Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

taken away : the exchequer takes away that which Christ doth not receive.

I pass by St. Jerome, as too prolix, who yet was the first who prosecuted this argument in his annotations on the Prophet. But, because it is an easy matter to find tithes under the law, and the credit of the Old Testament is in this point suspected, go to, let us seek in the New, and set our foot on that ground which seems most slippery to contest on.

ARG. IV.-And first of all I object that place of St. Matthew, the words of Christ himself, “ These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone *.” This place I do not, (for why should I assume that to myself, which is not mine ?) the ancient Church urgeth thus : Tithes, which Christ himself hath commanded not to leave undone, the decrees of princes ought not to give order to leave undone. Now who knows not the assumption ? But this reason hath the greater strength, because, when, in some places before, the discourse first, and afterward the practice of washing of hands, of rubbing the ears of corn, and other ceremonies had been fallen upon, Christ, not unwarily, omitteth those particulars, defendeth their omission of them, and, which is more to be wondered at, doth himself authorise the people to omit them. But, concerning this of tithe, his words are express, Ye ought not to leave them undone."

Nay, which is of more weight yet, when the discourse was of matters of greatest importance, of mercy and judgment, and that in the same paragraph (as I may say) he makes a law, as for the doing of the one, so for the non-omission of the other. What seek ye more ? No man can easily imagine in how great esteem this argument was with the Primitive Church. two of many; one whereof shall speak for the Greek Church, the other for the Latin. St. Chrysostom, his words are these :“ Worthy doth our Saviour add, 'These things ought ye to do ;' for alms is a titheo. Now alms cannot hurt possibly. For we ought not to do them as observers of the law, neither doth he say we ought, but' these things ought ye to do ;' for when formerly

I shall give you He disputed of clean and unclean, He added not there,' these things ought ye to do, but manifestly He overthrew them. Wherefore, brethren, He speaketh of tithe—' these things ought ye to do ;' but concerning their washings He speaketh not so. The words, as you see, are a little differing, the sense is not differing,"

4 Matt. xxiii. 23.

5 Hom. lxxiii. in Matt. v.

Now hear St. Augustine, in his Enchiridion to Laurentius, c. 76. “Woe be to you, Pharisees, who tithe every herb: as if He would say, Indeed I exhorted you to give alms, by which all things would be clean unto you ; but woe to you who tithe herbs. For these I knew to be your alms; think not that I admonished you concerning them.” And a little after, for it would be troublesome to put in all, “But lest he should seem to refuse those alms, which are given of the fruits of the earth, these (saith He) ye ought to do; that is, judgment and charity; and yet, nevertheless, not to omit the other, that is, alms of the fruits of the earth.” I need add no gloss.

I study brevity; and put you in mind of one thing (though there be no need—I know ye observed it), that tithes, both by St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine are referred to the common place of alms. Some are of another opinion. I will not greatly contend; for I had rather it should be accounted a sacred tribute than alms. But this place is safe enough : and by it they gain thus much, that tithes vught not to be abrogated.

ARG. V.-I proceed now to the fifth : and, or I am much deceived, it may be concluded from St. Paul, that tithes are to be retained even under Christ.

In the 6th chap. of Galatians, ver. 6. “ Let him that is taught in the word, communicate to him that teacheth in all good things." Which words seem to me to sound like those in the 7th chap. to the Hebrews, ver. 2. “ He gave the tenth of all?;" like those Gen. xiv. 20., of all, in all — What difference ? that it may be no light conceit that the Apostle doth allude to that of Genesis; and that he doth covertly insinuate that communication which was used by Abraham, who is to be imitated in all things, as much as may

και εν πάσιν άγαθοίς.

1 από πάντων.

be, by the children of his faith. But what if so?

That precept which doth best provide for communication in all good things is not to be antiquated; and there is no question to be made but that was a law for tithe. For by that there is a true, and if by your leave I may, I will say, a real communication of all good things, both of fruits, and of all other productions of the earth, of plants, of beasts : you may by yourselves make up the rest of the induction. Substitute in place thereof a stipend, payment by the poll, or a rate upon houses, there will be many errors ; part will be concealed, part will be subtracted : I dare say, there will be no communication in all good things. Lastly, though all possible caution be used, the communication of a pension will be only analogical. But I have learned long since, and nature, law, and reason, persuade thus much, that where we may have the thing itself, we should not trouble ourselves about the analogy; wherefore, in the communication betwixt the pastor and his flock, if the truth itself of the thing, of the communication, may be had in all good things, and it may be had,) those stipendiary proportions are not to be sought after, or rather, (for that is too little a great deal,) are utterly to be rejected.

