Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
~ Numbers 25:11-13
For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.
~ Psalm 69:9
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.
~ Romans 12:11, 2 Corinthians 7:11, Galatians 4:18
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
~ Titus 2:13-14
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
~ Revelation 3:15
A Coal from the Altar to Kindle the Holy Fire of Zeale, by Samuel Ward. In a Sermon Preached at the Generall Visitation at Ipswich. 1628.
Τεω και ὑμιν
Revel. 3. 19. Be zealous.
Mat. 24. 12.
1 Kin. 1. 1.
This watch-word of Christ, if it be not now a word in season, I know not when ever it was, or will bee: Would he now vouchsafe to bestow a letter upon his Church heere on earth; should hee need to alter the tenour of this? which being the last, to the last of the seaven Churches, why may it not (saith an Ancient, upon this text) typifie the estate of the last Age of his Churches? the coldnesse whereof himselfe hath expressely foretolde. And if God should now send through he earth such surveying Angels as Zacharie mentions, chapter 1. Could they returne any other observation of their travailes then theirs; The whole world lies in lukewarmnesse? which makes mee often in my thoughts proportion these ends of time, to the like period of Davids age, when no cloathes were enough to keepe heare in him. Faith I grant is a more radicall, vitall, and necessary grace; but yet not so wholly out of grace with the times, as poore Zeale; which yet if by any meanes it might once againe be reduced into favour and practice, before Time sets, and bee no more; I doubt not but Christ would also yet once againe in this evening of the world, come and Sup with us; A favour including all other in it.
My desire especially is, that this our Iland might take it to it selfe, as well as if it had by name beene directed to it; what would it hurt us to make an especiall benefit and use of it? Some of our owne, have so applyed it; (whether out of their judgements, or affections, I say not.) Learned Fulk marvels if it were not by a Propheticall spirit penned for us: others more resolutely have made it a singular type of purpose for us. Their warrant I know not; especially if it bee true which all travellers tell you, That they finde more zeale at home then abroad. We are I grant in sundry respects equall to Laodicea: Even the very names thereof, as well the first and oldest in regard of the blessings of God, Διος πολις Gods Darling, as the later in regard of good Lawes and Civility, Laodicea, How well doe they become us? As rich as they, and that in the very same commodity of woolls; Abounding as they with many learned Zenoes & bountifull Hieroes; Parallel in all regards; I would I could say lukewarmnesse excepted. But I must bee a faithfull and true witnesse, and yet this is all I have to say; It was, as I conceive, Laodicea’s complexion and not her constitution, her practice not her orders, personall lukewarmnesse not legall, which Christ strikes at. That fault I finde in my text, the same I finde in our common Christians, whose spirituall condition, and state is too like the externall situation of our Country, between the Torrid, and the Frigid Zones; neither hot nor colde: and so like Laodicea, that if wee take not warning, or warming, we may, I feare, in time come to be spued out of Gods mouth.
For this present assembly of Ministers, could all the choice and time in the world have better fitted mee then mine ordinarie Lot? If fire bee set upon the Beacons, will not the whole Countrey soone be warned and enlightned?
For my selfe also, mee thinkes it will better beseeme my yeeres to heat, then to teach my Ancients; to enkindle their affections, then to enforme their judgements. And whereas Paul bids Titus preach zeale with all authoritie; though in mine owne name I crave your patience, and audience, yet in his name that is the first of the creatures, and Amen, I counsell him that hath an eare, to heare what the Spirit saith to the Churches;
Ζηλωσον , Be Zealous.
A Coale from the Altar.
Revel. 3.19. Ζηλωσον , Be Zealous.
Zeale hath been little practized, lesse studied: this heavenly fire hath ever beene a stranger upon earth. Few in all ages that have felt the heat of it, fewer that have knowne the nature of it. A description will rake it out of the embers of obscurity: and it may be that many when they shall know it better, will better affect it.
2. Zeale hath many counterfets and allies. There are many strange fires which having sought to carry away the credit of it, have brought in an ill name upon it: from these it would bee distinguished.
3. Zeale is every where spoken against it hath many enemies and few friends: the world can no more abide it, then beasts can the elementary fire, the rebukes of many have falne upon it, the Divell weaves cunning lies to bring downe the honour of it. Oh that wee could raise and maintaine it, by setting forth the deserved praise of it; and challenge it from the false imputations of such as hate it without a cause.
4. Zeale hath in this our earthly molde, little fuell, much quench-coale, is hardly fired, soone cooled. A good Christian therefore would bee glad to know the Incentives and preservatives of it, which might enkindle it, enflame it, feed it, and revive it when it is going out.
5. Zeale in the worlds opinion, is as common as fire on every mans hearth, no mans heart without zeale, if every man might be his owne judge; If most might be heard there is too much of it; but the contrary will appear if the right markes bee taken, and the true rules of triall and conviction bee observed, and the heart thereby examined.
6. Zeale generally handled will break as lightning in the aire, and seize upon no subject: Application must set it on mens harts, and exhortation warme this old and colde age of the world, chiefly this temperate climate of our nation.
It was sayd of olde, that zeale was an Intension of love: of late, that it is a compound of love and anger, or indignation.
The Ancients aimed right, and shot neere, if not somwhat with the shortest. The moderne well discovered the use and exercise of more affections, then love, within the fathome and compasse of zeale; but in helping that default, went themselves somewhat wide, and came not close to the marke: which I ascribe not to any defect of eye-sight in those sharpe sighted Eagles; but onely to the want of fixed contemplation. And to speake truth, I have oft wondered why poore Zeale, a vertue so high in Gods books, could never be so much beholding to mens writings as to obtain a just treatise, which hath beene the lot of many particular vertues of inferiour worth; a plaine signe of too much under-value and neglect.
Hee that shall stedfastly view it, shall finde it not to bee a degree or intension of love, or any single affection (as the Schooles rather confined then defined zeale) neither yet any mixt affection (as the later, rather compounded then comprehended the nature of it) but an hot temper, higher degree or intension of them all. As varnish is no one color, but that which gives glosse & lustre to all; So the opposites of zeale, key-coldnes and lukewarmnesse, which by the Law of contraries must bee of the same nature, are no affections, but severall tempers of them all.
Acts 26. 7.
Paul warrants this description where hee speakes of the twelve Tribes. They served God with intension or vehemency.
The roote shewes the nature of the branch. Zeale comes of Ζω, a word framed of the very sound and hissing noise, which hot coales or burning iron make when they meete with their contrary. In plaine English, zeale is nothing but heate: from whence it is, that zealous men are oft in Scripture sayd to burne in the spirit. ζεοντες πνευματι.
Hee that doth moderately or remisly affect any thing, may be stiled Philemon, a lover; he that earnestly or extreamely, Zelotes, a zelot; who to all the objects of his affections, is excessively and passionately disposed, his love is ever fervent, his desires eager, his delights ravishing, his hopes longing, his hatred deadly, his anger fierce, his greefe deep, his feare terrible. The Hebrewes expresse these Intensions by doubling the word. This being the nature of zeale in generall, Christian zeale of which wee desire onely to speake, differs from carnall and worldly, chiefly in the causes and objects.
It is a spirituall heate wrought in the heart of man by the holy Ghost, improoving the good affections of love, joy, hope, &c. for the best service and furtherance of Gods glory, with all the appurtenances thereof, his word, his house, his Saints and salvation of soules: using the contrarie of hatred, anger, greefe, &c as so many mastives to flie upon the throat of Gods enemies, the Divell, his Angels, sinne, the world with the lusts thereof. By the vertue wherof a Zealot may runne through all his affections, and with David, breath zeale out of every pipe, after this manner for a taste;
How doe I love thy Law (O Lord) more then the hony or the hony-combe, more then thousands of silver and gold!
Thine enemies I hate with a perfect hatred.
Thy testimonies are my delight: I rejoyce more in them, then they that finde great spoyles, more then in my appoynted food.
Mine eyes gush out rivers of teares. Oh that my head were a fountain of teares, because they destroy thy Law.
Mine eyes are dimme with wayting: how doe I long for thy salvation?
Thy judgements are terrible, I tremble and quake, etc.
Look what pitch of affection the naturall man bestowes upon his dearest darling, what unsatiable thirst the covetous worldling upon his Mammon, the ambitious upon his honour, the voluptuous upon his pleasure; the same the Christian striveth in equall, yea, (if possible) farre exceeding tearmes to convert and conferre upon God and his worship.
