« PreviousContinue »
the apostles, messengers, and disciples, who were to go into all nations to preach the gospel. When they had preached the gospel to the nation, they did not petition to the supreme powers of the nation, powers, or principalities, or kings, for maintenance from their hearers, as you do now. Oh! this stinks, and shows it is out of the power which the apostles, disciples, and messengers of the Lord Jesus Christ were in.
For they would have made their gospel to have stunk, if they had come into all nations to preach the gospel, and then after they had preached it, if their hearers would not have given them maintenance, to have petitioned to the supreme authority of the nation, and have haled their hearers into courts, to assizes, sessions, and benches. Would this have been glad tidings to the nations, or trouble to the nations ? They would have been but deceivers, and pretenders of glad tidings, and bringers of trouble to the nation, and seekers of themselves, and for themselves. And this would not have been to do the work which the Lord Jesus Christ sent them about. They would not have been preachers of the gospel that live of the gospel,' such as might
and would not. And the power of God is the same now as ever it was, and it tries all the spirits that are gone out into the world, which have apostatized since the days of the apostles, out of the apostles' power; and now with the power the apostles were in, are they comprehended, which are gone out of the power which the apostles were in.
P. And ye speak of Jonas' temptation, and yet of your comfort in your studies.'
A. The power that Jonas was in, ye are far from, or those that are to divide the word aright, but are swallowed up in the great temptation of the world, pride and covetousness, in that are ye drowned, and in hard heartedness, as the jails in the nation witness. Such as cannot give you maintenance, and such as are moved of the Lord God to come and speak to you, are cast by you into jail, which shows that you are in another power than the apostle was in, who said, “Quench not the spirit;' and than the prophet was in, who said, Limit not the Holy One;' and denying prophecy. So now your power and authority to your ministry with the spirit of the Lord God are fathomed, and you to be out of the spirit the apostles were in, and to be spirits that are gone out into the world, and into the earth and fall; and so you usurp the authority, and usurp the ministry in usurping the authority, as yourselves may see. Read the scripture of the prophets and apostles, and there read the fruits of your ministry and actions; try them by plain scripture.
P. “Ye say that the ministry hath no power to put you out of the vineyard, but to persuade others to do it."
A. Are the ministry in the vineyard of God, and have they no power, have they no authority there in the vineyard? Are the magistrates then to put them into the vineyard, and to take them out? All those that are labourers in the vineyard must persuade to put into the vineyard. Do not you in this show your ignorance of the apostles' doctrine, and of their work, who rebuked, stopped the mouths of gainsayers, had power to silence, had power to try spirits, had power to judge, had power to defend ? Now have you not in this (if you be ministers) dishonoured your power and authority; and have shown that you are out of the power, and are those that cry to the mountains, fall. on us, and hide us from the glorious presence of the Lord,' which is arising to shake terribly the earth.
P. “So if the ministers' maintenance be taken away, there is little likelihood of a ministry long.'
A. It seems the maintenance hath been that which hath caused them to preach, and held them up, so take away their maintenance, down falls their ministry. But I say the power will stand, and the administration of the spirit, and the hearing of Christ, and the teaching of God, if men take away all their maintenance, and cast them into prison for speaking. But this holding up of ministers by maintenance is that which came up before the apostles' decease, among those who taught for filthy lucre's sake, and through covetousness made merchandise of the people; through the love of money they erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many hurtful lusts, and admired men's persons because of advantage, and taught for gifts and rewards: these were come up before the apostles' decease. Now these teachers who admired men's persons, taught for filthy lucre, the love of money, and covetousness, the apostle saw before his decease, after whom the world hath since run. Take away their money and their lucre, and their gifts, and see how long these will preach. Now have you showed your root, your offspring is found out. Now, the apostles preached, and were ministers that stood, who judged the root from whence ye are sprung, for your root was come up before the apostles' decease. But now ye cry, if maintenance be taken away, there is no likelihood the ministry will stand long. And we say so too, we know that take away your maintenance, and down falls the preacher. Therefore, with petitions are you troubling the courts and magistrates for your livelihood, but if ye were true ministers ye would be in the work, in the vineyard of God, and would be ashamed of such things, and with the power of God cover your nakedness, and not be beggars, and petition for outward things; ye dishonour the power of the Lord God, and cause his name to be blasphemed among the heathen. And so, for shame! let your mouths be stopped for ever, for saying ye are ministers.
The power would open the hearts of people if ye were in it, and make them to give you, that there would be no want; and then the gospel would be preached and you live in that, and glad tidings be known to all nations, and men would not be cumbered about courts, and put in prison by you, whom you do no work for.
P. Ye say, 'Shall men have leave to preach, railing against Christ's ministers and church? a reproach to the world.' And hath Gyles Calvert owned his name at them ? And ye speak of your "liberty of the pulpit; but that the pulpit should not be satan's oracle; as apothecary shops keep open poison, so Gyles Calvert doth poison for souls.'
A. This is not the way by railing, to stop poison; but your pulpits have been like shops of poison, even to poison nations; for have you not poisoned many people and made their minds envious? And most of your stuff hath been railing one against another; but had ye been ministers, or spoken the truth in the love of it, it would have preserved people in peace and unity, and ye would not have sought yourselves.
