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seeing that wicked men have joined themselves to us, and have wished to seem supporters of the Gospel, not so much from love of piety to God as from hatred to all religion, I sharply rebuke their perfidy and impiety, be they of whatever rank they may: for our order is not free from men of a description, such that no severity of language can be too great to be used concerning them. If I any where specify the Dutch, far be it from me to mean the whole nation: I refer only to those who degenerate from the characteristic honesty of their nation, and deserve so much the more rebuke, in that they abuse the authority committed to them, and shamefully take advantage of the confidence of their countrymen: men such as these I may fairly charge with impiety; to others I impute only
Error and ignorance diminish indeed the guilt of but do not take away its inherent deformity. I know it will sound harsh to some to hear complaints of sacrilege, and seem absurd to others to wish for Bishops to govern the Church. For even here in England, there are persons who dislike Episcopacy, as though there could be no Ecclesiastical discipline under it; and some have proceeded to such hatred of it, as to secede from the Anglican Church as Papistical and Antichristian, and to hold separatist meetings. Such persons I could not avoid censuring, seeing that they defend their schism and private conventicles, by instancing our Churches in Holland. It is well known that the first Churches of foreigners, which were gathered in this country under King Edward, had John Alasco a for their Bishop. And those which now exist here under the protection of our most gracious Queen Elizabeth, acknowledge and submit to the Bishops of the several Dioceses in which they are situated, Others who are more modest, and know how grievous and fatal is the sin of schism, do not indeed separate from the communion of the Churches to which they belong, but indulge in hatred of the Bishops, and promise to themselves a golden age could they but succeed in effecting their abolition. To such I venture to predict, that they will bring both themselves and the entire service of the Church, into the greatest contempt, even into greater than exists in Holland : and whereas there now, by the grace of God, does exist here some kind of discipline, there will, should their designs succeed, be none at all, except of an arbitrary kind, which will cease to be as soon as it begins to be. I say nothing of the civil commotions which I expect; but this I know, that most of those who are the prime movers of the design, will be its first enemies whenever they shall have brought it to pass by their present specious pretexts. You yourselves see and feel the calamitous condition of your own Churches; but allow me to say, that you appear to me not to be aware whence it has arisen, nor to know the real remedy for it. We hear of the disturbed state of the Church at Utrecht, and are not ignorant what has been its condition from the first. If a truly Christian Bishop had there succeeded to the Bishop appointed by the Roman Pontiff, and had Evangelical Pastors, content with the rights and incomes of the Churches, succeeded to the Sacrificers of the Mass, the affairs both of Church and State would be more tranquil there. The same I assert concerning the other provinces, from which the tyrant of the Churches has been ejected. But what is to be done when men's minds are prejudiced, and persuaded that the very existence of Bishops, and their maintenance by tithes and other oblations of the laity, is itself Papistical? The remedies which you are seeking to apply to the evils of your Churches, will provoke greater evils, not so much because they are in themselves evil remedies, as because the whole state is so disordered as not to be able to bear them. You require great prudence and great moderation, which, being never found in many, there is need of one single man who shall carry out good designs; and shall devote his care, not to this or that part, but to all parts alike. I do not mean all the parts of the whole Church throughout the world, for that no single mortal could do, or ever will be able to do; but all the parts of each city or each province, so far as it may be done by human ability. It is safer to follow the footsteps of the old Fathers, than to attempt to pave a new way.
a John Alasco is styled Episcopus Vesprimansis in the Onomasticon Literarium of Sanxius. Guerike calls him Probst Vesprim. Weisbrunn, in Lower Hungary.
will receive my freedom of speech, I know not; but I hope well of
and commit the whole matter to God. In times of perplexity, it is the duty of a good citizen not to conceal his opinion concerning public matters, nor may the faithful servant of Christ suppress his opinion touching the interests of the Church. Should I have obtained my end, I shall have reason to be thankful to God; if otherwise, I shall have done my duty towards the Church of Christ: to which I hold myself so bounden by my allegiance, that I may not pass over in silence any error that may come to my knowledge. For although, perhaps, I may not influence those for whom I write these things, I shall leave to posterity a testimony