In briefe, to open a little crevise of further light, and to give a little glimpse of heat: Zeale is to the soule, that which the spirits are to the bodie; wine to the spirits, putting vigour and agility into them. Whence comes that elegant Antithesis in the Scripture. Bee not drunke with wine wherein is excesse, but be filled with the Spirit.
Ser. 41. in Can. 49.
Christ is sayd to lead his Spouse into the wine-cellar: which Simily Bernard delighting oft to repeat, in two or three Sermons interprets of a speciall measure of zeale inspired into his Church. Thus (saith hee) Christ led his Disciples into the wine cellar on the day of Pentecost; and filled them, and the house with such zeale as they came forth like Giants refreshed with wine, and seemed to the people as men drunke with new wine.
Heb. 1. 7.
It is to the soule, as wings to the foule: this also is a Scripture embleme to picture the Angels with wings, as in the hangings of the Temple, and in the visions of the revelation, in token of their ardent and zealous execution of Gods will: whence also they have their name Seraphim; hee maketh his ministers a flame of fire.
To this fire and these wings, which we in the Lords prayer desire to imitate, there is nothing in us answerable but our zeale; as wheeles to the charriot: which makes us not goe, but runne the wayes of Gods Commandements, and so runne that we may obtaine. As sailes to the ship, and winde to the sailes, to which alludes the phrase so frequent in Scripture, Plerophorie.
As courage to the souldier, mettle to the horse, dust to the ground, which makes it bring forth much fruit, yea an hundredfold: vivacity to all creatures. To conclude this, this is that celestiall fire which was shadowed out unto us by that poore element in comparison, and beggarly rudiment, the fire (I meane) of such necessary use in the law, which rather then it should be wanting, the Lord caused it to descend from heaven, that it might cause the Sacrifices to ascend thither againe, as a sweet incense unto the Lord, without which no burnt offering was acceptable.
The Second Part.
But now, as then, there are certaine false fires, abhominable to God, odious to men, dangerous to the Nadabs and Abihues that meddle with them, bringing thereby coales upon their owne heads, & ill favor upon all their services; & not onely so, but that which is worse, an ill report and surmize even on those that offer the right fire, & serve the Lord in spirit and truth: yet for their sakes is the name of zeale blasphemed all the day long.
Against these, as then, so now severe caveats and cleere distinctions must bee laid, lest such as have not their senses exercised to put a difference, mistake poysonfull weedes for wholesome hearbes, to their owne destruction; and for the sake of the one, revile the other to the wrong of God and his Saints.
It fares not otherwise with the soule then with the body: besides the native & radicall heat, the principall instrument of life, there are aguish and distempered heats, the causes of sicknesse and death.
To discerne of those, requires some skill and judgement: yet a good Empirick, a Christian of experience will give a shrewd ghesse at them, the easier & the better if he marke these following signes and symptomes, common to all the kinds of false zeale, here also following.
First, they are deeply sicke of the pharisaicall humor, they love to be seene of men, and say with Jehu, Come and see how zealous I am for the Lord of hosts: they proclaime their almes with a trumpet, paint their good deedes upon Church windowes, engrave their legacies upon tombes, have their acts upon record: Thus, Comets blaze more then fixed Starres. Aguish heats breede flushings, & are more seen in the face, then natural warmth at the heart. Schollers count hiding of Art the best Art: the godly man studies by all meanes how to conceale the one hand from the other, in doing well; hiding of zeale is the best zeale.
Secondly, of Ahabs disease exceeding in externall humiliation, affected gestures, passionate sighes, lowdnesse of voyce, odde attires & such like: These know how to rend the garment, hang the head with the bulrush, to whip and launce their skinnes with Baals Priests; and yet strangers to a wounded spirit: not but that true and hearty zeale doth lift up the eyes, knocke the breast, dance before the Arke. Therefore this character may deceive the unwarie; Let Ely take heede of judging Hanna’s Spirit rashly by the mooving of her lips: yet hypocrites so usually straine nature and without a cause exceed, and that in publique, and upon the stage, that for the most part, their actions and affections are palpable: as Jesuites, Cappuchins, &c. yea in many histrionicall Protestants: Horse-coursers jades will bound, curvet and shew more tricks, then a horse well mettled for the rode or cart.
Thirdly, you may know them by their diligence and curiositie in lighter matters joyned with omission and neglect of greater, wise in circumstance, and carelesse in substance, tithing mint, straining at gnats, &c. In all cheape and easie duties, prodigall: niggardly & slothfull in the waighty things of the Law: these have at command good words, countenance, yea teares from their eyes, sooner then a farthing from their purse, having this worlds goods, and see their brother want; these sticke up feathers for the carcasse, beguiling the simple, couzening the world, but cheefly themselves.
Fourthly, these fires cannot keepe themselves within their owne hearths, these spirits cannot keepe themselves within their owne circles. True zeale loves to keepe home, studieth to bee quiet in other mens Dioces: false zeale loves to be gadding, is eagle-ey’d abroad and mole-ey’d at home: Insteed of burning bright and shining cleere; like brinish lights, they sparkle & spet at others, or like ill couched fire-workes let fly on all sides: onely out of their wisdome they know how to spare Agag and the great ones, and bee sure they anger not their great Masters, and meddle with their matches: whereas it is the property of fire that comes from above, to spare the yeelding sheath, and melt the resisting mettall, to passe by the lower roofes, and strike the towred pinacle, as Nathan, David; Elias, Ahab; John, Herod; Jonas, Ninivie; &c. Note also in all their proceeding with others, in steede of wholesome severity (which rightly zealous men never come unto but by compulsion, and not without compassion of the offender, weeping with Moses and Samuel over the people, beeing sory with the Emperour, that they know how to write sentences of condemnation) These delight in cruelty, the brand of the Malignant Church; feede their eyes with Massacres, as the Queene-mother. No diet so pleasing to these ravening wolves, as the warme blood of the sheepe. These are they that cry fire and fagot, away with them, not worthy to live, their very mercies are cruelty: especially in their owne cause, they heat the fornace seaven times hotter then in Gods.
7. Variable and inconstant.
Lastly, these Meteors and Vapours have no constant light, or continued heat (as the fixed starres ever like themselves) but have onely their aguish fits, & lunatick moods; sometimes in adversity they are good under the rod, as Pharaoh, againe in prosperity like the fat kine of Bashan, ingratefull and forgetfull: sometimes in prosperity when the sunne of peace shineth on them, & the favourable influence of great ones, they shoot foorth their blade with the corne on the house top, running with the streame, & sayling with the winde; sometimes their zeale depends upon the life of Jehoiada; sometimes on the company of the Prophets: commonly in the beginning they blaze like straw-fire, but in the end goe out in smoake and smother; whereas in their entrance into profession, they galloped into shewes, and made some girds at hand, they tire, give in, and end in the flesh, whereas all naturall motions are swiftest toward their end.
Be not over just hath 7. expositions heere 2. or 3. more hereafter.
The vestall fires were perpetuall, and the fire of the Altar never went out. Spices and wefts of these evills may bee found in the sincerest Christians: but they suffer not these dead flies to lie and putrefie in the precious boxes of true zeale; of all these the Preachers caveat may be construed, Be not over just, though it may also admit other interpretations, as after shall appeare.
These are the speciall notes and symptomes of strange fires: the kinds also are many, and might be distributed into many heads; but I will reduce them into three, which are known by their names. ψευδοζηλος, counterfet Zeale, false fire. τυφλος ζηλος blinde Zeale, smoakie fire, or fooles fire, ignis fatuus. πικρος ζηλος, turbulent Zeale, wilde fire.
The first, wanting truth and sincerity, propounds sinister ends.
The second, knowledge and discretion, takes wrong wayes.
The third, love and humility, exceeds measure.
The first abounds amongst subtile & crafty professours, and is to be abhorred and detected.
The second among simple & devout, is to be pitied and directed.
The third amongst passionate and affectionate, and is to bee moderated and corrected.
The first is the meere vizor of zeale, looking asquint one way and tending another; pretending God and his glory, intending some private and sinister end; first, either of honour and promotion, as Jehu, who marched furiously, and his word was the Lord of hosts, but his project was the kingdome.
