The Reason of Church-governement Urg'd against Prelaty/Book 2 Chapter 1

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CHAP. I.

 
That Prelaty opposeth the reason and end of the Gospel three ways, and first in her outward form.

AFter this digression it would remain that I should single out some other reason which might undertake for Prelaty to be a fit and lawfull Church-government; but finding none of like validity with these that have already sped according to their fortune, I shall adde one reason why it is not to be thought a Church-government at all, but a Church-tyranny, and is at hostile terms with the end and reason of Christs Evangelick ministery. Albeit I must confesse to be half in doubt whether I should bring it forth or no, it being so contrary to the eye of the world, and the world so potent in most mens hearts, that I shall endanger either not to be regarded, or not to be understood. For who is ther almost that measures wisdom by simplicity, strength by suffering, dignity by lowlinesse, who is there that counts it first, to be last, somthing to be nothing, and reckons himself of great command in that he is a servant? yet God when he meant to subdue the world and hell at once, part of that to salvation, and this wholy to perdition, made chois of no other weapons, or auxiliaries then these whether to save, or to destroy. It had bin a small maistery for him, to have drawn out his Legions into array, and flankt them with his thunder; therefore he sent Foolishnes to confute Wisdom, Weaknes to bind Strength, Despisednes to vanquish Pride. And this is the great mistery of the Gospel made good in Christ himself, who as he testifies came not to be minister'd to but to minister; and must be fulfil'd in all his ministers till his second comming. To goe against these principles S. Paul so fear'd, that if he should but affect the wisdom of words in his preaching, he thought it would be laid to his charge, that he had made the crosse of Christ to be of none effect. Whether then Prelaty do not make of none effect the crosse of Christ by the principles it hath so contrary to these, nullifying the power and end of the Gospel, it shall not want due proof, if it want not due belief. Neither shal I stand to trifle with one that will tell me of quiddities and formalities, whether Prelaty or Prelateity in abstract notion be this or that, it suffices me that I find it in his skin, so I find it inseparable, or not oftner otherwise then a Phenix hath bin seen; although I perswade me that whatever faultines was but superficial to Prelaty at the beginning, is now by the just judgment of God long since branded and inworn into the very essence therof. First therefore, if to doe the work of the Gospel Christ our Lord took upon him the form of a servant, how can his servant in this ministery take upon him the form of a Lord? I know Bilson hath decipher'd us all the galanteries of Signore and Monsignore, and Monsieur as circumstantially as any punctualist of Casteel, Naples, or Fountain Bleau could have don, but this must not so complement us out of our right minds, as to be to learn that the form of a servant was a mean, laborious and vulgar life aptest to teach; which form Christ thought fittest, that he might bring about his will according to his own principles choosing the meaner things of this world that he might put under the high. Now whether the pompous garb, the Lordly life, the wealth, the haughty distance of Prelaty be those meaner things of the world, wherby God in them would manage the mystery of his Gospel, be it the verdit of common sense. For Christ saith in S. Iohn, The servant is not greater then his Lord, nor he that is sent greater then he that sent him. And addes, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye doe them. Then let the prelates well advise, if they neither know, nor do these things, or if they know, and yet doe them not, wherin their happines consists. And thus is the Gospel frustrated by the Lordly form of Prelaty.