Page images
PDF
EPUB

Canterbury, he began a controversy with him about boring towards the altar, the sanctity of churches, &c. as he informs us himself in the note, page 501. In answer to his queries on this subject, Mr. Mede says:

- I confess I have not been unacquainted with speculations in things of this nature: They were my eldest thoughts and studies, full twenty years ago, and the

[ocr errors]

good, and is yet before us to be prosecuted and followed after.—Which whoever shall impartially and sincerely weigh the cause and interest which the good people of this nation have all along engaged in, as well in reference to their civil liberties or interests of men as men, as to their christian liberties as saints,) cannot but acknowledge : Nor therefore can they yet remove the persuasion thoroughly out of their minds, that God, who hath brought on the work thus far, should leave it here, when it is come (as it were) unto the birth, and is upon the very anvil to be formed into wbat may answer the true ends of magistracy and common good of inen: Unto which if there were yet applications made in a way of righteousness and in the fear of the Lord, good men and God's own people might not despair of being taught by God and enabled through his power to grow up to that wherein, like faithful servants unto Christ, they might receive encouragement from their Lord at his coming,' &c.

Every one who knows the chagrine which Vane felt on perceiving the ambitious intentions of Cromwell, will be at no loss to interpret several of the mysterious expressions in this quotation, which certainly do not admit of an interpretation javourable to the Protector's designs. Indeed, he had reasons to believe that Cromwell suspected his fidelity, for as early as 1651 he thus addresses him, in a letter which contains an allusion to his mystic principles, that, in his own estimation, were “ too high to be fathomed even by" Cromwell : “ Till then, (whenever it pleases God we meet,) let me desire you, upon the score of ancient friendship that hath been between us, not to give ear to the mistakes, surmises or jealousies of others, from what hand soever, concerning your brother Heron, but to be assured he answers your heart's desire in all things, except he be esteemed even by you in principles too high to fathom; which, one day, I am persuaded, will not be so thought by you, when, by increasing with the increasings of God, you shall be brought to that sight and enjoyment of God in Christ which passes all knowledge, and into which the wonderful appearauces of God in these times doth directly lead and tend, as to the end of all those shakings and removals of things that are made, which these late years have produced.”—Like many of his plotting Republicau friends, Sir Henry was purposely ambiguous, yet in the worst etfusions of his moody wildness may be traced the latent reasons of a wary politician. However, his " ancient friend” Cromwell did “ give ear to the surmises of others" aud for his own security sent the old Kuight, soon afterwards, as a prisoner to Carisbrooke Castle.

Many persons were deeply imbued with the spirit of fanaticism which is described in this note, and for several years afterwards attended to such advice as Vane has tendered, in being on “ the look-out" for providential circumstances that might favour their wishes. Under the date of “ April 24, 1694,” that honest old chronicler, John EVELYN, Esq. tells us : rising of the people in Buckinghamshire, on the declaration of a famous preacher, (till now reputed a sober and religious man,) that our Lord Christ, appearing to bim on the 16th of this month, told him he was now come down, and would appeur públicly at Pentecost, and gather all the saints, Jews and Gentiles, and lead them to Jerusalem, and begin the Millennium, and, destroying and judging the wicked, deliver the government of the world to the saints. Great multitudes followed this preacher; divers of the most zealous brought their goods and considerable sums of money, and began to live in imitation of the primitive saints, minding no private concerns, continually dancing and singing HALLELUJAH night and This brings to mind what I lately happened to find in Alstedius, that the thousand years should begin this very year 1694: It is in his ENCYCLOPÆDIA BIBLICA ; my copy of the book printed near sixty years ago."

A great

argument of my Concio ad Clerum when I commenced Bachelor of Divinity, and before I was any proficient in the Apocalypse. And, it may be, I have had so many notions that way as would have made another man a Dean, or a Prebend, or something else, ere this. But the point of the Pope's being Antichrist, as a dead fly, marred the savour of that ointment.* And, besides, I am no practitioner nor active, but a speculator only: But, I am afraid, there are others as much in fault, which

praca tise before they know. I suppose you have heard something this way, and thence took occasion to move this question to me: Which is the reason I have told you this long tale by way of preface, lest you might think

I had made the bent of the times the rule of my opinions. But if I did so, I should quickly renounce my tenet of the Apocalyptical Beast, which I know few men here so hardy with us as to profess they believe, yea or would fain do. But alas! that, I am so ill-advised, I cannot do withal! And, I thank God, I never made any thing hitherto the caster of my resolutions but reason and evidence, on what side soever the advantage or disadvantage fell. Besides, it fell out happily, that the times when my thoughts were exercised in those speculations, were times of better awe than now they are; which preserved me from that immoderation into which I see divers now run, whether out of ignorance or some other distemper I cannot tell.” He then proceeds to give some good reasons for a greater observance of sanctity in God's worship, than was generally practised by the Puritans.