Secondly, at filthy lucre: as Demetrius and his followers, who cried great is Diana of Ephesus; but meant her little silver shrines. It cannot bee denied, but many such there were, who helped to pull downe the Abbyes; not out of any hatred to those uncleane cages, but to reare their owne houses out of the ruines, and spoyled copes to make cushions. Judas complained of superfluity, but greeved it fell besides his bag: many hold temporalities tithes and glebes, unlawfull, because they are loth to forgo them: If Jezebel proclaime a Fast, let Naboth looke to his vine-yard; If the Usurer & Trades-man frequent Sermons, let the buyer & borrower look to themselves. It is too common a thing to make zeale a lure & stale, to draw customers; a bait of fraud, a net to entrap; with malicious Doegs, to make it a stalking horse for revenge against the Priest, thereby to discharge their gall at Ministers and other Christians, for the omission and commission of such things, as themselves care not for; with the Strumpet in the Proverbs, to wipe their mouthes, and frequent the Sacrifices, that they may be free from suspicion.
All these evils, have I seene under the sunne-shine of the Gospell: but by how much, zeale is more glorious then common profession, by so much is dissembled fervency more detestable then usuall hypocrisie; yea, no better then divellish villany & double iniquity: such painted walles and whited sepulchers, the Lord will breake downe. Let all Timothies & Nathanaels learne to descry them, and discard them: The cure of this was deepely forelayd by Christ; I counsell thee to buy gold tried in the fire: all is not gold that glistereth, an image of faith breeds but a shew of zeale; many seemed to trust in Christ, but Christ would not trust them: but such faith as will abide the fire, brings foorth zeale that will abide the touch-stone.
The second is erroneous or blinde zeale, not according to knowledge, Rom. 10. I beare many devout Papists witnesse (though I feare the learnedst of them be selfe-condemned) that they have this zeale, perswading themselves they doe God best service, when they please the Divell most in their will-worship. The same witnesse I beare many Seperatists; though I feare most of them be sicke of selfe-conceitednesse, newfanglenesse, and desire of mastership: for who would not suspect such zeale, which condemnes all reformed Churches, and refuseth communion with such as they themselves confesse to bee Christians, and consequentely such as have communion with Christ? It would greeve a man indeede, to see zeale misplaced, like mettle in a blinde horse; to see men take such paines, and yet fall into the pit. This made Paul to wish himselfe Anathema, for the sake of such; and yet the multitude and common people, reason thus; Is it possible but these men have the right? But alas, how should it bee otherwise, when a blinde company will follow a blinde sect-master; This being one property of blinde zeale, a fond admiration and apish imitation of some person, for some excellency they see in him, which so dazles their eyes, that they cannot discerne their errours and infirmities, which they oftner inherit then their vertues; as appeares in the Lutherans and the Jewes, that would sacrifice their children to Molech, in imitation of Abraham: In these the Divell becomes an Angell of light, and playeth that Dragon, Revel. 12. powring out flouds of persecution against the Church, causing devout men and women, to raise tragedies, breath out threatnings, and persecute without measure; then these the Divell hath no better soldiers: but when their scales fall from their eyes, and they come into Gods tents; God hath none like unto them. The cure of this divinely is forelayd by Christ also, to buy eye-salve of him; Angells have eyes as well as wings to guide their flight: when the ship is under saile, and hath the freshest way; it hath most neede to looke to the sterage, keep the watch, have an eye to the Compasse and land-marks.
The third kinde is turbulent zeale, called by James bitter zeale, a kinde of wilde-fire transporting men beyond all bounds and compasse of moderation; proceeding sometime of a weaknesse of nature in men, that have no stay of their passion, like to Clockes whose springs are broken, and Cities whose walls are down. Zeale is a good servant, but an ill master: mettle is dangerous in a head-strong horse. And so the Poets (which were the Heathens Prophets) shadowed out the cure of this, in Minerva’s golden bridle, wherewith she menaged her winged Pegasus. There is too much of this bitter zeale, of this Hierapicra in all our bookes of controversies: but especially there hath been too much in our domesticall warrs; some sonns of Bichri have blowen the trumpet of contention, trumpets of anger; the Churches of God should have no such custome: Oh that our Churches understood that saying.
Rom. 14. 10.
In quarrells of this nature Paul spends his zeale, not in partaking but in parting the fray, beating downe the weapons on both sides: Who art thou that judgest? who art thou that condemnest thy brother? as if hee should say, The matters are not Tanti, wee have made the Divell too much sport already; who threw in these bones to set us together by the eares, whilst hee lets in the common Enemy upon us. Charitie, Charitie, is the builder of Churches: Strife about trifles, hath wasted many famous ones, and placed the temples of Mahomet, where the golden candle-sticke was wont to stand. Wee pitty the former ages, contending about leavened and unleavened bread, keeping of Easter, fasting on Sundayes, &c. The future ages, will do the like for us. Oh that the Lord would put into the hearts both of the governours & parties to these quarrells, once to make an end of these Midianitish warrs; that wee might joyntly powre out the vialls of our zeale upon the throne of the beast.
Thus have you heard the errors and counterfets of zeale, through whose sides, and upon the backe of which, divers of the malicious world use to beat those whom it hates, because their workes are better then their owne; injuriously concluding, that all Zelots are alike. Thus I have heard our Marchants complaine, that the set up blewes have made strangers loath the rich oaded blewes, onely in request; this is an olde sophisme. True judgement would teach us to conclude, that the best druggs have their adulterates; the most current coins their slipps; and that vertue which so many hypocrites put on, to grace themselves withall; is surely some rare and excellent jewell.
The third part.
The true Zelot, whose fervency is in the spirit, not in shew; in substance not in circumstance; for God, not himselfe; guided by the word, not with humours; tempered with charity, not with bitternesse: such a mans praise is of God though not of men: such a mans worth cannot bee set foorth with the tongues of men and Angells.
Arguments of commendation.
Oh that I had so much zeale, as to steep it in it owne liquour; to set it forth in it owne colours, that the Lord would touch my tongue with a coale from his Altar, that I might regaine the decayed credit of it, with the sons of men.
1. From God’s excellency whom zeale only becomes unworthily placed elsewhere.
It is good to bee zealous in a good things: and is it not best, in the best? or is there any better then God, or the kingdome of heaven? Is it comely what ever we do, to do it with all our might? onely uncomely when wee serve God? Is meane and mediocrity, in all excellent Arts excluded, and onely to be admitted in religion? Were it not better to forbeare Poetry or Painting, then to rime or dawbe? and were it not better to bee of no religion, then to be colde or lukewarme in any? Is it good to be earnest for a friend, & cold for the Lord of hosts? For whom doest thou reserve the top of thy affections? for thy gold? for thy Herodias, &c. O yee adulterers and adultresses, can yee offer God a baser indignity? What ayleth the world? Is it afrayd thinke we, that God can have too much love; who in regard of his owne infinite beauty, & the beames he vouchsafeth to cast upon us, deserves the best, yea all, and a thousand times more then all? Ought not all the springs and brookes of our affection, to runne into this Maine? may not hee justly disdaine, that the least Riveret should bee drained another way? that any thing in the world should bee respected before him, equalled with him, or loved out of him, of whom, for whom, and through whom are all things? Who, or what can bee sufficient for him our Maker and Saviour? In other objects feare excesse: here no extasie is high enough.
2. From his spirituall nature.
Consider and reason thus with thy selfe (O man) canst thou brooke a sluggard in thy worke, if thou bee of any spirit thy selfe? is not a slothfull messenger as vinegar to thy teeth, and as smoake to thine eyes? Hast thou any sharpnesse of wit, is not dulnesse tedious unto thee? And shall hee that is all spirit (for whom the Angels are slow and colde enough) take pleasure in thy drowzie and heavie service? Doe men choose the forwardest Deere in the heard, and the liveliest Colt in the drove? and is the backwardest man fittest for God? Is not all his delight in the quickest and cheerefullest givers and servitors? Even to Judas he saith, That thou doest, doe quickely; so odious is dulnesse unto him: what else mooved him to ordaine, that the necke of the consecrated Asse should bee broken, rather then offered up in sacrifice; doth God hate the Asse? Or is it not for the sake of the quality of the creature; which hath ever among the Heathens beene an Hieroglyphick of heavinesse and tardity?