And Gyles Calvert's, (which you call an apothecary shop,) hath been a place where many of your actions and fruits have been discovered and made manifest; not against the church of God, not against the ministers of God and Christ, not against the magistrates that live in the fear, life, and power of God, but against injustice and persecution, and the apostates got up since the days of the apostles, as ye confess if your maintenance be taken away, the ministry will fall. Now the power is that which causeth people to minister to any that ministereth to them, not by compulsion, but freely, and this is acceptable and pleasing to God, which the Lord loves. And so all your poison of your pulpits, as satan's oracles, hath been like such a thing; for the pulpiters are those who have caused the great persecution and imprisoning for speaking to them, and because they will not give them maintenance; and so you quench the spirit, and that which quenches the spirit is not of God; for in the true church all may prophesy one by one; and if any thing be revealed to him that sits by, the other must hold his peace, that all may learn and be comforted. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. And this was the order in the churches of God, before the apostles' decease. But since their decease, amongst you that are apostatized from them, this is disorder, and sets you all in an uproar and confusion. So your church and pulpit are more like satan's oracle than the church of God; and you have been in your pulpits more like women's scoldiog to the cuckstool, which you speak of, than men that preach the gospel; as the parishes may witness how they have been burthened with your railing against other people who have not been present with you. And when any of them have come to you, you have cried, take them away, they disturb you. Vol. III.
Is not this worse than women's scolding; for women will stand and scold one with another, but ye will scold behind their backs, and cannot endure to speak to their faces, but cry, to prison with them.
But the rod is gone over you, and you are come under the scourge, the whip, and the lash, for your evil words, which have corrupted your
When ye should have been preaching the peaceable way to the kingdom of God, ye have been bringing people to strife, throwing them into prison for speaking a word to you, and such as cannot give you maintenance, whom you do no work for. But the sentence spoken in Matthew is coming upon you; ye cast into prison till death because they cannot give you maintenance, therefore ye are far short of visit. ing them who are in prison. And these covers will not cover you. And all your hard speeches which you have vented forth in your book, are not worth mentioning; but they will come upon yourselves; for every one of your words shall be your burthen. Now fools may subscribe their hands to things they know not, and go with a multitude to do evil; but wise men consider and ponder the things beforehand. So all your petitions, the holy scriptures of the prophets, Christ, and the apostles, read and try them, whether ye have ever an example amongst any of the ministers of the gospel, that ever put up a petition to any supreme of a nation; or that Christ ever gave them any such command, that his disciples should go and beg with a petition to the supreme powers of the nation for maintenance? Have not you in this dishonoured the gospel and christianity, and showed that you are not of the royal priesthood, nor of the royal seed, nor everlasting covenant? nor you ministers to be those that do freely give, who have freely received ? but to be such whose spirits are in the earth, and that you petitioners are not able to maintain them! which all magistrates that stand in the fear of the Lord God will judge, and so see that you have shamed yourselves, your ministry, and church, and that you are not a vineyard, that you have not a flock to give you milk, but they must be fain to give you; and the magistrates must give your ministers milk. And so ye have showed the slothfulness of them that have ploughed, and are not made partakers of their hope, but have lost it. In vain have they ploughed, and thrashed, and not got out the corn. And in all this have you not showed your idleness, that ye have not laboured and got a vineyard, and thrashed and got corn, and have not ploughed and sowed the seed? And will not the magistrates see you in this? And have not they wronged you in maintaining you in idleness? Will not the magistrates see that they have done so, and will be packhorses no longer, nor executioners for you, who have executed your malice upon them you do no work for, neither have hired you, and
cast them into prison when they have spoken to you to repent and fear God. And so it is time for the magistrates to do justice, and execute the law upon you idle vagabonds.
William Thomas, a minister of the gospel at Ubley, (so called,) in
his book called, · Railing rebuked, or a defence of the Ministers.' His principles follow.
P. He saith, his epistle reflects upon two sorts of persons; and that many false prophets have risen.'
A. The work of the ministers of the gospel was not to reflect upon persons, or strike at creatures, (as thou sayst, two sorts of persons,) but they struck at the power which captivated the creature, to the intent that the creature might come into the liberty of the sons of God. And so thou that art reflecting upon persons, dost show a mark of thy being a false prophet; instead of speaking of the power, thou art reflecting upon persons. And this reflecting upon persons was never the way to beget to God; but that which strikes at the power which captivates creatures, reacheth to the witness in prison, and brings people into unity with God and one another in the spirit, which is the bond of peace.
P. "To love the word for the good parts, that in regard of the Christian is a dangerous thing, and in regard of the word of God, a dishonourable thing.'
A. Where the good parts are not in the Christian, that is a dishonourable thing to the word, and causeth the word of God to be evil spoken of, as the whole assembly of you ministers have done by your bad conversations, earthly, covetous, impatient spirits, that cannot endure any should speak but yourselves in your places. So by you hath the word of God been dishonoured, and not honoured; for the apostles wrote that they were to show themselves patterns and examples to the flock of God in life and conversation, that the word of God might not be evil spoken of. Now where the word is evil spoken of, and the bad parts in a Christian proceed, this grieves the righteous, and causeth the truth to be evil spoken of; and the word makes them vessels of honour in whom it is.
P. Now when Christians leave the word, and sacraments, and sabbaths, it is a dangerous pride, lifting up the light within, as they do.'
A. The Christians that denied the sabbaths, and witnessed Christ the substance, the rest, said, “The light that shined in their hearts