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May 04 , 2008

A Christian Directory (Part 4 of 4)



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Think not by the title of this part, that I am doing the same work which I lately revoked in my "Political Aphorisms;" though I concluded that book to be quasi non scriptum, I told you I recanted not the doctrine of it, which is for the empire of God, and the interest of government, order, and honesty in the world. This is no place to give you the reasons of my revocation, besides that it offended my superiors, and exercised the tongues of some in places, where other matters would be more profitable: pass by all that concerneth our particular states and times, and you may know by that what principles of policy I judge divine. And experience teacheth me, that it is best for men of my profession, to meddle with no more, but to leave it to the Contzeu's, the Arnisæus's, and other Jesuits, to promote their cause by voluminous politics. The pope's false-named church is a kingdom, and his ministers may write of politics more congruously, and (it seems) with less offence, than we. Saith the "Geographia Nubiensis" aptly, "There is a certain king dwelling at Rome called the pope," &c. when he goeth to describe him. Nothing well suits with our function, but the pure doctrine of salvation; let statesmen and lawyers mind the rest.

Two things I must apologize for in this part. 1. That it is maimed by defect of those directions to princes, nobles, parliament men, and other magistrates, on whose duty the happiness of kingdoms, churches, and the world dependeth. To which I answer, That those must teach them whom they will hear; while my reason and experience forbid me, as an unacceptable person, to speak to them without a special invitation, I can bear the censures of strangers, who knew not them or me. I am not so proud as to expect that men so much above me, should stoop to read any directions of mine; much less to think me fit to teach them. Every one may reprove a poor servant, or a beggar (it is part of their privilege). But great men must not be so much as admonished by any but themselves, and such as they will hear. At least nothing is a duty which a man hath reason to think is like to do much more harm than good. And my own judgment is much against pragmatical, presumptuous preachers, who are over-forward to meddle with their governors, or their affairs, and think that God sendeth them to reprove persons and things that are strange to them, and above them; and vent their distastes upon uncertain reports, or without a call.

2. And I expect both to be blamed and misunderstood, for what I here say in the confutation of Master Richard Hooker's "Political Principles," and my own citation of Bishop Bilson, and such others. But they must observe, 1. That it is not all in Master Hooker's first and eighth book, which I gainsay; but the principle of the people's being the fountain of authority, or that kings receive their office itself from them, with the consequents hereof. How far the people have, in any countries, the power of electing the persons, families, or forms of government, or how far nature giveth them propriety, and the consequents of this, I meddle not with at all. 2. Nor do I choose Master Hooker out of any envy to his name and honour, but I confess I do it, to let men know truly whose principles these are. And if any (causelessly) question, whether the eighth (imperfect) book be in those passages his own, let them remember that the sum of all that I confute, is in his first book, which is old, and highly honoured, by——you know whom. And I will do him the honour, and myself the dishonour, to confess, that I think the far greater number of casuists and authors of politics, papists, and protestants, are on his side, and fewest on mine: but truth is truth.

On the subjects' duty I am larger, because, if they will not hear, at least I may boldly and freely instruct them.

If in the latter part there be any useful cases of conscience left out, it is because I could not remember them. Farewell.

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