3. Effects of zeale. Revel. 12.
Thirdly, this zeale is so gracious a favorite with God, that it graces with him all the rest of his graces. Prayer if it bee fervent, prevaileth much: the zealous witnesses had power to shut and open heaven: by this, Israel wrastled with God, overcame, and was called a Prince with God: this strengthned the heart of Moses (as Aaron and Hur supported his hands) till the Lord sayd, Let me alone: this made Cornelius his prayer to come into heaven; whither our colde sutes can no more ascend, then vapours from the Still, unlesse there bee fire under it: Repentance, a needefull and primary grace, which the Baptist so urged: but then wee must bee zealous and repent (as my text joynes them) or else no repentance pleaseth God; nor are there fruits worthy repentance. Almes and good deeds are sacrifices pleasing to God; but without zeale, the widowes mites are no better then the rest; It is the cheerefull loose, that doubleth the gift. Generally, as some mans marke and name, furthereth the sale of his commodity; so zeale inhanceth all the graces of God. It pittieth me for Laodicea that lost so much cost; had as many vertues, did as many duties as other Churches: but for want of this, Christ could not sup with them. Furnish a table with the principallest fare, and daintiest dishes that may be had; let them be rosted & boyled to the halves, or stand on the table till they bee lukewarme; what will the guests say? All that we can doe is but the deede done, unlesse zeale conferre grace.
4. Baptismus Flaminis & Fluminis.
Fourthly, zeale is the richest evidence of faith, and the cleerest demonstration of the Spirit: The Baptisme of water, is but a cold proofe of a mans Christendome; being common to all commers: but if any bee baptized with fire, the same is sealed up to the day of Redemption. If any shall say, friend, what doest thou professe a religion without it; how can hee choose but bee strucke dumb? Can wee suppose worme-wood without bitternesse, a man without reason? then may wee imagine a religion, and a Christian, without spirit and zeale.
The Jesuite saith, I am zealous; the Separatist, I am zealous; their plea is more probable, then the lukewarme worldlings, that serve God without life. If the colour bee pale and wan, and the motion insensible, the party is dead or in a swoune; if good and swift, wee make no question. The zealous Christian is never to seeke for a proofe of his salvation: what makes one Christian differ from another in grace, as starrs doe in glory; but zeale? All beleevers have a like precious faith: All true Christians have all graces in their seedes; but the degrees of them are no way better discerned then by zeale: Men of place distinguish themselves, by glistering pearles: A Christian of degrees shines above other in zeale. Comparisons I know are odious to the world, that faine would have all alike: but the righteous is better then his neighbour: All Christians are the excellent of the earth, the Zelot surmounteth them all, as Saul the people by the head and shoulders; hee is ever striving to excell and exceeds others and himselfe.
One of these is worth a thousand others, one doth the worke of many: which made him speake of Elisha in the plurall number, The horsemen and Charriots of Israel; besides his owne worke, hee winns and procures others, makes Proselytes. It is the nature of fire to multiply, one coale kindles another: his worke so shines, that others come in and glorifie God; marvelling and enquiring what such forwardnesse should meane, concluding with Nebuchadnezzar, Surely the servants of the most high God.
These are good Factors and Agents, doing God as good service, as Boutesewes doe the Divell, and Jesuites the Pope, sparing no cost, nor labour; and what they cannot doe themselves, they doe by their friends, Who is on my side, who? &c.
As for lets and impediments, they over-looke and over-leape them, as fire passeth from one house to another; neither is there any standing for any Gods enemies before them: they make havock of their owne and others corruptions. If you will rightly conceive of Peters zeale in converting & confounding, you must imagine (saith Chrysostome) a man made all of fire walking in stubble. All difficulties are but whetstones of their fortitude. The sluggard saith, There is a Lyon in the way; tell Samson & David so, they will the rather goe out to meet them. Tell Nehemiah of Samballat, hee answereth, Shall such a man as I feare? Tell Caleb there are Anakims, and hee will say, Let us goe upp at once, &c. Let Agabus put off his girdle and binde Paul, let him be told in every City, that bonds await him, hee is not onely ready for bonds, but for death; tell Jubentius, hee must lay downe his life, he is as willing as to lay off his clothes: tell Luther of enemies in Wormes, hee will goe if all the tiles of the houses were Divells. The horse neighs at the trumpet; the Leviathan laughs at the speare. They that meane to take the Kingdome of God by violence, provide themselves to goe through fire and water, carry their lives in their hands, embrace faggots; they say to father and mother, I know you not: to carnall Counsellers and friendly enemies, Get you behinde mee Sathan. Zeale is as strong as death, hot as the coales of Juniper; flouds of many waters cannot quench it. Agar, Pro. 30. speakes of foure things, stately in their kinde; I will make bold to add a fift, comprehending and excelling them all namely the zealous Christian, strong and bold as the Lyon; not turning his head for any; as swift as the grey-hound in the waies of Gods commandements; in the race to heaven, as nimble as the Goat climbing the steepe and craggy mountaines of pietie and vertue; A victorious King, overcoming the world and his lusts: Salomon in all his royalty, is not cloathed like one of these in his fiery Charriot.
To cut off the infinite praises of zeale, let us heare what honourable testimonies and glorious rewards, it pleaseth God to conferre upon it; Davids ruddy complexion and his skill in musique, made him amiable in the eyes of men: but the zeale of his heart, stiled him a man after Gods owne heart; and the sweet Singer of Israel. Abraham, that could finde in his heart to sacrifice his Isaack, was called the friend of God. The same vertue denominated Jacob a Prince with God. Elisha, The Charriots and horse-men. Paul, A chosen vessell, &c.
Revel. 7. 3. Ezek. 9. Exod. 12.
Neither doth God put them off, with names and empty favours, but upon these he bestowes his graces: David dedicateth his Psalmes to him that excelled: God in dispensing of favours, observeth the same rule, to him that overcommeth will I give, &c, To him that hath, shall bee given. Husbandmen cast their seede uppon the fertilest ground, which returnes it with the greatest interest: God gives most talents to those that improove them in the best banke. Joseph shall have a party coloured coat, of all kindes of graces and blessings: And because he knowes this will purchase them hatred and envy, hee takes them into speciall tuition; if any will hurt his zealous witnesses, there goeth out a fire out of their mouthes, to devoure their enemies. A man were better anger all the witches in the world then one of these. If God bring any common judgements, he sets his seale and Thau on their fore-heads, & sprinkles their posts; snatcheth Lot out of the fire (who burneth in zeale, as Sodome in lust) as men doe their plate whiles they let the baser stuffe burne. In fine, hee taketh Enoch and Eliah in triumphant Charriots up to heaven, and after their labours and toyles, setteth them in speciall Thrones, to rest in glory; The Apostles in their twelve, the rest in their order, according to their zeale. And though hee may well reckon the best of these, unprofitable servants; yet such congruity (not of merits, but of favour) it pleaseth him to observe in crowning his graces, that the most zealous heere, are the most glorious there.
Who would not now wonder, how ever this royall vertue should have lost it grace with the world; how ever any should admit a low thought of it? But what? Shall all the indignity which hell can cast upon it, make it vile in our eyes? or rather, shall wee not reason from the opposition, as Tertullian did of Nero: That religion which Nero so persecutes, must needs be excellent.
1 Object. Zeale is madd, and makes men mad.
Acts 26. 24 1 Cor.
If zeale were not some admirable good, the Divell and World would not so hate it; Yet lest silence should bee thought to baulke some unanswerable reasons, let us see how they labour to be madd with reason: Let Festus bee the Speaker for the rest, for hee speakes what all the rest thinke; you know his madd objection, and Pauls sober answer in that place, and the like, 2 Cor. 5.13. whether hee bee madd or sober, it is for God and you.
This text bids us bee zealous and repent; the word signifies be wise againe, or returne to your wits. The prodigall is sayd to come to himselfe, when he was first heat with this fire. Wee may well answer the world as old men doe young: You thinke us Christians to bee madd that follow heaven so eagerly; but we know you to bee madd, that run a-madding so after vanity.
A Christian indeed is never right, till he seeme to the world to be beside himselfe; Christs owne kindred were afrayd of him. The Apostles are sayd to be full of new wine; besides, with these the world is madd: they runn with Stephan like madd men; Nichodemus and such as he, never offends them.
You know also what Ahab laid to the charge of Eliah; with the Apologie hee made for himselfe. This is a stale imputation in ages. Haman accused Mordechay and the Jewes of it. The Apostles are sayd to bee troubles of the whole earth. In the Primitive Church all mutinies and contentions were layd to the Martyrs. True it is, where zeale is, there is opposition, and so consequently troubles: Christ sets this fire on earth, not as an author, but by accident: The theefe is the authour of the fray, though the true man strike never so many blowes: but the Ahabs of the world, trouble Israel; then, complaine of Eliah: The Papists will blow upp the State, then father it upon the Puritans. It is not for any wise man, to beleeve the tythe of the tales and slanders, which flie abroad of the zealous: Lewd men would fain strike at all goodnes through their sides.
