Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

in the hand. There are no improvements to the clergy: would that were all ! there are frequent impairings. I say, frequent impairings ; and I wish it might only be said " there are," and that there might never be cause of using the future tense! But to this humour of the present age, wherein, what for that unholy hunger after gold, there is nothing esteemed holy, we may add another error :—that those worthies, not to be named without all honourable respect, whose help God made use of for the reformation of religion, were very solicitous for the reformation of doctrine, but less attended the church's patrimony; and almost said. what the king of Sodom did to Abram, “ Give us the souls, and take the rest to you !.” But as they who thought they should find the Baptist in kings' courts, so they who thought they should find Abram there, were both deceived! Which error, though a small one, and a small one indeed it is if we compare it with those great and famous acts performed by them, yet we may justly fear will lie heavy upon succeeding ages; in which, truehearted honest men, from that of Solomon, “ Where no oxen are, the crib is clean," presage barbarism, or somewhat worse, which I will not speak of: falsely, perchance, and I pray God it prove so; but not rashly, I am sure ; not without cause. And indeed they ought to have withstood the beginnings, as we say; and have snatched this sweet bit from this eating and drinking age, which perverts all to a detestable use; and have taken care not only of increasing the light, but also of allowing oil : which, because not done, this evil spreads daily more and more, and the devourers of church revenues whisper up and down in corners, as most an end the manner is, that the church may be impleaded and sued for the remainder of tithes; and thereupon find out new quirks to put her in a worse condition; then, talk of a stipend ; finally, so turn themselves on all sides, that the clergy may at last say it to their sorrow, Their sowing and their mowing is nothing to us!

To pass by other things, as lost and gone by prescription, I shall make bold to plead for Tithes; and shall thereupon chal

i Gen. xiv, 21.

2 Luke vii. 25.

lenge them who are otherwise minded, and prove that the tithes of the yearly comings in are by the highest equity due to the clergy; and that no parliaments, no lords or commons, can settle that affair more wisely than it was of old provided for by the sacred law ; than God, the Lawyer himself (so absolute, that Justinian is nobody to Him) had proclaimed many ages since.

I am to treat of a hard point; nor is there any by whose candle I shall light mine : wherefore it will be your part, Reverend Brethren, if I shall fail or come short of it, to vouchsafe your pardon, as is meet, to me the first that make experiment.

TITHES OUGHT NOT TO BE ABROGATED.

I need not explain terms. Who knows not what the tithe is? -one part of ten. Or who doubts what it is to abrogate ?either to unsettle what is settled by law, or, instead thereof, to appoint a stipend. Let us, therefore, set about the business.

What Christ did in the cause of divorce I conceive to be of great concernment; first of all, to inquire how any matter stood in the beginning! In the flux of time many things are changed : the beginning is the most certain rule and judge.

ARG. I.-I demand, therefore, who was the first that received tithe? That great man Melchisedek, "to whom Abram gave the tithe of all 3." Melchisedek received tithe from Abram : but were they free, or due ? voluntary, or by law ? If free and voluntary, the argument is of no force, and the Apostle puts a trick upon

the Hebrews when he compares the Levites with him. For the reason is not alike: the Levites require their tithe by law, for they have a commandment to take tithe of the people * : Melchisedek his, because Abram would, not because he ought. Again, if this service were voluntary and free, Melchisedek were no whit better than Abram. For what hindereth but that I

may

3 Gen. xiv. 20.

4 Ηeb. vii. 2. ώ και δεκάτην από πάντων έμέρισεν 'Αβραάμ. Verse 5, εντολήν έχουσιν. .

debase myself, and do voluntary honour, if I please, even to my inferior ? my civility indeed would be more commended. But if, upon both these considerations, this were absurd, it follows, that he paid tithe, not as a volunteer, but as they were due by law. Concerning the law then, I demand again, by what law ? Not of sacrifice, for he offered none ; of blessing, then, it is clear. For there is a coherence betwixt the two; Melchisedek blessed, and Abram paid tithe.

Now, I assume tithes are due to Melchisedek blessing. The same right remaineth under Christ. How can that be made to appear ? Out of the 12th verse of the 7th chapter to the Hebrews. There is no change of the law but by the change of the priesthood. But there is the same priesthood of Christ and of Melchisedek; for which, if need be, God himself will give us his oath'. Therefore, there is the same right under both. Tithes, therefore, are due to Christ, in whom, and from whom, and by whom we are all blessed : He himself blessed for ever. Which, it is but equal that they should receive in the name of Christ, who bless us in the name of Christ. For even Melchisedek's blessing was but from man, though in the person and name of Christ. Therefore, the right of tithes remaineth under Christ.