ARG. VI.-Further, let this be a sixth argument,—That political law concerning tithes did sometime bind the Church, it cannot be denied. But it was never made void ; therefore it binds now too. What things were abolished, the Apostle showeth Eph. ii. 14. “ Those things which were the middle partition-wall ; first, betwixt God and man; secondly, betwixt man and man;" i. e. the Jews and Gentiles. We are excluded from the first member of the division : for God commanded tithes; therefore, they do not displease Him. And also from the latter ; for there was peace on all hands, in the point of tithes, which the heathen did pay annually to their, (as I shall show anon,) as well as the Jews to their priests. But that the other part of the political law was excepted, this may be an argument, because it is esteemed by King David a great blessing. And I shall hardly be brought to believe, that the death of Christ deprived us of any blessing.

& Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20.

!

Besides, if it were wholly cancelled, St. Paul offended against the rules of law, when in the 1st of Cor. ix. 13, he brought a testimony from Deut. xviii. 1, that is, from an antiquated law. But that controversy runs into another : I will not prosecute it.

ARG. VII.-But this I will, out of the 7th to the Hebrews, ver. 18, which will be my seventh argument. And it is, if I mistake not, as a most fair place, so most apposite to this controversy: “There is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof." So that no law is to be antiquated or disannulled, which is not either weak or unprofitable. The law concerning tithes is a law going before, an ancient law ; let any man show me either the weakness or unprofitableness thereof, I will join hands and grant the cause : let this thesis pass the sponge for me. But this law hath strength, as much as any law ever had, is like to have, can possibly have, from the Author ; consent, multitude, custom ; and that, lastly, not the mute or silent, but the express and clear approbation of all ages. And its use too; for it hath a long time been employed, without complaint of any, to that use to which it was appointed ; and, unless the sinews of it had been cut by certain improper proprietaries, it had been better employed, neither would the Church have ever complained in that point.

ARG. VIII.-On the other side, which shall be my eighth argument, with how unhappy success hath it been changed in some places ? And where stipends are substituted in lieu of tithes, how many deceits, difficulties, complaints ? How many “weaknesses and unprofitablenesses ?" This, where tithes are yet entire, may easily induce us to this opinion, that they ought not to be repealed ; and where they are repealed, that they ought (unless it be wholly impossible) to be revoked. Geneva payeth forty pounds-a poor matter, God knows !-yet it is Calvin's complaint in many places of his Commentaries (modest enough, as became him, but loud enough--that the stipends were but niggardly paid) in the sixth to the Galatians, and the forty-seventh of Genesis.

Scotland also hath exempted itself from tithes. There is in print a Complaint of John Knox exhibited in the name of the ministers

CHURCH

to the parliament at Edinburgh, A. D. 1565, Dec. 25. When I read the eighth leaf of it, it pities me for them: I say no more but what the boys use to sing, Felix quem faciunt, &c., Happy they, whom other men's harms make to beware!

Arg. IX. Those fathers, whom I lately named, provided much wiser in this point, both for themselves and us. I come to them. We have had arguments enough from holy Scriptures; and there is none of you, I hope, but will willingly admit the practice of the Whole Church for an argument. I touched it lightly before

e ; now, I apply myself wholly to that. I say, of the whole

; I change not a word. And first, of the African : for which let St. Augustine, the glory of Africa, speak, in his 219th Sermon, " De Tempore ;” which is wholly, and professedly, upon the point of paying tithes. He begins thus : “ By the favour of Christ, Christian brethren, the days are now at hand in which we ought to gather in the harvest; and, therefore, let us give thanks to God who gave all, and think of offering, or rather paying, our tithes.” And, a little after, “For we offer tithes of duty; and he that will not pay them, takes by force that which belongs to another."

You shall have at once both the practice of the church and the opinion of the fathers, touching this matter.

Of the Italian church: but for that let St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, speak, in his sermon of Lent (as it is quoted in the Decrees): “ Whoever shall call to mind by himself, that he hath not paid his tithes faithfully ; let him now amend what he did amiss. But what is it to pay faithfully, but not to offer either worse or less than is due, of your corn, wine, fruits, cattle, garden, trade, hunting? For he that will not pay to God the tithes which he holdeth, nor restore to man what he hath unjustly taken away, doth not, as yet, fear God, and is ignorant what true repentance is .” Let this suffice for the Western church.

And St. Chrysostom, for the Eastern. “ If this were the manner under the Old Testament, how much more under the New! For what did not they do? They paid tithes, again and again,

9 P. 2. c. 1. Q. 2. 7.

« ElőzőTovább »