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others, who so oft call upon them to do So, I trust that having well considered what hath been here argued, neither they will continue in that intention, nor these in that expectation from them, when they shall find that the settlement of religion belongs only to each particular church, by persuasive and spiritual means within itself, and that the defence only of the church belongs to the magistrate. * * What may serve the present hath been above discoursed sufficiently out of the scriptures; and to those produced, might be added testimonies, examples, experiences of all succeeding ages to these times, asserting this doctrine; but having herein the scripture so copious and so plain, we have all that can be properly called true strength and nerve; the rest would be but pomp and incumbrance. Pomp and ostentation of reading is admired among the vulgar; but doubtless in matters of religion, he is learnedest who is plainest. The brevity I use, not exceeding a small manual, will not therefore, I suppose, be thought the less considerable, unless with them perhaps who think that great books only can determine great matters. I rather choose the common rule, not to make much ado where less may serve; which in controversies, and those especially of religion, would make them less tedious, and by consequence read oftener by many more, and with more benefit.
THE former treatise, which leads in this, began with two things ever found working much mischief to the church of God, and the advancement of truth; force on the one side restraining, and hire on the other side corrupting the teachers thereof. The latter of these is by much the more dangerous; for under force, though no thank to the forcers, true religion ofttimes best thrives and flourishes; but the corruption of teachers, most commonly the effect of hire, is the very bane of truth in them who are so corrupted. Of force not to be used in matters of religion, I have already spoken. * * It remains now to speak of hire, the other evil so mischievous in religion, whereof I promised then to speak further, when I should find God disposing me, and opportunity inviting. Opportunity I find now inviting, and apprehend therein the concurrence of God disposing;
since the maintenance of church ministers, a thing not properly belonging to the magistrate, and yet with such importunity called for, and expected from him, is at present under public debate.
Hire of itself is neither a thing unlawful, nor a word of any evil note, signifying no more than a due recompense or reward; as when our Saviour saith, 'the laborer is worthy of his hire.' That which makes it so dangerous in the church, and properly makes the hireling, a word always of evil signification, is either the excess thereof, or the undue manner of giving and taking it. What harm the excess thereof brought to the church, perhaps was not found by experience till the days of Constantine, who, out of his zeal thinking he could be never too liberally a nursing father of the church, might be not unfitly said to have either overlaid it or choked it in the nursing; which was foretold, as is recorded in ecclesiastical traditions, by a voice heard from heaven, on the very day that those great donations and church revenues were given, crying aloud, This day is poison poured into the church;' which the event soon after verified, as appears by another no less ancient observation, "That religion brought forth wealth, and the daughter devoured the mother.' * Not only the excess of hire in wealthiest times, but also the undue and vicious taking or giving it, though but small or mean, as in the primitive times, gave to hirelings occasion, though not intended, yet sufficient, to creep at first into the church; which argues also the difficulty, or rather the impossibility to remove them quite, unless every minister were, as St Paul, contented to teach gratis; but few such are to be found. As therefore we cannot iustly take away all hire in the church, be
cause we cannot otherwise quite remove all hirelings, so are we not for the impossibility of removing them all, to use therefore no endeavour that fewest may come in; but rather, in regard the evil, do what we can, will always be incumbent and unavoidable, to use our utmost diligence how it may be least dangerous; which will be likeliest effected, if we consider, first, what recompense God hath ordained should be given to ministers of the church; for that a recompense ought to be given them, and may by them justly be received, our Saviour himself from the very light of reason and of equity hath declared, Luke x. 7, The laborer is worthy of his hire;' next, by whom; and lastly, in what manner.
What recompense ought to be given to church ministers, God hath answerably ordained according to that difference which he hath manifestly put between those his two great dispensations, the law and the gospel. Under the law he gave them tithes; under the gospel, having left all things in his church to charity and christian freedom, he hath given them only what is justly given them. That, as well under the gospel, as under the law, say our English divines, and they only of all protestants, is tithes; and they say true, if any man be so minded to give them of his own the tenth or twentieth; but that the law therefore of tithes is in force under the gospel, all other protestant divines, though equally concerned, yet constantly deny. For although hire to the laborer be of moral and perpetual right, yet that special kind of hire, the tenth, can be of no right or necessity, but to that special labor for which God ordained it. That special labor was the Levitical and ceremonial service of the tabernacle, Numb. xvIII. 21, 31, which is now abolished; the right therefore of that special hire must needs be withal abolished, as being also ceremonial.
That tithes were ceremonial, is plain, not being given to the Levites till they had been first offered a heave offering to the Lord, ver. 24, 28. He then, who by that law brings tithes into the gospel, of necessity brings in withal a sacrifice, and an altar; without which tithes by that law were unsanctified and polluted, ver. 32, and therefore never thought of in the first christian times, till ceremonies, altars, and oblations, by an ancienter corruption, were brought back long before. And yet the Jews, ever since their temple was destroyed, though they have rabbis and teachers of their law, yet pay no tithes, as having no Levites to whom, no temple where to pay them, no altar whereon to hallow them, which argues that the Jews themselves never thought tithes moral, but ceremonial only. That Christians therefore should take them up, when Jews have laid them down, must needs be very absurd and preposterous.
Seeing ** that the law of tithes is partly ceremonial, as the work was for which they were given, partly judicial, not of common, but of particular right to the tribe of Levi, nor to them alone, but to the owner also and his household, at the time of their offering, and every three year to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, their appointed sharers, and that they were a tribe of priests and deacons improperly compared to the constitution of our ministry, and the tithes given by that people to those deacons only, it follows that our ministers at this day, being neither priests nor Levites, nor fitly answering to either of them, can have no just title or pretence to tithes, by any consequence drawn from the law of Moses.
But they think they have yet a better plea in the example of Melchisedec, who took tithes of Abraham