Page:Tetrachordon - Milton (1645).djvu/58

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

38

TETRACHORDON.

31, how can this in the vulgar and superficiall sense be a law of Christ, so farre from being writt'n in our hearts, that it injures and disallowes not onely the free dictates of nature and morall law, but of charity also and religion in our hearts. Our Saviours doctrine is, that the end, and the fulfilling of every command is charity; no faith without it, no truth without it, no worship, no workes pleasing to God but as they partake of charity. He himselfe sets us an example, breaking the solemnest and the strictest ordinance of religious rest, and justify'd the breaking, not to cure a dying man, but such whose cure might without danger have beene deferr'd. And wherefore needes must the sick mans bed be carried home on that day by his appointment, and why were the Disciples who could not forbeare on that day to pluck the corne, so industriously defended, but to shew us that if he preferr'd the slightest occasions of mans good before the observing of highest and severest ordinances, hee gave us much more easie leave to breake the intolerable yoake of a never well joyn'd wedlocke for the removing of our heaviest afflictions. Therefore it is that the most of evangelick precepts are given us in proverbiall formes, to drive us from the letter, though we love ever to be sticking there. For no other cause did Christ assure us that whatsoever things wee binde, or slacken on earth, are so in heaven, but to signifie that the christian arbitrement of charity is supreme decider of all controversie, and supreme resolver of all Scripture; not as the Pope determines for his owne tyrany, but as the Church ought to determine for its owne true liberty. Hence Eusebius not far from the beginning of his History, compares the state of Christians to that of Noah and the Patriarkes before the law. And this indeede was the reason, why Apostolick tradition in the antient Church was counted nigh equall to the writt'n word, though it carried them at length awry, for want of considering that tradition was not left to bee impos'd as law, but to be a patterne of that Christian prudence, and liberty which holy men by right assum'd of old; which truth was so evident, that it found entrance even into the Councell of Trent, when the point of tradition came to be discust. And Marinaro a learned Carmelite for approaching too neere the true cause that gave esteeme to tradition, that is to say, the difference betweene the Old and New Testament, the one punctually prescribing writt'n law, the other guiding by the inward spirit, was reprehended by Cardinall Poole as one that had spoken more worthy a German Colloquie, then a generall councell. I omit many instances, many proofes and arguments of this kind, which alone would compile a just vo-