3 Object. Proud.
You may remember also Eliabs uncharitable censure of David, I know the pride of thine heart. So doe all worldlings measure others by their owne length; if they see any forwardnesse in the peaceablest spirit, they ascribe it either to vaine-glory, or covetousnesse; the onely springs that set their wheeles on going: but of this the knower of the hearts must judge betweene us.
4 Object. They keep no meane.
When slaundering will not serve, then fall they to glavering, cunningly glancing at zeale, whiles they commend the golden meane wherein vertue consists. But Christians, take heede none spoyle you through such Philosophy; or rather Sopistry: for true Philosophy will tell you that the meane wherein vertue is placed, is the middle betwixt two kindes, and not degrees: And it is but meane vertue that loves the meane in their sense.
5 Object. Undiscreet.
Oh say they, but some discretion would doe well; It is true, but take withall Calvins caveat to Melancthon: That he affect not so the name of a moderate man, and listen to such Syrens songs, till he lose his zeale.
I have observed, that which the world miscalls discretion, to eat upp zeale, as that which they call policy, doth wisdome. As Joab stabbed Abner under a colour of friendship: Antichrist undermineth Christ, by pretending to be his Vicar. The feare of overdoing makes most come too short; of the two extreamities, wee should most feare lukewarmnesse: rather let your milke boyle over then be raw.
From glavering, they fall to scoffing; yong Saints, will prove but olde Divels; these hot-spurrs will soone runne themselves out of breath. But wee say, such were never right bred; such as proove falling starres, never were ought but meteors; the other never lose light or motion: spirituall motions may be violent and perpetuall.
When none of these will take, they fal to right downe rayling; these Puritans, these singular fellowes, &c. unfit for all honest company. I hope the states Puritan, and the common Puritan bee two creatures. For with that staffe the multitude beats all that are better then themselves, & lets fly at all that have any shew of goodnes. But with that which most call Puritanisme, I desire to worship God. For singularity, Christs calls for it, and presseth & urgeth it; What singular thing doe you, or what odde thing doe you? Shall Gods peculiar people, doe nothing peculiar? The world thinkes it strange, wee runne not with them into excesses, and doe not as most doe, that wee might escape derision: Judge you which of these men shall please: I beleeve none shall ever please Christ, till they appeare odde, strange and precise men, to the common sort; and yet neede not bee over just neither Let them that have tender eares stop them against the charmes of the world, and scornes of Michol, unlesse they were wiser: Let him that hath a right eare, heare what Christ saith to the Churches, Be zealous.
The fourth part.
Yea, but by what meanes shall a Christian attaine this fire, and maintaine it when he hath gotten it.
Say not in thine heart, What Prometheus shall ascend into heaven and fetch it thence; thou mayest fetch it thence by thine owne prayer: as didElias and the Apostles, men of infirmities as well as thy selfe; pray continually, and instantly: the Lord that breathed first thy soule into thee, will also breath on thy soule: I speake not of miraculous (which was but a type) but of ordinarie inspiration. Prayer and zeale are as water and ice: mutually producing each other; when it is once come downe upon thine altar; though no water can quench it, yet must it bee preserved fresh, by ordinarie fuell; especially the Priests lipps must keepe it alive.
Sermons are bellowes ordained for this purpose. The word read is of divine use, but doth not with that motion stirre these coales.
Experience sheweth, the best oration will not so much moove as the meanest Orator.
After the sparkles once by these meanes kindled, cherish and feede them by reading the word: Let it dwell richly in thine heart, excite thy dulnesse by spirituall Hymnes. Love-songs enflame not lust, more, then the Song of Songs doth zeale: Reade or sing the 119. Psalme; and if thou beest not zealous, every verse will checke thee in thy throat: Meditation is another helpe, approoved by Isaacks and Davids practice: An Art lately so taught, as I shall neede onely to poynt at the choyce theames, suiting and furthering this argument. I need not goe far to fetch this fire: I may strike it out of every word of this Epistle to Laodicea. Behold the Lord God, especially thy Lord Christ in his glorious titles and Majesty; for so hee beginnes his visions to John; and his Epistles to the Churches, exciting their dull hearts. By such apparitions did hee set on fire the heart of Moses in the burning bush; and enflamed Stephan, his first Martyr: answerable and proportionable to which, are our serious contemplations. Behold him as one that seeth thee, and knoweth thy workes; the rouzing preface of all these Letters. Casars eye made his souldiers prodigall of their blood. The Atheist thinks God takes as much notice of him and his prayers, as hee doth of the humming of Flyes and Bees; and therefore, no marvell if his service bee formall and fashionable. The faithfull Christian by faiths prospective sees him at home, and heares him saying, Well done thou good servant; which maketh him to worke out his heart. Behold him as the beginning of creatures, especially of the new creature. Oh! what love hath hee shewed thee in thy redemption? out of what misery, into what happinesse, by what a price, to what end; but that thou shouldest bee zealous of good workes? Behold him as the faithfull witnesse, that witnessed himselfe for thee a good witnesse, and heere faithfully counsels thee to follow his patterne. Behold him as a speedie and royall rewarder of his followers. Take thy selfe into paradise, represent to thy selfe thy crowne, thy throne, thy white robes; looke not on the things that are seene, but on the farre most excellent wait of glory; looke upon these, and faint if thou canst. Behold also hee is a consuming fire, a zealous God, hating lukewarmnesse not onely destroying Sodome with fire and brimstone, and providing Tophet for his enemies; but awaking also his drowzie servants, by judgements (as Absolon Joab by firing his corne) his Israelites by fiery serpents: whom hee loveth, hee chasteneth, and keepeth them in the fornace of fiery trialls, till they come to their right temper. Hee standeth and knocketh: if nothing will arouze us, a time will come, when heaven and earth shall burne with fire, and Christ shall come in flaming fire, to render vengeance with fire unquenchable. Wee therefore that know the terrour of that day, What manner of persons ought we to bee?
From God turne thine eyes unto man: set before thee the pillar, and clowde of fiery examples, that have led us the way into Canaan. Hee is but a dull lade that will not follow: The stories of the Scriptures, the lives of the Fathers, the acts and monuments of the Church, have a speciall vertue for this effect. The very pictures of the fires, and Martyrs, cannot but warme thee. If thou canst meete with any living examples, follow them, as they follow Christ, frequent their company: even Saul amongst the Prophets, will prophesie. No bangling hawke, but with a high flyer will mend her pitch: the poorest good companion, will doe thee some good; when Silas came, Paul burnt in the spirit: a lesser sticke may fire a billet; If thou findest none, let the coldnesse of the times heat thee, as frosts doe the fire; Let every indignation make thee zealous, as the dunstery of the Monkes, made Erasmus studious: one way to bee rich in times of dearth, is to engrosse a rare commodity, such as zeale is: now, if ever, they have destroyed thy Law; It is now high time to be zealous.
Consider and emulate the children of this generation, to see how eager every Demas is for worldly promotion. How did that worthy Bishop disdaine to see an harlot, more curiously to adorne her body unto sinne and death, then hee could his soule unto life everlasting. It angred Demosthenes to see a Smith earlier at his anvile, then he was at his deske.
When thou hast thus heat thy selfe, take heede of catching colde againe, as many have done, and brought their zeale to deaths doore.
This fire may goe out divers wayes: first by subtraction of fewell; if a man forbeare his accustomed meales, will not his naturall heat decay? The Levites that kept Gods watch in the Temple, were charged expressely, morning & evening, if not oftner, to looke to the lights and the fire. Hee that shall forget (at the least) with the Curfeau-bell in the evening to rake uppe his zeale by prayer, and with the day-bell in the morning to stirre up & kindle the same, if not oftner with Daniel; I cannot conceive how hee can possibly keepe fire in his heart. Will God blesse such, as bid him not so much as good-morrow and good-even?
Hee that shall despise or neglect prophesie, must hee not needes quench the spirit? have I not marked glorious professors, who for some farme sake, or other commodities, have flitted from Jerusalem to Jericho; where the situation was good, but the waters nought; and their zeale hath perished, because vision hath failed?
