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RIGHT of TITHES.
Divinity Determination in the Publike Divinity
By the Right Reverend Father in God
Late Lord Bishop of Winchester.
Translated for the benefit of the Publike.
1 COR. ix. 13. "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things, live of the things of the Temple? And they which wait at the Altar, are partakers with the Altar?
Vers. 14. Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel."
Printed for Andrew Hebb, at the Bell, in St. Paul's
M DC XLVII.
The ensuing Tract, originally written in Latin, and entitled "De Decimis," was first printed in the posthumous Opuscula of Bishop Andrews, and dedicated by the Bishops of London and Ely to Charles I. 1629.
This translation, now reprinted, was published 1647.
OUGHT NOT TO BE ABROGATED.
THAT such anciently were the manners of men, and such the times, wherein the condition of the priesthood was sumptuous and most flourishing, not only with those truly excellent ornaments of learning, but also with those of riches and preferments, history, the witness of truth, is a sufficient evidence.
Among the heathen, Theophrastus is my author, that instead of the tithe, wherein notwithstanding we take ourselves to be very bountiful, the thirds were paid. Among the Jews, Philo reporteth, that the wealth of the corban was ofttimes the object of envy to the neighbouring kings. Among the Christians, as in other nations, so truly in this our, it is certain that the desire to increase the revenue of the clergy proceeded to such a height, that it was greatly to be feared lest the church should swallow up the commonwealth; that therefore it was seasonably taken into consideration then, and so is now, when there is little need of caution, that no lands should be bequeathed in mortmain, i. e. to sacred uses, without the royal patent. Such anciently were the manners of men, and such the times. While men's manners and the times were such, a disputation touching the right of tithes was not doubtful, nor necessary; but at length in this our age, when, as commonly old men, so the world, growing old, is wholly set upon money: there is a general chiragra, an epidemical gout
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
1 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 Heb. vii. 2. ᾧ καὶ δεκάτην ἀπὸ πάντων ἐμέρισεν ̓Αβραάμ. Verse 5, ἐντολὴν ἔχουσιν.