In the Doctor's reply, among other things, he says: “Somewhat I have heard another way, which hath made me recount my own fortunes in resemblance unto yours. For, sometimes I have been censured for a Puritan, sometimes for a good fellow : My preaching, as in opposition to Popery, was opportuned to undergo the one censure before persons Popishly affected ; and

my

free conversation in the enjoying of my friends, (yet, I thank God, without all scandal,) hath exposed me to the other, and that from the same mouths, not judging indifferently, but upon particular, and those unjust, distates practising to disgrace me. I see our fortunes have not been much unlike; I trust we shall

* In the note page 502, it is shewn what compliances were made by Dr. Cosin to the prejudices of the Protestant ladies in the court of Queen Henrietta. It must also be recollected, that her Majesty was sister to the French monarch, who, according to the statement in page 290-4, " ordered his Protestant subjects to refrain, in their sermons and writings, from calling the Pope Antichrist.No wonder therefore can be expressed at Archbishop Laud's attempts to introduce the same forbearing practice among the English divines, when he had manifested his approbation of the pacific measures of Cardinal Richelieu and Grotius. And it is highly creditable both to Mr. Mede and to his patron, that, notwithstanding the wishes of the latter on this point, the former should not hesitate to assign to the Roman Pontiff his proper Antichristian designation, and should not by that and similar acts lose the favour of the Archbishop. This is a strong proof of Mr. Mede's integrity and of the magnanimity of the Archbishop's spirit.

love mutually so much the more.—Things lawful in themselves become unlawful by accident; as when they are superstitiously practised,* though not by ourselves; yet, by concurring in the same act, we may scandalize by countenancing the superstitions of others. And, I willingly profess, I fear superstition hereby will creep on in a conceit as if God were better served by wore shipping him towards the altar than otherwise : The contrary whereunto were it publicly professed, I should be the less solicited with such fears."

In Mr, Mede's next letter, he answers several new questions which the Doctor had proposed. Amongst other observations he makes the following, concerning the objection that our Saviour ate the Passover, and instituted the holy supper, in a common place, in an inn : What needed there any altar or place of relative presence, where the Son of God, the Heavenly Altar and Holy of Holies, was himself present in person? Is not the temple of God there, where_ He is ? And what altar was so holy as his sacred hands?”—To the question, Why, in the posture of our adoration of the Divine Majesty, more respect should be had to the altar or holy table, than either to the font or pulpit, seeing they also are places of God's presence as well as the other ?, Mr. Mede replies: * Suppose they be so: Yet, when there are many, why should not that which hath the principality draw this respect unto it? For it ought to be considered, that the Eucharist is the rite of our address unto God the Father in the New Testament, wherewith we come before him, to offer unto his Divine Majesty our thanksgivings, supplications, and praises in the name of his Son Jesus Christ crucified for us ; that is, it is not only a sacrament, but, as the Ancient Church used to speak, a sacrifice also. The mystery of which rite, the Fathers and Primitive Christians took to be this: That as Christ, by presenting his death and satisfaction to his father, continually intercedes for us in heaven; so the church on earth semblably approaches the throne of grace, by representing his death and passion to his Father in these holy mysteries of his body and blood.-So that, to approach God with this rite, was to do it by way of commemoration or renewing of a covenant with him, and as much as to say, Remember thy Covenant, which is the foundation of all invocation. For, what hath man to do with God, to beg any favour at his hands, unless he be in

* In a subsequent letter, Mr. Mede gives the following reproof of this excessive inclination of the Calvinists to discover superstition in circumstances in which it never had an existence : “ St. Gregory's church, you say, is going down, at least is to be built elsewhere ; but we never yet heard the like of the Lord's day. No! (Have we not ?] But I have : namely, that a great man in the Reformation had once a consultation to have translated the Lord's-day unto Thursday, upon pretence to take away superstition. And though that consultation succeeded not, yet he is known to have been no great friend to the hallowing thereof. How true this is, I know not; penes authores fides esto ! But such a thing I have read, I can assure you."

[ocr errors]

A

covenant with him? Whereby appears the reason why mankind, from the beginning of the world, used to make their address unto their God by this rite of sacrificing, viz. ritu fæderali. And this is that which the Ancient Church did, and supposed our Lord intended they should do, in the holy Eucharist of his death and passion; which therefore they called the New or Christian Sacrifice : A definition whereof (as it consists of the rite and action both together) may be framed out of those words of Mr. Perkins, an oblation of thanksgiving and prayer to

God the Father, through Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice on the cross, commemorated

and represented in bread and wine.' This is a point of great moment and consequent, worthy to be looked farther into by all the learned of the Reformed religion ; lest, whilst we have deservedly abolished that prodigious and blasphemous sacrifice of the Papists, wherein Christ is again hypostatically offered to his Father, we have not (but very implicitly and obscurely,) reduced that ancient commemorative sacrifice of Christians; wherein that one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross was continually, by that sacred rite, represented and inculcated to his Father, his Father put in mind thereof by those monuments set before him; wherein we also testified our own mindfulness thereof unto his sacred Majesty, that so he would for his sake, according to the tenour of the New Covenant in his blood, be favourable and propitious unto us miserable sinners. These premises considered, the answer to your demand is plain and easy, namely, because adoration is an act of address and of tender of honour unto God, and therefore most fitly to be performed at or toward the place of our address, which is the altar, whereat anciently as the sacrament of the Eucharist, so the whole devotions of the church were performed and presented to the Divine Majesty. The Pulpit is the place where God speaks to us, not we to him: The Font is the place where he reaches his favours unto us, in accepting us to be his servants : not where, being initiated, we offer our spiritual sacrifice and service to him. You must understand me here to speak according to the ancient manner of the