Such as reade the Bible by fits upon rainy dayes, not eating the booke with John, but tasting onely with the tippe of the tongue: Such as meditate by snatches, never chewing the cud and digesting their meat, they may happily get a smackering, for discourse and table-talke; but not enough to keepe soule & life together, much lesse for strength and vigour. Such as forsake the best fellowship, and wax strange to holy assemblies, (as now the manner of many is) how can they but take colde? Can one coale alone keepe it selfe glowing?
Though it goe not out for want of matter, yet may it bee put out by sundry accidents; when it is newly kindled, it may be put out with scoffes and reproaches, if Peter take not heede, and fence himselfe well against them; but if once throughly growne, such breath will but spred and encrease it.
It is possible fire may bee oppressed with too much wood, and heat suffocated with too much nourishment: over-much prayer, reading, and study, may bee a wearinesse both to flesh and spirit: but it so rarely happeneth, that I neede not mention it; and yet the soule hath its satiety. There be some such perchance over-nice men in this sense also, who have not learned that God will have them mercifull to themselves: It is often smoothered for want of vent and exercise. Let such as use not and expresse not their zeale, bragge of their good hearts; surely they have none such, or not like to have them such. If Nicodemus had not buried Christ by day, we might have feared his zeale had gone out, for all his comming by night.
Yet this is not so ordinary, as to extinguish it by the quench-coale of sinne; grosse sinne every man knowes will waste the conscience, and make shipwracke of zeale: but I say, the least known evill unrepented of, is as a theefe in the candle, or an obstruction in the liver. I feare, David served God but reasonably, till hee published his repentance; hee that steales his meat, though poverty tempt him, yet giveth thankes but coldly: zeale and sinne, will soone expell the one or the other out of their subject; Can you imagine in the same roofe, God and Beliall, the Arke and Dagon? Lastly, and most commonly, forraine heat will extract the inward, and adventicious heat consume the naturall.
The Sunne will put out the fire; and so will the love of the world, the love of the Father, they cannot stand together in intense degrees, one cannot serve both these matters with such affection as both would have. Seldome seest thou a man make haste to bee rich, and thrive in religion. Christs message to John holds true; The poore are most forward in receiving and following the Gospell: as thou lovest thy zeale, beware of resolving to bee rich, lest gain proove thy godlinesse; take heede of ambitious aspiring, lest Courts and great places, proove ill aires for zeale, whither it is as easie to go zealous, as to returne wise: Peter whiles hee warmed his hands, cooled his heart; Not that greatnesse and zeale cannot agree; but for that our weaknes many times severs them. If thou beest willing to die poore in estate, thou mayest the more easily live rich in grace. Smyrna, the poorest of the seven Candle-stickes, hath the richest price upon it.
The diligent practise of these courses will make easie the practise of this counsell, Be zealous, &c.
The fift part.
But heere mee thinke I heare the lukewarme worldling of our times, fume & chafe, and aske what needs all this adoe for zeale, as if all Gods people were not zealous enough.
Such as thinke they are, or can bee zealous enough, neede no other conviction to bee poore, blinde, naked, wretched and pittifull Laodiceans: Fire is ever climbing and aspiring higher; zeale is ever aiming at that which is before; carried towards perfection; thinking meanely of that which is past, and already attained, condemning his unprofitable service, as Calvin his last Will: this rule tries full conceited Christians.
What would you have us doe? wee professe, keepe our Church, heare Sermons, as Christians ought to doe.
Affectionate friendship and service is not onely for publique shew and pomp, upon festivall dayes, in Chambers of Presence; but for domesticall, ordinary, and private use; to such holy-day and Church retainers, God may well say, Let us have some of this zeale at home and apart.
All affections are most passionate, without a witnesse. Such as whose families, closets, fields, beds, walkes, doe testifie of their worship, as well as temples & Synagogues, are right servitors: God much respects their devotions; and they have strong proofe of the power of godlinesse.
Wee would you should know, that wee are such as have prayer sayd or read in our families and housholds; or else we say some to our selves at our lying downe, and uprising and more then that, say you what you will, wee holde more then needs.
First, know that zeale knowes no such unmannerly courses, as to slubber over a few prayers, whiles you are dressing and undressing your selves, as most doe, halfe asleepe, halfe awake; know further, that such as hold onely a certaine stint of daily duties, as malt-horses their pace, or mill-horses their round, out of custome or forme, are far from that mettle which is ever putting forward, growing from strength to strength, and instant in duties, in season, out of season: and this sayes hard to lazy Christians.
May not wee goe too far on the right hand?
It is true: but liberality baulkes, and feares covetousnesse and niggardize, more a great deale then prodigallity; so does zeale lukewarmnes and coldnesse, more then too much heate and forwardnesse; the defect is more opposite and dangerous to some vertues, then the excesse.
Why? are not some thinke you, too straight laced, that dare not use their Christian liberty in some recreations? sware by small oathes, or lend money for reasonable use? hath not God left many things indifferent, wherein some shew themselves more nice then wise?
Zeale will cut of the right hand, if it cause to offend; much more to pare the nayles and superfluities: it consumes the strongest, dearest corruptions; much more will it singe off such haire and drosse as these: If ought be praise worthy, it imbraceth such things; if any be doubtfull, carrying shew of evill, of ill reporte, it dares not meddle with them; it feares that some of these are as indifferent, as fornication was among the heathen.
There are but few such, no not of the better sort, as you speake of.
Graunt there bee any, and zealous emulation culleth the highest examples. Such as meane to excell in any Art, travell to find out the rarest workemen, purchase the choysest Copies; hee that hath true zeale, will strive to purge himselfe, as Christ is pure.
Will you have us runne before our neighbours, or live without example or company?
Cowards and cravens, stand and look who goes first: souldiers of courage will cast lots for the onset and fore-rank, for desperat services, and single combats. Lades will not go without the way be led.
So we may soone come to trouble, and danger enough.
What daunger can there bee, of an honest, peaceable, religious forwardnesse?
The slug or snaile, puts out the tender horne to feele for lets in the way, and puls them in where there is no cause; so doe the fearfull that shall be without: but zeale either findes no dangers, or makes them none; it neither feares to doe well, or to reproove ill doers, let who so will be displeased.
Some indeed care not whome they offend, they are so harsh and fiery, they can beare with nothing.
Will true Christianity allow us to beare with any sinne?
Can tinne, or hot iron choose but hisse againe, if cold water be cast on it? can a righteous soul choose but vexe it selfe at open evill? Such Ostriches as can digest oathes, prophane and filthie speeches, shew what mettle they have for the Lord of hosts; who yet will be ready enough to offer the challenge, or stab, for the least disgrace to themselves, or their mistresse: Phineas had rather, if it were lawfull, fight in Gods quarrels then his owne.
All are not by nature of so hot dispositions, or so fiery-spirited, as others.
If there bee such a dull flegmaticke creature as hath no life nor spirite in any thing hee goes about, or whome nothing will moove; hee may plead complexion, and yet grace is above nature: but the best way is; See every man compare his devotion in matters of God, with his spirits and mettle in other affayres, wherein his element or delight lies; if the one equall not the other, the fault is not in nature: the oldest man hath memory enough for his gold, and the coldest constitution heate enough where it likes.
Well, our harts may bee as good as the best though we cannot shew it.
Fire cannot be long smothered, it will either finde a vent, or goe out; zeale will either finde word, or deede, to expresse it selfe withall.
All have not the gift of utterance.
Violent affections have made the dumbe to finde a tongue; If it be lowe water the mille may stand; but aboundance of heart will set the wheeles on going What earnest discourses will unlearned Mariners make of their voiages? Huntsmen of their game, &c.
All have not ability and meanes: many have great charges.
Love and zeale are munificent, make money their servant, not their master: wheresoever the heart is enlarged, the hand cannot bee straightned; where the bowells are open, the purse is not shut. Herod for his pleasure, cares not for halfe his kingdome; what will not some Gentle-men give for hawks and hounds? not onely the poore woman that spent the rich oyntment on Christ, the widow that gave all her substance, the converts that solde all, and threw all at the feet of the Apostles, but even the bounty of the superstitious Papists shall rise in judgement against such as professe a religion, wil give it good words & countenance; but bee at no cost with it, and know a cheaper way to save charge withall.
All have not so much leisure to spend, so much time and study, about matters of religion, they have somewhat else to doe.
