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Most equal and reasonable in respect of the payment. the 2d to the Corinthians, the 8th chapter, 13th verse. 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 (cov TÉλos) 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 ἐν κεφαλαίων καταγραφῇ. Q. 18.
6 Genial. Dierum, lib. iv. cap. 10.
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 Samuel' 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 way. 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, be you, 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.
PROSPECTUS OF A PUBLICATION
CATALOGUE OF AUTHORITIES,
ECCLESIASTICAL AND CIVIL,
FROM THE WRITINGS OF THE ANCIENT FATHERS,
FROM THE LAWS OF ENGLAND, AND FROM OTHER SOURCES,
BEARING UNIFORM WITNESS TO THE
SYSTEM OF TITHES,
AS A DIVINE INSTITUTION OF PERPETUAL OBLIGATION:
REV. CHARLES MILLER, M.A.
VICAR OF HARLOW, ESSEX.
"Cum decimas dando et terrena et coelestia possis munera promereri, quare per avaritiam duplici benedictione te fraudas?"-D. AURELII AUGUSTINI Sermo de tempore, ccxix.
"Truth will always support itself by its native vigour; it will never die while heaven and earth last, but be handed down from saint to saint till the end of all things."-CHURCH OF THE FATHERS.
"The general obligation of the Ministers now in power has been declared, by Sir Robert Peel, to maintain, upon their ancient foundations, the institutions of this country in Church and State."-MR. GLADSTONE'S ADDRESS to the Electors of Newark, Sept. 4, 1841.
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