certain portion of the yearly profits be paid to the ministers of the holy things. For it is just, and agreeable to reason, that there be a yearly sacred tribute, wherewith we should sacrifice to God, for the increase of our estate, as we use to keep anniversary solemnities in thankfulness. And there is all the reason in the world for it : but whether should this be out of the profits of the ground, or by a pecuniary reward ? Reason would the former. For in all created things there is the image, and, as I may so speak, the superscription of God, as there is in coins of the king. The tribute is distinguished by the inscription. Wherefore the king's fifteens and subsidies, as they call them, have the royal impression. The divine tribute is not silver or brass, stampt with the image of man, but of God himself; as there is in all creatures a character of the Divine power, wisdom, and mercy. Of that, therefore, let the sacred tribute be.

Would you have another? Reason will, that the minister of the Gospel should receive his reward that way, wherein there may be equality of fortune, wherein the mutual participation of plenty and want, of joy and grief, in common with the people, may redound to him. It is expedient it be so. For is he sustained with the annual profits? Is it fair weather? He is glad, he rejoiceth, he sings praise to God no less willingly than any husbandman ; for he hath his share in that fair weather. Is it tempestuous ? He sighs, he groans, he falls to his prayers, no less fervently than any husbandman; for he hath his share, too, in that tempestuous weather. Sympathy and communion, that great bond of nature, of the commonwealth and of the Church, is conserved and maintained. On the contrary : Is he sustained by a yearly stipend ? Be there seasonable showers ? the people rejoice ; he rejoiceth not : for, as we said in the beginning,—Their sowing or their mowing is nothing to him! Comes there an unseasonable drought? The people mourn ; he mourneth not : for— Their sowing or their mowing is nothing to him ! Sympathy, that great bond of nature,—of the commonwealth,—of the Church,-is dissolved. This ought not to be so : wherefore that reason is the better which pleadeth for the fruits of the earth.

III. I proceed to the third : What part? The tenth. They say

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

that the positive law-for that is their expression-is the determination of the law of nature. The law of nature determineth the death of a murderer ; but the positive law, the kind of death. Again they say, the law of nature determineth a stipend to him that ministereth about holy things; but the positive law, the measure of the tax. Yes, haply in things pertaining to the commonwealth there is a limitation by the positive law ; but in Divine, in taxing for the Church, we grant it not.

God is as careful for our sustenance as He was for the Levites'. There was nothing then reserved to the positive law; nor, therefore, now. This whole point may be dispatched by reason. The Levites had right to tithes; but the ministry of the Gospel, as it is more excellent in nature, and more eminent in dignity, so is more profitable in use, than was theirs. Our people receive more and greater benefits from us; therefore they ought to pay more : reason presently insinuates, What a shame is it, that Christians, who owe more, should not pay as much! If, therefore, men would hearken to reason, we might possibly receive more ample fruits ; not likely, less. For tithe bath all the points of equity in it. It was chosen by God, and so not without great reason ; and therefore not, without great reason, to be rejected. What is alleged to the contrary ? One or two, I know not what, scarce worth the name of reasons ; not so much as a shadow of what we may call great reasons ; nay, indeed, not of any poor and

[ocr errors]


Most equal and reasonable it is in respect of the constitution. Excellently St. Augustine : “For what if God should say, “ Thou art mine, O man! this earth, which thou tillest, is mine; these seeds, which thou sowest, are mine ; these beasts, which thou employest, are mine; the rain and showers, mine; the sun and heat, mine; all mine ; thou which lendest only thy hand, deservest only the tithe ; but I grant nine to thee, give me the tithe. If thou wilt not give me the tithe, I will take away the nine ; if thou wilt give me the tithe, I will multiply the nine.' Could a more reasonable speech possibly be made ?"

32 Cor, jii. 8, 9.

Most equal and reasonable in respect of the payment. Out of the 2d to the Corinthians, the 8th chapter, 13th verse. For then is any thing most equally disposed, when one is not eased, and another burdened ; when it is not too loose for one, too strait for another. By this, there is a most exact equality; the rich are not spared, the poor are not oppressed ; which is the common complaint of the edicts of princes; the crow there, better than the dove.

Most equal and reasonable, even by the very light of nature : I say, by the very light of nature, such as the very Gentiles had ; that is, by that lost, rased, deformed not renewed, law. By what law did Abraham pay? Surely no politic constitution : (who can possibly persuade that ?) no, nor by any ceremonial law. For there is no congruity betwixt a ceremony and the eternal priesthood, such as was Melchisedek's; therefore, by the law of nature. But to return to the Gentiles.

