Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/122

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Books Condemned to be Burnt.

The first theological work dealt with by Parliament appears to have been that curious posthumous work, entitled Comfort for Believers about their Sinnes and Troubles, which appeared in June 1645, by John Archer, Master of Arts, and preacher at All Hallows', Lombard Street. It had but a short life, for the very next month the Assembly of Divines, then sitting at Westminster, complained to Parliament of its contents, and Parliament condemned it to be publicly burnt in four places, the Assembly to draw up a formal detestation to be read at the burning. In this document it was admitted that the author had been " of good estimation for learning and piety"; but the author's logic was better than his theology, for he attributed all evil to the Cause of all things, and contended that for wise purposes God not only permitted sin, but had a hand in its essence, namely, "in the privity, and ataxy, the anomye, or irregularity of the act " (if that makes it any clearer). A single passage will convey the drift of the seventy-six pages devoted to this difficult problem:—

"Who hinted to God, or gave advice by counsel to Him, to let the creature sin? Did any necessity, arising upon the creature's being, enforce it that sin must