I had not thought there had been any born with so unfortunate a genius, as to say “ that tithes were paid to Melchisedek as a king." But I have found one that saith so; see you, how without all reason: 1. The Levites have right to tithes: they have, as God's vicars : 'tis true, they are. But are they God's vicars, as God is a king? O what a multitude of kings should we have! 2. Moses saith not that tithes were paid to him as making a royal banquet, but as blessing; which, notwithstanding, should have been said, if they had been paid to him under that notion, as symbols of that power. 3. The apostle, upon that payment of tithes, grounds not his kingdom, but his priesthood. 4. Lastly, there are as many adversaries to that opinion, as interpreters : even the Rabbins themselves, whose that gloss is, " because he was

i l's. cx. 4.

a priest,” therefore Abraham gave him tithe ®. You see the force of the argument; and this you likewise see, that, whatever is brought against it, comes miserably short. I shall pass from Abraham, and yet not far.

ARG. II.—My next reason shall be from Jacob, who was also the father of the faithful ; from whom we received the sirname of the Israel of God; and of whom, I doubt not, but, what St. Peter? concerning Sara (" as she obeyed,”) the like will you conclude. He, therefore, vows a vow, “If God will be with me, and will keep me, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on : then, of all that he shall give me I will freely give the tithe to him 8.” You will grant, I know, that this was no willworship: for then Jacob should have vowed, what the Lord had disavowed. Therefore, doubtless, he relied upon the Divine will; the command is the interpreter of that will. Moreover, the reason of the command must necessarily be this : on whom the Lord shall bestow such favours, as he did on Jacob, he must be bound to the Lord by the same law. For, unless it were so, the reason of the command would be uncertain, and so the command ; and so the consequence; and so, finally, the vow itself. But if this reason be full of reason, and the equity thereof, as is meet, extend itself to all; is there any man will deny the law was made for him, who shall confess both that he received all from God, and ought to return them to God again ?

And this reason may satisfy any private man, why he should pay; and that assigned by God, why the clergy should receive tithes, “ Ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your household, because it is your reward for your serviceo ;" as also that of King Hezekiah, “That they might be encouraged in the law of the

The conclusion in both places is this, let them receive tithe ; which in both places would be weak, if the major proposition be not universal. Tithe is the reward of service; tithe belongs to them who attend the explication of the law. Otherwise the patriarch Jacob's "if," and the prophet Moses's “be

Lord 10.

6 Decimas dedit hoc ipso nomine, quod sacerdos esset. 8 Gen. xxviii. 20— 22. 9 Num. xviii. 31.

7 | Pet. iji. 6. 10 2 Chron. xxxi. 4.

cause,” and King Hezekiah's “that,” would all totter. But if they do not, then, doubtless, tithes are the reward of the priesthood. Let all, that give themselves to the exposition of the law, receive tithes. The reason is evident.

I add this further : since God's blessing of his goods is the medium that Jacob, the reward of the priest's service the medium that Moses, the study of the law the medium that Hezekiah useth ; and these three are perpetual, nor circumscribed by place, nor defined by time, but belonging as well to Christians as to Jews; there will be the same condition of the precept, for it is truly and wisely determined by the lawyer, as is the reason of the precept, such is the precept itself.

ARG. III. –The third reason is taken from the prophet Malachi, iii. 9, 10, where the observation of this precept is established with a solemn blessing, and the violation with a severe and bitter curse. And, indeed, if tithes were ceremonial, as some are very earnest to have them, the prophets would cast them away; would never urge them so carefully ; they would suffer them to wax cold; would never speak of them so highly.

This is not their usual manner : but, if the ceremonies were never so carefully looked to, not to promise so great happiness ; nor, if neglected, to threaten so sore judgments. And lest any should think this reason to no purpose, the fathers used no other in the council of Tribur'— Tithes are to be paid, that God, being appeased by this our devotion, may more plenteously bestow those things that are necessary. The fathers in the synod of Mentz no other?

2- Tithes are to be paid ; for it is to be feared, that if any take away what is due to God, God will, for his sin, take away necessaries from him. Saint Augustine », a substantial author, no other-Our forefathers abounded with wealth (and it is not perfunctorily to be passed by that he saith, our forefathers. Tithes, therefore, are ancienter than St. Augustine's time,) because they paid their tithes to God: but now, because our devotion to God is decreased, the comings in to the exchequer are increased : we could not part with the tithe to God, therefore, now all is

1 Cap. xiii.

? Cap. xi.

3 Hom. lib. 50, c. 48.

« ElőzőTovább »