. and vers.17. The King of Sodome went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter, &c. and vers.20. He gave him Tythes of all; and vers.21,22,23. The King of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the Persons, (to wit the Captives) and take the goods to thy self; and Abram said to the King of Sodom, I will not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, &c. From whence it is most evident, That this King of Sodom, that was thus plundered, whose goods Abram rescued, and who went out to meet Abram, was this Melchezedec, the Priest of the Most High GOD, and that the goods that Abram gave, was Melchezedec’s owne goods, which Chedorlaomer had taken from him, from Sodom, whereof Abram would not take from a thred to a shoe-latchet, hee would not take any thing that was his, so that it seems, that Melchezedec’s goods, rescued from Chedorlaomar, were the Tenth of Abrams spoiles; and thus to this Melchezedec, the Priest of the Most High GODecember 11, 2002, Abraham gave the Tythes of all; So that here is a vast disproportion betwixt those Tythes, and the Tythes which you exact; for those were not the Tenthes of Abrahams encrease, but onely a returne of Melchezedec’s proper goods; which example affordeth but a sandy foundation for your practise; your Ordinance for Tythes, that Roaring-Meg, must be better planted, or else you’l misse your Marke.
OF all the Scriptures, whether Prophetticall or Apostalicall that ever I read, none are so positive, none so point-blank to the purpose, as those of the Lords and Commons, for the Ordinance for Tythes is a Text beyond them all, its Divinity is Incomprehensible to them, beyond the Speare of their Sanction: But not to detract from its PARLIAMENTARY WORTH, I shall not adjudge it so farre, as wholly to bannish its Divinity the Precincts of the Bible; neither may I, or dare I so Deifie its Sanctity, to equalize it with the Sacred; onely I shall presume, (because I would not too much offend my BRETHREN) to ranck it for the present amongst the Apocrypha Writings, as A Divine Appendix to the Famous HISTORY of BELL and the DRAGON, for greater Honour then this I cannot deem to be within the compasse of its deserts; and it is fitt the TWO HOUSES should have all due Praise and Honour, their Ordinances demerit; they may become Canonicall in time.
This might serve to Answer their Presumption, and though to little, yet to as good purpose as that ORDINANCE it selfe; without plundering Divinity be most Infallible; yet that Divinity which is not founded and derivitive from the Writings of the PROPHETS and APOSTLES, must give up its Hallowed Ghost, expire its Sanctity, and be content with more interior Reputation, such as it self is, even Carnall and Diabollicall, and may not be admitted in, but utterly abominated from the Verge of TRUE MAGISTERIALL RIGHT, for its Bounds is precisely confined within the Sacred Line of the WORD, designing its proper Dimensions, how farre, and beyond which it may not passe: So that, whatsoever is Transgressant, that is not truly MAGESTERIALL, and cannot in equity engage either in Divine or Humane obligement.
Now to intrude upon CHRIST’S PREROGATIVE, to usurpe his Royalty, is beyond the Line and authority of the WORD, and so not within the compasse of Magesteriall Right: But this Ordinance for Tythes doth so; Therefore not Magesteriall or binding. That it doth so, I thus Reason.
To renounce any Ordinance of Christ for his Church, over which hee is King, Priest, and Prophet, and introduce a contrary, is an encroachment upon his Prerogative, and usurpation of his Royalty: But in the room of Christs Ordinance of Contribution, this Act of the Lords and Commons hath introduced another of a contrary nature, to wit, Compulsive Exaction: Therefore, this Ordinance for Tythes, is no other then an encroachment upon his Royalty, a deniall of him to be Law-giver to his Church, and a setting the Parliament in his stead, as if they were so many GODS, coeternall, essentiall with the Father, for that prerogative, that Legislitive Power, is onely proper to the Deity, when as wee know these are but mortall men, such as our selves; they are but Powers of this World, worldly and humane; and such as their Powers are, such are their Ordinances, such are their Ministers, even earthly and humane. So that if you will have Churches, Ordinances &c. by their power they can be but Politicall Churches, Politicall Ordinances &c. not Spirituall. Therefore if you will be Ministers in that kind, such as your Churches and Ordinances are, such must be your Preachings, even Politicall, Oeconomicall, teach the Husband-man how to Plow, the Citizens how to Trade, the Butchers how to kill Calves, the Women to wash their dishes, &c.
One Passage in this Ordinance, I desire may be laid to heart of the People, to wit, pag. 5. And in case no sufficient Distresse can be found, that then the said Justices of Peace, or any other Justices of Peace in the same county aforesaid, shall and may commit all and every such person so resisting, to the next common Gaole of the said County, there to remain in safe custody without Bayle or Mainprize, untill he or that respectively shall make full satisfaction, according to the said Judgement. Had not such a Passage gone under the Title of The LORDS and COMMONS, who are chosen for the Weal of the People, I should not have judg’d it an Act of Humanity, but rather the result of an Hell-bred Conspiracy by the Devill & his Angells, to confound us with their unreasonable malice; for what greater Act of Inhumanity can there be, then to cast a poor man, that hath nothing, into a loathsome stinking Gaole, without Bayle or Main-prize, there to lie, for those Cannibal devouring Church lubbers, to ceaze upon (without Redemption) untill he have made full satisfaction, when as before he was cast in, he had nothing to satisfy; and this was the first Stone these Master-Builders laid in their blessed Reformation; This is the Conscience of our godly Divines, even to swallow us up quick, Persons, Goods and all. But I commend the Impropriateurs of the Two Houses, for their godly Providence over themselves, and the weal of the People: Yet I am afraid; their wit and Pollicy in this, out-stript their honesty.
Pag. 2 line 3 for both in Person, r. hath in Purse and Person p.6.l.31. for Religion in them, r. Religion in those Directions. p.16.l.11. for Ordinance for the Supper, r. Ordinance for Ordination of Ministers.