There are indeede many vanities, which distract and divide the minde of worldlings; but zeale counts one thing needefull, to which it makes all other veile and stand by. Is there any so good an husband of his time, that will not steale some houre for his pleasure; that cannot spare his God and his soule halfe an houre, morning and evening; that bestowes not idly, as much time as a Sermon or two would take upp in the weeke? The soule I confesse hath his satiety, as well as the body; but why should we sit on thornes, more at a Sermon then at a Play; thinke the Saboths longer then holi-daies; but for want of zeale? If thou beest not a vaine and willing deceiver of thy selfe, and others; deale honestly & plainly with thy soule, try thy selfe by these few rules; and if thou judgest thy selfe to come short of them, amend and be Zealous.
The sixt part.
Which little round fire-ball comming to hand, as Davids small stone, by ordinary lot, knowing the insufficiency of mine owne; I pray that God with his arme would scatter it farre and wide into those wilde parts of the world without the pale of Christendome, which lie so frozen and benummed in their Paganisme, that they feele not the coldnesse of their religions; as also in those regions that being within the Tropickes of the Church, have just so much, and so little heat, as to thinke they have enough, and neede no more: Cheefly mine affections burne within mee for the good of mine owne Nation, for which I would I had but so much zeale as truely to wish my selfe Anathema, upon condition it had heat sutable to the light. For I must beare it record, it hath knowledge, I would I could say, according to zeale. But the spirit, knowing that which is spoken to all to bee in effect as spoken to none, directs mee what I should speake to Churches, to speake to particular Angels. Now the principall in our Church, under that Archangell of the covenant, I most willingly acknowledge to bee my Lord the King, as an Angell of light. And why not that very Angell, who by his writing hath begunne to powre out the fift viall upon the throne of the beast, darkned his Kingdome, caused them to gnaw their tongues for greefe, and blaspheme for the smart of their wounds; though as yet they will not repent of their errours? The Lord annoynt him more and more with this oyle above all the Princes of the earth, that from his head, it may runne downe upon our skirts; make him shine in zeale above all other starres, to the warming & enlightning of this whole Horizon; set him up as a standard for his people; cloath him with zeale, as with a cloake, to recompence the fury of the adversaries, that he may strike the Aramites, not three but five times till they be consumed; that he may put the Ammonites under the yron sawes, harrowes, axes, which have provoked him as much, as ever they did David, 2. Sam. 12. But yet as in the time of the old Testament the custody of the fire and light was the charge of the Priest; so here I observe Christ to lay it upon his Ministers, interpreting his rule by his practise, Tell the church, Tell the Angell of the Church; honouring that despised office, with that stately stile; intimating the union betwene People and Minister, that they should bee as one: what is spoken to the one, is spoken to the other; not as some, that ever make Clergy and Layty two members, in division and opposition; neither yet as some spirites that lay all level, but implying a property, especially in grace and zeale in the Ministers, whom the Preacher calls the master of the assemblies; that they should exceede as farre the people, as Angels doe men, and that he will reckon with them for the religion of the people, because colde Priests make bolde sinners; zealous Jehoiada may mak Jehoash the King zealous, so long as hee lives with him. Wee therefore men and brethren, or rather men and Angels, upon whom it lies to keepe life and heat in the devotion of the world, to consume the drosse of vices and heresies, that have fallen into the sinke of our times; wee that are to make ready our people for the second comming of Christ, is the spirit of Ely thinke wee sufficient for us? What manner of persons ought we to bee, burning in spirit, fervent in prayer, thundring in preaching, shining in life and conversation? Why is it then my brethren (oh let my plainest rebukes bee the fruits and signes of my best love to mine owne Tribe; let them not bee as breakings of the head, but as precious balme to those whose honour with the people, I preferre to my life) why is it that some of us pray so rarely and so coldly in private (the evills of our times will not out but by frequent fasting and fervent prayer) in publique so briefly, so perfunctorily, and feebly, that wee scarce have any witnesses of what wee say? Why are there yet remaining any Mutes amongst us? Why are ther any tounges that dare speake against often or zealous preaching? Doth not Paul adjure us before him that shall judge the elect Angels, that we preach instantly, in season, and out of season? Reade wee the commentaries of that text, or let the practise of Ancients expound it; and tell mee if ever old or new interpreted that charge, of bare reading, of quarterly, or monethly, yea, or of once on the Sabbath preaching onely, as if that were fully sufficient, without endeavoring or desiring any more. If alwaies often preaching bee prating, what meant the practise I say, not onely of Calvin, and Beza but of Chrysostome, Basil, Ambrose with other of the Fathers, preaching every day in the weeke, some of them twise in the weeke, none of them so seldome, as such would bear the world in hand. What meant sundry ancient Councells, (the eleventh of Tolet in Spaine) yea even of Trent it selfe, to excite the torpor of the Bishoppes of their times, as their Canons speake, enjoyning frequent preaching, calling for more then almost any man is able to performe?
But heere I may turne reprooving into rejoycing, that preaching is growne in any better fashion and grace with our times, by royall and reverend, both examples and countenance: only I wish that every Archippus may fulfill his Ministery, be instant and constant in preaching. Salomon the older, and wiser hee grew, the more hee taught the people, sharpened his goads, and fastned his nails; whereas many amongst us are so wise in their youth, as to affect the foolishnes of preaching; but in their dotage, Ease slayes the foole; when the doore is oyled, it leaves creaking; they must then fall to make much of themselves, till contrary with the Prophet they cry out, My fatnesse, my fatnesse, my belly, my belly; so favouring their lungs, that they will bee sure never to die of Davids consumption of zeale; let such preach, say they, that want livings: and if for shame they preach at all, it must bee rarely and easily, for breaking of their winde (my meaning is not to tax such, whom God disinables by weaknesse of body; or such as recompence their rarity with industry, as Perkins, &c.) and yet forsooth these thinke they may justly challenge, and weare the double honor of countenance and maintenance; I marvell with what right, or with what face, so long as there remaineth expresse Canon of Scripture, bequeathing it to those, that toyle in word and doctrine. Neither will zeale set us on worke onely to preach, or to preach often to avoyd the infamy of bare readers; but it will teach us to preach painefully, and that in the evidence and demonstration, not so much of art, or nature, as of the spirit and grace; regarding onely, that the people know Christ and him crucified; not caring whether they know what wee have read, how many quotations our memory will carry levell, how roundly wee can utter our minde in new minted words, in like sounding, idle, vaine, and offensive Paranomasies; I blush to fall into the least touch of that kinde: yet at once to shew and reproove that childish folly, It is a vaine of vaine preaching, turning sound preaching into a sound of preaching, tickling mens eares, like a tinckling cymball, feeding them, ηδυσματι και ουκ εδεσμασι, spoyling the plaine song, with descant and division: what is this but to shew our owne levitie and want of true Art; indeede affecting such a dancing, piperly and effeminate eloquence (as Tully, Demosthenes, or any Masculine Oratour would scorne) in steade of that divine powerfull deliverie, which becommeth him, that speakes the Oracles of God. If ever wee meane to doe any good, wee must exhort and reproove, with all vehemency and authority; lifting upp our voyce as a trumpet, as the sonnes of thunder; pearcing their eares, witnessing, striving and contending, according to our gift whatsoever it bee, to manifest our affections, that wee may worke upon the people; which all the Art in the world will not teach us to doe: onely zeale at the heart will naturally produce it, without straining or affecting. If God require the heart as well as the head; why should wee not labour to moove the affections, as well as enforme the judgement; There is a doctrinall, and as some tearme it, a Doctorly kinde of preaching, which is admired of some that understand it not; of others that could be content with the Masse againe, because it was gentle, and had no teeth in it. And such Sermons I have sometimes heard, for matter voyd of exception, but so delivered, as if one were acting a part, or saying a lesson by heart. It hath called to minde a song which sometimes I have met withall, excellently composed, full of sweet ayre, surely and truely sung; but with flat and dead voyces without spirit, which hath marred the musique: Of such a Sermon and Preacher, the Countreymans verdict did well, that said, this man may bee a great scholler, but hee wants beetle and wedges to heaw our knotted timber withall, our greene wood will not burn unlesse it be better blown; you shall sometimes see an excellent horse of shape and colour, having many of those markes Du Bartes describes in Caines supposed horse; which yet wanting mettle hath beene of little worth, and lesse use. If there were no other Preachers then these, which hold themselves the onely profound and learned Preachers, I muse what should become of conversion of soules, which they that covet; must come with the spirit of Elias, to turne the hearts of the fathers to their children, I may in truth, and I hope with modesty speake with the Preacher, that in observing I have observed, and have found, that divers great Clarkes have had but little fruit of their ministery; but hardly any truely zealous man of God (though of lesser gifts) but have had much comfort of their labours, in their owne and bordering parishes, being in this likened by Gregorie, to the yron on the Smiths anvile sparkling round about. And if for this any bordering neighbours, whose cold labours worke not the like successe, shall accuse them of some kinde (I know not what) of policie in bewitching the people; they may well reply, Behold our zealous affections are our charmes, and zeale all our witchcraft, as Latimer well answered one that accused the people of partiality, for not affecting him that preached one of his printed Sermons, that hee had indeede his Sticke, but wanted his Rosen; meaning his zealous manner of preaching and living, without which last, all the former will doe but little good, if a good ensample of life accompany not their doctrine, as lightning doth thunder. For there are some (I speake with sorrow of heart) that seeme to have fire in their preaching, but carry water in their life; being notoriously proud, covetous, or debauched, stained with odious vices. Let us heare the summ of all. Doe wee love Christ more then ordinary? would wee give proofe of our trebble love to him? Let us then feede his flocke with a trebble zeale, expressed in our prayer, preaching and living: Let us make it appeare to the consciences of all, that the top of our ambition is Gods glory: and that wee preferr the winning of soules, to the winning of the world.