Votive tithes are frequent in their histories. Not only by prime men in their several commonwealths—Pausanias the Athenian, Agesilaus the Spartan, as Xenophon reports * ; Cartalon the Carthaginian, Camillus the Roman, as Plutarch. But also every commoner-Stichus, in Plautus : by every householder, as we read in Plutarch. How so? Who declared to them the measure of the Divine portion ? Who was his accountant—who so exactly registered it in his notes, that eight parts belonged to the family, six whereof were to be employed, two to be laid up, that the ninth was for seed against the next year, and the tenth was (Oɛžov Témos) the Divine tribute ?

But, indeed, they did not only vow them, neither was their tribute only by vow, or but ever and anon; but it was their annual solemn rite and custom. Alexander ab Alexandro, no contemptible author, reports, that the ancient Romans were wont to pay tithes of corn out of their fields and new broken up grounds Theophrastus saith as much of the Egyptians, that they had the

4 L. 3. Rerum Græcarum. 5 εν κεφαλαίων καταγραφή. Q. 18. 6 Genial. Dierum, lib. iv. cap. 10.

[ocr errors]

like usage'. Diodorus Siculus, as much of Sicilia, when she was her own mistress, and not a province. And that this was the very manner of the Athenians we may be convinced from this, because the poorest citizens were called Thetes, and that from the letter Theta, the note of the number nine ; because having, by estimation, but nine parts only, they were exempted from paying tithes.

Finally, it may be collected from the same authors, that those tithes were never employed to discharge their wages

who executed any temporal or lay office in the commonwealth ; that, at first, and as long as any thing was held religious or holy, they were so too; but afterward were swallowed up in the stomach of the commonwealth.

Of what credit it is I know not, but I remember that Musculus relates, that in the first beginnings of the Church, the right and use of tithes was taken away from the idol-priests, and instated on the Presbyters of the Church. But this is most certain, that the places of payment, and the account of tithes, though in declining times they fell into the power and possession of kings and princes, did at first belong to the priests. For when, in the beginning, the same men were both kings and priests (as Plato reports of the kings of Egypt; and Virgil of Anius-King Anius, king of men, Apollo's priest); the priesthood being afterward, as too hard and troublesome a companion, transferred from themselves to others, they did notwithstanding retain the tithe as a dowry to themselves. But that rather by custom than law, and that a corrupt custom too. For that in the Prophet Samuelo is no description of a good king, but a tyrant: which makes me wonder the more at them, who would have the Levites' table to be part of the king's inheritance; and that kings did part with their own right when tithes were conferred upon the Church. But this falls to the ground by the example of Melchisedek, who surpasseth the antiquity and faith of all histories; who both persons, of king and priest, meeting in him, did not receive tithes by right of his kingdom, but his priesthood.

7 De Plantis 8. sub init.

8 In Gen. c. 14.

91 Sam. viii. 15.

I should offend against the time, and against you, if I should produce any more of these men's trifles in this presence ; nor would any pleasure accrue from thence to you, nor advantage to the cause.

Nor do I allege any new writers, because they for the most part do rather touch upon some heads, and not apply themselves home and strongly to the cause. Any, even the most learned author, is otherwise to be esteemed of, when he doth but salute a question, and touch it lightly ; otherwise, when he takes it to task, and thoroughly discusseth it. And, in truth, if I would never so fain bring them forth, yet the scales would hang even, in suspense. For, to my thinking, Luther, Melancthon, Brentius, would be for us ; Calvin, Martyr, Bucer, go another


Wherefore, I will dismiss and leave you to yourselves. Here shall be an end.

Two Patriarchs, -as many Prophets,-Christ,—his Apostles, – the whole Church, Fathers -Councils --History,-both laws (civil and canon),—Reason,—the imperfect pieces and fragments of the Heathen,-and finally, Experience itself, have brought in their evidence for Tithes. Which if they seem to you to deserve your vote and suffrage, and to have spoken home and good reason,


if you please, with me, of the same mind and judgment—That Tithes ought not to be ABROGATED!

[St. Matt. xxiii. 23. “ Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith ; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”] This text is not in the Latin copy.


Dec. 15, 1646. Imp. John Downame.

« ElőzőTovább »