* Mr. Mede's remarks on this subject are exceedingly important; but they have been abused and misapplied by Drs. Hickes and Heylin. The manner in which the Fathers spoke about it may be discerned by the following extract from Mr. Mede's large treatise on the Christian Sacrifice, which contains many similar quotations from the Ancients :

“. In a word, the sacrifice of christians is nothing but that one sacrifice of Christ, once offered upon the cross, again and again commemorated: Which is elegantly expressed by those words of St. Andrew, recorded in the history of his Passion, written by the Presbyters of Achaia, where Ægeas the Proconsul requiring of him to sacrifice to Idols, he is said to have answered thus : Omnipotenti Deo, qui unus et verus est, &c. I sacrifice daily to Almighty • God, but what? not the smoke of frankincense, por the flesh of bellowing bulls, nor the blood of goats. No; but I offer daily the unspotted Lamb of God, on the altar of the cross : whose Aesh and blood though all the faith'ful eat and drink of, yet after all this notwithstanding, the lamb that was

sacrificed remains entire and alive still.' This riddle, though Ægeas the Proconsul were not able to unfold, I make no question but you are : and here I conclude."--Mede's Christian Sacrifice.

[ocr errors]

LL

Church. And thus far I have adventured to discover my thoughts in this nice and doubtful argument, presuming upon the experience I have formerly had of your judgment, freedom, and ability of discerning, especially of your affection and good opinion of myself. You may guess, my thoughts have not been a stranger to things of this nature. You will admire perhaps, they were no hindrance to my Apocalyptical speculations, and how I could so easily, being possessed with such tenets, believe the Popedom to be the Beast, and Rome the Whore of Babylon; seeing, in the apprehension of the most, these things accord not well together. But this seeming incompetibility will soon vanish, if you consider that in all my meditations I make the apostacy of the visible church to consist, not in Judaism, * but in Gentilism; the constant character of the Apocalyptical allegories warranting and first suggesting this conceit, where namely I observed Judaism to bear the type of the true church, and Gentilism of the false.”+

* This is the solution of the mystery, why Mr. Mede could both call the Pope Antichrist, and yet could plead for decent order in the services of God's sanctuary. One of the subjects of dispute, between the advocates of Episcopacy and those of Independency and Presbyterianism, lies in the degree of conformity or non-conformity of many early christian observances to the Jewish ritual and ceremonies. In this view, therefore, Mr. Mede's speculatious could not be very agreeable to those men who attempted to diminish the splendour and extinguish the glory of the purest and most apostolical church upon earth, and who introduced for a season a less splendid ecclesiastical regimen, which obtained favour neither from God nor man.

† The concluding paragraph of this long letter is very important, and as Dr. Twisse afterwards animadverts on a part of it, it is here subjoined : Altius hoc animo meo insedit, [but this consideration is still more deeply fixed on my mind,] that the Reformed Churches, out of extreme abomination to idolatry, have, according to the nature of men, incurred some guilt before God αμετρια της ανθολκης [through the excess of their antipathyl by taking away the distinction almost generally between things sacred and profane ; and that they shall one day smart for it. But the prejudices hereabout are so great, that I have little hope to persuade others to my opinion : Yet I could say much for it; and, if it be well observed, the present judgments of God upon the Reformation do insinuate some such thing. Let the godly-wise consider it. Divine Judgments have usually some brand or stamp upon them, which points at the sin for which they are inflicted : You may call it a sin-mark. If the passages and ground of the continuance of this German war be well considered, would not a man think they spake that of the apostle, Thou, that hatest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ? But I dare go no further : It may be, I have said too much already, for, I well know, the way that I go pleaseth neither party; the oue loves not, that the Pope should be Antichrist : nor the other to hear, that these things [rites and ceremonies] should not be Popery."

This was written in 1635, and contains an evident allusion to the belligerent German Calvinists, who became implicated in the fate of the uufortunate king of Bobemia, whose imprudent and ill-timed zeal against “idols" is recorded in page 244, and in whose favour the king of Sweden had then appeared. (Page 248). Mr. Mede's remarks were so obvious and just, being supported by facts that had then recently transpired, as to depress Dr. Twisse's mind, and to diminish those sanguine hopes about the final triumph of Calvinism which he had never ceased to entertain. When his attention was expressly directed to the point, he could not deny the appearance of the finger of God in the matter, although in his reply he attempted to parry the consequences in the following manner : " That which you touch concerning the German war, and the causes of it, and the sin-mark, I willingly profess doth make me melancholic; for I cannot but sympathize with them. Yet.

« PreviousContinue »