This title of Angels why may it not also be extended to Magistrates, as well as that higher stile, of Gods; Sure I am, that the scarlet robe of zeale would exceeding well become them. Jethro maketh it their prime and essentiall character; God and Moses, their onely and sole, in the charge and commission to Jehoshuah so oft repeated; Onely be of good courage. And if David were now to re-pen his Psalme; I thinke hee might alter the forme of his counsell, and say, Bee zealous yee Rulers and Judges of the world, and not wise and politique: or rather under the tearmes of wisdome, hee comprehends indeede the zeale wee call for, the most now adayes being Gallio’s, wise onely for the matters of the Commonwealth; not having a sparke of that spirit which was in Phineas, Daniel, and Nehemias, &c. for the Lord of hosts, or to his Lawes and Commandements; as if God had made Magistrates keepers onely of the second Table, governours of men, and not of Christians; guardians onely of civill societies, and not of his Church, and shepheards also of his flocke. Are Idolatries, blasphemies, prophaning of Saboths, no sinns? Why then either have not the lawes force and strength enough in them (as sometime wee are answered when wee complaine) or why are they not executed for the suppressing of these raging sins? are not all they punished with death in the Scriptures, as well as breaches of the second table? Blood I leave to the malignant Church, and admire clemency in Rulers, as much as any; but yet I know the prophane dissolutenesse of the times, requires a three stringed whipp of severity to purge our Augean stable of the soule abuses, whipt often with penns and tongues, but spared by them that beare the sword (a man may say of many Governours) altogether in vaine for matters of religion. Are not kings of the earth charg’d to render double to the bloody strumpet of Rome? Why then doth the hurtfull pitty of our times imbolden and increase their numbers? Laodicea it selfe, I doubt not, for matters of mine and thine, had (as their name imports) good civill justice and justicers; but what was God the neerer for it? doth hee not threaten for all that to spue them out of his mouth? shall hee not curse those that doe his worke negligently, fearfully & partially? Our times complaine of two speciall canker wormes of justice, which eat up zeale in Magistrates. The first is Covetousnesse, which makes men of place to transgresse for a morsell of bread; the zeale of their owne houses consumes the zeale of Gods house: The building of great houses, keeping of great houses, and matching with great houses, raising and leaving of great houses behinde them, makes them so ravenous, that they devoure so much, as choakes all their zeale; which would teach them to shake their laps of bribes, and scorne to accept gifts, though men would augment them for the perverting of judgement. The other is Cowardice and Fearfulnes: which how unfit, and base a quality did Nehemiah thinke it for a man of his place? no better then shynesse in a fore-horse, whose eyes men fence on both sides, that they may lead the way, and goe without starting; unto which, zeale is answerable in Magistrates, causing them onely to see him that is invisible, without casting a squint eye at men; to sing to God onely of judgement and mercy, without tuning their songs to mans eare; to walke in the perfect way, without turning, either to the right or left hand for feare of favour. Oh that there were such an heart in our leaders; how easily would our people follow! what a spring tide of zeale should wee have, if the Sunne and Moone would cast out a benigne aspect upon them! Doth it not flourish in all those shires and townes, where the Word and Sword doe joyntly cherish it? In others which are the greatest number, how doth it languish and wane away, and hang downe the head? where is it in diverse places of the land to bee seene? I had almost sayd in my haste and heat, there is none that hath zeale, no not one, there is no courage for the truth; but that I remember that Eliah was checked for over-shooting himselfe in his too short and quicke computation. I hope the Lord hath his fifties amongst us, though but thinn sowne in comparison of the swarmes of professed Recusants, and Church-Papists, of prophane Atheists, key-cold worldlings, and lukewarme professors. The bodies of our many severall Congregations, yea even of the better sort, whereunto have they beene likened by our separated adversaries; but unto the Prophet Hosea his cake, halfe baked upon the hearth, having one side, that is, the one side to the world-ward, in publique service, scorched a little and browned over; but the inside to God-ward, in private, and family-duties, no better then dough; many of them making indeede some shew, as the out-landish fruits that are plashed upon our walls, but wanting heat never come to maturity. If wee should make good their resemblances, how then should wee please the stomacke of God? who hath indeede brooked and borne us a long time, I doubt but wamblingly. How neare were wee going in 88. and in the powder treason? Doe we thinke he will ever digest us, in the temper wee are in? which (to confesse the truth of the fashionable Christian) what is it but a state of neutrality, indifferency, or such a mediocrity, as will just serve the time, satisfie Law, or stand with reputation of neighbours? beyond which, if any step a little forward, do not the rest hunt upon the stop? If there hap to breake out a sparkle of zeale in any one house in a parish; is not the whole towne in an uprore, as when the bells ring awke every man brings his bucket, to the quenching of this fire? If hell bee in an Ale-house, who cryes out of it? & as for our Sundayes Church-service, which is all that God gets at our hands; how perfunctorily, and fashionably is it slubbered over; how are his Saboths made the voyder and dung-hill for all refuse businesse, divided betweene the Church and the Ale-house, the May-pole commonly beguiling the Pulpit? What man would not spue to see God thus worshipped? This want of devotion makes the foule mouthed Papists to spet at us: this want of reformation, makes the queasie-stomacked Brownists cast themselves out of the Church; and shall God alwayes suffer the land to beare us? But behold, he stands at the door & knocks, by treasons, by plagues, by the hammer of dearths, discontents, fires, inundations, especially by the word; his locks are wet with waiting. Oh before hee shake off the dust of his feet against us, and turne to some other nation more worthy, let us open the doore, that hee may come in and sup with us; if hee love us, hee will purge us, and scoure us, by one chastizement or other: if hee have no pleasure in us, hee cannot but unburthen his stomacke of us; If all the land besides should turne the deafe eare, yet let mee entreat and charge you of my flock to heare his voyce, & be zealous. Since my comming amongst you, I have handled some bookes of the olde Testament, the Epistles to the Romanes, to the Hebrewes, of Saint James, Peter and John, out of them taught the doctrine of the Law, of Faith, Love and good Workes: now in the choyce of this Epistle of Christ to Laodicea, my desire was to boyle up the former to their just temper: in which worke I can willingly bee content to spend my strength, and dayes, if God see it fit. I cannot be a better sacrifice then to God, and for you, if I waste my selfe, so you may have light & heat; what else is the end of my life? God hath given you a name, your zeale is gone abroad, & I hope you have many names among you; the Lord encrease their number and zeale. If but one of us this day, shall open this doore of his heart with Jehoshuah, let others chuse, I and my house will serve the Lord more zealously then heeretofore; neither I nor hee shall have lost our labours. A lively picture casts the eye upon every one that comes neere it: such is the word with whom, and with which we have to do; Let him that is now colde, grow colder & colder; but let him that hath an eare, heare what hath beene sayd to the Churches; and be zealous and amend.
The Lord give us not onely understanding, but zeale in all things: he baptize us with fire: hee breath on us, and inspire into us the spirit of life & power, &c. So shall wee runn the wayes of his commandements.